Part 3 Feedback

I’ve had a chat with my tutor about assignment 3 and the work I did during the thrid part of the course. As the chat was online I’ve got the written feedback in bullet form which I’ve included below.

Assignment 3

  • Improvement in Photoshop skills, well suited to the idea you are exploring. The merge function has worked well and to good effect.
  • Overall images lack ‘punch’ this could be addressed through increasing contrast or some saturation. Consider what it it you are trying to convey – what is the relationship between the 2 figures.
  • It’s a strong idea but what is the dialogue/conversation between the 2?
  • How might you better direct the models to communicate your ideas. Were there any barriers in directing them more?
  • Both images are staged against very busy backgrounds which appear out of context/
    incongruous with the activity. Consider how you might overcome this whilst remaining true to your original vision.
  • Sequencing of images could be important in helping you develop and communicate your idea/concept.

As I’ve progressed through the course I’ve used the techniques that have been highlighted in the course notes and exercises. Some I’ve found useful, others not so much. Some techniques I use regularly, others very infrequently.

Recently I’ve been making use of other techniques to improve the quality of my images, spot removal for instance.

One of the suggestions for the next assignment is to make use of the tone curve in order to improve the tonality and contrast in my images. I’ve started doing that with some photographs I took of seals while staying in Norfolk. I also looked at adjusting the saturation and vibrance in a couple of images, which I think make them better.

With regards to the assignment I had considered a number of techniques that would allow me to overlay the images. However, being of the keep it simple school of thought, decided to go with what I felt was the easiest.

The concept behind the series of images is one that I will try and explore further, with other subjects as well as the two that I’ve already used. However, before I undertake further shoots I need to refine the brief and also come up with a bit more of a narrative.

I think the point about directing the models better is a fair one. Although there wasn’t any probems communicating what I wanted, I gave a very high level of instruction and let them do what they wanted. Having a better idea of what I want to achieve I hope will allow better direction.

In general I think I hadn’t given enough thought about what I was trying to convey and the story I wanted to get across. I had a subject for the photographs (performers) and an idea of what I wanted to do (have the same person performing and viewing themselves) but hadn’t gone beyond that. Something I need to work at in the next section of the course.

Projects/ Exercises

Part 1. Series and sequence: good attempt at maintaining the crop – not easy in a
public space. Seasonal change is a well known example to explore. Returning
to previous ideas and exploring them in projects/exercises is beneficial. Good
to shoot a range of options – good that you reflected on that advice! Images
lack contrast, add slight a curve?

Part 2. Difficult as your sitter is sensitive to appearance, what did you feel about this
exercise, might you have chosen a different sitter?

Part 3. Couldn’t be accessed.

With Part 2, using another sitter would have meant arranging a time convenient to both of us when they could have dropped in and we could have taken the photos. The brief requiring us to take photos, and then allow the person being photographed to doctor the images in whatever way they saw fit required access to a printer or some other means of producing a print. Without ready access to this, the exercise involves a lot of scheduling of time and availability of everyone involved.

Part 3 just wasn’t there. When reading through the course notes I missed the part about researching Richard Billingham’s photos. I’ve remedied that now.

Learning Log/Blog

You continue to maintain a well populated learning log that features detailed notes and
thoughts on a range of exhibitions and visits. Interesting to read your reflections on Arbus – what do you think on her approach to her ‘subjects’, to those on the outskirts of the society of which she was a part. Do you find the work voyeuristic or do you think she had empathy with them? She is a much discussed/cited photographer, often much is made of the manner of her death but how much has this shaped our discourse around her?

Consider some of these issues when looking at the work and try to get less bogged down in the detail around her wider life story (husband, children, work etc.). This is important to some degree, but it is background information. What we are discussing here is the work on its own terms – what do you understand/feel when you look at her work – what response do you have to it?

Arbus was an interesting person, reading the biography showed that. What I didn’t do was move beyond the biodgraphy and explore her work in enough detail, critiquing some of her images. I’ll look to do that in another post, and also remember to do something similar with other photographers whose biographies I read. Although understanding who they are or were is important, exploring their work is the way to develop ourselves as photographers, looking at what it is appeals or intrigues us, draws us to them.

In response to the questions posed:

I don’t feel that her work is voyeuristic. I believe that she was drawn to the people that she chose to photograph because she had a certain empathy with them. They weren’t part of mainstream society, and she herself didn’t fit how society might have dictated she should behave. By photographing “freaks” and people who were different she was highlighting how diverse society is. Although her photos could be seen as voyeuristic I don’t think that she would have been able to capture the images she did without instilling trust in the people she photographed. No matter how good a photographer you might be, without your subject trusting you, you’ll never truly personal and intimate images.

I think the manner of her death will colour any discussion of her work. If you know something about a person, how they lived and even died then it will have an influence on how you see their work. If you know the circumstances around a photograph they’ve taken, you begin to see it differently.

For instance if you were to see an image of someone in the street and they appeared angry then you’d wonder what has caused them to be angry. If that person was part of a crowd at a demonstration then that anger could be directed at the target of the demonstration, police or armed forces that were policing the demonstration, people who were protesting against the demonstration. You could not be sure but could come up with multiple reasons. However, if you were then told that moments after the photograph was taken they ripped the camera away from the photographer you see the image differently and an entirely different set of reasons for their anger opens up.

If Arbus had died of old age, illness or in an accident then her work would be seen in a different light. Arbus taking her own life, colours how we see her work because it becomes the product of someone who struggled throughout her life, who didn’t always have control over the work she produced but did have control over the way her life ended. It also lends a degree of tragedy to her work and leave the question of how successful a photographer would she have become if she’d not committed suicide.

Suggested reading/viewing

You might enjoy the film on Diane Arbus ‘Fur’
A recent show in London at The Barbican ‘Photography on the Margins, more here: https://www.barbican.org.uk/our-story/press-room/another-kind-of-life-photography-on-the-margins
Do some more research around the show, read some reviews (it has since closed)
investigate some the practitioners listed further.
For the next assignment – have a look at the work of OCA tutor, Andy Hughes here:
http://www.andyhughes.net/

I’ll be looking at ‘Fur’ when the opportunity presents itself. An initial look at the trailer and reviews show a film that is a very artistic spin on Arbus; although based in part on fact, is focussed on a short period of her life, and which doesn’t touch upon her eventual suicide in any way.

For assignment 4 I want to try and build on some of the photos I took in Cyprus that reflect man’s impact on the environment. Although the assignment relates to still life I look to take this outside the confines of a studio/home and instead capture images in situ, but in a way that leaves the subject matter isolated from the environment and so making it unclear as to whether it is natural or constructed.

The biggest challenge being finding locations and creating the still life, do I capture objects as is or build something from them.

A Staged Photograph (Submission)

Brief

The brief for the assignment was to produce either:-

  • A staged photograph
  • Or to make a narrative sequence

Research

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.

Gregory Crewdson

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?

Untitled from Twilight - Gregory Crewdon - VAM.AC.UK
Untitled from Twilight – Gregory Crewdon – VAM.AC.UK

Hannah Starkey

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.

Final Images

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.

Fire Bat

Fire Bat - 01Fire Bat - 02Fire Bat - 03

Fire Bat - 04

Redd Wyne

Redd Wynn - 03Redd Wynn - 02Redd Wynn - 01

Reflection

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.

Contact Sheets

 

 

References

  1. Tate (un-dated) Hannah Starkey born 1971 Available at: http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artists/hannah-starkey-2683 [Accessed 28 May 2018]
  2. Saatchi Gallery (2018) Hannah Starkey: Selected works by Hannah Starkeey Available at:   https://www.saatchigallery.com/artists/hannah_starkey.htm [Accessed 28 May 2018]
  3. Wikipedia (2018) Hanna Starkey Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hannah_Starkey [Accessed 28 May 2018]
  4. Artnet (2018) Hanna Starkey Available at:  http://www.artnet.com/artists/hannah-starkey/ [Accessed 28 May 2018]
  5. 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]
  6. Loh. A, Vescovi. A, (2015) Interview with the Photographer Available at: http://theamericanreader.com/interview-with-photographer-gregory-crewdson/ [Accessed 28 May 2018]
  7. MoMA (2007) Jeff Wall – In His Own Words. Available at: https://www.moma.org/interactives/exhibitions/2007/jeffwall/ [Accessed 5 June 2018]

 

A Staged Photograph (Assignment 3 – in progress)

Brief

The brief for the assignment was to produce either:-

  • A staged photograph
  • Or to make a narrative sequence

Research

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.

With a deadline of June 15th (extended from the 18th May) for the assignment, my initial thought for a staged photograph was to draft in the girls from the burlesque troupe and to use one of our dress rehearsals, of our routines, for Home Farm Festival for the assignment. Continuing with the theme of showing two, or more, aspects to something (the Janus image from assignment 2 and the sequence for exercise 3.3) I thought having the girls in a photo out of costume, while looking at themselves, in costume, in the same image, would be an interesting thing to try.

To achieve something believable would mean controlling all aspects of the environment but particular lighting.

As part of the preparation for the assignment I took several photos at the dance studio we use. In one of the photographs there is a chair on the left hand side of the image, in the other there is a chair on the right hand side. Both photos were cropped so that they contained just over half the photograph, with just enough overlap for Photoshop to stitch the two photos together into a single image. Doing this proved that my aim for the project was possible.

Gregory Crewdson

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?

Untitled from Twilight - Gregory Crewdon - VAM.AC.UK
Untitled from Twilight – Gregory Crewdon – VAM.AC.UK

Hannah Starkey

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.

Final Images

Watching the Performers

Fire Bat

Fire Bat 01 - 72dpi 1024 pixelFire Bat 03 - 72dpi 1024 pixelFire Bat 04 - 72dpi 1024 pixelFire Bat 02 - 72dpi 1024 pixel

 

Reflection

 

Contact Sheets

 

References

  1. Tate (un-dated) Hannah Starkey born 1971 Available at: http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artists/hannah-starkey-2683 [Accessed 28 May 2018]
  2. Saatchi Gallery (2018) Hannah Starkey: Selected works by Hannah Starkeey Available at:   https://www.saatchigallery.com/artists/hannah_starkey.htm [Accessed 28 May 2018]
  3. Wikipedia (2018) Hanna Starkey Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hannah_Starkey [Accessed 28 May 2018]
  4. Artnet (2018) Hanna Starkey Available at:  http://www.artnet.com/artists/hannah-starkey/ [Accessed 28 May 2018]
  5. 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]
  6. Loh. A, Vescovi. A, (2015) Interview with the Photographer Available at: http://theamericanreader.com/interview-with-photographer-gregory-crewdson/ [Accessed 28 May 2018]
  7. MoMA (2007) Jeff Wall – In His Own Words. Available at: https://www.moma.org/interactives/exhibitions/2007/jeffwall/ [Accessed 5 June 2018]