Elusive Concept Design: The Final Boss

Elusive Content - various bits and bobs

Deep in the inner bowels of my data storage is a spreadsheet I began building around 2006-07. It was a simple listing of ideas for photoshoots. Most were sets of images, but a few were one-off shots telling a grand story. Many of these have never seen the light of day. One idea, however, has been there since the start. It is an image that has grown in such proportion that I doubt I will ever achieve what I have envisioned. Yet, it boils up constantly, haunting me. I must, at the very least, produce my less-than-perfect version of this elusive concept.

A Not So Elusive Origin Story

Early in my portrait career, a friend shared a few treasures with me. They were potential props related to his love of film. It took only seconds for the seed of an idea to begin growing in my mind. If memory serves, I described the vision right then and there. I only need to determine how best to make it happen.

Over the years, I have shared the idea with a few photography friends, a model or three, and at least two trusted designers. There has always been one particular challenge to completing this piece. After over 15 years of mulling it over and several failed attempts, I believe I now have the solution. The elusive concept may very well come to life soon!

Persistence of Failure

What has caused such a long delay? A key component required does not want to cooperate. It turns out that movie film does not like to hold shape, be sewn, or otherwise be formed into anything other than a flat strip of cellulose. That is unless you want to spend countless hours doing mindless work with fumbling fingers. Which I did. I poked, prodded, twisted, and glued but anything that worked was going to make the work of photography difficult. It has to be a clean solution.

Enter clothing designers. Perhaps we can sew it? Or back it with one material or another? Anything resembling a successful approach would be very timely and difficult. They wanted to make it work, but the methodology proves to be the elusive barrier for years.

To Sleep, Perchance to Dream

During a conversation with someone, it suddenly hit me. Like a very large, obvious brick thrown from a great distance so as to be easily avoided. How did I never think of this solution? How is it that, of all the people I had spoken to, sketched with, and shared materials with, not a single one of us offered up the simple solution? My hope is that, like many famous incidental discoveries, this will lead me to success. This will open up other doors.

What was it in the conversation that triggered the solution? A simple absolution that it was okay to feel like quitting so long as you don’t let that feeling win.

The puzzle pieces are gathered and I can start the chase anew. The biggest obstacle remaining? There was a very specific model I had in mind for this art piece. She retired long ago. I have no clear successor. This is not a barrier to completion, however. It may be the project’s final, saving grace. Knowing I cannot achieve the original piece, it frees me to turn what I might have viewed as a mistake years ago into the perfect result.


For this project, I need a fit, female model who has the presence and can pull off an early Hollywood Star look (think 1940’s era). Unless they can be easily concealed, no tattoos. Must be comfortable with nudity, though the intent is for the final image to be implied.

A hair/make-up artist would be a wonderful addition as well. It is a simple shot with a complex setup. I need that old hollywood vibe to be spot on.

Are you the right person for the job or know someone? Email me at mark@questionmarkphoto.com.

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