To begin my project I drew a mind map in order to lay out all my ideas and plans to paint a clearer picture in my head of what I wanted to achieve in the next couple of months. I then started doing a lot of research, looking at different types of photographer whilst keeping an open mind about my project and how I might develop it. As well as looking at portrait photographers I also looked at other types of photography to give me some ideas for future shoots.
In the early stages of my project I looked at David Bailey’s work, namely the shoot he did with Twiggy. I really liked her quirky look, especially her eye makeup, because I thought it made the picture; I also liked how he got her to pose in an over exaggerated manner as her personality really shines through in photographs. Influenced by these photographs I went on to replicate the pictures using my model Michaela; I did this by doing the eye makeup in a similar way, tying her hair back to give the illusion of short hair like Twiggy, made her wear a similar jumper and I asked her to pose in an exaggerated manner to create a similar ‘playfulness’ in the photographs that is in the one by David Bailey.
For my second shoot I decided to take my photographs at home instead of in the studio; this was because I wanted to experiment with different lighting around my house. I found an online article called ‘The Awesome Light Hiding in Your Home’ which gave me knowledge on natural lighting and how to use all the different types in my portraiture photographs. Firstly I took photographs outside, which happened to be on a grey day and, because of this, the clouds diffused the natural light and thereby tended to provide shadow-less lighting on my model. I then proceeded to take my second set of photographs of my model facing in front of a window, but, because of it being a dull day, not a lot of natural light was seeping through. However, I think that as a result of this, the outcome of the photographs ended up being more successful than if it had a been a bright sunny day because my images came out soft looking, whereas if it had been a sunny day my photographs could have been over exposed. I then went on to take photographs where there was a window behind my model; even though these photographs came out too over exposed in the background, and underexposed on my model, it gave me the opportunity to experiment with what might happed and try it out for myself. After this I took some photographs in what I think was my most successful spot, a place in my house where there are windows both sides of a room in which I put my subject. This showed me that this spot could be used again for future shoots if I wanted to, although I ended up deciding against this idea, not so much that the light there gave me problems but more that the location wasn’t particularly interesting.
After this shoot I then chose to switch back to using the studio because I preferred the control I had over the lights in comparison to using natural light in my house. The fact that the studio background is plain also gave me the opportunity to add shadows that I could control, instead of the distracting elements that were inevitably going to be in the background of my home.
I decided to look at two more photographers; Horst P Horst and Paolo Roversi. I liked Horst P Horst’s portraiture work that was taken in a studio and used shadow in the background. In a particular photograph I liked the focal point being on the shadow and how elegant it looked and this influenced me to producing a shoot similar in style to this, but instead of the focal point being the shadow of the woman’s hat I chose for my model to have an umbrella. This way I not only produced my own interpretation of the photograph but I also found that the shadow of the umbrella was more powerful and eye-catching within the photographs.
I also looked at Paolo Roversi’s work with shadow projections which I liked very much because I love the effect it gave to the photographs. I went on to try this method out with my model Amy placed in front of a city background, provided by an over-head projector. This shoot was primarily experimental but it was to also show the collision between an individual and the city. I found out from this shoot that the most successful photographs were those where my model was faced to the side revealing her facial features clearly against the shadow.
From here my project then developed into the main theme within my project, that was portraying an individual feeling the hostilities of a city environment; this then led to me eventually exploring the opposite to this as well.
I looked at David Bailey’s photographs of Jean Shrimpton in New York, where she undoubtedly looks uncomfortable and rigid in the city environment and portrays herself as an individual lost in the city, which is shown through the shape in her posture. I then gained inspiration from this shoot as there were similarities to the shoots I had just done with Amy and Michaela, which was exactly what I wanted to achieve. I decided to try this lost and uncomfortable look out in a real city environment for my next shoot, in which I wanted my model to look out of place in the city. In the photographs I took I got my model to wear black straight-lined clothes to portray her posture as looking tense and uncomfortable, I also got her to look miserable and uncomfortable.
I was able to go to New York during the course of my project and while I was there it was the Macy’s Parade, which is a massive event in America so people from all over the country come to see it. Luckily I was able to capture the business of the parade and the period afterwards when it had finished. In New York City so many people were permanently busy and on the move and seemed stressed. Comparing this to where I live, which is more a natural environment it had a completely different vibe and atmosphere.
Before I went I printed some photographs off of parts of New York from a couple of years ago. While I was there I tried out the technique of taking a photograph of a photograph; I first of all did this while I was on a boat trip. As the boat travelled along the water I held up the photographs I had printed in the same location as the photograph I had printed was taken, here I wanted to show modernisation through these photographs and that even though the photographs are nearly identical to the real thing at the moment, I wanted to give off the tragic reality that they are inevitably going to change. However, a different meaning was behind the photograph of the TwinTowers as I wanted to show that modernisation has indeed occurred through terrorism and that we as individuals cannot stop change even if we wanted to, but in holding these photographs up it shows how we as humans have the power to make how these changes occur. There is also the tragic thought that this modernisation also shows how even if people do prefer natural environments, these environments are bound to be destroyed in the future and replaced with locations similar to modern New York. Although these were themes that occurred during this shoot I decided not to develop these ideas any further in my project; however, I did later revisit the technique of photographing a photograph.
After my trip I went on to take pictures of my models in a woodland area. The difference in these photographs is in how I asked my models to pose compared to those I took in the city; in the woodland I asked them to pose like they were comfortable in this environment. Both Lorna and Amy (my models) achieved this by touching the trees and plants, leaning on them and also sitting on the ground, which showed they were relaxed where they were. I also asked if they could wear something that portrayed that they were comfortable; they both chose to wear a skirt that flowed. The dark green dress that one chose mixed in with the green of the nature and the white kimono the other wore had butterflies on which also flowed and portrayed a positive view of nature.
It was here that I revisited the technique of taking a photograph of a photograph when I went to London. London is one of the fastest changing locations and used to be a lot more natural, but from the 1780’s onwards Britain was transforming due to the Industrial Revolution - before then most people lived in the countryside, which was surprisingly situated in what are now parts of London. It was after doing research on London and its rapid change that I was influenced to do a shoot on this. Before I went I printed out photographs of the countryside and then placed them by famous modernised landmarks to portray the change that has occurred. This shoot then led to me developing my project to showing a model trapped in the city (shown in a separate photograph held in the picture I was taking) wanting to reach out to the countryside and a model in the countryside (same technique used) trying to hide from an ever enclosing city. By doing this I wanted to show the model craving an escape from the city and the content feeling of being in a natural environment.
Looking over my project I don’t think there is anything I would drastically change if I had the opportunity to but I would have liked to explore more surrealist forms of photographs at the start of my project as I find the concept very interesting and inspiring. However, looking back at my project and the nature to city route I chose I don’t think it would fit in with my project anymore.
If I had been given more time for my project I would have liked to further develop or explore my ideas by perhaps going back to using the studio to portray an alternative view of looking at nature and perhaps move onto surrealism within this.
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