As a starting point, here is a screen grab of a Bing Images search (I prefer to use Bing rather than Google) against the word “eggs”. This block of images is simply the first screen that displayed. Clearly what they all have in common is that they are pretty straightforward pictures of eggs with little if anything in the way of props or anything else to suggest context or anything other than ‘eggness’. Most of them play a little with ideas of colour variations and a few emphasis the idea of ‘egg’ by showing yolk in broken shells, but oddly enough no white! None of them seek to put the eggs in any sort of context. All fairly straightforward, if not actually dull.
As I said in the previous post, my initial thought was to picture the absence of eggs, and say something about them through their non-appearance. Inevitably, as I embarked on the shoot my ideas have moved on and developed so I am now going to explore a number of different approaches.
For the sake of completeness I took a number of shots in which eggs do appear but, unlike the examples above, putting them into context, picturing them in places where you might expect to see an egg: the hens’ nest box, in the fridge, in an egg box, in an egg cup. All were shot with the camera on a tripod, using a 18 – 135 mm zoom, ISO 100. The third picture, inside the fridge, was shot using flash bounced off the kitchen ceiling. All the others just used ambient light.
f/5, 1/8s, 50mm f/5.6, 0.4s, 50mm
f/4.5, 1/60s, 42mm f/5, 1/400s, 50mm
The next set follow my original idea of portraying absence.
f/5, 1/20s, 50mm f/5, 1/133, 50mm
f/4.5, 1/60s, 42mm f/5, 1,1250s, 50mm
I quite like this set but I am not sure it really does manage to saw what I want about “eggness”. I do at least like the fact it is more oblique than the first set, which although the contexts are more interesting, is still a bit literal. This set needs a bit more thought when addressing what it is about.
Here is another approach that I tried, which sits somewhere between the two sets above. For this I wanted a ghostlike appearance for the eggs and used the cameras multiple expose setting, layering the second shot without the egg over the first with.
f/5, 1/20s, 50mm f/5, 1/10s, 50mm
f/4.5, 1/60s, 42mm f/5, 1/640s, 50mm
This is in some ways quite literal in that the eggs are visible. Context is also clear. However I do feel that the images do have a degree of subtlety, and the eggs are more “incidental”, part of the scene but not so obviously the primary subject. The first two in this set needed a number of attempts to get right and in the end I had to tape the egg cup and the egg box in place to stop them moving when the eggs were removed. For them to work the props need to remain in exactly the same place from shot to shot to avoid them becoming unintentionally blurred.
Having done all this I had a further idea of taking a single shot of an empty egg-shell in the , partly just because I happened to have a shell handy having made scrambled eggs that morning, and partly to give a different view of “eggness”.
f/5, 1/13s, 50mm
Having done so it occurred to me that I could combine a number of these photos to give yet another view, this time based on narrative, a journey of the egg from nest box to empty shell. (I did think about taking the sequence back a stage further and including a picture of one of the hens but they are both moulting at the moment and are looking far from their best!)
What I take away from this exercise is that you can get so much more about a subject by viewing it in context and as part of a narrative. I think these photos say a lot more about eggs that the stock images at the beginning of this post. I do not think they are saying anything at all original about eggs or that they bring any fresh perspective – from Haas’s point of view this would be another failure. I do think though that they go some way towards David Bailey’s thoughts. The eggs are ordinary and their settings are similarly so, obvious and even banal. However I feel this exercise, and the need it imposes of looking more closely and attentively at the subject, helps to bring into focus the ordinariness of the subject and make that ordinariness interesting.