The Bag Shot

Our final deliverable for the lighting module this week was The Bag Shot. The concept: a person drops a bag, spilling its contents all over the place. Who is this person? How does the bag, the stuff, and the lighting in the shot tell us about her?

So many impossible ideas ran through my head: Sherlock Holmes (but I’d need the hat, the detective bag, the magnifying glass, the pipe!), a new mother (but I didn’t have any baby stuff around!), a ruptured trash bag (but that would be gross!).

Until I thought of the obvious, at least the obvious for a California girl like me: a beach bag. I didn’t even have to think about it. I just got out the enormous rattan bag I bought in Mexico, gathered up the various seashells and star fish I have around, threw in some bikinis, rolled up some towels, grabbed my Rainbows, my hat, and my biggest, most obnoxious sunglasses, found the dregs of last summer’s sunscreen, and I was ready.

I got some funny looks on the train out to school since it was raining and I looked like I was heading to the shore (and in the wrong direction on the train). But once I got to the studio, I fit right in with my classmates and their bulging bags of props.

Setting up my still life required a lot of attention to detail, but was pretty easy. I know my way around a beach scene! The harder part was recreating the quality of light you get at the beach with just a strobe kit and light modifiers. I ended up putting the modeling light high above the scene (like the sun!), then using a friend’s orange-red-yellow-white-purple swirled scarf as a filter (after rejecting an orange gel filter as not quite right).


And voilà! The beach, in the studio:

Realistic, no?

My classmates put together wonderful scenes, too. Some of theirs included:

  • an overturned Halloween candy bucket (pumpkin-shaped, of course)
  • a street performer’s guitar case strewn with tips and cigarettes
  • a Victorian’s clutch, costume jewelry, lipstick, and rouge (on a lace tablecloth with a floral wallpaper background, no less!)
  • a spilled bag of cat food on a snap-together wood floor he brought in and built, plus a piece of wainscoting to make it extra-real
  • an interior decorator’s giant purse, complete with numerous fabric and paint swatches
  • a travel bag spilled out on a bedspread, double-checking for all the travel essentials before leaving home (plastic baggie with three ounce liquid containers included!)

This is the creative life I’ve been waiting to live. It is awesome.


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Filed under Photo Assignment, Still Life

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