Movement is a device that allows the subject within a photograph to be free. The tasks below reveal how movement can allow a subject to express their personality,and their inner feelings as body language can reveal a lot about a person. However, also the tasks below explore how shutter speed can limit and alter your photographs. Shutter speed can change the way a person is presented, limiting the subjects freedom of expression can alter your final outcome as you are able to manipulate an image into appearing different.
TASK 1 - Philippe Halsman
“In a jump, the subject, in a sudden burst of energy, overcomes gravity. He cannot simultaneously control his expressions, his facial and his limb muscles."
Phillippe Halsman began his photographic career in France, in 1934 he opened a portrait studio in Montparnasse where he began to photograph well known artists and writers.
Halsman asked some of his subjects to jump for him as he believed the act liberated the model and steered away from traditional conventions of a normal portrait. Additionally he believed that jumping brought out the personality of the subject, he called this "Jumpology" . Halsman had been fascinated with jumping since childhood, although he became a skilled jumper he could not participate in the act in later life as he cracked his iliac. His jumping images began when he shot the Ford family to celebrate Ford's 50th birthday. He claims that the initial shoot did not go to plan, so after having the drink with the family he asked them to jump. From then on he asked all of his famous subjects to do the same as he believed it made his images come to life.
His acclaimed jumpbook features 191 black and white portraits of different people jumping. The series of images are very fun and carry a true sense of innocence. Halsman believed that jumping was a device that allowed the subject to be free and a tool resulted in a true representation of each individual.
It was effective how I was able to capture both people in the air.
However it clear that my images are a little over exposed, consequently I should have turned my shutter speed down or made my aperture smaller.
Also, it would be more effective if my images were taking in the studio.
TASK 2 - Francesca Woodman
Francesca Woodman is an American photographer who created over 10,000 negative photographs that her parents now keep. Most of her work features herself, and are blurred due to long exposure times and Woodman's movement. Most of her photographs were taking on a medium format camera that produced 6x6 cm square negatives. Woodman took her first self portrait at 13, Francesa's mother Betty claims that the reason why Francesa put her self in most of her images is because she was always available, and did not have to rely on others to get the photographs she wanted.
“Though telling yourself what to do is also much easier than telling someone else to smile, or to look this way or that.” Betty Woodman for The Guardian
Betty Woodman admits that Francesa's photographs are open for interpretation, but she argues this leads many viewers to focus on her death. She claims many viewers link the images with negative events, however Francesca's mother sees the images as fun. Betty argues that the photographs are proactive and have nothing to do with her suicide, she claims Francesa was witty and amusing and that this shines through in her images.
SELECTS AND EDITS
It was effective that my images carry an an eerie, bleak feel to them like Woodman's do.
It would have been interesting if parts of my subjects body were in complete contrast, and some other parts blurred, this would have created a nice contrast.
TASK 3 - ROBERT LONGO
Robert Longo's series 'Men in the Cities' consists of life size graphite and charcoal drawings of well dressed men and women. He began the series in 1979, and ended it in 1983. The series aims to reflect the strain of working in a capitalist society, and how working life can impact us. The series exposes how workers are not free in modern society as all of their actions and consumption choices are driven by capitalist motives. Many are defined by their work as the nature of the jobs we have can shape our lives .
He captures his subjects mid movement, and then draws them. Although his subjects appear lifeless each pose still reflects a strong sense of movement. The undertones and poses of each subject were inspired by the film-noir cinema of Rainer Werner Fassbinder. One of his subjects was a friend of Longo, the famous fine artist Cindy Sherman. She claimed "Robert shot us in free fall, looking like we were dead, creating these poses became a sort of dance, and I think that’s why I remember having such a good time.” The series explores how working life can limit us, as it can impact our emotions and make us feel trapped.
To respond to Longo's work I took pictures of my subject moving slightly, but also in positions that make her looked stuck, and trapped to mirror the strain seen in Longo's series.
To edit my photos I opened each image on Photoshop.
I then turned each image black and and turned up the exposure and contrast to get rid of anything that was in the background behind my subject, including her shadow.
I then turned up the definition on each image to make the subject more defined, as in Longo's drawings his subjects are very detailed.
Task 4 - FRANCES BERRY
Frances Berry describes herself as a picture- maker, not a photographer, she has stated she will make a photo with "anything that happens to be in reach." In Frances Berry's series 'Lines We Live By' vintage postcards and old family photos have been digitally manipulated and warped to alter our version of reality. All of the digital manipulation was done on Berry's smartphone.
“ Using a phone seems appropriate for this day and age, considering we are all glued to them. I love being able to use this contemporary tool to manipulate historical imagery.” - Berry told the Guardian
Each image displays a women carrying out an everyday task, each figure is clearly visibly to the viewer as the warped parts of the overall image are interrupted by the central figure who is still carrying out their action. She made this series to explain how our mind can distort our memories. Therefore the series not only explores the freedom with have digitally to manipulate old photos, but how are mind is limited in terms of memory, as we cannot remember events exactly how they were so we may believe something happened in a certain way, but it did not.
To respond to Berry's series I took standard portraits of my subject in different areas of her house, I then digitally manipulated each image to resemble Berry's idea that we can never remember things exactly as they were. This signifies how we are limited by our memory as we can misremember events.
Taking inspiration from Berry, using the marquee tool on Photoshop I selected parts of my images, copied and pasted them and then dragged each part out so it appeared stretched.
I then copied and pasted glitch jpegs from google on top of my image rubbed parts of this layer out to reveal more of my subject.
I then edited the overall photo by adjusting the exposure, saturation and contrast levels.
I then flattened all of the layers together, to save the final image
EXHIBITION VISIT - ILLUMINATING INDIA
Illuminating India is on display at the Science Museum to celebrate 70 years of the India's independence from the British rule.
LIMITATIONS The exhibition follows the technological developments that were made in india throughout the 19th and 20th century. It explores how far the technological side of photography has advanced from film cameras to digital ones. It explores how
FREEDOM The British used photography in India to document and dominate the Indian people and landscape. However the British also used it to create propaganda to help push foward their agenda to rule India. Where as Indian people at the times of the British Empire used photography as a tool to record their side of the story and their narratives.
IMAGE ONE The first Indian photographer is recorded as Ahmed Ali Khan, Khan was a muslim photographer in the early 1800s. The photograph on the left depicts a Queen in India in the 19th century. The original portrait had a complex hand painting border that incorporated 24K gold. It can be noted that it was common for photographs in the early 1800's in India to portray the lifestyle of the rich, individuals with great wealth would flaunt their money in self portraits. It is said that the great wealth in India at this time is was what attracted the British, and what kick started British Imperialism in India. IMAGE TWO Sawai Ram Singh II self portraits are the first ever example of self portraits in Indian photography. Sawai Ram Singh II was the was Maharaja (king) of Jaipur from 1835 to 1880, he quickly became known as the "photographer prince" as his passion for photography grew. Ram Singh was introduced to photography by the British photographer Nyee Tal Murray. Murray taught him techniques and skills as they worked together in india. The Maharaja had access to the best equipment in India and had his own personal studio, consequently he was able to capture many striking self portraits.
1860 the Maharaja had invited the British artist-photographer of Nynee Tal, Mr T. Murray,2 to come and help him with the development of the Tasveer Khana. Ram Singh got deeply interested in photography under the encouragement of Murray, and what was originally intended to be a short-term tour of office for Murray became a prolonged one.
IMAGE THREE Vasantha Yoganathan is an award winning, contemporary, Indian photographer who lives and works in Paris. Yogananthan was the international winner of the IdeasTap/Magnum award which helped him fund his project A Myth of Two Souls. His project is inspired by the tale of The Ramayana. The Ramayana is an ancient Indian poem that depicts the tale of the rescue of Sita from King Ravana. Vansantha Yoganathon is retracing the route of the poem across north and south India, retelling the story through pictures.
All of the images were taken in black and white, he has worked with local hand painting artists who have added colour to every detail of each photograph. The journey is covering 3500 miles and is a 4 year project. He started in 2016 and aims to produce 7 photo books to display his travels in 2020.
This task explores the idea how objects and people are free in water. But also uncovers how water can be used to distort an image, and be used to create a certain feeling, such as being trapped.
ALBAN GROSIDIDER - The Drowning Project
"Drowning is a project that talks about the feeling of submersion that one can have by living in a big city"
Alban Grosidider is a French, 29 year old documentary photographer living and working between London and Paris. His metaphoric series Drowning aims to reflect the feelings and emotions of those who live in big cities. The project features 200 black and white images of individuals submerged in water.
The concept of this series derives from the French phrase "having your head underwater" which translates to "being under a lot of stress". According to Grosidider people who live in big cities feel deeply stress, due to life being very fast paced but also the feeling of being trapped by your surroundings and your everyday routine. This is the exact feeling Grosidider wanted to capture as he asks his subjects to go under water in a bathtub. It is clear that some of his subjects look uncomfortable, as some of his images have a claustrophobic feel to them, this reflects how modern life limits people, as they can't be truly happy. However some of his subjects look quite content, neither extremely happy or sad, suggesting that they are used to modern life in big cities.
Overall this series is very effective at capturing the limitations and emotions of living in cities without photographing people in this environment.
For my response I wanted to use a small object that you would not associate with being light and delicate . Consequently to create the images below I dropped screws into a sink and captured them as they fell, and once they were submerged in water. I think it is interesting when an object is taken out of context, and it attaches a whole different meaning to it, that it did not have before.
3. LIMITING SPACE
When a photographer and their subjects have a limited space to work this creates restrictions. These restrictions can limit a subjects actions and expressions as they feel confined within a space. However it can be argued that it helps to create a narrative, and allows a photographer to create a unique style of portrait.
1) IRVING PENN
Irving Penn is an America photographer who studied at the Philadelphia Museum School of Art from 1934 to 1938.
His series of corner portraits that were created around 1948 feature various famous writers, poets, artists, dancers and more. Each subject has been positioned between to studio flats, that have been constructed to create a sharp corner, that produces a small, tight space for the subject to stand or sit in. In some of the images the viewer is able to see the whole set up of the studio, but also see some of the technical equipment Penn was using such as electrical wires.
Here, the small studio space limits the subject as the lack of room prohibits them to move around. Consequently they are confined are forced to work in a small space. Each individual handels the space in different ways, it is clear that some of the subjects can adapt to their surroundings and play with the set. However it is also evident that some of the subjects felt constrained within the corner, this can be seen by their stiff body language.
This concept is effective as it can be argued that the constrains allowed each individual to reflect their personality.
To respond to Penn's corner portraits, we set up two boards in the studio and created our own tight, small space. It is clear that each subject behaved very differently within the space, some decided to show that they felt trapped, however others began to to work with the space and move around within the area. Again these images reflect the subjects personality as the way each individual dealt with the space was different.
2) WILLI DORNER - 'Bodies In Urban Spaces'
"Point out the urban functional structure and to uncover the restricted movement possibilities and behaviour as well as rules and limitations"
Austrian artist Willi Dorner is the creator of 'Bodies in Urban Spaces'. The project follows a group of dancers,climbers and performances who re-arrange themselves amongst spaces in our urban landscapes. The performances took place in America, Austria, France, Norway, Sweden, Finland and England.Dorner suggests that his intentions with this project was to highlight the structure of our surroundings. He then notes that the live performance allows the audience watching to get a an immediate understanding of their surrounding landscape, Dorner points out that this is a thought many of us have not come across before.
The structures the performers create are temporary, as one scene ends another one begins. The whole performance has been carefully choreographed to insure that each performer knows where to go and what to do.
It seems that Dorner is expressing what can be achieved with such limited space, the project aims to expose how we do not take notice of our surroundings and how interesting they can be.
For my response I asked my subjects to fit into spaces they would not normally find themselves in.
3. RESTRICTED VIEW
For this task I hide different areas of my subject to expose only certain body parts to the viewer, creating a unique type of portrait that challenges typical conventions of a standard one. As here the identity of the subject is partially concealed.
4.PUSHING THE LIMITS OF PHOTOGRAPHY
This task explores the typical conventions of a photograph. Most photographs appear in focus, have a clear composition and are not over or under exposed. However if you begin to push the limits of photography and create photographs that do not reflect those patterns, you can produce unique images that do not align with what photographs normally look like. A viewer has certain expectations of what a photograph will look like, constantly if you challenge this you give the viewer a new photographic experience. As photographers we are free to experiment with settings to manipulate images and make them look how they want to appear.
A viewer expects to see a photograph being correctly exposed, if an image is under or over exposed it can alter the meaning and can be rejected by a viewer as they may not be able to tell what that photograph is of. The ISO setting on a camera controls the sensor's sensitivity to light, it can help brighten up an image if you cannot use a longer shutter speed or wider aperture, this can help the viewer see more of whats in the frame. However concealing parts of an image may be effective as it can alter the appearances of objects and humans.
Firstly I wanted to start off by experimenting with exposure. Consequently i took the same photograph 3 times, each time I changed the aperture and shutter speed to make each photograph look different.
Keld Helmer-Petersen was a Danish photographer born in 1920. His passion of photography grew in 1938 when he received his first camera as a graduation present. The images above are pages from Helmer- Petersons Back to Back book.
One of his last works consisted of a trilogy, Black noise, Back to Black and Black light. The three books were born out experimentation. He began using this black and white expression in the 50's where he was inspired by constructivist artists. In the 60's a selection of his black and white images were published in a book called Fragments of a city. Then in the year 2000 up until 2008 where he passed away Keld Helmer- Peterson re-adopted this graphic black and white style and produced his final works.
It should be noted that a lot Helmer-Petersen's work was largely the result of experimentation. He enjoyed the idea of 'cameraless' photography and often used a darkroom to create photograms. In his last works he went back to the idea of 'cameraless' photographed as his Back To Black book reveals images that have been created using a scanner. For this book Helmer-Petersen placed random objects onto old negatives or photographic paper and scanned them in. He then manipulated them digitally and created images that consist of black silhouettes due to contrast. It is effective how in some of the images you cannot tell what the object is, or what the old negative was of.
To respond to the work above I took some images of nature and plants and edited them so that they appear very over exposed, which changes the overall look of the photo as a lot of the image disappears.
I then experimented further with exposure levels, but with this method more information was lost within the photograph.
Firstly I started off by cropping my images to get rid of unwanted things within the frame.
I then made my images black and white by decreasing the saturation.
I then turned up the brightness, exposure, contrast and highlights due make the lighter areas of my image appear white and ensure the shadows within each photograph appear black or very dark. This creates a strong contrast between the light and dark areas and makes some elements of the photographs a block colour which makes the image appear more abstract.
SELECTS AND EDITS
Traditionally we expect an image to be in focus, if a photo is out of focus it tends to be rejected as a bad image. However below I explore the idea that maybe it is possible to create a good image that is not in focus. It could be argued that when an image is out of focus the viewer finds it harder to connect with, however possibly having an image out of focusing can give the photo a new meaning and a different narrative.
"Developing a low-quality aesthetic is a sign of serious fine art” – Hiroshi Sugimoto
Born in 1948 Hiroshi Sugimoto is a Japanese photographer and architect. Sugimoto studied photography as Los Angeles Art Centre College of Design.He notes that his work is an expression of time.
His series titled Architecture consists of 30 black and white images of famous buildings from around the world.It includes some of the most well-known buildings ever made such as the Effiel Tower and the Empire State building. Each image is slightly out of focus, and some are closely cropped to only reveal parts of the buildings. Despite the appearance of each building being altered each structure is still completely recognisable to the viewer. Each photograph does not contain any human, the buildings stand alone so the viewer can solely appreciate their structure. Sugimoto aimed to isolate the buildings so the viewer could admire their form and the way they have been built.
To respond to Sugimoto's work I wanted to experiment with focus. For this task I took my photos deliberately out of focus to challenge the viewers perception of what makes a good photograph.
Typically we expect our subjects to be in the frame, when taking a photograph we aim to create a neat and clear layout that is natural for the viewer. Altering the composition within a photograph changes the mood and meaning of the image and changes the interpretation the viewer has of that photograph.
"My work never directly addresses the literal subject matter of the photograph, but attempts to ask questions about vision itself. "
Uta Barthe is a contemporary photographer who lives and works in Los Angeles. Her series Grounds features slightly out of focus images of walls and windows.
The photographs in this series reflect a very calm nature, in each image there is no overt subject as in every photograph there is a lot of negative space. It is unclear for the viewer to seek what they should be focusing on within the the image as there is nothing that jumps out within the image that the viewer would be drawn to. Instead the viewer should appreciate the image as a whole. Barthe's suggests that it is not about what is in the photograph, it is about the act of looking at the image. This is highlighted by the absence of a subject.
Barth partially blurs her images to alter the act off seeing. When we look at something we automatically focus on it. Here Barthe uses blur to twist this idea and look at the world as if we aren't focusing on what we are seeing.
For this task I have taken two images and physically altered them using paint, writing and a knife. Changing the physical appliance of an image can change the meaning of an image, or emphasise the meaning that the photograph is already conveying further. Consequently we are not limited by the image we have taken we can change it further once it has been printed.
For my first response I took inspiration from Abigail Reynolds, I used a Stanley knife to cut out triangles on my image and then placed the image on to a yellow piece of card. I chose to do this as I feel like the cut out triangles resemble the dangers within society, however these obstacles can't hinder and shouldn't prevent people from enjoying themselves.
I painted on thin red lines onto this image to resemble the barricades that people face, as it is evident that not everyone can be themselves within our society. However the writing evokes how people are starting to break away from this idea.
STRAND ONE - Freedom and Limitations of Society
For my first strand I will be exploring the idea of the freedom and limitations of society. To show this idea I will photograph a protest. As more issues arise in modern society many are taking the form of protests to share their opinions and fight for what they believe in. Protests are an effective way to show these ideas as many people that go to them feel very passionate about what they believe in. Consequently you can capture quite emotive photographs of protesters that highlight their feeling towards that particular issue. Protests show people fighting fo theirs or others freedom, they are great way to stand up for what you believe in.
ARTIST LINK- ALBAN GROSDIDIER
Alban Grosider who created the 'Drowning' series moved to London in 2016 to photograph British movements including anti- Trump , Brexit and anti-racism groups. Grosider's intentions with this series was to capture the passion and emotion felt by those who attended the march.
Grosider's intentions with this series is to document the people that visited the marches, he aimed to capture the raw emotion felt by the people at the marches and record the overall atmosphere of the day. I think he wanted this collection of images to reveal what really goes on during protests. Pope has captured his images at all different angles and distances, I think this is effective as it brings a sense of realism to the series.His work demonstrates that people of all ages,races,religions and genders are fighting are exising their right of freedom of speech.
To respond to Grosider's work I went to the March4women march in Milbank and documented some of the people there whilst they marched to Trafalgar square.
STRAND TWO - Limiting the subject
For my second strand I want to explore the idea of framing my subject. I want to create a physical barrier between the subject in the photographs and I. I want to photograph people through windows and obstacles, this will push the limits of photography as the viewer will not absorb a lot of information about the person in the image compared to a standard portrait. Consequently the photographs will still have a clear subject matter but the viewer will not learn a lot about the subject due to the physical barriers within the image.
ARTIST LINK - Saul Leiter
"I don't have a philosophy, I have a camera." Saul Leiter
Saul Leiter is known for his pioneering role in colour photography. He intended to create free, artistic shots through street photography.
His photographs document everyday life of people in New York. Leiter manages to transform ordinary street scenes using unique framing devices, which adds an element of mystery to the photographs in his collection. As seen above he also often blurs figures using a range of objects, this detaches the subject from the viewer as it conceals details, which again makes his work quite ambiguous. His work is also unique as his compositions are very abstract, they are never framed symmetrically which makes the photos look unbalanced. This combined with various shapes and bright colours alter simple scenes into
It is effective that from viewing his images the viewer does not learn a lot about the subjects within the photographs. And also the use of colour within his images is compelling.
To capture the images below I walked around the area above and photographed members of the public through windows. This was helpful as this area had many shops and restaurants, and was a very busy part of London.
To edit my images I selected the best photographs from my contact sheet and edited them slightly on Photoshop by changing the exposure and contrast levels. I then added some noise to some of the images. Finally I used the rectangle tool to create borders around my images.
SELECTS AND EDITS
I did not intend to make my images as abstract as Saul Lieter's however this could have been more effective as the images would be even more distant and impersonal.
STRAND THREE - FRAMING NATURE
For my third strand I want to look at ideas surrounding nature as it is something that I don't really think about and not yet explored photographically. Nature is something that impacts all of us, although we often neglect it, thus I think it is key to use it as a subject matter. To do this I want to frame nature using Photoshop as I think it is interesting that we are able to control our shots of nature even though we cannot control nature its self.
ARTIST LINK - NADAV KANDER
"When alone, there is nowhere I'd rather be than beside large bodies of slow moving water." - Nadav Kander
In Nadav Kander's series Dark Line - The Thames Estuary Kander captures gentle pictures of the Thames estuary and its surroundings. Kander claims that it not about the geographical place for him but he now sees this area as a mystical place. He argues that the river is a metaphor for change and renewal. Consequently, he wanted to create a calming series of photographs, that are soft and mellow.He claims he spends long hours in his studio editing each image. Kander notes he can spend months on a single image. He argues that it takes a good picture to make a good print, but the editing of that image is very crucial. Here Kander presents the Thames in a new light, in London the idea of the Thames is not pleasant, but here Nadav Kander captures nature in such a beautiful, soft way.
To respond to Kander's work I took some photographs of my local nature source to see if I could layout my images the way he does and see what impact this has.
SELECTS AND EDITS
To edit my photos I opened them on Photoshop and used the guide tool to split each image into three. I then placed white rectangles over each section so that each image had three clear parts.
I have learnt that we can manipulate the way nature looks, even though we do not have that much control of it . It fascinates me that we have the freedom to visually alter something that has so much power over us.
EXHIBITION VIST ANOTHER KIND OF LIFE: Photography on the Margins
Another Kind of Life features 20 different photographers who have captured those who live on the fringes of society. It reflects on those in society who lack freedom within society but also those who think they are free in un-conventional ways.
IMAGE 1 - Dayanita Singh is an Indian photographer. Her book titled Myself Mona Ahmed was Singhs second book. Published in 2001 the book is a combination of photographs, along side fictional, biographical and autobiographical writing. This project emerged as Singh felt the representation of India within photography was problematic. Singh claims that the West tend to view India through a simplistic lens, she claims India is often misrepresented through a exotic portrayal. The visual novel photographically follows the daily life of Mona Ahmed. Mona was a Eunuch, she was apart of a secret community that does not typically let outsiders in. The book follows the parties and ceremonies that the Eunucnh's have, whilst always presenting the viewer with the hardships and predjucie the Eunuchs face. The book explores intense themes as the viewer witnesses the story of Mona's castration and her losing her child. Additionally the book highlights the real third gender, and shines light of a shadowed community that many are unaware of. Singh brings creates a visual story of an individual who would have gone unnoticed, by empowering her life through the use of photographs.
IMAGE 2 - Paz Errazuriz began her career as a primary school teacher. She began photographing people in September 1973, after Augusto Pinochet stormed into the Presidential Palace and over threw the socialist government. Errazuriz was the first Latin American female photographer to be offered the Guggenheim fellowship. She focused on photographing people through the "Pinochet years". However she did not want to focus on the horror and bloodshed those years bought, instead she wanted to celebrate the people of Chile by liberating those who were marginalised in society. She aimed to give victims a voice, by photographig those that society was not paying attention to. Because of this she earned the title of the 'women who defied the Pinochet regime.'
"I wanted to portray their lives, in their way. I guess my point of view has been an anthropological one. I do not comment on their lives, I wanted to be more of an accomplice, than a foreigner or an outsider”. - Errazuriz told Dazed.
During the Pinochet regime Paz Errazuriz started off as a family portrait photographer. She then realised she wanted to photograph those who have been excluded from society and how they are dealing with life under the regime. She claims "It i strange but one learns how to live in danger." This suggests even those who are already struggling the most, still were surviving through those dark years. She wanted to give those people a voice without imposing on their lives. She claims you can see the fear of Pinochet mirrored back through her subjects eyes. At this time homosexuality was condemned, as a result of this many were tortured at the cost of their sexuality. Errazuriz talks about the idea of 'double danger' she claims that the subjects within her series Adam's Apple were not only in danger from disappearing socially within society, but that many of her subjects had aids. She later explained that a lot of her subjects died of Aids, apart from one, Coral who is still alive today. Not only did Errazuriz give others a voice, she used photography to find her own. Her whole body of work shows resistance, and highlights that she was fighting back against the injustice of her society.
IMAGE 3- Mary Ellen Mark is an award winning American photographer who always regarded herself as a documentary photographer, she is best known for her photojournalism. Mary Ellen Mark photographed those lived on the fringes of society, she photographed those who would normally go unnoticed and documented their lives.
"I’m interested in reality, and I am interested in survival. I’m interested in people who aren’t the lucky ones, who maybe have a tougher time surviving, and telling their story. " - Mary Ellen Mark
In 1983 Mary Ellen Mark and her husband Martin Bell, met 13 year old Tiny (Erin Charles) a young girl living on the streets of Seattle. Mary Ellen saw a little girl dressed like a woman get out of a car in a parking lot alongside a nightclub. Mary Ellen instantly knew then that that little girl would be the star of the photographs, that girl was Tiny. Their distressing but eye-opening book Streetwise is a visual documentation of the life of Tiny and her friends that lived on the streets of Seattle. Mary Ellen Mark maintained her relationship with Tiny who now has 9 kids.
Chosen strand - Freedoms and limitations of socitey.
To develop my chosen strand I wanted to see how I could explore the freedom and limitations of society in various ways.
I created a mind map to present the different areas of focus I could chose to capture the ideas of freedoms and limitations in society.
It was clear to me that many individuals lack freedom within our society so I have chosen to focus on those who are restricted.
I think the best way to explore this theme is to capture photographs that reflect the limitations of labels.
NEW DEVELOPMENT:LIMITATIONS OF LABELS
It is clear that in society today everyone is obsessed with labels. Some people are limited by the labels they are given, or the ones they have created for themselves. However some people are free from hiding who they are by coming to terms with their labels and celebrate them. This being said it seems that in modern society there is such diversity of people and new labels are always being created. However this means that some people cannot wrap their heads round these 'new' labels and resort to using traditional ones. It is apparent that many choose to use labels in a negative way, in today's society it is more likely that you will be labelled negatively than positively on a day to day basis. This being said labels can be used to celebrate an act, culture and different communities. Additionally, labels can be used to bring groups of people together. However, It is evident that many chose to focus on the negative side of labelling. It can be argued that we are living in a globalised world, driven by a mass monoculture that is generated from the media. It would seem that the media is where many ideas surrounding labels are established, this can be a positive thing as sometimes the media brings to light communities that are often in the dark, thus people can learn about new labels and how to use them correctly. However unfortunately this is rare, as it would seem the media is an institution that generates damaging ideas surrounding labels, as it often stereotypes different individuals and communities.
I think that it is important to reflect on the idea of labelling, as everyone is labelled. Their label may come from the role they play, such as a student or a teacher, or from their age, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, religion. Or simply from a personality trait. Also it is important to look at labelling as we all label others, we can provide a label to anyone we meet and we shouldn't be passive about this idea as labels can having damaging effects, consequently I want to use photography to explore the effects labels can have on people and how we use them to define people.
What do you think about labels?
To begin with I wanted to get a real understanding of how ordinary people felt about the labels within our society. To do this I asked a few of my friends and family what they thought about labels and asked them to film their responses. I asked people of different ages,genders and ethnicities to get a variety of responses. I wanted to to see if they thought labels limited us, or freed us from societies expectations.
Getting people to answer this question was helpful as I got to see a range of viewpoints of what people thought about labels. Hearing it in their own words, was effective as it meant it was an honest response.
I learnt that many focus on the negative side of labels, and feel that labels cause more harm than good as they limit people within society from being themselves.
2. PERSONAL LABELS
Next I wanted to think about my own labels, and see if I could find things in my room that reflect some of the labels that I would give myself.
REFLECTION I thought this task would be easier than it was, as I struggled to label myself as it is something I had not thought about previously. However, I think it was helpful to put myself in the shoes of my future subjects as I will be asking various people to do the same thing.
Next I wanted to simply take standard portraits of friends and family and explore how they label themselves. I asked each subject what are negative and positive labels they associate with themselves, and placed those words around them.
For each image I did not give the subject much direction, I just told them to act in a way that best represents them.
For this development I wanted to explore how people with different sexualities define themselves and how they deal with the labels that they have been called. It is evident that the sexuality spectrum is increasing, as more sexuality types are being introduced. Different sexualities come with various labels, it is evident that some come with more negative labels, and some are judged more. Additionally some are stereotyped more. It is clear that many are limited by their labels in terms of sexuality, but on the other hand coming to terms with their labels can free them of pretending to be something they are not.
ARTIST LINK: JIM GOLDBERG
Jim Goldberg is an American photographer who captures and tells the stories of ordinary people within our society. The Magnum photographer invites his subjects to write all over his photographs as he feels that the text enables people to get their stories across because they are the ones telling them. He began taking these photographs in 1986, when he first moved to San Francisco. He claims his camera was a form of invitation, as it acted as a "free pass" that allowed him to enter near by residents home, as he recognised his camera sparked the interest of people around him. He suggests that his intentions were to open up a discussion with his photographs. Goldberg describes his subjects as invisible. Consequently with his collection of images Goldberg gives individuals a voice that politicians won't listen to. He argues that he feels a sense of responsibility to make these people heard. The handwritten commentary reveals something different in each photograph, from descriptions of the subjects ,or personal stories. Goldberg's portraits reflect on the great inequalities within our society, they are described as artefacts that hark back to a time of great desperation. "I had the idea of having people write their stories on the photographs and, although I didn’t really know what I was doing, that turned out to be something really integral to my practice for 40 years." - Jim Goldberg for Huck magazine
To create the GIF below I opened my selected images onto photoshop and converted each image into its own layer.
I then converted my canvas to a timeline to create moving image.
I then made the canvas bigger for the text to be able fit next to the image. I used to guide tools to split the GIF into two equal parts.
I then added the text my subject gave me, and added this to the overall image
I then saved the image for a web device so that the image would be able to move, once it had been saved.
REFLECTION - Sexuality - What I learnt. From chatting to both of my subjects I learnt that two vital things. My first subject taught me that labels are okay, it seems that many focus on the negative side of labels, however from him I learnt that being labelled can help you come to terms with who you are.
My second subject and I spoke for 5 straight hours about the power that labels have. Her overall argument was that the media is essential when it comes to discussing ideas surrounding labelling. She claimed that the media teaches our generation how and when to use labels. But not all media texts do this well, some media texts create negative stereotypes about labels that cause people to use labels in the wrong way. She also spoke to me about the idea of 'being read'. She claimed that everyone is read in a different way. She argued that this can make people more privileged within society as they will get given less negative labels. For example a mixed race person is not always read as black, thus they are arguably more privileged than those who are black as they will get stereotyped less. This was not a new concept for me but it she was able to put it in a new light with the idea of sexuality. She said that being read as lesbian compared to being read as bi has different impacts although you may act exactly the same.
For this development I wanted to explore the negative labels that are attached to religion , specifically people who identify as Muslim.
It would appear that in today's modern society some media texts perpetuate damaging ideas about people who are Muslim, I find it very interesting how religion is supposed to be a force that unites people, however it would seem that so much conflict can be sparked by people just being Muslim, even if they do not hold radical views that the media try to convince others that they do.
Consequently to demonstrate these ideas photographically I took various portraits of a young Muslim boy. I wanted to place these standard portraits next to negative coverage of Muslims from different media texts. The work below is supposed to express how controversial some of the views the media have promoted about Muslims are, and the portraits below reveal who the media are victimising. I wanted to highlight that some of the people the media are demonising are actually just normal people, such as the subject below, who is a just a student trying to do his A-levels.
REFLECTION - RELIGION - What I learnt?
From this subject I learnt that the negative stereotypes that the media generate can impact real people's lives. It is evident that the media perpetually present people with damaging false views about Muslims, and this can directly impact those who are Muslim. They can be used to form labels that are used to make fun of people's religion and belittle its importance in people's lives. Additionally I learnt that even the ones that are close to us can use labels to make fun of us, or put us down. As possibly they feel that is more acceptable because they know us so well.
5. MENTAL HEALTH
For this response I asked my social media following if anyone experiences mental health problems. I wanted to explore how people with mental health problems feel about the labels that surround mental health. It is evident that many are limited in everyday by being labelled mentally ill. Consequently I wanted to learn more about be labelled mentally and ill and the repercussions this can have.
I asked different people who experiences mental health issues how I should go about trying to represent their ideas and stories, and many suggested that the display of mental health should just be simple, and that the stories and information should come from them.
To create the images below I had an open conversation with my subject about their experiences with mental health and the labels that come with it. I then took standard portraits of my subject and used quotes from the prior conversation and placed them on top of their pictures.
The key here was just to display the subject as a normal person, whilst getting their message across.
REFLECTION - MENTAL HEALTH - What I learnt.
I learnt a lot exploring the labels surrounding mental health as it is a discussion I have not had before as mental health is such a taboo subject. I learnt that being labelled 'mentally ill' is not necessarily a bad thing, it makes people aware that you act in a certain way and helps people to understand your actions. However its the labels that come from stereotypes of mental illnesses that are damaging to those with mental illnesses. It decreases the severity of mental health and shuts down vital conversations that need to be had regarding mental health. Thus I learned not not throw around labels surrounding mental health when someone is not mentally ill. I learn that being labelled mentally ill can limit you in everyday life, as people can treat you differently once they are aware of that label, but the subject above explained that coming to terms with that label brought more good than bad, as it helped explained her actions and thoughts.
Your age is the length of time that a you have existed. It would seem that everyone is obsessed with age, as you get older you continue to reach new milestones in your life. From personal experiences it appears that when you are younger your goal is to try hit the big birthdays until you turn 18. However people who are older focus on not associating themselves with their age.
I think labels surrounding age is interesting to explore as it is something that everyone experiences as everyone does get older, compared to religion as not everyone is religious.
ARTIST LINK: PHILIPPE CHANCEL
Philippe Chancel was born in 1959, and now lives and works in Paris. He took an economics degree at the University of Paris which was followed by a post-graduate diploma in journalism. Chancel's series Rebels' Paris 1982 depicts multiracial gang life in the 80's in Paris. The series follows the Del Vikings, a gang with around 100 members that were all passionate about underground culture, Chancel has claimed that their slogan was "Sex Drug Rock'n'roll and Gomina."
Chancel was around 20 when he first the Vikings, he claims he was drawn to their retro style and their variety of ethnic backgrounds. Additionally he says that the group excepted him because he was young, and confident. Initially the Vikings main concern were dancing, clubbing and hanging out. Thus, many of his photographs depict the young, rebellious gang partying and having fun. However later on their priorities turned to violence.
The series depicts the youthful fun that the gang members had. It brings to light the joy of growing up and young adulthood. The collection of images just reflects the exciting nights out the gang members had and shows them being free, and doing what they want.
RESPONSE Younger Gen vs Older Gen
For this development I have taken pictures of both a group of 18 year olds and 50 year olds on a night out. I wanted to see if the differences in ages would make both parties act differently, or how they would act in similar ways. I chose to photograph both groups on a night out as I felt like these are the times people drop their worries and struggles and forget about the limitations of society. People are just free to have fun.
REFLECTION - AGE - WHAT I LEARNT.
It was apparent that both age groups acted very similar on their nights out, suggesting that many don't let their age limit how much fun they have. It also shows that both groups have the same idea of fun, despite the difference in age.
If I had more time I would photograph a younger group of people or even an older generation of people to see if there would be more of a difference.
Gender is a socially constructed definition of women and men, it defines the cultural differences between males and females.
For this development I wanted to explore the labels surrounding gender. In today's society there are over 100 genders recognised globally, and it seem that many just focus on the obvious two. Consequently, I decided I wanted to steer away from what I have done before and focus on a subject who is transgender. Prior to this I had never photographed someone who is trans, and I felt it is vital to learn about how someone from that community dealt with their label, and the stigmas that come attached to it.
ARTIST LINK: ROSIE MATHESON
In Rosie Matheson's series boys unpicks existing ideas surrounding masculinity as she takes portraits of various boys from London. Her project began in 2015 and is still ongoing. She finds most of her subjects on Instagram, however some of the boys she has photographed have been people she has found in the street.
Her intentions were to steer away from the images of men found in fashion images, she aimed to photograph her subjects in their natural environment. This meant that each subject was photographed in their local area, and wore what they would normally wear on a normal day.
Matheson claims that she prefers to photograph young boys as they tend to not be concerned with styling and makeup, consequently she can just photograph them as they are. Also she has expressed that she find male subjects interesting to shoot as she can make quite confident men look very soft, and vulnerable. Each photo is an honest depiction of the subject in it.
To respond to Rosie Matheson's work I wanted to take close up portraits of a boy. However the boy I chose to capture was a trans man.
I spoke to my subject prior to shooting the photos below and learnt a lot about how he felt about the labels surrounding being transgender. It was evident that there are many everyday struggles when it comes to labels and being trans, however also it is amazing that changing your initial label to become who you truely are is an amazing concept.
" He / Him"
To develop my previous work of my subject I also took pictures of him getting dressed up in his drag queen outfits. It was clear he was apprehensive at first to join a drag queen community due to his "dead gender" (previous gender) but he explained that they took him right in and has began creating various drag queen acts.
SELECTS AND EDITS
REFLECTION - Gender - What I learnt.
Again I spoke to the subject for hours about his labelling experience. He taught me a lot about his experiences being transgender and how he deals with a new label. He taught me its okay to ask questions if one genuinely want to know the answer, and if you're not asking to make fun of an individuals character. However what stuck with me was he spoke about how everyone is different. He claimed you must be careful when speaking to different individuals as everyone has different opinions on labelling, thus you can treat everybody the same way, as something that doesn't offend one person may offend another individual. You have to be sensitive to everyone's experiences and be patient in trying to develop your understanding of someone else's labels. He taught that you should be free to do what ever you want and how you are labelled should not effect what you want to do, such as him being a transgender male doing drag.
Many people would link their ethnicity to their labels. It is common for individuals to link their ethnic background to their labels as different ethnicities provide various cultural aspects which can pave the way in people's lives. Linking labels with ethnicity is key as labels can help build communities were people can freely express their ethnic background. However, negative labels surrounding race are more common than positive ones, as racism is still a huge issue effecting many everyday. Thus I want to explore what is being done to stop racism and how people deal with labels regarding their heritage.
As mentioned earlier negative labels surrounding people's ethnicity are still being used everyday. To respond to this development I decided to go to an Anti Racism march to photograph those who are fighting to eradicate these negative labels and those who are trying to stop and prevent racism.
This short film takes the viewer on a journey that uncovers where my dad is from. I often hear my dad try to explain to people why he is black, but the rest of his family is white. It is a very personal story, but also a very complex one. Consequently I figured making his story a visual one would bring it to life. Additionally, I recognised in our society now people obsess about heritage and where they are from, so I thought it was a relevant topic to explore. It became evident that it was hard for my dad to label himself as he had no idea where he was from, however now he knows more about his heritage he feels more fulfilled as he can label him self accurately.
REFLECTION - Race - What I learnt From exploring the ideas surrounding labels linked with ethnicity I have learnt that for some people, their main labels stem from their heritage. This is because ethnicity can be a huge cultural source for people and impact people's lives greatly from the language they speak, their traditions , mannerisms , clothing and much more. Thus many link their labels to their race as its a way of coming together, its a sign that shows solidarity and unifies different groups of people that share the same values. It is a form of resistance for many as linking their labels to their race can help those who are oppressed, as if you find someone with the same race as you it is easier to relate to them, thus I learnt how important these labels can be. This development focused more on the freedom that labels can bring in terms of race, as many are aware of the negative side of labels linked with ethnicity.
THOUGHT PROCESS SO FAR.
FINAL PIECE - Individual stories
For my final piece I want to combine all of the categories I have explored above and create a piece art that explores different individuals own personal opinions on labels . I want to gain an array of opinions that explore if people think labels free them or limit them. From my developments above I have learnt that I like having a standard portrait that truly represents the subject that is the in the photograph. Alongside this I think it would be effective if each subject wrote down their thoughts on labelling, so viewers can learn each subjects opinion through their own words. This will also be visually effective as everyones handwriting will be different, adding to their personality. I aim to make a diverse piece work that doesn't just look at one aspect of labelling, consequently I will ask an array of 17-18 year olds that have different experiences and unique views on labelling.
My initial idea was to take standard portraits of 20 different subjects and print these 6X4, I would then stick each print onto a board and make it so that each image could be flipped upwards to reveal a piece of writing underneath. However the logistics of this idea made me neglect it as I did not want to bend each image and ruin the print, also to the viewer it could look quite boring as they would just initially be looking at standard prints.
William Klein William Klein is an American film photographer who is ranked 25th out of 100 on the most influential photographers ever. With William Klein's series of contact sheets his intentions are to invite viewers to see photographs in way they are not normally presented. In the documentary above he describes his work as a story, and these contact sheets show his whole thought process to get the final shot. He does this by printing a whole set of images onto one contact sheet so the whole piece becomes a narrative. Klein then began to present his images in a different way, he then started to blow up selections of the contact sheets and presenting them in pairs or by themselves. Then using paint he would then make the photographs stand out even more by painting around the images using a variety of colours. William Klein got this idea as many photographers often circle then chosen shots on a contact sheet so they know what they want to develop; "the idea for colours and graphics comes from the red lines photographers put around their choices and choices on a contact sheet."Ithink doing this makes each image stand out and projects the narrative further as the bold colours contrast with the black and white images that he has captured, bringing even more like to each photograph.
Klein's work explores the selection of a photograph, he is suggesting photographers shouldn't neglect the 'before' and 'after' but appreciate every photo as each image is apart of a journey to get that one key moment. I think this idea is very effective as it allows you to see the build up of getting the shot you want. Additionally, it helps the viewer learn more about the person within the image. It shows the freedom that both the photographer and subject have. For example it shows the freedom the subject has on the way they act, a contact sheet reveals every move they make and how they change their body language and facial expression. Additionally it shows the freedom and choice a photographer has in selecting the perfect photograph, or reveals that they may have limited choice if not all of the photographs are good enough. Jim Goldberg
I want to take further inspiration from Goldberg as I have done above and get my subjects to write out their own views on labels, as I have mentioned before i think it is effective that the subject writes down their thoughts, as it means this is what they truly believe, as their opinion is not hindered by anyone else's thoughts. This gives them the freedom to tell their own stories, from their own point of view, without any interferences.
To take the photographs for my final piece I asked twenty four 17-18 year olds if I could photograph them. I did not give the subjects any direction on how to pose, I asked them to just be themselves as I wanted their portraits to be true representations of them.
I like how you can learn about the subject's personality within the image
However some of the photos are weaker than others in terms of location, but also lighting and focus. Consequently I will not be using all of them in my final piece.
Re-taking some of my images.
I decided to retake some of my portraits as after reflecting on some of them, the composition and lighting was off for a few of my images. Consequently I re-took some of the portraits again to create better portraits that highlight the subjects personality without the distraction of faulty lighting and bad composition.
For the text part of my images I asked people two questions:
What do you think about labels? What are your labels?
I asked each individual to write their first honest answers to either question, I did not want responses to be contrived and altered, as I wanted the answers to be true to each person. This also allowed me to get a variety of responses as people took their answers to the questions in different directions.
EXPERIMENTATION for final piece
On Photoshop I opened up all three elements of my images and then played around with where I placed each layer to create my final idea.
I think this idea is less effective because the contact sheet is missing, and I feel like this is a vital element to the overall image as it gives the viewer an overview of the subject in each frame.
I like this idea as it strays away from conventional ideas of a portrait, as I have layered the contact sheet on top of the portrait and reduced its opacity. But again I do not like how the contact sheet is not clearly visible to the viewer.
I like this idea as it links to Klein's work above. The viewer never gets to see the contact sheet, so it is a different viewing experience for the viewer which is effective. But I still think there should be a main project so the viewer can see clearly who is the final over image is about.
I like this idea as I feel that the coloured borders complements the portrait, however the rest of the layout seems a bit a messy. And it could be hard to find a colour that matches each portrait.
I like this idea as the layout is not straightforward as nothing is symmetrical . However I do not like how the contact sheet is not totally visible to the viewer.
FINAL EDITING PROCESS
After experimenting on Photoshop I felt it was best when you can clearly see all three elements of the image, so I went for a simple layout for my final piece idea.
I think the my final images are effective as they give the viewer a true reflection of each subject, without the viewer having to process loads of information.
If I had more time I would use more borders to neaten the overall photo.
Creating my final piece
To create my final piece I decided that I wanted to put all of the images together so that the viewer could read them all at once, one after the other.
I decided to print my images onto a foam board. But before this I wanted to decide what order the prints should be in , I chose to order them in a way that separates the images by colour. As many of the images had blue backgrounds or blue undertones in them I did not want all of those images to be near each other.
I then got my images on printed on two foam boards.
OVERALL REFLECTION - Freedom and Limitations
Overall it seems that everything is either limited or free in society, or a mixture of both. I think that exploring how things can be free or limited has been an eye-opening task, as it has made me reflect on the fact that we take many small things for granted, because we have always had the freedom to do certain things that others have not been able to. Even just being ourselves. It has made me realise that being a photographer comes with a lot of freedom as we are able to capture our subject matter in any way we want. We have the freedom of being able to change camera types, camera settings, location, subject matter and so much more to get the exact photograph we desire. We have the freedom to craft narratives using photos, to tell people's stories or to tell our own. We have the freedom to photograph the world in a way it has not been seen before. Obviously there are still limits that photographers face but it is very evident that the amount of freedom we have overcomes this. It is clear that we don't need to just use photography to create aesthetically pleasing photographs, in a post modern society we have the choice to make images that that have true meaning.