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.

london eye week 18 assignment

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.

Week 18 Assignment – Michel Foucalt Quote

For our Week 18 assignment we were given the quote :

“Power in the West is what displays itself most and hides itself best” – Michel Foucalt

Our assignment was to create an image which was based around this quote by Michel Foucalt and present it in our Week 18 workshop.  My first task was too research who Michel Foucalt was as he was new theorist who I had never heard of before. After extensive research I discovered he was a French philosopher as well as a ” historian of ideas, social theorist and literary critic”. His theories often addressed the ever changing relationship between power and knowledge, delving deeper into how these elements can form some sort of ‘social control’ among society, especially within social institutions. Foucalt thrived on presenting his thoughts and theories as “critical history of modernity” and he ahs been highly influential throughout academic and activist groups.

After researching Michel Foucalt I felt like I had a different idea on what kind of image I wanted to create for his “Power in the West…” quote. Originally I wanted to portray the power that love can bring to society with love being a physical being as well as a emotion which “hides itself best”; however, after researching I did not think that love was a form which was ‘westernized’ enough seeing as love can be felt everywhere, not just in a particular part of the world.  The image that I would have used for this idea of the power of love would have been this one:

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I felt as if this image would have been successful if my final idea was to represent the power of love as the roses show a physical sign of love where the hidden connotations behind the thought of roses are what “hides itself best”. I suppose that this flowers could have represented “the West” as the are obviously quite expensive and have been put together in an expensive manner, something which might not be able to happen in poorer parts of the world.

However, this was not my final image I decided to use. I did not feel that the image of the roses related to the theories of Michel Foucalt enough so decided to capture another image which can be seen below.

london eye week 18 assignment

 This image for me was the opitomy of how power in the west “shows itself and hides itself best”. I took this image in London in early evening when the lights started to come on yet the sky was still bright. My ideas behind this photograph is looking at the tourist attractions that London has throughout it and the power that they hold within the city.

The London Eye , for example, is an attraction which is not needed within society. It does not serve any kind of formal function other than to be a leisure attraction, something which is used for enjoyment; however we as a society have been told by the Government that this is a ‘necessity’ within our society. The London Eye is a powerful, tourist attraction which brings tourists from all over the world to view it , therefore making it a powerful structure which then gives the Government the power as they are the ones gaining the money from these tourists, a situation which is hidden from the eyes of society.

The sky in this image excited me the most as it’s a very moody sky which I related to a foreboding power which cannot be seen. This foreboding power I linked to the Government as it is a power that cannot always be seen but that is always there, watching society and keeping their power to an ultimate status.

Still Life (extra readings)

Still Life is an aspect of photography that I am really interested in using for my final images.

To get a better understanding about the use of Still Life photography and the effect it can have on audiences I decided to research further into the history and also the different photographers who specialise in the art of Still Life.

Still Life is an art that has been popular for many years, with the Dutch adopting the concept of Still Life in their own way.

Theorist Svetlana Alpers states in her book “The Art of Describing: Dutch Art in the Seventeenth Century” that “…Dutch Still Life is connected with the notions of attentive looking in the seventeenth century, which were in turn linked to the development of new devices for looking attentively at the world” This means that the creating of microscopes and lenses happened because of the Dutch Still Life and the admiration they had from looking at the world in a more attentive and detailed way.

Example of Dutch Still Life

Example of Dutch Still Life

Still Life is originally an art form that was used by artists and painters; however, it is quickly becoming adopted by many photographers.

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Photography Still Life

As you can see by comparing the two images of the Dutch Still Life and the Photography Still Life they have many similarities. The key similarity is that they both focus on the beauty of natural flowers. Flowers are known to have bright, bold colours which is the reason they are commonly used in the arts of painting and photography. They give a depth to the image that may not be able to be achieved without the bold colours, meaning that this depth invites audiences into the images and captures their eye.

Because both images are Still Life images it means that a lot of detail is painted and photographed, detail that we may not notice when looking at these flowers in everyday life.

I was inspired by this Still Life photography and paintings so decided to practice with my own camera to see if I could capture the same vibrance and detail as these two artists.

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When photographing my own Still Life images of flowers I discovered that capturing the amount of detail that I wanted and needed was a very hard skill to adopt. The flowers were naturally bright so I decided to shoot them against a dark background to help the flowers stand out even more, a concept that was used in both the Dutch Still Life and the Photography Still Life. By using this technique it means that the audiences eye is only drawn to the flowers and nothing else that may be in the background. If I was too photograph these images again I would have a variety of flowers clumped together in a vase or basket (like they have done in the Dutch Still Life and Photography Still Life) as this means there will be more happening in the image that will keep the audience interested for a longer amount of time.

Still Life – Own Images

After researching into Irving Penn I was excited to create my own Still Life images.

Just like him I wanted to photograph objects which had some sort of meaning to me so I searched around my bedroom to find a variety of different objects which I believed to be interesting enough to photograph.

The first object I found was a pair of colourful chopsticks which I had brought back for me all the way from China. This chopsticks were interesting to me as they were full of vibrant colours and shapes which I knew would photograph well, especially when being photographed inside of a lightbox.

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This was the final image that I managed to photograph. As you can see, when I was photographing the objects I decided that I only wanted the most intriguing and aesthetically pleasing parts of the chopsticks to be a part of my image, therefore I decided not to capture the top part of the wooden chopsticks. I included the case which the chopsticks came in as the colours became so vibrant when shooting inside of the lightbox that I decided the bright blue would add an eye capturing element for the audience. If I was to shoot this image again I would make sure that the set up was perfection as you can see from the image that bits of thread were hanging off of the chopstick case; however, another part of me decided that this gave the image a more realistic and gritty feel, showing that something which is so beautiful is not always perfect.

After looking at Irving Penn’s images I was inspired by the black and white feel each of the images had too them. I wanted to create a similar black and white Still Life image, which can be seen below.

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I wanted my image to be in black and white as I believe that by using black and white it allows more detail to be seen within the photography. Irving Penn used negatives, therefore having an instant black and white image; however I used a digital camera which meant I had to manipulate my image on Photoshop to gain the same realistic feel to my image. This image was successful as it really shows the detail of the flower, with a macro lens being used to capture the inside of the flower yet if I was to shoot this again I would contribute more flowers to the image to create a more dimensional feeling photograph which the audience could really relate and respond too.

Still Life – Irving Penn

Today we looked at the art of Still Life photography.

Still Life photography is the “ depiction of inanimate subject matter, most typically a small grouping of subjects”. 

I researched into several artists who thrived in the Still Life industry and found that Still Life originated through the use of paintings.

A photographer that I found that specialises in the photography of Still Life was a photographer named Irving Penn. Penn is best known for his fashion photography; however has also created modern Still Life images incorporating the elements of metal and found objects.

Penn collected found objects which fascinated him with the aim of photographing them in a later date. He collected these objects for years and they included subjects such as glass, bone, metal and even the occasional human skull.

Construction Leftovers

Construction Leftovers

This above image shows the kind of set up Penn would create with his found objects. This image he titled “Contsruction Leftovers” and shows a mixtrue of bolts, nuts and screws being positioned in a thought provoking and unsual way. In my opinion, Penn has created an image which has taken ordinary, mundane, everyday objects and made them into something which is eye catching and somewhat beautiful. Penn photographed this image using negative film which adds to the effect of the image as it has given it a black and white ‘gritty’ feel to it, making it seem more realistic. The use of the reflection on the table / bottom surface also gives the image a two dimensional feel rather than being a flat one dimension picture which also adds to the realism of the objects.

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Construction with Nut

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Photomontage – John Heartfield

John Heartfield was a pioneer of modern photomontage, working primarily in Germany throughout the two world wars, using photomontage as a great political effect of gaining power. Heartfield thrived by reflecting the “chaos Germany experienced in the 1920s and 30s as it slipped towards social and political catastrophe” , using it to his benefit to parade his work of montage to audiences all across the world.

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The use of photomontage meant that Heartfield could create “politically contentious images”. He created his work by choosing recognizable images from the newspapers and articles and dissembled them in a way which would create a very surreal and questionable image. For example, the image above is of the notorious Adolf Hitler who Heartfield has manipulated to show the audience the ‘underlying reality’ of what is really going on inside of Hitler. Heartfield has used photomontage in a way that Hitler’s heart is replaced with a Swastika to show his love for the Nazi party and entitled the image “Adolf the Superman: Swallows Gold and Spouts Junk”. This was a strong political movement from Heartfield as it made the audience question the beliefs and views of Hitler and made them more wary to believe what he had to say as a politician.

Another ‘anti Hitler’ campaign which Heartfield composed was a campaign which demeaned the most iconic gestures, poses, and symbols used by the Nazi’s to create the awareness within his audience how ridiculous the idea of ‘Fascist Propaganda” was at that time.

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This image above was a parody of Hitler’s most iconic sign of the salute that Heartfield montaged and manipulated to make an obvious statement. In the image Hitler is seen to be at the hands of the wealthy as he is used as a puppet to do the bidding of everyone who is above him and the people who have the biggest financial influence.

Heartfield played an important role in the era of photomontage , especially the use of photomontage as a political tool which can influence audiences in so many different ways.

References

http://www.getty.edu/art/exhibitions/heartfield/