The Pain Of Making Self Portraits

Firstly – I know have a working title for my assignment… “The Emotional States Of Anorexia”. The emotions that I’m photographing all relate to different emotions that I have experienced that relate to my anorexia.

Defiance (fuck you! I won’t eat and you can’t make me)

Pride (Yes – another target weight hit)

Rage (I fucking hate my self)

Joy (I can wear those new skinny jeans now I’ve hit that weight)

Fear (I’m so fucking scared of eating, l will have to kill myself if I do)

Grief (I hurt so much I can’t cope anymore)

Now I know that you know that I hate my photo being taken. I hate seeing photos of myself. It’s taken me sometime to build up the willingness to photograph myself. Tomorrow and Thursday I have the pain of seeing my face when I develop them. Fuck sake. Why am I doing this. I could have used someone else as the model.

Thing is I can’t. I know that these emotions are extreme and trying to work with a model and talking them into these states is gonna be challenging and time-consuming. I know these emotions and the thoughts that go with them. They’ve been a second skin that I’ve lived in. Consequently it’s taken me an hour to make these photos.

I’ve not liked doing it at all, but, I’ve got the photos that I need. I’ve captured the emotions. Am I putting them up on here? Not bloody likely. Once I’ve embroidered over them then I will publish them, but they, of themselves, are not the final piece of work. They are just part of a still life audio, visual installation that will be juxtaposed with the Laura Letinsky photography.

If I put my displeasure about the photos of myself to the side, I feel excited. This is coming together. My creative vision is clear, I can see the outcome.

Will I exhibit the six pieces I am creating? Damn right if I can get the right curator and the right space. It’s weird how I can feel so confident of that when I can’t stand seeing my photo. Perhaps it’s because my portrait is just a part of a larger piece of work, that my face will be sewn over? Perhaps it’s just a dichotomy of the human experience.

Annie Leibovitz – Masterclass – Lesson One – Portrait

A precious gift that I recieved for Christmas, from a dear friend, was a subscription to an Annie Leibovitz Masterclass.

Masterclass is an app that provides master-classes by people who are world renowned in their field, it can be optained on Google Play Store and the Apple Store.

Lesson 1

There are a few points that I’m taking away. Which I’ll bullet point below. But the most interesting point was a question one of her students asked. It was raised in relation to to photo-journalism, but I think it applies to all genres of photography. “Where is the line?” I photographed an act of self harm for part four of my coursework and in assignment four, and it was necessary for me to question was my photography relevant, necessary and provided in context. Ultimately this is a personal question and each photographers answer is subjective. It’s of note that Leibovitz says this question is ongoing for photographers.

  • You cannot capture an individual with one photo
  • To capture different aspects of personality more than one photo is required
  • It’s beneficial to return to work with an individual in a new setting at a different time (months or years apart
  • A series created in such manner reveals more about a person than a single shoot could do
  • Take lots of photos and regularly
  • It takes years to learn how to see
  • Keep photos that you’re not initially drawn too, your perspective may change over time

Elf Portrait

btf

btfmdn

 

Exercise 4.8 – Photomontage In Photoshop

Brief:- Now that you’ve seen how to make a photomontage with newspaper cuttings, search through your archive of images to make a photomontage with your own photographs. Photomontage requires a playful, experimental attitude to exploring different arrangements, so don’t try to be too ‘tidy’ or perfect about your final result. Decide on the different picture elements: the background, the different parts of the environment, objects different people in the environment. Think in terms of depth: fg,mg, and bg. When you’ve completed your photomontage, photograph it or save it as a finished image. 

Things That Matterphotosociology.wordpress.com

I’m surprised at how short a time this take me to complete. Just a few hours this afternoon. Clearly the practice of using Photoshop is paying off. During other pieces of coursework I have used Photoshop to create montages of differing styles, one was made from several hundred photos that I had taken of street art (here), and another which combined faces (here).

It’s been enjoyable for me to connect with what matters to me. It can be easy to get bogged down with some aspects of life, which become detrimental to others. The background picture reminds me that my passion is photography. It’s become a vital part of regaining my health. Macro photography helps me to chill, to forget the things which can disable me, and to help me get present. The two family members are amazing. We never knew each other until I neared the end of my twenties, it was a chance meeting. But we lost contact and then a real life miracle happened. L was robbed in the street and she flagged down a car, the driver took them home so the police could be called. My photo was on the mantelpiece. I’m so grateful to the man who robbed L. L and G are amazing, if you’re reading – I love you deeply. The gannet is representative of birds, nature, birdwatching and wildlife photography. How can you not love a bird? The car is flying – events photography – I love the action, the fast pace of photographic technique, pushing myself technically and creatively. I’m feeling very grateful as I join some of the dots of my life.

When I embarked upon Foundations in Photography I preferred Lightroom over Photoshop. I still find Lightroom to be my go to for digitally developing my photos. However, my personal creative development has had a seismic shift, by following other creatives blogs I have started to explore mixed media art and production. I have an exciting developmental journey ahead, and I need Photoshop for the development of my creativity.

Self Portrait Cartoons -New Medication And Motivation – Getting The Most From The Olympus OMD EM 1 MK ii

Please click on any photo for a full size image

Self Portrait Charicature
A self-portrait caricature, using the built-in graffiti edit on the Huawei P10

As many of you are aware, I struggle with self-image. However, I wanted to produce some self portraits get used to me being in front of the lens. So I have been making some self portraits over the past week, which I have overpainted using the edit and graffiti tools built into the Huawei P 10. Here are some of the photos that I’ve recently made. Some of these I have posted before and others are new photos, I’m enjoying this so much that I’m going to continue making self portraits in this style.

Self Portrait Charicature
A self-portrait caricature, using the built-in graffiti edit on the Huawei P10

On Monday I started some new medication to reduce the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. The side effects are making me quite sleepy, and this is impacting upon my motivation and ability to complete the tasks that I wish to. I am aware that these side effects will pass within a week or two, so I’m just doing little bits and pieces as and when I can for now.

Self Portrait Charicature
A self-portrait charicature, using the built in graffiti edit on the Huawei P10

My two recent trips to the Farnborough airshow and RSPB Bempton Cliffs have been a wonderful opportunity for me to get to know my new Olympus OMD EM1 MKii. One of my favourite features is the built-in image stabilisation. Although the EM1 has five axis stabilisation you can alter the settings for this.

Self Portrait Caricature
A self-portrait caricature, using the built in graffiti edit on the Huawei P10

Photographing aeroplanes means that I needed to plan along the horizontal plane. The EM1 has the ability to alter the image stabilisation from five axis to either vertical stabilisation or horizontal stabilisation. Because I was panning along the horizontal plane I altered the image stabilisation to vertical. Why is this necessary? If you have the settings for five axis the cameras inbuilt artificial intelligence will try to stabilise the image which interferes with auto focus when planning. Setting the image stabilisation on the vertical plane stops the AI from trying to correct stabilisation when on the horizontal.

Self Portrait Charicature
A self-portrait caricature, using the built-in graffiti edit on the Huawei P10

The continuous autofocus was wonderful for shooting both fast-moving aeroplanes and slower moving propeller driven aircraft.  I was photographing using burst mode and it took time to get used to releasing the shutter and then pressing half down again to refocus.

Self Portrait Charicature
A self-portrait caricature, using the built-in graffiti edit on the Huawei P10

The continuous autofocus is very quick to respond and this is incredibly useful when photographing moving subjects. Combining this with burst mode and far shutter speed made it possible to make some wonderful photos. When photographing small and fast-moving subjects, such as the birds at RSPB Bempton Cliffs, using the burst rate of 15 frames per second is ideal although, it was too fast for me to control the shutter and take a single photo. Photographing larger subjects which are also fast-moving, such as the aircraft at Farnborough airshow, 10 frames per second is more than adequate, and even whilst in burst mode I had enough control to take a single photo.

Self Portrait Charicature
A self-portrait caricature, using the built-in graffiti edit on the Huawei P10

The OMD EM1 MKii has some wonderful features such as being able to set up all of the cameras buttons for different purposes, which makes the process of changing settings very quick and very easy.

Self Portrait Charicature
A self-portrait caricature, using the built-in graffiti edit on the Huawei P10

When I attended Armed Forces Day in Scarborough, I shot the flying displays in shutter priority and trusted the cameras AI to make the rest of the judgements to set the exposure. I didn’t check the exposure as I was shooting, and underexposed many photos, so much so that when trying to develop them in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom, increasing the exposure created an image which had so much noise that it was unusable. So whilst photographing the aircraft at Farnborough airshow I shot in manual mode and exposed for the underside of the aircraft where the shadow is more intense. This has meant that the sky is overexposed, which is very easy to correct in Lightroom, and the aircraft correctly exposed.

Self Portrait Charicature
A self-portrait caricature, using the built-in graffiti edit on the Huawei P10

Photographing a RSPB Bempton Cliffs and Farnborough airshow has been a lot of fun for me, and I have really enjoyed myself. I am in the process of evaluating the photos from Farnborough airshow. I took way too many photos over the three days of the air displasy but I have got many great photos. I have no idea how long it will take me to evaluate and develop these, I will post some as soon as I can.

Self Portrait Charicature
A self-portrait caricature, using the built-in graffiti edit on the Huawei P10

My knowledge of the OMD EM1 MK ii will develop over time, there are so many more features that I look forward to getting to learn. So far I am very impressed with the camera’s capabilities and very happy that I converted all of my cameras over to the Olympus micro 4/3 set up.

Self Portrait Charicature
A self-portrait caricature, using the built-in graffiti edit on the Huawei P10

My plan was to attend Sunderland airshow this weekend, but adjusting to this new medication means that the kindest thing that I can do for myself is to stay at home and relax.

Have a wonderful weekend and I hope you enjoy my self portraits.

Street Photography At Farnborough Airshow

A street photo of a member of the public taken at Farnborough Airshow

For those of you who know me, you will understand that I struggle with street photography. It’s my least favourite genre, but as a photographer it’s important to push myself.

Here are a few photos from the previous couple of days. Click on any photo to see a full size image.

A street photo taken at Woking train station.
One of the station staff at Woking train Station.
A street photo taken at Woking train station.
A street photo of two passengers at Woking train station, taken as a reflection upon mirrored glass.
Street photo taken at Woking train station.
A street photo of two passengers sitting on a bench at Woking train station.
Street photo of a man on a bus.
A street photo taken on the Farnborough Airshow shuttle bus from Farnborough main train station.
This is a street photo of a member of the public taken at Farnborough Airshow.
Street photo of a member of the public with two people walking by, taken at Farnborough Airshow.
A street photo of three members of the public taken at Farnborough Airshow.
Street photo of three members of the public sitting under umbrellas at Farnborough Airshow.
A street photo of a member of the public taken at Farnborough Airshow
A street photo of a woman eating an ice cream, juxtaposed with an ice-cream van, taken at Farnborough Airshow.
Street photo of a man taking a photo of aircraft at Farnborough Airshow.
A street photo of a member of the public taking a photo of aircraft, taken at Farnborough Airshow.
A street photo of two men looking towards the camera.
Street photo of two men looking at an Antalov from the Ukrainian Airforce, although it looks as if they are looking at the camera.

Review – Cindy Sherman

Brief:- In preparation for Assignment Three, we need to say a few words about staged photography. In advertising and cinema you find a highly artificial, constructed form of photography. Often multiple elements are layered in a final composite. Great care is taken with the arrangement of elements to guide the interpretation of the photograph. The term mise-en-scène, simply means ‘putting in the scene’ and refers to the placement of objects in space. Imagine a totally blank, empty studio. You want to create a scene in the studio depicting a small ancient dwelling inhabited by a hermit in the Sinai desert. You’ll need a lot of light to represent the sun. You’ll need a sky backdrop and plenty of sand and sandstone to create the dwellings. You’ll also need to research and find ancient artefacts that would have been used by an ascetic person. You’ll also need a hermit (actor). This is the way a movie is made, but it’s common to advertising and art photography too and is called ‘staged’ or ‘constructed’ photography. Key practitioners are Jeff Wall and Cindy Sherman. Jeff Wall goes to great lengths to create what sometimes appear to be ‘documentary’ street scenes that reflect a telling human situation. Cindy Sherman consciously played with the identity representations of women in movies by photographing herself in different female roles. Her later work makes use of prosthetic make-up, costume, props and sets to emphasise the ways women were represented in historic paintings. Take a look around the place you live. In what ways does the place and the objects in it say something about you? You may not have built it, but you probably chose most of its contents, painted walls, carpeted floors, etc. You placed every item in that space. This is personal miseen-scène. In staged photography you’re telling a story, a fiction that may have a connection to something real or true, however staged it is. All movies, plays and fictions, however far they depart from everyday reality, have a kernel of truth in them.

Cindy Sherman (b 1954)

Untitled #98 1982 by Cindy Sherman born 1954Fig. 1. Untitled #98 (1982)

Description of visual elements

Female with short blonde wispy hair. Neck, right shoulder and upper half of right arm bare. Red corduroy shawl draped around the rest of her, her left calf is visible under the shawl. She is sitting in a manner that suggests that she is on the floor. Staring at the camera, looks sullen, unhappy with being viewed, piercing gre/blue eyes. The lighting comes through a window that is immediately in front of her. The shadow of the window frame is a prop, it covers her mouth. The background is dark but there are some visual elements over her right shoulder. I am unable to make out what they are and they include some reflective metal and a flat piece of wood.

My interpretation:- The props are the shawl, the background, which could represent a stage or movie set, and the shadow that appears across her mouth. This is symbolic and represents that women do not have a voice, they are to be shown off for the appeal of the male gaze. It doesn’t matter how talented the female actor is, she is not allowed to be there for herself, but for the male viewer. Red shawl, and the way it is drapped reflects both vulnerability and sexuality. The sex appeal is more important than the represented woman as the shawl is in front of her, and she is vulnerable to how men view her. Her eyes say that she is tired of being watched. She will continue to be there and continue to feel vulnerable. A submissive pose in which the woman has no power. The lighting is very interesting. She i sitting on the floor and yet the shadow of the window frame is apparent nearly at the foot of the photo. This suggests that the lighting is coming through a prop window frame in a studio and the angle suggests that this is in between the camera and subject.

 

Sherman, C; 2016; Untitled #571 [chromogenic colour print]; ATFig. 2. Untitled #571 (2016)

Description of visual elements

Background of a lake with trees in front and quite close to the woman on the chair. The chair is covered with a white throw with a soft, downy fabric. She is sitting in a laid back manner which also appears elegant. Wearing a full length dress which has red and cream stripes that are vertical in nature. The red striped are satin or crushed silk, the cream are jacquard. She wears a silver silk hair band with a diamante bow. there is a wisp of hair peeking out from under the head band on the left, close to where her ear would be, and also her right forehead.

She has a pearl bracelet on her right arm, which is drapped over the chair, and has four bracelets of various designs upon her left arm. In her left hand she holds the necklace that she is wearing. Her own eyes brows have been shaved off and covered with concealer and she has drawn on eye brows, drawn with a brown kohl. Her eye shadow is pink/lilac and her eye lashes are long, she wears black mascara or false lashes. She wears concealer on her forehead but the wrinkles still come through, and liquid foundation upon her face that’s covered with a light powder. This makes her skin have a smooth appearance. There is a discrepancy in colour and texture between the concealer on her forehead and the foundation upon her face. Her lipstick is a deep plum gloss, and she has a beauty spot on her right cheek, it appears to be natural.

She is very well lit and no part of her is in shadow. The lighting is soft and a diffuser has been used on both sets of lights, unseen in the image, but diagonally in front left and right. The background is slightly out of focus and has soft lighting.

My interpretation:- The African Queen, 1920’s, elegant, style, wealth, opulence, formal portrait?, film set? No – it is a formal portrait. If it were to represent a film set then she would either not be seated on the chair in that environment, or be seated on the chair in a more appropriate environment. Her clothing, confident relaxed posture and jewelry all signify her class and wealth. I can imagine Humphrey Bogart lifting her into a dirty boat and sailing down the river. A constant tension and play of power dynamics that shift between the male and female characters. Both having power in different settings, both being confident and vulnerable at times. A good relay for me between the photo and the film and a reminder that women did have a voice in the movie industry at times, the power isn’t always patriarchal and misogynistic. I particular like this photo because of the style and class, along with the nostalgic relay back to The African Queen.

Illustrations

Figure 1 Sherman, C; 1982; Untitled #98 [chromogenic colour print]; AT: http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/sherman-untitled-98-p77729 (accessed on 04/06/2018)

Figure 2 Sherman, C; 2016; Untitled #571 [chromogenic colour print]; AT: https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2016/jul/03/cindy-sherman-interview-retrospective-motivation (accessed on 04/06/2018)

Review – Cecil Beaton

Cecil Beaton (1904 – 1980)

Beaton,-C;-1941;-Fashion-is-indestructable-[----];-London;-Thames-and-Hudson;-p342Fig. 1. Fashion Is indestructible (1941)

Initial thoughts:- How beautiful and elegant. The opulence of the hall with its strong verticals, the luxuriance of the photographed women, the soft pastels of their clothes, the surreal illumination of the lighting, and the movement created by the dresses that the woman are wearing, all combine to make this beautiful work of art. A photograph which looks like a painting.

The strengths are in the lines, flow/movement, lighting, composition creates interest around the whole photo, pastels work well with lighting, dresses compliment the hall.

I could be in the room and making this photo, I’m so drawn in, this is the first photo where I have felt that I belong in this scene, that I am in the hall as a viewer. Powerful.

Reflecting upon a previous review, The Conversation by Buhler-Rose (see below) Buhler-Rose’s photo has a strong disconnect, a lack of feeling, the photo is a staged lie, whilst Beaton’s is dynamic, alive, natural and appears captured ‘as is’. His subjects are comfortable and relaxed.

The-Conversation-Alahua-FL-2006Fig. 2. The Conversation (2006)

Beaton,-C-1930,-MarleneDietrich-[Gelatin-silver-print],-;-Cologne;-Taschen-GmbH; p 552Fig. 3. Marlene Dietrich (1930)

Please excuse the resolution of the scan, I didn’t change the scan settings to photo, silly boy.

Initial thoughts:- Avant Garde, art, reminds me of the theatre comedy and tragedy masks which in this case is symbolic of Dietrich’s role as an actor. Subtle. No distractions, simple composition. 3 props – hair piece, choker and mannequin. Lack of foreground and the background which is immediately behind the subject, means that Dietrich, with the opposing pose of the dummy are immediately seen by the viewer because there is nothing else to see. She’s elegant and beautiful, but what I sense most of all is that she is looking out, she is the viewer instead of the actress who is been viewed on the screen. A creative change of roles.

Beaton,-C;-1928;-Miss-Nancy-Beaton-as-a-Shooting-Star-[silver-print];-London;-Thames-and-Hudson;-p264Fig. 4. Miss Nancy Beaton as a Shooting Star (1928)

Initial Thoughts:- Avant Garde, experimental, photography as art, a character from a fantasy novel, radiant. The light source in the background sets the scene for a surreal illustration of a fairy godmother, which is added to by a light in the foreground which brings out the texture of Nancy Beaton’s dress. The staff in her right hand adds poise to this portrait. The prop worn on the right of her head doesn’t look right, it detracts from this photo, although I do understand why he’s used it to reflect the shooting star of the title, sometimes you just have to simplify an idea Cecil (says me as if I am an expert – but I say as I see). Despite that god damn awful head-gear. I do not see a photo, I see a dramatic characterisation of a person from a fantasy novel or early film.

A whole load of props here, but only one is unneccessary. Staff, head-gear, stars, cellophane? fabric, dress, curtain. In fact I think that everything in this photo is a prop, including Dietrich, and this creates a set of a theatre production. This goes way beyond a formal portrait and is a work of art, and it could be a master piece without the head gear (get over it Richard).

Illustrations

Figure 1 Beaton, C;-1941; Fashion is indestructible; IN: Photography: The Whole Story; p 342; London; Thames and Hudson

Figure 2 Buhler-Rose, M; 2006; The Conversation; At: https://news.syr.edu/2014/03/new-geographics-features-photography-of-michael-buhler-rose-56929/ (accessed on 23/11/2017)

Figure 3 Beaton, 1930, Marlene Dietrich [Gelatin-silver-print]; IN: A History of Photography; p552; Cologne; Taschen GmbH;

Figure 4 Beaton, C; 1928; Miss Nancy Beaton as a Shooting Star [silver-print]; IN: photography: The Whole Story; p264; London; Thames and Hudson

Review – Thomas Struth

Thomas Struth (b 1954)

For this review I have tried to find photos made by Struth that I haven’t seen reviewed by other Foundations in Photography students. This is so that I can keep my initial thoughts as my own. However I am going to start with one portrait that I have seen reviewed by others because it is highly relevent to exercise 3.10 A Formal Portrait.

The Late Giles Robertson (with Book), Edinburgh 1987 1987 by Thomas Struth born 1954Fig. 1. The Late Giles Robertson (with book) Edinburgh (1987)

Initial thoughts:- I like, grace, calm, dignity, poise. It captures thoughtfulness, contemplation, a good example of how to capture a still portrait with a busy background. This is done by making use of the space in the foreground, the thoughtful expression, the side lighting from the window, shot in daylight so the background remains subdued, small aperture, distance between subject and background. The ‘props’ do not appear to be staged, they are what Robertson has gathered over his lifetime, things he values, and maybe some things that he has inherited. A man who values ‘things’ because of their emotional connection to events and people, memories. Dressed quite formally, smoking jacket? tie, very natural in them, this is his style of dress, smart, traditional. He has a heritage that is upper-middle class? Upper class? Old money. Culture and art are valued, and the landscape appears to be Constable or Gainsborough but I cannot be sure of this.

There is symbolism in relation to the depiction of age, the old way, and possibly a representation that the traditional life and values are ageing and will soon be lost. But I believe that is a minor consideration and Robertson’s values and character are more important to both the subject and photographer.

 

Hannah Erdrich-Hartmann and Jana-Maria Hartmann, Düsseldorf 1987 1987 by Thomas Struth born 1954Fig. 2. Hannah Erdich-Hartman and Jana-Maria Hartman, Dusseldorf (1987)

Initial thoughts:- Mixed thoughts about this, soft focus and large aperture (maybe even a photographic background) create an image of love, tenderness and gentleness. The position of the girl’s arm around her mothers neck and Jana-Maria’s hair also add to that sense. Jana-Maria’s expression changes between warmth and a touch annoyed/questioning, and Hannah’s expression is almost a challenge to the photographer and viewer. Dianne Arbus often forced her subjects frustration by delaying pressing the shutter so that people would eventually let go of the mask the ywant to present so tha the real self was revealed. In this photo it appears that Struth has done the same. Although I don’t consider this to be a formal portrait, and there is a tension between flattering and challenging, I wanted to include this photo because it presents a challenge to me with regard to reading and understanding it. It’s also of a different style than the other images that I’m including in this review. I feel that I am walking away from this photo confused.

Kyoko and Tomoharu Murakami, Tokyo 1991 1991 by Thomas Struth born 1954Fig. 3. Kyoko and Tomoharu Murakami, Tokyo (1991)

Initial thoughts:- There is something about this particular photo that I find appealing, although I cannot put my finger on it, especially considering that I do not find emotion within the photo. There is a gulf between husband and wife, and I get the inkling that this was shot in a place of work, probably outside of the home due to the size. I am viewing this photo from and Western European background, and there maybe cultural differences and formalities that are hard for me to fully comprehend, and I say this in response to my perceived lack of emotion and a formality that borders on rigidity. I find the light very interesting. There is more than one window in this room, and it/they are large. I don’t see obvious signs of flash and the light coming through the window is bright daylight. The only apparent prop is the chair, so that the woman can sit down. The chair doesn’t fit in with the desk/work bench. On second thoughts there is a space on this side of the bench that would give her space to work whilst having the direct light from the window. The combination of vertical/horizontal and diagonal lines may symbolise structure, a structured and organised lifestyle reflective of the wider community?

 

The Shimada Family, Yamaguchi, Japan 1986 1986 by Thomas Struth born 1954Fig. 4. The Shimada Family, Yamaguchi, Japan 1986

Initial thoughts:- Is this a formal or informal family portrait? Do I understand formal group portraits outside of a studio or wedding? Can a formal portrait include people in various degrees of relaxation and formality? Is this merely a reflection of the characters of people who are of different generations to each other?

I enjoy the composition of the family and the lines they are placed in take me backwards and forwards between the people. No one individual stands out and this means that the photo brings the family together as a group, a collective, despite the space between them. I’m quite impressed with that actually. My knowledge of group portraits is of the tradition British style of everyone being close together. This is a pleasing and comfortable photograph to look at, and I find the contrast between this grouping and the group photo’s that I am used to to be quite refreshing.

I also like the contrast between the grey rocks and green shrubs/bushes. A planned/formal/structured garden that represents prosperity. Although I say garden (and I mean the garden of the family’s home when I do), it could be a formal community garden/park/or visitor attraction. I am still more inclined to think that this is their garden and the live on the edge of the suburbs or a rural community (maybe I’m just and old romantic at heart).

The colours and tone of the clothing provide a contrast with the garden and this brings out the people as subject. The trees that form the background keep my eye within the photo and they act as a frame. No use of props, and none required.

Reflections

Four completely different styles of portrait from one photographer. Struth clearly is a people person and he either spends the time tgetting to know the people who he shoots so that he can bring out their personality, or he already knows them. Despite the styles being different between the four photo’s, the similarity is the capture of character. There are very few signs of props, and this is worth remembering, subtlety is paramount. Getting to know people is important as is liking people, in a general way. You may not necessarily like or know someone enough to like in order to make formal photographs, but there must be a genuine value of other. If portrait photography is undertaken without this then its going to come through and will over ride the  individuals character.

Clothing is important for two reasons, it signifies personality and individuality, and if the clothing is not what the subject is comfortable with then it will be hard for them to relax. This made me think of the photographer Rankin and his work with charities.

He uses a team of lighting, make-up, fashion, studio and design staff with clients who use of charities for support. He meets his clients in his studio on the day that he shoots them (sometimes over a couple of days). He brings out the best in these people, and some of whom really struggle with self-image and self esteem. In my opinion he is a genius and I envy and admire his sense of humour and the ability to create a strong rapport with people very quickly, in what is a very strange and difficult environment to be photographed in. Having a large range of clothing and accessories gives his clients the opportunity to look good and to find an outfit that they feel comfortable in, but his personality is the glue that brings the very best out of people. Maybe working with a background team ensures that he can spend his time creating a relationship with the person he is going to photograph.

Illustrations

Figure 1 Struth, T; 1987; The Late Giles Robertson (with book) Edinburgh [colour on paper]; AT: http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/struth-the-late-giles-robertson-with-book-edinburgh-1987-p77746 (accessed on 24/05/2018)

Figure 2 Struth, T; 1987; Hannah Erdich-Hartman and Jana-Maria Hartman, Dusseldorf  [black and white on paper]; AT: http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/struth-hannah-erdrich-hartmann-and-jana-maria-hartmann-dusseldorf-1987-p77747 (accessed on 24/05/2018)

Figure 3 Struth, T; 1991; Kyoko and Tomoharu Murakami, Tokyo [colour on paper]; AT: http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/struth-kyoko-and-tomoharu-murakami-tokyo-1991-p77751 (accessed on 24/05/2018)

Figure 4 Struth, T; 1986; The Shimada Family, Yamaguchi, Japan [colour on paper]; AT: http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/struth-the-shimada-family-yamaguchi-japan-1986-p77745 (accessed on 24/05/2018)

Feature Image Rankin; 2016; Here as I am (pic 20); AT: http://rankin.co.uk/portfolio-charities/#/pic20 (accessed on 24/05/2018)

References

Rankin; Online AT: http://rankin.co.uk/portfolio-charities/#/pic0 (accessed on 24/05/2018)

Exercise 3.10 – A Formal Portrait – Planning – Self Portrait -Gender – Identity

Self-portrait-2

This is a scary one for me because I am going to need to make this a self-portrait. As you are aware I do not have anyone that I can work with on this, and although I had initially considered working with one or two people who I know who are homeless, my mental health currently leaves me unable to approach people.

I have anxiety about revealing myself, so I am going to build upon my tutors feedback with regard to assignment two. She suggested that I explore identity by making portraits of people and by using masks where possible.

The brief is quite specific about what a formal portrait is, and I am choosing to break away from it a little, otherwise I will not be able to complete the exercise. I hate my face right now, so I cannot create a formal portrait of myself in which my face is revealed, it wouldn’t help my mental health.

So I am going to create a multi layered approach that will include the use of masks, clothing, and current books and camera, to explore questions around gender identity along with practice representations of my current lifestyle. The use of masks will mean that I am breaking away from the brief and also respecting my needs with regard to keeping my mental wellbeing as well as I can.

The photos in this post are self portraits that I have taken in a manner that I can cope with sharing with others.

Richard Keys