Assignment 5 – Making it up

For this assignment, we were asked to create e a standalone image of our choice. To draw upon the skills we have learnt so far, including various forms of narrative, putting you in the picture and telling stories and reading images. The only stipulation is to produce work hat is controlled and directed by one.

For this assignment, we need to control the props, lighting, models, location etc. to contribute to the overall meaning of the image.

My first thoughts on this brief were to recreate famous movie scenes with action figures but I felt in order to develop this further, I wouldn’t be able to make significant imagery and narrative to make it successful. On further thoughts, I decided to use the idea from an earlier assignment of ‘putting myself in the picture’. I enjoyed developing this creativity that was used in the self-portrait for Assignment 3, and felt that I could put a lot of emotion into this piece of work.

I have struggled with my weight and body image for as long as I can remember and felt that it would be successful if I could put some personal emotions into this brief. Body image is something that is widely talked about both within media and most social circles and is something that most people can relate to in some way.

For the image I wanted to create, I needed enough space where I had access to a full length mirror and room to set up a tripod for a camera to get the self-portrait I needed. I would also need to ensure that there was a minimal amount of distraction so that all focus could be on the subject itself. In the area that I was going to take the shot, there was not a large amount of available light, and so I would need to attach a flash on top of my camera.

Once I had the placing of the camera and the settings correct, it was a matter of getting my posture and emotion right to convey this to the audience. I wanted to ensure they could see the sadness on my face, and make it believable. I also wanted to have myself just in my underwear, so that I could make the image as stripped back and less distracting as possible, and make it easier for the post production process.

Once I looked at the selection of images on the back of the camera, and felt like I had captured what I needed to, I began the post production process. Taking into account the above, I narrowed it down to my final image. I used the cloning tool on Photoshop to edit out the door on the right hand side of the image, the shelf on the left, the photograph on the right and to do general tidying of the image. I then began the process of editing out the reflection; slimming down of the belly area, the arm, the legs, and adding a curvature to my back. I added extra shadowing on the reflection to make parts look slimmer, and shadowing to the ‘real’ me to make certain areas look bigger. Finally, I made the image into black and white to again strip the image right back and make it feel as raw as possible.

Although the idea and the set up for this final photograph was simple, I think it has been successful in conveying the imagery I was trying to achieve. The feeling of wanting to be skinnier, and not being happy with the skin you are in. I feel that people will be able to relate to this image. I feel that the simplicity of this image allows for the emotion to speak for itself without any distractions.

Think Thin

Assignment 5 – Choosing the final image

For my initial shots for this assignment, I made sure I got the correct lighting and positioning of both myself and my camera (and tripod). Once I had achieved that, it was a case of position myself and getting the emotional look on my face and my posture correct in order to obtain the final image that I wanted to achieve.

As you can see from the contact sheets below, I tried many combinations in order to get the best shot.

I then narrowed this down to my favourite three based on the emotion conveyed in my expression, my posture and stance and the positioning of the camera that gave the most successful photos. Of which was the following three:

From these three final images, I chose the best and proceed to edit it. In the post production process, I edited out the shelf on the left of the image, the door and the photo on the right hand side. I then proceeded to slim down the reflection, by using the cloning tool on Photoshop, slimming the belly area, the arm , the legs, and the adding a curvature to my back. I then added extra shadowing throughout to make areas look slimmer and some areas look larger. I then made the whole photo into black and white as I feel that strips it down to the raw emotion of the image.
Below shows the original image, the editing in colour, and then the final image in black and white;

 

Assignment 5 – Set up and initial shots

To set up the final shot for this Assignment, I needed to ensure I was in a space where I could have access to a full length mirror.

For me, this was in my hallway. The lighting wasn’t great so I knew I would need to use a flash to get an even light coverage. As it was a self-portrait, I would also need to set up a tripod with the camera on top at a high enough level to get be able to get a full length shot.

Below are the photos of the set up I had to take my final shots:

 

Assignment 5 – Further research

Following on from my research into photographers that use body image in their photos. I wanted to create an emotive image that would speak to a wide audience ho may be suffering from their own body confidence issues.

After a quick google search, I feel I am going to try to recreate something similar to the following images, but in reverse, baring in mind that what people want to see in the mirror is not always there.

Assignment 5 – Research

Developing on from the idea of using the issue of weight and body image, I have undergone the following research.

 

Jen Davis a New York based photographer. For the eleven years,she worked  on her project that tracks her weight loss journey, covering issues about beauty, identity and body image. Throughout the series, you see her change in weight but also (and more importantly) you see her emotions within the photographs. Many of the photographs, she looks awkward, insecure and unhappy. This is clearly a woman who has struggled with her size for a long time, and this use of self portraiture creates a personal and effective viewpoint for the audience.

In an interview with The Telegraph, Davis says “For a long time I was taking photographs and they were always to do with the body, or loneliness, or desire. But I was never really comfortable putting myself in front of the camera” (Salter, 2017). I think this is a problem that a lot of people have, not just photographers. Many people feel very self-conscious with having their photos taken, in a worry that they will not ‘look their best’. However, by being able to show a vulnerability in a photograph allows for a more emotive end result.

 

 

Steve and I (2006)

“In some self-portraits she looks into the camera as if asking it a question, or confronting its gaze. In Steve and I (2006) she sits wrapped in a blanket, a man lying on the bed next to her. She stares at the camera as if she’s questioning its right to be there, to document her loneliness” (Salter, 2017). By Davis looking at the camera in this way, she is directly connecting herself to her audience, in an almost uncomfortable way as though you should not be looking into her sadness.

 

 

Davis’s self-portraits are unusual not just for their intimacy and honesty, but also for the simple fact that we don’t see women of her size in pictures very often – much less women who are willing to bare so much flesh while being far from the body type usually seen in magazines. Davis says she can understand why they have struck a chord with women who ‘even if they’re not my size still have an insecurity about… how they look’ (Salter, 2017). This is an important comment in that this is how a lot of women (including myself) feel, and I think that by having this feeling in my subconscious, I will be able to create a powerful image for my final assignment.

 

Felicia Webb is a documentary photographer that focuses on projects of social issues. For three years she focused on people with eating disorders, and for the following three on the medical and mental issues of the rise in global obesity.

For her project Anorexia: Nil by Mouth, she explored the psychological and emotional distress that comes with anorexia, showing a deeper understanding to the disorder and how it affects so many lives both directly and indirectly. On the text accompanying this series on her website she says “through this project friends and strangers alike opened up about their daughters, girlfriends, mothers, brothers, or about themselves, and I realised it consumes the lives of so many, often behind closed doors” (Feliciawebb.co.uk, 2017). This quote is poignant that so many go through hidden psychological issues on a daily basis but live in the ‘normal’ world without letting on that there is an issue. In her project, she doesn’t sugar coat the illness at all, in fact it is very ‘real’ and very emotive, showing both the physical and emotional signs. This makes it both difficult for the viewer to look at, but also allows them to sympathise with the subjects.

On the opposite to this story, Webb’s series Obesity: Generation XL shows how obesity is a global crisis. Over the course of two years, Webb spent time with American families developing the idea that obesity is not only a physical condition, but one affected by psychological, global and political issues. In this series, the subjects look just as emotionally distressed as in the previous series, citing that size is not a factor for happiness. By using children in this series, Webb is able to once again pull on the heart-strings of the audience, and make you feel empathy towards them.

 

References:

Salter, K. (2017). Jen Davis interview: The skin I was in. [online] Telegraph.co.uk. Available at: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/photography/9930597/Jen-Davis-interview-The-skin-I-was-in.html [Accessed 24 Mar. 2017].

Feliciawebb.co.uk. (2017). Felicia Webb. [online] Available at: http://feliciawebb.co.uk/small.html [Accessed 24 Mar. 2017].

 

Assignment 5 – Initial Ideas

For this assignment we are asked to create a stand alone image of our choice. The assignment is to draw upon the skills we have learnt so far, including various forms of narrative, putting yourself in the picture, and telling stories and reading images. The only stipulation is to produce work that is controlled and directed by oneself.

This assignment allows for a significant amount of creativity as the brief is completely open and we can decide what kind of image we want to create.

On first thoughts of this brief, I had the idea of recreating movie scenes with action figures. However, when I decided to develop this further, I felt that it was not creating enough narrative or a strong enough image to fulfill this brief.

On further thoughts, I decided to use the idea of putting myself in the picture. The use of  self portrait in Assignment 3, was my favourite of the course so far, so I felt that I could make this an emotive piece of work.

I have struggled with my weight and body image for as long as I can remember and I feel that I would be able to put my personal touch onto this brief.

Recorded Conversation

Record a real conversation with a friend. Before listening to the recording, write your account of both sides of the conversation. Then listen to the recording, and make note of discrepancies. Reflect upon the believability of re-enacted narratives and how this can be applied to constructed photography. What for you learn from the conversation recording process and how can you transfer what you have learned into making pictures?

For this exercise, I recorded a conversation between my boyfriend and I when he returned home from work about how his day had been. It was a short 5 minute conversation about the pros and cons of his day.

Once we had finished conversing, I noted down all I could remember from the conversation. On listening back to the recording, I noticed there were chunks of dialogue that I had missed throughout, including a large chunk at the end. As well as this, I noticed there were many pauses, stammering and repeating of words that I neither picked up on at the time of the conversation, or later when I was reviewing it. There were also times where we were talking over one another which I had not noted down.

From this recording process, I have learnt that what one remembers and communicates after the moment, is not always how it played out in real-time. From this, you can assume that when photographs have been purposefully constructed, that what the photographer was trying to imply may not be viewed the first time of seeing the photograph. Perhaps the viewer needs to revisit the image in order to get the complete story.