Thursday, September 10, 2009
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
The Showcase: Ed Freemanby: Zack Seckler
“The Showcase” is a weekly publication featuring a photographer that has caught our eye here at The F STOP. I’ve asked Ed Freeman to answer a few questions about his surf photography, some of which is featured in the new 2009 PDN Photo Annual.
These aren’t conventional surfing images, please explain what you’ve done to create these images.
They’re shot conventionally with the same equipment all surfing photographers use; a digital SLR and a lens as long as your arm - literally. But then I do a lot of Photoshop work on them - compositing, dodging and burning, retouching. I’ve taken out waves and added new ones, enlarged waves, changed skies, erased extraneous bodies, even combined pieces of two bodies into one - I do whatever is necessary to create images that say what I want them to say. They aren’t “true to life” any more than a Vermeer landscape is “true to life.” What’s true about them is that they FEEL the way surfing FEELS - at least to me they do.
I don’t think your technique has been replicated often in the surfing photography world. Where did you get the idea to break off from the reportage style and turn these images into more conceptual fine art?
I’m not a reporter and I never have been one. If photography is about conveying faithfully what was in front of the lens, then I’m not even a photographer; I’m more of an illustrator. I don’t know anything about surfing, and I can’t - and don’t - approach it from the point of view of somebody who does. Surfers and real surfing photographers can spend hours discussing the fine points of one surfer’s technique versus another’s, one wave versus another. I’m completely blind to those subtleties. Instead, I’m interested in composition, lighting, the texture of the spray - I’m looking at it from a purely visual perspective. That makes for a very different emphasis, a very different picture.
What was your inspiration in creating this body of work?
I was in Hawaii shooting stock - your basic “palm-trees-swaying-in-the-breeze-at-sunset” stuff, and I happened to drive by a surfing beach one day - the first time I ever saw serious surfers confronting serious waves. And I was blown away by the real life drama of it - men, women, even ten year old kids - who risk their lives to have what surely must be a transformational relationship with the ocean. I couldn’t participate in what were doing - I can’t even swim - but I thought I could convey some of their peak experience in pictures, the adrenaline rush they must have every time they catch a good wave.
How has the surfing community reacted to these images?
They’ve never been published, so I don’t really know. Many surfers are so caught up in the technical aspects of the sport that they look at all pictures analytically - how big is the wave, how good is this particular surfer’s form, what kind of board is he riding, and so on. But some have seen these pictures for what they’re intended to be - impressions, not recordings of specific events. The highest compliment I ever got from a surfer was, “yeah man, that’s what it’s like when I’m out there.”
These images were all done for a book project. What was the experience like of getting this book made?
This is still a book in progress - I don’t have a publisher yet, although I do have an book agent who’s waiting patiently for me to finish putting it together so she can go find one. I’ve published a couple of other books and I can say with some certainty that publishing is more work and less money than you ever thought possible. But it’s also immensely rewarding. There’s still something magical about the printed page - seeing your images on it, and knowing that people you will never meet will see and get value from what you’ve done.
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
These pictures were done for a CD album cover (the photographic versions, not the paintings, dummy!) Legend has it that the Blue Boy and Pinkie were always in love, because their pictures stood side by side for so many years – never mind that they were painted twenty-four years apart by different painters. To play with that idea, we had lightning strike both frames, allowing both Blue Boy and Pinkie to break out of the prisons that had held them apart; the final picture was the two of them holding each other, together at last.
Nice idea, until you start trying to combine a painting and a photograph.Getting Blue Boy and Pinkie costumes wasn't difficult in Hollywood; the tricky part was getting the photographs to look enough like paintings so we could blend the two together.
Also, bench presses weren't really popular in the eighteeenth century, so the original Blue Boy has the chest and shoulders of a scarecrow; we had to stretch it considerably to match the buff rock star who was taking over his persona.
Blue Boy is mostly the original body, stretched and distorted; his head and right arm have been replaced, and most of the background is invented. Oh yeah, what passed for blue in 1770 doesn't cut it in the 21st century; we pumped that up a bit as well. Tasteless and garish, you say? Gee, I certainly hope so...
Pinkie is the original painting from the waist down; from the waist up it's a model and rented costume, except for most of the bonnet and the tassels. The background is the original, only cloned and stretched; we got the frame out of a junk shop and broke it to pieces in Photoshop.
I think the lightning bolt was from New Mexico; if it wasn't, it should have been. Never saw more lightning in my life than in NM...
Monday, August 10, 2009
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
Maybe it didn't look like this, but it COULD have...
This is from a series of pictures I did entitled Desert Realty. That's a play on words - it's Realty, not Reality. The building is real - in Darwin, California, a one-horse town in the middle of nowhere -
but I cleaned up the location and changed the time of day to present it in a more optimal setting.
This one was shot for stock - I loved the signs but I thought it needed more order in the composition.
So I drove down to another car lot, shot the cars there and combined the two. Might as well clean up the background, take out the other signs and put in a happier sky while you're at it...