Quincy Bock

Interview by Julia Sokol

Julia Sokol: Tell me about your project.

Quincy Bok: My project consists of pictures of people “sleeping” while floating or levitating above their beds. They were taken by having the people jump into the air with their pillows.

JS: How did you come up with that idea?

QB: My sister and I like taking jumping photos in our free time or on vacation. But we don’t just jump straight up in the air – we usually try to do something crazy with movements – being horizontal, et cetera. I also saw an advertising campaign on the T for a hotel booking website which featured photos of people jumping on hotel beds. It’s mostly just photos of people having fun. So I thought it would be both fun and funny to incorporate jumping into my project, and to take pictures that make it look like people are levitating. But I wanted to make it more of an illusion by having them “sleeping” with the pillows. It is as if they are doing something ordinary on their beds, but this ordinary scene is made extraordinary by the fact that they’re floating.

JS: At first glance it seemed to me that the people were Photoshopped in, but, looking at the pictures longer, I wasn’t sure anymore. Which is it?

QB: It’s people actually jumping. This effect is exactly what I wanted to integrate into my project. Even though I could have easily used Photoshop to crop the people out and place them above the bed – I did not do that, they’re actually just jumping. And there are little cues in the pictures to indicate that they are jumping – like strained faces, girls’ hair flying, someone kicking up the bed sheet by accident. In photos of myself, I was holding the cable release, and you can see it going up to my pillow from my hand.

JS: What do you think is the effect that these photos have on the viewers?

QB: I think the initial reaction will be that it’s amusing, and they might assume it’s Photoshopped. But if they look closer they see it’s actually people jumping. That creates more of the story to the photos – these people have had to jump, then land painfully or semi-painfully on the bed – and that they did that themselves, without being cropped and pasted up there. So upon further consideration, the pictures become more about the surprise of “I can’t believe that person jumped that high” than the initial “That’s so funny.”

JS: What other considerations went into each photo, besides the subject?

QB: I tried to be conscious of a lot of things, like composition and lighting. I went through a lot of different permutations – using flash, using two flashes, taking them during the daytime, then nighttime – in order to make sure these turn out to be interesting pictures, and not just a funny idea. I started out taking pictures in daylight, then switched to using a flash at night to see if that would work better; but I’ve come back to natural light, combined with flash. The natural light and the subtle shadows it creates just make the photos much prettier.

JS: Which camera did you use for the project?

QB: I started with the Pentax K1000, but switched to digital mid-project, because digital made it easier to see the results immediately upon taking the photo, and to direct the jumpers appropriately. Also the digital camera is able to take more photos quickly, one right after the other, instead of having to wind the film each time. This is important when trying to capture a very specific moment – when a person is at the highest point of the jump.

JS: Are there any specific photographers that inspired you for this project?

QB: I was very interested in the work of Markus Georg. He has a series of photographs that from far away look like famous monuments, places — for example, the Stonehenge or the Eiffel Tower. But when you see them closer, you see that he constructed the image just from regular objects (sheets hanging off a clothing line for Stonehenge; a man on a ladder holding a light bulb for the Eiffel Tower). So it’s a very clever illusion and it’s also funny. This is the same idea I tried to follow with my project.

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