AKA Abraham Bacoln

A fond farewell
November 13, 2009, 2:42 pm
Filed under: tidbit

So I know I said I was done taking pictures of my rabbit but, well, see, last night I went to drop him off with his new parents, and we ended up going over to The Rendezvous, and things got a little crazy.

Rabbits' Night Out 2/3

He decided to wear his tiny little rabbit hat, which is kind of like me wearing a human hat, except different. Instead of wearing a human hat though I continued the rabbit theme and … yeah. That’s enough. Suffice it to say that a good time was had by all.

Goodbye for now, little pal. I hope you enjoy your new home. It’ll be nice for you, I think, to live in a place where you’re not the scariest or weirdest thing around.

Anatomy of a Photo IV
November 10, 2009, 9:38 pm
Filed under: photography

I thought that perhaps I’d talk a little bit about my horrid sneakbeast rabbit. I know I said a little bit about him in my last blog entry but here are some more words:

Somewhere over a year ago I got the idea that I should take a picture of a feminine figure holding a stuffed animal. The animal would have ghastly human teeth, though, and the model would be directly interacting with the teeth physically, but in a detached way. Without trying to describe it too much more I’ll show you, because the end result was surprisingly close to my initial vision:


… so there. Now you see what I’m talking about. I’ll touch on a few points that I wanted to bring up about this image. For starters, I specifically did not want the model’s face in the shot. I wanted this to be very directly and intently about the stuffed animal. By composing the image with the head out of the frame I sacrificed part of the human element. In case you haven’t heard it enough, the first thing we look for when we see a human figure are the eyes, because they tell us so much about what’s going on. The expression on the face is a close second, or perhaps a larger part of the first look. By removing this the viewer is left without that initial road map and is forced to try and discern emotion or intent from body language alone.

Secondly, I wanted the model to be distinctly feminine. I chose one of my friends who I knew had long hair and a graceful neckline, and put her in a dress with thin straps to show off her shoulders. For a while I debated something more directly titillating that would also bare the ribs and stomach, but decided that would make too bold a statement, too distracting and possibly gauche, and so I declined to do so.

Thirdly, I deliberately posed her with a fairly formal posture. I wanted her upright and nearly stiff, because I didn’t want her body to act as a reaction. In other words, when the viewer first sees the picture I don’t want them to read her body language in that split second before they see the rabbit. I don’t want them to think, “What is this woman reacting to?”

Lastly, her finger is resting in between the rabbit’s teeth. This is the image I’d had in my head and I was glad to see that it worked in real life. To me it feels like the woman is making a statement about the rabbit, as if she’s intentionally interacting with it. This begs the question about her posture, though: is she stiff and upright because she’s nervous about what’s happening? Is she at ease? Is this routine, or something out of the ordinary?

A bonus was the tension shown in her hands. I didn’t plan for it, but she ended up giving some dynamism to the picture through the strain in her fingers. It could even be interpreted as if she is subduing the rabbit, as if she’s preventing his escape.

As I mentioned in that earlier blog entry, to finally get this photo done was an incredible relief. It was the longest-running planned photo that I’ve had to date, and to finally see it on the screen instead of in my head was a great load off my shoulders. I’d finally finished that One Big Thing (even though I’ve done projects far more grand) that had been plaguing me. Shortly after I posted it I was talking to my friend Kathy and I said, “I’m grateful I’m done with that. Now I can get rid of that nasty little rabbit.” Kathy implored me to think more about what else I could possibly do with the rabbit and my photography. I told her, “I don’t have any more images in my head for it. There’s nothing left. I had the One Big Thing and that was it, I didn’t plan for it to be like this. There aren’t other ways in which it can interact with people. I mean the only other thing I could possibly think of is maybe someone holding it by one foot, faced away from the camera, but that’s not really what I made the rabbit for.” Kathy said, “So?”

And there I was, with the first rabbit image not a week old, left thinking, “Well maybe I could get one more image out of it. I want … yeah. Someone holding the rabbit by the foot. The viewer can be left to wonder if it’s a favorite toy being dragged around, or if it’s something distasteful that the person doesn’t even want to be carrying.”

It took me a few weeks to finally see the right location, the hallway outside my friend’s apartment. It took a few weeks more to get our schedules lined up correctly so that she and the rabbit and I could all be there at the right time. But line it up we did, and I got this:


… which honestly is not nearly as moving or dynamic an image as the first one, in my opinion. In some respects it only works after having seen the first one, because then you truly understand what it is she’s carrying.

With regards to the photo itself, I think I did a decent job of not portraying the model’s relation to the rabbit object as positive or negative. Maybe the viewer thinks differently. I took the picture just by the window at one end of a long hall to give some perspective. The first image was very deliberately flat and I wanted this one to have good depth. I chose this hallway because it is narrow, dark, and a bit beat up. As for the model, I tried to get her to give up a tiny bit of motion. Again, to me, with her weight shifted to her right leg her body language says ‘hesitant’ but it could read on first impression as motion. Hopefully either way the viewer is left wondering exactly how she feels about the rabbit and where (if anywhere) she’s going with it.

So those are the two important rabbit pictures. Those are the two that had the most thought put into them, the two that mean the most to me. In the weeks between them I took a few others to pass the time. They aren’t nearly as significant but I do feel that I should mention them, so here they are:

1.) The self-portrait wherein I literally embrace this creature that I have created and try to show the viewer how I feel about my monstrosity. Interpretations on the emotion stated in my gaze have varied wildly and I’d love to hear yours.

2.) A vision of what it might have looked like had I not physically pieced together this abomination but instead found him whole, already existing in our world. I aimed for something cinematic, hoping that the off-camera flashlight would help the viewer feel as if they were not alone, as if someone else had laid the light upon this scene and there was no reason to worry because they were not experiencing the situation alone.

3.) Finally, I wanted a point-of-view image so that the viewer could imagine interacting directly with this thing. What would one of us truly do if we saw this climbing up our wall or coming in our window? Would we meet it head-on?

And with that, finally, I have finished with the rabbit. He’s going to live in a house far away so that I can not hear his teeth clacking together at night, and so that he does not upset my guests when they enter my home. Maybe one day in the future I’ll need him again for a photo but perhaps by then he will have left his new home to find his true place in the world.