017 | Photography confessions. I also did terrible things

Mitchel Lensink
Jan 17, 2021
2 min read

Photography confessions. I used to be obsessed with the images that came along with The Weeknd’s House of Balloons mixtape. And I’m talking about the photos that were on the original Tumblr page before he had an official website. The images that set the tone when listing to the songs on YouTube because the music was on Spotify.

They images were all in black and white and had this super gritty feel to them that I just couldn’t get enough of. I’m sure they were digital images but they looked like careless captures taken of a 1960s rockstar. As if they couldn’t be bothered with the photos and lived their endless train of events that the camera just happened to capture.

As if the images were never even looked at and shoved in a drawer, only to be rediscovered 20 years later. They were full of grain, dust, scratches and raw energy.

At the time I tried to replicate the look of the photos by adding contrast and grain but I couldn’t work out how to create that aged feeling with the dust, scratches and light leaks. To solve this problem, I would take my image to photoshop and then use a very large and a very small brush in conjunction with each other and manually ‘paint in’ the scratches and light leaks. I did and re-did this until it looked about right to my eyes.

This clearly shows I had no concept of the actual processes involved to create these results. I had no idea these lighter parts of the images were called light leaks and had an even lesser idea of how they come to exist.

I would like to remind you that this was before I properly got into photography and I was just messing around. Still, thinking back on this I cringe at my own actions.

Nevertheless, I still love the images that accompany the original songs. I would show you my own work but I’m afraid I haven’t saved it properly and if I did, I’m not putting it on my website now. Sorry.

I would add the original images by The Weeknd to show you what I’m talking about but I don’t want to break any copyrights and that’s strange when you make images yourself. So instead, I’ll embed three YouTube videos that have the images as the artwork (for 9 years now!).

Receive monthly stories in your inbox.

Dialogue is a newsletter about photography, walking and other things.

Oops! There was an error sending the email, please try again.

Awesome! Now check your inbox and click the link to confirm your subscription.