A few months ago I was asked to be meet director for my college's conference swim meet. Having a few former teammates still on the team plus the chance to see other alumni I quickly accepted. The previous year I had gone back as well but just as a general volunteer without a defined role. During that trip I managed to squeeze in a entire free day where I was able to do my favorite portrait shoot of the year. Scheming with similar intentions I arranged my flights to give me a bonus day this year too.
To make this extra day happen I reached out to one of my best friends, former co-captain, and current St Louis resident Jo for a couch to surf on. She happily obliged with the stipulation we would hang out and do a few photo excursions, which I was delighted to agree too. On top of these planned Jo adventures I reached out to one of my other frequent photo models, current student, and former teammate Bailey about a shoot I had been thinking about.
Since I managed to take quite a few photos (Nine rolls!) spread over several shoots I am going to split up this post into two different posts. This one I will focus on my shoot with Bailey. It was a shoot that has been floating in my head for a long time.
The idea for the shoot I had with Bailey dates back to when I was still a student. I had actually used the idea once before with my Falling Water short. In that short I emphasized the contrast between water and skin via a strong selective monochrome coloring. That connection of water to skin is bond that swimmer feels every moment they exercise their sport.
My inspiration of that shoot was simply water drops on bare skin. Using the motion aspect of film to my advantage I made it into a visually crisp and attractive series of shots. My original intention however was to do a still photo shoot. I had first envisioned using texture, form, and light to convey that barrier between worlds.
We arrived at the college's natatorium mid-morning with a partially clouded sky outside providing shifting natural light. The natatorium has these wonderful tall windows along three walls that allows the entire pool area to not require much artificial lighting. Along with Bailey our friend Annika joined us as both a welcome fellow photographer and a clutch last minute photographer assistant (thanks Annika!).
In anticipation of this photo shoot I had ordered a couple rolls of Rollei CR200 slide film. From my research I learned that the film is repackaged Agfa RSX-200 film. An E6 slide film with a warmer palette and comfortable grain for the 200 speed. I figured it would fit in well a natural light portrait shoot. A side project or goal for this year is to shoot much more slide film too. For black and white I had packed some Kodak Tri-X 400 and my usual stock of Fomapan 100.
Taking advantage of the direct sun peaking between the clouds I worked with the caustic reflections that appear around the pool. These allure me the most whenever I am around a pool. Underwater (as refractions) and above they are the signature mark of the interaction of the two worlds of air and water.
Working around the pool my artistic focus was to try to shoot a little wider (stepping back) to include more foreground and background. Having looked at my archives recently I noticed that I have a propensity to tightly crop my compositions and that my more favorite shots all had a wider view. In addition to this I've also been drawing inspiration from several instagram accounts I follow. I centered on using more indirect and 'odd' light as well having foreground elements completely out of focus but overlapping the subject to imbue a three dimensional quality.
This was a quick and fun shoot. In total I shot only four rolls: two Rollei CR-200, one Kodak TriX 400, and one Fomapan 100; for a total of only forty images. Of those I consider about third to be keepers and about a half of those to be nice portfolio pieces. All in all a successful shoot. I do want to give a big shoutout and thanks to Bailey for being both willing and a wonderful model. Also a shoutout to Annika for being an impromptu assistant and for inspiring at least a few of my shots. Lastly a shoutout to Dani for letting me into that Natatorium even though she couldn't stay for the shoot!