This week, as part of the POSITIVES 'N NEGATIVES series, Wisconsin-based photographer Dana Truckenbrod (@the.sweetest.hours) shared two photos with me: the one of which she is most proud, and the one that caused her the biggest disappointment.
How did this photo come to be?
“One morning last June, smack in the middle of the pandemic, I randomly woke up at 6 am. I couldn’t fall back asleep and the sun was shining and I knew it was going to be a nice day so I jumped on my bike with my camera and took a ride in my sleepy hometown. I live in the middle of nowhere, in a very tiny village with just a few gas stations and an ice cream shop. I’m pretty sure that morning I filled up two whole rolls with photos. It was like everywhere I looked something was jumping out at me that I wanted to photograph. But out of all those photos, this one always comes back to me as my favorite. The golden morning light, the green summer grass, the shadow cast by that propped up door. It reminds me of summer mornings when you wake up before everyone else and the world feels like it’s just for you.”
What are you most proud of when you look at this photo?
“I think I am most proud of either the composition or the saturated, bright colors in this. I love how the door is framed by the house & tree, and draws you further into the photo. (Honestly, I think it’s just that door and it’s shadow I’m so enamored with, I am a sucker for those little details)”
Do you have a favorite film stock?
“I am still learning all the ins and outs of film stocks, but right now I think I’d say Kodak Colorplus 200 is my favorite. I just got some rolls developed and the colors are so warm and gorgeous, ah!”
What is your favorite subject to shoot?
“Oh, this is such a hard question! I think, as narcissistic as it sounds, I love taking self portraits. I feel I can be as creative as I want, take risks, take my time, use props, get the lighting exactly how I want, and take as many shots as I want. Basically I have total control. And, they’re fun!
Otherwise, I am pretty obsessed with taking photos of people’s houses. There are so many little details about the outside of old suburban homes/farmhouses, their lawn ornaments, and I like to wonder about who lives there, what compelled them to paint their house baby pink, if they see me and think I’m a creepy stalker…. LOL! Or sometimes I walk past a house I see all the time and the light hits it in a different way and it looks glorious.”
What was going on when you took this photo?
“My family took a weekend trip to Minnesota, and we stayed at a casino-hotel for a night. I wanted to capture the flashy decor and beautiful lights inside the casino, but all of the photos I took in the dim casino lighting were blurry or out of focus.”
And what went wrong in the process?
“I was sooo excited to take photos at this location because of the pretty lights and decorative elements, but I made a few rookie mistakes. It was one of my first times shooting in a very dim, indoor setting. For some reason I thought just having a high speed film would be fine and all my low-light photos would come out beautifully. In reality, I really would have benefitted from using a tripod or at least setting my camera on a stable surface. I also made the mistake of using my point and shoot camera, which is automatic, so I had pretty much no control over the focus or any hints on if I’d got the exposure right.”
Did you learn a lesson when you saw the final result?
“My advice to others: if you’re going to shoot in a dimly lit space, definitely bring a tripod or find a stable surface if you can. I also recommend bringing a camera that has manual settings, or in this case I wish I had brought multiple cameras! Sometimes shooting the same shot on a different camera makes a huge difference.
I also think these photos turned out bad because I was still a little nervous about shooting in public places, and didn’t want to draw a lot of attention to myself. If I could go back now I would take my time more and think out what I wanted to shoot more carefully.”
Have you managed to get over your fear of shooting in public? If so, do you have any tips for others?
“Well, I’m really not quite comfortable with it still! I really don’t like drawing attention to myself in public, and I feel sometimes when I’m out and about with my big camera it does make me stick out.
All I can really say is, the more you practice or try taking your camera with you in busier public situations, the easier it becomes. There have been times where I was nervous but wanted to take a photo so badly and just tried to remind myself, people really don’t care that much about what you’re doing as you do. If anything they may just stare because they’re curious, or maybe they’re a photographer too!
Anyways, I still feel very self conscious in public situations, but my ultimate advice is just expose yourself to it, take your time even if you feel uncomfortable, and just try to focus on getting your best shot and not what random strangers think.”
I like to encourage people to find one thing they still enjoy about the photo they dislike. Is there still something that you find beautiful?
“Once I got past my disappointment with these shots, I could still appreciate the warm colors and sometimes, a little blur adds to the atmosphere of a photo. ”
To see more of Dana’s work, check her out on instagram @the.sweetest.hours
Author: Dana Gingras