“Hidden in Plain Sight” has become one of my most popular fine art photos, but it almost never happened. The story behind the photo illustrates the importance of patience, planning, and perseverance.
The story began in October 2012 when I set up a photo shoot of writer Lisa Locascio at a friends farm. The goal was to do an environmental portrait of a writer for my “Playing Peoria” website.
As soon as I walked into the old corn crib I fell in love with the dramatic pattern of light and shadow. We did one of Lisa’s photos inside the corn crib, but I choose to use a different scene on the website. I wanted to make sure the photo was about her and not about my photography.
Soon after that photo shoot, my wife and I hit on idea of using the dramatic lighting pattern inside the corn crib to hide a nude “in plain sight.” That was the beginning of a year long search for the right combination of clear weather at sunset and a model.
Strike 1: At first, it seemed easy. I found a model, we agreed on a fee, (to be paid after the photo shoot) and set a date and time. The time came and went but she never showed up. She didn’t answer my phone calls or emails, and I never heard from her again. Since no money had changed hands, I didn’t lose anything but time, but the time turned out to be a critical factor.
Strike 2: Back to the drawing board and a couple of weeks later I found another model and made arrangements. She was very professional and showed up right on time. We set up in the corn crib, and just as the light was starting to form its distinct stripes, the sun disappeared. I went outside to check the clouds, and found that the problem was a tall grain silo blocking the sun. The corn crib would be in its shadow the rest of the evening! By then it was into November and getting too cold for comfort.
Obviously I needed to plan better. I used an application called “The Photographer’s Ephemeris” to locate the sunset times and angles on a satellite view of the farm and found that there were only two brief times each year when the setting sun was positioned clear of both the grain silo and the farm house. My first visit just happened to be at one of the right times in the fall. The next opportunity would be in the spring, but probably still to cold here in Central Illinois. That meant I’d have to wait until the following September.
Success: In September 2013 I was finally able to arrange for a model on a clear, cloudless day and we got the shot I’d envisioned. We tried a number of different poses, both clothed and nude. By far, this was the frame I kept coming back to as my favorite. It just seemed to have everything right.