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.

Just an update…

So… I am now coming into my third week of the project. And it has gone off to a slow but reassuring start.

The last couple of weeks I have spent trying to find models willing enough to participate in my shoots. Due to the nature of my shoots I have had to specifically state that I want either fine-art nude or life drawing models, by doing this I know that the model should be comfortable with either doing a partially or fully nude shoot with me in the lockable studio my university has to offer.

9 times out of 10, I normally use people I know and have a strong relationship with around the university to participate in my ideas and shoots, however I have pushed the boat out and made myself come across as “Professional” by creating online cast callings.
Over the summer I was introduced to a website called Purple Port  by a local photographer in the industry. It’s great for students like myself as you sign up for your free months “unlimited” profile and after the time for that has ended you have the option to pay to get all the benefits of an unlimited account or just stick to the basic free one (which is what I have opted for until I make it into the photographic world!).
Creating a casting call was really simple and easy to do via Purple Port and in a short time I got quite a lot of interest from people of all ages and sizes.

On top of trying to keep my sanity and finding decent models for my projects I have been cracking on with a little bit of research. As well as reading Jacques Lacan’s Mirror Stage in depth (not only for this project but for my Dissertation too) I have been looking at photographer’s work such as… Sally Mann’s Proud Flesh, Bill Brandt’s Nudes and David Hockney’s Joiners. This is just a the initial beginning of research and I will be researching more in depth at other photographers and artists to broaden my knowledge.

Just to push the boat out a little further, I have also been getting to know my camera! The photographers first intimate session of understanding how your cameras and for us photographers to geek out a little bit!
For the next 6-7 weeks I am going to be using a Hassleblad camera which is something that is completely out of my comfort zone for I have never used one of these before! I managed to organise a one-to-one tutorial with Paul the Photo-technician and he was able go through the basics and gave me a film so I could go and practice.
And as you can imagine I have instantly fallen in love with the Hassleblad and cannot wait to work with it more with later on this week!

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.

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 – Sophie Calle.

Victoria Abril- Prenez soin de vous
Sophie La Clown
Take Care of Yourself – Sophie Calle.

Sophie Calle is a French writer, photographer and installation artist.
In her project Take Care of Yourself, Calle creates a collection of interpretations of women’s responses to a break up letter she received via email from her lover. Take Care of Yourself uses the narrative of a jilted lovers letter and she creates her installation by using video recordings, photographic portraiture and textual analysis. She also frames part of the text to go along side with the portraits in her work.
By creating this, she examines the conditions and possibilities of human emotions and opens up the idea of love and heartache, gender and identity and intimacy.


What I really like about Sophie Calle’s work is that she doesn’t purely stick to one particular media to be able to carry out her project, she uses mixed media and I find that’s what makes Take Care of Yourself really interesting. The use of video really helps to capture the individual’s interpretations of how it feels to receive a break up letter – everybody deals with the situation differently and being able to use different types of media to help recording that moment in time possibly relates to the emotions of the individual.
The pictures themselves use soft and subtle lighting which helps set the emotion in the photograph – having soft lighting makes the individual appear to be gentle and fragile to the situation Sophie Calle is putting them in. The use of framing is quite important, even though it is part of a collection, it also remains as an individual artifact. The framing secludes everything inside of itself – what is inside the frame is the story and the story is told as a tableaux as well a series.
The use of narrative is really unusual for this art project. It all has the same storyline, but because the 107 different woman used to create this installation everybody reflects on the letter differently. Memory is one key thing, everybody has been in a similar situation of going through a breakup and reading something can bring up the memory of that time.
How will Sophie Calle help me with my work?
Calle uses both photography and video recording to help create Take Care of Yourself. For my project, I will be using both mediums (if not something similar) to create my final outcomes for my final pieces. Take Care of Yourself is rather personal just like what my project will be, however I do not plan on gathering 107 women and a parrot  to create my pieces. Even though Calle has used other women to portray the emotion of reading a break up letter, she somehow manages to reflect herself through these women – everybody had a different emotion and she probably went through them all at different stages of when she read / re-read the letter. My project will reflect on my memories as well as my mothers, but using only both myself and my mother. I feel it would be inappropriate to use strangers to reflect on something that is really personal to me.

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.

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.


To help try and structure my slideshow for my Narrative unit, I decided it would be a good idea to write out a brief time scale of dates and events that happened around the time that I either know about (through stories and pictures) and dates that I can remember. By doing this, I can make sure that any pictures I find in my family archive will be placed in the correct order and that the presentation will flow without any disruptions (and thus not making any confusion.)



Primary Research: Family Archive (Pt1)

Once getting the idea of using myself for my Narrative Project, I decided to go home for the weekend to do some research.
I managed to get up into the Loft and brought three boxes down full of old images that my family have stored over the years that have been lugged around from loft – to – loft and never really seen much daylight.

I had an amazing find, I found lots of photographs that my Grandfather took when he was in the Navy and on his travels (pictures from Singapore to Hong Kong!) and I learnt so much about him – I just wished that he was here to tell me more about the photographs in detail.
Alongside this brilliant find, I managed to find some formal pictures of me growing up as a child… As much as it embarrasses me to post it on the web, I will be using these pictures to help get the ball rolling with a slideshow of some sort for my digital presentation.
Here is a selection of photographs I have found (From left to right… 1) First Baby Portrait 2) Toddler Portrait – Aged 1/2 3) First School Portrait – Nursery I believe, 4) Aged 4/5 – My Grandfather’s Favourite Portrait, 5) Millenium Portrait – Redgate Middle School Aged 8/9. )

My next steps:

  1. Go back and try and find snapshots of images of me growing up.
  2. Record & Interview a family member (my mother) about me growing up.
  3. Begin Slideshow using either Adobe Premiere or Adobe Lightroom.
  4. Timeline of events of my life.



LYP_1995 LYP_Toddler,-1995