Park Photo Shoot
Following my previous shoot, I decided to take a different approach to the project by selecting particular activities represented in the illustrations that related to each other with the intention of creating images representing a similar concept. As each of the the illustrations present an individual character with an individual activity, I have come to the conclusion that focusing one one setting and one interactive subject would be the best method of recreating the images. Reviewing the illustrations again, I selected 5 relatable concepts; Reflecting, Looking, Engaging with the World, Risk Taking and Playing.
Fig. 1. Reflecting and Looking. 2014-2015
The act of reflecting can come across through the action of looking at something and vice versa, whether it be photographs or a view of a sunset. This brings the way we store information to create memories and upon creating memories, once in a while, they are found again and reflected on.
Fig 2. Looking and Engaging with the World. 2014-2015
To engage with the world, we must look around and investigate our surroundings in order to understand aspects of the world in a meaningful way. An example of this can be expressed though physical activities such as walking or drawing but this can also be done through commercial methods i.e. posters, papers and books. Engaging with the world involves taking in information and in society, we are humanly drawn to visual presentation everyday.
Fig 3/4. Risk Taking and Playing. 2014-2015
Both of these concepts are relatable to one another as they both represent actions that may be rather daring. Playing can involve experimenting and taking action when we are curious of something while Risk Taking implements investigation on a more serious and larger scale.
.Fig 5. Jeff Wall. 1993
Canadian photographer Jeff Wall is a practitioner who creates narrative scenes within his work. Following his studies in art history in both Vancouver and London, Wall produced photographic art including the small brochure series ‘Landscape Manual’ in 1969. Later on in his career, Wall began to produce transparent prints mounted onto light boxes.
One of his light box images includes the photograph ‘A Sudden gust of Wind’ produced in 1993. The image is a recreation of a woodcut piece by Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai. The image depicts the recreation of four characters caught in a freeze frame in which the ‘sudden gust of wind’ causes a slightly chaotic scene. I find the image possesses a raw quality as it captures a scene that is staged however there is still a sense of ordinariness. The scene appears both dull and interesting for the scene is set on an overcast day and the people are wearing formal, dark clothing but these elements are brought to life as the wind provokes an individual action from each person. Observing the people in the image, one could almost imagine the characters were going about their ordinary errands/duties before the scene occurs. I find this is because when observing the image, the viewer is given the impression of a dull location with ordinary people, however, this event presents an occurrence that reveals personality.
I admire the way in which Wall uses the environments in this images as it gives an open perspective of things happening in the foreground but also allows the viewer to explore other elements within the surrounding environment. Another image titled’ The Invisible Man’ (1946) gives a deeper insight to the character but still keeps interest of everything else. This is an element in which I feel I could explore further when photographing people within environments to an extent where the viewer is given a main subject of focus but can also be given a variety of things to look at.
Fig 6. Richard Renaldi. 2006
Richard Renaldi is an American photographer who is well known for his broad perspectives of people and places. Following his success at the New York University in 1990 in which he received a BFA, Renaldi has since exhibited globally across the United States and Europe. Renaldi’s series ‘Figure and Ground’ which observes various characters in a a series of broad locations was published as a book in 2006.
It is this series in particular in which I take interest. Taken over a time span of a few years, Renaldi presents a collection that introduces different, ordinary people within their everyday environments. Renaldi gives a broad approach to the project, often exploring local shops and suburban streets but with occasional close up portraits of some of the characters he comes across. I admire how Renaldi presents a huge variety of characters and locations within the series as this makes it very diverse and I find there is a flowing navigation throughout the series.
One particular and very popular image among the series observes an ordinary girl in a suburban street; the image captures her standing to a side with the wind to her back. I find this image has a nice flow in colours between the background and the character and I also admire how Renaldi has captured a natural pose. The time of a day also brings a nice calm quality to the image. I also find how the character directly glances at the viewer brings a sense of ‘breaking the fourth wall’ as if the character is waiting for the viewer to catch up.
I am inspired by how Renaldi appreciates both elements and I feel his work appears very wholesome as the surroundings in which the characters are placed in reveal a storytelling quality of each individual. Within each photograph there is an even balance between the environment and the character which is something that I would like to approach in my own portrait work.
Original Images: Park Series
I have chosen these 5 illustrated concepts to work from because I find they all relate strongly, particularly when set as individual pairs such as ‘Reflecting and Looking’. Both activities require the other to support the action. To represent these concepts in my own approach, I wanted to experiment with simple human actions and expressions to recreate the illustrations in an almost story telling format. When shooting on location, I chose a local park to create a series of conceptual scenic portraits. I chose to shoot in a park as I feel this is a common location where the individual would carry out all of the activities I have selected from the illustrative categories.
Upon shooting, I carried out my own investigations of the location using a variety of spots which I could work with. For example, I worked within a swing area to recreate the concept/action of playing.
Pre Development Stage: Editing Process
During the editing process, used the photoshop tool curves to adjust the lighting of the image as some shadows around the head area appeared slightly uneven. I also adjusted the RGB channels to balance the colouring of the image as it appeared too warm.
I also used the tool spot healer to remove any clutter from the background, particularly in the lower part of the image. I found this somewhat challenging as the clutter was within an area within the edges of a subject and it was also quite close together. To accomplish this editing, I adjusted the size of the spot healer depending on area space.
Final Series: Park Series
For the final series, I have selected a total of six images.
Fig 7. Reflecting. 2015
I find this image best represents the activity ‘Reflecting’ as the subjects gaze is quite serene and distant which implies how she may be thinking of something/someone. This is included as I found the central placement of the subject within her surroundings quite effective and relevant to my intentions.
Fig 8. Reflecting. 2015
I have selected this image also as once again, I feel there is an even central placement of the subject which sits well against the surrounding environment. This image is more anonymous but despite this, there is still a sense of character in the image concerning the scene which the person is looking at and also the colours this person wears i.e. the red hat gives a nice characteristic contrast to the green trees in the background.
Fig 9. ‘Risk Taking’. 2015
This image is included as I find it presents quite a commercial, positive feel to it with how the subject pose as there is a sense of openness and freedom. I also find that having the bridge as a supporting aspect in the image brings about the idea of entering new destinations and reaching towards goals. The bridge is a nice representative of this.
Fig 10. ‘Risk Taking’. 2015
This image is included as I find it conveys a lot of character despite having the subject anonymous. There is a nice balance of the pose and the use of the props and environment has been well established. I find this image is quite circus like bringing about a sense of fun.
Fig 11. ‘Engaging with the World’. 2015
I have chosen this image as I find there is a direct connection between the person and the leaf that is being held. I decided to pose the subject this way from a low perspective that would create a contrast against the background and I think this has worked well.
Fig 12 ‘Playing’. 2015
This image is included as a representation of ‘Playing’. Using a swing as an element in the image brought about various different poses to experiment with. I feel this pose is the most effective and expressive of the activity. This image has also been photographed from a low perspective encouraging contrast. I find it could also possibly be slightly reflective with the pose as the person looks up at the sky. There is a sense of freedom but I feel this is brought across in a soft way.
Reflecting upon this series and the project as a whole, I find I have better developed my understudying of observing people in documentary/inspirational photography. I find the second portrait/park series of images better represents the character illustrations and I find each of the images work well together as a series. Reviewing the six images, I notice how one particular aspect that stands out in each photograph which is the red hat. I find this piece of costuming has made an interesting prop when creating the series and I feel it has become a central focus in how it stages the character, particularly in the images where we cannot see the subjects face.
I find narrowing down my choice of illustrative activities helped me in creating the images as a wholesome series rather than attempting to create an excessive amount of different interpretations. I find this may have complicated the primary focus as I wanted to use the sources which I found the most relevant to the location I was using.
I feel the lighting in the images could be somewhat improved, however I also wonder if this may have taken away the natural looking element of the images. I also feel the autumn colour theme fitted nicely with the atmosphere I intended to bring across and I find this presents a nice authentic vibrance to the series. As a printed format, I have decided to present them as a card collection making them the same size as the illustrative cards as well as full size prints. I feel this series also works nicely as a monochrome series so I have proceeded with this idea for the collection. Overall I am satisfied with the series and I find I have a better outlook on urban photography.
Projects-Figure and Ground (2015) Richard Renaldi, [Online] Available from: http://www.renaldi.com/projects [Accessed on 19/10/2015]
Tate Members and supported partners of the Guardian (2005-2006) [Online] Available from http://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-modern/exhibition/jeff-wall [Accessed on 17/10/2015]
University of Hertfordshire (2014-2015) Education Map, Lecture by Ian Willcock