5″ x 7″ Tintype
Brian Cyler, USA
Here is what Brian had to say:
My original concept was to do a tortured ballerina, so a specific costume was ordered, which was promptly placed on back-order. In the meantime the mask arrived from Shane Balkowitsch. Since I was not prepared and Gerald Figal was next on the list we arranged swap positions. The day Gerald & I met for lunch to exchange the mask happened to be Dec 14th. I remember hearing bits of something happening at Sandy Hook on the radio as I drove there, but didn’t realize the full tragedy until later that day. As time progressed, and I waited for my back-order to arrive, I began to think about how a child’s world can be changed from happy & carefree to something quite the opposite in the blink of an eye. Not specific to Sandy Hook, but that was the spark. Then I began to think about how children cope with this and try to live as normal a life as possible. This became daughter one outside with the mask. Then I wanted to show some interaction between this child and another so I roped my second daughter in as the empathetic child inside. That’s about it for concept. Oh, and that outside had to be dark!
Now on to the torture. Once my eldest (12) found out she was to wear the mask, she flipped out a bit. She hated the smell, etc, but a little bribery later she was a willing participant. Since she was the outside “prop” it needed to be semi-warm, not raining, etc to keep her on board. So of course this added some delays. I wanted them to wear similar nightgowns so we ordered one for my youngest to wear. Seems simple, put nightgown on youngest, take photo. Well she has issues with the way things feel…everything, from socks to her underwear. So this soft cotton nightgown didn’t feel right, and she could barely stand to be in it long enough to take a shot. Much fidgeting, but she was able to get through two test shots earlier in the week. I actually would have used the first shot, but the angle of my older daughter wasn’t right. So several days of rain passed, and then last night it was warm enough to give it another try. Again, more tears from my youngest. I only took one shot before she broke down completely. The look on her face is one of just having stopped crying long enough for me to take the shot. I wasn’t sure I was completely happy with it until I looked at it again this morning. I don’t think I could duplicate her look and feel again. Some of the test shots I had stopped down a bit and were sharper, but they just didn’t have the same feel. Anyway, so that is how I tortured my children in the name of the mask series. They’ll get ice-cream tonight for dinner, but no puppy!
Editor’s note: As well as giving us a behind the scenes view of their ordeal, and in the interests of complete fairness, the tortured models were also invited to comment:
What was the best part of modelling for this project?
Zoe (12)- “Getting to stay up late & seeing the pictures…and going outside”
Sophia (9)- “Taking off the nightgown…that’s it!”
What was the worst part?
Zoe – The smell of the mask, it smelled like rubber…but I got use to it”
Sophia – “Wearing the nightgown!”
Will you pose again (like you have a choice)?
Zoe – nodded yes
Sophia – declined to answer.
Were you paid ?
Zoe – yes, I got Webkins points added to my account.
Sophia – no!
Would it have mattered?
Sophia – no! What’s the point? Any money I get just ends up in Zoe’s pocket.