Lazy Work – Visualizing Work and Play Through Art

Group of women with brown hair and dark jackets reading and taking notes on the front steps of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. One women in red in the background reading on her side, laying lazily.

Lazy Work
2015

If you’re anything like me, trying to find the right balance between work and leisure is a daily struggle. When I’m too focused on work, all I can think about are the things I want to do when I finish (which typically include degenerate and self-destructive activities). However, even when I have free time on my hands, I find that it is no longer “free.” Instead, I start to stress out about the work I probably should be doing, but am too lazy to get started on it. This battle between my dedication to my work and my natural tendency to be lazy is the central theme I am expressing here in this new piece, Lazy Work.

To illustrate my point, I enlisted the help of my good friend Gabrielle (Gaby) Sirkin. Gaby is easily one of the hardest working people I know, which is why there are so many “working” Gabys in this piece. But, when she does finds a little lazy time, there are few things she enjoys more, and this is why there is only one “lazy” Gaby in the background. I chose to use Gaby as the subject for this image in part to because I noticed that I hardly ever photograph women (and shoot way too many bearded asian guys). But also because I wanted to challenge myself to direct people who are not my usual subjects, such as bboys or martial artists. Gaby is also just much better looking than I am, and attractive people make for attractive work.

This was shot on the front steps of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and I picked this location because of the unique way in which the stairs are laid out. They are long and high, but also have some flat space for a person to lay down comfortably. Also, the space has great natural light, whether it be sunny or cloudy.

This time for the costumes, I chose to use black and red as opposed to my usual black and white; I knew that these new colors would contrast with both my other pieces, but also with the neutral, gray background. I chose to dress the “workers” in black, because black suits are the de facto uniform of global corporate culture. The contrast between the two colors also adds a conceptual element. The “lazy” Gaby, dressed in red, is out of focus, and placed in the background, representing that nagging feeling at the end of a long Friday, when lazy time cannot come soon enough. I also chose to have all versions of Gaby reading, because reading is a common activity in both work and play.

Hope you’ve enjoyed reading about the creative process behind this work!

If you or someone you know is interested in having a portrait taken in this style, please get in touch!!! I am now taking commissions for private sittings. Contact me at info@johnngtangphoto.com if interested, and we will custom tailored a concept and image to meet your specific needs.

Please note that pricing is determined on a per-project basis, starting at $250. Prices may increase based on complexity of the image and incurred expenses (i.e. travel, prints etc.) please allow 2 weeks turnaround time per commissioned image.

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