04 Mar Saugerties New York Portrait | My Very Own Padded Cell
A while back local author Shalom Auslander commissioned me to shoot an image for his website. His site was to show an empty padded cell. So prior to constructing the set, full size I might add, I did some Google research. Turns out that these padded rooms are not really what you might imagine, or at least not what I imagined. First they are scary, not these pillowy rooms that you might think would lead to calmness. No they are usually plastic coated to help aid in the clean up of assorted bodily fluids. Lit very brightly and clinically. Straps to restrain people who are are going through something bad. Needless to say we were not going for that in the photo we were creating. After some sketching, plans were made. My first thing was to get enough foam squares to make all the individual pads, after some calls and research I sourced them out of CT. a couple hour drive each way and I was set. Next was the material used to cover the foam, got that supplied by a NYC fabric source. Next was the actual construction of the squares. Woodstock Lumber was my source for rough plywood. Got it all home and had to cut the squares, perfectly square, pain in the ass….. Next made the wall frames, which we then assembled together at a rented studio space. I made the door to the cell fully functional in case we wanted to have it open. The ceiling I decided would too hard to construct and also limit what I did for lighting, so that was the only thing that was placed in later via PhotoShop. Now for the lighting, I did not want clinical, but something more soothing, or dark, even theatrical. Moody. We shot Shalom’s image which you can see on his website http://www.shalomauslander.com/ Then I decided I should shoot this for some photo-stock sales. So I cast the room full of different faces and scenes, I used my daughter as a lonely distraught girl, we had a baby, we had an older woman and then we had the classic businessman stock character, which was done by my neighbor Neil who graciously sat in and looked quite awesome.. In the end we tore it down and it was over.. It was a lot of work and utilized all my skills, rough carpentry to photography, but I love these images. Oh and no one was ever “institutionalized” in the making of these photographs and I hope no one I ever know has to be placed into one of these rooms.