The last post (man of clay) started from the same root as this image but diverted after the second layer. This one was closer to my original concept.
In the near future I am going to make a video of the construction one of my images to show my methods.
However I always start by making a sketch, nothing too detailed and then look through my library of images that fit the bill. Occasionally I will go and shoot a specific piece, but having a library of a good few hundred thousand images, there is something usually at hand.
I then go to making the image in low res for speed as I drop images in and out quickly, chopping, blending. At this stage I dont cut just use the eraser. When I get to a point that I really see the pictures potential I stop any then start the Hi Res. I stop as Ive learnt if you get to the point of an absolutely brilliant image, no matter how hard you try, when you come to do it again in higher res.its just not the same.
So I start to piece the Hi Res together. I never flatten the master image. If there is piece that requires a couple of layers flattening I will make a duplicate image, make the changes in that and insert it in the master. Most images have on average 30 layers. As I get towards the final image am am saving many variations. Its like walking up a mountain, you can get so focussed on the process that before you know it youve crossed the peak and are heading down the other side, by saving Ive got all my steps and its easy to pick up the best stage.
So heres a self portrait, my daughter says it looks nothing like me, I think it does – on a good day- but she like the image so i’m happy!!
A combination of 12 images went into the production of this image. I started out as a self portrait, though there’s only the eyes left.
I was looking to capture the spirit of 1930s modernist photography. The model was key to this image with her amazing eyes. I shot this one on film on a RZ67.
England June 2012
This is a picture I made a long time ago. I only distributed a black and white version of it. It has been in several magazines, book covers and posters. It was a Polaroid transfer, original size 6×6 cm that I reworked with wax colour that I scraped back with a scalpel. I was working with Polaroid a lot at this period, producing emulsion lifts and transfers. I much preferred transfers as a technique.
For those in this digital age that were not so lucky to experience the wonders of Polaroid, it was an form of instant picture making. The SX70 cameras spewed the picture out seconds after taking it and the image would develop before your eyes. These were great for mashing the emulsions up by drawing on them with spoons, forks, anything blunt that wouldn’t rip the surface. Polaroid was also used to proof your shot making sure that you had your lighting and exposure correct, it was a great time saver. This type of polaroid was a messy affair, you would make your shot, pull the film through a roller that would start the development process. For emulsion lifts you would let the print develop normally and then soak it in hot water until the layer of emulsion would float off and using a receptor sheet paper/glass/ anything really arrange the emulsion. It produced some great art. My favourite however was the transfer, after taking the shot and pulling the film through the rollers, just as development got underway I would peel the print off the gunky back. The print would be discarded and I would work with the gunk. I would lay the gunk onto the receiving paper that would be wet but not saturated and using a roller work the back to the polaroid transfering the print to the surface. After a couple of mins I would peel the polaroid away and then slip the paper with the transfer into a bath of ammonia, this had a slight bleaching effect and enhanced some of the darked colours. Then it would be rewashed gently and left on a sheet of glass to air dry. Some I would leave, others I would work on further with dyes /colours.
Polaroid have ceased production of the film to do this but Fuji still make a version but it just does not have the same feel. If you want to have a go there is a website with further instructions. They are called alternativephotography.com
I see there is now an app for producing this effect, looks ok but it aint Polaroid!
Despite having a Polaroid slide printer, most of the time I produced the transfers using the enlarger in the darkroom. That meant I could sandwich several negs together, or selectively expose different parts of the Polaroid sheet. The scream however, was produced as a one off in camera. I used a Mamiya RZ67 with a polaroid back and as I transferred the image I dragged the emulsion thus creating the wide mouth and losing the eye. The intention was to produce the mouth shape but the eye was a piece of fortune, the emulsion ripped and the eye remained on the backing sheet. As soon as I had the transfer I knew it was a winner, I was working with pastels on my images at this point but decided to use wax with this one, most of it is scraped back. By doing this it also enhanced the texture of the surface. I used a moderately rough card for this. I prefered it to watercolour paper as the subsequent image was sharper.
Sideshow – detail
This is one face from a series 16 variations that I am currently placing into an image called sideshow. The final image is black and white but I like the element in its current state. Again its composed of many layers and actions.
I shot this portrait of Jason some 15 years ago when he was an actor in New York. I worked on the image for some time in the darkroom and, never fully satisfied with the result put it away. Last week I was contacted by a magazine in New York wanting a business portrait I had shot, and in the file was Jasons portrait. Thanks to photoshop I reworked the image to achieve the image I had originally envisioned. I could never get the richness of colour nor the gradation of tone in the original print. I had lost contact with Jason and in those interveneing years, he has gone on to be a very successful furniture designer. Have a look <http://www.jasonlamberth.com/>