“Ladies of the 80’s” was influenced by 80’s songs that mention the name of a female but doesn't show her face. Using the instruments, I wanted to paint a picture of the woman described, give her an identity and offer her a chance to tell her side of the story. “What would Diana look like? How can Gloria be represented as materialistic in one shot? What environment would Roxanne work in?” were some of the questions I had asked myself to give me some direction. Many of the songs are energetic, electric, and catchy, so I had to make sure the images reflected those same moods as well. I wanted the series to not only feel alive, but I wanted the women to make statements in each photo, demanding your attention. Choosing 80’s songs was deliberate, as that decade still heavily influences music today as well as fashion. I was determined to create a bold musical statement that could feel timeless and pure.
It was critical to have the emotions come across in the series, as each photo needed to be organic to their situation. Roxanne is a prostitute who worked at night and now finds herself being a love interest for a man who wants to take her out of that life. Her story had heavy guitar riffs and felt very seductive and careful. Rosanna was a high school lover that left, but her music was very airy and festive. The passion he felt for her was very pure and felt innocent in a way. Diana, the woman who “liked the boys in the band” was very bold and demanding. As Michael Jackson describes the scenario of this seductress tempting him and telling his love that Michael won’t be going home to her that night because he will be sleeping with her. The electric guitar grips your emotions taking you through each verse and going off toward the end. Gloria is pretending to be someone she is not, as she tries to keep up with the materialistic lifestyle, even going after men with money.
The feeling is very high-volume and luxurious as the lyrics unfold. Sheila, the heartbreaker/player, is faced with a man who is trying to be her only man as she hangs out with her man friends and he doesn’t want to see her get hurt. As a studio photographer, it was important to challenge myself to shoot solely on location. Strobe lighting would be used to give a burst of light on the subjects to make sure the focus is on the women and bring them forward from their environment. I originally thought canvas would be the right medium for the canvas, but upon going into the print shop, I found the gallery blocks to be more striking and nostalgic. The canvas material felt too youthful for what my story was, and the gallery blocks had a pearly finish to them, so the colors were more vibrant and richer. The prints needed to be larger-than-life so the woman could be the main focus. Music was such a heavy influence for this series, I knew their songs had to be played so the viewer could be reminded of who the women are. I felt each photo had a color associated with them, some more obvious (like Roxanne with the red light), so I decided the track light with the colored bulbs would be a great additive to the series. Colors tend to have feelings that come with them, so I intended to provoke those feelings as you listen to the music that goes which each photo.
In the order in which they appear:
1. “Roxanne” by The Police
2. “Rosanna” by Toto
3. “Dirty Diana” by Michael Jackson
4. “Gloria” by Laura Branigan
5. “ Oh, Sheila” by Ready for the World