The Evolution of Stripped Down
I shot my very first frame for my Stripped Down series in 2008. I had a general idea of what I was wanting to do with the series. And it was a learning experience for me. High key lighting was a foreign and new concept for me. How do I keep the light from spilling all over the model and not soften the edges? Or the light bouncing back in to the lens? Basically, how in the hell can I shoot this and not fuck it up was the question bouncing around in my head.
This is from one of my first shoot for the series before it turned in to a series. I had “failed” at some previous shoots in regards to exposure, light bouncing back in to my lens and softening the image and edges. So I backed the lighting down on the background and started shooting. Somehow I managed to not get the exposure correct for the backdrop and the following images of Embry are the result. We also shot a set for Suicide Girls the night before. We talked off and on for about a week working the images down to a set and then POOF!, she dropped off the radar as she was traveling the country. 8 years later, I still haven’t been able to track her down and show her the final set for SG that is still ready for submission….
When I first started shooting for this project, I had very minimal lighting equipment. I owned 3 Nikon speedlights and a set of Pocket wizards. Some of the early images were shot using just the bare flashes. This created lots of contrast, but also some loss in detail or really heavy shadowing. After a little internet research, I made grids for the flashes using Coreplast, snoots from cardboard, softboxes from cardboard and an old white t-shirt, and a beauty dish from a plastic bowl. DIY at it’s best.
Finally the images were starting to look how I wanted them to; high key, strong contrast. A couple years go buy and I was able to purchase my own strove lighting equipment and modifiers. The shoots became faster to set up consistently. The workflow from shooting, ingesting images, the selection process, “editing” and then to final output has become so much quicker. Well, everything but the selection process. I continue to me amazed more by the faces in the series than the bodies. The eyes. Every face and expression is unique. There is strength, nervousness, confidence…
There is no retouching of any kind on these images. The only post production work I have ever done for the Stripped Down project is the black and white conversion and maybe a little exposure correction (from the early years as I own a light meter now).
Been contemplating maybe shooting the next couple participants using the rolls of Ilford film sitting in my refrigerator.