I love it when a photographer brushes on a disturbing or unnerving topic. It clearly draws a line in the sand and your audience is clearly divided between love and hate. In the world of photography, you want the dedicated love: Those who love the disconcerting nature of your photos. It is said that if you aren’t receiving any negative comments, you aren’t pushing the boundaries enough. In this photo, But I tried, didn’t I? Goddamnit, at least I did that. (the title is taken from a popular classic novel and film), photographer Dennis Maitland is not afraid to push the boundaries. The subject and setting – a body, a morgue – is perhaps not something everyone will show appreciation for. In fact…I’m sure a portion of our readers didn’t bother to get as far as this sentence.
But I love the concept of this photo. Because it does push the boundaries and it does make a viewer uncomfortable.
As if the subject or the setting isn’t disconcerting enough, Dennis has helped to push the drama by his use of light. Specifically, I believe there could be two light sources: One in the locker with the friend, the other providing fill – though I’m not quite sure the location of the latter. The one in the locker is doing all the heavy lifting though. It provides the illumination of the body and that really nice reflection that appears as a ray of light. Such lighting creates a bit of a surreal setting. I don’t expect that many have spent much time in a morgue, but I’m sure most don’t expect there to be such light in a locker.
The graffiti adds quite a bit to the shot, if only subconsciously. We don’t typically associate graffiti with operations currently in use, certainly not within interiors. So this clues us to the fact that this facility is possibly abandoned. Otherwise, the facility seems to be in good shape in the context of this photo. The graffiti not only adds another surreal layer to the shot, but it also indicates the history and past use of the facility. Combined with the surreal lighting, one might start to consider the subject as a ghost. What an interesting concept.
For more of Dennis Maitland’s work, including some interesting photo manipulations featuring rabbit headed humans, pop on over to his photostream.