Way back in January I had this random photographic inspiration, where I carried my Superboy figure around the city and photographed it as if it was a real person rather than a plastic toy. This weekend I really wanted to get out of the house on Sunday, so I thought I would try it again, but I gave up in an hour after severe frustration.
What went wrong?
1) I chose my initial setting poorly. Mapping out the pattern of where I wanted to go in my head, the UT Gardens seemed like the logical choice for a first stop, since it was the furthest place on my list from my house. The photo that inspired the whole idea back in January was taken at the gardens:
so I thought retracing my steps a little might inspire me to success again. Unfortunately I forgot the basics of why that photo works and why this photo doesn't:
Scale and perspective.
The photographs that worked best from the original experiment were the ones where I worked to make it look like Superboy was part of the scene, in proportion to other objects in the frame. A blurry grove in the distance offers the illusion that Superboy might just be a person that you're standing behind, both of you staring off toward the horizon. A beer bottle the same height as Superboy confirms that Superboy is the same height as a beer bottle, and destroys the suspension of disbelief that the first set of pictures is built on. I initially forgot this when I began taking pictures on Sunday, and got more and more irritated as I moved through the gardens taking photos of Superboy among the plants that looked dissatisfyingly like photos of an action figure standing in some plants.
I might have worked my way out of it given enough time and concentration, as these pictures I took at the far end of the garden suggest that I was starting to fall into the groove of an interesting idea:
but I didn't get to concentrate and think through what I was doing, because of the other thing that I did wrong:
2) I left my house too late. I didn't go out until after noon, and that meant the gardens were full of people.
Every time I set Superboy down somewhere and started to carefully pose him, someone walked up.
"What are you doing? What's that? Is that a toy? What are you working on?"
It meant that I rushed out of every location before taking more than a shot or two, and getting this right takes way more than two shots at a time. I was asked if I was almost done, if I worked at the gardens, and then the worst comment of all came when I was in the back by the rusty truck, taking the reflection photos above that are the only good ones I took in an hour:
"Are you almost done? I wanted to get some pictures of my kids by the truck before the light changes, and you're in the frame."
The gardens are for everybody, jackhole. I bet that woman's kids are horrible little entitled snots, just like their mother.
Next time I leave the house at seven in the morning, and give up as soon as I start to see other people.