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The Band Pictures
by Shawna Black
“The Band Pictures”
Anyone into photography in high school or college eventually gets asked to take the “band pictures”. This particular band’s singer was also one of my best friends. I met Shawna (yes, we have the same name) in French I class in high school. She called herself Thorn back then. She had transferred into my school, with her brother, having moved from somewhere in Orange County. Shawna drew spider webs on her face everyday, cut her own hair and sprayed it into an unmanageable mess, pierced her own ears and was bi-sexual. I was instantly drawn to her. Not because the bi-sexual thing, but because she was more of a freak than me! Her brother, Michael, was a cute little skinhead who I ended up dating for six months. Toward the end of that year, Shawna moved to Fullerton, CA with her mother and Michael to Palomar Mountain to live with his father and we lost contact with each other.
After we had all graduated from high school, Shawna and her brother eventually made their way back to San Diego and we all hooked up again. By this time she was married to Chris and the three of them found a drummer and formed a band. I can’t for the life of me remember what the drummer kid’s name was (Daniel, maybe?) or the name of the band. Shawna knew I was into photography, taking classes at the college. The group needed band pictures and asked me to take them. Of course, I agreed.
One night driving home from who knows where, I noticed this very bright spotlight type illumination coming from behind an old building. I stopped to investigate. Totally cool lighting. I promised to come back some night with a subject to photograph. When Shawna asked me to photograph the band, I remembered the old building with the bright light. I drove by the place that night to make sure the floodlight was still working. It was. A few days later, I took the band to this spot and clicked away.
The shots came out great. The lighting was really harsh and made for a dramatic setting, especially in black and white at night. My subjects were very cooperative and did everything I asked them to do. Michael, the boy sitting and my old skinhead boyfriend, looked especially dramatic that night with the way the light fell across his face.
After developing the film I was ready to print, I decided to leave the negs dusty on purpose and used more contrast than was normal. The result: it makes the photos look kinda old. The dust, combined with the harsh lighting, makes the photos look really cool, in my opinion.
Somehow, my mind saw that harsh light in real life and somewhere, in my mind, I was able to translate almost perfectly what I had envisioned onto a piece of photo paper. How this happens, I have no clue. I just know that I love it when it does.
Shawna likes the way skin boys look under harsh lighting...