Friday Photo: An 18th Birthday Party

So let’s just start by saying that even if I could remember my 18th birthday party, this is not how I would remember it.  This party was held at No.1 Mayfair, and involved limitless pre-dinner cocktails, canapés, a three course meal, magic acts, limitless post-prandial cocktails, a vodka fountain and a dancefloor filled with radiant 18 year olds interspersed with dancing girls.  The only thing my 18th had in common was that was that I was 18, and radiant.  Because everyone is radiant at 18.  There are any number of images I could have chosen from this night, but I chose this one because it has a particular mood to it, and whereas most dancefloor shots are purely reactive and instinctual this one was slightly more deliberate.  Slightly.  The kid asked me to take his photo with one of the dancing girls and I took a handful in about 30 seconds.  Ones with the camera turned portrait and ones with him smiling.  But the smiling images were too obvious for me.  What 18 year old isn’t going to be smiling at a part like this, posing with a dancing girl?  To say I waited for this shot would be disingenuous.  In a live event like this you have no idea what expression is going to come along.  But what I did do is wait for him to do something other than smile and look into the camera.  And then when I got that this is the one I chose to edit and present from that set.  The expression is more enigmatic, maybe even jaded and that allows you to project into this kid’s future.  There’s a foretelling of the man, or at least of the fictional man we can superimpose on this image.  For me it makes me think of a young John Profumo, with the scandal of Christine Keeler a few years ahead of him.  For you it could be, and probably is, something else entirely.  That’s when photography becomes art, when you allow the possibility of fiction to enter into it, when it invites the viewer’s imagination into the frame.

an18thbirthdayparty (2 of 1)

Technical details for the photography wonks:

Camera: Canon 5D MKIII

Lens: Canon 24-70nn 1.4

Aperture: f10

Shutter speed: 1/200

ISO: 800

Flash: Fired

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