Friday, 18 May 2012

Fashion Constructed Image: Self Evaluation

How I feel I carried out my roles

My roles within the group were build lead and budget manager. I found it difficult to carry out these roles and feel I would have been much better suited to sourcing props because I enjoy interior design and the creative aspects behind photography. One of the drawbacks of my jobs was that they weren't a constant thing I could work on. 

I made an effort to voice my thoughts about the build when we had test shoots in the lead up to the build week and tried to take an active role in erecting the set when it came to the construction. It was hard to stay on top of the build and direct people when as a group we all got on with it and didn't need a lot of guidance.

When carrying out the role of managing the budget, I produced a spreadsheet involving a list of what we needed with columns for details, cost and who payed for these items; as well as what our total budget was and how much we had spent so far while I was updating it throughout the lead up to the build. We spent a third over our budget which surprised me because I updated the spreadsheet with things I wasn't aware we had bought or even needed for the construction of the set after it was over. I feel there was a big breakdown in communication throughout the weeks we were working on this project. We needed to meet up more often in person to talk about the set build and communicate better with each other as to what moves we were making within the group.

Despite it not being my responsibility within the group, I contributed towards researching and sourcing fashion items. See here.

Fashion Constructed Image: Finding the Fashion

My Contribution

Having been told our constructed fashion image needed to involve contemporary fashion we tried to source clothing from certain retailers in the high street which were based on catwalk styles. We also had some guidance in the form of the following photos to help us find the right outfit for our image.

We can see that the general similarities in these images are long skirts and high necklines and collars. As well as this, there are a lot of neutral tones with some bright reds and blacks but not too much of a variation in colour.


While other members in the group were using this as inspiration, I decided to research what the current top trends on the catwalk were and look for clothing on the high street that related to these but which also fit with the classic 50s style; tying in the original with the contemporary to create a generally modern look.

The top few trends of New York Fashion Week (Spring 2012) are bird prints and sheer fabrics of which I found a surprising amount of while out looking. I was also keeping an eye out for the 50s style showing through in modern clothes. Some of the following photos are what I found...

The bird print vests are both very modern styles, however, similar clothes were also found in the 50s - collars, sleeveless, and ties at the hem. They are also made from sheer fabrics. The sheer skirt is knee length as they wore in the 50s. The dress is over the knee and fitted which shows off the woman's figure. This is known as a "wiggle" dress and originated from the 50s. They would also wear short jackets with three quarter length sleeves and I saw a lot of these in the shops I visited, some with round collars.


As well as this, while working with my group, I found relevant contemporary dresses mimicking the styles on the catwalk such as:

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Output Task - Planning our Newspaper

As a group, we have decided to take inspiration from the '50s Photo Dictionary'. We admired the mix between handwritten and typed text and the difference in layout between images, but mainly the minimal theme involving lots of white space around the images.

For my input in the newspaper, each of my images will be on the left hand page of a double spread; placed in the centre of the page with lots of white space surrounding it. I will add hand-written captions detailing the prices of what I have photographed because these are important to my concept and will help readers to understand my concept and the meaning behind it.

These are the captions I will hand write for each image:

Large 3 seat leather reclining sofa: £57
Average price new: £1500

Solid wood table: £60
Average price new: £500

Large solid wood chair: £35
Average price new: £100

'BC Rich' electric guitar: £147
Average price new: £600

'Marshall' amp: £30
Average price new: £200

The following articles are what I want to be used to compliment my images in my part of the newspaper, in order, and in conjunction with each image:

Fashion: Constructed Image: Process of Visual References

We began creating mood boards based around the category of "Film" during the first week of having the assignment. These depicted scenes of films we admired the lighting choices of, examples of film noir, some of Tim Walker's fashion sets, strange and interesting rooms, the theme of exploration which particularly interested Joe Earley, photos of collections I found particularly interesting and some elaborate and even gothic make up styles. Generally, aesthetics we desired.

We displayed these mood boards and talked about them as a group. We discussed going for a similar look to the rooms in the last mood boards - we liked the extravagance and the vibrant colours. We also like Tim Walkers fashion influence upon our mood boards and thought we could work with something like this.

However, upon having differing opinions we began to talk about a set split between a modern and colourful look and a more subtle traditional feel. One of the suggestions was creating a room directly split in half, each half showing a very different picture as well as the model being styled very differently on each side of the body. Two things came from this: the idea of duality, and a reference (Dark City) dealing with the notion of two opposites residing together.

Due to this influence, we then narrowed down our ideas and came up with revised mood boards depicting the psychological aspects of films which also exhibited the idea of duality such as Blue Velvet, Donnie Darko and Fight Club. We also started thinking about the American Dream after exploring films like Blue Velvet and American Beauty thinking about the notion of duality within them.


After this we decided to work with the idea behind the American Dream and focus on the facade behind it. How everything seems perfect but behind closed doors it is a very different story. We thought about what would be involved in our set f we went down this route. We decided fairly early on that we would build a dining room, and have a female model who would be the housewife looking after the home. We created more mood boards from this point focussing more on fashion and character and also the period of the 50s and what the home would look like in this decade. The look of the model became important as we decided we wanted a false look; doll like and awkward.

After this we considered the composition of our photograph and what would be included. Originally we wanted a whole family around the table. However we realised this would cause more difficulties due to sourcing the right models and especially because children would be involved as well as possibly crowding the image.

We then considered the use of mannequins to reinforce the awkwardness and doll-like look to contribute to the false perfection behind the concept of the American Dream. From this we ended up researching the aesthetics of the Nuclear Towns designed for experimentation and analysis of the effect of nuclear bombs in which mannequins were used.

These are what we used as our final visual references to achieve the right aesthetics for our concept having developed from all the influences we had from the beginning and honed in on what we felt was strong. We tried to make our set look like a real home, just as the nuclear homes were designed t seem real and why mannequins were placed within. Having been unable to source a mannequin we directed our model to seem fake, like a doll or a mannequin with awkward limbs and a strange posture with a distant gaze.

As well as this, we wanted to involve the outside with the interior and we used these photographs as inspiration and references for creating a similar look in our set with the juxtaposition between this strange occurrence - sand entering the house from the desert with what is seemingly normal and everyday life for the housewife.

Sunday, 6 May 2012

The Output: Basic Newspaper Research

The Guardian

Front Page
Across the top of the front page there are medium sized images which have been cropped and accompanied by captions introducing the stories further inside the newspaper. They are like snapshots of the issue and some quite typical, for example, 'Red or dead? United slip puts title in balance. In sport'. There is a quick heading, a small summary, where the story is located in the paper and a football related photograph, all the size of a credit card. Using these photographs in this way catch the attention of certain audiences looking to read about specific topics. Seeing just the cover of the newspaper with these images on may convince them to buy the paper because they know what they can find inside.

Below this strip across the top, there is a thick, black line separating it from the rest of the page where the stories lie. Beneath this is the headline associated with the picture and the column beside it. This is the main current story the newspaper is covering and continues within the paper. The image stretches across 4 out of the 5 columns; a large image for the main story with a caption beneath in a small font.

Below this again is another thinner line separating the two big stories. There is a larger headline, with a subheading and 4 short columns, continued inside the newspaper.

Across the whole front page there is another line separating the top of the paper with the main stories  on and there are two more examples of stories inside; one begins on the cover and continues inside. There is a small picture; a little larger than the size of a postage stamp printed among the columns of this story where there is a bold piece of writing of equal size next to it. The bold font giving emphasis to the importance of this information in conjunction with the story.


50 Photos Dictionary (by Fanny Wacklin Nilsson)

"A newsprint publication displaying 35mm film photographs. It is a personal dictionary of a few selected words, of which the photographs are presented in relation to, and my personal relationship to them."
  • This is a 12-page newspaper (including cover and back page with index).
  • There is a mixture of typography: large italic font used for the few headings across the pages; smaller typed font; hand-written pieces.
  • Each page layout is different and seems personal - especially due to the handwritten bits of texts interjected throughout. For instance, there are a few large chunks of writing which describe wither one or a couple of photos on the page, and in contrast, on the cover there is only a single line of text captioning the photo.
  • The photos are all different sizes, and placed in all different places throughout the magazine - some accompanied by text, some not. For example there is a series of three images of a bicycle with nothing written with them (but on the other wise of the spread in the centre), and on the page before that there is a single image aligned to the right of the page and placed halfway down with the paragraph of hand written text beneath it aligned to the left of the bottom of the image.
  • The layout is irregular and the look and style seems to be minimal with a lot of white space.

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Fashion Constructed Image: Progress

Concept summary: The dark side of the American Dream.

After having many meetings about our narrative and the construction of our set, our concept has developed further towards the breakdown of this perfection.

Changes we have made:

  • Rather than use a nuclear family in our set in the sense of a mother, father and two children, we are taking this into the nuclear homes context where there is the notion of destruction and futility.
  • We thought about the use of mannequins rather than real people to make up the family but having not been able to source any and and testing how our set build would look with 4 characters, we realised this looked too crowded and took away the desired simplicity.
  • We originally decided to build and shoot a clean, simple set. Now we are considering the incorporation of sand into our set blowing in from the desert outside. This will tie in this perfect American Dream with the nuclear towns built only for one purpose.
  • We have decided to involve a window and an open door in our image to provoke the feeling of looking in and also to contextualise our photo.

Monday, 26 March 2012

Time Machine Essay: Research so far...

I have decided to centre my essay around the theme of beauty and the sublime. I was inspired to write about this specifically through reading ‘Photography: the key concepts’.

"The development of the concept of the sublime as an aesthetic quality in nature distinct from beauty was first brought into prominence in the 18th century in the writings of Anthony Ashley-Cooper, third earl of Shaftesbury and John Dennis, in expressing an appreciation of the fearful and irregular forms of external nature, and Joseph Addison's synthesis of concepts of the sublime in his The Spectator, and later the Pleasures of the Imagination. All three Englishmen had, within the span of several years, made the journey across the Alps and commented in their writings of the horrors and harmony of the experience, expressing a contrast of aesthetic qualities."

Visual Reference: Ansel Adams, "Autumn Moon"

Contextual findings
Yosemite National Park was established in 1890. The park was established to preserve its resources, which make it so unique and attractive, as well as to allow future public enjoyment.

“Yosemite National Park is a world heritage site which has made a significant contribution to California's cultural heritage, to the national park movement, and to Yosemite's 4,000 years of cultural heritage by Native Americans.”

Native Americans populated the national park before it became so, and before Euro-Americans arrived on the landscape.

F64 Group
  • Established in 1932 by Ansel Adams, Edward Weston, Willard Van Dyke, Imogen Cunningham and some others.
  • It deals with the concept of “straight” photography.
  • The group was in response to the "artistic," soft-focus, pictorial type of photography which was popular at the time.
  • Emphasis was placed on "pure" photography, sharp images, maximum depth-of-field, smooth glossy printing paper, emphasizing the unique qualities of the photographic process.
  • The significance of the name lies in the fact that f/64 is the smallest aperture on the lens of a large-format camera and therefore provides the greatest depth-of-field.
  • The members of Group f/64 believe that photography, as an art form, must develop along lines defined by the actualities and limitations of the photographic medium, and must always remain independent of ideological conventions of art and aesthetics that are reminiscent of a period and culture antedating the growth of the medium itself.

Edmund Burke
As well as being the author of ‘A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful’, Burke was a statesman, orator, political theorist and philosopher. Burke believes that the ‘Beautiful’ is what is well-formed and aesthetically pleasing, whereas the ‘Sublime’ is what has the power to compel and destroy us. The transition from the Neoclassical era to the romantic era was marked by the preference from the sublime to the beautiful.

The Commission: prints and contact sheets

These are the first few images I took for my series. I knew what I wanted from my images; drawing on my inspirations, but I wasn't sure how to achieve it and only realised I hadn't until I looked at my negatives.

The angles aren't quite right and in some images there are too many other distractions. In the images of my subject on the sofa I wanted a much more symmetrical look like that of my subject on the left who I made my first print of.

However, I then realised the photograph did not focus enough on my concept - the second hand market. I realised I needed to change my subjects position in relation to the furniture and put more emphasis on this.

I re-shot the subject on the right and my third with a good outcome.
This is the second contact sheet of images I took; focussing again on the second subject as in my other. It was hard to photograph my subject - my dad, because he works away and I had two opportunities over a period of a couple of months to take my images.

I also photographed the subject I hadn't made a portrait of yet in my second shoot; trying to keep the aesthetics the same for both portraits.

I worked on what I decided was the fault of my last shoot, and perfected the pose and symmetry of my subjects.

Upon looking at my contact sheet it became clear that my focus was not perfect on every image but I needed to choose the ones I did for the composition of my subjects within the frame and the significant similarity between the two I ended up printing for my series.

Something quite frustrating about the two images I took of my new subject which I couldn't print is the fact that the only location I could have taken the image to fit the series would have meant cropping the top of the head in order to remove distracting features. I feel the photograph marked with the X has the right aesthetics to match my visual references, but not to how I have ended up photographing my subjects.

This is the last contact sheet I produced in preparation for my final print.

I experimented with the use of including other small second hand items in my photographs but felt this only caused a distraction and I wanted to achieve the simplicity and the clean look of my influences.

My aim of this shoot was to fit in my last image with the rest of my series which is why I experimented with pose and distance so much to try and recreate the previous.

I tried very much to match the position and distance of this subject to my previously photographed subjects so that it would fit in properly.

I also wanted to correct my last mistake of not including enough of the furniture in the photograph and not drawing enough emphasis upon it. This is why I angled the chair and changed the pose leading it slightly away from directly front on to the camera. I still wanted it to fit in with my other chosen images so I tried to make this change subtle. I then chose to place this print in the middle of my series as it had a slightly different look to my other two prints.

Looking at my contact sheets, I can see images that I feel may have worked better together but at the time of shooting and printing, I did not have all of my negatives together to compile my series at once. This is something I would like to definitely do for future projects.

My Series

Large 3 seat leather reclining sofa: £57
Average price new: £1500

Solid wood table: £60
Average price new: £500

Large solid wood chair: £35
Average price new: £100

'BC Rich' electric guitar: £147
Average price new: £600

'Marshall' amp: £30
Average price new: £200

The Commission - My Research: Anne Hardy

Anne Hardy's photographs of constructed sets of unusual interiors is what she is primarily known for. This work of hers consists of items and furniture which she has collected from places like markets and jumble sales or skips - second hand, and arranged within her studio and then photographed. In this sense, she relates very well to the subjects within my series because there are links evident (in both her photographic choices and with my series) with the population and the second hand market.

Aspects in some of Hardy's work such as in Cipher, provide a painterly and atmospheric aesthetic. This is achieved by the hazy glow being produced by the fluorescent lights; the " faux grotto" walls; and the differing levels of the hanging ropes having an effect spatially upon the room. These aren't just objects found carelessly on the street and thrown into a room together to produce something that could look kind of cool. They are carefully considered objects being places appropriately with each other to create a style which is then complimented with the decoration and technical choices Hardy makes. They are works of art. Hardy often admits to reshooting her images, even if the changes made is moving an object by centimetres.



This second image including the skylights relates well to my choice of using natural lighting because of how the source of light in her work is intended to, and does a very good job of looking like natural daylight. It further evokes the feeling of the set being a regular but just unusually adorned room, which in reality, it is not.


Untitled VI

In an article on 'The Guardian' called "Anne Hardy's best shot", she speaks about an image of hers she particularly likes from 2005. Her sets built in her studio are centred around the camera so it is more photography related than an installation. She used a medium format camera, like I chose to do, and a wide angle lens which makes sense to photograph a whole "room". I used a standard lens however, as I was only photographing certain scenes in a room.


A major similarity between mine and Anne Hardy's work, is that  it somewhat showcases the second hand market. Although Hardy uses a lot of small objects and waste in her images to fill up the room, she also uses furniture and larger objects - this is where the second hand market comes into it and more specifically; it's availability.

Through her printing method Hardy gives the viewer of the image a sense of looking into the room. This is aided by the inclusion of so much of the space and objects in her photograph - namely, her choice of a wide angle lens.


The Commission - My Research: Alex Soth

"I fell in love with the process of taking pictures, with wandering around finding things. To me it feels like a kind of performance. The picture is a document of that performance".

Alex Soth expresses the need to tell a story through his photography and express the narrative but admits he struggles to do so. "Photographs often leave me feeling like something is missing". This is almost like what I wanted to do with my photographs - tell a personal story.

It is an opinion that the best photographs inspire curiosity rather than satisfy it and I believe I may have achieved this is my series with the simplistic framing and the subtle use of money that will make people wonder what the significance of it is. Hopefully people will look at my series and want to know what the significance of the people in their locations are too and their link with them, and in turn, understand the context. I think this is also a similar element in Soth's work. For example, his photograph below, of an older male next to what looks like a cabin holding a model aeroplane in each hand.

Soth talks about how the house caught his eye. He went and enquired and met the man's wife who told him that he had in fact build the house. She also explained how Charles and his daughter built model planes in the room he called his 'cockpit' on the 4th floor entered via a ladder. The room was small and lined with windows; too small to photograph in. The photograph is taken on the roof.

 'Charles, Vasa, Minnesota 2002'

This image provokes my interest (just as Alec Soth talks about this house and the people provoking his) and there also seems to be some juxtaposition between the apparent age of the man and the fact that his hobby is often also shared by children.

The isolation of the subject relates to how I have chosen to frame my subjects with a shallow depth of field. Although the second hand items are important in my series and to my concept, the concentration on the subjects is to give it context and I chose to do this to make it personal.


This image of Soth's would have been a perfect visual reference for my concept had I pursued my first idea about photographing a constructed set in a random location.


Two visual references of Alec Soth's which I found inspired my photographic choices are the portraits below of the women in what seems like their homes. They seem to suit the colour tones in the rooms. It is their posture and their relationship to the camera which I have recreated in my own series as well as their natural expressions and contexts within the photographs.