Friday, April 10, 2009

Inspirations #9: Eugene Atget, Mannequins

Mannequins have long been a favorite for photographers. They are great subjects... they don't move or talk back! All kidding aside, they can also be a mirror of the society they inhabit. The fashions of the time, the social sentiment... it's all right there in the window for all to see. And because there's glass involved there is almost always a reflection of some sort. Some photographers include themselves in the photograph. Others compose at an angle specifically to remove themselves from the image, or to capture reflections important to the composition. Photographers who have photographed mannequins (or dummies) include Edward Weston, George Tice, Ansel Adams, and Garry Winogrand. For me, though, it is Eugene Atget who is at the top of the list. He photographed the storefronts and boutiques of Paris in the 1920s.

Avenue de Gobelins, Paris, 1925, Eugene Atget

3925 (Electric Lady Land), Phoenix, AZ, 2008, Richard M. Coda

I was photographing early one Sunday morning down in Phoenix, as I try to do on a regular basis. I was heading East on Camelback Rd. to another location after I picked up a cup of coffee. Electric Lady Land is across the street from one of our favorite restaurants in the Valley, Vincent's on Camelback. It is also painted dayglo pink, yellow and green, so it is hard to miss. As the sun was still rising the light also caught my eye. It made my way into the parking lot rather quickly and set up my 8x10. By the time I had the camera set up and ready to go, the sun had moved high enough so the two nude figures in the back were now in shadow. I had wanted them to be fully lit but I think I like this image. I may go back around the same time of year and try to get there earlier... maybe I should get my coffee AFTER next time.

Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood, CA, 2008, Richard M. Coda

On our December trip to Hollywood I became fascinated by Hollywood at night. While my wife and daughter were catching a show I was walking around in the cold rain photographing. I only took the digital out because of the weather, but next time I am there I will use the 4x5" and 8x10" cameras. Anyway, this display caught my eye for some strange reason and I made the image. I have it as a 13x19" print and it came out a lot better than I had hoped for considering I used a high ISO and it was hand-held in the cold.

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