Last Creative Endeavor in 2016

I sometimes get really odd ideas that I can’t let go of. About a week ago I was outside watching my kids play with sticks and for whatever reason I looked over at our firewood pile and got this idea of setting up a shoot that involves cigarettes and some sort of alcohol with the firewood pile as a background. I couldn’t get the thought out of my head, so on New Years Eve I bought a pack of cigarettes and a six-pack of beer in addition to the two empty beer bottles that I had gotten from my brother-in-law a few days earlier for the project.

As it often is when I try to set up a shoot at night, my baby boy refused to fall asleep at his normal time. It took him until 9PM to fall asleep. With the combination of the delay in getting started and the cold and windy weather outside, I was just about to ditch the whole thing, but thankfully I forced myself to go out there. It turned out to be a wonderful way to spend the New Year’s Eve.

My original thought was to have lots of empty beer bottles and cigarette buds spread on the ground with me looking a bit scared into the camera trying to block the light as if somebody would be shining a flashlight on me trying to figure out what I’m doing, but while waiting for my baby to fall asleep, I started liking that idea less and less, so by the time I got out there and the light and camera set up, I was at a loss as to what I was going to do. I decided to just get the cigarette buds going by letting them burn through:

(20-35mm lens at 35mm, ISO 100, f/8, 1/125 sec + monolight with reflector and 40* grid)


And then it occurred to me that the only way this was going to result in anything interesting was to make it as close to authentic as possible. So I started drinking the remaining beers and puffing on the cigarettes. Bear in mind that I have never been a smoker, and I can count the times I’ve been drunk on one hand, but there was something about that whole situation – me alone with cigarettes and beer and music playing on my phone – that brought me back to my younger years. I remembered how about 17 years ago one night I did just that – I had bought a pack of cigarettes and I went to a pub and drank quite a few beers while puffing on the cigarettes I had bought, because I had had an absolutely miserable day and wanted to protest my life by doing what I had always thought that I shouldn’t be doing. Kind of silly, right? But in some ways I wish I could still do stupid stuff like this when I get fed up with everything. Once you get older and have a family and all kinds of responsibilities, you sort of always have to deal with emotional turmoil with your brain and not your heart. You can’t just take off and do whatever you please when things get hard. I came out of that night 17 years ago feeling much better about everything, albeit disgusted with the cigarette smell that seemed to have permanently etched itself into my hands and clothes. It felt good to have done it.

But back to this New Year’s Eve. I was planning on being out there only for about 15-20 minutes. That turned into about an hour and a half. Did I mention that  I was, in a weird way, thoroughly enjoying myself despite the cold and wind? The music I listened to put me in a sort of melancholic state of mind and the beers certainly helped exaggerate that. I ended up with 400 photos – I never ever shoot that many photos of one occasion, but I kept on hitting the shutter button on my camera remote constantly while going about what I was doing. My excuse – I was going for authenticity so there wasn’t really any posing involved. The only thing not authentic is my messed up make-up. I did that before I went out; I put on mascara and eye liner and then put water on my face to smear it and make it look like I’ve seen many a girl’s make-up look at the end of a long night of drinking. Below are my favorite images in chronological order.

(20-35mm lens at 35mm, ISO 100, f/8, 1/125 sec + monolight with reflector and 40* grid)


(20-35mm lens at 35mm, ISO 100, f/10, 0.4 sec + monolight with reflector)


(20-35mm lens at 35mm, ISO 100, f/10, 0.4 sec + monolight with reflector)


2 responses to “Last Creative Endeavor in 2016

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