Friday, 14 November 2014

Portfolio - WK 6 Contextualise and Presentation Questions

Its week 6 and my purpose for doing this project remains the same.  That is to produce beautiful portraits of family and friends.  Throughout this whole process the thing i wanted to emphasis was that my portraits remained true to the subject.  Ultimately I want my subjects to see the beauty that i see in them.  Coming from a culture, maybe even a generation of people which down plays personal successes and self validation.  Being a New Zealand born Samoan there's a heck of a lot of influences which have moulded these ideas.  On top of all that as a youth worker one of the saddest things to see is young people who simply cannot see how beautiful and talented they are.  I guess in some way this is my way of giving those i love an opportunity to affirm themselves.

What is your project about?
This particular grouping of portraits i chose as my final images represent three families, from three ethnic backgrounds.  They are all connected under the umbrella of a blended family.  For this reason i have chosen to name this series: Blended.  It references blended families and the evolution of the traditional family structure.  Each individual brings something to the mix which enriches the flavour of the family unit.

How will these images be viewed?
I have chosen eight portraits for this collection to be printed on Hahnemühle paper A3 size.  They will be arranged in a grid of four.  Below are my portraits.

The portraits are grouped in generations the group on the left are the nieces and nephews and the group on the right are the aunts and uncle.
What do they say about the world?
Blended families deal with a lot of negative undertones from internal and external sources.  The messages which are often portrayed is that blended families are broken or abnormal.  This ideology is echoed through the media, government policies (benefits for families), and even our religions. 
  
How does your presentation affect the viewing of your work?
Using the Hahnemühle paper lifted the images off the paper.  The details and textures are appreciated so much more, especially when viewed close up.  This was evident when the Hahnemühle print was place by the black and white richo print.

Placement of the prints was very important because i didn't want one portrait to over power another.  Each portrait in the grid compliments every other portrait around it.  Placing the portraits in grids give a formal feel to the images.  The formations reinforce clean lines, and order which is influenced by the traditional classic look which i wanted my portraits to appear.


Thursday, 13 November 2014

Digital Technology 2 - Wk 3 Exercise: Richard Mosse Interview

Richard Mosse is a photographer filmmaker who focuses on war-torn regions.  He captures images of the landscapes and people who live within these regions.  Our task was to watch his interview and answer the following questions.  Here is a link to the Richard Mosse interview on youtube.  


  • History of war photography
  • Fine art, documentary, photojournalism genres
  • Photos of Eastern Congo, people and tribes in conflict
  • Historical framework (war of Eastern Congo)

What genre does Richard Mosse's The Enclave fit into?
Documentary, War and contemporary fine Art
What is the history that relates to this project?
Enclave = Eastern Congo on the boarder of Rwanda and Uganda.  In the mid 90's the Rwanda genocide happened, the tribes who commited the genocide fled west into Congo.  This whole group has destablized East Congo.
Is there anything in his own history that influences this work?
Since his early 20s he had been visiting spots like the Enclave.  Referring to this as his art practise.  He was bought up in a peaceful village called Bennetts Bridge in Ireland.  Indirectly he was affected by the conflict which was happening in North Ireland during the 80's.  He also references his family's connection with being Quackers as having an influence on his work.
Why did he choose to use the Kodak infared film for the project?
The Kodak Aerochrome is an infrared suveillance film used for military purposes.  It renders greens into pinks and reds.  This was used to uncover camoflauged installations from the air.  All healthy plants or greenery would reflect back as pinks and reds while non organic matter would absorb the colour and be revealed.  In the same way Richard wanted to make visible this "very overlooked conflict".
How does the use of this film fit into the documentary genre?
Richard spoke about the conflicts in Eastern Congo, being a "cancerous cycle of vicious little wars, which is really hard to understand".  His use of the film, works to emphases an experience of the conflicts which he had, giving viewers a taste of what these conflicts have on its people and environment.  
How many times has he been to the Eastern Congo for this project?  Why do you think he has been back so many times?
Richard Mosse has been back eight times over four years.  Richard speaks about this lack of trace, with all the horror and violence happening in Eastern Congo.  I feel that the reason that he is drawn back is to give a voice for the people who can't share their stories.
What justification does he have for creating such beautiful images to represent such horrific events?  
It's a way to connect with the view.  Beautiful images are attractive in doing so he is able to also challenge them to think deeper about his work and the realities of what happens in war torn countries.
Why would he be criticized for this?  How does this differ from other war photographers you have see
He would be criticized for not producing images which reflect the obvious devastation of war ie. dead bodies or mutilated figures.  Richard shared an experience of choosing not to film a group of people who had been slaughtered with machetes and spears, he said that it was too much.  His photography which would be different from others is by using the 16 millimeter motion picture film which is associated by advertising,music videos or MTV.

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Digital Technology 2 - Wk 3 Contextualise a photograph by someone else

Graham Billing, Writer
Who took the photo and Why?
The photographer is Reg Graham (1930-2007), this photo is part of a project he began in 1993.  His work consists of portraits of New Zealanders in the arts predominately.
What is his ethnicity and does this influence the work?
He is European.  I'm not sure if this influenced his work but the majority of his subjects are of European descent.
When and where did they take this photo?
This photo was taken in Graham Billing's hotel balcony in 1998
What are his political beliefs and are these relevant to the work?
I could not find anything regarding his political beliefs however he was a passionate supporter of the arts which suffered a lot of funding issues for people and organisations in the arts.  He photographed shows and did publicity photographs for theatres.
What was his social status and background and how does this relate to his subject matter?
Reg Graham spent most of his life in education.  He taught in schools and colleges of education.
In what decade or century was the work taken? Does this influence your reading of this work?
Reg Graham started this project in 1993 and published his book (Click, Portrait of New Zealanders) in 2006.  The portraits highlight the styles, norms and fashion of the time (90's).  The images have a natural feel about them, before photoshop, filters and all the fancy technical vices we have available today.  The quality isn't as sharp or refined which takes a bit of getting use to, especially because my eye is so use to digital images.
Were there events happening at the time that may have influenced this work?
?
How is the work presented?
As a book titled: Click Portraits of New Zealanders published in 2006 by Longacre Press, Dunedin, New Zealand.
Where are you viewing this work and how does this affect your reading of it?
In the privacy of my home, its comfortable for me because i'm in my own space and i can take my time going through the images and doing research into his subjects if i am interested in their stories.

Saturday, 8 November 2014

Wk 6 - Portfolio presentation the saga continues

KILL me NOW!!!.... times ticking and i'm still trying to figure out my portfolio final edits.  This week i decided to cancel any further photo shoots i had in mind (i had about five people lined up!).  I have a good body of portraits to work with, so now its just a matter of what's going to go up and whats not.

After going to the wall and seeing the possibilities, I've been milling over whether i want to present six photos or more.  Money is the main player in this game so i have to be very considered as to what i want to do.  The last thing i want is to produce work that looks and feels unfinished or lacking in something.  I remember seeing the work from last semester and being really inspired to produce a solid body of work.  At the end of the day, i want to be proud of the work i do and i want people to see the effort that I've gone through to present it.  It's not just a tribute to me but to all those who have participated in this project with me.

Below are my experiments regarding my final presentation:
The wall i'm using is 255cm x 234 cm - This is an arrangement of 10 portraits
 I edited two photos because Tua's photo was too large (bottom left) in comparison to the rest of the group.  The second photo of Taga's, in comparison to the rest of the group, her photo didn't quite fit (second row, right).
 I bought back Tua into the second row.  Her and Montel sit well side by side and Montel sits well by Fou.  The grouping still doesn't seem right though.  There are some photos which work well together because of lighting or because they balance out each other, but as a whole it doesn't seem to work.


Just playing around with the order again!! hehehe I feel Tua's photo seems to over power the others and Chris looks tiny beside her.  I'm really liking Fou's photo, its reminiscent of the Mona Lisa.
I think i like this alot.  Had a good debate with the family about the different layouts and photos.  I found that i had pretty much chosen the images i wanted to present.  My justifications were that although they were all individually strong photos on their own, as a group they exist to support one another.  In this formation, i feel that no one image takes over the other.  The outer images cradle the images in the centre.

Wk 5 - Portfolio

I've been asked to consider how i would like to present my portfolio.  If i had the time and finances i would present my final work as an A3 embossed book.  The reason for this is because my photos are personal pieces.  I think that having the photos in a book provides a sense of intimacy and personalize each portrait.  The book requires the viewer to get up close to the portraits; while also giving them the opportunity to reflect over the images at their own pace.

Framing was another option.  I really liked how Allan McDonald's photo were framed.  The framing allowed people to get close up to the works, it was consistent and reinforced the lines which appeared throughout the photos.

Research:
  • Cost of printing at MIT ranges from $60 - 1 metre of double weight matte, glossy or photo paper or $100 - 1m for Hammulher paper (Fine Art print paper)
  • Binders - University Binders Cost for binding is about $66 however as i was binding under 10 prints they were not that keen to take it on.  The person i spoke to said that they could definitely do it but its time consuming and they don't really make any money on it
  • Framing - Basically you get what you pay for! Factory frames: At the lowest end $69 A3 frame with standard glass, $87 A3 frame with non reflective glass, $100 A3 frame with uv protection glass, $107 with standard glass with acid free mat - 
Portraiture research
Photographers i've research to see where i fit into this genre: - 
  • Sally Mann -  "Most of the pictures I take are of the things I love, the things that fascinate and compel me" - 
  • John Miller (South Africans vs All blacks) - documentary photographer and film maker.  He has a strong focus on Maori political history.  His images are shot on location, showcasing the people in their environments.  His photos show his subject quite up close and frame significant protests and events in New Zealand history.
  • Thomas Ruff (portraits) Shot in studio between 1981 and 1985.  His photos are photographed in a similar way, formal passport looking images with the upper edge of the photos situated just above the hair using even lighting.  
  • Cecil Beaton (portrait photographer, produced glamour photos shot in monochromatic film) -  renown for photographing his subject with unusual poses and backgrounds.  His work focused on cultural icons of his day documenting its famous, beautiful, fashion and intriguing figures.
Portrait photography and how my photos fit into the genre -   They are shot in the studio and are known as traditional or classical portraiture.  The purpose of a portrait is to depict a visual representation of the subject.  Common portraits have subjects looking directly into the camera.  Portraits can include head shots, two thirds or full body frames.

My photos are studio portraits.  They consist of mainly head shots.  My subjects have a variety of poses which maybe directed formal shots or playful, unaware shots.  My main focus is to capture a photo which which show cases the essence of the subject.

In terms of photographers who i can relate with, i would say Sally Mann is a photographer i really admire.  In preparation for her exhibition of Proud Flesh she wrote an essay for Conscientious to contextualise her work.  As much as i would love to be able to capture a photo that i believe represents the essence of a bit person.  This body of work definitely nails it.  She challenges us to look, and not be ashamed of sharing the truth.  This  highlights the depth of her art and the strength of her photographic voice.  In terms of my photography, i'm definitely at the beginning of my journey.  I love the photos that i have and the opportunities that photography has afforded me.  I still can't believe how much i have learnt or experienced over this short period.  Being a part of this course has provided me with a huge number of firsts ie: experience working with lighting, photographing in a studio, learning from experienced teachers and meeting amazing Top New Zealand photographers!.  The more i learn, the better my photography will get and the closer i will get to capturing photos which truly represent my subjects.

Cecil Beatons portraits have a classic symmetrical feel about them.  The composition of the subjects are quite linear, he uses a lot of lines and patterns in his photos.  In his works, the eyes are an integral element to the photos, this brings an intensity to the subject.  I love how elaborate his photos can be, which is reflective of his theatrical costume design background.  He has an eye for connecting with the subject to bring out vulnerable moments on film.
I'd love to delve into Cecil Beaton's work a lot more, he was a master at composing shots using props and varied backgrounds which i would really like to experiment more with.  My photos rely on lighting for the background, which works with the effect that i wanted.  I chose this lighting effect mainly because it aids in bringing the subject out more.  Defining spaces in the photo emphasises where everything sits in relation to each other.

These two artists are almost worlds apart.  One records personal portraits of family and friends and the other showcases the beauties of those in elite positions.  They both have made an impression on me in terms of my photography and where i wish to be.  From Sally Mann it is her need to define exactly how she portrays her subjects which really interests me.  I am both challenged and fascinated by her unconventional approach in a minimal setting.  As for Cecil Beaton, i love the glamour portraits with elaborate props and backgrounds.  With my own work, i'd say i sit between these two - I shoot portraits of people that i am closely connected using classic poses, lighting for that dramatic effect and in black in white to keep the focus on the subject.

Friday, 7 November 2014

Aaron K

Aaron K - Commercial fashion photographer

Research:
Aaron K is an advocate for photographers to maintain copyright of their images.  As executive director of AIPA he shared some important information regarding our rights and various resources we can access to ensure that we retain control over how and where our images used.  Here is a link to the AIPA website.

Cecilia and I put together an invoice for a job we did photography food for MIT School of hospitality.  Prior to the job, we did not get any formal agreement on paper, which Aaron say's should be the first port of call.  This job was done before our meeting with Aaron K, so the invoice was just an indication of what we did and what the school had offered us.

I think that as a student having these precautionary measures outlined early on will ensure that you are not taken advantage of or that your work is not used in ways which may compromise your values or ethics.

Experimentation:
In terms of my portfolio, i really liked Aaron K's portrait of Hollie Smith.  I liked how he captured her.  She is not looking at the camera, with her arms showing her tattoos.  She looks really quite vulnerable, appearing quite thoughtful and relaxed.
Below is a photograph of my nephew.  With this photo i captured my nephew i continued to use the same photographic techniques which i use for my portfolio.  In this photo my nephew is reflecting on his grandfather.  His tattoo is the name of his grandfather who had passed away some years ago.  Similar to Aaron K's photo of Hollie Smith, i wanted to use my subjects the position of his arms and hands to lead the eye to the face.  There are a lot of triangles in Aaron's photo which can been seen in her tattoos.  These adds interest.  I also wanted to draw some attention to my subjects tattoo as a part of who he identifies with.   

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Portfolio Wk 6 - presentation ideas

My plan for printing this week has been halted because i have two options in mind.  Last week i was really pushing to get some tests prints done so that i could make a decision on which paper to print on.  The four images i chose were ones that i thought signified the vision of my work.  This is to produce images which showed the nature of my subjects.  An embodiment of their personality, from my perspective.  These four images were strong edits i thought, and captured a side to my subjects well, these came out of a natural flow and connection in the studio.  In terms of paper i have chosen the Hammulher paper, mainly because i like the warm tones that it gives to the black and white images.  I also like the defined details in the textures which elevate the photos when they're viewed up close.  The test printing was valuable because i was able to see the images on the prints, which gives me a better perspective as to how the work will be viewed close up.

I got on the buzz of presenting my work as they are shown below, i really like the impact that the eyes had on the print, which is not that obvious in the larger image of the subject.  I decided to print each image on an A3 paper, because on reflection i felt that the images worked better as individual pieces and the framing of the previous format was distracting and took away from the vision of my work.  It was a spur of the moment thing which didn't quite gain much traction in the end.  I feel that to really appreciate the images i want the viewer to be able to get up close and be captivated by the inner beauty of my subjects.

Presentation Idea - The images are printed as one piece, framed by the eyes of each subject



Option 2 - I have 10 images that i have chosen, at the moment its all about how i want them to be placed on to the wall.  The area where my images will sit on is on a large wall dimensions to be measured with a lot of natural light flooding in from the ceiling and the entrance way on the left.  The wall is in the shape of a triangle.  Below are possible presentation ideas i have been playing with.
 These are the images i have selected, there are 10 portraits to work with.

This is an animation of different photo arrangements i took with my tablet.  I chose a different photo for Pela (smiling photo) to a high angle close up shot.  I changed it because her previous photo didn't seem to fit into the grouping of photos which i had.  I feel this shot brings another element of expression to the collection.
These are the six photos that i'm liking at the moment.  I think that they sit well together.  I like how the top row sits.  The position of the top three look three dimensional, which adds depth to images as a row.  This easily moves the eye from one photo to the other.  The bottom three, i'm still undecided about, i like how the brightness of the light matches each other.  The movement from one photo to the other seems to go in one direction.  It seems a bit unbalanced because Pela (bottom right) appears larger because her portrait is close up while the other two seem to withdraw to the back.

I did a practise print on the richo printers so that i could see how the photos would look on the wall.  I decided to change the middle photo.  I thought that this photo fitted well.  It looks visually balance.  As a grouping i feel like these portraits compliment each other.  I'm still considering their arrangement, but i'll let them sit on the wall for a bit and see how it goes.