The Staged Photograph – Take Two

Instant Nomad #6687 copyright Douglas Stockdale

Earlier this month I had posted a staged photograph from my Instant Nomad series, which was triggered by the call for work by the SouthEast Center for Photography (SEC4P), for what else; Staged Photography. I had some self-doubts about submitting the singular image I posted for the sole reason that at the time I had only updated this particular photograph and felt that to “improve” my odds for acceptance, I felt that I needed to submit at least five images. In retrospect, I think the one image would have done okay, but this event was what I needed as a kick in the pants to push this Instant Nomad series forward as a potential book.

Interestingly I had another series in progress that was investigating a similar idea about the anxiety that can arise out of the need to travel for my day job. So I borrowed a process that I use to complete a make-vs-buy analysis; except it was to compare the two potential book projects as to which I felt had more traction (expressed my concept the clearest). For me this is an easy Excel spreadsheet to develop since this is a practice I use often. Then I weighted the various factors (score 1 to 5, with 1 being weak and 5 is awesome) to see which project had the larger score. Even though I had almost completed the development of other project, Instant Nomad was the clear “winner” for me to spend my time on. Cool!

So this month I have completed the tweaking and editing of the individual images that I am pre-visualizing for this intended photobook. Once I had the work images printed, the book-dummy came together really, really quick. That surprised me, but in retrospect I had been working on this project off and on for years, so the concept for this series has been quietly percolating. Another bit of serendipity was writing a book review for Ken Rosenthal’s ‘Days On The Mountain‘, which the book’s design really resonated with me. I could just visualize Instant Nomad in this book design. So I called Andy Burgess, the publisher of the book and Andy did not have any issues with me using this book design for my project. And he’s going to connect me with his off-set litho printer located in Tucson (Arizona) as well. Extremely cool!

As to the staged photograph in this article, I was investigating the transient nature of bouncing from hotel to hotel, city to city, country to country as a part of a day-job. We are but ghosts who haunt hotel rooms. This photograph is on of my short-list for the book-dummy. That the subject is blurred and not well defined, increases the ambiguity and unease, which provides some visual tension that relates to the potential anxieties that accompanies this type of business travel.

Btw, I also realize that a ‘staged photograph’ can be very generalized; such as asking your Aunt Sherry to look at the camera and simile while making a group family photo is essentially directing your subject, thus it becomes ‘staged’. I understand the creative intent as an artist work is a bit more conceptual than that. Oh, and if you have a growing interest in this Instant Nomad series and potential book, stayed tuned!



Next exhibition:

May 7th – 29th, 2021, Southeast Center for Photography (SEC4P), Greenville, South Carolina. A group photographic exhibition on the theme of Flora, juried by Wendi Schneider. Opening concurrent with Greenville’s First Friday events while there will not be a formal artists reception of this exhibition due to the pandemic.


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