These photographs are of a toy my 18 month old daughter Lennon picked out at the Georgia Aquarium gift shop. It is extremely difficult to walk through that gift shop, with kids, and not buy anything. And of course the genius of the Aquarium’s architectural layout is that one must walk through the gift shop in order to exit the aquarium. I was thrilled, however, when I saw that this toy was only $12… expensive but not bad for Aquarium gift shop prices. My daughter couldn’t and still can’t get enough of this fun toy. My son recently got a small Star Wars lightsaver in his McDonald’s Happy Meal and Lennon got… the girl toy. Buying Happy Meals forces me to think about gender and identity politics because, even though Lennon is a girl, what if she wanted the boy toy? The lightsaver lights up and is way cooler to a toddler than some Strawberry Shortcake doll (although it did smell like strawberries). But I won’t linger too long on this subject. Moving on…
After watching my daughter play around with this toy for awhile, I got inspired to create fun photographic compositions. Lennon had approached this cabinet in our house and was immediately enthralled by the incredible light patterns it was creating on the wood surface. It was brilliant, so I grabbed my camera. This, however, turned out to be a bigger challenge than I had originally anticipated because I couldn’t get the lightsaver to stay in the same place (with no extra hands) long enough to photograph the patterns like I desired. I ended up laying on the floor and propping the toy up with my legs so that I could take some photographs. I fooled around with various angles and such… the best results were obviously taken without a flash. The other issue I was having was that I was using my Canon telephoto zoom lens, so I had to stand far away from the lightsaver toy in order to be able to snap a photograph. But, I didn’t want to switch lenses either because the zoom allowed me to get in close enough to the lights to capture the detail in the patterns. I just worked with it. Made it work like Tim Gunn was around telling me to make it work! Ha.
I was amazed at these photographs because the lights would change colors every time I snapped a shot, so the photographs had nice variations to them, without me trying too hard. I tried to create high contrast between lights and darks again, since I am a big fan of Caravaggio and all his crazy innovations. I love the fact that these photographs stemmed from an idea inspired by my child, and I tried to make these as playful as possible. Obviously, these photographs made me think of mass consumerism and the crap we buy our kids that gets tossed to the side once it runs out of batteries or the novelty wears off.
Additionally, as a child I was obsessed with the Star Wars trilogy (although, I’m not exactly the type of Star Wars fanatic who knows everything about everything), but my brother was into it and I wanted to play with him. My brother and I’s favorite movie to watch as children (other than Star Wars) was The Labyrinth. Now, I’m not sure if you’ve seen that movie but David Bowie is awesome in it and carries around this crystal ball throughout the entire film. He juggles this ball and threads it through his fingers and bounces it off his wrist and all that jazz. Pretty mesmerizing stuff for a child. Anyways, I had that movie on my mind as well when I was adding my Lightroom treatments to these photographs. I wanted them, like my last post, to be beautiful but representative of a fleeting moment that one cannot permanently obtain and hold onto forever, unless through film or photograph. It’s just like when I watch a fireworks show… a part of me always wishes I could take that fireworks show home with me and watch it over and over and over again… only it’s not the same as the real deal when it comes home in photographic or video form. The Aquarium Lightsaver toy is easier to capture photographically and present, however, than a fireworks show (or at least for me, the amateur photographer, it is). I had fun with these and I hope you will have just as much fun observing and viewing these photographs as I did creating them. Please feel free to leave any comments. Feedback is greatly appreciated here!
THANKS FOR STOPPING BY AND COME BACK AGAIN SOON!!! FEEL FREE TO LOOK THROUGH THE ARCHIVES TOO… THERE IS MORE FUN IN STORE FOR YOU THERE AS WELL. PEACE LOVE, MY FELLOW BLOG-READIN’ FRIENDS.