Following up my post a last week with Melissa a few more from that second shoot. The setup for these is much the same as the last image with a little tweak. A single flash behind the door at the end of the hall still provides the only light, but the door now opens wider. The flash now casts a beam through the more open door illuminating more of the hall along with the floor around Melissa. That single flash provides the only light for these images. I left the flash unmodified to produce a very harsh light to better bring out the textures in the wall and give a high contrast lighting reminiscent of film noir. The film noir style focuses on moody, dark, and dramatic themes with a low key black and white lighting style.
So a bit about the setup behind these images and the path that got to here. A few days before this shoot I’d watched the Humphrey Bogart/Lauren Bacall version of The Big Sleep based of the Raymond Chandler novel. It’s a classic film noir and my personal favorite example of the genre. The film tells a tale of a private investigator played by Bogart that becomes embroiled in a mess of blackmail, murder, and betrayal after being hired by a wealthy man to handle his daughter’s gambling debts. Like most film noir the story contains elements of sex, blackmail, crime that have led crime stories to be associated with the genre.
After shooting some images as the last I posted with Melissa peeking into a cracked door, the idea came for these. The light already had an element of that noir look and I enhanced that by shifting the light and removing the modifiers to give sharp lined shadows and hard contrast lighting. Our thought here was the story of a male presence along with a nude woman in a simple interaction of looking at each other across a small distance. The male presence is myself in a rare appearance in front of the camera. The camera is on a tripod at the far end of the hallway from Melissa and being triggered by a remote. I don’t remember for these two, but in several of them Melissa has the remote and triggered the camera hiding it shadow for the shot.
I like the first image above mostly from Melissa’s pose and expression. The male looks to have just come into the hallway and found her here. The look on Melissa’s face has just enough ambiguity in its neutrality to make you wonder at her reaction to the arrival. She seems a little concerned and guarded. There’s the question of why is she in the hall? Why is she nude? Who is this person with her? What is their relationship? What’s inside that room with the open door? My positioning where I stand in silhouette and block any view beyond her are both intentional to add mystery to the scene.
In the second below I’m a more full presence and I like the connection of her looking up at me as I look down toward her. Her pulled in body contrasts with the less guarded expression. In both images I think there are several stories once can fit to the scene. What are the intents of both characters and what relation do they have? Why are they here? It’s that ambiguity and question I wanted to capture in these photos. In the end a noir story or movie isn’t about the results. You don’t watch The Big Sleep to find out who killed the chauffeur, you watch to see the investigation and the twists and turns of the story. Here the photo doesn’t tell you what happened before this moment or afterward, but provides enough for you to write your own story around it.