the kinds of photos you can't use for promotional purposes, part two

So we were in this fabulously dodgy motel room, and unfortunately the natural light wasn't strong enough for the film I was using. I had two choices: use a flash, which would wash everyone and everything out and look basically pretty dodgy, or use a tripod and get everyone to stay really still for a longer exposure.

Most of these guys managed to stay wonderfully still. Most.

I guess they got restless.

I love both of these photos so much. The first because you'd never tell it was a long exposure except for Michael's massive blurriness; the fact that everone else is so clear makes it quite bizarre. And the second because while Michael, Emily, Jarrad and Rich are in some kind of motion and Liam, Ross and Joe are not looking at the camera, Jim has this incredible expression - complete with Bible in hand and glasses in mouth - directed right into the lens. So great.

I also think the disgustingly ordinary cream brick wall and the wood-covered fluorescent light, with its eerily warm glow, are pretty great.

These photos were taken with the aim of getting some very specific publicity shots. We did quite a few different set-ups around the motel, most of which turned out pretty well. As ususal, though, there were some shots that were never going to make the publicity cut. These first two, for obvious reasons, are examples.

I told Jarrad that the flash would make everything look dodge-a-rama, but he was all for it. So the flash came out blazing, blinding all the eagles and worms in the room. These have such a different look and feel to the warmer, non-flash images, but I still like them in all their disgusting glory. The flat tones and non-existent depth suit the crappiness of the room.

During this part of the shoot, Rich had just incorporated some very unsavoury improvisation in his reading from the Bible. While it kept everyone entertained during what can be a pretty tedious process, it also meant that the laughter sometimes got too much. And so we have a photo where only one of eight faces is actually completely visible.

This wonderful wall provided a much-needed barrier between the driveway and the (empty and dirty) pool. The sun was beating down creating harsh shadows and squinty eyes, but the shots turned out better than I thought they would. Indra provided some of the laughs when I needed some animation, which generally worked really well. Then he started throwing someone's shrivelled-up half-eaten sausage at them and things got a little weird. This shot is great because their reactions are pretty priceless, but it's not really what you'd call press-friendly.

The colour scheme of the motel's exterior is so classically bad, in the best possible way. The dated materials combined with the life-could-be-a-dream teal and cream reminds me so much of cheap '80s American movies set in California or Miami. And as a certified connoisseur of '80s bikini movies (a term that I, ahem, actually coined myself), this excited me greatly. The set-up of this shot isn't very dynamic, and I don't think anyone was really feeling it at the time. I don't regret insisting on the shots, though, because I adore the colours and the wonderful repetition in the door/window combo. And that fabulous railing.

The pool shots were undoubtedly the winners of the day. The sunshine, the light and dark teal, the empty grotty pool, the al-cheapo potted palm. It was a lot of fun. (At least, it was for me. I can't speak for these poor over-photographed suckers!)

Last time I wrote about press shots that didn't go as planned, I pointed out that the technically 'unusable' images are often the most interesting. I think that's true of a lot of the photos above, but I think it's especially true of this one. I was using my tripod and getting all the guys (and gal) to stay super still. It was all going well, except that after a couple of shots I realised that I was totally out of focus. But by accidentally focusing on the foreground, I have this wonderful image of everyone where everything is blurry - except for the soles of three pairs of shoes, right in the centre of the image. How fantastic! Well, I think so. An unexpected gem from an otherwise pretty straightforward set-up.

This expedition was a bit challenging, because they were being taken for publicity purposes, and I/we had to work with some interesting confines. While I don't adore the photos in terms of my personal photography, I'm really pleased with the results, relative to the project. And Jarrad was also really pleased with them. And in this case, that's definitely the main thing.

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