This is my stand in for a human figure. I pulled out the old Liberator yesterday for the first time in god knows how long. Have I used it this year? It is a beast and terribly difficult to focus I find. I get frustrated and put it away. But recently, Tennessee has had the idea that I need to make some photography money to replace my cameras. He said that each year, his wife hires a photographer to take the family portraits. She pays between twelve and fifteen hundred dollars. He wanted to know if I would do this year's portraits. He'd pay me, he said.
Quandary. I don't do that kind of shit. Of course, friends and family don't get charged ever for anything, so I'd be doing it for free, which would be o.k. since I don't know if I could do this sort of thing at all. I went online and looked up local photographers who do portraits. It's true. They charge a lot of money. It looks like they usually take you to the Country Club College campus or to one of the parks on the lake. They shoot for half an hour to an hour depending on how much you want to pay. The photos of families look interchangeable. All are high-toned and smiley. I've walked by them working on Sundays many times. Some use natural light and work alone. Some have assistants who hold reflectors or portable strobes. I assume they are more expensive. I guess it doesn't matter. People have little artistic sensibility. The vast majority. If they are smiling and don't look awkward, they are happy. You can find these packaged pictures in living rooms all over the country.
"Oh my goodness! I love it! We have one almost like that!"
I guess it is one step up from the old Olan Mills and Sears portraits, though I get inspired by kitsch.
Tennessee is now recruiting others who want family photos. They are willing to pay. . . at a discount rate. Again, I'd be ok with that since I have never done this sort of thing before. But I get diarrhea just thinking about it.
Still, it's money. Wedding photographers make a lot of money. One who is tied into a certain social bracket can make $15,000 for a wedding. For those who don't pay that sort of money, though, they get the photos that look like everybody else's.
Shooting a wedding is a lot of work.
I taught photography to a lot of students who were already doing this sort of thing. I think the less you know about art, perhaps, the better you are at doing it. You're not trying to be creative. You just want to get the light and the exposures right. You want to get everybody in frame. Everything else is automatic.
So why don't I want to do it? I'm trying to think of a simile that will make the point, but I am having trouble. Maybe like having your friends walk in while you are masturbating to the Hallmark Channel.
BUT--I have another idea that will not make me any money that intrigues me more. I thought about it yesterday. I'm going to text Bob the Actor and tell him I want to photograph him with a handmade camera. But first, I need to practice. I've fucked up almost every picture I've taken with that beast. I'm going to use Tennessee to practice on until I am sure I can make everything work. Then I'll text Bob. Then, if that works, I'll shoot the famous poet, the mystery novelist, and maybe even Carrot Head who is a sworn enemy but who is friends with Tennessee. Naw. I couldn't.
I thought maybe I'd contact Sally Mann in Virginia and tell her I want to show her a camera she might like.
Yes, I've been dreaming.
But I'm throwing the Liberator and some 4x5 film into the car today, and if somebody doesn't steal it, I will make some more pictures. It is fairly thrilling.
I'm being stupid, of course. I took portraits a week ago, remember? The kids in matching outfits? And this one, too.
I should get off my high horse. I've made lots of stupid pictures. I hadn't planned on showing this, but, you know. . . I have to be self-effacing.
At least it's in focus.
But there is a quality to that Liberator palm pic, ain't there? Creamy. Dreamy. Not literal.
I can do it. I think I can, I think I can, I think I can. . . .
If I were to do family portraits, though. . . .
This post turned out to be a mess. Whatever. Some days, I guess, I'm just a dick.