This week, I've started diving in (unsuccessfully) into my Maxi Taxi project, while working more heavily on my multimedia photo essay on TriniRevellers/Tribe designer, Gina Maingot.
The final essay, which will be completed this week, will be about 3 and a half minutes long, and include most of the images in this flickr set, as well as a few other photographs, which will be narrated by sound gathered and compiled from two interviews with Ms. Maingot. The audio track, which I built using Audacity, is completed, and although it took longer than I had originally anticipated, went fairly smoothly. Now it's just a matter of mindfully laying the images in with deliberate timing and transitions in a sensible and logical way so the images and voice compliment one other.
I've begun the Maxi Taxi project with a rough start. I got linked up with a driver named Shannon, who drives the Maxi adorned with puzzle piece upholstery this week. I sat in on his route from Curepe to Sangre Grande, which was, to my surprise, about an hour and a half ride each way. While I took a few photographs during the ride, I encountered a few unexpected problems:
1. Exposure -- Very bright outdoors with very harsh shadows inside, led me to blow out the skies and underexpose inside. Also, I forgot to pay attention to my ISO and shot the entire set at 800... woops :-)
2. Movement -- The Maxi was full, and the seat Shannon saved for me was the middle seat of the driver's bench, so I could only shoot in front, behind (while being careful to not bump him nor the woman seated to my left) or to either side. No room to move around to get different perspectives.
I then went out a different time to shoot Maxis from the side of the road on the Priority Bus Route in Curepe. I figured it'd be nice to try getting a few shots of tons of Maxis driving past, and I was especially hoping to get some interesting shots of the different expressions on the front windshields of the vehicles. I encountered a few problems with this as well:
1. Catcallers -- Once again, men like to catcall women, I would estimate, about 200% more often when the woman is both white and has a camera. During the twenty minutes before I got frustrated and uncomfortable and decided to call it quits, I got catcalled by an ambulance driver, a police officer, a garbage truck driver, several P cars, and a small handful of passersby. It's really difficult to concentrate on your photographs when you've got cops leaning their bodies out of their vehicles to wave at you, and truck drivers pulling over (holding up traffic) to ask for a photograph.
2. Content -- Photographs of the outsides of moving vehicles on the highway are just not that interesting. Or at least, I didn't manage to find a way to make them very interesting.
After discussing with Mark Lyndersay my various "points of failure," as he put it, we determined that I need to go to where my subject is, and I need to catch my subject on their time -- I need to go to Maxi stands during off-peak hours when the drivers aren't scrambling to fill their vehicles and continue on their routes. I need to spend several hours liming with the drivers when they're just waiting about. I also need to find the human connection between the vehicle and the driver. So, in thinking about this project more, I think I'm going to try shifting my idea to being portraits of drivers with their vehicles. This will be a more feasible way to connect the person customizing the vehicle with the vehicle itself. I think this will be a good approach for now, especially considering that for this project, I can't go alone (for safety reasons). This way, I'll also cover my bases in case I don't have time (I only have another 5 weeks until this project has to be presentable) to spend enough time with an individual driver to get to know him enough to trust being alone with him, and then to interview him, and then to go through the sound, and then process the images, and then make a complete multimedia track. After working on this Gina Maingot essay, which is only about 3 1/2 minutes long but has taken me easily 30 hours already, I'm realize how time consuming and labor intensive multimedia work really is, so I'd probably be better off just really honing in on producing the best (and most telling) still photographs that I can.
In any case, as embarrassing as this photo set is, here are the least terrible of my starter Maxi photos.