Monday, March 3, 2008
Roderick Angle - Punk Fashion, Vintage Style
Fashion shooter Roderick Angle is unafraid to break the rules. When the assignment calls for it, he can go from the latest digital gear to work with prehistoric Polaroid.
Retouching digital files to create a Polaroid effect sounds exactly like what most photographers would have done with this assignment, but clearly Angle doesn't want to be most photographers. He'd rather make his own rules, make his own look and maybe even have a laugh while he's at it.
“It was really fun, actually,” he says. “I'll probably continue to shoot more Polaroid film. There's definitely an experience to how you shoot it, that sense of haphazardness and also people—your models and your hair and makeup and your clients—being able to sit around and look at these precious little objects. It definitely brings an attitude to it.”
That attitude shows in the pictures, which is ultimately Angle's only real concern. Get the right look, and nobody will care how you did it—certainly not the clients. For all this old-school analog affection, it might be easy to believe that Angle is a grizzled old technophobe with a chip on his shoulder. In fact, he's a realist: Use the tools that do the job. Most of the time for him that's digital, and even with Polaroid, it's a lot like digital.
“I'm definitely a firm digital adherent at this point,” he says of his usual tools. “What's great about digital is the instantaneous thing. Clients love to be able to see what they're getting as they get it. Everybody wants their CD right away—can we get it by the morning? You know, Polaroid gives you the same thing, just with this preciousness. And the color looks amazing. It definitely has a lot of the advantages and none of the disadvantages of regular film. You don't have to wait for the lab to print your contact sheets and all that. But then there's a cost thing, too; it definitely got expensive.”
The Elizabeth and James Polaroid experiment represents Angle's broader body of work in many ways. Clearly the desire and ability to shoot with a Polaroid camera and film make his work somewhat unique, but so does the spontaneity in the photographs throughout his portfolio. A singular pacing comes through; he's capable of finding motion even in these clearly posed stills. Mostly, though, it's the combination of actors and locations coming together to tell Angle's stories in cinematic terms.
“I look at it more like a cinematographer,” Angle says of his shoots. “I think of it more as making a little film, a little movie. So I'm developing my characters, I'm casting my characters and finding the right location to kind of stage my little play in. I shoot a lot on location. I love locations and I love finding the locations. Location is kind of my thing. I definitely think of the pictures as hopefully, ideally, one scene from a movie you've never seen.”
That natural cinematic flair is evident throughout Angle's work. He manages to convey both a sense of drama as well as an almost voyeuristic love of capturing moments and stolen glimpses of his subjects. This effect is no simple coincidence; it's a function of deliberate technique. Along with choosing the cameras and actors and locations, it comes together because of the way he lights his subjects—or doesn't light them, as the case may be.
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