Occasionally we hear ourselves say things we’d never imagine uttering. My photo shoot with artist and educator Erik Tosten offered one such instance:
“OK,” I said, “Now I’m going to go find a spoon that looks like you.”
Among other things, Erik makes wooden spoons. After checking out his work online, I thought to shoot a diptych melding art with artist while using color contrast between foreground and background. Diptychs offer a solution to the oft-shot “people holding things” style of portraiture, which can become tiresome. When I arrived at Erik’s wood shop, I showed him a sketch of the shot and he was receptive. (Artists generally get the creative process and oblige accordingly, even offering constructive feedback at times.)
I asked Erik to stand nice and tall with his eyes closed, giving him a sense of verticality, but also vulnerability. He was a good sport — or a good spoon, or whatever.
Getting your subject comfortable with an idea can make all the difference in the world. After all, all portraits are collaborations to some extent.