The biggest project on my plate right now is a shoot for a magazine called Worldbuilder. For this shoot, I am going to be creating a series of photos based on Empire State, a science-fiction noir novel.
My inspiration for the photos are noir films of the 1940’s. The shot above was especially influenced by my viewing of The Third Man. I want to create film stills from the non-existent Empire State film of the 1940’s. The fact that the film doesn’t exist isn’t going to stop me. I’ve already written about finding models, and getting the 1940’s look, but today I’m going to talk about location scouting.
Location scouting is becoming more and more vital for me as I push my photography forward. I am always on the lookout for places that are dramatic and interesting, that I can imagine fitting characters into. For this shoot, finding locations that look like they could be out of a noir movie were the most important thing, which meant visiting a lot of historical sites.
This shoot adds a special challenge, because though many of the locations for the shoot are outdoors, I need these shots not to look modern, to look suitable for the 1940’s. Though I do plan to use photoshop for some of these images, I find it best not to rely to heavily on photoshop, but to find people, costumes, and locations that work to create the mood of the photo I’m going for already. For example, in the photo above, I might edit out the signs that say “push” but since the character of the door has an art-deco feel, it would still make a great backdrop.
Since the city of Empire State features so strongly in the novel, I want to find places that speak to the urban setting and character of the novel. This means seeking out a lot of the older, art deco features of the city, and finding the places I can shoot without passers-by wandering into the shot. I did some scouting in 30th Street Station today, and one of the interesting things is that despite how busy the station is, there are a few corners, here and there, that seem almost lonely.
You can view a selection of my location shots on Flickr here: Worldbuilder Set