“Emotional Still Life” Final Project Evaluation

For my final project images I decided to focus on two of the themes that I have researched in previous weeks, Emotions and Still Life. The reason I decided to use these two categories is because throughout my weeks of researching and looking into different forms of photography, I found that these were the two categories that intrigued me the most and created the most inspiration within me. They are also the two categories that I have indulged the most research into throughout my blog and the two categories that I am confident enough in to throw into my own final project work.

Originally Emotional photography is photography which captures the emotions of a human model, a concept which I researched when I studied the work of Steve McCurry; however I wanted to try something different and focus on what causes the emotion rather than the emotion itself. I decided to use the idea of emotions as it an idea that every audience participant can relate too and ask there own questions about, for example “why do I feel these emotions?”. I also wanted to include a Still Life aspect to my images as I wanted my images to contain detail, the same kind of detail that was used throughout Dutch Still Life, and wanted the audience to be able to really connect with my images which once again will create questions within them. I did not want my images to be normal ‘run of the mill’ emotional representation images which is why I decided to combine the aspects of Still Life and Emotions together.

Before I started my project I had to research into different emotions and what the main causes of each emotion was determined to be. I decided to conduct my own primary research rather than rely on articles written by other theorists as I believed this was the best way for me to gain a realistic and reliable opinion on the different emotions that people feel everyday. I asked a variety of males and females the kind of emotions that they feel on a regular basis, asking them to think outside the box and come up with true, raw emotions that weren’t typically used to describe themselves. The emotions that were re-occurring and the focus group seemed to be most passionate about were being ‘lonely’, ‘alive’, ‘in love’, ‘insecure’ and feeling ‘regret’. To give me further detail I then asked the focus group to tell me some of the reasons they feel these emotions and what triggers these emotions off, all of which helped me start to draft what I wanted my final images to look like. I also referred to popular social media sites such as Tumblr, Instagram and Pinterest to help me delve deeper into what other audiences believe their emotions to be.

I knew from the start that I wanted to include Still Life as part of my final project images so started on a series of secondary research ideas to help me gain a deeper understanding about what makes Still Life so important and valuable in the world of photography. I came across a newspaper article written in The Guardian by journalist Jonathan Jones that helped me have a clearer understanding about why Still Life is important within modern society. In the article , Jones states that Still Life is “the simple truth of everyday objects that is far more fascinating than fantasy” which had me thinking about my own images and how they are not depicting fantasy but the everyday truth about how people’s emotions affect their own lives.

My idea for my final project was simple. I wanted to capture a variety of images that showcased emotion and still life. To do this I took an empty mason jar which I was going to use as my base for showing the different emotions. The idea behind the empty mason jar was for it to be a metaphor of the human being, it was an empty shell that without emotion would never be full, the same way in which primarily a human being works. I used the same mason jar throughout all of my images to give the idea that it’s representing a person and this one person can feel a range of emotions throughout their lives.

The easiest part of my project was deciding on the emotions that I wanted to portray; however the hardest part was deciding what I was going to do with this empty mason jar to portray these different emotions. When I was taking my focus group they said that when they had the emotion of feeling ‘lonely’ they felt “hollow and empty inside, like nothing was really working for them” which is why in my Image 1 I decided to just capture an empty mason jar with the words ‘LONELY’ written inside. This was to show that the person was feeling empty with this emotion and didn’t really feel as if they were important. I captured this image from above as it gave the photograph more of a three dimensional feel, something that was needed as otherwise it would have been a very bland and boring image which would not have captured the audiences eye. I post edited this image as well in Photoshop and made it black and white, dulling down the image and giving the sense that this emotion of loneliness has created a darkness over the person.

The second image I created was for the emotion of feeling ‘alive’. The focus group said that when they had this emotion it was usually brought on my positive vibes around them so I wanted this image to be full of colour and vibrance. This image was an image that was inspired by Dutch Still Life the most. I took the simplicity of flowers and the way I arranged them from earlier research I done on Still Life and added them to my mason jar to give the feeling of being “alive”.  I decided to use flowers in the jar for two reasons. One was that they are beautiful part of nature that was a positive aspect of our world and the second was that they are bright and vibrant which would be able to capture the audiences eye and keep them interested in the image. I did no post editing on this image as luckily the day I shot it was very sunny with really good lighting, therefore the image came out just as I wanted it and needed no post editing

Image 3 is an image that portrayed how people deal with their everyday emotions. In the focus group the girls said about how they felt insecure on a regular basis and turned to appliances such as make up to help them deal with these insecurities. Therefore, I wanted to create an image which showed this emotional problem. My Image 3 was shot using a compact make up mirror in which I photographed the reflection of the mason jar which held a variety of make up appliances such as lipstick, foundation and mascara. The reason I wanted to photograph the reflection of the mason jar rather than normally is because I wanted to give the impression that this was a woman / girl looking into the mirror and having the emotion of feeling ‘insecure’.

Image 4 for the emotion of being ‘In Love’ was a lot similar to my Image 1. This is because I wanted to show the stark contrast between the two emotions so used the same method of shooting, lighting and mason jar with the only thing being different is the mason jar in Image 4 is full of pink paint. This pink paint was used as the colour pink is a connotation of ‘love’ and the fact that the paint fills the whole jar relates to the focus group saying that when they were in love they “felt full”, the complete contrast to what they said when they felt the emotion of loneliness.

Image 5 was based around the emotion of feeling ‘regret’. I wanted this image to be a very de-saturated image as the lack of saturation shows that the regret is foreboding over the person and creates a sense of darkness over them. Image 5 shows the mason jar full of well known chocolate bars and crisps which links to the information I gained through my focus group when many of the participants said they felt regret when they over indulged in certain treats such as food and drink. I did not want this image to be black and white like my Image 1 as I still wanted the sweet wrappers to be noticeable and relateable to my audiences.

I found that the easiest part of this project was gaining the research that I needed to help develop my ideas. I believe that the focus group was a success and helped me establish what emotions my audience would be able to relate too most. I also found that the setting up of my images was fairly easy as well due to the use of basic backgrounds with bigger set ups not being needed due to the focus being purely on the mason jar and the emotions that it contains. The hardest part of my final images would be the photographing of the mason jar. Even though I have had a lot of practice with the camera throughout the past year and find myself pretty competent with it, I found that the lighting was a struggle, especially when capturing Images 1 and 4. However, I was able to find a way around this by using a light tent which gave me a better exposure of light and allowed me to take sharper and more defining images.

Overall, I believe that my images for my final project achieved what I set out to do. They show a variety of emotional feelings through the art of Still Life photography and use a different and unique way of representing emotions that connects to the audience and interacts with the way they may be feeling. If I was to do these images again I would perhaps spend more time on my secondary research, going into the history of representational photography and the effects that it would have on society. I would also prepare my photography shoots better and make sure that I have back ups for anything that may go wrong, for example while shooting one of the light bulbs in my lamp exploded which delayed me for an extra day and created more stress on me to get it right first time. In conclusion to this, I find that my images are easy to understand, thought provoking and do not obey to regular emotional representation photography set ups , therefore creating a series of photographs which have combined two different aspects of photography to create five whole new images.

Word Count : 1804

Bibliography

Still Life Photography: Jonathan Jones 

http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2012/nov/16/still-life-photography-jonathan-jones

 

 

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Emotional Photography

As I start to think about my final images I want to create, I start to think about what I want too portray through my images.

I want my images to be representations of emotion as I find emotional photography to be the most effective on myself as well as the different audiences that they include. I decided I needed to research into different photographers who focus on creating ’emotional’ photography to see the different techniques that they adopt to help them create a story.

One of the photographers that I stumbled across was editorial photographer Steve McCurry who specialises on documentary images which have a lot of emotional element to them.

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I found McCurry’s work inspiring as it is a depiction of life that is unknown to many of the audiences. For example, the first image of a young boy holding a gun to his head was shocking to me as it is not something that I experience throughout my everyday life. The fact that the boy is upset created emotion within me as well as the use of the gun and high key lighting, which McCurry has used well to make a documentary image and a realistic photograph. The use of the boy’s dirty clothes is also an emotional aspect as it shows that not everyone has the same lifestyle that most of the audiences would be used too and therefore creates sympathy and sadness within them.

The second image creates a whole different kind of emotion. McCurry has created a black and white image, a typical method used within documentary photography. This image creates a range of emotions and depends on how different audiences respond to the photograph. For me I saw a Dr comforting a young child who may be sick and created a sense of happiness within me as I saw that the Dr was helping the child by making a joke and focusing on the fun rather than what he was there to do, a sense of fun that the child and his family are obviously responding too.

 

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Steve McCurry focuses on different places, different people and different times which give us a sense of life that we may never have realised before. He has managed to capture some amazing people with a variety of values that are built up due to different circumstances, circumstances which we forget when we are living in our Western world. This is why I enjoy the work of McCurry and take inspiration from the rawness of his photographs, a rawness which I hope to bring to my own images.

Focus Group Research – What Emotions Do You Feel?

Because I wanted my final project to deal with emotions and the different emotions that society feels, I decided to run my own focus group to gain my research and data rather than rely on secondary articles which could not give me the reliable realism that I wanted for my own images.

I held my focus group with three boys and three girls so that it was a fair match for each gender, relying on their difference to help bring together a broader range of emotions that they may have experienced.

I asked each of them to ‘think outside of the box’ as I did not want the usual mundane emotions that we reguarly hear about such as happiness, sadness and anger but instead deeper emotions that they may not be confident to admit in everyday circumstances.

I wanted these deep and raw emotions as I didn’t want my images to be superficial and just focus on the obvious emotions that can be seen in everyday circumstances. This is why I have decided to shoot objects rather than people in my images as it will take away from the people feeling the emotion and instead focus on what causes the emotions, how they feel when they are experiencing the emotions and also what happens when they are feeling these certain emotions.

After speaking to the focus group, I was able to shortlist five feelings which seemed to be re-occurring among the group.

These feelings and emotions were:

– Feeling lonely

The focus group said that feeling lonely was not an emotion that they happily shared with society; however was an emotion that they felt on a regular basis.

-Feeling alive

This emotion was an emotion they said was brought on when surrounded by positive things such as sunny weather, nature and good friends. All of these things are positive attributes to emotional welfare.

-Feeling insecure

This was an emotion that came from the girls mostly. They said that feeling insecure was an emotion they reguarly felt and had to deal with on an everyday circumstance. I then asked them what they do to prevent this emotion and majority of the results ended in saying that make up was used to help with the insecurities. 

-Feeling regret

The emotion of regret is one of the unexpected emotions to come up during the focus group. The group said that they would feel regret over the smallest of things, with girls regretting food binging and boys regretting the way they treat the people around them,

-Feeling in love

All of the focus group said that they all have the emotion of being in love, whether it is with a boyfriend/girlfriend or someone else entirely. This was a positive emotion that I wanted to include as it was one that I believe a lot of audience will be able to relate too.

Landscape Photography

Landscape photography is a photographic art which captures the spaces within the world and gives a realistic and beautiful interpretation of what the photographer is seeing at that exact moment. Landscape photography tends to capture the presence of nature, focusing on the pure surroundings that the photographer find themselves in; however, it can also capture man made disturbances such as sky scrapers and buildings.

A famous Landscape photographer who is passionate about capturing the beauty of nature is Ansel Adams.

Adams stated that “Landscape photography is the supreme test of the photographer – and often the supreme dissapointment“, highlighting how difficult Landscape photography can be.

Just like Still Life, Landscape photography was practiced first by artists, mainly in the Western world where western artists were besotted with painting landscapes, especially since the the discovery of perspective within the Italian Renaissance period.

John Davies

John Davies is a photographer who specialises in black and white, panoramic landscape images. I find him an interesting photographer due to the sheer passion he has to create something aesthetically pleasing but also something that has a meaning behind it and not just a ‘pretty picture’. During the years of 1979 and 2005, Davies took photographs which portrayed and documented the “post industrial British” landscape. The images that Davies created were said to be an “in-depth study of the relationship between our social, economic and industrial history”.

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This above image is an image that captured me the most as Davies has managed to capture two conflicting objects and made them into a beautiful image but an image which makes you think about what he is trying to say. This image was interesting to me as I think the way that Davies has the church building that seems to have been abandoned and the new nuclear power buildings it shows a confliction between the two buildings. It also tells me that because of the modern industrial revolution as lot of buildings have been forgotten about, buildings that would have been key to society before the revolution yet now have been forgotten and abandoned to make way for these new, modern giants.

My Own Landscape Photography

For my Landscape photography images I wanted something which was going to be powerful, yet beautiful, the same way that John Davies managed to do with his above image.

So I took my camera into London and began photographing the undisturbed surroundings that I found myself in. I wanted my images to be raw and realistic so that the audience actually felt as if they were standing next to me looking at the same thing I was looking at when I took the photograph.

One of the images I captured was the image that I used on my Week 8 assignment as I believed it fitted the brief but also a good example of the impact Landscape photography can have on an audience.

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This image for me was an image which I captured from the inspiration I gained from John Davies photograph that I posted above. In Davies’ image he uses a strong, giant building to highlight the modern changes that Britain has gone through. In this image I feel as if I was able to do the same thing. The London Eye is a grand tourist attraction which serves no purpose to our country but is seen as one of the monumental icons of the United Kingdom. The way I captured the image shows the London Eye to be illuminated and important, yet the natural side of the photography (the river that runs below the attraction) is darkened and not clearly visible. This was a deliberate method as I wanted to highlight how society has become in awe of these new, modern buildings and yet the natural beauty of the country has slowly become forgotten, the same way in which Davies was able to photograph in the above image.

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Narrative Photography

Narrative Photography is the idea that photographs can be used to tell a story, the same way in which words are commonly used. There are many famous and respectable photographers who used Narrative as a form of photography throughout many of their pieces. I decided to research further into Narrative photography as it is a field that I am interested in for my final project images and found many of the images to be inspirational.

Tableux is a form of Narrative photography that has developed since 1990.

“These images present frozen suggestive movements, commonly likened to film stills drawn from movies that do not exist” – Lucy Soutter

A well known and respectable photographer who commonly dabbled in Tableux photography was Gregory Crewdson. Crewdson is an American photographer who is known for elaborate setting and scenes focusing around American lifestyle and homes.

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The work of Gregory Crewdson is often described as being “haunting” , “surreal” and “stunningly elaborate potraits” based around American life.  All of Crewdson’s images are digital  and are influenced by the likes of Alfred Hitchcock , Steven Spielberg and David Lynch, all successful movie directors.

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When photographing an image Crewdson  can use more than 35 actors and assistants, with each one of them focusing and helping on a different aspect of the final image. All of Crewdson’s images have a strong sense of eeriness which is normally created through the use of light and mirrors. I find that a lot of his images are dark images with light highlighting the key aspects of each image, for example in the image above there are different forms of light; however each light source is highlighting something important e,g, the womans baby bump and the man laying on the ground.

I find Crewdson’s work very inspiring as the way he uses light to help tell a story is something which I find very artistic and imaginative which requires a lot of skill. He also makes the audience question his images which I find a positive attribute as it keeps the audience involved. For example, with all of his images I ask myself “what is the story he is trying to tell through this photography?” which then also makes me notice different aspects of his images that I may not have noticed at first glance.