Photomontage

“Photomontage is the process and the result of making a composite photograph by cutting and joining two or more photographs into a new image.”

The art of Photomontage is said to have started just after the First World War, but the manipulation of photographs is something that has existed since the mid 19th century.

Photomontage is something that really interests me as it gives the sense of ‘surrealism’ and takes several images which then create one whole image which has a completely different meaning to what the original images may have had.

I researched extensively into a variety of Photomontage artists and the one who appealed to me most was the artist Ilit Azoulay. Born in Israel, Ilit Azoulay takes contemporary furniture and situations and montages them together to create a very clean and crisp final image.

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This second image interests me the most as it has a real high sense of surrealism to it. The fact that the old fashioned black and white image of the man is mixed in with the contemporary furnishings and background makes the audience really think about what the artist is trying to achieve. The thing that appeals to me most with Photomontage is that even though the final image may seem a jumble of images, everything has been placed in that position by the artist for a reason, creating a deeper level of meaning and a three dimensional image.

After looking at the above photographs I decided to attempt my own version of Photomontage which can be seen below.

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My aim behind this Photomontage was to create a surreal aspect of my life. The use of the pink was to connotate the ‘girly’ aspects of my life where the map highlighted my love for travel and different cultures and countries. The use of the female gives the audience and object to identify with and the pink cowboy hat adds another layer to the image.

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Practicing with the Camera and Photoshop

Today I decided to go out an practice taking different images using the different methods we have learnt so far in our workshop classes. I then practiced manipulating the images afterwards on the application Photoshop, something which I have not had much use with therefore needing as much practice as possible.

Here are some of the images that I managed to create.

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Trees at Castle Park (F/4)

This image was captured in Castle Park, Bristol. It was a very foggy and dark with minimal lighting so had to use a very wide aperture to expose my image as much as I can. These trees seemed very haunting to me so when manipulating the image on Photoshop I decided to base them in black and white, a very somber and haunting colour in my eyes. The way the trees have no leaves on them also gave a very eerie feeling to the photo with the branches inter-tangling into each other and creating a confusing yet effective perspective of the audience. To give the image a bit more character I was able to add the colour of the grass to this black and white image through the use of Photoshop. The use of this colour makes the trees more effective as there is a stark contrast from the green of the grass to the black of the tree.

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Leaf with Raindrop (F/6)

As explained before it was a very rainy and wet day when I went out shooting these photographs. This image here was intriguing for me as I was able to capture the raindrops on the leaf, something which tested my ability of macro shooting. Initially this photograph was just a bit too dark so the only manipulating I done on Photoshop was to brighten the whole image. I also cropped the image slightly as I wanted the main focus of the photograph to be this leaf with the water droplets on it. In this image I used a very shallow depth of field, meaning that the other leaves based around were out of focus, once again to make sure the audiences focus is on this one leaf and also to highlight the raindrops.

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Lovelock at Clifton Suspension Bridge (F/4)

This image here was an image which didn’t come out entirely as planned but I still wanted to include it to show the problems that arose when taking this photos. When taking this image it seemed to be very in focus on the camera screen; however when I got it home and onto my computer screen it was clearly out of focus. I attempted to use a shallow focus which worked and your eye is drawn straight to the lock but because of the harsh weather the lock is out of focus. If I was to take this photograph again I would want to make sure that the entire lock is in focus, especially the raindrops on the top of the lock. The aspect that I do like about this image is the shallow depth of field and also the writing is very clear.

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Autumn Colours (F/3)

This image here was the photograph which was most manipulated on Photoshop. This is where I practiced with the different tools which were available to me. Originally this image was interesting to me as I appreciated the way the two benches lined up in a row and used this to my advantage by using a shallow depth of field and having the front bench in focus with the second one out of focus. I then took this image as played around with it concerning the colours used and the cropping of the image as well. I wanted my benches to be on the far right side of the image so cropped them into this place. I then adjusted the saturation, brightness and contrast of the image . The changing of the saturation meant that the colours of the leaves turned from a normal brown colour to a dark plum and pink colour. This gave the image more of an artistic feel for me and gave more character to the photograph.

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Tree in Autumn (F/2)

I did not manipulate this image in any way. The colours of the environment is what intrigued me the most and I did not want to lose these colours by manipulating it on Photoshop. I shot this image using a very wide aperture because of the cloudy day which allowed my image to have maximum exposure and bring out all the different colours of the park.

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Autumn (F/4)

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Rain Water on Pole (F/3)

” In the hands of the ruling class, photography has become a  terrible weapon of the truth”

As discussed in the post before my  idea based around this quote was to focus on the aspects of social media.

At first I had a lot of trouble of thinking of ideas to promote this idea of ‘social media distorting the truth’; however after brainstorming and practicing around with the camera I managed to capture a shot which I believe shows the power of social media as a ‘weapon of the truth’.

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The idea of this photo was to have my model slumped over the toilet while taking a photograph of the wine bottle and wine class on her phone on the popular social app “Instagram”. The idea behind this photograph was too show how my model is trying to depict a ‘fun’ and ‘glamorous’ lifestyle by taking a photo of her wine and wine glass to put on her Instagram site; however the reality is that this indulging of alcohol has made her ill and sick, a completely different lifestyle to what she is trying to portray.

Originally my idea was to have the model spread out along the bathroom floor; however the set up and environment we were photographing in was quite small so restricted us from moving to much, meaning that I had to reconsider my options. I took the shot from a higher angle than my model was lying to make her seem vulnerable considering the state she was in.  I also but a blue filter on top of the image to make the images seem much colder as originally the image was very warm tones. The reason for making the image colder is too highlight how different her life is compared to the one she portrays on her social media sites and to show that her state of mind isn’t as warm and happy as people may think.

In the bathroom that we shot the image in it had very dull lighting so had my aperture open very wide (F/2) to allow as much light in as possible; however this wasn’t enough exposure for the image so also had to use a flash to highlight the girls face and keep everything in focus.

If I was to shoot this image again I would make sure that I was in a space that was had enough room for me to play with as that way I believe I could capture a range of shots that would be more effective. Also I would make sure the image on the phone was a lot clearer so you could see that she was taking a photograph of her wine bottle and wine and also the social website that she was on.

Today we were set an assignment to create an image based on the following quote:

“In the hands of the ruling class, photography has become a terrible weapon against the truth”

– Bertold Brecht

Straight away my mind was working over the key words given..

“ruling class”

“weapon”

“truth”

After brainstorming brief ideas I decided to research into who Bertold Brecht was and discovered he was a German Marxist poet who also indulged in playwright and theatre. Brecht left Germany in 1933 when Hitler took power and ended up moving to Denmark where he lived for six years with fellow journalist and author, Karin Michaelies.

He was passionate about the different classes in society which made me question the environment and society that I am living in now and how it could relate back to his quote.

During an era where social media rules the internet and applications, such as Instagram and Flickr have allowed anyone to become a photographer, I question what has become reality and what is a mere trick of the lens? Do people really spend all day going out to dinner and photographing their food or is it just a positive aspect of their everyday life that they want to portray to others around them? Is it to make them seem like they are living exciting and rich lives or is it to trick their viewers into thinking that they live these rich and exciting lives?

What would happen if someone’s life was photographed every minute for 24 hours? Would we still have the same impression of them living a prosperful life  or would we see a completely different side to how they live?

These questions had me thinking about what I have happen to me in everyday life and what I actually choose to document. My Instagram feed if full of photo’s from nights out, trips around the world and the latest popular event that is happening around me; however I have never chosen to document the parts of my life that aren’t so appealing, for example the days I’m feeling sad, the rough times I go through when disease strikes my body and the lack of money that is within my bank account when I go to check the ATM. None of these things are ever involved within my Instagram account and I instantly questioned myself why?

The answer was simple. It is to create a life of glamour. A life which people will envy as they wonder why I seem to have no problems and live a life of wonder and fun. A life which is fabricated and manipulated to cause envy within the people that view my images.

This then spurred me on to think of the images I wanted to capture. I wanted my images to be based on this idea of a ‘glamourized life’ and how the use of our everyday photographing has become a ‘weapon of the truth’. I chose to create an image based on the same idea that focused on the same aspects.

This image can be seen in my next blog post.

‘The World through the Lens; Documentary, Photography and Truth’

The role of the lens in photography is a key function to how we view photographs.

The two key ways of how the lens influences are:

” the lens as something that comes between you and reality: that affects what happens and how you understand the world”

“the lens as a technology for shaping vision- by determining what is included in the frame of the photo , distorting and shaping the image”

Susan Sontag “On Photography” pages 9-15

In this extract of her book Susan Sontag describes taking images as “soothing” and describes how “photography has become one of the principal devices for experiencing something, for giving an appearance of participation”.

Susan views the camera as a distraction from reality as she states “how plausible it has become, in situations where the photographer has the choice between a photograph and a life, to choose the photograph”.

Her quote “the camera is a kind of passport that annihilates moral boundaries and social inhibitions, freeing the photographer from any responsibility toward the people photographed…” suggests photography has become a form of control. The photographer has control over what they see through the viewfinder and the kind of story that they want to portray. She goes on to say that photography has become something that “turns people into objects that can be symbolically pressed”.

Self Portrait Photography – Cindy Sherman

Cindy Sherman is an American photographer and film director who specialised in her conceptual portraits. She was an photographer who thrived on creating photographs that looked like they were stills straight out of a film which created conversation between her viewers.

What was she trying to say?

What was the focus behind her photography?

What could be happening within her photography if it was an actual film?

Cindy Sherman was unusual in the photography community as in each of her photos she made sure that she was the main focus of the photo, she used no other models other than herself. She dressed herself in different costumes to portray different characters which made her         un-recognisable in each one of her photographs.

CindySherman-Untitled-Film-Still-21-1978

Cindy-Sherman7The work of Cindy Sherman focuses on creating Hollywood like images and aims to make the viewer question what is happening within the image. For example, with the above image I asked myself why she was looking so distressed? Did she drop her groceries on purpose or had something caused her to be startled? Her face is in an expression of pain, is this caused because of the dropping of the groceries or is their something else causing her this pain?

imagesMany of Cindy’s images are based in black and white to replicate the feeling of old Hollywood glamour films.

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