Friday, February 19, 2010

The Locked Door and the Light

There are many technical advantages to photographing in the bathroom. Tile, porcelain, and stainless steel all reflect light, becoming light sources in their own right. What begins as a single light (a lamp or window) becomes dozens of lights in every direction. Photographic reflectors, mylar stretched over flexible frames, might cost as much as five hundred dollars to cover a small room. Beginning with an already reflective room is simply a practical decision. Similarly, the white-dominated color scheme popular in home bathrooms eliminates the worry that those reflected lights will need color-correcting during post-production.

I don’t think of this when I use the bathroom. I only think about the way the sunlight is softened through thick textured glass windows. I think about the way that light brushes against the folds of the shower curtain. When the shower curtain is clear plastic, it creates folds in the space behind it, and through them the shower walls recede from view as if seen through fog or great distance.

I think about how the stainless steel curves of the faucet look like the curves on a chrome fender on a 1969 Ford Galaxy that my high school boyfriend was very proud of. I think about how every surface is curved, smooth, cold to the touch.

I think about how there is a door I can lock, about how, growing up, it was the only door that locked, about how much that mattered to me. I think about feeling safe.

I think that there are few things as beautiful as a bathroom, and because it is beautiful I want to photograph it so I might show it to you. It would not be a photograph of tiles or curtains or bathtubs or toilets or even abstract curves of stainless steel. It would be a photograph of comfort, of safety, of light, from everywhere, light.

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