Photoshoot 3 – 22/10/14

This photo-shoot, I went into the studio feeling pretty confident!
After having two practice shoots, I felt that I was ready and feeling rather excited to be working with not only a different model but also one of my classmates. Unfortunately, my model scheduled so thankfully my friend kindly stepped in (and I owe her a Starbucks coffee too!).

I had the studio set up ready for when my model walked in, we discussed what underwear we thought would be best and got the camera settings correct on my DSLR and then moved straight onto my Hassleblad… WITHOUT CHANGING THE SETTINGS!! *Bangs head repeatedly on table*.
This was a big photographer doo-doo and after developing the film I couldn’t believe what I had done.

Luckily, the images came out OKish, however my film looked very thin and disappointing – I went ahead and scanned the images in and with doing a slight boost on the scanning software I was able to recover parts of the images.
See below!

I had to do a lot of post production on these images – boosting the levels and contrast and having play about with the tonal range of the images to to bring back some of the detail. The images came out quite gritty-looking which I find works really well.
There is something about these images that makes the subject look quite vulnerable just wearing her underwear – the way people gaze at women nude and a lady in just lingerie can be seen in two different ways. Seeing a nude lady makes us think about the natural beauty of a woman – the skin tones, the curves of the body and there is something aesthetically pleasing that makes us want to value women in art and photography  – after all, women in art posed in this manner has always been popular genre. But seeing a lady in just her underwear changes the gaze completely – something like this can be seen in a more sexual manner, just revealing parts of her body to the viewer makes her seem like she’s teasing and posing in certain positions makes her look more appealing.
I am disappointed that I made such a big mistake for this photo-shoot, HOWEVER, I have decided to take this shoot as a happy accident! The film came out thin and rather under-exposed but I can work with this to help my photographs become a part of the Fragmented Body as part of this project I am doing at university.

These photographs are cropped to a certain manner so I can focus on specific parts of the female body and therefore develop my technical skills to ‘fragment’ this further. There are a number of things that I can do with this film – I can leave it as it is and head straight into the Darkroom and see what results I can achieve from doing a straight print.
I can also manipulate the films further – bury it, burn it, place it into bleach and see what weird effects I achieve. I plan on talking to tutor and technicians to see who I can look at for references as part of my research (I am keeping a Research Development Book (RDB) ). If you have any names then please don’t hesitate to contact me!

Let’s see what I can achieve!

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Research – Robert Mapplethorpe.

When I was in college back in Norfolk, I was introduced to the photographer Robert Mapplethorpe and I was also lucky to see some of his work on exhibition in London around 4 years ago – from what I can remember was that some of the images were so graphic that all was on show was black text, mounted inside a frame describing what the photograph was! When being first introduced to photography I found that so unusual and alien like – nowadays I just want to play around with text more in certain projects!

After having a “Progress Review”  and the GTA (Graduate Teaching Assistant) saying “have you looked at Robert Mapplethorpe” I was a little dumb-struck and couldn’t believe I didn’t go to this photographer as a first point of call!
So today I went to the library and looked at 2 thick books of his work (also completely forgetting how graphic some photographs were and nearly fell off my seat with pure surprise! haha!).
Here are some of the images I came across that felt fitting for what I want to achieve for Independent Study.

Reading throughout the book, I soon discovered that Mapplethorpe started his career off as a sculpture and then progressed onto photography. By looking at the photographs you can clearly see the link between the two arts – some of the models he took photographs of do mimic statues!
Looking at these images helped me to understand how he positioned everybody in his photographs, and inspecting closer I understood how important body shape is – different sizes, different skin tones and even the way muscle definition can look the same but different at the same time.
By keeping them in black and white, I find that you notice the body in more detail to how you would see it in colour, which is one of the reasons why I have decided to stick to monochrome photography.

Even after his death, Mapplethorpe’s work is still being shown in various galleries all over the place, and with having that insight to his work, I hope to produce high quality images that I can show in a gallery in an exhibition I can proudly call my own. I find that there is something beautiful in monochrome photography, especially when seen up close as opposed to a big thick dusty book from the library shelf.

Photoshoot 2 – 15/10/14

Wednesday 15th October I carried out my first Hassleblad studio shoot with a female body.
I had a wonderful model called Annie who studies at my university and she kindly volunteered to model for my project (and I will hopefully be using her again!)

The photoshoot went rather smoothly and quickly and Annie was wonderful to work with.
I decided to treat this photo-shoot as another test shoot and only asked my model to stay in her underwear, purely because I wanted to work on the curves and her body shape and was still getting use to handling the Hassleblad itself.
I was stupid enough to forget my tripod so I hand held my camera which made the photoshoot go at a reasonably slow pace but I had music playing in the background and Annie and I were deep in conversation. I managed to develop the film (after much cursing in the darkroom trying to get my film onto the reel for developing) and was able to digitally scan everything using the fantastic facilities UCA has to offer.
Below are some of (what I feel are) my strongest images from this shoot.

I went away feeling rather confident working with people for this style of photoshoot, however I felt that I was ‘winging’ how I wanted Annie to stand in front of the camera. Even though I was giving her clear direction of how I wanted her I secretly had NO idea on how I wanted her to stand/sit and was pretty much treating everything like a photographic experiment.

After having a Progress Review with the Photography’s GTA and around 8 of my classmates we all agreed that I should probably research looking into body forms and shapes to help me get a clearer idea of how models posed for paintings and photographs (which I will no doubt create a moodboard on Pintrest for purely for this) and to also research into the Anatomy a bit more in depth too.
I was also suggested to take a visit to London’s Victoria and Albert Museum to look at all the statues and how they are carved and moulded.

NEXT STEPS:
* Look into body posture
* Look into body shapes – both feminine and masculine
* Look into Anatomy
*Try and plan a visit to the V&A.

Hassleblad Practice.

For my Independent Study project, I decided that I wanted to work with film.
For what I want to be able to achieve for this brief, I decided that working with Medium Format film would be suitable. For me to be able to go ahead and do this, I needed to understand the Hassleblad in more depth!

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Above: Me working with the Hassleblad and all my equipment (thank you to my friend for taking this for me!) . Below: the camera I used.

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Throughout my 2-3 years of studying at UCA, I have never once picked up a Hassleblad… I know, I’ve left it a little late (but hey! Better late than never!).
I managed to hire out the beauty above and get a one-to-one tutorial with Paul the Techie who lives in what us Photography students call it the “Fish Tank” office… (the office is literally a big window in the wall and it looks like a larger version of a fish tank.) The tutorial with Paul was really helpful – he went through a quick recap of how everything works – loading the film, how to take the back off the camera, the aperture rings and shutter speed.

Above are some of the images from the roll of 120mm film from my practice shoot with the Hassleblad.(To enlarge the photographs, just click on the image).
I understand these pictures have nothing to do with my project and in all fairness I did enjoy stepping away from my project, but I wanted the opportunity to go out and get use to handling the Hassleblad before going ahead with any shoots I organise in the studio.
After my tutorial with Paul the Techie, I went away from the “Fish Tank” feeling very excited and extremely eager to take photographs – just the thought of darkroom chemicals was enough to send me crazy!
I took a stroll with my two friends and was able to walk away from the meadows feeling very confident and enthusiastic about Medium Format,  and to top the day off I instantly fell in love with the Hassleblad!
When shooting my practice film with the Hassleblad I found it very confusing at first – every movement and angle is so sensitive compared to most cameras I have handled and I discovered I am better of using a tripod to help steady my shakey hands when taking the photographs. But once I got use to the sensitivity I was able to steady myself and I managed to find a mutual bond with the camera (only photographers will understand this bond – you just instantly know how to work the camera!).
I feel that I am still new to this whole Hassleblad craze, but I know the more shoots I do with this camera, the more I will gain confidence and produce top-notch photographs for this project!

Analysis of Two Photographs

After flicking through Bill Owens’ book Suburbia  I came across a photograph that jogged my memory. On the left, you will see a photograph from a collection of images my mother took as a child playing with close family friends (unfortunately we lost contact over the years) and underneath, you will see Bill Owens’ image.

Despite the fact that the two are different in terms of how the photographs are shot, they do have their similarities.

When I first viewed Bill Owens’ image, it jogged my memory of a photograph I believe my mother had taken of me whilst I was playing in my room. I managed to find the photograph in my mother’s personal archive of photographs.
Placing the images side by side, you can see the differences and similarities. Firstly Owens’ picture is monochrome and mine is in colour. Both photographs has a bed featured in the pictures, however the bed in my found image has been cropped out slightly unlike Owens’. My found image also features two young girls (one of them being me) where as Owens’ image only has one girl, but you can see the toys/mess in her bedroom more clearly than my image.
Just by viewing the images side by side, you can see what style of photography has been used to capture these two very different moments. Owens has taken more of a Documental approach to his image. His image shows the entire room, the girl sitting on the bed and the mess all over the floor. By taking this image he wanted to show the viewer the whole scenario as well as documenting the life of this young girl in this situation, where as my found photograph has been taken in more of a snapshot style. My photograph focuses more on myself and my play mate and the toys I have been playing with.  The angle of my found image is pretty much in line with my eyes  and the format of who my room has been portrayed may suggest that a “point and shoot” camera has been used, whereas in Bill Owens’ picture the whole room is displayed suggesting that a wide angle lens has been used.

Myself aged 5.

Myself aged 5.

Bill Owens Image.

Secondary Research: Bill Owens

Bill Owens Suburbia
Owens creates this narrative structure through photographing a suburban community in America, and then using the subjects quotes as a caption that is on the same page as the image. Each piece of text adds an amount of information to each portrait.Although, having this narrative form, the book focuses on the migration of the city folk moving to the suburbs.

“The migration was all around him – it was as if he was being swallowed up in it. Everywhere he turned, houses were springing up, row upon row; what had been farmland one day was a city the next… And there, around him every day, was this new, stunning social phenomenon. And so he began photographing it – understanding that he was witnessing something special, that these people were in the best American way buying not just houses, but dreams of a better life.” – Owens, S (1999). Suburbia. New York: Fotofolio. 5.

Analysis:
When flicking through this book I discovered that Owens has a very documental approach to photographing people of the suburbs and their surroundings.
When looking at the images throughout the book, all the captions that accompany the pictures are created by the people featured in the photograph. This gives the images a more personal response for the viewers to read – it tells us THEIR and makes the pictures look less documental.
One picture in particular grabbed my attention in particular – it is I wanted Christina to learn some responsibility for cleaning her room, but it didn’t work. In this image, there is a young girl sitting on a bed in a room full of toys that looks messy. Looking at this image jogged my memory of a photograph that my mother took of me at a similar age, and in a similar situation (I thought it would be good to display all my toys from my chest all over the floor in my bedroom). I really liked how this image managed to jog my memory and allowed me to have a little bit of a laugh at the image due to the humorous caption. Having this effect on his is something I would love to be able to encorporate with my images in my publication.

Having captions to go with the images is something I would like to consider as one of my outcomes for my publication for this project. Having short, simple captions will help to give my audience an insight into my personal life – making it personal both to me and my viewers.

I wanted Christina to learn some responsibility for cleaning her room, but it didn’t work.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We enjoy having these things.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday afternoon we get it together. I cook the steak and my wife makes the salad.

 

 

 

Secondary Research – Yaron Lapid: “The New Zero”

The New Zero is an ongoing project which plays on the nature of photography and it’s ability to assemble and disassemble layers of history.

yaron lapid.4In 1999, Yaron Lapid found several envelopes on the floor or a recently demolished area in Jerusalem. Inside the envelopes contained hundreds of black and white photographs and negatives which were assumed to be “leftovers” of a former photographic studio.
Lapin has repossessed the found material to create a non-typical family album that consists of moving portraits that fluidly fade to black before revealing their main features. The video is consisting this moving image focuses on the detail of how the portraits were taken, for example, body posture, clothes and accessories which suggests the time these pictures were taken in and the habits and clothing of Jerusalem.
The video is played on a loop, and this reinforces the sense of a stratified past that cannot be pictured at once. However, it has slowly informed the layers of a multi-faceted society – a society where formal differences are marked as cultural oppositions.
These photographs have frozen a particular moment of an individuals history, turning it into a yaron lapid.3visual archive that allows the viewer to use their imagination to fill in the missing gaps.

ANALYSIS
I decided to look at Yaron Lapid’s work via youtube (See video link above) and his website because he managed to construct a project based around found imagery, which is something that I strongly relating my work into for this unit.
All the images are constructed using a similar fashion – the head, torso and shoulders fin into the compositional frame and in the same manner (as if there was a set rule to apply to taking these portraits). What I find intriguing about Yaron Lapid’s video work is that all the images are cropped at the same position – above the nose, below the eyes, as if Lapid was trying to conceal the identity of the sitter in the portrait.
Is he trying to hide their identity?
Why is he trying to conceal their identity?
Despite the working creating these questions about hiding their identity, it also allows the audience to have some fun with their imagination of how the sitters would look like (trying to yaron lapid.2guess their facial characteristics) and guess what type of background they come from by only having the visuals of what clothes they are wearing and the accessories too (EG: Glasses).
All the pictures are monochrome, and to me this suggests that LApid has taken a scientific approach to creating his work. Having all the colours removed from the images gives everybody a sense that they are uniformed – being a member of a group and that they should be looked at as equals no matter the gender or clothing they wear. Having this approach can link directly to the fact that these images have actually been archived digitally and that they should be be viewed as a collection or together.
Personally, I feel that the cropping of the sitter’s faces is too extreme for me – I want to be able to use portraits in my digital screening and for me to do so,  the audience needs to know who the identity of the person is to be able to engage a personal response to my collection of work.