Part 1: Playground
I have always had trouble remembering my childhood. While a lot of people can remember things from when they were one and two years old, with a few exceptions, I barely remember middle school. Every week for months I have driven by this place and wanted to take pictures simply because as far as parks go, this one is pretty fantastic. So, I finally did. From the start, there was not a specific concept in mind. As I progressed through, I started remembering games and make-believe activities that kids, including myself, participate in at a playground. Thus, the concept was born.
On the technical side, I was using a 35-80 mm zoom lens with a wide angle converter attached. To keep the depth of field great, my f-stop stayed in the range of f/5.6 to f/10. The one exception is on the monkey rings in which I was wanting a more shallow depth of field, so it was shot at f/4.5. ISO speed was consistently 100 through all of the images, because it was a very sunny day. Shutter speed varied to keep my exposure normal, with a range from 1/80 to 1/400 seconds. There was a lot of shade, and therefor shadows, so the aperture and shutter speed changed on just about every exposure. During post-processing, I switched to black and white and added a bit of a black vignette to the edges and corners to place more of a focus on the subject. To keep it uniform, the same customer filters were used on all 12 images.
The images are in black and white because that is how I dream, and thinking back on childhood memories also brings forth the dreams we have as kids. My brother wanted to be a baseball star, or he wanted to be the next Michael Jordan. The way I would flip around on the equipment, you would have thought I was going to be a gymnast. As you get older, it is easy to get caught up in all the responsibilities of life and to forget the days when playground equipment was a giant pirate ship and you were going to be the captain no matter what. So, to quote Abraham Sutzkever, “If you carry your childhood with you, you never become older.” That is my goal and I hope this series makes it your goal as well.
Part 2: Toys
I have always had trouble remembering my childhood. While a lot of people can remember things from when they were one and two years old, with a few exceptions, I barely remember middle school. Last year, I did a set of pictures at an empty park, which became the first part of this childhood memories series. I decided to continue the theme with images of found items that remind me of my childhood.
I was inspired by the series ‘muchloved’ by Mark Nixon in which he photographed “loved to bits” teddies and published a book of them alongside their owner’s stories and memories. While none of the objects I photographed are mine personally, they all bring back memories of playing with my brother, or of watching a terrible quality VHS tape over and over until it couldn’t be played any more. I can recall story times at night and a collection of beanie babies I was sure were going to be worth something someday. Thinking back on these memories reminds me of the dreams we had as kids and the dreams we have now. I rarely dream in full color, which is why I turned down the saturation levels to make the colors a bit muted.
On the technical side, the images were shot indoors and from above, against a grey background using a 35-80 mm zoom lens. Lighting was a mix of fluorescent ambient light and a diffused speedlite with attached flash gel to match the ambient light. I wanted the images to be simple, with the entire focus on the objects so that the viewers have a chance to recall their own memories from childhood, without any background interference. Lastly, I added a black vignette to have more of a gradient to the background.
As we get older, it is easy to get caught up in all the responsibilities of life and to forget the days when winning a game of Candy Land was everything, even though you knew your dad really was not as bad at it as he pretended he was. So, to quote Abraham Sutzkever, “If you carry your childhood with you, you never become older.”