The Brief –
For this assignment, we need to create a series of 5 portraits these series of images can either be taken on location or in the studio we then need to develop the five final images and present our work as a themed body of work.
The objective of this assignment is to provide you with an opportunity to explore the themes covered in Part two with regards to the use of both studio and location for the creation of portraits.
Putting the assignment together –
I wish that more people felt that photography was an adventure the same as life itself and felt that their individual feelings were worth expressing. To me, that makes photography more exciting – Harry Callahan
Part 2 of our course we look at the work of Harry Callahan (notes here) feeling inspired how Callahan photographed his wife and daughter I have decided for my assignment I would like to create a series of portraits my subject is my daughter. For this assignment, I’m thinking to create a series of portraits that show the emotions and changes my daughter was facing during and after the move. Being a military child is not easy these children are faced with many different challenges, they learn to become resilient from a young age We have never stayed for a long time in one place my daughter has been to 4 different schools in the last 6 years she has made friends and lost friends some never to hear from again. We moved to Cyprus in 2014 she was 7 years old we have never stayed longer than a couple of years in a posting but this time it was for a good 3 years now many would think 3 years there is not much difference between two-three years but there is. For the first time my daughter felt settled it took her good year and a half she made friends even a best friend which she said to me at one point ‘mum there is no point to make best friend because they leave or I do’ and then that is what happened I have never seen my daughter go through so many emotions in one move .
Planning the Images –
My plan fo this assignment is to use my home studio, I need to create a series of 5 images I want to use a black background for each image the reason I have decided to use my home studio across the series of images is I want the body of work I am creating to be consistent and I feel that black background will work well with the series because it allows not distractions and will make my subject stand out. I have also decided to work with a black background because the colour black is associated with fear, the unknown, negativity and I feel that the colour works well with the series because these are all the emotions my daughter was feeling at the time.
I want the images of my series to work as a narrative and tell a story of the emotions she was feeling during the move my ideas for the images are as follows –
Image 1 – here I go again packing my life into a box. I think that for this image I need to use a box as a prop this will represent the start of the move.
Image 2 – Nobody understands I feel alone I found that during the time of the move she felt alone she did not feel that we understood as parents how she felt about leaving everything behind she knows. For this image, I want to create a dramatic image experimenting with my lighting.
Image 3 – I hide my true emotions. for this image, I am thinking to use a mask the reason I have decided to use a mask is that a mask is an object used to disguise this is what my daughter was doing with her feeling hiding them away.
Image 4 – I feel broken inside for this image I am thinking that I want to get a little bit more creative, My idea for this image is to photograph my daughter close up then using photoshop I want to create a shattered effect to her portrait I think this effect would work well to show her emotions of feeling heartbroken
Image 5 – The new beginning for this image I am thinking about photographing the old and the new so I am thinking a portrait of my daughter in her old uniform and another in her new uniform and then combined the images in a creative way.
Working on my images –
Equipment to be used –
For this assignment I will be using my Nikon d5200 with my 18-140mm kit lens as well as my 35mm prime lens my images will be shot in RAW format, images will be edited using Lightroom and photoshop. A tripod will be used and my home studio setup which consists of two strobe lights, two white umbrellas and a black backdrop.
Lighting set up –
As mentioned above for my images I was going to use my basic home studio with two strobe lights. I used a basic set up with one light at each side of my subject to start with and as I worked through my images I experimented with different lighting, sometimes using one light, other times placing one light behind the subject or above the subject, unfortunately, I only have one trigger at the moment so I could only trigger the flash of one light at a time.
Image 1 – Here I go again packing my life into a box
The idea for the image was to show my daughters life in a box so to create her portrait I decided that I will put her into the moving box. Lighting was the key element to my image I had the idea that I wanted the light to highlight my subjects face leaving the surrounded area around the box slightly darker I found that my lighting set up worked well using only one light placed slightly to the left side of my subject and facing down toward the subject.
The idea for the image, here I go again packing my life into a box. Using the box as a prop was an idea that I got when talking to my daughter. When I asked her about how she was feeling about the move her response was “I feel like I live in a box” these words have never been more true moving boxes are a big part of our life, we never know how long we are going to be in a place for we were really lucky in Cyprus as we had lived there for 3 years and the place we have lived the longest my daughter made friendships and went the same school for 3 years so this time when we had to move it was not an easy one. The idea for my image was to show this so I decided that for this portrait I was going to use a moving box as a prop by placing my daughter into the box I was going to show the feelings of her response “I live in a box”
Image 2 nobody understands I feel so alone
For this image, my idea was to show the anger and isolation my daughter was feeling during the move. For this image again it was important for me to experiment with my lighting to create the dramatic feeling to the image another important part of the image was for me to think about how I needed to position by subject in the frame to make the image interesting and show the emotions at the same time.
during the time of the move I found my daughter hiding her emotions, she did not really want to share her feelings about the move, saying goodbye to her friends or about starting a new school. I just found that she was angry all the time towards everyone. I think that it is so hard for them at this age because they don’t think we as grown-ups understand, they feel alone and all we can do is support them. I decided that for this image I would not use props as I wanted to show the emotions she was feeling anger, loneliness and just being fed up of our life always changing. I placed my daughter in the frame underexposed the background as much as I could to create darkness around her to show these negative feelings as well as the loneliness.
Image 3 – I hide my true emotions
My idea for image 3 is to use a mask as a prop I have decided that this prop will work well with the image because a mask is an object used to disguise a person, therefore in the image, it will be used as a way to show my daughter disguising her true emotions. To make the image a little more interesting I have decided using Photoshop I will add text to the mask the text on the mask.
As mentioned above I felt that my daughter was hiding her true emotions about how she was feeling towards the move. For this image, I wanted to show this so I decided to use a mask as a prop. The reason I choose a mask is that masks are used as a means to disguise so I thought it would work well because this is what my daughter was doing she was disguising her emotions. She would smile and pretend everything was fine but she was not because she would have the occasional angry outburst but when she was asked she would just turn away and answer “I’m fine.”
The self looks at the self as if an outsider. I feel as if all I do is not my real actions but just a masquerade. I know that my face looks as it looks all the time. But it feels to me like a mask. (1)
Experimenting with the mask –
For this image again I wanted to experiment with the framing of my subject as well as the lighting. So tried different ways of photographing my daughter some shots straight on, close up shots, shots from above my subject. I also experimented with a half mask but I feel that the half mask was not working well.
After much consideration and experimenting, I decided to use this image because I liked the composition of the image with the mask slightly forward and my daughter peaking from behind I think that the image would work well with the text I want to add to it.
Adding the text to the image –
I used Photoshop to add the text to my image, adding the text to the image was taking longer then I thought it would at first I experimented with different fonts and size but I was not happy how it was turning out so I decided to try using one font but with different sizes I wanted the font to represent a child’s handwriting so I decided to use the Chalkboard font I also decided to keep the text in a straight line and using the transforming tool size it to what I needed it to be. I thought it would be a good idea to set the opacity and fill on certain lines of text creating dark and light I thought this would add depth to the mask.
Image 4 – I feel broken
For image 4 I wanted to create a shattered effect to my portrait the reason I wanted to do this is that I think it would be a good way to show how heartbroken my daughter was feeling leaving everything behind again to start over. My idea for my image is to create a headshot of my daughter and then using Photoshop I want to create a shattered effect to my portrait
My daughter was heartbroken leaving her life behind in Cyprus to return to the Uk. She had to say good-bye to her friends, her school, her horse-riding instructor and even the horse she had been riding for the last 3 years Legacy. It is a lot to give up. When we decided to collaborate on this project together I asked her to describe to me in one word how she felt about the move? her answer: “heartbroken mummy.’ So this is when I decided that I wanted to show this in my image. I decided that I would do this by creating a portrait that looked shattered into a lot of different pieces.
adding my broken effect to my image –
I did a few shots headshots of my daughter but I think this one is the best so I have decided to use it for my final image. Before attempting to add the effect to my image I first needed to watch an Adobe tutorial I found an interesting tutorial here. After watching the tutorials I started to experiment with my own ideas to see what I could create.
To create my effect on my image I created three different layers 1. outside layer 2. inside layer and 3. a copy of the inside layer. I first used the content aware to separate my subject from the background than layer 2 I used the liquefying tool this would help me to add my shattered pieces to my portrait. I then made a copy of the layer and started to paint the portrait back using the black paintbrush once I completed that I used a geometrical paintbrush to paint the broken effect on my image. I then returned to the copy and continued to paint my portrait with the black paintbrush until I got the effect that I wanted. My plan for the image was to be able to show my daughters face still as well as the broken textures I added to the layer.
I’m really pleased with image 3 and 4 and I feel that the two images work well together with the positive text on the mask hiding the true feelings towards the move and then image 4 showing how she actually feels inside broken and unhappy.
Image 5 – The new beginning
My idea for the image was to show the old and new in a creative way the change my daughter had gone through with the move. I really was struggling with this image as my ideas were not working out as I planned.
This image was a struggle for me I did not really have a clear idea of what I wanted to create all I knew is I wanted to show the old and new together, for me this image was maybe one that I thought was the weakest.
Creating my image –
for this image I decided to photograph my daughter in her old and new uniform I decided then to use the two images to create one interesting image.
Experimenting with my image –
*My first idea for the image was to add a texture overlay to image 1 giving the image an old effect to it and then I would blend the two images together to create my final image but I was not too happy with the outcome and decided I needed to rethink my idea.
Rethinking my idea –
*feeling inspired by the work of artist David Samuel Stern (notes here) who uses a weaving technique to create interesting portraits I decided to attempt this technique myself but unfortunately after many failed attempts, I decided that the technique needed to be studied more in-depth and I will return to it at a later date.
*my last attempt was to return to the first idea and combined both images together but instead of adding a texture to the first image I wanted to create a disappearing effect so using Photoshop I blended both images together and experimented with the paintbrush and blending modes of the image to create the effect I wanted.
Assignment Planning –
(1)Man his mask, The self: Its masks and depersonalization by Elena Bezubove, Nov 24, 2011, Psychology today [online] Available at https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-search-self/201111/man-and-his-mask