Our Troubled Youth
This is a spontaneous concept photograph – the idea for the concept was created when I saw the possibilities offered by the interior and the lighting: the noose, graffiti, darkness, and the light streaming through the openings. There is a strong message of choosing between the evil lurking in the darkness and the hope offered in the light.
The photo was taken in a wonderful old stone church near Cowichan Bay on Vancouver Island. It was a challenge to locate the church and when I finally found it I took a number of images before going inside. It was very spooky in the building and I was irritated at the graffiti – vandals masquerading as artists had marked up the interior. I spent some time considering how to frame a composition and what to do with the “noose” hanging in the middle of my composition. It was at that point that the concept for the image came to me. Suicide has become an epidemic problem particularly with young people and I realized that this interior could communicate this problem powerfully if only I had a person in the image. I then planned that I would have to come back asap with a model to pose for me as I do not like doing composites and prefer to capture the image as it is and spend less time in the computer. Just as I was thinking this, I was blessed with the arrival of a young woman who I asked to stand in the doorway. She felt very uncomfortable posing for this photo and that awkwardness was perfect for the concept being communicated.
The exposure consisted of three images taken on a carefully positioned tripod. The exposures were taken at 2 stop intervals and the surreal interpretation finalized in Photoshop. I find it helps to have a vision on how the image is going to look before starting adjustments in the digital darkroom. The graffiti was very bright and I toned the colour down so that the graffiti did not compete with the main subject and remained as a supporting interest to the visual message. This image has done extremely well in photo competition and viewers have been very impacted by the powerful message it communicates.