After Rogan’s introductory remarks, attendees were treated to an informal Q&A between the two friends, Trager and Szegedy-Maszak, an excerpt of which follows:
Andrew Szegedy-Maszack: Phil, how did this project start?
Philip Trager: I first photographed architecture and then dancers and out of dancers came the faces. From that came the idea of portraiture but in the landscape, so these are really portraits integrated into the landscape.
I had never photographed in color or digitally, so ultimately this project evolved as a challenge. Of course our relationship, Ina’s and mine, has been so close over the years that I simply wanted carry it forward from the black-and-whites.
ASM: I want to ask you about the nature of the collaboration between yourself and Ina. Are you directing and she’s acting? Are you talking over different possibilities as you go through? Is that especially true for the newer work, because you’re present in so many of them, thanks to the mirrors?
PT: I wanted to show the relationship between the photographer and model. The idea was to show subtle movements with direction. The photographer Lee Friedlander had an expression that went something like, ‘When you are taking a photograph it is like someone coming at you in a basketball court and you have to play it as it comes.’ He meant you can’t be too structured.
I think that’s only half true. You take it as it comes and you build on that, but you are thinking in advance about other things.
So, a photographer’s direction can be as simple as head movement—side to side, up and down—but always with the light in mind; the raw, natural light is integrated into the landscape. The light is changing constantly and you are changing constantly.
I learned as we worked, that I would tell Ina to move her head to the side and keep her eyes focused ahead…and do things like that. But yes, it was a close collaboration because it didn’t require a lot of explaining.