The assignment was simple and wide open. It was also last minute with no time to over-think what I should do. That was probable a good thing. From time to time our newspaper publishes a list of everybody that is behind on their utility bills to the City of Gallup. This can range from a couple of businesses that miscalculated their payments and owe something like $2.50, all the way up the the local hospital which at one point owed close to $175,000 in unpaid utility fees. This time around the paper is going to publish that list as a pull-out section, or tab. And to give some appeal to this list I was given the task of creating a cover image for this publication.
The gears turned over in my head and I started to think about the idea that some people were using more electricity than they could pay for. What would an excessive amount of electricity look like? I kicked around some ideas in my head on my way home and all through dinner. Then I spent some time with my family before getting busy. I grabbed just about every electrical appliance and cord I could scrounge up, along with some outlet strips and plugged all of them in to each other. I tried to strobe it at first. But the feeling I was getting was wrong. So I decided that I would let the incandescent lights from the next room spill into the otherwise darkened kitchen and give me some light that would be generated by the same electricty as the plugs were using. I shot a lot of minor variations, and in the end, this was the final image.
Once the image was done I did some post processing in Photoshop, adding a high pass filter, and some posterization to block up the edges.