You Are I Am

I ended up having to leave the festival early, so that I could get back into the city. This evening, I was slated to take photos at a gallery opening for You Are I Am, a show by the folks at You Are Beautiful.

I dropped Will and Chelsea off, ran home, taped up my car window, threw some water on my face, gathered my supplies, dropped off the car at the shop, grabbed a taxi, picked up Will, and headed over to the gallery.


Here’s a bit of backstory. A few months ago, I met up with the folks at You Are Beautiful and kicked around some ideas for collaboration over some drinks. I mentioned my interest in repetition and variations, and we came upon the idea to photograph people.

At this show, everyone would be given a sticker that said “I Am” on one side, and the rest of it was blank. They would be given pens to fill out their stickers, and I’d photograph eveyone as they walked in. The idea of seeing and recording all the variations (in both facial expression and written expression) excited me to no end.

Honestly – I was pretty nervous about the whole deal. My friend Dipti helped talk me through a lot of lighting suggestions. I tried reading up a bit on how to take portraits. More than anything, I was really worried I’d screw up this opportunity, and walk away with a bunch of fuzzy, blurry pictures.

So after a full day of pierogi-gorging, I grabbed my camera, my tripod, and headed over to see how many people I could photograph before the night was out.

Here we are at Open End.

Tonight’s show.

The interior of the gallery – incredibly spacious, and just gorgeous inside.

Some free stickers, at the front desk.

This space has a magnificent view of the skyline.

Pre-show. Folks bringing in bags of ice and a few kegs of beer.

This was one of the more elaborate takes on the book – an accordian layout that had each page connected by the thinnest of strands.

I love the cow.

This book opened up like a flower.

I swear – you could spend, easily, 30 minutes or more, just sifting through each book. Amazing, amazing stuff.

Ok. First off, let me say that Will helped me immensely tonight. He made some strong suggestions on lighting, and basically kept me company the whole of the night.

This shot of the interior was early on, circa 6:30 PM. At this time, both Will and I were standing in the corner with stickers on our chests, waiting for someone to come by and have their photo taken.

No such luck.

For the first hour, NO ONE came by. During this time I thought to myself “Oh, GOD, this is just bombing something awful. I’m going to have to stand here, in the corner, for another 4 hours with a huge sticker on my chest.”

My overall goal was to get a series of images like this. As time went on, we ended up adding a small writing area, complete with pens and stickers. This seemed to help some, as a few folks came by, filled out a sticker, and agreed to be photographed.

The workstation.

This is a bit later in the evening. As time wore on, we realized that it was somewhat unrealistic to expect people to wear their stickers the whole time. And so we had a lot of folks who’d come by, get their picture taken, and then promptly remove their sticker. All fine and good, as all I really wanted was the photograph.

As the evening wore on, more and more folks came by. As the hours passed, I became more and more relieved (I really thought the idea was dead in the water after that first hour). By the end of the night, I was delighted beyond belief.

At the start of the night, I was telling Will that I’d be happy if we got 30 pictures, total. By the end of the evening, I had somewhere in the neighborhood of 80+ images. Woohoo!

Will’s big shoes, marking where to stand.

This was one of my favorite shots of the evening.

All in all, a great night. Not only was the show incredibly successful, but I also got a ton of images to work with. My next steps are to crop each image, and to assemble them into some sort of Flash-based photo gallery. I’m really excited by this, and got some really great photos tonight.

Here’s one thing I’d like to share. In my mind, I figured most people would tape the sticker across their chest and I’d have roughly the same portrait shot of each person. I soon found out that this was not to be the case. In the same way that each person’s message varied, the placement of the sticker also varied. I had folks who put the stickers on their arms, their legs, their backs. Where I only imagined a slight variation, I was greeted with a wide range of interpretations.

Seriously – great fun. I had a blast tonight, and I can’t wait to work with these photos.

Shortly after we packed up, I went to Clubfoot with Chris and Will, and met up with Justin. I stuck around for a drink or two, and ended up taking off shortly thereafter. I walked in the door, and just about fell right onto the couch.

Great day today.

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