Flash Exposures

This series of images was photographed at 10:02pm on June 23rd, 2001. However the “working” of the images in the digital darkroom did not occur until Wednesday May 2nd, 2019 shortly after being rediscovered in the archives. The context and process of how these images were created were as follows:

I had recently acquired a Nikon D1 digital camera bodies which at that time was extremely rare in part because it was one of the first professional digital cameras on the market and very few photographers had yet adopted this technology into their workflow. The $5,000 price tag for the body alone kept this technology out of most people’s hands. Especially when one could equip themselves with a fantastic Hasselblad or similar tried and true pro film system for the same price. I however had the good fortune of knowing someone at MTV Networks who believed that such a tool should be in the hands of an artist, to explore the creative possibilities of digital photography.

My working space at this time was my living room which often transformed into my studio for art shoots. This time was no exception and I most always did this kind of work at night which at that time felt was more conducive to creative exploration. However instead of using continuous lighting or that of a powerful fixed strobe, I used a simple Nikon XB-25 flash held in my hand like a paint brush. The camera was mounted on a tripod and tethered to my computer with a 9 foot cable and in total darkness, with music playing in the background. The model and I moved in an attentive fluid synchronicity with each other within the very limited working area. I would keep the shutter open, the model would pose or explore movement and positions while I would spontaneously move around her intuitively and trigger the flash from different angles and then close the shutter. This was a kind of painting with the flash light, experimenting with various power levels, angles and distances. For the first time in photographic history, I could see immediate results from a professional camera not a polaroid and be free to shoot as desired. Each time I completed the exposure, the image would pop up on the computer screen moments later. I could see the outcomes of the technical and compositional choices and chances I was making. Historically an artist could not see the outcomes of a photographic experiment until the film was processed. This could take a week or more and one could never remember all the nuances and details no matter how well notes were taken. There was no question that the liberation of the technology allowed for all my foundational knowledge with the tools of photography to become liberated. To see immediately the outcomes of a photographic experiment without the burden of processing costs was paramount to the eventual death of the film business.

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