Iced Tea on Granby Street, 2012
I wish I were better with props. Some people I know drag all sorts of props around with them when they’re out to paint or make photographs. One friend, for example, did a series of wonderful environmental portraits that included an old white chair.
Props don’t to have to be anything fancy. Just thinking about that chair makes me realize that it could be something as simple as a glass or a piece of ribbon or maybe even an old shoe or something else mundane that you would challenge yourself to make relevant in a series of photographs.
I, on the other hand, can hardly be counted on to get the tripod out of the car when I go out to take pictures. So the idea that I’m going to haul around a sack of toys, a handful of ribbons, an old shoe or a garden gnome to feature in my photographs is pretty silly. I’m an artist, after all. I work with what providence puts before me.
I was actually intrigued by my friend’s chair series. And would it kill me to throw a piece of colorful ribbon or some other portable prop in the back of the car? You never know what’s going to trigger inspiration. Maybe having that ribbon will do it.
As for the photo above, this is more a case of a prop getting in the way. I’d been walking around downtown Norfolk for an hour and stopped at a hipster coffee house to get a glass of tea so that I could…okay, I bought it so that I could use the coffee house’s bathroom without feeling guilty.
When you’ve paid almost three bucks for a tall iced tea (and a clean bathroom) you don’t want to just toss the tea out. So I carried it on my walk, where liquid refreshment notwithstanding, it became a nuisance. When I’d stop to take a picture I needed both hands on the camera. I’d set the plastic cup on the back of a car or on a planter or down on the sidewalk. In this particular moment the closest thing was a pair of parking meters. (I have no idea why I thought they’d be cleaner than the sidewalk.) I nestled the ice tea between the two meters and set about to take the picture I wanted. Then I turned around and noticed that while there’s nothing remarkable about this scene, the color of the tea, the reflection of light off the meters and the brick sidewalk in the distance made for a calm confluence of soft colors.
I’m going to have to think about this prop thing. Suggestions anyone?