PHYSIQUE: Form vs. Document

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I just started shooting this new series inspired by watching a dance performance my good friend Jenjen Wong was in. I have known Jenjen for years, seen many of her performances and on occasion have drunkenly wrestled with her. Jenjen was on of the only girls on her high school wrestling team, was on the crew team in college and now is involved in the Bay Area dance and performing arts scene. She is super active and a pure ball of energy, I think she sweats Taurine or something. Anyhow, I went to her most recent performance with A Mused Collective and was really impressed with the grace and strength of her movements. I asked her immediately if she would like to model for me and she agreed despite the ungodly hour I requested. With a little help from my buddy and fellow photographer Cody T. Williams, we biked it down to the harbor and got some pretty spectacular shoots at dawn. I am really looking forward to capturing more images for this series, focusing on sculptural strength and beauty of the power that the female form can posses.

With this project, I am interested in the subject as a figure study of female strength within physiological form. This differs from the Female Fighter Project, which is more narrative and documentary focusing on the identity of the fighters, their relationship to their environment and me as the photographer. The relationship of the photographer to the subject is often over looked in most photography, yielding to the assumption of the “disembodied eye”. With the Female Fighter Project, I hope that this is not so much the case. The people I shoot are my friends and fighter family so I have a relationship with them I really hope comes through within the images. I approach it like a family photo, keepsake, and personal momento, intimate and informal. I think there is a shyness to a lot of these shots due to this approach. With more formalistic work, I find that I fall more into a directorial role as a photographer, giving more feedback and instruction to the “model” to get the shape and form I am looking for which is not the case with the fighters.

In many ways, the Female Fighter Project has challenged me as a photographer because it pulls me out my comfort zone, makes me shoot in a new way, less controlled and more informal. This is difficult with such big cameras, but I like it and definitely makes me grow. It’s kinda like fighting. You can learn all these techniques in a controlled environment at your academy or in a studio, but once you step into the ring or outside for that matter, a lot of it goes out the window. Your strengths and weakness become glaringly obvious. This is how we grow as artists and fighters, this is where our style develops.

On the technical end, I am still shooting with film and a few different formats. These are some of the B&W shots I took with my Hassleblad 6×6 format (and some with a Fujica GW90 6×9 which I love and am debating whether or not I want to drop more money on equipment… it’s only a matter of time before I go for 4×5. I really like the rectangular format which helps me integrate more of the landscape/environment). The 6×6 has a more intimate feel though which I really like for portraiture. I also took some flash shots with my funky 3d camera (Nimslo 3d), but this takes forevvvvver to get processed. I have a few rolls of undeveloped color sitting here from this shoot as well as the shoot with Malia Spanyol and if they are anywhere near as pretty as these I will be thrilled. Did I mention I love film? Anyhow, I think if I stop drinking coffee I can save up for the 6×9, fingers crossed. One of the beauties and cures of working at a photo center, which by the way if you are looking for an awesome holiday gift you should go to for their super cheap Tintype holiday portraits.

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