Project Brief– Duration 4 weeks- Critique- 3rd Feburary.
From this quote David believes that within portraiture there is always more depth to the image than one may realise. Rather than just looking on the surface of a portrait there are usually semeiotics within an image. The photographer will use clues and signs to tell more about a person.
- historical contextual significances
- theoretical ideas
- broad research around area of investigation
- Thinking outside the box- bringing in research from other practises, e.g fine art, graphics etc.
- Communicating a message or theme
- Contextual considerations- where the images could be exhibited.
Our final images must ideally be refined to a series of 4 printed images or even a moving image to help resolve ideas.
Overall, I felt the launch presentation gave me a clearer insight into the different approaches of capturing a portrait, such as Documentary style, self portrait, narrative and fashion. The presentation allowed me to see visible examples of specific portrait photographers and their specialist ways of working. For example, Cindy Sherman’s film still aesthetic, Rineke Dijkstra’s Deadpan technique and Miles Aldridge’s staged fashion commercials. This gave me a real overview of how portraiture can lead into different sub-genres, which well help me decide on which I hope to focus within. Theoretical study was also evident throughout the presentation, helping to underpin how portraiture can be interpreted in various ways.
During the presentation, we looked at American Photographer Tina Barney who is well known for producing large-scale colourful photographs of her wealthy, East Coast family. Barney was one of the first photographers to present colour work on a grand scale that rivaled most twentieth-century paintings. This scale also inspired a deliberate construction of the picture, at times requiring supplementary lighting and the direction of the sitters. She used a 8-by-10-view camera which enabled her to create highly detailed images that retain their focus and richness even when made into four-by-five-foot prints.
During the group discussion we analysed the above image. We focused on what clues help us understand the meaning behind the image.
Area of discussion:
- The location- a grande room evident by the interior, high ceilings, the furniture and the paintings on the wall indicate a sense of wealth.
- The clothing of the subjects deem to be of a high-class, clearly visible by their smart clothing, blazers and the broach that the middle woman is wearing.
- The posture and facial expression of the middle woman shows her social position in society, perhaps powerful and confident.
- Whereas the male’s gaze creates more tension and awkwardness in the image, which could indicate he feels unfordable or not part of the family.
Barney notes, “When people say that there is a distance, a stiffness in my photographs, that the people look like they do not connect, my answer is, that this is the best we can do”. This inability to show physical affection is in our “heritage.”
Theoretical ideas- What is the purpose of a portrait?
Paul Graham summed up this belief when he defined portraiture as ‘one of the most profound things that one can do…to simply and truly see someone, and express their sentience. To reflect the inner self through external appearance.’
(Paul Graham, End of an Age, 1999)
However, William Ewing explores this idea and states that: “Contemporary photographers contest this assumption and dismiss the belief that a portrait, or the face, reveals the inner soul of a person; rather a portrait is a credible likeness of an individual.”
My interpretation of this quote is that nowadays many portraits are so edited and manipulated that they become drawn away from the true identity of the person.
About Face: Photography and the Death of the Portrait – William A. Ewing
In this book, theorist William A. Ewing studies the face in contemporary photography. He discusses how the conventional portrait has become dead within portrait photography due to a rise in celebrity culture. Ewing notices we are now faced everyday with flawless images in magazines, billboards and posters which have been hugely edited since the image was first taken. Through a variety of techniques, including computer manipulation, photomontage, and retouching, the artists present their new portraits. Ewing how the nature of the face is still changing. Due to the world we live in today, people take advantage of facial reconstruction and remodelling means image makers of today need to also keep up with this change. New strategies are called for within this genre to create images that take over from this neat, tidy aesthetic, a few examples can be shown below.
Phillip Toledano- ‘A new kind of Beauty’
In this series Phillip captured people who had undergone cosmetic surgery, conforming to Ewing’s idea that the face is constantly changing. He stated that ‘I wanted to ask what we might look like in 50 or 100 years. Will plastic surgery become as normal as wearing makeup or having a tattoo is today?
Phillip Toledano subtly reinforces this notion by photographing them in a flattering, highly stylised way.
Physiognomy is the study of the outward appearance. Facial features are considered to be an indicator of both character and a factor in diagnosis.
Orlan is a French photographer that plays with the face and representations. In one of her series Carnal Art she went through plastic surgery and then took self portraits to enhance this idea that the face is always changing. Carnal Art is a self-portrait in the classical sense, yet realized through the technology of its time.No longer seen as the ideal it once represented, the body has become an ‘modified ready-made’
This series continues to experiment with facial representations by her merging her face with other peoples features that reflect beauty standards from other cultures and eras to create an unusual portrait which depicts that people can’t use the physiognomy theory on every portrait.
Susan Sontag- On Photography
“We learn to see ourselves photographically.’ That is, when the camera is trained upon us, we think about how we’ll ultimately look in a picture and pose accordingly”.
My interpretation of this theory proposes the question whether it is ever possible to truly capture a natural looking portrait. Noways we are always conscious of how we look and how we are appearing to other people. That’s often why selfies seen on Instagram tend to avoid revealing the truth. Girls rely on makeup daily in order to ensure they are made up for the camera.
African portraitist Seydou Keïta lived in Bamako, Mali from 1921 to 2001. His portraits of people and families were taken between 1940 and the early 1960s and that are widely acknowledged not only as a record of Malian society but also as pieces of art. He photographed his images to construct an identity, by asking his models to pose in a particular way.Some customers brought in items they wanted to be photographed with but Keita also had a choice of European clothing and accessories – watches, pens, radios, scooter, etc. – which he put at their disposal in his studio. The women came in flowing robes often covering their legs and their throats, only beginning to wear Western outfits in the late 60s.
Keita said “It’s easy to take a photo, but what really made a difference was that I always knew how to find the right position, and I never was wrong. Their head slightly turned, a serious face, the position of the hands… I was capable of making someone look really good.”
In his short book ‘Camera Lucida’ French literacy theorist Roland Barthes investigates the effects of photography on the spectator (as distinct from the photographer, and also from the object photographed, which Barthes calls the “spectrum“).
He states “If only I could come out on paper as in a classical canvas. Endowed with a Nobel expression thoughtful and intelligent.”
My interpretation is that Barthes is trying to explain the difference in representation between a painting and a canvas. A painting tries to interpret an object or a subject and they are often idealised. In contrast a photograph is often a true representation of the ‘real’.
Cindy Sherman- ‘Film Stills’
The series Untitled Film Stills (1977–1980) consists of 69 black-and-white photographs . Her images feature herself appearing as fictitious characters in scenarios resembling moments in a film. The ‘stills’ are set in a variety of interior locations as well as outside in urban and rural landscapes. The images show a reminiscent of stills typical of American film noir of the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s. She used vintage clothing, wigs and makeup to create a range of female personae which she then photographed in solitary, unguarded moments of reflection, or in conversation with somebody off-set and outside of the frame.
My interpretation of her images are that they seem to evoke a mood, to leave an open narrative for the viewer to discuss what she is feeling. In the majority of this series, the viewer is left with anticipation of what is happening in the scene, what may she be thinking about and who else could be off camera. Cindy often appears to look vulnerable or in a daze, which is shown through her facial expressions (the male gaze). Lighting is also an integral part of her images to highlight the the gaze and add a cinematic feel to the images. She took influences from her r childhood, and the political evolution of the 1960s and 1970s. As a teenager, she was obsessed with appearance. She stated “I was watching all these glamorous women with all their make-up and their pointy tits. I’d put on make-up every day of the year because I thought, ‘Well, you never know who’s going to knock on the door.’ Sherman plays on Roland Barthes theory which I talked about in the previous section. She has the ability to recreate things she has seen, and says “”I’m good at using my face as a canvas… I’ll see a photograph of a character and try to copy them on to my face”. I hope to use this idea within my shoot, perhaps focusing on styling as a technique to craft my idea and build up a character.
The deadpan technique is a photograph void of emotion. It is often left detached, left for an open ended discussion for the viewer. This style has been around for decades however, contemporary photographers have begun to start using this technique again. It often shows people in their natural state, typically not showing any sort of emotion. These subjects are not posed, are not dressed up for the occasion, and seem completely honest. Many famous deadpan photographers choose this aesthetic to capture changes in the world around them, to generate questions that the viewer keeps in mind, or to provide an image that allows a non-biased relationship between the viewer and the subject matter.
Rineke’s portraits are technically and compositionally accurate. They are very simple and showcase one individual, shot straight-on in the center of the frame – the meaning behind the images is not as straightforward. Many of the individuals she chooses to photograph are in a state of transition. They may be transitioning from childhood to adulthood.
My initial ideas:
- Film stills-staged/ cinematic mixed with a fashion shoot. Context being a magazine, and inspiration taken from Cindy Sherman and Miles Aldrige.
- Typical traits of a girl- dressing up daily, – placed in mundane environments- walking a dog in a field, laundry place, supermarket. Inspiraton: Miles Aldridge, Glen Luchford.
- Evoking a particular mood using gels. Inspiration: Erwin Olaf.
- Women being objectified- fashion shoot- seductive clothing- wet look trousers, net tights, short skirts,
- fashion shoot inspired by an era- 60’s- influence: David Bailey, Twiggy, Jean Shrimpton. Shot on location?
- Women feeling insecure, anxious- (Susan Sontag theory). Ask models what part of the body they don’t like about themselves, then remove that part in someway. Inspiration: Vivanne Sassen, Rene Magritte.
- The mirror being a girls daily need. Self- consciousness, capturing images of models in reflections, shop windows. Inspiration: Vivanne Sassen, Cindy Sherman.
- A makeup shoot- Girl dependent on makeup daily.
Tutorial with Lauren Forster- 13/01/17
The tutorial with Lauren was really useful as she helped discuss my different ideas and gave me advice on which she felt would be the most achievable in the time frame of the project. In conclusion she felt that the 60’s fashion styled shoot would be quite easily achieveable and fun to do. She gave me two sources of research in order to develop my ideas for contemporising the shoot.
- I looked a fashion photographer Nick Knight’s shoot ‘Punkature’ which he shot for Another Magazine.
I also watched his short video wheres Nick Knight talks through the inspirations and evolution behind his ‘Punkature’ story for the Autumn/Winter 2011 issue of AnOther magazine, his discussion of the editorial laid over highlights from the three-day shoot. I found this really useful in seeing how he goes about his journey through a project, his trials and knock backs and his progression through his idea to his finalised images.
- Final Idea
After brainstorming a vast range of ideas, I have narrowed down my theme for the project. I would like to take influences from 60’s fashion culture, as this is an era which I am not only familiar with but have great interest in. I will take my influences from famous 60’s photographer David Bailey, as well as key icons of the era such as Lesley Lawson who was known as ‘Twiggy’ because of her thin build. This is a key aspect I will need to take into consideration when casting for models as I need to keep my shoot a similar to the era as possible. I will nee d to think of ways in which I can contemporise my shoot, to add my own twist to the era. I will do this by gaining research from contemporary photographers which I may find through Pinterest, as well as looking at celebrity culture such as Lana Del Ray and Paloma Faith whose fashion is stemmed from the swinging sixties.
Theory lecture with Tim- Photography and Consumer Culture 17/01/17
I found this lecture was really useful and interesting as it followed contemporary issues within photography, particular commercial photography which is an area I want to go into at degree level. We learnt about different theories within advertising photography and particular fine art photographers which have produced work to condradict the glossy aesthetic of adverts. For example, Stephen Gills ‘L’Oréal – “Because You’re Worth It’ series which are taken of the back of billboards, showcasing a grotty aesthetic featuring piles of rubbish – old tyres, breeze blocks, oil drums, and skips full of trash. It’s a world of raw matter, of things breaking up and winding down towards a natural state of chaos that advertising’s immaculate illusions have no reason to acknowledge most of the time.
We also looked at French theorist Guy Debord, who’s theory during the 60’s argued that our society dominated advertising. In his book The Society of the Spectacle he critiques contemporary consumer culture and commodity fetishism, dealing with issues such as class alienation, cultural homogenization, and mass media. He talks about the spectacle which he views as false representations in our real lives. he states the spectacle is a materialized worldview. Debord says that “All that was once directly lived has become mere representation,” he is referring to the central importance of the image in contemporary society.
As part of the research process I made a Pintrest board giving me inspiration of ideas for particular clothes styles worn in the sixties, hair and makeup styling which I may need to refer to in preparation for my shoot. I also gained ideas on particular poses that were popular in sixties fashion photography, of which I can use as a lookbook demonstrating how I wish my images to look.
David Bailey revolutionised fashion and portrait photography in the 1960s with his spare, graphic aesthetic and irreverent approach. Best known for his iconic photographs of artists, musicians and actors of the 1960s. n 1960, David Bailey began photographing for British Vogue, and his fashion work and celebrity portraiture, known for stark backgrounds and dramatic lighting effects, transformed British fashion and celebrity photography.
Bailey was a leading figure in the Swinging Sixties London scene and provided some of the inspiration for the role of the photographer, played by David Hemmings, in Antonioni’s cult film Blow Up (1966).
Andres Courreges was a French Fashion designer known for his streamlined 1960’s designs which were influenced by modernism and futurism. Courreges defined the ‘Go-go’ boot and also of his images also reflected the space age style.
I am really interested in these particular images as I love the quirky camera angle to reflect the ‘space age’ theme. I feel like this set of images adds dynamic to the photos and makes them feel contemporised and aesthetically pleasing to look at.
Preparation for first shoot
I decided to look at the film Blow up a contextual research. Focusing on the ‘space age’ style, as a starting point. I really like the bold poses and style of black and white clothing for a striking image. The pose is what makes the images look edgy and somewhat quirky from a typical fashion shoot pose.
I decided to take my influences from the space age style and take my first shoot within the studio, exploring the traditional location of a 60’s fashion shoot. This enabled me to concentrate on improving my technical skills within the studio, using various equipment such as soft boxes to create a soft look to my images, similar to the style of David Bailey’s work.
Overall, I felt the shoot was successful in testing the use of lighting within the studio to enhance my images. However, I felt that the location did restrict myself to mostly head and shoulders shots rather than full length shots, which meant there was little variation between my images. I also felt that it was difficult to contemporise the shoot with just a plain background. To improve,I would perhaps of experimented with bright coloured backgrounds to juxtapose the tradition of the space age style being black and white. This would’ve made the images more aesthetically pleasing and contemporary. Preparation and time management was also a big factor in how successful the shoot was to be. I should’ve perhaps practised with my model the particular poses I wanted her to do prior to the shoot, to make herself feel more at ease and perform better. Ideally, I wanted to change outfits half way through the shoot, however I ran out of time so was unable to create more of a variation in my images.
I love how Avedon captures dramatic and dynamic shots, often capturing the model in motion. Avedon’s meticulous approach and penetrating gaze sought to capture the essence of each unique subject and moment in time.
“Portraiture is performance,” he wrote in 1987. “You can’t get at the thing itself, the real nature of the sitter, by stripping away the surface. You can only get beyond the surface by working with the surface. All that you can do is manipulate that surface—gesture, costume, expression—radically and correctly.”
In avedons photos he often has soft lighting effect to his images to represent his models as elegant. What i like the most of Avedon’s style is that most of the images look natural and charming.
This image is very playful and shows that Avedon wanted to take influences from different contexts; fine art and culture. Until ‘ Dovima with Elephants’ pretty much all fashion photography had taken place in the studio. Such was its impact that in the following years most fashion photography would take place anywhere but. I like how this image is surreal- of the unexpected and takes references looking like a painting.
Research for first shoot
I used this website to help gain ideas of clothes popular in the era.
Thinking about the styling of hair, make-up and clothes, i found the images that represents the 1960s, that i can style myself without any professional help.
I want to use the same style of make-up; false eyelashes, liquid eyeliners to create the same shapes shown in the images above for my photo shoot.
I will also consider accessories such as chunky earrings when styling my model.
I looked at British model Cara Delevingne, as. I want to keep my shoot modern and contemporary. Cara is a great example of my concept; i want to create an modern images that the modern readers can relate to, with 60s hair dos and make-ups, the readers can recognise the theme I’m portraying.
I looked at Twiggy as reference for particular poses that are iconic of the 60’s. I will use these as guidance when displaying to my model how I would like her to appear in front of the camera.
Contemporised 60’s fashion photographers
In contrast to researching the traditional fashion photographers of the 60’s, I researched more contemporary photographers that have a element of 60’s within their work. I want to create a contemporsied version of a 60’s fashion shoot. Therefore wish to challenge conventions, however still ensure that viewers can relate to the era, through my use of styling of 60s hair dos and make-up, so the readers can recognise the theme I’m portraying.
Prada’s spring 2012 campaign casts various high profile models as iconic film archetypes on some sort of existential road trip through 60s Americana. The models outfitted in retro inspired clothing, leaning against classic cars at one very glamorous gas station. Meisel’s photography is so great that I’m willing to overlook the fact that none of these women are actually putting gas in their cars.
A quote from Prada’s idea behind the image:
‘Bathed in sunlight. Fueled by optimism. Girls and cars stop and stare at the future in this Technicolor mise-en-scéne of desire…the gas station is cast as a central symbol in this post-modern crossroads of new horizons and economic fulfillment, a stage set where fashion, fantasy and the promise of new
discoveries collide…[Meisel’s] low angle and rich coloration emphasize the power and positivism in the campaign and collection message’
I found this quotation really interesting how Meisel thought about the location carefully, symbolising the theoretical idea of Fetishism and how a fast car is used to represent the subject as powerful. This is something used in advertising to catch the viewers attention, therefore Meisel has contemporised a 60’s fashion shoot.
I love the work of Mario Testino’s shoot of Cara Develingne for the March 2013 edition of Vogue Portugal. He creates a contemporary taken to the shoot with the eccentric spin on the sixties style. Cara transforms into fashion icons including Twiggy, Edie Sedgwick, Penelope Tree and Jean Shrimpton. The editorial is shot by Patrick Demarchelier, styled by Nicoletta Santoro.
I love the choice of bright colours within this collection, and the way red is used as a symbol to of sexual- gratification. The 60’s is only reflected within the clothing, and a difference in culture is shown through the use of vehicles.
The shoot is further proof of Cara’s substantial versatility, as through a range of outfits and wigs she channels a veritable array of 60’s fashion icons such as Twiggy and Edie Sedgwick.
I really like the plain background Patrick uses in contrast to the bold 60’s styled clothing. I can reference the 60’s through the styling, clothing and poses. The lighting in the images gives a dramatic feel and gives the images a commercial context.
I really am inspired by these images as i love how Miles has created this cinematic images through the use of lighting, colour and the location choice. A feeling of 60’s old fashion style mixed with this dark undertone is what makes his fashion shoot so playful. In an effort to expose the truth, Aldridge finds the pulse points of pop-culture and takes them to their absurd edge. By deliberately poking fun at the insanity of modern life, he is able to explore deeper issues, and create a platform for discussion. His subjects may exude a false bravado, but their glossy facade only belies a deeper sense of emptiness.
Taking inspiration from art- Romain Sellier
I researched Romain as I like how he has inspired his fashion shoot on a particular artist- David Hockey. He has used a specific colour palette that is based on shades Hockney uses within his work. This has contemporised his shoot and made it fit in with modern day advertising.
I found this photographer on Instagram, which I find slightly interesting as it gives me a different take on contemporary fashion photographers that are inspired by the 60’s. Dian Plays with oversized accessories to add a surreal twist to his images, making them feel very playful to the viewer. The images look as though they have been taken in a studio, similar to the work of David Bailey, however he has used the accessories in a fun way to con temporise the fashion shoot. Dian has used black and white to perhaps reference his shoot to the past.
My Ideas to contemporise the shoot:
- Juxtaposition- Old v.s New- using props, technology advancement: mobile phones, selfie sticks
- Society changes- cars
- Geometric backgrounds- architecture reflecting the style of the era, bold shapes.
- Model photographed on location rather than in the traditional style of David Bailey in a studio.
- Random locations that may be playful , Park, cafe.
Tutorial with Matt- 18/01/17
I found the tutorial really helpful as matt discussed my ideas with me and gave a good idea for primary research. This gallery exhibition was held at AUB and links with my theme on 60’s prints. This gave me a good visual idea of patterns and colour pallets and maybe even a location I could shoot against.
I also started to consider context for m shoot which is likely to be a magazine. I looked at the 125 magazine edition ‘Cinema’ which features cinematic themed images, often shown through various lighting techniques.
For my first shoot, I decided to contemporise the shoot by basing my fashion shoot how we are dependent on technology. I wanted to create a juxtaposition between the past and present, the past being the 60’s styling in contrast to the world in which we live in being the 21st century.
Best shots and edits
Overall, I am pleased with my initial test shoot. I felt that the styling and choice of clothing was appropriate for the theme of 60’s. I managed to test both shooting on location and indoors, however I had to work with just the available lighting and in-camera flash, therefore I feel this shoot could’ve been improved technically. For my next shoot, I am going to experiment with portable flashguns or a ring flash to develop my technical understanding and enhance the quality of my images. I will also try to improve my compositions as I feel that some of the images from this shoot weren’t accurately composed with distracting elements in the photos.
After analysing my first shoot with Matt, we discussed that perhaps adding a narrative element to my images would be a way of making them more interesting. Alex Prager is an American photographer and film maker. In her elaborately conceived staged photographs, Prager openly references the aesthetics of mid-twentieth century American cinema and photography. Alex Prager is a prime example of this technique, as she keeps her images simple but contemporsied. Her use of lighting also enhances her images and creates a cinematic feel. The collection of images below has triggered an idea of creating a juxtaposition between the past and present. Creating a character who is in amongst the past and struggles in the new world.
Alex prayer took his inspiration from Alfred Hitchcock, with the reference to birds in his image creating a surreal twist.
This has given me an idea of taking influences from 60’s film stills or posters.
I also looked at Pragers fashion images, as I love the simplicity and quirky camera angle uses to add a contemporary feel to the images. In a short video I watched Alex prayer explained her influences and ways of thinking. She explains her work as ‘beautiful but awkward’.
For this shoot I decided to take the images on location, experimenting with the ring flash to enhance my images. I also explored using my 1.8mm lens to capture a shallow depth of field.
I looked at the model Cara Delevingne, to gain ideas on the pose and possible locations, and the gaze which I showed my model prior to the shoot.
I found these set of images on Pinterest, I really like the contrast between the style of clothing against the plain interior wall. It reminds me of a gallery interior, which makes the shoot so playful adding a sense of modern likeness to the work.
I looked at a series of editorial images images taken by Nathaniel Goldberg, for Harpers Bazaar. I was inspired by these images as I love the bold colours which almost create this pop art style to the collection. I love how he has shot on location, using both natural lighting and a flash gun to enhance his images. He has experimented with the modern day architecture as a backdrop to contemporise his shoot making them current and original. The quirky camera angles also add a sense of dynamic to his shots. The model is looking off camera, which also creates a narrative style the shoot.
Best Shots and edits
Overall, I am pleased with this shoot, I feel I have managed to style the model well and chose good locations complimenting the background colour with the handbag. I like the subtle variations between each image, through the use of the camera angle and pose of the model. I put into practise how to use the ring flash, however found it was fairly experimental to achieve the correct amount of light. If I were to have longer on this shoot, I would have varied the outfits and perhaps explored more locations.