I was recently photographing in Los Angeles. I had about 4 days of shooting under my belt. But I was intent on getting at least another day in – and hopefully a few more good shots - before I had to head back to Dallas. It had started raining on the last day that I would be able to get out . It was a Sunday. Thus far in my project, Urban Pieces, I have shot in direct sunlight if possible so that the light can work its magic in making colors stronger and brighter and also in creating shadows that I think can add interest and depth. That said, some of the hand-painted outdoor artworks that I include in my photographs never see direct sunlight (because they are in alleys or on the north sides of buildings, etc.), On this particular rainy day, I contemplated bagging on the shoot due to the lack of direct sunlight and calling it a trip. But it was Sunday morning and there weren’t many cars out on the road, or in parking lots, etc. And so I decided to stay in my rental car and shoot murals and graffiti masterpieces through the wet windshield.
While I had done this before for other projects – i.e., shoot from inside a car – I felt that it was sort of a break-through for this project. It presented another spin on how these artworks may be seen affected by the environment; in this case the weather. The water on the windshield creates distortions of the things being photographed. In the case of the blue and gray mural above - which depicts hands cupping breasts - the subject becomes a bit abstracted with the refraction in the water causing almost a melting effect. Also in this image is the reflection of the vent and a speaker in the car’s dash which adds some ambiguity and creates more abstraction but also adds texture to the image.
Besides the effects of the water on the resulting image, this “technique” of shooting through the car windshield highlighted a dimension of this work. These images were shot in places where there was little interaction with the rest of the social landscape. And while I see this as a documentary photography project, I also do not intend for it to be simply a catalogue of others’ artwork. In other words, I am trying to create new art pieces (my own) via the photograph that provides a new and interesting perspective on the social landscape. I intend to create expressive compositions, or pieces, which have as a common denominator the hand-added color introduced into the urban environment through murals and graffiti masterpieces.