For this blog post, I am going to tell you all about my college project inspired by Tim Walker. This includes, the preparation, the research, the shoot, the post processing and the evaluation. Its a long read but hopefully it’ll give you a little insight into what goes into a project.
This project consisted of 5 tasks and the final photoshoot. The first task was a research task. I researched three portrait photographers; Tim Walker, Rankin and Liora K. I did a double page spread for each photographer in my sketchbook. Within my research, I analysed their photos, researched their history and even looked at their social media accounts. By looking at various parts of their career it gave me more of an insight into their lives. For my research on Liora K, a photographer and activist, I also created a page of quotes and drawings inspired by her feminist series. This gives my sketchbook more of an artistic and messy feel. I like this as it shows experimentation within my work. I liked all three photographers that I researched, however, Liora K was by far my favourite. This is because she is talking about issues that I am very passionate about. I like photography that contains political messages like this does.
The next task was to create a mood board explaining my ideas for my final photo shoot. We were given a choice to use either Walker or Rankin as our inspiration for our final piece. I decided on Walker as it was a little bit more out of my comfort zone and I loved his use of fantasy within his work. I thought outside of the box and created my mood board in the shape of wings, as I had decided this would be the main theme of the images. I feel that by creating my mood board in a shape other than a rectangle I made it stand out more and it fit well with the fantasy theme Walker uses. If I was to redo the task again, I would plan out the organisation of my mood board better. After sticking on the images, there were blank spaces which I then had to fill. If I had planned better, I could have ensured I had images to fit all areas of the mood board.
Task three was to create a story board and lighting plan. I drew each component of my shoot on separate pieces of tracing paper, by doing this, it meant that I could view each piece together or apart. The purpose of a lighting plan is to show what lighting you will be using and where it will be placed. Along with the lighting, I also drew my props and model within my lighting plan to show how they would look in relation to each other. One thing that I would change about this piece would be that it should have been bigger. I did the task on a5 tracing paper, however, looking back, it should have been at least a4 so that it is easy to see and understand.
The next task, task four, was to experiment with studio lighting techniques. I researched multiple lighting techniques and equipment prior to using the studio so that I could go in with a clear idea in my head. Looking back I feel as though I could have gone into more detail with the techniques as I just had an example, a lighting diagram and several bullet points for each one.
I did multiple practice shoots prior to my final shoot to get used to the lighting equipment and figure out which techniques would work best. I did three test photo shoots, all of which I am very proud of. My favourite is a photoshoot I did with Josie. Within this I experimented with second curtain sync as I was using a slow shutter speed. I liked the effect of these images as they showed a lot of motion as Josie’s head was moving but also had a clear frame where the flash had gone off. I thought this gave a very intriguing effect and is something I would like to use more of in the future. I showed evidence of each photoshoot in my sketchbook along with screenshots of the lightroom settings I used. I am very proud of these pages as they show images that I feel worked very well, and showcase my post processing skills.
Along with two portraiture shoots, I also did a product photography shoot in order to get more practice with the lights. I tied this in with my blog. I was doing a post entitled ‘What’s In My Camera Bag?’. Within this I listed everything in my camera bag along with their uses and any pro’s and con’s I had found when using them. I used the studio to take photos of the different items against the white backdrop. I used side lighting to give them a slight shadow on one side so that they had a little more depth.
Task four is the task I am proudest of as I used the studio for the first time and got results I would be very happy to display.
The mini task was multiple projects in one. We had to create a model release form, a risk assessment form, and research how to source props. I created a simple model agreement form which my model could then fill in on the day of the shoot. This include relevant information such as names, addresses, and dates. By creating a model release form, it protects me in the unfortunate case of being sued by a model as the form states that they are giving me their full permission to take and use the images. The risk assessment form has a similar purpose. By filling out any risks in the studio and how to prevent them, it means there is less risk of an accident happening and therefore less risk of legal action.
I also researched props for my photoshoot, as I had decided that my theme would be wings, these would be my main prop. I decided to make them myself so that I was in complete control of how they would look. I made the base out of cardboard, and strengthened it with paper mache. After painting it I covered one side in feathers and attached a wire coat hanger to the other to add some extra support. The only thing left to do was to attatch some string and get my model to try it on. I really liked the wings that I made, I felt as though they complimented my final shoot well.
I used a monoblock with a snoot to achieve the lighting. I used the Rembrandt lighting technique to achieve this look. The light was 45 degrees up and out from the model so that the light came slightly from the side of the model. I used a snoot to light all of my images as I wanted a small beam of light so that I was in full control of the shadows and highlights. By using a snoot, it ensured that I could place the beam of light in specific areas. If I had used an umbrella the light would have wrapped around the model and caused much softer shadows. I printed out every image I took onto a contact sheet. This helped me decide which photos I wanted to take forward into the post processing stage. I crossed the images I didn’t like and highlighted the images I liked. This made it easy for me to see all of the images at the same time and compare the pros and cons of each. I rated each photo on composition, lighting, and positioning of the model.
You can see on the contact sheet that just one image is circled. This is because I needed one image of the balloon to comp into another image. This was not a photo on its own, but one needed to enhance another. This is why I circled it rather than highlighted it like the others.
I feel that my editing process was successful as I narrowed my photos down to just five. I also used Lightroom as a digital contact sheet to decide my final prices.
When it came to manipulating my images, I used both Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop. I feel that by using both programs I got the most out of my images. As previously stated, I used Lightroom as a digital contact sheet to cut down my images. I then used the develop tab to adjust each image separately. I think that my image manipulation is my favourite part of the project. I like to be creative with my photos, and I think that manipulating is where I really got to do that. For three of my images I used Lightroom to adjust the levels and clarity, I felt that that was all that was needed to really enhance the images.
For the second image, I used Photoshop to comp two images together. I took an image of Josie sat on the floor, and edited in the balloon whilst also expanding the canvas to add more space into the frame.
Each person can interpret my images differently and choose the reasoning behind each image. I know why I made the images how they are, however, I would like each person to make up their own mind and get what they want out of each photo. In a gallery or exhibition setting I would not share the meaning behind each photo. However, for this project I will share my thoughts and feelings.
My main inspiration for this project was Tim Walker. His images are very whimsical and fairy-tale like. I chose to transfer this theme into my own images.
I turned 18 in the middle of this project, this was a big part in my reasoning for each photo. 18 is a pivotal age for many people, and is seen as a turning point. At 18 you are officially an adult and this can be very scary. You are lost and lonely and losing your childhood. I wanted to use the theme of childhood innocence for this shoot. Once you turn 18 there are so many changes on the horizon and it can be scary and intimidating. I wanted to show this within my images. So many people feel this way at 18, and I just so happen to have the privilege of expressing my feelings through photography.
The series of images were created to be displayed in a particular order so as to show the stages and developments of becoming an adult.
This is a long exposure of my model stood in the middle of a room wearing wings with four balloons tied to her. I used the wings to represent death and angels, however, not in the usual sense. Rather than representing the death of a human, I wanted it to be the death of a concept. The concept in this case being childhood. By using a long exposure, I could make the background look as though it was moving. I wanted to do this to show how everything around you is changing even though you don’t want it to. On the cusp of adulthood, things around you are changing even though you don’t feel ready. I still feel like a teenager, not ready for the real world. This is what I tried to portray in this photo, everything is moving whilst I am just standing still.
Image 2 represents the loneliness may people feel at my age. The model is sat on the floor wearing the wings and holding a single balloon in her hand. I used rule of thirds to place her in the frame with lots of blank space around her. The space represents the loneliness and both the pose and the balloon representing childhood. It’s hard moving on from any chapter of your life, but as a teenager things seem so much harder. You often feel lonely and as if no one understands what you are going through.
This is a similar image to image 1, however, in this image both the subject and the background are moving with the long exposure. This is to represent how at some point you will start to change with your surroundings. You will develop and grow just like everything around you has. You will never stay a child forever, and turning 18 is the last step in the process of growing up. It feels like the final hurdle, the hardest good bye. But you will begin to change, and grow up, and figure out which direction you want your life to go in.
This is the final image in the series and slightly different to the others. It is a close up shot of the model against a plain white backdrop. It represents the final stage of growing up when things are calm and bright. Things will always get easier even if it doesn’t seem like it. I tried to show the progression of emotions throughout the series. This final image shows the end result. A time where you are happy with your place in life and things are figured out. It takes a while to get to this stage and you must get through dark times before you arrive here. But it is possible, and with enough determination you will get there.
In terms of my final four images, I am proud of how they turned out. I had them printed online and mounted them using pre-made white mounts. This makes the images really stand out. By mounting the images, I feel that it has a more professional feel than if I had just left them as prints.
I used a snoot to light all my images with a monoblock on a tripod. I used a snoot as I wanted a direct beam of light to hit my model. By using a snoot, it ensured I had full control of the shadows it caused. I did experiment with using a shoot through umbrella, however, this made the light wrap around the model and caused much softer shadows.
I like all of my images for different reasons. My favourite element is the long exposure in image four. I like using long exposures in my work as it gives my images more depth and creativity. I think that the long exposure works well with the theme of wings as it creates the perception of flying.
My overall favourite image is image three. This is the close up of the model’s head and the wings. I like the plain background and the faded look. I think it has a vintage feel to it. I used a snoot and Rembrandt lighting to achieve this look. This is so that one half of the image was brighter than the other side. You can see the circle of light on the backdrop and the shadow at the top where the snoot has directed the light away from the top.
At the end of this project I came out with three distinctions, the highest grade I could have gotten. I’m so happy that all of my hard work paid off.
So that’s how my project came to fruition, it was a long read but I’m hoping you learned something from this. Would you like to see more posts like this? Let me know!