Petal Work

Looking into photographer Aaron Checkwood’s flower project

A few weeks ago I was talking with one of my photography heroes Steve Sherman and he referred to what he called a batting average with photos – the ratio in which you have keeper images, versus images that are just throwaways. I’m using this reference because the process of double exposing on film depends on luck. And a lot of times you may have a good batting average versus a bad one. In this case, I actually had a lot of keepers, but the ones that did the weird shit, with the weird effects and stuff, were actually my favorite – and you can’t control that. There’s a lot of nuances and potential disasters to the process, but the first part of it is the easiest. You simply shoot an entire roll of a flower, or multiple flowers. After, you rewind the film and have to remember where you set the leader of those photos. If it’s off, the images are all off center. After the film is set back in, you have to remember exactly what you shot and where it would be sitting in the frame. I made notes on the film to remind me because I’m a ding dong. The next thing you need to think about is your exposure. Overexposing may lose the flowers contrast, under exposing would lose the wave contrast. Will the wave fit in the frame? Or will it be too small? There’s a full-on science to it and I’m still learning. In an age of insta-digital results, I like taking pride in the art and the process. Taking chances still makes me feel like an artist. My goal is to keep raising my batting average and become a Tony Gwynn with my double exposures – wait, that sounds weird. –Aaron Checkwood

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