I have made the down-select, some 67 photographs capturing people in a meaningful event. “Telling moments” and “explanatory activity” was the brief. I had a clear idea of the various types of shots I would be looking for from an “AmDram” production. Make-up, changing, entrances; the public, the production support etc. I was limited to two evenings only and after reviewing the opening night's collection I sought to either fill the gaps or improve with augmenting shots on the second night's performance.
I printed these 67 shots and looked at them and a narrative began to appear as I looked for the shots that best filled the assignment requirements. I started to draw out the reason why certain shots began to emerge stronger than others, looking for that “telling moment” that “instant” that delivers a narrative comment acting as an attribute to the image, augmenting the purely visual and engaging me, the viewer, to dwell a moment longer.
The shots that rose from the crowd were ones, in the main, that had an element of conversation in them, some stronger, some weaker. This conversation might be a literal conversation i.e. two (or more) people in conversation with each other, or, as in some of the more interesting images, with either a metaphorical conversation, implied by the connection between eyes or in body form, or, in the engagement with something or someone “off frame”. I decided to start the culling process by looking for weaker photographs using “conversation” as the theme.
The first to feel the knife is this shot of Ken and Jeff setting the Hall up for production. Ignoring that Jeff is already in costume, which could bring another layer to the image that I wasn’t seeking to draw out; they are both fixed (visually) on the point that Ken’s hand is working on; they are both firmly in focus and focused on the job in (Ken’s) hand, though the out of focus flowers detracts from the visual resolution of the two subjects. A tighter crop might have helped, but it didn’t survive the chop. I don’t plan to deconstruct all the images that didn’t make the cut, but this was the sort of reasoning behind the shots that didn’t make it. A fully annotated largish contact set is in my written log book with the results.
This couple appear to have negative conversation between them, but only I (in the context of this entry) know that they are a couple and to depict them as having none, when I know they are married is a deceipt on my part. The lady on the right having a conversation with a white blob isn't working at all. Thirdly, the Stage Manager mixing the drinks (props) with an actor watching the process isn't capturing the process enough - suggesting a short conversation.
Bradley, is focussed on something, not quite sure what, but in not making the cut it exemplifies one of the fundamental issues that all Drama Groups face - that of a lack of youth both in the Group and in the audience. The lady right is in conversation but we (the viewers) cannot discern either the with whom or the with what.
The two Directors not looking in the same direction, demonstrating a lack of conversation, when in fact they were in agreement, so the image would project a falsehood. The raffle tickets being sold - clearly another conversation, in fact one of many similar conversations, but this shot is unresolved visually.
Jeff, in thought. There were a few that I took of Jeff as he composed himself for entrance and performance; this isn't the best for portraying that intensely personal conversation - see later. The lady right in conversation (in fact with lady above), but the viewer doesn't know that. We can see that she is animated and engaged; but that is about all.
I had set out to provide some make-up images, and whilst this photograph is set out compositionally "ok" it is static - though not staged, as it was taken during the process. Make-up is an intimate experience between two people, there are a number on conversations going on. The verbal discussion can sometimes be a bit one-sided as in the dentists chair (though without all the pain); but other non-verbal conversations take place as the make-up artist works on the mask, leaving the player to acquiesce mutely to the lop-sided conversation.