The Secret Keepers series of old, decaying dolls comes in a couple of different flavors. The first is the color series; what you see is what you get.
The second is entitled Spirits of the Secret Keepers because they are more haunting in black and white and with a solarization effect. (I've removed the color version from my website, at least for awhile.)
When the Spirits portfolio was reviewed by Tony Brannon of George Eastman House (the world's preeminent museum of photography) at the Review Santa Fe event, he didn't think they were dark enough. He wasn't referring to how they are printed, he meant I didn't dig deep enough to the dark side. That surprised me. Considering how many people can't even bear to look at them, how much darker can they be?
A lot darker, apparently, according to Tony who was obviously projecting his own shadows. "Of course, then...." He flipped over the image of Miguel, one of the scariest of the bunch to reveal the next print, Jacob, who is even scarier. "...then...they wouldn't be very sellable." Believe me, they're not moving like hotcakes as it is.
"Do you do this to them?" he asked, wondering if I am responsible for the cracks and splits, stains, etc. on the dolls. "No" I said, and explained that the point of the series is to find those that have aged naturally, or damaged by the previous owner from too much loving and handling or from lack of love, even abuse. Hence the name. They keep secrets (how did they come to look like this?) and I think they are provocative.
But Tony thought I should damage them, break them, smash them, inflict my own dark side onto these little non-humans. "I don't think I'm angry enough" I mumbled but realized that I should consider doing what he said.
As with all of the suggestions I received from reviewers at RSF, I thought it through and in this case decided to give it a try. Off I went to find a doll not yet photographed. Am I to smash her face? Burn it? Stain it or...?
Part two of this entry, detailing the results of my experiment, will appear in a few days. In the meantime, here is the newest "Spirit" photograph. Her name is Lakshmi, found in the dirt in Pushkar, India.