Summer Project Task Two – Practical

  1. Record a visual diary. It should be as intimate and honest as you’re able to be. You should make images from the first time you open your eyes, through to closing them to sleep.
  2. Direction: Imagine the person closest to you. Imagine that this morning they woke up. Got out of bed, without making it. Then walked out of the room and your life, never to come back. Now go into that room in your mind and see the evidence of their presence. Don’t photograph the head but look for the marks that it made on the pillow. Search out the traces that detail this person’s effect on their immediate environment and record them.
  3. Further reading: “Closer” by Elinor Carucci, “I’ll be you Mirror” by Nan Goldin, “Hide that can.” by Deirdre O’Callaghan


What do I plan on achieving in my photo shoot?

After looking at the brief and researching Nan Goldin, I have decided to take a set of slightly abstract, diaristic images that show my effect on different subjects within my house throughout the day. I do not plan on photographing any portraiture style shots, as I wish to try and leave the viewer with a sense of mystery by showing the changed state or the absence of particular items. This plan appears to show little evidence of research of Nan Goldin, but I have decided that I am going to show her influence through the way I edit the colour within my photographs and by leaving in any unwanted blur that may occur within my photos.


What equipment will I need for my photo shoot?

  • Camera – Canon EOS 600D
  • 18-55mm Lens
  • Fully Charged Battery
  • Props (dependent on the photograph in which I am taking – see next page)
  • Knowledge of abstract photography (conducted in my previous year by looking at Edward Weston)
  • Knowledge of the use of colours and textures Nan Goldin used


Technical Aspects:

As I am trying to achieve close-up, abstract photographs, I will need to put my camera’s aperture setting onto an f/number no larger than about f/8. This will allow the depth of field within the photograph to be smaller by blurring the background and enabling the viewer to focus on the abstract object within the photo. Depending on the lighting within the shot, I will have to change the ISO setting so that the camera’s sensor will become slightly more or less sensitive to the light within the photo. I will finally put the shutter speed of my camera onto about 1/50 seconds, but if I were to experiment with ‘unwanted’ blurring, I would put it onto a slightly slower shutter speed such as 1/8 seconds.


How I edited my favourite photographs:

To start with, I went through each individual photograph and selected my favourite image of each subject matter. I then edited them using the Adobe Photoshop Elements 10 software, where I experimented with different colouration techniques to show my influence of Nan Goldin. I started by either cropping and/or straightening my images where necessary before changing the image size to 155cm width and 105cm height. I then experimented with choosing auto levels, contrast, or colour, and used these only if I felt it improved my image. I then increased the saturation of the image to between 10 and 30% dependent upon the use of bright colours within the image. I finally increased the contrast on all of my images to 50%. I am now going to look through my edited photographs and decide which photograph is the best, and then I will experiment with different layouts with a variety of numbers of photographs to see which overall design gives the best abstract and mysterious effect that I was trying to achieve.


Favourite Photograph:

F/number = f/4.5
Shutter Speed = 1/40 seconds
ISO = 125

The focal point of this image is the reflected light on the black trouser hanger that is found on the divide of the middle left and centre thirds. Once the viewer has seen this focal point, they then swiftly move downwards to the gold hanger, quickly take in the light reflection on the drawers handle, before using the trouser hanger, gold hanger, and the divide between the draws as leading lines to the blurred black hanger in the background. The viewer then follows the vertical light reflection on this hanger upwards, where they then meet the dark brown wood of the top of the chest of drawers. They then follow this diagonal line to the left of the image, see the handle of the top drawer, and follow the metal hook of the hanger back down to the focal point. The viewer, therefore, has completed a circular route around the image, enabling them to take in every aspect of the photograph. The unique lighting within this photograph that has been created through the many reflections captured in this image gives the photo an overall mysterious and quite threatening demeanour. This aspect can then be used by the viewer to create a narrative around this photo, simply by joining a variety of clues. After the viewer has physically looked at the subjects within the photograph, and have noticed the threatening feel of the image, they then decide that someone (the person that is responsible for making the hangers empty) got up this morning, got dressed, and left the house to do something criminal and unjustified. Once the viewer has gone through this thought process, they then feel that this photograph symbolises the last time that this person will have their independence before being flung into a tiny box, with no means of escape, and their individuality slowly rotting down to the despised, collective noun of a ‘Criminal’.

Although this image can be seen as having a very powerful narrative, it is not strong enough to be displayed individually. The following layout on the next page has more of an impact on the viewer as it can be seen as incredibly relatable and can have a variety of different narratives depending on how the viewer looks at it.


Favourite Layout:

This layout was selected after a long period of thought and experimentation with each of my final edited photographs. I experimented with a variety of different layouts, ranging from pieces that included only 5 of my images to all of them. I played around with laying them out as a vertical line, horizontal line, different sized squares, pyramids, and even a random orientation (much like Wolfgang Tillmans work that was exhibited in Tate Britain, London, 2003 – Page 148 of ‘The Photograph as Contemporary Art’). I did, however, settle on this relatively straight forward 4 x 5 image rectangle as I felt that this portrayed my diaristic narrative in the most effective way. I decided to remove my least favourite and weakest images from this layout so that each photograph within this display had a similar quality to them to give the piece an authentic and professional look. During my experimentation, I actually printed out my photographs onto plain paper and roughly cut them out so that I could rearrange the images without worrying about fingerprints! In doing so, I actually found that I had cut my images into what looked like Polaroid photographs. I then decided that this genuinely looked very professional and that this effect enhanced the diaristic documentation that I was trying to achieve by placing a more personal touch to the images.

This particular layout gives the viewer diverse ways of viewing my daily narrative. What I mean by this, is that the first way in which the viewer will understand my narrative is by simply working their way through the images as if it was a page in a book or a diary, so from left to right across the rows. By doing this, the viewer realises that the first row shows different stages of me getting out of bed, the second row having breakfast and washing up, third row having a shower, the fourth row relaxing, and the fifth row shows me getting ready to go out. This way, the viewer can see how many different tasks can be classified as doing one thing, and they can also see that even the slightest tasks help prepare me in my day-to-day life. The second way in which the viewer can view this narrative is by looking at each column in turn. Each column shows different tasks within each ‘classification’ and can be seen as a simplified version of my daily routine.



Final Piece Idea 1:

If I were to do a final piece, my first idea would be to exhibit my display piece at a larger scale of an image size of 10 x 15 cm.

By using the Adobe Photoshop Elements 10 software, I managed to experiment with three different background colours of black, white, and grey. After doing this, I decided that my images stood out more with a black background and that this colour also added to the mystery of the abstract images. Having my photographs printed on a slightly larger scale will enable the viewer to take in every aspect of each image before looking at the series of photographs as a collection. Exhibiting photographs also allows the viewer to physically get closer to the images which gives the viewer a much more personal experience with the photographs.


Final Piece Idea 2:

If I were to do a final piece, my second idea would be to show my images in the media platform of an audio visual presentation.

I got this idea from my research into Nan Goldin by using ‘The Photograph as Contemporary Art’. On page 139, it says that Nan Goldin’s first public showings of her slide images were held in various clubs throughout New York and was either accompanied by a selected playlist or by live bands.

I would use my chosen 20 images (as they are the strongest and create the most believable diaristic documentation) and put these in the same order within my audio/visual presentation. I would then show each image for about 8 seconds to give the viewer enough time to fully take in each photo before fading into the next image. This fading effect will show the viewer that the tasks are closely related. I would then add a couple of personal favourite songs to enhance the personal feel to the collection, but I will also look for ironic lyrics as I have found that in the past, the viewer responds to this in a stronger way.