In this first exercise, you’ll use fragments of still life images to create a combined design.
• Arrange a still life set-up that includes a background (preferably an ironed white or
black sheet) and three distinct objects. It would be helpful if at least one object was
sized at least 0.5m or you’ll be photographing everything in macro.
• Use either sunlight from a window or one single source of electric light to cast
shadows and bring out the 3D form of the objects.
• Photograph around the objects, both close and wide shots, not all from the front.
• Capture the edges and the lines of the objects as well as defined shapes within them
– for example the sound holes of a violin.
• Capture edges where light and shadow create a sense of depth or recess.
• Take pictures of the textures and colours of the objects.
• Think of this project as collecting impressions and perceptions of these objects and
let this guide your camera.
• You’ll need approximately 20 well-exposed images.
The idea behind this exercise is to imaginatively combine the different photographs
into a single conclusive design. Have a look at some Cubist paintings and sculpture as
inspiration. Notice how one object blends into another and how different viewpoints
of the same object co-exist in surprising ways. The classic example of this is Picasso’s
combination of the front and profile of a face, as in Weeping Woman, which you can see
on the Tate’s website. Then look at Brendan Fowler’s Spring 2011 – Fall 2012 on the New
York Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) website, which attempts similar arrangements
Combine the photos by arranging prints or by using Photoshop to assemble the images
as different layers. Cut the images and choose only fragments of each image, matching
up lines so they flow and placing shapes in meaningful juxtapositions as defined points
in the composition. You should find the composition grows into a large picture.
When you’ve finished the design, photograph it or save it as a finished picture.
Picasso’s Weeping Woman
Tate (2018) shows Picasso’s painting Weeping Woman. The painting is the last of several he made that was based on one of the figures in his painting Guernica. The woman’s features are based on those of Dora Marr, Picasso’s lover.
The woman appears as a mix of portrait and frontal view and has a hand held up to her face. The central part of the face, which almost appears as if it had been sketched out but no filled in, is white. This part of the face also appears to be made up of the fingers of her other hand.
Although the face is clearly identifiable, when I focus on specific parts, for instance the eyes or the mouth, there is a sense of disjointedness, which disappears when I look at the painting as a whole.
Brendan Fowler’s Spring 2011 – Fall 2012
Fowler’s work by contrast is a lot simpler, and cleaner. MOMA (2018) shows his Spring 2011 – Fall 2012 work which consists of what looks like framed photos, or at least photos that have been printed with a small border that appears like a frame. The top image has been torn and positioned so that it continues the circle created by the photo of the mirror that it overlays.
Unlike Picasso’s painting there is something serene about this work, it does not jar the viewer’s senses.
With hindsight I could have cut the pictures in ways that would have allowed me to fit them together into a better overall image.
When I combined the individual images I tried several combinations. Firstly, in a way that attempted to reconstruct the individual items. Secondly, in a way that grouped the different items together from left to right and finally, grouping items so that darker images were to one side and lighter images to the other.
Although an interesting exercise, simply from the point of capturing the way that light and shadow were created by each of the selected items, it wasn’t one of my favourite activities.
If I was to undertake the exercise again, rather than start with the objects I would start with an idea of what I wanted to end up with and then work backwards in order to create the images that would support that.
- Tate (2018) Weeping Woman [online] Available at: https://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/picasso-weeping-woman-t05010 Accessed: 4th July 2018
- MOMA (2018) Spring 2011 – Fall 2012 [online] Available at: https://www.moma.org/collection/works/174111 Accessed: 4th July 2018