Once again I decided to get out of the confines of the Hotelito and experience the rustic glory that is the Casa Dracula. Such a great space full of character and spirit. I could have spent much more time there.
Claudine and I took advantage to work there. Prior to shooting Claudine showed me some things she brought and one of them was a roll of cheesecloth. Immediately I had a vision to capture with it, so was very excited to execute this.
Along with the majority of the shoot at ZfestX, the visions will eventually end up in series but for now I am displaying individual posts.
The first series explores void and a time past. When life seems empty, we move on.
The second series I set the camera up to view straight through a bunch of rooms. The camera stayed on one spot throughout and shot in the various locations.
The third series was utilizing the cheesecloth. Its properties and uses were endless. ‘Cocoon’ was a vision I had when seeing the material and I was extremely happy with what was created. Claudine, as most know, is awesome and she worked wonders with all the themes.
Unexpected shoots are cool. I had dropped Sara Liz back to her room as she had a shoot with Cam. Claudine was walking back to the Hotelito so she hopped in my car. We grabbed some coffee and took off on the dusty bumpy dirt road that lead to who knows where. I wanted to shoot in all the abandoned buildings we saw but being in a foreign country and not speaking the language, knowing Mexico has issues with nudity and we would technically be trespassing, I opted not to risk my luck and just took some iPhone photos of the area. But man! Oh well. So, itching to shoot something after the drive Claudine and I went back to the house and did a short hours shoot as the sun was setting. What beautiful light. Those days in that magic hour were certainly appreciated. As I sit here in cold December on the shortest day of the year… I’d take that heat back in a second!
I loved the Hotelito for all it’s stark shooting situations and shady spots too. Who needs a backdrop when there’s an abundance of natural light and beautiful vivid walls? I knew it would be good shooting when I looked at it online before arriving and definitely was happy when I arrived. I’m enamored by modern architecture and bold lines.
I worked all week with my Nikon FM 35mm and my Rollei. Little cameras that didn’t weigh very much so I wasn’t carrying around tons of gear in the heat. Plus I was scared to pack up my 4×5 with all my Polaroid film for fear Mexican Customs would hassle me on arrival. On the way home at the airport when they were searching my bags before departing they didn’t know what 120 film was, so I may have had a hard time explaining Type 55 Pos/Neg film to them and Sodium Sulfite. Though Steven Billups managed to bring in all his Polaroid film. Though I was happy with all the work accomplished with my little cameras. I ended up shooting more and going back to the camera set up I learned on.
Claudine and I worked together back in 2008 during the 29 Palms festival with my 4×5, so good that I had something different with me to get a different look. We had the opportunity to work together twice this time around. This is our first shoot. We didn’t wander too far away from that fabulous swimming pool. Shoot 10 minutes, jump in, shoot 20 minutes, jump in again… that was my week really. Claudine is quite an enigma, in a good way. She seems so unassuming in person but when you point a camera in her direction this intense confidence pops out and lends itself to inspiration. She’s great to work with!
Claudine, Ella Rose, Anoush Anou, Meghan, Stephanie Anne, Kiera Grant, Rebecca Lawrence, St. Merrique, Candace Nirvana, Brooke Lynne, Carlotta Champagne, Samantha Grace, Anne Duffy, Tara Tree and Sara Liz. Thank you, Ladies! Stay tuned for the video!
This is part ten in a series of blogs on my recent artistic adventures in Mexico.
People have been asking me:
“So, Billy. How do you know this blog is going to be 50 parts?”
“So, Billy. Are you really going to write 50 entries about your trip?”
Both fair questions. I originally figured the blog about ZoeFest was going to be one or two entries. After I drove to the Cabo San Lucas Airport for my flight back to Chicago, I had plenty of time to kill both at the airport and on the flight and I wrote what turned out to be the the first half dozen or so entries before I landed. It was then I realized I had way more than a blog entry or two.
About how I came up with the 50 number? I really just pulled it out of the air. In my very brief editing sessions while still in Todos Santos, I quickly found 50 photographs that seemed to have promise. And that was only after a very quick glance. I will most certainly find images I like better than those first 50 that caught my eye once I have a chance to sit down for an extended period of time and really get critical. I thought I could write one entry for each of the 50 first-round-of-editing photographs. That was how I came up with the number.
Of course, it also became impossible to talk about each shoot without showing several images to illustrate what I’m talking about. It’s only fair to you lovely readers.
As for the second question, I really have no idea if I’ll hit 50 different entries that all pertain to the wonderfully artistic ZoeFest Mexican Adventure. I would do neither I, nor you, kind readers, any favors by stretching this out with filler, just to reach a number.
And now since this is starting to feel a bit like the filler I want to avoid, let’s continue with the adventure, shall we?
I woke up on day three, had the usual early morning coffee chat with Mel and Scott and headed off to Hotelito for my first of three shoots that day. By the end of the third day, I would complete no less than seven shoots. Thankfully, for the remainder of the adventure, I would book a maximum of two shoots per day.
I was starting the day with Claudine, who was based out of Chicago like I was, although amazingly, we had never worked together before. Instead, we would fly 2,500 miles to get to our first shoot.
Claudine is a very happy person. A deep infectious laugh that I had been hearing for days whenever I was in her proximity. Maybe it’s a Chicago thing. We both laugh big.
I was anxious to shoot at Hotelito. A very different shooting environment than anywhere I had shot up until then. It was modern, colorful, geometric. Claudine was curvy and it seemed to be a good juxtaposition to photograph her there among the straight lines and geometry.
Since it was morning, the heat of the day was still a few hours off, so we headed outside to look for interesting places to begin. There were many interesting chairs and lounges around the grounds. One made up of white circular padded cylindars caught my eye, but I wasn’t quite sure the light was quite right where it was sitting on one of the porches. I’d have to think about that one for a bit.
The first thing I saw as we approached the pool area was a wall with rows of square cutouts in it. The sun was still low enough in the sky that the wall threw a perfect pattern of squares on the ground. Claudine stretched out and I walked around her, looking for the best angles of her within the shadows and how they passed over her. Sometimes you have to look at something from multiple vantage points to find the best one.
Then we headed off to the pool to play with reflections and shadows she could cast on the wall. By then the sun was getting close to being 45 degrees up from the horizon, probably about the maximum height I consider to be good light before the shadows start to become unflattering on faces. We worked, reviewed a bit and continued to work around the pool looking for the best angles from a reflection standpoint.
We moved to one of the short ends of the long pool and Claudine posed against a wooden wall at one end. The reflections were good. What I was curious about was how the tone of the wood and her skin tone seemed to be very similar. I usually prefer there to be more contrast between my subject and the background. It was one of those times when I wasn’t exactly sure if my B&W conversion would work the way I was imagining in my head. Hopefully the knots in the wood would be enough of a difference. I wouldn’t know until I could process the images.
After the pool we decided to explore some of the geometry of the Hotelito. There was a beautiful staircase leading up to the one of the rooftops and we found ourselves being pulled toward it. I had her move up the stairs, experimenting with various positions, some sitting, some standing. There were so many intersecting squares and rectangles to compose with. Many textures and varying tones with slices of sunlight cutting through them. Quite amazing really and we laughed as we reviewed a couple of the images. Those bigs laughs again.
Finally we headed back to one of the porch areas and the tubular lounge. We had initially discussed moving it to another location, but when we returned the light had changed and the shade of the porch became a bit of a frame. I just hoped the lounge was not 120 degrees as it baked in the sun. Happily not.
Claudine once again gave me many great poses as we tried to find interesting ways to oppose the square shapes and straight lines with her form and the arc of the lounge. Perfect!
The sun was starting to get high in the sky as noon approached and we decided to stop for the morning. Claudine had great energy and was a valued collaborator, helping me to explore this new location.
It was a great way to end the first shoot of the day. Two Chicagoans playing thousands of miles from home.
Time to take a break and get ready for my second shoot with the lovely St. Merrique.