The Idea: The Liberated Woman
The Furnace is based on a project I had envisioned for a while. It ended up fairly far from what I had in mind. I initially saw a young woman laboring over the engine of a car. She’s in a dark and oily garage with rusted tools hanging from the wall in the background. The woman is in overalls and sweating. But she’s also vulnerable. The point here is the contrast between fragility and the harsh reality of a world that she is fighting. I’ll make this photo one day. But it is this vision that led me to The Furnace, even though the message is a very different one.
The point of all this is that the initial idea was necessary to bring all the pieces together that led to this image. Without it, you have nowhere to go, no map, no idea what to do with the model. In this case, Danielle, the model in the photograph, is obviously very muscular, being a fitness model and national competitor — so no fragility there (the original idea just evaporated). That strength, however, now turns things around. No longer can the background be threatening in comparison (so no need for one), and the laboring as seen here (over something rusty and potentially troublesome) now represents the strong woman at work: she can take care of herself, she can fix things, and don’t you dare mess with her. She is the liberated woman.
The background is dark and textured. The light (that presumably comes from a window) comes from high above. Both of these components should give an impression of a basement or something equivalent — an environment that can be daunting for some, but obviously not the lady here. Danielle’s expression is confident — she can get the job done. There is a vague impression of a toolbox nearby (red stands out well in human perception), which indicates that this is not the only job she’s ever done — she’s prepared, and probably skilled. Overall, that job will get done, and with expertise.