Behind The Photo: “Mixed Messages”

I was recently covering a Grammy Weekend event at 1OAK in Los Angeles thanks to the great Marlene Meraz and Jada Gomez. After that work was done, I stumbled upon this awesome piece of art there. I love photographing art for many reasons, but I also like to add something of my own flavor to the images whenever I do this. I knew I wanted to shoot this piece, but I didn’t know exactly what I could add to the image, so I waited around.

I took about five shots before this. I saw this couple walking down and decided that it might make for a good photograph. So, I snapped a few shots while they walked past. I don’t know what they were saying, but I know I fell in love with this photograph the minute I saw it in Lightroom.

You can take whatever you want from the image, but I looked at it through this lens: The sign clearly says “I Love You,” but it also has a giant “EXIT” sign right above it. The sign points to the right. The awesome part about it is that the couple here is walking down, as if they are entering love. That’s one mixed message there. LOVE and EXIT.

Then, you take a look at the couple and it almost looks like they’re arguing. She seems to be unhappy about something. I love that expression on her face. It’s like, “I love you, but you don’t understand me.” Or “I love you, but I can’t stand you.” That’s the second mixed message.

The bold “I Love You” sign is also super strong. But if you look closely, it’s written over several “Fragile” signs. Mixed message.

That play on the signs just struck me and I added some fade to it because I shot it in low light. I think I was at the highest level of ISO I could get to at that point. You can tell it wasn’t an ideal setting for photos, but it was the perfect setting at the same time. Mixed message.

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