Thursday, August 11, 2011

2011 12x12 Vancouver Photo Marathon - Play by play (Part 1/3)

If long drawn out reading isn't your thing, you'll want to just read my general overview of the 2011 12x12 Vancouver Photo Marathon rather than continue on here ;)

Equipment-wise there wasn’t much to prepare, Canon AE-1 with 50mm prime – check, tripod – check.  These are borrowed from my dad who has had the camera for years.  He doesn’t have any other lenses and a very basic flash.  As I don’t do any film photography and didn’t have time to test the flash and its effects, I didn’t bring it along.
Arrived at 12x12 HQ (Urban Rush Café) at a comfortable 9-9:30, registered, got my film and goody bag and sat down to take care of the ever important loading of the precious film.  My precioussss…

The important tasks out of the way, it was time to pick up some breakfast and wait for the first theme to be announced.  I already had an idea in my head based on the running tradition (over the last 2 events anyways) where the first theme has been “My Entry Number”.
Theme 1
The crowd gathered, Morten Rand-Hendriksen gave his welcome speech and with great anticipation, the first theme was announced… My Entry Number……… + Different Angle.  Huh??
Well… I would have to think about this “Different Angle” business a bit, but stick to plan and off we went to my office (not a photo studio) for the first photo.  I’m not sure I got the “Different Angle” idea in there but I was happy with my photo.  The inspiration for this photo came from last year’s photo for the same theme which I was supremely disappointed when the dummy behind the camera messed up in taking the shot.
The thought behind that photo was that my participation in the 2010 12x12 was literally a roll of the dice.  I had no background in photography, even calling myself a hobbyist is a fair stretch and had zero experience with film.  This year was more of a calculated gamble, the resulting photo from this is obvious…

Back to 2011, I realized after taking the photo that I could have corrected the lighting to a more appropriate ‘mood’.  Ah well, that’s film for you!
One thing I noticed was, the more effort you put into setting up a photo, the bigger the anti-climactic feeling when the shutter goes *click*.  Every photo I set up, particularly ones on tripods, I would set it all up, line everything up, set the timer button, press the shutter, wait for the *click* and then… oh… that’s it.  No picture to look at, no fanfare.  Just *click* now back to HQ!  It’s quite the denouement.
Theme 2
The next theme “The Usual Suspects”… thoughts of commonly grouped items flowed through my head yet no photo grabbed me.  My brother looked up the movie synopsis on his smartphone and I blasted through it.  No inspiration there either.  A suspect line-up… that wasn’t original.  Then my brother had an epiphany, how about a line-up of ________ .  It was a pretty good idea, or better, how about _______ doing ________.  THAT idea rocked!  It necessitated a drive out of downtown and we bolted.  We scrambled to get the scene set appropriately and almost had a disaster in not having lighting for the scene (a pro studio I possess not).  Some Macgyver-esque ingenuity saved the photo and *click*.  By this time, I was behind one theme… already!

The interesting thing about this contest is that time isn’t really as much a factor as you might feel it is.  You don’t HAVE to take your picture within the hour it is announced, yet you feel this foreboding pressure to get it done, and if you don’t, the anxiety explonentially with each theme you fall behind.  I had a full 10 hours to go!
Theme 3 & 4
By the time we returned to 12x12 HQ, theme 3 had already been announced and theme 4 was on its way so I decided to await theme 4’s arrival before continuing on.  Theme 3 was “Human Nature” and I overheard conversations about washrooms, haha!  Theme 4 was announced and it was “Reliable”… scratching our heads, my brother and I wandered out trying to hash out a Human Nature photo.  I had an idea that would carry ideas from the first two photos thus far building a solid base for a series exhibiting Human Nature’s penchant for greed.
However, it didn’t sit that solidly with me or my brother.  We needed something that was more basic than that, something anyone from any walk of life could relate to.  As we wandered around the West End aimlessly, searching for inspiration, the photo finally dawned on us.  It would take some time to find the right way to take the photo and the pressure of being “behind” started to weigh on me.  We ended up with a decent photo, although not how I visualized it originally, a bit of a cop-out I'll admit and I’m pretty happy with it nonetheless.
Theme 4 was taken after Theme 5's announcement and that will be in the next post =)
To be continued...

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