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.

  • 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

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.

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.

Allan McDonald and Contextualisation

McDonald is interested in the role of photography as an archival tool, and believes it is important for photographers to chronicle their specific time and place. This idea "goes back to photographers like Eugene Atget, a Parisian photographer of the late 19th and early 20th century. He was the model of a particular type of photographer who records and documents things about to disappear because of the forces of change. I align myself with that role and feel a part of that tradition."
From the article A cry for protection from The NZ Herald.

Allan McDonald Talk
Genre: Documentary photography, Street photography and Fine Art.
Ideas which are present in his works:
The Unstable City -

  • The theme of these works came out of the Christchurch earthquakes and the issues which arose during 2010 and 2011.  
  • His aim is to document or shoot images which are quite historic.  
  • Using this as narratives to develop thinking about what may have been or is to come 
The freedom farmers show / Relocations and demolitons
  • The images in these shows represent the opposite of what the home represents - stability, comfort, the central unit for families.  
  • Allan shared that the tension between the two was what he found interesting.
How do you as the viewer respond to his images?
Prior to Allan's visit, i didn't really find his images that appealing.  I didn't relate to the concept behind the images, the structures appeared quite dull and stagnant.  When he shared his approach of finding material as well as the conceptual context that the images reflected i could appreciate the images so much more.   I was able to understand why it interested him.  I chose the photo above because i liked how resilient the building appears, although it has been stripped right back, it seems to stand as if is unwilling to fall.  
Research of genre and how it relates to my work
I looked into the genre of documentary photography.  It is seen as the collecting or chronicling of significant or historical events as well as everyday life.  Allan spoke about the influences of Bernd and Hillas who are widely acclaimed for their extensive series of photographic images which they names typologies.   They started shooting typologies from 1956.  The common themes which they share is the use of images to portray the environment in which their subjects live in.  The Becher's body of work became iconic because they were records of structures that were slowly being replaced by modern architectures and landscapes.   Allan references the Becher's by producing works in series, as well as sharing the idea of structures which no longer fit the constrains of its evolving environment.  In terms of relevance to my own work, i would say that with my portfolio i am capturing a series of portraits of people that are very dear to me.  They represent my environment, values and also are a strong reminder of who i am and where i come from.  I believe that the works of all these artists reflect that in there works.

I wanted produce a series of photographs which chronicled the demolishing of my old church.  The site which the church sits on also housed the primary school; this has been flattened to make way to new homes.  

St Annes Catholic church opened 29 May 1927
St Annes Catholic Church was opened by the Archbishop of Auckland, James Liston, on 29th May, 1927. It was not until 1947 that a local Priest was appointed to the Church, when Father Michael O'Carrol arrived and the Manurewa Parish was created. In 1957 St Annes was extended to treble the size and a seating plan of 400, by a building placed around the old structure.

Below are my photos of the front building over three days.  At the moment the church is being stripped of all its good parts.  Once all that is done the demo team will come in and flatten the structure.  It may not be a significant event for some, but the building holds a lot of memories and historical value to all associated with the church.  In these photos i tried to included the rubble in the front, similar to that of Allans photo above.

These photo show the progress made each day as the roof is dismantled.  I wished that i had taken a photo at the same spot so that the progress could be seen clearly.  Each time i visited i felt as if i was saying goodbye to an old friend.  Its an eerie feeling to be standing in front of a structure as its being dismantled and broken down.  At the moment the weather has affected the work that has been happening at the site so the building sits idle as it waits for the final blows.

Friday, 24 October 2014

Portfolio Choosing the images - Wk 4

My plan is to do tests prints next week.  I have completed shooting four models.

Selecting images which reflect my vision:

The direction of my photography continues to follow the same ideas that i expressed in my earlier blog regarding showcasing the "essence" of my subjects; through my eyes.  The photos above show off the special traits of each of my models.

Pela - Is the reflection of beauty, creativity and vulnerability.  People who don't know her think that shes intense or stand offish, but to those who know her well, theirs something about her which sets her apart.  This photo celebrates happiness and life.

Paris - Is a blooming flower.  She's still very young, and is facing a lot of real world challenges.  She's part of the social media generation, who are constantly engulfed in the cyber world.  She has a long road ahead of her and i am excited and hopeful for her.  This photo celebrates the coming of age.

Pata - Epitomizes the word strength.  She reminds me so much of my mother.  She is selfless, dedicated, loyal and loving.  I admire her and am inspired by the person she is.  This photo celebrates patience and hope.

Chris - Is one of the most adorable, loving and loyal people i know.  Hes solid, very vocal and pretty much tells it like it is.  If anything this guys is who you want to stand beside you in a brawl!  This photo celebrates authenticity and truth.

Sitting with the photos:

These are photos of my prints hanging in the hallway.  I really like how sit on the wall.  I chose to arrange the photos in this order, because the photos looked visually balanced. There is a natural curved movement where the eye can move easily from one photo to the other.  Also i thought that the images on the ends framed the collection well.
Doing test prints:
Next week i will do test prints and see how these photos translate on double weight matte and hahnemuhle paper.  

Wk 4 Sara Orme Response

Sara Orme
Commercial photographer
Photography influences - Art history referencing paintings
Passion for sociology, documenting and narratives
Always looking for the unconventional

  • Don't be complacent
  • Collaborate (learning and working with others)
  • Never let gear stop you from moving forward
  • Think about your concepts (reference to history, classical paintings or portraits etc...)
  • Challenge yourself and your subjects (push out of the comfort zone)
  • You're the boss, its your vision take ownership of your shoots
  • Be aware with whats happening in the world
    • Try to stay relevant, keep reinventing
How Sara's advice relates to my photography
The thing that really struck a chord in me is her commitment to challenge herself.  I really admire her commitment to understanding what's going on around her.  Especially as she works within an ever changing environment (fashion photography).  From my end what i would practise is to reflect as much of my subject as i can.  Not get to comfortable with using the same easy techniques such as lighting set ups or poses; but to consider who my subject is and what there world is like.  

My response -
Above is photos that i shot of my nephew mimicking a photoshoot i was doing.  He jumped up onto the stool and started posing.  I was able to snap some shots of him before he got bored and walked away.

These photos are my responses to Sara Orme's series titled floating.  I choose these because they use similar elements -

  • Single subject
  • Contrast (Black and White - Shadow and light)
  • Sara's subject is suspended in the air, my subject is elevated by a stool
These photos share a common thread with my portfolio.  They are photos of a subject which i have a close connection with.  The subjects characteristics are evident, mirroring my portraits where i aim to capture the essence of the person i am photographing.  Another aspect which these photos share with my portraits is that light is the most essential part of the photo. The light highlights the contrast in these photos the background has detail and the subject does not where as in the portraits my subjects are place in front of a solid background while they are lit up  where you see the details of their faces.  

My lil Peter Pan - homage to Sara Orme

Sara Orme - Photo from her series Floating

Friday, 17 October 2014

Portfolio Wk 3 Photo shoots

Wk 3 (13 Oct – 17 Oct)

Portfolio progress
What have i done this week?
  • Confirmed shoots this week for three models.  Two females (Pata and Paris) and one male (Chris).  
  • I have organised two hairdressers to come in and do my females hair
  • I have taken practise shots of my model Cecilia, who i will shoot at a later date.  I did the practise shots similar to my previous model.  Using outdoor lighting and experimented with different angles.  I also tried taking photos just above her eye line.  From this shoot, i was able to use the photos to research different poses which would be flattering for her.  Her eyes are very sensitive and she often squints in bright light or whenever she is tired.  One of the things that she was concerned about was appearing washed out or tired in her photos.  I will be sure to organise a time with her when she is well rested and using some make up to even out her skin tone and frame her eyes.  Below is the contact sheet of practise shots i took with Cecilia.  

Photo shoots
With these photo shoots there was alot of organisation which was needed.  The first thing i made sure to have was an assistant.  I drew up a schedule for the day and briefed her on how the day would run.  This was the plan for the day:

9am - Set up Studio (Cecilia and I)
  • 3 point lighting 
  • Side light with snoot
930am - Set up dressing room for make up and hair - use moving image studio (Cecilia to set up)
  • 2 x hair and make up students
  • 2 x models
  • Table to equipment
  • Extension chords and multi plug
945am - Set up food station (Sepa)
  • Sandwiches
  • Fruits
  • Water bottles
10am - Male model shoot (Sepa)
12pm - Break
1230pm - Hair and make up to arrive (Cecilia to supervise)
1pm - female models to arrive
2pm - Photo shoot with females
4pm - End of photo shoots - clean up (Cecilia - Moving image studio, Sepa - Photography studio)
5pm -  lock up and leave

The vision for the shoot was to capture a classic glamour look, however after my first shoot i decided to change that to a more personalised photo of each model.  With that in mind, I met with my female models to discuss how they wanted their hair done.  Seeing as i had already organised hair dressers i thought id check in with my models to see what hair styles they would like to have.  These were the examples they selected:
Here is a photo of the moving images studio where the girls had their hair done:

Here are my models with the hairstyles:
What worked?

  • Having an assistant.  It was a full on day, i had three models to shoot as well as the hairdressers.  Not to mention setting up and pack down the studios.
  • Having a plan.  Without it we would be in complete chaos.
  • Collaborating.  Being able to call on other students within MIT.
  • Experimenting with lighting, different shots and angles.  This allowed my subjects enough time to relax in front of the camera giving me strong photos which i could potentially use for my final portfolio presentation

What did not work?

  • Not placing the light on the right place of the subjects face.  This was resolved by raising the model light so i could see where the light was sitting before taking the photo.
  • Not checking to see if the back light was visible in the photo before snapping a shot
  • The model's hair looked as though she had another face on the side of her head.  I didn't really notice this until i viewed the photos on my computer
  • Having an open photo shoot.  The hair dressers had asked to stay on and watch the shoot, due to my lack of experience i had agreed.  This turned out to be a challenge because whilst the hair dressers was in the studio my model did not feel comfortable telling me she did not like her hair style and that she wanted to actually take it out.
What next?
  • Definitely have a CLOSED photo shoot next time - no extras unless the model requests it.  Having people in the studio was distracting to my models as well as for me.  It was a good lesson for me, because i know now why this is important.  

Digital Technology 2 - Wk 3: Questions for Portfolio project

What were you thinking about when you made this work?
I wanted to challenge myself and do something that would involve people.  I thought about how these images would be received by those i photographed, and i wanted to produce images which they would not commonly have in their homes; but most importantly images which they would appreciate and be proud of.

I chose black and white photos because there's a quality and skill to producing really beautiful black and white photos which i wanted to try.  I also like the idea of neutralizing the images so that the subjects consume or own every part of the photo.

What was going on in the world and did any of these events influence your thinking at the time?
A common theme in the media is poverty, especially in South Auckland.  I feel for all those out there struggling to make ends meet.  I'm so thankful for the sacrifices my mom went through to invest in our lives.  My sisters and i are so lucky and thankful for everything shes done for us.  She taught us a lot of lessons about faith, love and perseverance.  It's not easy, and sometimes its difficult to see the beauty in the little things in life.  It's taxing on peoples spirits.

I am very fortunate to have this opportunity to take photos for friends and family, especially these types of portraits, which wouldn't normally sit in our homes.  That's probably the most exciting thing about this project; that is to be able to produce something that would be too costly to get done professionally.  If i was to weigh up $100 worth or groceries or getting a portrait done, the groceries would win hands down.
What photographic genre and subgenre does your work fit into?
Editorial > Life > Portraiture
The photos i have taken are close up head shots.
Who are your photographic influences?

  • Yousuf Karsh: An amazing photographer who photographed portraits of significant figures in the 20th century.  His photos showcase a different perspective of subjects who have been capture quite extensively.
  • Sue Bryce:  A renown glamour portrait photographer who shoots the majority of her work using natural light.  Her photos are exquisite and draws on the assets of her subjects.
What ideas or techniques do you take from these photographers into your own work?
I will be shooting in black and white.  I will be experimenting with lighting both natural and studio lights.  I will also be considering the type of backgrounds whether to use lighting, backdrop or natural surroundings.

I will also be looking at angles which work with different bone structures, shapes and features.  I will be shooting close up photos, so i will be paying attention to how the light sits on my subjects face as well as varied contrast from textures and tones.

Are you influenced by artists working in other disciplines?
At the moment ive been looking at paintings of Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn and Leonard Da Vinci.  I've been looking at their paintings to reference the lighting techniques and portraiture compositions.

Monday, 13 October 2014

Portfolio Wk 3

There has been so much to consider in regards to my portfolio.  Although i am focusing on individual photos, i am also practicing group portraits.

Last week i did my first photo shoot with my model, which was exciting and daunting.  Thank goodness my model is my sister!!  During the shoot i gave my model alot of direction which seemed very foreign to my model who commented on how awkward the poses felt.  The main poses that i suggested was to sit up straight, pull her head right up and bring her chin forward.  This is a high angle shot where i used Rembrandt lighting.  This was achieved using the back light with a honeycone snoot.  This is a great angle for her, you can see the contours of her cheeks which is emphasized by the high angle and the shadow which has been cast by her nose.  Her pose gives a sense of strength with a coyness that is seen in her eyes.

f/8.0, 1/13, ISO 100
f/8.0, 1/13, ISO 100
This is my favourite photo, it captures her personality and playfulness .  My model is relaxed with me, she is framed well with the shadows which gives her face an oval shape.  The shadow which is casted under her neck works well to cover up any excess skin.  Her neck is also extended which exectuates her face even more.  There is a bit of catch light in her eyes which adds life to the subject.
f/8.0, 1/13, ISO 100

What do i like about these photos?
I like how the shadows frame her face.  I like how the light sits on her face, illuminating her eyes and softening her cheeks, forehead and jaw.  I like the shapes which are made by the light and shadows change the mood of the image.  The first photo which uses Rembrandt lighting emits a sense of mystery or playfulness.  The second photo using loop lighting captures emphases her smile especially in her eyes and the third photo has a more direct, semi intensity about it.

What worked?
Doing my homework before going into the studio.

  • I did the practise shoots, so i knew what angles worked for my model
  • I had an idea of what types of photos i wanted - Classic poses (check out photos posted of Adele, Elizabeth Taylor, Audrey Hepburn etc...), the lighting that i need for those photos
  • Directing my model was really good, because i knew what i wanted my model trusted me and was able to follow instructions
What didn't work?
I really need help with my photo shoot.  I assumed that the experience in the studio i had, with my ONE other photo shoot was enough.  What i didn't factor in was that i had an assistant (Cecilia) who looked after the lighting while i concentrated on nailing the shot.  Wowzers EGO hit!  The shoot that i estimated to be only an hour actually took about three or four hours because:
a) we all came in together, so they had to wait until i set up
b) while i was shooting i had to constantly stop to move around the lights
c) i had suggested to my sister to bring in the kids, so that i can photograph them when her shoot was done (wrong move!)
d) once the shoot was done, they had to wait as i packed down the studio and sweep and mop the cyclorama

What i did however to compensate was take some great shots.  Actually show her the really stunning photos i shot of her, as well as shouted them all a feed.

What next?
At the moment i will be going through the photos to see which photos i like and start envisioning how this portfolio is going to take shape.  Next i am looking to approach my next models to organise photo shoots with them.

From these photos, the classic glamour portraits that i was wanting to emulate became less and less appealling.  This was because as i was going through my photos i was recognising different characteristics or personality traits of my subject.  I really love the photo of Pela laughing.  This was a great shot because it captured a moment in the shoot where she was expressing an emotion that was not directed or staged.  I do want to retain the classic portrait element in my photos.  How i think that can be done is by shooting in black and white.  Not only will this add depth and interest but it has an authenticity to them.  I see it as relieving the eye from the distractions of colour, stripping away an element which we have been so accustomed to.  I really want the viewers to see my portraits and identify with my subjects.  I want them to share in a moment where they get to see my subjects the way i see them.