Wiring a Story with Terry Border
Terry Border uses his skill of making wire sculptures to bring objects and food alive, in a series of comical photographs.
- Description: To portray a funny storyline by using wire sculptures in combination with everyday objects.
- Duration: This is an ongoing series that started in 2006.
- Notes: Make sure that you place and photograph the objects at eye level. This way, the objects seem real and it is easier for the viewer to relate to the pictures.
Having worked several years as a commercial photographer, I decided to shift interests towards my hobby—making wire sculptures. The thought of this project came to me when I was photographing some of my wire artwork. My wire work then switched from being a sculpture into a photography project. To achieve this, I needed to make objects such that they lasted long enough to be photographed.
Suddenly, I was making characters out of bread, paper, peanut shells and even eggs. Before choosing any of these objects, I would examine their texture and shape. This would help me decide whether I could use wires along with them. I would also take into consideration what people usually think of when they hear a particular object’s name. It also helps to know if people associate a subject like an egg with another object, such as a spoon or a fork. Based on such observations, I then plan a story to portray the same in my photographs.
If I choose a food item that is known for its bad odour or taste, then my picture will revolve around that notion. My work is usually characterised by my sense of humour. I often try to make the picture humorous by poking fun at the object.
Once I decide on a certain item, I use an ordinary wire to make arms and legs for the same. It is important to choose a wire that is strong, and at the same time, thin enough so that it can be bent and moulded. For heavy things like glass, I use a strong glue to stick on the wires.
To bring out emotions such as fear, bravery or surprise, I first strike a pose myself and then write down the way my arms and legs fall. Using these directions, I bend the wires in a similar fashion.
Once I have perfected the figures, I start experimenting with the lighting. A fairly dramatic style of lighting goes well with the kind of pictures I want to create. I make use of flashlights and even mirrors to enhance the light. To make things easier, I use a tripod to keep the composition steady.
I do not do digital manipulation and only use Adobe Photoshop to balance colour. I feel that the charm of this entire series is the reality with which each situation is portrayed and I like to keep it that way.
For this series, I have used a Canon EOS 5D Mark II with an EF 24–105mm lens. To make the figures, I used malleable wires and pliers for cutting and shaping. Moreover, to control the light better, I used strobes with grids and at times, even a soft box.
This article originally appeared in the January 2017 issue of Better Photography.
Things to Keep in Mind While Attempting a Similar Series
- Choose Any Object: Simple things and food items around your house, such as a needle, onion rings, a loose spring, a screwdriver or even a few breadcrumbs can make an interesting picture.
- Think of a Story: The entire foundation of such a series is a good story. Note down story ideas regarding a certain object and make sure they are funny.
- Experiment and Practise: Remember that wire works differently with different kinds of materials and objects. It may take you a while to get used to shaping the wire. Keep experimenting till you are comfortable with wire sculpture.
To see more of Terry Border’s wire sculpture work, visit www.terryborder.comTags: On Assignment, humour, food, February 2014, Terry Border, Wire, Sculptures, Storyline, Flashlights, Mirrors