ASSIGNMENT 3: PUTTING YOURSELF IN THE PICTURE

Niki South               Student number: 514516

“THE HIDDEN ME”

IMAGES

IMG_6090 2 ps 1500

“The Organiser”

Image 3: Exposure 1/8 sec,   Aperture f/11, ISO 200, Focal length 28mm

___

IMG_6288 2 ps 1500

The Escapist”

Image 24: Exposure 0/6 sec,   Aperture f/8, ISO 200, Focal length 50mm

___

IMG_6936 ps sq 1500

“The Peacemaker”

Image 85: Exposure 0/10 sec, Aperture f/8, ISO 400, Focal length 52mm

___

IMG_6309 sq 1500

“The lover”

Image 25: Exposure 0/3 sec,   Aperture f/8, ISO 200, Focal length 41mm

___

ASSIGNMENT 3: PUTTING YOURSELF IN THE PICTURE

Niki South       Student number: 514516

SUBMITTED INTRODUCTION

The Brief

Drawing upon the examples in Part Three and your own research, you can approach your self-portraits however you see fit. You may choose to explore your identity or masquerade as someone else, or use empty locations or objects to speak of your experiences. However you choose to approach it, use yourself – directly or indirectly – as subject matter.

Keep a diary for a set period of time (at least two weeks). Each day write two or three pages about yourself – what you’ve been doing/thinking. This can be as specific or poetic as you wish. You may wish to pick a theme for the duration. This is an open brief designed to give you freedom to create something personal which suits you best. Use the artists you’ve looked at in Part three or your own research for inspiration.

Select the most interesting parts of the diary (which could also be the most banal or mundane) and interpret them into a photographic project. You don’t have restrict yourself to the diary itself; you may decide to use it to take you into new territory.

Send your finished piece to your tutor by the method agreed together with an introduction of around 300 words briefly setting out your rationale and how you approached this project.

Introduction

“THE HIDDEN ME”

This assignment was a challenge as I avoid being photographed; however I resolved to keep an open mind until I had completed the exercises. I discovered through the directed research that self-portraiture was extremely varied, and the project became more interesting as I began to understand how photographers (initially Francesca Woodman and Elina Brotherus) used it confidently as self-exploration. A turning point for me was the exhibition “Behind the mask, another mask” (National Portrait Gallery, 2017). Their examinations of identity through their images of their multiple selves, as well as their commentaries and quotations such as “You always feel that you are the mask to some degree” (Wearing, 2012), caused me to ponder on my own identity and how I am made of multiple selves.

On rereading my diary, I was struck that though it contained a series of events, sporting, travelling social and domestic, it didn’t reveal the real me, only how I operate on the surface. I then reflected on the hidden me not revealed in my diary. I decided to represent four of these hidden selves in my images: The Organiser, The Escapist, The Peacemaker and The Lover. I expect that The Organiser is easily understood. The Escapist represents how I make space for myself amongst meeting the needs of others. The three peace lilies in The Peacemaker image symbolise members of my family and how I try to pour oil on troubled waters and hold them close. The Lover image is a visualisation of my mood and senses through colour and texture. My intention is to reveal increasing glimpses beneath the surface as the viewer moves through the series, I hope that I have built narrative meaning, despite some elements remaining obscure and personal to me.

The project took me out of my comfort zone, performing is not natural to me, and the shooting was challenging as I composed and then recomposed myself in the frame. In retrospect I may have lost myself in the performing slightly at the expense of some technical aspects; I hope I’ve addressed this somewhat in my final submission by reshooting “The peacemaker” in a purer light and reprocessing “The organiser” to improve the colour balance.

Ultimately I enjoyed exploring and expressing my identity and hope that it manifests as self-portraiture with a sense of ownership as I truly think that “the “I” in self- portraiture is truly comprehending an “other” (Sobieszek? 1978).

References:

National Portrait Gallery (2017) Gillian Wearing and Claude Cahun: Behind the mask, another mask. London. National Portrait Gallery.

Sobieszek, R (1978) “Other selves in photographic Self-Portraiture” in: Sobieszek and Irmas (1994). The camera i. 1st ed. Los Angeles: Los Angeles county museum of art.

Wearing, G (2012) on the wall at: National Portrait Gallery (2017) Gillian Wearing and Claude Cahun: Behind the mask, another mask. London. National Portrait Gallery.

 

ASSIGNMENT 3: PUTTING YOURSELF IN THE PICTURE

Niki South Student number: 514516

REFLECTIONS ON FORMATIVE FEEDBACK

“THE HIDDEN ME”

STRENGTHS HIGHLIGHTED

  • The “bold” concept
  • My communication
  • The images chosen for the concept
  • Use of the square format for the images
  • The research and commitment to the subject

AREAS FOR DEVELOPMENT

These were technical as I had expected: in my self-reflection I had said that I was pleased with my images as concepts but knew that they could be technically improved:

  • Lighting: experiment with diffusers, bouncing the light, reflectors and sources such as soft boxes.
  • Be aware of shadows and reflections and how to overcome them
  • Consider the colour balance, the peacemaker has a slightly yellow hue

MY LEARNING POINTS

  • Consider the type of lighting that is best for the subject, whether it should be direct or soft for instance.
  • Be alert to colour balance
  • Continue to make use of a variety of formats for effect
  • Continue to compose with some ambiguity
  • Continue the use of sketches pre shooting

IMMEDIATE ACTIONS

  • Reshoot “The Peacemaker” in a purer, softer light.
  • Reprocess “The organiser” to improve the colour balance

Link to learning log: https://nkssite2.wordpress.com/category/a3-learning-log/

These mind maps summarise the narrative of my brainstorming, preparations and post shooting thoughts contained in the learning log.

 Brainstorm:

Putting yourself in brainstorm 1500

 Shooting:

Putting yourself in shooting 1500

 Editing:

Putting yourself in editing 1 1500

 Notes on reshooting “The peacemaker”:

I recreated the same composition as in my draft shoot but experimented with the lighting. Before shooting I set up the shot in various locations with daylight from different positions. Having found the best location for light and minimal reflection I then shot the first 4 images without flash, the next 5 with a speed lite and then decided to shoot with only natural light.

 

ASSIGNMENT THREE DRAFT: PUTTING YOURSELF IN THE PICTURE

NIKI SOUTH               Student number: 514516

“The hidden me”

REFLECTIONS AGAINST ASSESSMENT CRITERIA

Demonstration of technical and visual skills: I chose to construct my ideas in “real time” in one photograph per image. I considered using photo-montage or photography combined with collage to represent my ideas which I think would have been easier. Working with props and layers within each image was challenging with self-portraiture (difficulties: focus, depth of field, movement, composition whilst in the picture) however I decided that although the photographs may not be as polished as usual they would be realistic and closer to representing me.

  • My observational skills were tested as I was moving quickly in and out of camera and I had to both see the composition and then be a part of it.
  • I composed and constructed each image before shooting, although when I reviewed images I had to make changes to gain the effect I wanted.
  • I considered carefully what I wanted inside each frame to convey a message, and therefore for each image which part of me I used was important; for instance in The peacemaker it was the centre, the heart of me that I want the viewer to focus on.
  • I also thought carefully about the perspective I presented in terms of the message I was giving; for instance shooting The Escapist with the bars on top of my body whilst shooting downwards, which I thought enhanced the feeling of containment I wanted to portray.
  • I carefully considered the background and colours for each image, for instance choosing white for The Peacemaker, green for the Escapist, and warm spicy colours for The Lover.
  • I used a remote camera timer for the first time and made extensive use of the self-timer. I also experimented for only the second time with a Speedlight and chose to work without it when this would be more effective and a slow shutter speed could be used.
  • I was surprised that three of the final four images chosen were taken at an aperture of f.8, however this reflects that I had a similar judgement on what aperture would give me the depth of focus I needed.

Quality of outcome:

  • It is hard for me to judge the coherence of my work as I agree that self-portraits are “charts of the most personal sort usually done in quiet complicity with the self” (Sobieszek, 1978). There are elements of some of the images that are meaningful to me but that I would not want to have to explain to others; I hope that there is enough in each image that enables the viewer to build meaning.
  • I considered the images as a series as well as singularly, this is why I reshot The Organiser with more than my hands and arms in it, even though I eventually returned to just my fingers. It was also one of the reasons and why I cropped The Lover to a closer shot when I found the image I wanted to use.
  • I constructed the order of the series to build up the narrative for the viewer from the less hidden of my selves to the most intimate of my multiple selves.
  • I chose to crop to a square ratio as I think this enhances the concept of “The hidden me” as it draws your eye into the centre of the image.
  • The images are cruder (less perfect) than I would normally tolerate but I hope that this is acceptable due to the nature of the self-portraiture and theme that I am trying to relate.

Demonstration of creativity

  • I moved from a position of not wanting to put myself in the picture to doing so with a purpose, self-reflection. This was risky for me and I used little disguise, ultimately dismissing mirrors and masks.
  • I experimented as I shot and after reviewing images to get what I thought were the most effective results.
  • I believe my concept itself of the hidden me is creative and that my construction of these is imaginative.

Context: I researched through exhibitions photographers and books both self-portraiture in general and photographic self-portraits; my learning points were invaluable when planning and executing my assignment:

  • To comprehend hard on my multiple selves and my identity.
  • Not to fear self-portraiture as self-exploration can be therapeutic and enlightening.
  • To consider carefully backgrounds, colours, framing and perspective.
  • To work within a short time frame to keep the focus; I shot all images in a few days. It is possible however that I have sacrificed quality a little for this focus and may need to return and reshoot to improve them when I reflect.

Reference:

Sobieszek, R (1978) “Other selves in photographic Self-Portraiture” in: Sobieszek and Irmas (1994). The camera i. 1st ed. Los Angeles: Los Angeles county museum of art.

ASSIGNMENT THREE DRAFT; PUTTING YOURSELF IN THE PICTURE

NIKI SOUTH                       Student number 514516

“THE HIDDEN ME”

IMAGES

IMG_6090 sq 1500.jpg

“The Organiser”

Image 3: Exposure 1/8 sec,   Aperture f/11, ISO 200, Focal length 28mm

___

B IMG_6288 sq 1500

 “The Escapist”

Image 36: Exposure 0/6 sec,   Aperture f/8, ISO 200, Focal length 50mm

___

 C IMG_6201 sq2 1500

“The Peacemaker”

Image 13: Exposure 0/3 sec, Aperture f/8, ISO 200, Focal length 50mm

 IMG_6309 sq 1500

“The lover”

Image 37: Exposure 0/3 sec,   Aperture f/8, ISO 200, Focal length 41mm

 

LEARNING LOG: PUTTING YOURSELF IN THE PICTURE

Learning log

Assignment 3: Putting yourself in the picture.

Preparation: I kept a diary for a few weeks and however when I reviewed it I thought it was more of a list of events and activities than a real insight into me (Sport: Running, rowing, tennis, gym work, travel, holidays and social events). By this time I had been reading and researching photographers who had embraced self-portraiture and I was perhaps feeling a little braver. I had never liked the idea of self-portraiture and will do everything I can to stay out of photographs, so had toyed initially with using shadows or what I now know is self-absenting portraiture. However I could see also that self-portraiture could be useful for self-exploration, and being a reflective creature I thought I would challenge myself.

I came up with the idea of presenting the hidden me that is not in the diary but runs underneath the events in the diary, even before I had finished my research. At the end of my research I realised that my idea of the hidden me actually chimed with others like Claude Cahun, Gillian Wearing, Trish Morrissey and Daniela Rossell who have explored their multiple selves.

This was my initial brainstorm for the hidden me:Putting yourself in brainstorm 1500

As I moved on from here my ideas focused around how to in self- portraits represent my multiple inner selves: The Peacemaker, The Lover, The Escapist and The Organiser. I considered props, mirrors, and fragments of myself as I thought I would need some disguise or masking. I decided to use some props not so much as to hide but to represent ideas around each self. I toyed with collage and photomontage but decided in the first instance to try shooting the ideas in one image. Whether I would fully embrace putting myself in the picture to explore my identity remains to be seen but I had the motive and intention.

Shooting notes: Self-portraiture is harder than it looks! I began with “The Organiser”, set the shot up at my desk with props, selecting just my hands/arms to be in shot. Using a new remote camera trigger I played with various focal lengths and orientations, though I wasn’t wowed with the outcomes. Next I shot “The Escapist” trying out different props but ultimately settled on camouflage gear and background, bars, a key and a watch only to create the narrative. “The Peacemaker” took a lot of setting up but less shooting once I had everything as I wanted, as I was very sure of the final image I was looking for. It was just my hand positioning that took time to capture as I wanted. Finally “The lover”, which took many more shots to achieve what I wanted. I then reshot “The Organiser” using a magnetic board and myself in a upright position and experimented with including some of my head, as I felt that compared to the other three images only using my hands/arms was too minimal. I tried all images with and without a speed light and settled without where I could be sure there would be no movement (“The Peacemaker” and “The Lover”). It was a coincidence that three out of four of my chosen images were shot at an  aperture of f/8 but my range was only f/8 – f/11 as I wanted to get as much of each image in focus. The focal lengths ranged from 28mm to 63mm but those with a body or head shot were mostly around 50 mm as this what I found the most comfortable distance from the camera and enabled me to play with the composition the best; I did shoot closer where it was just my hands.

Shooting Mind map:Putting yourself in shooting 1500

Editing: When editing for The Organiser I thought about choosing an image with the back of my head as well as my arms and hands as I felt that would sit in the series better, though ultimately I decided to just show  hint of my hands. These were the last 2 images that I eliminated:

IMG_6118 final 1500 Image 6

A IMG_6648 final whiter sq 1500 Image 71

The Escapist was easier to edit as I had only a few images out of those shot where my head was in the correct position once I had arrived at the best composition with only the bars, key and clock as props.

The choice of image for The Peacemaker was decided by the nature of my hands as I wanted to convey caring. The hands were difficult to get right as the vase when full of oil and water was heavy, even though I had eventually balanced it on a table in front of me. I think the image I chose illustrates me cupping and wrapping round the vase and the peace lilies as opposed to its closest runner where my hands and torso look more tense:

C IMG_6201 1500            IMG_6216 1500

            Final image 13                                      Not used Image 19

I had the most images to choose from for The Lover as I had experimented the most, having to allow for movement and retakes and had returned to my set up several times after reviewing images. I narrowed it down to:

IMG_6592 close 1500              IMG_6500 1500

Image 63                           or                                Image 48

IMG_6309 Image 37

Eventually I decided that the image that I wanted to share would actually be conveyed better by a close up and so I tried cropping each of these tighter towards me and eliminating foreground; these were more effective and I also settled on a square crop for the whole series as I felt this suited the concept of the “hidden me” better. I don’t usually crop to this extent but I felt justified as the results were what I wanted.

 Editing Mind map:Putting yourself in editing 1 1500

 

 

EXHIBITION: TERRAINS OF THE BODY: Photography from the National Museum of Woman in the Arts

I visited this exhibition (The Whitechapel gallery, London January- April 2017) to give me some more background for assignment 3 “putting yourself in the picture”.

Artists photograph the female body to express identity, communicate individual and collective experiences and to give life to the imagination. Photography here from the National Museum of Women in the Arts, of 17 artists from 5 continents, show that their contemporary images are increasingly performative and can narrate strong stories. These images are actually mainly stills taken from films or documented performances. Some verge on documentary whilst some are purely narrative. Anna McNay suggests that “The show’s title, Terrains of the body, makes reference to the staging of female subjects in various settings, but the term terrains also evokes a sense of ownership…taking possession of the medium of photography by woman, as a means of expressing her history and identity” (McKay 2017).

 

 

The focus is storytelling potential of the body in photography. It was good to see close up Nikki S Lee’s “The Ohio project 2002” where she dressed up and integrated with a group as a Midwestern trailer park resident, posing questions about identity and social behavior.

lee hip hop (Guggenheim, 2017).

As the female body has been a political and cultural battleground, images of fragmented or marked bodies, like Ingrid Mwangihutter “Shades of skin” (2001) with images of scars on her back and dangling feet, as if a hanging corpse impact deeply.

Women are shown in roles acting out masquerades such as Daniela Rossell’s “Medusa” (1999) where she lies on a bed with her hair arranged as medusa staring at you.

Rossell (Sooke, 2017).

Nan Goldin’s “Self-portrait in kimono with Brian” (1983) is half posed and shows an intimate daily life moment.

Goldin (Sooke, 2017)

Kirsten Justesen’s (2013) “Portrait in a cabinet with her collection” of statuettes a teapot and a box is thought provoking.

There were however images that left me with many questions:

  • Justin’s Kirkland’s “Waterfall mama babies” (2006) of a raft expedition where the naked mothers and babies are resting at a waterfall. What is it trying to say?
  • Janaina Tschape’s “He drowned in her eyes as she called him to follow” (1999), with a floppy woman on chair, looking down at her hand in polythene glove? Where is he?
  • Charlotte Ggyllenhammar “The Fall 111” (1999) where I thought she is wearing a ballet outfit, viewed from above; is she falling? Reading elsewhere I discover she is hanging upside down with the ruffled skirts suggesting a wedding dress suggesting loss of virginity.
  • Marina Abramovic “The hero” (2001), a strong image of a woman on white horse, holding a white flag dressed in black. Though I discovered in a review that it is a memorial to her soldier father.

I have read that the artists extend the scope of feminist art, reclaiming their own representation, and embrace the female body as a medium to express identity, however as a viewer I need some help with contextualizing them to build meaning; some more accompanying texts would have been helpful.

References

Guggenheim. (2017). The Hip Hop Project (1). [online] Available at: https://www.guggenheim.org/artwork/12992 [Accessed 20 Apr. 2017].

McNay, A. (2017). Terrains of the Body: Photography from the National Museum of Women in the Arts, Studio International. [online] Studio International – Visual Arts, Design and Architecture. Available at: http://www.studiointernational.com/index.php/terrains-of-the-body-photography-from-the-national-museum-of-women-in-the-arts-review [Accessed 20 Apr. 2017].

Sooke, A (2017). The Whitechapel Gallery’s all-female exhibit is a quiet, intelligent protest: Terrains of the Body, review. [online] The Telegraph. Available at: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/photography/what-to-see/all-female-protest-terrains-body-whitechapel-gallery-review/ [Accessed 19 Apr. 2017].

Please note: Any images by other photographers used on this siteare accredited and are being used for personal research and educational purposes only