I remember the first time I saw the work of photographer Cindy Sherman. She had an exhibition of her huge prints at Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art. It was my introduction into self-portrait photography. But Sherman’s work was so much more than self photography. It was the characters she created. Her images looked like still frames from a movie. It was amazing to walk through the gallery and know it was the same person in all of the images. Because they were all so unique.
That experience stayed with me. And every once in a while I would be photographing a model friend of mine and I could see a character developing. An expression or a pose that hinted at something happening outside of the frame.
That’s exactly what happened during this particular shoot with Felicia. We were shooting her in a Pucci knock-off dress and a red wig. And I started out shooting her from a wider angle. But when I got in close, she began to express something different. She started to lose herself in a character she was creating. And I knew something wonderful was happening.
I look at this photograph of her and instantly I have to imagine what she’s reacting to. Her raised arms and anxious eyes looking upward express something menacing that’s outside of the frame. It wasn’t something we set out to do. It just happened.
I love photography that insists you fill in the blanks of the story with your imagination. It makes you linger a little while longer.
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