Greg Inda

Lensbaby Meets Burlesque -or- Double Take: Looking at something familiar in a new way (NSFW below the drop)

Last time out, I decided I wanted to try something a little different when photographing the Kiss Kiss Cabaret.  I brought out the lensbaby, a gimmick lens that has a small point of focus, but then gets gradually more and more blurry as you move away from it.  I've always liked the effect, but haven't found much practical use for it outside of the occasional portrait.

Using the Lensbaby in the studio, with Paris GreenIn a studio setting, the lens handles great.  You have to move the focus point manually around the frame by twisting the lens itself (as well as focusing the lens), so when you take your time to nail the focus you can get some really cool results.  But using the lens during a live performance is a lot riskier. There are so many intangibles to creating the shot (focus, exposure, composition,) that sometimes you just miss the moment.  Sometimes the focal point is just a hair off from where you'd like it to be.  Other times the focal point is in the right spot, but the image is so blurred that you miss the reason you took the shot.  I imagine it's like trying to fly a plane with walleye vision.

So why bother?

Because once in awhile you're photographing a subject matter and it becomes too familiar.  I've been photographing burlesque for some time now, and I've got that mental checklist I go through as I approach the work.  I've got a pretty good idea what shots I want to get and how to get them. But that's boring.  I felt like it was important to keep digging.  Finding a new way to look at the work and find new ways to voice my feelings about it.  And for me that came in the form of the Lensbaby.  It reminds me of something Jack White said:

I keep guitars that are, you know, the neck's a little bit bent and it's a little bit out of tune. I want to work and battle it and conquer it and make it express whatever attitude I have at that moment. I want it to be a struggle.  -- From It Might Get Loud

With the Lensbaby, you're forced to struggle.  Follow your instincts, follow that moment, and make quick decisions for better or worse.  As a result I feel that the images show something that I hadn't been expressing in my previous work.  And seeing that, I can hopefully bring out those themes in my more traditional work.  Or at the very least, make something look instragramy enough to trend.

Anyway, you can check out some results below (click below to expand), or check out the full gallery at http://www.greginda.com/live-gallery/burlesque-experimental/ .  Big thanks to Chris Biddle and the Kiss Kiss Cabaret for allowing me the freedom to try some stuff out.

Also, if you're interested in some more experimental burlesque photography, check out what my friend Brian C. Janes did compressing an entire act into a single image. 

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Venice Bridges

So one self assignment I gave myself in Venice was to photograph the bottoms of bridges.  I was very surprised how much character each bridge had, built out of completely different materials than the bridge before it.  I used a slow shutter speed to de-emphasize the actual construction and to bring out more of the color and pattern each bridge had.  Check out the gallery right here at http://www.greginda.com/personal-work/venice-bridges/

Or enjoy these two samples here.

The Windy City Burlesque Fest is Upon Us

It's time once again to photograph the Windy City Burlesque Fest.  I've been lucky enough to photograph shows every year of the festival, and this year I've been assigned 4 of the 6 shows.  So if you happen to come by for the 10pm and midnight shows on Friday and Saturday feel free to pull me aside and say hi.  I'm hoping to throw some of my favorite images from the last two festivals up this week leading up to the shows, so look out for those.

The image above was from a Belmont Burlesque Revue show, but you can see these ladies perform this iconic number during the festival.  The BBR holds a special place in my heart.  I used to stage manage the show, and they gave me some of my first photography work.  Thankfully I've proved to be more valuable behind a camera then a light board, otherwise I'd still be doing that!