My Self Portraits Have Arrived

qrfMy self portraits have arrived, and you know what, I’m actually pleased with them. The expression has come out how I wanted (although I should have taken a higher resolution image for these photos).

There are three potential ways to create this assignment now. To present the full self portraits as they are, along with written and spoken word for each portrait, with the text relating to the represented emotional state.

qrfTo block out and reveal my eyes and face, and selected aspects of the Laura Letinsky photos, along with written and spoken word, and include a physical object similar to that revealed in Letinsky’s photo. This would then be an installation.

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Thirdly, to embroider over my portrait’s and the Letinsky photo’s. Use a similar object from the Letinsky photo’s to be placed between the portrait and her image, sew from the portrait to her picture to join the two together, and finish off with text to create an audio-visual installation.

I’m going to use all three methods as I printed 3 of each of Letinsky’s and my photos.

It’s great that I am pleased with my portraits. I really wasn’t expecting that. They are great photo’s and clearly represent the emotional States that I want them too. I have only revealed they eyes here, as they will be the revealed aspects in the second and third presentation. I know my tutor can only accept one version to review, which will be the embroidered version, but there’s no harm in trying all three ways.

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.

My Current Experience Of Anorexia

This is a photo about amorexia, and shows the food that I will eat today.

I’ve had an eating disorder since I was diagnosed with anorexia the age of 17. Up until the age of 29 anorexia controlled my life and had a serious impact upon my mental health and well-being. Then slowly I started to increase my calories and have a healthy diet. Over a number of years I began to eat more and more and my anorexia turned into binge eating disorder.

For the past four years I have switched between binge eating disorder and anorexia, and each period of these illnesses lasts for many months. With binge eating disorder I feel completely out of control and full of shame and guilt for eating food.

My current experience of anorexia is completely different from that during my younger years. Right now I like my experience of anorexia (and I only speak of my own experience). I feel completely in control, my mental health has improved greatly. My suicidal thoughts have diminished and my anxiety is quite low, although I do still experience paranoid thinking and feelings and have symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.

My self-esteem improves with anorexia, I take more care of my appearance and my environment, and I am full of energy, my motivation is good, I buy new clothes which fit me and there are parts of my body which I like (such as my arms, shoulders and lower legs). It’s really quite nice to like parts of myself, and on the whole, to be enjoying life.

The downside is that my health is starting to deteriorate, my blood chemistry changing, my blood pressure has dropped, I have orthostatic hypotension, and the QT interval (part of the heartbeat) is beginning to elongate. This means that I could become an inpatient for the treatment of anorexia.

I’m working very closely with my psychiatric team, and we are following an anorexia nervosa harm reduction model. Increasing my calorific intake too quickly increases my anxiety and suicidal thoughts, so we are increasing my calories at a very slow rate. Every increase that my psychiatrist and I have agreed I have stuck to, which is very positive and am pleased that I am making progress. My progress is slow and it won’t be enough to keep me out of hospital, but it is progress. We are trying to keep me out hospital for as long as possible because I find hospital and overwhelmingly scary experience.

On a personal level I have no desire to either increase my calories or my weight, why would I when anorexia improves the quality of my life experience? The only motivator that I have to change is the desire to stay out of hospital and to reduce the length of time of a likely admission.

This is a photo about amorexia, and shows the food that I will eat today.
Todays total calories. Although this may appear to be a small amount of food, it is double that of what it was in May when my psychiatrist and I agreed to follow the harm reduction model.

My current experience of anorexia, which is a positive experience for me, is far different than it wasfor me in between the ages of 17 and 29, and I am aware that other people’s experience of anorexia is often very negative.

Recovery is possible from all eating disorders, and I am working with my psychiatric team and making use of support froman  eating disorders charity. Am I a positive role model for recovery from anorexia? On one hand my response to this is no because I’m enjoying my experience of anorexia and I am still losing weight. On the other hand I have to answer yes, because I am working with my psychiatric team and making use of third sector support. I have also stuck to every increase in calories which I’ve agreed with my psychiatrist, without backtracking at all, and I’ve stopped purging completely. Recovery in my mind is doing anything which increases quality of life. Following the harm reduction model has meant that I’m experiencing less muscular pain and increased ability to walk around, and be able to be fully engaged with my photography and study.

A larger town that is nearby to me has an outpatient day service for people with eating disorders which I have requested to attend. The difficulty is funding for a place. The day service is run and managed by different NHS trust than the one for the area where I live, and obtaining funding from my local NHS trust to attend an out of area service is time-consuming and frustrating.

For those of you who read this post, who also have an eating disorder would like to stress that recovery is possible, my recovery may not be the greatest example, the recovery can be difficult and slow process for many of us. Baby steps, one step at a time, but sticking with these steps and moving forwards is definitely progress which is achievable and sustainable.

If you have an eating disorder please try to talk to somebody you know and trust, and ask them to support you in attending your doctors.  There are many eating disorder services and charities throughout the world.

United Kingdom

BEAT

Men Get Eating Disorders Too

United States

NEDA

Canada

NEDIC

India

The Minds Foundation

Australia

NEDC

 

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.

It’s All About Me When It Comes To My Emotions – Responding Not Reacting

It’s been a challenging week for me on many levels’. I felt hurt and frustrated by a friend’s behaviour and, have had a professional organisation failed to keep their commitment, and two professionals involved in my care are leaving their posts.

I find it very difficult to be authentic and express my emotions in response to somebody’s behaviour. However, I had to say something this week so that O could remain true to myself and protect my self esteem. My friend’s behaviour isn’t the issue, it’s my feelings that I need to focus on. It doesn’t matter how you behave, that’s your choice and your right, so if I feel upset or hurt in response to your behaviour that’s my responsibility. My telling you how I feel doesn’t mean that you have to change your behaviour. As your behaviour is your responsibility you can choose whether to act differently, or continue to behave as you are. This means that you can remain true to yourself.

Self-portrait in which I photographed myself as a reflection in a mirror.
(Please click on photo for a full size image) I am slowly becoming comfortable with displaying self portraits, but I still need to cover my face.

So this week I took responsibility for my emotions and spoke to my friend about how I was feeling with regards to our friendship. I did this in a manner that owned my feelings and didn’t blame her for my emotional reaction. In order to do this I needed to give myself a couple of days to allow my emotions to calm down and so that I could prepare what I wanted to say without it being an attack on her. It would have been so easy to react but that would have been damaging to both her and myself (There have been recent news stories about students trying to get their lecturers sacked because they have differences of opinion. This behaviour is completely inappropriate because it apportions blame rather than taking responsibility for your thoughts and feelings, it’s also very arrogant and self righteous).

With a professional organisation letting me down my approach is firmer, more descriptive and without emotional content. They have provided me with some software called Dragon Nuance, which is voice to text software, and am using this to write this blog today. They are currently training me how to use and make the most of this technique. I had an appointment with them which they failed to keep. I’m very pleased that in both instances I have been able to respond, to take responsibility for my thoughts and feelings without resorting to criticism or blaming them for how I feel.

(Please click on photo for a larger image) Macro photography is my mindfulness. It is something that I enjoy immensely and it also calms me down.

My eating disorder therapist has been off work for several months,. We had an appointment this week, during which she informed me that she is changing role in two weeks and I won’t have a therapist until the new person is in post. On top of this, the junior psychiatrist that I have been working with whilst my therapist has been off sick, is moving onto a new rotation in two weeks and I’ll have to get used to a new doctor. My care coordinator is also changing. I feel quite vulnerable with having these three changes at the same time.

Acceptance is the answer, and the only way of responding to these changes I don’t like and that I feel unsafe with. So my response is to allow my vulnerability to be as it is, and to discuss this with my friends as often as I need to.

By Thursday afternoon my thoughts were along the lines of “what else is going to go wrong today?”. So I wrote a gratitude list and made a note of all the things that had happened during the day which I felt grateful for, I spoke with a friend, and my mood and thoughts improved. Making some macro photography also helped to keep me focused straight after my psychiatric appointment.

(Please click on the photo for a full size image) Macro photography is my mindfulness. It is something that I enjoy enormously, and it also calms me down.

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)