Sunday, July 10, 2011

40/52 Joshua Kleckner

So far in the project, I've yet to miss a deadline. This week I came really close, but pulled it out, quite literally at the last minute. After one very vexing failed portrait attempt earlier in the day, this one came together, and quite well, I might add. 

Joshua Kleckner is the third member of a group of Chicago electronic music luminaries. Along with Garo Tokat and the now expatriate Slava Balasanov, Josh has been making music for much longer then I've been on the scene, and shows no signs of stopping soon. Josh's perfectly constructed hip-hop beats strike the listener with such refinement and familiarity that it seems impossible that they're not coming from a big name in a professional studio. But to even imply that Josh only writes hip hop sells him extremely short. Being a person of true musical talent, his music effortlessly goes in whichever direction captures his attention, all the while maintaining the same professionalism. I'm sure that countless times while he's doing a live set he's been asked "who's this track by," the listener assuming he's simply DJing. Having already photographed Garo and Slava, it was only a matter of time before I caught up with Josh for a photo shoot.

As I said in the intro, this shoot came together extremely last minute. Quite literally 11th hour, the frame above was taken at 11:48 on Sunday June 5th. Wendy and I showed up to Rodan, knowing that Josh would be there. I sprung the idea on him at 11:15 or so, and he was immediately on board. I had come equipped with my usual gear. Four flashes, modifiers, an umbrella, several stands, lots of glass. Even though they were running service, I know enough folks who work there to at least temporarily stave off pissing off the staff. My intention had been to do a typical setup of a key with maybe an edge, but I didn't know what I'd use as the backdrop.

As I'm explaining my crazy idea to Josh, my attention was drawn to the large projector screen in the back of the venue. They always play old movies or have someone doing live visuals on a computer to go along with the musical acts. I decided to take a bit of inspiration from Strobist's Refried Beams post and think of the projector as a light source. Rather than photograph the subject projected onto themselves, I decided to use the projector as a key. The large pixels would construct a grid-like structure on Josh's face, which I think fits very well with him as an electronic musician. Because the contrast between the pixels and the area in between them was so great, i used a bounced flash in the hotshoe to fill in the dark areas and give me some shadow detail to work with. Using the projector as I did also gave me the opportunity to use his shadow as a compositional element.

The only real drawback of the projector is that in a lot of frames, it made for some really weird looking skin tones. I think the one up top worked out really well, and at its best the skin tones give a surreal quality to the images. After our guerrilla portrait shoot, I took some snaps of Josh playing as well.

Strobist Info:
SB-800 bounced off of ceiling high camera right

Camera Settings:
1/50 f/2.8 at ISO 1600
Nikon 17-55 f/2.8@ 45mm

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