EMERGING PHOTOGRAPHERS

How Did They Do That: Bent Objects

Harrison Jacobs


The Walking Bread

(C) TERRY BORDER
The Walking Bread


Photographer Terry Border has been in the photography industry for a long time. It’s funny then that it was sculpture and not photography that turned out to be his big break. Border had been working in studios, assisting on shoots, and doing his own commercial work since the ‘90s but, even he admits, he didn’t love it. When the market bottomed out in 2001, Border called it quits. He got a job as a baker and gave up photography. However, as they say, an ending is often a beginning.

Burnt out on photography, Border began creating sculptures as a creative outlet. After spending some time creating larger sculptures he describes as kitschy, Border discovered wire sculptures. He found that by using simple wires he could create sculptures that were fun, small and cheap.

“Because the wire is so cheap, if you make a mistake, its no big deal to throw it away,” says Border. “It was much freer creatively. I could do any stupid idea I wanted to. I didn’t have to censor myself…”

With that, the “Bent Objects” project was born. Border began photographing the sculptures to put on his blog and they quickly got a big response. He soon realized that people were responding to the photographs as much as the sculptures he created.

“At that point, because they were only photographs, I could use any objects I wanted,” says Border. “I decided to use stuff that only had to survive long enough to be photographed, so I started using food.”

Border’s work is humorous and plays on our preconceived ideas about the everyday household items we use. For example, Border is currently hard at work on a children’s book about when peanut butter met its best friend, jelly.

For the image above, titled “The Walking Bread,” Border had an idea to use moldy bread sticking in his head for over a year before he cracked the idea. He put a few slices of old bread in a Ziploc and left it for weeks on the top of his fridge. When it was as moldy as he could handle, he took the bread out and positioned them on a set that he had created for his children’s book. He posed the moldy bread as zombies and set up a fresh piece of bread with a small wire gun as his protagonist. It was a perfect match.

For the shot, Border used two Photogenic lights with wide grids. He positioned one on the bread characters and the other on the clouds in the background. His goal was create a strong contrast between the characters and the background. To create that effect while also adding texture, Border had one light rake across the bread. He shot the image close and tight, using at a focal length of 70mm, to skew the scale of the objects.

To get this particular shot, Border shot over twenty variations, making small adjustments to the characters and the lights each time. It takes some time tinkering to find a pose for the sculptures that exhibits the dynamics and humor that Border believes creates a great image.

While such minute tinkering might drive any other photographer crazy, Border honed his skills working on catalogs. According to Border, in his first stint as a photographer, he would spend entire months shooting only ironing boards, caskets or televisions on 8x10 film. Such practice means that Border is an expert with small setups in the studio.

Nowadays, Border routinely puts out new “Bent Objects” images, occasionally does commercial work in the same style (such as past campaigns for Motorola or Oxo), and is hard at work on his Peanut Butter & Jelly children’s book, due out next fall. The project that started out as a creative outlet has become a career and Border isn’t even sure how it happened.

“I couldn’t have planned it if I tried,” says Border. “I happened to have the skill of photography with this wire art thing and a fascination with comics—Daily Cartoon, Farside, Peanuts…It all blended together to make this project.

To see more of Border’s work, check out his website and his blog.

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©Claire Rosen
PDN 2015 Photo Annual Competition

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