I don’t know how it works for you (assuming ‘you’ are somebody who attempts Iron Photographer projects), but for me the IP process follows a few common patterns. Sometimes I know exactly what I want to do—and even if the final photograph has almost nothing to do with my original idea, the process is smooth and harmonious and I get that whole ‘A garden is a lovesome thing, God wot‘ feeling.
Sometimes I have absolutely no idea at all what to do (even though I help come up with the elements, along with the Blessed Jamelah—may her hair grow long), and I spend the two weeks of the project squatting toadlike and glaring at anything that might possibly relate to the three IP elements.
And sometimes I just say ‘fuck it’ and start jamming stuff together. Which is what I did here. The elements of Iron Photographer 143 are 1) something with a handle, 2) the colour orange (we add the irrelevant letter ‘u’ as a sop to our Canadian and British members), and 3) vignetting. I was shaving and I noticed the blue razor in the mirror and thought “Oh, something with a handle. Hey, bingo—Iron Photographer!” So I brought the razor with me from the bathroom. As I dressed I remembered I owned a seldom-worn orange t-shirt. Hey, bingo—two elements down.
But that would be a pretty dull photo, so I grab an old mirror off the dresser. Orange t-shirt as background, razor on the mirror and hey that’s still pretty damned dull. Wait, there’s an old Coca Cola bottle I’d set aside for the last IP project but didn’t use. Put it on the mirror and lawdy, it’s still dull.
Add some drama. Have the light reflect in the mirror, meter off the reflection. Nope, still dull. Get a sheet of black plastic, wrinkle it up for texture, put the t-shirt back down, fold it over a bit, add the mirror and the razor and the coke bottle, make sure the light is reflecting in the mirror and hey bingo—still needs something. Fuck fuck fuck.
Okay, maybe the bit of red plastic mesh I used in a much older IP project. Find that, knot it up. The red clashes horribly with the orange. I like that. Finally shoot a photo and—well, it’s better, but dull. Still dull. Still missing something.
Shift everything around. Shoot another dull photo. Shift it all around again. Shoot a couple more frames. The phone rings; I ignore it. Shift all the stuff around maybe three or four more times and shoot a couple more frames. Shifting it all around doesn’t help because it’s missing something. Shifting doesn’t add anything.
Study the mess I’ve made on the table for a bit, thinking about any of the bits that might please me. Decide what I like best is the curve of the mirror, and the curve of a fold in the t-shirt, and a curve in the knotted mesh and clearly what it needs is another curve. Grab a hanger from the closet. Slide it into the frame. No…slide it a bit farther into the frame. A bit farther. Too far. And there. Shoot two more frames. Process the one I like most, add a whole lot of vignetting (the third IP element) and…
Hey bingo, IP 143. Done.
Return the phone call I ignored earlier. First thing said: “What’ve you been up to?” And I realize I’ve just spent 90 minutes arranging and rearranging a jumble of random objects that are entirely unrelated to each other in any way. A razor, an old Coke bottle, a bit of mesh left over from some cherry tomatoes (that I didn’t eat, but bought purely because I wanted the mesh), a mirror, a t-shirt, a sheet of black plastic, and a coat hanger? So I confess to that over the telephone. After a long pause, “So, I’m thinking about going to Spain next summer.”
The phone calls ends after a brief chat. I look at the photo. It makes no sense. Nothing even remotely like sense. I consider deleting the photo. Then I figure, “What the hell. It’s Iron Photographer. The people who get it, will get it. The people who don’t will still discuss their travel plans with me. It’s all good.”
That’s exactly how it works, isn’t it?
And now I want to go to Spain.
Going to Spain might make a pretty cool Iron Photographer field trip. My darling bride, the former Spanish teacher, could be our tour guide.