It’s funny what a little Scotch tape can do to a perfectly good face. It turns out with enough tape, subjects look like insane cartoon characters going through astronaut training—and it’s captivating to observe.
Photographer Wes Naman got stuck on the idea of taking pictures of people with tape all over their faces about a year ago, but he didn’t get around to actually pursuing it for some time. It remained one of those ideas scribbled on a notepad and filed away to be acted upon someday. Eventually, though, he embarked on what would later be dubbed, simply, the Scotch Tape series.
"I had gotten into a funk and shooting a lot more assignment work and hadn’t really done anything for myself," Naman says. "This one seemed like something I could do and would be inexpensive too so that’s how I finally got around to shooting it. The first set was just a friendly get-together of my friends and some vodka and some tape. We all had fun and laughed really hard at all the outcomes we were getting."
The photographer then posted the resulting images on his blog and on Facebook. Soon, many others wanted in on the action. With a rising supply of willing participants, and Naman wanting more images, the series continued.
"Some were close friends and some were people I didn’t know that well. Some people brought some weird outfits and some people just wore their regular clothes. Some of the time, my friends were just stopping by my studio for other reasons and I made them be in the pictures."
As for the method to Naman’s madness, the tape configurations were mostly done freestyle. Very little planning went into how the tape would conform to each face; no storyboards were consulted. Each instance is inspired by how the subject responded to the tape.
"I wanted to freeze their faces in some sort of surprised or goofy look, for sure," Naman says. "But what ended up working the best was when I asked the subjects to try and remove their tape with only their face and face muscles. As they stretched their faces and jaws and eyes, I was able to catch some really hilarious looks from them."
Although in the beginning, Naman taped all his subjects himself, after about the 15th one, he decided to let them do it themselves. Although it would seem like perhaps a humanitarian gesture, there may have been an ulterior motive at play. "Some folks were trying to outdo one another," he says. "They were really taping themselves up, more so than I would have because I didn’t want to hurt them… too much."
Have a look through more of the Scotch Tape series in the slide show above.