“I’m always making notes of ideas that I think I could turn into a picture. They come to me from pretty much everywhere – the newspaper, old paintings at the Met, children’s picture books, etc. But mostly, straight from home, (or my sisters’ homes). Things I see going while we’re just hanging out. The other day my 3 year old nephew Ralph, was trying to put his sister’s doll tutu on his giant life-like alligator. It got stuck about half-way up the tail and then he took it to his mom and insisted she help him. And so I’m thinking, could I make an image out of this . . . or not? But once I think I’ve got something worth doing, I start putting the picture together. I look for a location that is going to allow me to really show that moment in the best possible way, and start thinking about who I’m going to use in it, and how I’m going to light it. Then I go looking for interesting props and usually end up experimenting for a couple days with shots of the setting and props before I bring the models in. Everything’s gotta be ready to go before you get people (especially kids) involved because they lose patience pretty quickly. But during the shoot, as much as I like to go in with a plan, I also know the best images sometimes come from just letting things happen there on the set. We take breaks — maybe eat powdered donuts or jellybeans for about 5 minutes, and then get back to work. Of course there’s usually always one kid on the set that cries the entire time while everyone else is happy to cooperate. Usually if you just wait it out and act like you’re shooting someone else, they come around. Sometimes not. After the shoot comes the editing. It sometimes several days before I know whether I’ve got something that will work or not.” — Julie Blackmon, 2010
Julie mentions that she gets ideas from old paintings at the Met, and you can see how Portrait, 2009 (below) was influenced by Thomas Le Clear’s Interior with Portraits—in which Le Clear paints a photographer taking a portrait.