Project: Something New

Life is an incredibly interesting place. You never know what’s around the next corner, and you don’t know if it’s something beautiful or awful or revelatory. I recently got to stumble into something that was both beautiful and revelatory, and in one moment (or maybe a series of them) my view of how I can work with my photos shifted immensely.

I’ve always thought of photos as two dimensional. I record what I see, and through editing and processing I work it into a look that matches my vision for the scene. Sometimes it’s warmer and richer, other times it’s straight black & white, and occasionally it’s some sort of split-tone or alt process looking thing. Each scene is a little different, and the processing choices are meant to evoke a mood – either my mood when processing, or my mood when at the scene.

On a recent visit to Salzburg, Austria, I took a wander through the Mozart museum. I love museums about artists and scientists, and Mozart didn’t disappoint me. I don’t care about the bed he slept in, or the clothes he wore, but the instruments, the scores, the work, that’s what draws me. I get a tremendous sense of joy at seeing the piano he took on the road, at the handwritten notes for operas, and that sort of thing. One of the displays showed original set designs for the first performance of The Magic Flute, and they were done in the form of 3D storyboards. I loved the way elements of the scene jumped off the page and made me think about what the stage would look like during the performance. And I filed away a vague idea to do something with that notion.

Very shortly after that, I had an opportunity to present ideas for the decor of an upscale restaurant, and I realized the 250-year-old set design idea could be made new. I set about cutting up a greeting card of a city scene and pasting it back together in three dimensions, and it was beautiful. The work itself was rough, because I’m not a fine detail, cutting and pasting kind of guy, but the idea was strong. My wife, who loves me and is proud of my work, is also very, very honest when ideas don’t go well at all, and as soon as she saw it, she loved it (yea!). So I took it to my lab to see if they could make something like it, only larger and with clean lines. As soon as they saw it, they passed it around and oohed & aahed over it, which made me very happy. And at my presentation, the potential clients immediately saw the value in the idea and were impressed, so that was very cool.

And it led to other ideas. I took scissors to my presentation, and I did this to a picture of mine that I love:

Two Pieces

Two Pieces

I’m not a collagist, so cutting photos freaks me out a little. A lot. I really hesitated in my presentation before putting the scissors to the picture. But it took an already fairly interesting look at a much beloved subject, and elevated it to something special. I’m not going to cut everything up, but now I know that there’s a great idea here, and I’ll probably use it quite a bit.

Once I find a shop that can make my 3D photos a functional, beautiful reality, I’ll share that here.

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