Final Major Project
Project launch -31/02/17
Overall, I found the project launch really clear and useful in understanding how to begin structuring the researching stage of the project. We were given an overview into the content of the Unit 7 criteria and how to achieve the highest bands. The main aspect of the launch which I found useful was the guidelines to creating our pitches. We had to structure our pitches answering specific questions to idealise our thoughts into a 10 minute presentation. We were also given inspiration for broad ideas for investigation and how to identify a project title. During the launch, Matt showed us some youtube videos, of various interviews from photographers explaining the concepts behind their work. I found this fairly useful in seeing how they gain inspiration for their work and how they developed their ideas.
Pitching our ideas-22/02/17
Overall, I found the pitch day really useful in discussing my ideas with the group ensuring that I am really clear and focused on what I hope to achieve in this project. It also allowed me to identify what may work and what other areas of research I could use for my idea.
Key areas we talked about in the pitch:
- exaggerated narratives of everyday situation
- sexualised representation to playful representation
- Tim Walker- everyday situations that are fantasy, place crashes with glamours people falling out.
- Alex Prager- exaggerate expression
- Glamorous wife
- Stereotypes of women- outdated stereotypes
- 70s/80s unequal between women and men
- find interesting examples of where injustice still exists
- Joanna Patterson- bachelor pad/ emotional women
- Feminist Theorist- Simone De-boveuir
- ‘o you are so different to me, you are barbarian’ (CHECK THAT)
- Viviane Sassan
- Guy bourdin
- Design a character
- Contemporary update/ of inequality
- Where women get away with more
- Step ford wife
- boring into the exciting
- Possible titles- Fantastical everyday, Spectacular everyday
Primary research- Educational London Trip- 10/03/17
We visited the Photographers Gallery in London, to gain first hand research for inspiration for our projects. I was really inspired by the work of Dana Lixenberg’s Imperial Courts, 1993–2015 collection and her choice of suburban locations. These filmed scenes are observational and tranquil, capturing the people, their surroundings, and the daily rhythm of the neighbourhood. The very ordinariness of these scenes gives them a somewhat surreal and alienating quality, but the viewer is always subtly aware of the tension that hovers just below the surface in a neighbourhood such as this one.
Visual and conceptual mood boards
During this workshop with Lee, we created two visual mood boards to narrow our idea the overall idea of my project. It gives a general idea of the theme of my project, the types of shots I wish to create as well as the specific colours and lighting techniques I will be working with.
Week 1 Evaluation -24/02/17
Upon reflection from week one of the project, I feel like I have a clear direction for my project, with good areas of research to cover and visual examples for inspiration. I now need to arrange a shoot, plan styling and organise what locations willl work best.
Editing Workshop- ‘Visual Salience’
Visual salience- identifying the things the audience think are important in an image
During this workshop, Lee explained how images are retouched in particular way to draw the viewers attention to the most important things within an image. We looked at the Louis Vuitton advertisement show below as an example where the image has been subtly manipulated to enhance specific parts of the image.
As a task, we were presented with this image for a few seconds, then asked to make notes from memory of elements within the image. We were then shown the an edited version of the image to shown how it could be enhanced to improve the aesthetic and viewer’s visual survaliance of the image.
In pairs, we also had to describe an image and the other person had to record notes based on the description. Afterwards, the image was presented to see how accurate the description was.
Areas that are important when describing an image:
- Discribe distances
- Relative sizes
- Where the model is placed in an image
High Mass– something that attracts the viewers attentionLow
Mass- detracts the viewers attention
Large objects- attracts attention – controlled by adding a warmer colour
Small objects- detracts attention- adjusted by changing it to a cooler colour
Bright object- attracts attention
Dark objects- doesn’t attract attention – exception- high key images- dark objects have more visual mass
High contrast – attracts more attention
Low contrast- doesn’t attract attention
In focus- attracts attention
Out of focus- doesn’t attract attention
Recognisable objects- attract more attention
Unrecognisable objects- are distracting
Where the image is going to be encountered determines the audiences emotional significance.
Areas of importance within an image of a model:
Face– draws attention first- (eyes)- are often accentuated and made bigger by using makeup options such as eyeliner, eyeshadow and mascara.
Lips– enhanced by using lipstick or lipliner, colour- bright lipstick- draws attention more (high visual mass)- red-danger
Yellow- irritant– compose where the red is placed- not edge of frame
Warm colours– projecting forwards towards foreground,
Cold colours– proceeding backgrounds
Lee demonstrated how we can manipulate an image through Photoshop to control someones attention to the most important things within an image.
First step- Identify- what is distracting in the image and what is the main focal point?
Step by Step method to enhancing the overall aesthetic of an image:
Edited version.Overall, I found the workshop beneficial in learning how an image can be manipulated to control the viewers attention to specific elements of the image (focal point). This editing method is something which can be used for any general editing process to enhance the overall aesthetic. I will refer back to my notes when I begin to edit my own images.
Tutorial with Lauren- 1/03/17
During the tutorial, Lauren discussed with me key areas of theoretical study which may underpin my development of ideas. Below is a list of theorist/studies which I hope to analyse during my project.
- Laura Mulvey- ‘Male Gaze’
- Susan Sontag- ‘On Photography’
- David Bate- ‘Photography Key concepts’
Jennifer Craik- ‘Fashion: The Key Concepts’
- John Berger- ‘Ways of Seeing’
David Crow– ‘Visible Signs: An Introduction to Semiotics’
- Roland Barthes-‘ Camera Lucida’
- Shelly Budgeon– ‘Third-Wave Feminism and the Politics of Gender in Late Modernity‘
- Simone De-boveuir- Second Sex
Week 2 Evaluation – 3/03/17
Overall, I feel that the workshops were really useful in developing my technical understanding of how to improve the aesthetic of an image during the post production process. Looking into areas theory will really help to underpin my project from a theoretical point of view which may offer ways to challenge existing work, or an area of interest for a refined direction.
My intentions for the project.
- Create a representation of how women are presented within advertising- often sexualised, through the pose, gaze and -symbolism such as siletto heels presenting them as powerful.
- I wish to challenge stereotypes of women, in order to create a playful approach to my project. I hope to achieve this through styling- focusing on smart clothing and taking the models out of contexts such as a women doing a stereotypical male dominated jobs.
- I want to create a contemporary update of inequality.
In order to keep my project current and relatable, I researched real life articles which have happened due to inequality within society today.
I found this article really relatable to my project as it talks about how safety has become an issue in particular with people commuting from work wearing heels. This links with the idea that heels are now seen to be a necessity for some dress codes for certain jobs, and some people even choose to glam themselves up on a daily basis.
Using the website above, I researched into the different male and female stereotypes to help the development of my ideas of what types of shots I could capture.
General female stereotypes:
- Supposed to have “clean” jobs such as teachers, nurses, secretaries and librarians.
- Men are supposed to be in charge at work and should make more money than women.
- Men are supposed to have “dirty jobs” like mechanics, construction workers, plumbers and engineering.
Gender stereotypes in the media
In contrast to looking at general stereotypes, I decided to research into theory of how women and men are represented within advertising commercials, as this is my proposed context. I have used a knowledge from a previous theory lecture to underpin this area of study.
Freud linked the invention of Photography to memory rather than vision. “Advertising imagery stays in our unconscious, a fact used by so called “subliminal” campaigns”.
Gender stereotypes in the media starts from national TV that enters every home and affects millions and millions of people, the common masses, who constitute the backbone of any society. Starting from commercials, gender stereotyping is at its best, because commercials are always targeting a certain social group. Commercials are a “reflection of the recipient,” women are objects of beauty and domesticity, always appearing in seductive, full shot ads while men advertise automotives and cigarettes and are shown mostly in close-ups.
Women in advertising
Female gender stereotypes in the media are either housewives, obsessed over home appliances, or a sexy seductress, kissing a man to advertise a lipstick or trying on a new fragrance. Women also appear in men’s commercials, advertisers use them as a tool to boost the man’s ego about a new watch or to flirt with him while seduced by his new eau de cologne.
Another modern female stereotype is the health-obsessed woman. This one appears in organic food commercials, fitness commercials or beauty-preserving commercials where she applies anti-wrinkles cream and smiles gracefully -not too seductively- to the camera.
Men in advertising
Male gender stereotypes in advertising fall into one of two categories, “the real man” who is muscular, handsome, chiseled, successful and a seducer. He is always with a beautiful woman tagging along. The second type, which is less popular, is the ordinary guy who appears in commercials for household products. This stereotypical male is a bit chubby, homey-looking, smiley and domesticated.
This one of Tom Ford’s most well-known advertisements for his first men’s fragrance in 2007. Although it catches the male gaze, it caused lots of controversy for exploiting the female body.
This image is advertising Tom Ford men’s sunglasses and is still using a nude female model. However, it is is less drastic than the previous ad, but still very forward and sexual.
Suprisingly within this ad the model is fully clothed, giving the image minimal sexual undertones. In Grazia Daily describes it perfectly “It’s a new minimalist direction for the designer with no controversy, gimmicks or loud statements, so the focus is 100% on the clothes. Good job.” However, there are still sexual undertones with the chain-mail style dress and over-the-knee metal warrior boots.
Mark Jacob campaigns (shot by photographer Juergen Teller) became renowned for their more unusual choice of model. Often erring on the controversial, the eclectic collection of past stars include Winona Ryder (shortly after being prosecuted for shoplifting), Victoria Beckham dressed in a carrier bag (prior to her enjoying success as a fashion designer), and Charlotte Rampling half-naked in bed with artist William Eggleston.
Teller’s photographs embrace the idiosyncrasies of his subjects and the spontaneity of the moment. The artist’s technique is characterized by a casual, continuous shooting style using two film cameras at once and a bright flash.
The American Apparel brand is another example whereby the ad is somewhat ambiguous and over sexualised.
Although the ads do not show nude like Tom Ford advertisements the photographer has cleverly portrayed a sexual connotation through the pose, styling of clothing (heels and red) and the combination of genders.
Calvin Klein is another brand that strives to be “daring’ and is often chastised for its suggestive ads.
Guy Debord- ‘The Hyperreal’
I really like this idea that the using the ‘hyper-real’ as a method of catching the audiences attention within advertising, further helping to promote a particular product.
Karl Max- Fetishism of Commodities
Karl Marx noted, commodities are objects – usually inert – that have been imbued with all kinds of social characteristics in the marketplace. Marx called this process the fetishism of commodities, since in the marketplace the social character of peoples labour was no longer apparent, and it was the product of their labour instead that interacted and were prominent.
Both of these advertisements are classic examples of how objects are represented as attractive and desirable. The women in the adverts are presented as sexualised in order to help promote the product in an original way.
Fashion and the Gaze within commercials
This idea is what I wish to explore within my project, focusing on how women are represented through the pose and facial express in order to encounter both a male viewing although the intended viewer is often for women.
Analysing how women are represented within paintings
Within this painting Gainsborough represents the women as an item of ‘pocession’, shown through the pose, how the she is at down with her arms resting on her lap. The man has power and status over the women by his stance and posture (crossed legs) and the way he is holding a gun. In contrast, the woman is suggest to be fairly self-conscious, stiff and slightly awkward in the painting.
In terms of costume, both sitters demonstrate an informality of clothing that was associated with English fashion. Robert wears britches and buckled shoes, but his jacket is practical and comfortable for shooting. His gloves, sleeves, collar and waistcoat are wrinkled with wear. His hair is natural, not powdered, nor augmented with a wig, but simply curled. Mrs Andrews certainly appears less at ease in her beautiful blue out t, the panniers beneath her echoing the curving shape of the seat.Her hair is natural and unpowdered, with soft curls at the nape of the neck.
David Bate- Photography the Key Concepts
One of Bate’s theory is the idea of denotations and connotations. Denotations relating to a ‘literal’ meaning and connotation relating to personal situation. Semiotic theory originally proposed and developed by Roland Barthes is another theory which Bate discusses in the book. It is the study of sign systems and it makes a distinction between the photographer signifier (the photograph) and the signified (concept). Photographs require a spectator to give the picture its signified meaning.
He also discusses the idea of ‘realism and reality’. He defines the two as reality being what we believe exists whereas realism is the mode of representation that supports reality. In advertising, a picture may show something unbelievable (e.g young people can reverse their heads on their body) but will not challenge our concept of reality if we believe people cannot do that.
John Burges- Ways of seeing
Susan Sontag- ‘On Photography’
In this book, Sontag critiques photography asking forceful questions about the moral and aesthetic issues surrounding this art form.
A quote I found interesting was her quote “What is the most beautiful in virile men is something feminine; what is most beautiful in feminine women is something masculine”. Susan Sontag.
This quote suggest to me her idea that challenging stereotypes and representations is what makes an image more conceptually interesting. This is an area I hope to explore during my project, by experimenting both men and women models, styling the woman in a particular way to represent her as more powerful than the man.
Edting Workshop with Lee- 7/03/17
During this editing workshop, Lee explained how to change colours within in an image to enhance the aesthetic and help draw the viewer’s eyes to the main focal point of the image. He showed us three different techniques to change the colour grading of the photograph.
Technique one – Gradient adjustment layer
Technique two- Colour lookup adjustment layer
Technique three- Curves adjustment layer
Technique Four- Selective colour
Technique Five- Subtle change
Week 3 Evaluation -10/03/17
Overall, I found the workshop really useful in adjusting an image to alter a particular area of interest. I will reference back to my notes during the editing process of my project.
Colour symbolism theory
The meanings of colours
Colour conveys meanings in two primary ways – natural associations and psychological symbolism. People are comfortable when colours remind them of similar things. For example, a soft shade of blue triggers associations with the sky and a psychological sense of calm.Successful design requires an awareness of how and why colours communicate meaning.
Meanings of colour
Differences between warm and cool colours
To begin inspiration for my project, I created a Pinterest board, to gain an idea of the sort of style and ways of working I wish to achieve.
Miles Aldridge is best known for the technicolor dream-like worlds he creates and the glamorous, beautiful women who inhabit them. His images present a passion for candy coating despair and unhappiness, his photos tell a story with visual intrigue. He creates cinematic images, drawing inspiration from film directors such as David Lynch and Derek Jarman as well as the psychedelic graphic design of his father, Alan Aldridge. Aldridge attempts to create obscure emotions that the viewer may not be so comfortable feeling while viewing his photography which is something we cant stop looking at.
Women are the center of his vision, doll faces, hair teased to the ceiling and neon makeup creates drama with a buzz of Warhol pop in the mix. His work is full of energy which has has been carefully orchestrated directly from the way he pictured it.
I have been inspired by the work of Miles Aldridge as I love the overall aesthetic of his work, through the use of bold colour, the pose, gaze and the unusual contexts he intertwines within his fashion styled images. Aldridge uses the pose and gaze to create sexualised connotations of the images. The particular poses he uses almost take the form of the ‘hyperreal’ aesthetic. The combination of bright colours adds to that aesthetic, making his images eye catching and memorable for the viewer. He clearly takes his influence from pop art, as the colour choice reminds me of Andy’s Warhol’s work. The various camera angles he uses are also quirky and varied helping to add a dynamic twist to his work. He captures his subjects in a state of dramatic contemplation, making them more complicated and intriguing than simply beautiful.
I love the playfulness of this series. The quirky location has created a unusual approach to his fashion images, to create the unexpected for the viewer. The choice of lighting that he has captured also adds to the way he creates an exciting image from a mundane atmosphere. I find it also interesting how he treats these three different shoots—one is all about the clothes (fanciful, bold, with contrasting colours) shot in a very “real” playground setting, the next is all about the styling (lolita, new wave dolly girls in quirky poses) and the last is a hyper real depiction of a housewife.
This collection really inspired me for potential locations for shooting. I love the idea of placing the model out of context, challenging stereotypes and juxtaposing typical boy traits with a the glamorous model.
My first shoot
I selected the best shots from my shoot, and edited the images slightly by adjusting the brightness, contrast and exposure levels.
I really enjoyed the production of this shoot, in terms of being experimental with angles and various viewpoints. I focused on directing the model to look off camera in order to add more a open narrative to the images. I chose the location of a park from taking inspiration from Miles Aldridge. Although the location is unusual it actually provided a lot of scope for the model to interact with the surroundings for more of a playful approach. I tried to vary the pose and explored different camera angles to create more of a contemporary approach the the images. I thought carefully about the styling for this shoot, focusing on ordinary colours- black and white against the striking Scarlett red lipstick and red stiletto heels. Although the weather conditions weren’t great, I actually think that the dull sky creates a mood to the image, and helps to add to the contrast between the mundane background against the glamorous model. Technically, I only used in-camera flash however, the images could be improved by perhaps using a flash gun to create more of a cinematic aesthetic to the images.
Sassen’s inventive approach to form and color has long been sought after in the world of fashion photography, where she has shot leading campaigns for brands such as Miu Miu and Stella McCartney.
Viviane Sassen uses the simplicity of the athletic courts to extenuate the bold chevron prints, mustard yellow and Yves Klein blue tones in Carven’s Spring/Summer collection.
I am really inspired by Sassen’s work, as I love the surrreal element she adds to her images, through the choice of location, pose and camera angle she captures her subjects.
My Second Shoot
Plan for third shoot
For my next shoot, I decided to extend the idea of unusual locations, by making my subject interact with the environment. Therefore, for my next photoshoot I plan to capture my subject posing as if she’s working out. I decided that I wanted to make the juxtaposition more obvious, and as shown below this is the idea I hope to achieve.
In terms of styling, I will ensure she is looking glamorous by choosing a sophisticated outfit, silhetto heels and red lipstick. I want to make the poses fairly exaggerated, exploring different camera angles for variation within the images.
The styling in this shoot features the sports luxe trend while maintaining the elegance and femininity of classic Chanel. The combination is what adds realistic feel the surreal twist.
For this shoot, I decided to take it on location as the weather was a bright sunny day. I wanted to experiment with shooting in these conditions to see if it worked or didn’t work so well as shooting on a dull day. I experimented with different poses, directing my model to interact with the surroundings, whilst gazing off camera for more of a candid approach. I explored shooting from different angles, both low and high to create contrasting perspectives, as well as close up shots and wide angles. I also tested out using my fixed 1.8mm portrait lens, instead of a zoom lens to create a better depth of field, separating the subject from the background.
Overall, I am really pleased with this shoot, especially in terms of styling, the red shoes compliment against the mundane colours of emerald green drawing the attention towards the the fashion. Using props such as the sunglasses and the handbag also adds interest to the shoot. In terms of lighting, I would say that sunny conditions didn’t work as well as the cloudy images, the lighting is almost too harsh and doesn’t create as much of a mood.
Theory lecture- ‘ Japanese Photography- Historical Context and the contemporary photo book’ 14/03/17
During this lecture, Tim explained the history behind Japanese photography, identifying how it differs to British photography. We also looked at most significant Japanese Photographers which inspire many British Photographers.
One of the most significant contributions to the art of photography comes from postwar Japan. After World War II, the country began to produce film and camera equipment, supporting a large amateur photography culture and sponsoring native photographers as important artistic producers.
Contemporary Japanese Photography
In 1968 was dubbed “year zero”, whereby contemporary Japanese artists began seeking ways to better convey the significant cultural evolution.
Below is Kakahira’s work entitled ‘Overflow’, a large piece comprising 48 different colour photographs that was created for the 1974 Tokyo exhibition “Fifteen Photographers Today.” A common thread across the wide range of works here is the use of multiple images. Some contain multiple images within a frame, others assemble series. This is a new way of working and presenting a piece of work in a more contemporized manner.
The ‘Provoke’ – Provocative materials for thought
The provoke was an experimental magazine founded by photographers Yutaka Takanashi and Takuma Nakahira, critic Koji Taki, and writer Takahiko Okada in 1968. Provoke argued that the photographer can capture what cannot be expressed in words, presenting photographs as “documents” for others to read. In Japanese, the visual style of the photographs in Provoke has been described as: ‘are-bure-boke‘, which translates as ‘grainy/rough, blurry, out-of-focus‘. The ambitious mission of Provoke was to create a new photographic language that could transcend the limitations of the written word was declared with the launch of the magazine’s first issue. The year was 1968 and Japan, like America, was undergoing sweeping changes in its social structure. A questioning of traditional social conventions and a loss of confidence in existing political powers was happening in many creative disciplines across Japan and formed the foundation that fuelled Provoke’s mission.
Influence of Provoke
The Japanese Photobook
We also looked at the Japanese photo boo often as an art object in itself, merging text, image and design into a unified whole that is often breathtaking in its ambition.
I found this lecture really interesting in understanding how different cultures within photographers approach the medium from various viewpoints and traditional styles. I decided to focus on looking at Japanese fashion photography in particular in order to provide me with more inspiration for my project to develop my ideas in an original way.
Japanese fashion Photography
I began to notice that the style of fashion photography in Japan is a lot more unusual and obscure than many British fashion photographers. I started to be drawn to many fashion images taken from Vogue Japan in particular rather than the traditional vogue, which led me to research this culture of photographers.
Adding a unique cultural aesthetic to traditional styles of fashion photography, for the last few decades some of the most prolific Japanese photographers in the industry have been directly influencing a new era of surrealistic, digitally innovative masterpieces in publications worldwide.
Lending an entirely new perspective to instantly recognisable designers and familiar faces in the fashion world, these photographers manage to capture a rare beauty and originality in their work that draws influences from traditional Eastern traditions infused with unconventional contemporary styles of photography.
Nobuyoshi Araki is a prolific Contemporary Japanese photographer known for his diaristic capturing of everyday life.
Araki’s work documents the quotidian elements of life: clouds, flowers, vibrant karaoke bars, Japanese toys, Tokyo cityscapes, and images of ordinary people. He well known for his nude photos of women. Many of these controversial nudes depict women tightly bound with ropes in the Japanese bondage style known as Kinbaku. Considered by some to be pornographic, these works draw upon the tradition of Japanese Shunga, woodblock prints from the 17th century.
Araki has also worked as a filmmaker, and has photographed musicians Bjork and Lady Gaga. His works are part of numerous collections, including the Tate Modern in London and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.
It is the erotic it is the erotic power that photographer Araki employs when tying together his female subjects that really ignites his highly sexual work. Kinbaku-bi translates to ‘the beauty of tight binding’, a concept the photographer uses in his controversial Kinbaku series.
Within this body of work he challenges views on pleasure and beauty as well as the cultural bind that has historically constrained the Japanese population.
Within this body of work he challenges views on pleasure and beauty as well as the cultural bind that has historically constrained the Japanese population. I am particularly inspired by how Araki uses random objects such as plastic dinosaurs which adds to the wackiess of his work, juxtaposing on gender stereotypes.
Araki directs his subjects to pose in a particular way, which often are very extreme in order to make his work stand out from the ordinary. The majority of his work is highly sexualised and very graphic, and his influence has penetrated just about every creative field, from art, film to the world of fashion.
He tends to use props such as fruit, to sexualise his images in a simplistic way. Here he uses a banana to add humour to his series, making his work unique and eye catching.
I am also inspired by his polaroid series, as I feel it is a method of working creates a snapshot aesthetic. Araki describes his work as ‘not perfection ‘ . It links to the idea that social media has had an influence on youth culture and the so called gimic of the ‘polaroid’ is something many teenagers like to use as an instant capture of everyday life. The common thread that links the erotics shots by Araki is the representation of sexuality.
Araki’s NYC Store’s Holiday Campaign featuring Kiko Mizuhara
Araki plays on the idea of `Fetisitism by basing his shoot around the use of food to contextualise the shoot. I love how he creates the sexual connotations in a subtle way without the need to expose parts of the female body. In terms of styling, Araki uses flowers to represent beauty and red lipstick to further enhance a sexy aesthetic to his imagery.
Below I also look at his Supreme series whereby he photographs his subjects with his instantly-recognizable gritty aesthetic and diary-esque narrative, all while incorporating an elevated sense of erotica. The plan background works well for this shoot, to draw attention to the clothing and use of toy props to identify Araki’s visual style. The styling of the fish net tights, wet look skirt and oversized clothing further adds to the sexual connotations of his work.
Plan for next shoot
For my next shoot, I have decided I would like to shoot in the studio to improve upon my technical skills in particular, lighting. I want to experiment with different gels and backdrops to create a dramatic mood to my photos. Below I have created a visual mood board which demonstrates the particular style I would like to go for, and the certain colour palette I want to work with. Furthermore, it also presents particular poses which I can refer back to when directing my model during the shoot. Hopefully, showing the visual style I want to achieve to may model will make them feel at ease and comfortable with what they are being asked to do.
My shoot- 15/03/17
I looked at the work of Paul Graham as I am inspired by his candid approach to capturing the ‘every day’. In his collection entitled ‘A shimmer of possibility’ he tells a photographic short story of everyday life in today’s America.
Evaluation and Reflection.
Overall, I found this shoot successful as it helped me to understand how to create a lighting set up and the different variables that need altering to produce a technically accurate image. Problem solving occurred frequently throughout the shoot, as I had to adjust many variables. For example, adjusting the brightness of the light, altering the distance and angle of the light from the subject and moving the distance of the subject from the camera. I also had to manually change specific settings on my camera to achieve the best exposure, particularly the shutter speed, which resulted in using a tripod. I decided to use a red backdrop as I felt this was a suitable colour to add a dark aesthetic to the images. The colour red creates a semiotic sign within the image, as it can be read from different perspectives. It creates symbolism as the connotations of red can be seen as sexy, dangerous or romantic. I felt this linked with the idea of women being viewed from the male gaze within advertising, as red is a bright colour which draws attention to, for example a women wearing red lipstick. I explored using both red and blue gels to compare the outcomes, however I felt the blue gel created a better contrast from the background. Overall, I found the shoot really useful in testing out different lighting set ups and how the studio works. On reflection, I felt that working in the studio is fairly restricted in terms of space, therefore I am mostly hoping to carry on shooting on location using flashguns and the bowens lighting kit.
Second studio test shoot
For my second studio shoot, I experimented with different coloured backgrounds, however I felt that these images weren’t as successful s the previous shoot, as the colours didn’t give off the same mood to the images. However, I tried to experiment with more interesting poses to enhance the images, which I felt worked well.
Tutorial with Lauren- 17/03/17
During the tutorial with Lauren, we discussed how I should create more of a theme to my images. She suggested that I started to brainstorm ideas for a narrative, which may help to drive my shoot from more of a directed approach. Lighting should be used to create a cinematic aesthetic to my shots, and overall enhance the technical quality of my images.
Week four- Evaluation 17/03/17
Overall, I feel that I have gain new knowledge into a lot of different research through attending the theory lecture with Tim, looking into different influences from cultures such as Japan. This provided me with with new ideas, and ideas for particular aesthetics.
I believe I have developed my technical skills through experimenting with lighting set ups in the studio, using gels and coloured backdrops. This really enhanced new ways of working, and enabled me to focus on the technical side of photography, such as ISO settings, aperature settings and shutter speed. Working in a studio is something which is out of my comfort zone, as I find it quite restricted compared to shooting on location. It ensured I focused on lighting to add a dramatic effect or mood to the image.
Cindy Sherman- ‘Untitled film stills’
In fall 1977, Sherman began making pictures that would eventually become her groundbreaking “Untitled Film Stills.” Over three years, the series comprises a total of seventy black-and-white photographs. Taken as a whole, the “Untitled Film Stills”—resembling publicity pictures made on movie sets—read like an encyclopedic roster of stereotypical female roles inspired by 1950s and 1960s Hollywood, film noir, B movies, and European art-house films.
While the characters and scenarios may seem familiar, Sherman’s “Stills” are entirely fictitious; they represent clichés (career girl, bombshell, girl on the run, vamp, housewife, and so on) that are deeply embedded in the cultural imagination.
I am really inspired by this series, as the locations create a narrative to the images. Sherman focuses on the styling of clothes, expression ( lookingoff-camera) and the compositions to make her images successful.
‘ The male gaze’ is a concept theorised by Laura Mulvey in 1975. It has become instrumental in examining film and image in terms of gender, sexual identity and human relations. Sherman’s utilisation of the male gaze is complex: in one sense she diverts her passivity by being both the looker and the looked at, but in another way she consistently re-establishes the gaze by playing the victim or sexualised object.
In this image, the artist exposes herself in her underwear, holding a mirror in one hand as she dons her usual emotionless expression. While the image is clearly sexualised, Sherman also demonstrates how femininity is a disguise, a performance, and then so too becomes the commander of the gaze.
For a test shoot, I decided to shoot in a library to create a unique setting for a fashion shoot. In terms of styling I ensured the model was wearing simple coloured clothes, and the heels to add to the glamours aesthetic I am wanting to achieve. I experimented with different poses, shooting from low angles to side angles, to vary the compositions. I used flash to create a glossy aesthetic to my images.
I think this shoot was successful in the development of my ideas. However, I feel that perhaps the more simplistic close up shots are slightly more interesting as there aren’t many distracting elements within the frame. To improve, I would use a flashgun as the light can be directed more accurately onto the subject, to enhance the images and create more of an cinematic feel. However, I feel that the styling of makeup, hair and clothing works really well to give the subject power.
Jurgen Teller – ‘Washington DC’
I decided to look at Jurgen Teller’s Washington DC series, as the aesthetic of the images reminds me of film stills. He uses his model in a mysterious way, directing her to give little expression, looking off camera, and standing awkwardly, making the images some what unsettling for the viewer. He takes inspiration from the likes of hitch cock, by capturing the subject with a helicopter from above, which adds a narrative to the sequence.
I looked at Jurgen Teller’s Kate Moss collection for inspiration of as the poses and styling techniques. He says that he loves working with Kate because she’s “full of energy”. She, on the other hand, adores his work and she wants to pose for him, because they are friends and they had known and hung out with each other before they were both famous As with any of his photographs, they are honest, imperfect, more natural than we are used to when it comes to fashion photography.
Teller pushed the boundaries in terms of sexual connotations from his work. His images were of Kate Moss were very provocative however, he never went to the extreme of the ‘nude’.
Teller’s shoot for Celine shows the androgynous style of the topless girl holding a skateboard. The idea of breaking stereotypes is a playful approach to this fashion shoot, and is something I hope to explore in my project.
I love the close up aesthetic of these shots, and how they are captured against a black background which really brings out the styling of the eye makeup complimenting the colour of the drinks.
Technically, the slow shutter speed which captures the splashes of water creates dynamic to the image. This is a technique I may wish to use in my shoot.
in this series ‘Miles of M.A.C’ , he has created a compilation of epic poetry, imaginary characters, and voyeuristic vignettes, all told through striking images that showcase the makeup giant’s artistic prowess.
In these sets of images, Aldridge has used props, in particular food and drink to enhance the sexual connotations within his work.
Weight Watchers Ad by John Rankin
I love the simplicity of these images, shot against a white background by styled with makeup to make the images eye catching.
“I can draw inspiration from anything: a bright red garage in Soho, a woman wearing a green coat crossing the street. The fabulous orange in pictures by Francis Bacon or a palette of colours put together by the Wizard of Oz”.
Aldridge prefers artificial shades: phosphorescent yellow, bubblegum pink, the bright green of imitation grass, and deep blue – not sky-blue or the marine blue found in wall frescoes, but the unidentifiable blue of an air hostess’s uniform, or the blue of Italy’s national football team. He also draws great inspiration from early colour films: “I love the way that Technicolor has always broken everythin
g down into areas of pure colour, giving the shadows a brilliant shade of blue”.
I watched a Youtube video of the production process he carried out to create these images. It was interesting in seeing how Aldridge composes his shots and how various techniques such as using a fan and smoke grenades can really help add a cinematic feel to the shoot.
I love this idea of styling through juxtaposing the hiking back with the highly glamourised fashion, choosing the colour red an obvious contrast. It also breaks stereotypes as it is a fashion image you wouldn’t usually expect to see.
Plan for next shoot
In preparation for my next shoot, I created a visual mood board which pitches the development of my ideas, through colour, styling and lighting. I will refer back to this mood board when shooting to help me direct to the model how to pose. I will use the Metz flash gun to create a cinematic aesthetic to my images, further helping to create a glossy magazine aesthetic. I will also use previous research for influence upon my work such as Nobuyoshi Araki’s use of props.
Reflection and Evaluation
Overall, I found this shoot successful in the development of my ideas. I feel my technical skills have been enhanced through using the Metz Gun, which initially I found challenging to use. It was problematic as I the lighting kept changing dependent on how I asked my model to pose. Large shadows was problem I had to overcome as it created a big distraction in the majority of the images. I tried to overcome this issue by altering the angle of the light on the subject, changing the distance of the light from the subject and by adjusting dials on the Metz such as the brightness and aperature. I also experimented with using in-camera flash, however this definitely didn’t have as much of a ‘cinematic’ aesthetic to using the Metz gun. Overall, I am feel that my styling of the shoot was successfull, through both the styling of the model as well as the choice of props. I feel that perhaps some of the poses are slightly too staged, as some of the more candid images make the model feel slightly more comfortable. To improve I would definitely re shoot this idea, as now the model has more of an understanding of the concept of the shoot which may result in her performing differently in front of the camera.
I chose the best shots from the shoot, and edited them slightly by changing the temperature of the images, as well as adjusting both the exposure, highlights, shadows and contrast. I also used my notes from Lee’s workshop entitled ‘Visual Survaliance’ when using Photoshop which definitely enhanced my images, drawing more attention to the main focal points mostly being her eyes and mouth.
Interim Critique- 29/02/17
During the critique, I presented my best photos from each shoot, explaining the concept of my project and how I went about each shoot. I discussed the next step for progression within my project, which was to break stereotypes of the typical house wife using a male model to act out the idea.
Ideas I considered:
- Woman sat down reading a newspaper- Man bringing food
- Woman holding xbox controller- Man hoovering
- Woman drinking a pint- Man washing up
- Woman watching football- Man ironing
- Woman on the phone, doing nails- Man cooking
- Woman paining- Man dusting
During the critique Lauren explained that I need to slow down when shooting, ensuring that I really take into consideration everything within the frame. Re-shooting is definitely beneficial in order to ensure everything is going as plan as well as making small improvements to images. She also suggested that collaboration (working with a stylist and a assistant) will be very helpful so I can concentrate purely on taking the images.
- Act out poses to models to show what you want- be picky
- Replace props each couple of shots (attention to detail)
- Redo photos that didn’t work so well- look at each photograph after taking it and observe to see what isn’t working within the shot.
- Book out location lighting kit
- Research into male and female body language
- Create visual mood boards in preparation for shoot
30/02/17 Guest speaker- Joanna Paterson
An ex student from AUB gave a speech to our class explaining the concept of her work, examples, as well as her influences and stages or working.
I was really inspired by set of nude portraits which she used natural light to capture her subjects. I felt this gave a really gentle touch to her images, creating muted tones. Her location choices are also really interesting and give off the American styled aesthetic, as the interior is modern and of a simplistic aesthetic. After looking at Joanna’s work, I plan to shoot both in natural daylight as well as artificial light to compare the outcomes.
I had a browse through Paterson’s website, and I am really inspired by the way she develops her ideas visually, through rough sketches. She explained that it really helps to idealise an particular idea and its concept and types of shots which she wishes to create. I feel that planning a single shot through a drawing will give me as the photographer a clearer idea of the the angle type, which lens I may use as well as specific props I may need to bring to the shoot. Additionally it would also will also be a great visual representation that can be used to direct the model to pose in a particular way or even give the stylist an understanding of the set up of the shoot.
This is an example whereby the initial sketch for the idea is actual fairly similar to the final outcome.
Tutorial with Matt- 30/02/17
I had a discussion with Matt about my previous idea of ‘breaking stereotypes’. His opinion was that it was slightly cliched, and maybe too outdated. In order to make my shoot con temporised he feels I should simplify my idea to perhaps women being powerful over the man within advertising.
- Create a cinematic feel to the images by looking at powerful women in cinema.
- Take influence from woman in iconic films such as Uma Thurman in Kill Bill, or Sharon Stone who features in Basic Instinct.
- Research into male Body Language, rather than just the woman dressed as a man.
- Keep the backgrounds simple, consider shooting on location swell as indoors.
- Keep the fashion simple.
Plan for next shoot
To gain a visual idea of the staging of my shoot, I looked at Miles Aldridge’s shoot for Numero Tokyo magazine featuring Julia Frauche. The cult of postwar American domesticity courses through much of Aldridge’s body of work and is evidenced strongly in the period beauty and styling of this cover. Julia is pictured wearing a blue jacket from the Giorgio Armani Spring 2014 collection. How exactly this all adds up to the headline announcing “Adventure” is an open question, but the tension it creates is nearly as irresistible.
I looked at Gregory Crewdson’s work who is best known for staging cinematic scenes of suburbia to dramatic effect.
His surreal images are often melancholic or disturbing, offering ambiguous narrative suggestions and blurring the boundaries between fiction and reality, thanks to the artist’s painstaking preparation of elaborate sets, lighting, and cast. “My pictures are about a search for a moment—a perfect moment,” Crewdson has explained.
Crewdson’s work combines the documentary style of William Eggleston and Walker Evans with a dreamlike quality reminiscent of such filmmakers as Stephen Spielberg and David Lynch. Yet unlike those directors, Crewdson is compelled by how the still image freezes time and sets limitations, “like a story that is forever frozen in between moments, before and after, and always left as a kind of unresolved question,” he describes.
I love Crewdsons attention to detail, using artificial sources of light such as street light trailing through the windows, lamp shades, Tv screens aswell as the location lighting he uses to direct towards the subjects.
Phillip Lorca Dicorcia
I decided to look at American photographer Phillip Lorca Dicorcia. whose work encompasses both documentary and staged photography, lending his large-scale colour prints a narrative mixture of truth and fiction.
He quotes “I think it’s a sense of disappointment after realizing that most of the time they’re being lied to”.
His cinematic approach echoes Gregory Crewdson’s methodology, wherein the artist prepares the shots as if they were scenes in a film. The “dramatizing elements,” as the artist calls them, are what makes his images their narrative power.
Below are a set of stills taken from his shoot for Dior Mag‘s winter 2014 issue. I am really inspired by the way he captures the woman in the frame as almost more powerful than the man, through body gesture. Theres almost a darkness lurking beneath the glamour of the woman, especially evident in the middle image.
I also watched his short film he created for his ad, entitled ‘ Terminal 3′. The film for Dior manages to condense an entire spectrum of human emotion – uncertainty, desire, rage, jealousy, deceit – into less than 90 seconds. The film has gives a sense of the film seems on the surface to be something of a glossy departure from some of his best known work such as his photobook on Hollywood street workers, Hustlers – but it’s imbued with the same sense of voyeurism.
“Erwins point of view is at once formal and phychological so surface and meaning have a complex relationship. He perfectly captured the precise and moody sensibility of the collection. But he also added an unexpected narrative that makes the campaign especially rich” Tomas Maier.
Bottega Veneta FALL – WINTER 2012/2013.
I am really drawn to these images as I love the simplicity of the locations which really draws the viewers eyes towards the subjects. Erwin uses both natural light coming through the windows as well as artificial light to draw attention towards the subject. The styling of the women is what makes the images so slick, the glamorous silhetto heels and leather gloves and the way he model is holding herself in a bold way makes her look powerful in the images.
I watched a video of the production of the shoot, how Erwin directs the models and the way he asks the models to freely move from position to position to make the poses feel staged but have an element of truth behind them.
In contrast to Erwin’s advertising campaigns, I am really inspired by his more narrative based work. The low quay lighting and focused lighting directed towards the subjects is what makes his images feel ‘cinematic’ or like scenes from a film. The second image in particular reminds me of the 70’s style through Olaf’s choice of colour palette.
Women in Cinema
In order to gain inspiration for my development of ideas I decided to look at iconic women characters within films. Taking influence from cinema may help to demonstrate to the model how I wish for their body language to come across to the viewer.
Hunger Games- starring Jennifer Lawrence
Kill Bill- Uma Thurman
Basic Instinct-Sharon Stone
In the iconic interrogation-turned-seduction scene from the 1992 movie Basic Instinct, Sharon Stone sits in a chair with a mainly pose and a short dress creating sexual connotations from the male gaze point of view .
Transformers- Megan Fox
Megan fox is an example of an actress which is often looked at from the male gaze.
Suicide Squad- Harley Quinn
The styling and use of props is what gives Harley Quinn the role of a strong character within the film. She is dressed with red lipstick, fish net tights and mini shorts to create a sexy visualisation of a super woman.