Smoke, Flour, Dirt & Dust
I'm always keeping an eye out for cool and interesting locations.
I came across this old abandoned motel in Gary one day, as I was making my way to the highway (I-65). It looked really neat from the street but I wasn't sure how safe it was until I stopped there one day after work and poked around. The grounds were overgrown and the place looked untouched. After a quick sweep I decided to reach out to my buddy Levi and see if he was up for shooting here.
Levi is one of the most talented dudes I know so I wasn't surprised when he said he had a couple ideas that we could do at this place. That weekend I packed up the kids and we headed out there on a Saturday afternoon.
I really loved the textures in this place and the lighting was pretty amazing in the open spaces.
We started off with some smoke bombs. I really loved the color that these things shoot out and the kids had a lot of fun with them. It was tricky trying to keep focus and exposure and Levi showed me how to bracket my shot. That is one of the best things about shooting with other people. The real time help and feedback is super awesome and way more fun then just shooting by yourself.
This blue color smoke was so thick and colorful. I could shoot with this stuff all day. We did a couple shots and then decided to move to the next floor for some more shots. As we walked up to the second floor Levi thought it would be cool to get one of the boys walking up the stairs with some smoke, I wasn't ready and I only got a few shots of this. Working with smoke bombs takes some practice, you have to work with the wind and move quickly. I love the negative space in this shot.
Each open space was slightly different then the next. This particular space had some really cool moss growing on the floor and it was perfect for the green smoke. I really dig the silhouettes in these shots, it is something different then I'm used to shooting.
After these shots I headed down to the ground floor and got some shots of Levi. I wanted to really showcase the environment and he did a great job interacting with his surroundings. The boys started kicking rocks over the edge of the ledge and it made for a beautiful accident. I told them to keep doing it as Levi walked around and it added another element and depth to this picture.
I grabbed some quick shots of the kids too. They do a great job of acting natural. I give them very little direction, mostly because they have a mind of their own and they just do whatever.
Like I mentioned above, each open space - of what use to be motel rooms - had something different in them. From parking blocks to piles of rocks each give us something to use. I really liked seeing how another photographer sees the same environment. We each took turns doing our thing. Here are some shots of Levi's and some behind the scenes.
I used these parking blocks in a different way and had the guys run on them, stand on them and just look cool.
We worked our way back upstairs and being the daredevil that Levi is he decided to check out the roof. And if you are looking to shoot here, the roof top can be accessed through a small hole in the roof in the space toward the back of the second floor right off the stairs. (It'll make more sense if you go there and see). I grabbed some quick shots of Levi walking on the roof. It looked pretty cool and I wish my fear of heights didn't get the best of me, it would have been sweet to get up there too.
Next we shot in a couple of spaces that had a lot of graffiti on the walls. The pieces seemed pretty old and the texture they created was really neat which photographed perfectly. It helped in making our photos pop.
I really liked the photos we got out of that spot. The colors were great and we got the boys to mess around and be silly.
Going there I was really excited about getting a shot on the corner of the second floor. I had the idea stuck in my head about recreating the shot on J. Cole's album cover and this place was the perfect spot to do it. I'm afraid of heights but I pressed on and Levi was able to get the shot. He also used a old chandler jewel I had to get some pretty rad lens flares.
We closed out the shoot with some flour shots. We covered the kids in flour and let them jump around. We learned a lot about how the flour reacts to movement. More importantly the type of movement, quick-sharp actions work the best. We also played with lighting to get the best contrast. The kids thought it was awesome so we just let them go with it.
All-in-all it was a great afternoon and a great experience. I recommend shooting with a friend and trying something new. It's great to have someone to bounce ideas off of and to talk though your idea/concepts. Added input and the willingness to learn can only result in some cool output. I can't wait to shoot again with Levi, only great things to come!