In Your Face

A local photographer comments on the pressures of modern life through an unusual art project

Steve Planck worries about mounting taxes, the cost of gasoline, heating his home this winter, and the rise in unemployment. So what’s he going to do about it? “Smush people’s faces against glass and photograph them,” he laughs.

He’s not kidding.

The owner of Blue Sky Photography in Wappingers Falls and an adjunct professor of audio/video production at Dutchess Community College, Planck’s creative side was itching to do something a little more personal. That’s why he developed the 2010 Project, a community-based venture to snap themed portraits of people in the area. “It’s just being able to do something for myself,” the Dutchess County native says. “To be able to create something where I don’t have to worry about paying the bills with it. This is what drives my passion, my desire — it’s been a long time since I’ve had a chance to do something like that.

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”What exactly is the 2010 Project? “There are a lot of different pieces to it,” Planck says. “I’m trying to make a connection, in terms of thinking, between where we were as children versus where we are today.”

Utilizing widespread anxiety over the depressed economy, Planck’s first task is a tight squeeze — literally. “I think people are feeling consumed, and trapped a little bit. So one part will involve photographs of these people, crammed into tight and obscure places.” From refrigerators to nursing homes, nothing is off-limits; if successful, Planck hopes the images will act as a metaphor for life’s outside pressures. In another session, he’ll ask subjects to press their faces against a custom-built, four-by-four-foot sheet of glass. “The glass is as much an outside pressure as it is a way for people to feel more free — to be kids again, to have some fun, to let loose.” And being silly is exactly what he’ll need for the third phase, during which volunteers will share their childhood toys.

Why 2010? “Well, you’ve got to have a catchy title,” Planck laughs. “But even more importantly, it’s a timeline — my personal deadline. At some point, I have to stop, sit back, pick out my favorite photos, and have a conclusion to the project.”

Planck’s first glass-portrait shoot (shown above) took place last April and was a success. “The photos are funny, almost like caricatures — like you’re making fun and laughing in the face of these things that are bothering us.”

Interested in taking part in Planck’s project? Drop by his studio on Nov. 15-16 (get directions at or call 845-473-7192.

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