Make a print about life-size and ask your model to affect their portrait – the print. The purpose here is to allow the sitter’s personality to affect their appearance. They can do anything to the print from drawing the classic spectacles and missing tooth to writing on it or cutting and tearing.
When they’re done, ask the model to hold the print up to their face, possibly so that the features match, and make another photograph of the model. Of course this will depend on what they’ve done with the print.
Print out this photo. It’s the second remove from ‘reality’ and it represents two distinct times and two experiences. In this way, the resulting photograph contains a creative process.
So using my readily available model, I took several shots of them which I adjusted in Lightroom, exported out to jpeg files and then printed off. These were then handed over for them to alter in whichever way they saw fit. Further photographs were then taken while they held up the photograph in front of their face, as per the brief.
I’ve not included contact sheets for this exercise and only included a subset of the images taken for this exercise. Just enough to demostrate that I’ve fulfilled the brief. After I’ve received feedback on assignment 3 I’ll take this post down because Tracey is very sensitive to her appearance.
How could you mix genres together in one photograph?
Lets keep it simple and stick to the three easiest genres: landscape, portrait and still life (though you are free to use which ever genre you want.)
Choose a subject you’d like to photograph. It can be anything at all, a place, a person, an object or a story. Take your subject and add to it elements of the other genres.
This isn’t about chucking together random subjects – what you’re looking for is an effective, telling mix. For example, you could place a friend outside the house where she was born holding the wedding ring of her mother. Can you understand how each of theses elements resonates with each other?
The easiest genre for me to photograph is landscape. Where I live I have easy access to the countryside. The country park a few miles from Yeovil has views out over lowland areas.
To add a second genre to this I thought about still life. To achieve this I thought about adding something which obviously didn’t belong in the image. This brought me to the idea of using stuffed animals.
In addition to that I used made use of a large boulder and shot some figures from the film Aliens.
Snowy and Friend
Dragon’s over Somerset
Combining two different genres was interesting. The toy wolf is a lot more subtle, particular in the shot where it is in amongst the grass. I think it would be easy to confuse it for a real animal if you didn’t look closely. When it’s on the rock it is a lot more obvious that it isn’t real.
With the toy panda and bear I particularly liked the shot where the lcamera lens has produced a rainbow effect which draw the attention to the panda.
The dragon was just a bit of fun.
With the Ripley and Alien photos I was trying to reproduce something I’ve seen others do where they use small figures and place them amongst normal size plants, which then seem gigantic in comparison. The close up shot, made up mostly of the rock, makes the figures almost appear as if they are in an alien landscape.
Trying to merge landscape and small objects was a challenge. I think if I was to merge landscape with some form of still life in future I’d opt for much larger objects.
Think of a place that holds meaning for you. Note down the reasons why it matters. (For reasons of practicality, choose somewhere accessible.)
Think about how you could photograph that place in a way and in a light that reflects its meaning to you. Is there a particular viewpoint in your mind’s eye? A particular time of day? Make a photograph exactly as you have pre-visualised it and try to convey its special meaning to you in the photograph.
Does the photo reflect your memory at all? Do the colours seem right? If not, change them – and anything else that would help the photo resonate more powerfully.
A Significant Place
There are a number of places that have a significance to me. My parents’ home, where I grew up, the church we go to, the crematorium where my son’s ashes rest. Trying to decide on one place led me to consider Blenheim Palace, although it didn’t hurt that I was going to be racing a triathlon there. Unfortunately I didn’t have enough time to take as many photos as I would have liked but I did manage to capture some.
The last two photos above don’t do the scale of the event justice. There were about 3000 triathletes of all abilities racing on the Saturday, with a similar number racing on the Sunday.
Just to show that I do occasionally get the other side of the camera here are some my partner took, before and after my race.
Before, waiting for my swim wave to be called for the race briefing.
Post race re-hydration. Honestly that is an isotonic drink (Erdinger 0.5% by volume)
You probably own many significant objects, from a wedding ring to old clothes, trophies of achievement to mementos that recall special events or times of your life, like toys or records. Choose one of these to photograph. This mustn’t be a general thing like ‘flowers’ but something entirely specific to you.
Respect the fact that this object matters to you. Photograph it carefully, thinking about how this object ought to be viewed through the camera. Consider the framing, viewpoint, background, placement, light and composition.
Does the photograph (the representation) have the same meaning as the object itself ? Is there a difference?
Now develop this exercise into a series of three photographs of similar objects. For example, if you chose to photograph your wedding ring, ask friends if you can photograph their wedding rings. If you photographed your home, photograph other people’s homes. Use exactly the same viewpoint, framing, lighting (as far as possible), background, etc., for each. This will help the three final photos fit together as a conclusive series.
Look online at the work of Bernd and Hilla Becher. Note how the composition, framing and lighting is almost identical in each photograph and how this ‘gels’ the series together.
Bernd and Hilla Becher
Bernd and Hilla Becher, are artists originally from Germany, who worked as industrial photographers. In 1966 they set of in their VW Camper Van heading with their two year old son for South Wales. The purpose of their trip was to photograph the winding towers and processing plants for the coal mines. Despite the miners being unsure about what the Becher’s were doing, they soon came to respect the determination and thoroughness with which the couple approached their photography.
Bernd passed away on the 22nd June 2007, Hilla passed away on the 10th October 2015.
Hilla’s mother and uncle were both photographers and she trained as a photographer at the Lette-Verein technical academy in Berlin.
In 1951 she apprenticed with Walter Eichgrun. One of the assignments she produced during this time documented a railway repair facility, and the work she submitted for her portfolio when formally qualifying as a photographer included an industrial landscape.
After they met, Hilla was influential in the way Bernd’s photography developed.
Bernd’s own journey started off with painting and graphic art. He turned to photography following the closing down of a mine in Siegen, as a means to document a mine in Eisern when he realised he wasn’t going to be able to document the mine quickly enough using drawings.
Looking at their work the attention to detail is amazing. Grouping similar types of structures together, and photographing them in similar ways allows the similarities and differences between them to stand out more than if the lighting and way they were captured was widely different.
From the beginnings of the Industrial Revolution the landscape across the world has changed from one that was predominantly farm based, to a much more industrial one, with towns and cities sprouting up to service the industrial complex.
As times have progressed the structures that were built, some very complicated and intricate; beautiful in their own way, have disappeared, to be replaced with ones that fit within the modern aesthetic. Look at office buildings such as the Gherkin and the Shard for examples of how architecture can change.
With the decline of iron, steel and coal industries, especially within the UK, the buildings and structures that the Becher’s documented are disappearing daily, with the places they were once found being redeveloped or landscaped, but such places can still be found.
I grew up in the town of Merthyr Tydfil in South Wales. The town was once at the heart of the industrial revolution in Wales, with numerous iron foundries, which built fortunes for the iron masters, such as Richard Crawshay. The coal industry was an important part of the way of life as was the steel industry when I was a youngster.
Overlooking the town there was an area of slag heaps that we used to call the White Tip. About 20 years ago there was a move to remove the tip and to return the area to how it would have looked before the dawn of the iron foundries. Today the area that towered over the town is an area of rolling grassland.
O’Hagan (2014) ends their article with the following:
"But the Bechers' way of working belongs to the past now. This is a requiem for a lost world and shows that, through the passing of time, even that which was once considered purely functional and even ugly, can attain beauty when seen through the eyes of the most attentive photographers."
I don’t believe that this is true. I think that the way that the Becher’s worked is still as valid now as it was then. As we develop as cultures we should be documenting the changing world around us so that our descendants are able to see how the world that they inhabit has changed and developed, whether that is for the better or not.
Chess Trophy and orienteering plaque.
Fishing plaque belonging to Dado
Sports trophy belonging to Dad
Bowling trophies and plaques belonging to Rhys or Rhys’ Project Search award
For my final sequence I went with a set of images containing plaques. Three generations with my grandfather, myself and my son. The red background was adjusted in Lightroom so that the exposure has similar exposure for the red background.
After working through the series of images I was able to produce another two sequences.
I have two plaques that belong to my grandfather. One of the plaques I just couldn’t get a photograph I was happy with and so I created the above sequence using both plaques.
For the final sequence I decided that I was going to use something other than plaques. By doing that I could keep the three generations theme and include a trophy that belonged to my Dad.
The nature of the objects that I decided to photograph made keeping the lighting the same for each of the shots easy.
When I started thinking about what I was going to photograph, and how, I decided that I’d invest in a lightbox and some small portable lights from Amazon. I spent a bit of time researching what was available, looking at the reviews to get an idea of people’s opinions of each different type and eventually picked a lightbox and set of lamps.
The lightbox I selected is very similar to a reflector in the way it can be collapsed down, putting it up is incredibly easy. I wish I’d thought to buy one sooner as I’m sure it would have helped with other project, for instance the photgraphing the end result of the painting with light one.
When it came time to photograph the objects I’d chosen I decided that I need to do more than simply capture some trophies. No matter how hard you try, photographing something like a plaque or a medal runs the risk of being a bit too clinical, almost like you were photographing it to sell on eBay. It can lose some of what makes it so important. The objects I decided to photograph belong, in the main, to people who have had a huge influence on my life. The objects represent something that for me defines them and is part of my memories of them.
With that in mind I decided that in addition to the trophies I would include one or two photographs of the person in question.
I did try photographing just my grandfather’s plaques, without any photographs, but I felt the result was too clinical, partly because it was shot against the white background, but I don’t believe the results would have been any better against a coloured background.
One other thing that I’ve taken away from this exercise is, that , if you are going to use a backdrop, then make sure its been ironed if possible so that there’s no creases in the shots.
I also plan to revisit this exercise at a later date and reshoot the shots with a different lighting set up, one that allows for a greater depth of field.
I did find the use of the lightbox very helpful because it allowed anything that would have been a distraction to be removed from the background.