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.