Guess it’s just an LCD kinda day.

Been having some problems getting my project off of the ground.  ‘Problems’ might not be the best way to put it, how about limitations.  I’ve been trying to perform street interviews of strangers, asking them a series of questions in the vein of figuring out desired Last Words and their personal meanings.  This has become a problem for two reasons: I assumed I would meet some resistance, mainly in the form of people simply answering my questions with “I don’t know” or “I’ve never thought about it”, which obviously is unhelpful to my process, so when I’ve been met with that I have politely moved on.  Secondly, I have gotten some people to answer a few questions, but it falls apart when they don’t want their picture taken (which is silly to me, since I clearly have a camera on my shoulder and am asking them to take part in an art project, come on folks).  So I’ve been struggling with those two elements of approaching people.

Unfortunately, the other big hurdle lately has been the weather.  When it’s 0 degrees with a -8 wind chill there aren’t many people just out on the sidewalks, and if there are they have no interest in stopping their travel to answer questions, even if it’s only for a few mere minutes, can’t really blame them, it is brutal out.

So I’ve been feeling stuck, even though I know it is very early in the semester, I get a little worried, thus is life.

In the meantime I’ve been researching some various artists who sort of work in the same area of where this project is going, as well as thinking about new kinds of questions to try and get the information I need.

Here is who I’ve been looking at:

Emily Jacir – and her study of the phenomenons of being in a certain space at a certain time.

Hans Eijkelboom – who performs census-type studies of observed trends in people on the street, taking awesome photographs that study society as a whole.  Lots of cool photo books from this guy!

Anne Collier – who is often photographing photographs, something I’ve been testing and thinking out a lot for this project.

Lastly I’ve spent a lot of time on the Humans of New York website, looking over Brandon Stanton’s huge catalogue of spur-of-the-moment portraits taken on the streets of New York City.  I am especially interested in this project because of the stories he gets his subjects to tell him, going to far as reaching out to him via email to ask him some basic questions about how he goes about his interview process on-the-fly, since I’m very interested in how to get ‘the story’ out of the portraits I take.

“You’re doing something together, and if you can make the person feel like that, that’s when it works.  I’m only half the act of taking pictures, if we’re talking about portraiture, so it’s a matter of having somebody just feel right about themselves and about how they’re relating to you.  Then you can get a magic moment out of them.” – Robert Mapplethorpe

  1. Crystal said:

    Maybe as a way of getting started you could post to Craigslist and ask for people to reply that would be willing to answer a few question about “last words” and have their photo taken. Katy Grannan did something similar in which she posted an ad asking to take photos of people, the sitters decided where the photos would be taken and how they would be dressed if at all. She might be worth looking into at this point, as well.

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