The brief for the assignment was to produce either:-
- A staged photograph
- Or to make a narrative sequence
When I started thinking about this assignment I happened to be reading through Photography: The Whole Story and decided to see if it had anything about staged photography. It did. A lot.
One part had a photograph by Jeff Wall called Double Self-Portrait, MoMa (2007). Seeing this sparked the idea of doing something similar, using the simplest technique I could to produce the image.
The course notes suggested looking at Crewdson’s work found at http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/articles/p/gregory-crewson/
Gregory Crewdsons work is “is meticulously planned and staged, in particular the lighting. In some instances, extra lighting and special effects such as artificial rain or dry ice are used to enhance a natural moment of twilight. In others, the effect of twilight is entirely artificially created.”
The link to Crewdson’s work relates to his work Twilight and contains a number of examples of the images he produced for that project. When looking at some of these images it is easy to imagine that some of them were caught at the exact right moment, in some of the others it is obvious that the scene is staged. For instance in his image of a car in the middle of a junction with a door wide open. There is no reason for the door being open, which leaves you wondering what is happening, has someone got out of the car, is the door open ready for someone to get in?
Another image that suggests it is staged is set outside a supermarket. The figure and car at the front of the scene suggest someone putting groceries in their car but the figures stance appears unnatural, almost mannequin like.
Loh. A, Vescovi. A, (2015) has an example of the image that stood out for me. It is of a woman stood alongside a car, with a bag of groceries on the bonnet and a second bag, spilled on the ground. A girl sits in the passenger seat while another girl stands in front of the car with her head down, only wearing underwear.
The woman by the car has a disappointed, disapproving look on her face.
The girl in front of the car has marks across her back.
What makes this image stand out for me is the figure of the girl. She has short hair, her arms are positioned in such a way that they hide parts of her body. It is a very androgynous look which leaves the possibility that this is not quite as it seems, is the figure actually a girl?
Tate (un-dated) shows an example of Hannah Starkey’s work from 1999. The image is of two women in a bathroom/changing room. The arm of one of the women is partially in the shot but what you see of them is mainly their reflections, and the reflections of their reflections. Starkey has cleverly positioned the camera so that the woman closest to the mirror is visible between the first reflection of the second woman and her reflection in the mirror she is looking into. Almost as if the first woman is coming between the second woman and her reflection.
Starkey’s work involves staged scenes and the use of actors, Saatchi Gallery (2018). Her work explores “everyday experiences and observations of inner city life from a female perspective”, Wikipedia (2018) .
Starkey’s work also involves the use of mirrors, reflections and smoke. In an interview with Diarmuid Costello, The Telegraph (2011), Hannah Starkey about the use of mirrors in her work acts as an escape route in the image.
Starkey’s images are also very static with no obvious movement and no sense that the participants are conversing with each other. This is her way of ensuring that the images aren’t a mass of contradictions.
Watching the Performers
For this assignment I roped in my friends Batty and Redd as models.
Each set of photos uses a single model who is both performing as well as watching the performance. To achieve the results the camera was set up on a tripod and a set of photos taken with the model performing. A second set of photos was then taken with them acting as audience. These photos were cropped using Photoshop and then using the Photomerge option, available from Adobe Bridge were merged together to create a single new image.
This assignment allowed me to use a number of different skills and technique. Joining two images together wasn’t something I’d done a lot of before. It allowed me to explore the capabilities of Lightroom, Photoshop and Bridge.
I allowed the models to do their own thing with regards to movement and position, just as long as they stayed in the appropriate side of the shot.
I’m happy with both sets of images and feel both tell a story. Although I would like to revisit the second shoot but to take a bit more time over it.
This assignment reinforced the fact that I enjoy taking photos of people performing.
- Tate (un-dated) Hannah Starkey born 1971 Available at: http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artists/hannah-starkey-2683 [Accessed 28 May 2018]
- Saatchi Gallery (2018) Hannah Starkey: Selected works by Hannah Starkeey Available at: https://www.saatchigallery.com/artists/hannah_starkey.htm [Accessed 28 May 2018]
- Wikipedia (2018) Hanna Starkey Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hannah_Starkey [Accessed 28 May 2018]
- Artnet (2018) Hanna Starkey Available at: http://www.artnet.com/artists/hannah-starkey/ [Accessed 28 May 2018]
- The Telegraph (2011) Hanna Starkey: In Conversation Available at: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/photography/8283609/Hannah-Starkey-In-Conversation.html [Accessed 28 May 2018]
- Loh. A, Vescovi. A, (2015) Interview with the Photographer Available at: http://theamericanreader.com/interview-with-photographer-gregory-crewdson/ [Accessed 28 May 2018]
- MoMA (2007) Jeff Wall – In His Own Words. Available at: https://www.moma.org/interactives/exhibitions/2007/jeffwall/ [Accessed 5 June 2018]