The Manhattan-view Balcony

October 24, 2021  •  Leave a Comment

It was Brenden's idea to edit the session in black-and-white.  In fact, he requested it about a third of the way into the shoot.  He was in from Nebraska; it was the 24-year-old's first trip to New York City.

 Enter Brenden's Galleries

The often-heard quip, "if it's black-and-white, it must be art," is more than a wry put-down of artistic pretention.  There is a logic behind it:  removing the color from an image focuses the viewer's attention on the lines, forms and composition within the frame.

Upon arrival, I was immediately disappointed with the shooting venue in Long Island City, directly across the river from mid-town Manhattan.  Having leased studio space in the area for years, I knew the neighborhood well and was familiar with its many skyline views of Manhattan.  I relied on marketing photographs on a website and had booked this space without previewing it first. 

The entire western wall was floor-to-ceiling windows that faced west to Manhattan.  The light was delightful, morning and afternoon.  The view itself, however, was a huge disappointment.  "Manhattan Skyline View" was technically correct, but between us and Manhattan was a good chunk of industrial Long Island City. The towers of Manhattan were visible in the distance, behind blocks and blocks of industrial, residential and commercial buildings.  Instead of the East River in the foreground, the view was defined by smoke stacks, parking lots, old factories and one of the city's largest power-generating plants.  It was in many respects a quintessential New York view, but it could have been Industrial Anywhere.  

The structural elements of the windows and  exterior balcony, however, came to the rescue. Their bold, black lines provided striking geometric forms to frame the model; the industrial-strength background could be blown out.  I rarely work in black and white but the model got his wishes.  Processing this nearly monochromatic subject matter with such a treatment was a creative way to salvage the cost of reserving the space for 2 days.

The model was overbooked and had shorter work window than we'd agreed to.  He arranged to come back the next morning, giving us the opportunity to shoot in both the morning and afternoon light. One of our regular second cameras, Taylor Edwards, was free to assist at Brenden's second session and a good portion of the images in his galleries were captured by her. 

It all was enough to whet my appetite for more and we have agreed to schedule another session with this well-toned, ex-Marine from the Midwest.  Keep watching.
 


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