In western countries, drinking alcohol is not only largely accepted but also largely encouraged. I do not blame the act of drinking alcohol. I understand how and why people do it. I myself often enjoy giving in to drinking a few beers. However, having witnessed close people falling into serious alcoholism, I can’t stress enough the dangers of its long term effects. This blog post contains a photo series about alcohol, made in the context of the 100% Stuck In Plastic “make it seem” challenge. The remaining of this blog post consist mainly of aggregated content of the photo description posted on Social Media in September 2016.
The goal of the “Make it seem” challenge was to take four different photos and make it convey a message different than the one first intended. For this challenge I didn’t want to take four different photos that would be more or less unrelated to each other. One of the goals I set to myself in 2016 was to try to make my work more coherent. So I decided to transform this challenge into a small project by taking a series of photos that would tell a single story.
This “small” project became the first well defined one on which I spent so many months before being able to feel confident in posting results online. I procrastinated a lot, but this procrastination has been both useful and essential. I didn’t spend much time in front of my camera, but I spent time thinking about what I was going to do, how and why on a almost daily basis. As soon as I started to think what I could make for the challenge, I realized that most of the things I had in mind to “make it seem” were very subjective. Instead of taking a happy photo and make it seem sad, and, a sad photo and make it seem beautiful, couldn’t I take a single photo that is happy, beautiful and/or sad depending on the way you look at it? I was even more disturbed with making a photo that is “normal” and make it seem shocking. What is something normal? I do not consider myself normal so how am I supposed to make a “normal photo”?
For this reason, I decided to start with: “Make a photograph of something that you want the world to know about and make it urgent.” It meant to me that for once I had to make a photo about a serious topic. There are things I want the world to know about, and these are generally serious topics. I have to admit that with my photos I want to make people dream rather than think about reality. But couldn’t I make an exception and use toy photography to talk about a serious topic? One of those serious topics, which I think is important to talk about, is alcoholism and its long terms effects. Still, I wanted to talking about that serious topic using humor.
Since April 2016 I knew I wanted to use Woody as the main subject and what story I wanted to tell. However in July I was still stuck with zero photo. As soon as I arrived in Norway in July, I knew that I had to complete this challenge there if I wanted to get results before the end of the year. So on my first evening, I went for some hiking in the woods nearby Bergen and forced myself to take the photos I needed. It’s been such a surprise how inspiring the Norwegian woods are, that in less than a hour I had more than a hundred photos for the challenge. This next photo could sum up what inspired me there: the epic green moss of the epic green forests.
Even though I took all the photos I needed for the challenge in Norway, and was very eager to share the result online too, I waited before posting anything. I had a lot of photos for the challenge and needed to narrow down the number. I also had no idea what was the right number. So I spent a lot of time looking at my photos before making any decision about which were the ones that would be part of the series. I often take (at least) a few days before making choices about what will make its way online, but here it’s been longer than usual. While the goal of the challenge was to make four photos, I haven’t been able to go below eight.
The last thing that was missing was making decisions regarding post-processing. I enjoy taking photos or looking at them, but I don’t like spending a lot of time on my computer post-processing them. Most of my photos are edited the same way with some custom Lightroom presets and a few adjustments to fix the exposure and increase a little bit the contrast. Overall it’s probably the only thing that was really consistent throughout all my photos. But here I wanted to take my time and make more efforts in order to give a coherent and specific feel to the series. In particular I’ve been particularly careful about the color tone of the photos. I wanted to keep the quite punchy colors I give to all my photos, but on the other hand I wanted to give them a kind of desaturated/aged look.
Looking at my photos, I’ve wondered many times (and keep wondering) if I’ve really been successful with respect to the challenge. I have no doubt that all my previous photos are supposed to be happy: they’re about a love story. But was I successful in making them look sad? Similarly are these photos shocking or will they simply look like some funny photos with Woody? I guess it will depend on who will look at the series and how. Because I had this issue since the beginning, I knew I had to end the series with something different. I assumed that a love story is something happy. However all love story do not end well, some even don’t start well. This one in particular, a love story between a cowboy and a bottle of German alcohol, couldn’t end well. That’s why it’s the only photo where Woody doesn’t smile.