201MC Moscow – Freelancing Opportunity

This blog post will be dedicated solely to all of the work that I do surrounding my freelancing opportunity to Moscow on 28th April 2014 – 3rd May 2014. This will include any weekly tasks that I am set, along with any worksheets, proposals, and plans that I complete/make for this experience.

WEEK 1 TASKS:

Researching into Photography Laws in Moscow:

Be judicious about taking photographs. Snapping photos of police or officials is a potential way to bring unwanted attention to yourself by members of law enforcement who won’t mind asking to see your passport. Also avoid snapping photos of official-looking buildings, such as embassies and government headquarters. Additionally, citizens on the street may not want their photo snapped and it’s best to ask politely if you spot a potential subject. Professional photography (for example, with a tripod) may require special permission and documents, but amateur photography is widely practiced without issue in Moscow. However, do note that museums may charge a fee for photography or ban it altogether.

It used to be that photography was banned on Moscow’s metro (as it is on the St. Petersburg metro), but taking photos in the “people’s palaces” and in the subway cars is permitted.

http://goeasteurope.about.com/od/moscowtravel/a/Moscow-Travel-Tips.htm

Read something about Russian Affairs:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/search/sport/?q=russia&search_form=in-page-search-form

Learn a Russian Greeting:

Think of Three Ideas for Your Project:

Photographer Research:

Ideas:

  • Idea 1 – was to improve both my portrait and street photography skills; however, after reading the laws of photography in Moscow, it is quite obvious that this idea would be out of the question
  • Idea 2 – abstract street photography; as I can’t photograph people and standard street photography in Moscow, I thought I would adapt my original idea in order to take more abstract street photographs by focusing more on structures rather than people
  • Idea 3 – a “selfie” travel project; using inspiration from Tom Robinson’s “feet first” travel collection, taking “selfies” of myself in interesting areas around Moscow
  • Idea 4 – as I am interested in the history behind Moscow as a city and Russia as a country, to photograph typical travel history images by visiting sites of significant historical interest and researching the history behind it

WEEK 2 TASKS:

Learn a Russian Greeting:

Think of Three Ideas for Your Project:

Photographer Research:

Ideas:

  • Idea 1 – was to improve both my portrait and street photography skills; however, after reading the laws of photography in Moscow, it is quite obvious that this idea would be out of the question
  • Idea 2 – abstract street photography; as I can’t photograph people and standard street photography in Moscow, I thought I would adapt my original idea in order to take more abstract street photographs by focusing more on structures rather than people
    • Question: How are structures and architecture in Moscow different from those found in Western Europe?
  • Idea 3 – a “selfie” travel project; using inspiration from Tom Robinson’s “feet first” travel collection, taking “selfies” of myself in interesting areas around Moscow
    • Question: How can I adapt a modern, nonprofessional trend of “selfies” to create a more professional portfolio?
  • Idea 4 – as I am interested in the history behind Moscow as a city and Russia as a country, to photograph typical travel history images by visiting sites of significant historical interest and researching the history behind it
    • Question: How can I represent Moscow and Russia’s history through my images?

WEEK 3 TASKS:

Learn a Russian Greeting:

Keep up to date with the winter Olympics coverage – Are Russia getting good or bad coverage?

After keeping up to date with the news that is currently coming out of Russia, I found that many of the major news companies such as the BBC and Sky have focused on their professionalism by seemingly reporting on the Winter Olympics. However, this doesn’t mean that some journalists haven’t used less formal platforms such as Twitter to complain about the organization of the city of Sochi (http://sourcefed.com/journalists-live-tweet-gross-ass-sochi-hotels/). I have also noticed that it is these less formal platforms (and rather more popular platforms) that have decided to highlight everything Russia has done “wrong” in the past decade, focusing mainly on the more recent trouble regarding the LGBT laws and the disgusting video evidence of this propaganda.

Research a Russian Artist – are there any differences in approach to Western Culture?:

Photographer Research:

Due to the photographic laws in Russia (see below), it seems as though photographers that use Russia as their subject tend to focus on the landscapes it has to offer rather than the Russian people. This is because, as they are not allowed to photograph people without their permission, it is an easier option, unless you are a well-known news photographer like Jeremy Nicholl.

Be judicious about taking photographs. Snapping photos of police or officials is a potential way to bring unwanted attention to yourself by members of law enforcement who won’t mind asking to see your passport. Also avoid snapping photos of official-looking buildings, such as embassies and government headquarters. Additionally, citizens on the street may not want their photo snapped and it’s best to ask politely if you spot a potential subject. Professional photography (for example, with a tripod) may require special permission and documents, but amateur photography is widely practiced without issue in Moscow. However, do note that museums may charge a fee for photography or ban it altogether.

http://goeasteurope.about.com/od/moscowtravel/a/Moscow-Travel-Tips.htm

MOSCOW WORKSHEET:

Moscow Worksheet – Designing your Professional Media Project

PLANNING:

As you have previously seen, for a couple of the weekly tasks I was asked to come up with at least three different ideas for my project along with questions that I could answer through my photographic response (these can be found below in italics).

  • Idea 1 – was to improve both my portrait and street photography skills; however, after reading the laws of photography in Moscow, it is quite obvious that this idea would be out of the question
  • Idea 2 – abstract street photography; as I can’t photograph people and standard street photography in Moscow, I thought I would adapt my original idea in order to take more abstract street photographs by focusing more on structures rather than people
    • Question: How are structures and architecture in Moscow different from those found in Western Europe?
  • Idea 3 – a “selfie” travel project; using inspiration from Tom Robinson’s “feet first” travel collection, taking “selfies” of myself in interesting areas around Moscow
    • Question: How can I adapt a modern, nonprofessional trend of “selfies” to create a more professional portfolio?
  • Idea 4 – as I am interested in the history behind Moscow as a city and Russia as a country, to photograph typical travel history images by visiting sites of significant historical interest and researching the history behind it

As you have also seen, I was then given a worksheet that I had to complete based around my current and new knowledge on Russia as a country and culture (see above). Once this was completed, I was then asked to come up with two project ideas using the questions that I created towards the end of the worksheet:

1)    What are the main cultural differences between Britain and Russia – are there some that are a lot different/more important than others?

2)    What is the history behind Russia as a country?

3)    What will I be able to create with the photographic laws currently outstanding in Russia?!

Two points that I then picked up on that I should take into account for my project is that it should be “up to 20 stills” and that I “could explore a single subject matter – architecture/ fashion/ food/ shoes… Anything!”

After looking at this, I then thought that the best thing to do would be to come up with some new ideas regarding the questions that I came up with on the worksheet. These can be found below:

Worksheet Idea 1What are the main cultural differences between Britain and Russia – are there some that are a lot different/more important than others?:

  • An adapted version of my first idea that I thought I would have to dismiss
  • I would use street photography to focus on cultural differences between Russia and Britain, for example, etiquette or more obvious changes like languages on signs and transport
  • (Due to the photographic laws, photographing differences in etiquette may be difficult and so I might have to primarily base this idea on the physical cultural differences)
  • Maybe compare the photographs that I took in Moscow to photographs of similar subject matters in the UK?

Worksheet Idea 2What is the history behind Russia as a country?:

  • Similar to that of my fourth original idea, to photograph typical travel history images by visiting sites of significant historical interest and researching the history behind it
  • Pair my images with a short caption taken from a significant historical point in time that relates to the subject matter?

 “Who is Russia?”

As you have also seen from the worksheet that I filled out, a suggested title for the exhibition is “Who is Russia?”. After brainstorming a couple of ideas that related to the questions I posed on this sheet, I then thought that I would come up with an idea based solely around this “Who is Russia” title.

After thinking about this title for a long while, I soon found that I was actually really interested in the cultural differences between Russia and the Western World. That is why this idea follows a very similar idea to that of my first Worksheet Idea, but whose points have been elaborated slightly.

  • This idea will be created using street and travel photography
  • Due to the photographic laws in Russia, however, the typical street photography style will be adapted to contain little or no people within the images
  • For this idea, I want to focus on just how different Moscow (and Russia) are from the Western world by photographing lots of possible differences that could be found between these two cultures (this could include aspects such as language, road markings, places, etc.)
  • I then debated photographing things within the UK in order to give the viewer a visual comparison aid, but quickly decided against this idea – I want the viewer to make their own comparisons, and as this piece of work will hopefully reach a number of international individuals, focusing the viewers comparison solely on the UK may hinder their imaginative comparison of their home country; also, as seen within the Worksheet I filled out, Western countries tend to only see major coverage from other Western cultures and so by focusing this project on creating photographs showing Russian subjects will allow Westernized people to see coverage of Russia in a positive and creative light

Final Idea:

After some deliberation, I found that I was greatly inspired by one of my ideas more easily than the others: the “Who is Russia?” idea. As previously stated, I am very interested in the differences that this newly experience culture will show me and so by creating a photographic project based around this idea, I feel that I will not only enjoy but that I will also come out with some satisfying outcomes.

However, another idea that grabbed my attention was that of the “Selfies” project. After seeing a number of videos based around this idea (see in “Research” below), I have always wanted to try it. I have therefore decided that I am also going to be doing this project as a sort of mini project alongside my main “Who is Russia?” collection, but if time doesn’t allow, I will be focusing solely on my “Who is Russia?” project.

The plans for both of these projects can be found below:

Planning:

“Who is Russia?”

What am I trying to achieve?

Through this project, my aim is to emphasize the differences between Russian and Western cultures by photographing a number of things within Moscow that are different from the Western culture that I know.

Although the differences between cultures is my primary focus, as Russia has been receiving some negative coverage in the news recently, I also want to create a number of images that show Moscow in a positive, beautiful, and creative way.

The Photographs:

As previously stated, this idea will use both street and travel photography and will be adjusted so that a human presence is lacking within the series due to the photographic laws in Russia. (However, I will be experimenting with taking photographs that include a human presence and may include some of these images in the final piece).

I will therefore be photographing more structural subjects that show a difference between objects or processes that take place in the Western cultures, (for example, signs, transport, places, fashion, etc.), but may include a small indirect, human subject.

Although I am trying to create a positive series of images surrounding Moscow, the absence of human presence will automatically hinder this positive vibe through suggesting to the viewer that the city itself is abandoned by eliciting an almost threatening and deadly atmosphere. However, this could be lessened through the way in which I photograph the non-human subjects, and I will need to make sure that I am careful not to create images that portray an uninhibited city.

I have therefore said that I want to enhance Moscow’s beauty within my photographs by photographing the average subject in a creative way. I therefore plan on experimenting with a number of photographic techniques that I am yet to use successfully and I will create a collection that shows my versatility with each of these techniques.

I have also decided against photographing a comparison image within the UK because I do not want to spoon feed my possible international audience with a suggested comparison. This will consequently allow my audience to engage their imagination and memories to create a more personal comparison and experience for each of my individual viewers. Each viewer will therefore experience my images in a different way.

In regards to shooting on digital or film, I have decided that I will try both. My final shots will be taken on my digital camera, but as I haven’t really used film before, I really want to challenge myself with the experimentation of using it.

The Possible Product:

For the possible product that I want to create upon my return to the UK, I have decided that I will want to produce an exhibition piece that will be shown on the wall. This is because it will not only enhance the permanence and prominence of the photographic work, but that it will emphasize the positive beauty behind the images that I set out to achieve, by being shown in this specific environment. What I mean by this is that no matter how negative the subject within the image itself may be depicting, as soon as it is shown in an exhibition space, it is automatically given a sense of positive importance through it’s location and enhanced exhibition context.

I am, however, unsure as to the layout and sizing of the final product, as this will need to be decided once the final photographs have been chosen and edited.

What will I need?

  • Canon EOS 600D
  • 10-24mm lens
  • 50mm lens
  • 70-300mm lens
  • 18-55mm lens
  • Light meter
  • Spare memory cards
  • Laptop
  • Chargers – camera and laptop

 “Moscow Selfies” – Mini Project (only to be completed if time allows!)

What am I trying to achieve?

This idea originally came to me because I was thinking of a way to get around the photography laws.

This series will be a relatively minor project (and will only be completed if time allows) and my plan is to create a collection of travel photographs that aren’t shown in the traditional sense but that is more following a new photographic trend (see “Research” below).

This project is something that I’ve always wanted to do and another one of my overall aims is mainly personal: I want to create a piece of experimental work that I have always wanted to try.

The Photographs:

Within each of the photographs that I take, I am going to be in a typical, standard “selfie” pose, which will be seen as a continuous pose in all of the photos with little change in position.

For those of you that don’t know, a “selfie” is” A photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website” (http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/selfie)

However, the environment behind me will change to interesting snapshots and places within and around the city of Moscow in order to show the travelling narrative throughout this city within this “selfie” collection. (Please see the relevant research below to understand this concept further).

This mini project will therefore not only show a new photographic trend that is taking place, but will also embrace the ever popular trend of “selfies” whilst eliciting a sense of creative, professional tourist snapshots within the collection.

The Possible Product:

For the final product of these images, I plan on creating a short video, much in the style of a video that I have used for part of my research (see below). My current plan for this video is to start the film off by including a slow introduction of standard filming shots to introduce the project and the city of Moscow. I will then include the “selfie” photos with fast cuts between each in order to show the variety of the environments that I experience whilst on my travels. I will then end the series with a closing filmed shot along with my photography details and copyright information.

However, as I am yet to take the photos, and although I have made a small current plan, I am still not 100% certain on the entirety of the outcome and, as with my “Who is Russia?” project, I will plan it in more detail upon my return.

Something that I do know, on the other hand, is that I will need to take a lot more than 20 stills for this project in order for it to be successful and to create a longer video.

What will I need?

  • Canon EOS 600D
  • 10-24mm lens or 18-55mm lens?
  • Light meter
  • Spare memory cards
  • Laptop
  • Chargers – camera and laptop

RESEARCH:

After deciding upon my final projects, the major “Who is Russia?” and minor “Moscow Selfies”, the next step for me to take would be to research a number of photographers and artists that use techniques that I mentioned in order to find inspiration for my work.

The research for each project can be found below:

“Who is Russia?” Research:

“Less than One 2006-2009” by Alexander Gronsky (Photographer):

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  • http://www.alexandergronsky.com/#/portfolio/works/less-than-one-2006_2009/0
  • Alexander Gronsky is a Latvian Photographer who has created a number of collections based solely around Russia
  • I wanted to look at his work to see how he has portrayed Russia as a subject and wanted to take an influence from his work and subject matter
  • Within his “Less than One” collection, there is an overwhelming sense of abandonment as he focuses primarily on the stereotypical Russian surroundings with little human subject being present within his images
  • However, he does include some human subjects within some of his photos, but as he is focusing on the structure and environment within the image, the human subjects simply appear to merge into the structural background – they are not a focus
  • Some of his subjects are also unusual and different environments or structures found within Russia that you wouldn’t be able to find in some Western countries
  • He has photographed each of the structures in a beautiful way using soft tones and colour palettes which takes away from the threatening abandonment elicited and achieves a more homely “everybody-is-in-for-dinner” kind of abandonment
  • Inspiration – using Russia as the subject; lack of human subjects; when human subjects are involved, they are not the focus; focusing on the different environment and structures; photographing harsh subjects in a beautiful way

Sam Stockman (Photographer):

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  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/29848789@N04/
  • When I searched for Street Photographers on Google, I was soon navigated to a link showing the “Top 50 Greatest Street Photographers Right Now”, and Sam Stockman was suggested as one of them (http://www.complex.com/art-design/2014/01/street-photographers/)
  • After previewing some of his work on this website, I decided to research into his work further as his style was very similar to how I wanted to portray Moscow within my images
  • Although throughout his travelling street photography he tends to have no human subjects present, his images show less of a state of abandonment as he has photographed structural environments that clearly show previous human presence
  • He also seems to photograph the everyday objects and subjects in a unique and creative way in order to enhance the beauty behind the subject
  • His photographs also all include a gorgeous colour palette that shows a wide range of subtle colours in a single image that adds to the beauty of the everyday subject
  • Inspiration – focus on subjects that show a previous human presence to lessen the abandonment elicited; photograph everyday objects in a unique and creative way; include a wide range of subtle colours to add to the everyday beauty

What are the differences between Russian and Western Culture?

“Moscow Selfie’s” Research:

“The Longest Way” by Christoph Rehage:

The Longest Way 1.0 – walk through China and grow a beard! – TIMELAPSE from Christoph Rehage on Vimeo.

  • https://vimeo.com/4636202
  • This video is a timelapse video created by Christoph Rehage showing him changing whilst walking through China over a period of a year
  • For the introduction to this video, Christoph included some facts about his adventure that simply faded in on a black background
  • We are then taken to a shot where numerous shots of him walking away from the camera fade in, one after the other, followed by the title of the project to emphasize the fact that it is a traveling project
  • We are then taken through each of his “Selfie” images relatively quickly with a simple cut transition being used in between each – this enhances the noticeable daily changes by not distracting the viewer with a fading transition
  • In some areas he has also taken a number of “Selfie’s” in the same place to achieve a stop-motion type of affect whilst also filming some of his “Selfie’s” to capture more of the environment around him
  • He then ends with a philosophical statement about whether the guy at the start was really him, leaving the viewer with something to think about whilst viewing a filmed clip of him walking away to signify the end of the video
  • The audio within the film also changes from a soft, classical piece in the introduction, to a fast paced piece of music when the viewer is taken through the “Selfie” images
  • Some ambient noises are also added to the filmed clips and we return back to the classical piece towards the end of the film to signify the beginning and end of the video
  • Christoph also states that he was actually inspired by Noah Kalin that I looked at below
  • Inspiration – slow introduction; fast paced showing of “Selfie” images; simple cut transitions to enhance the changes; experimenting with filming “Selfie’s” and stop-motion; including information about the project; adjusting audio throughout the film

“Everyday” by Noah Kalina:

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6B26asyGKDo
  • This timelapse video was created by Noah Kalina by photographing himself everyday over a 6 year period and was one of the first of these timelapse videos before it became a “trend” (term is used loosely!)
  • At the start of the video, the project is introduced with a simple fade in, fade out title to give the viewer some context about the idea
  • The viewer is then transported really quickly through six year of Noah’s life by viewing all of the “Selfie” images that he took in this period
  • These photographs are also only separated by a simple cut transition in order to heighten the change seen within each of the image
  • At the end of viewing all of the “Selfie” Images, the viewer is then given the title of the project again (so that it is fresh in their mind) before being given more information about the stats and information regarding the project including the photographers details
  • The audio within this film also doesn’t change and is a constant, slow, acoustic moving song which suggests to the viewer the long period of time in which this project was created
  • Inspiration – title introduction; fast paced showing of “Selfie” images; simple cut transitions to enhance the changes; including information about the project and myself as a photographer

After looking at these two videos for my research, I soon realized that these films were mainly made to show the changes in a person over a long period of time. My “Moscow Selfie” video, however, will be more similar to that of Christoph Rehage’s as I will be focusing more on the travelling aspect within the video. As I will be taking photographs over a very short period of time, I will not be dramatically changing and so plan on focusing the viewers attention on the change in environment in order to enhance the travelling feel of the collection rather than looking at identity and change.

PROJECT PROPOSAL (With Tutor Feedback):

Project Proposal with Response

MY RESPONSE TO TUTOR FEEDBACK:

Specifically Project 2 as Project 1 didn’t need a lot of work (please see feedback section at the end of the proposal form!).

“So consider the trend for selfies (it doesn’t seem to be going away…) and what it is saying about society?” 

  • We as a social culture are showing narcissism through modern technologies
  • It’s the self-promotion of peoples own idealistic image
  • Opportunities to show people where they are – they are used as evidence
  • Some selfies are used in order to highlight the persons importance or class – very belittling in this social media age
  • It is very much a competition
  • Looking for attention of both sexes – goes into theories surrounding gaze and representation
  • Also related to self-identity theories – can manipulate how we are perceived through the creation of a certain type of selfie
  • Related to body-confidence and recent media body-image

“The trend seems to spreading around the world – why is this?  Is this just about easy camera phone technology or has the trend tapped into a real need for us to express ourselves?”

  • I think it is mainly due to the increase in sharing technologies
  • As technology increases, number of countries that have this technology increase and the western trend can be associated with other countries striving to become more westernized
  • It isn’t about expressing ourselves, it’s about expressing someone we want to be perceived as – our virtual self

I suggest you develop the technique so that you are ready to make this simple to produce in the short timescale we have.

Selfie Practise 1:

IMG_8070

 

  • Uses wide angle lens (Tamron SP 10-24mm)
  • Uses auto setting on camera – will suggest possible use of light meter and manual setting in order to limit the use of the automatic flash
  • Extended arms allows more of the environment to be in the shot (which is what I want to mainly focus on)
  • Extended arms also emphasises the fact that it is a Selfie

Selfie Practise 2:

IMG_8072

 

  • Uses wide angle lens (Tamron SP 10-24mm)
  • Uses auto setting on camera – will suggest possible use of light meter and manual setting in order to limit the use of the automatic flash
  • Slightly bent arms decreases the amount of background in the shot but is a lot more similar to the style in the Selfie projects that I researched

After practising with these two styles, I have decided that I will be photographing my Selfie’s using the first technique. This is so that it not only increases the amount of the environment in the shot, but also because it enhances the fact that it is a Selfie through the inclusion of the arms, both highlighting the two main aspects of my project.

INSURANCE:

Unfortunately, after contacting a large number of insurance companies, I am unable to ensure the Mamiya 7 due to it being hired and a number of personal reasons. However, as I was simply taking the Mamiya for experimental purposes, this doesn’t pose a problem on me completing my projects. All of my own equipment is insured.

RISK ASSESSMENT FORM:

Moscow Risk Assessment

FINAL MEETING:

Coach transfer to LGW and back to Coventry:

  • Leaving Coventry at about 9am – Mez Packer is the other Lecturer coming
  • Won’t be back in Coventry until about 9 o’clock on the Saturday

Will need to take money:

  • Can’t buy rubles here
  • Russia prefer dollars to exchange when out there
  • Need at least £200
  • Metro is quite cheap, but food and drink will be more expensive

1st May:

  • Bank holiday
  • Celebration of communism
  • Will be fireworks and parades

General information:

  • 10 degrees and may be slushy
  • Clothes – boots, hat, scarves, gloves
  • First aid stuff – plasters, blister plasters, paracetamol, ibuprofen, etc.
  • Travel guide off of amazon

 

PHOTOS:

“Who is Russia?” Contact Sheet

“Selfie” Project Contact Sheet

As you can see above, I have included all of the photographs that I took, whilst on the trip to Moscow, as contact sheets. Upon my return, the next logical step was to edit these photographs in order to achieve what I had initially planned. Below you can see the process that I took during this editing stage and how I decided their presentation layout.

“WHO IS RUSSIA?” PROJECT:

Final “Who is Russia?” Contact Sheet

Before editing down the possible “Who is Russia?” images, I looked back over my initial plan in order to refresh my memory on what I wanted to achieve. I then thought that it would be a good idea to find out the definition of “Culture” in order to give myself a greater understanding of the term so that I could single out images that could be used as a visual representation of the word. The definitions that I found can be seen below:

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/culture?s=t

After finding out the true definitions of “Culture” I then thought about different aspects of the Russian culture that stood out to me as a Western tourist. The main three that stuck prominently in my mind was the apparent feeling of nationalism, the new feeling of a slight western influence, and the fact that all of Moscow, as a city and it’s people, seem to strive for and develop towards a wealthy and powerful ideal.

With these three aspects in my mind, I then went through a stage of elimination where I looked through my images and selected them through their representation of these cultural features.

Once I had chosen my final 8 (7 will be used in the exhibition piece – please see explanation below), the next stage was to edit them in order to achieve a similar colour palette and style through the images (resulting in a sense of continuity within the collection) before deciding on how I would want to present them as an exhibition piece.

PRESENTATION:

Who is Russia Presentation

The next step after editing my images, as stated previously, was to decided how I wanted to present my “Who is Russia?” images for the exhibition.

To do this, I started off by printing out my final edited photos and experimented with a number of layouts and sequences to see which one worked best. Below you can find an explanation as to why I have chosen different aspects:

Exhibition – As stated before, I chose to create a standard exhibition piece that will be shown on the wall in order to enhance its permanence and prominence whilst emphasizing the positive beauty behind the images. No matter how negative the subjects of the photographs may be, including them in an exhibition automatically increases the sense of a positive importance, which is something that Russia isn’t currently receiving in the world media.

Size of images – I have decided that if I were to include my images in an exhibition environment, I would have them at a standard photo size of 6”x4”. This is because it would represent a similar size to that of a postcard enhancing the fact that this collection was taken on my travels whilst also highlighting that the observations of the culture that I made were of a personal opinion. Having the photographs printed in this small size would also make the viewer want to move closer to the images, scrutinizing the small aspects of the photographs and creating their own, personal response to the images and the place. This will in turn hopefully challenging the negative views of Russia that the viewers have seen throughout the world media. In relation to the media again, this small size will be a contrast to the large images displayed on screens and in newspapers used by the media industry which will in turn emphasize the fact that these images represent a more positive and different side of Russia that the media do not seem to be showing.

Number of photos – As you have seen from the photo above, I have also decided to use 7 images within my final piece (two about nationalism, two about western influences, two about Russia’s ideal, and one central divider). This is because, when looking at a photographic piece, an odd number of photographs often represents that the collection is ongoing and not definite which will therefore be used to symbolize the fact that I did indeed take many photographs whilst on my travels. It will also suggest that the three main cultural aspects that I noticed are not the only ones that should be used to define Russia as a country.

Layout of images – As you can also see from the photo above, I decided to show my photographs in a horizontal, linear manner in order to enhance the narrative aspect of the travelling theme depicted through the project.

Sequence of photos – As for the sequencing of the photographs, I decided that I would use a symmetry style in regards to the cultural theme shown in each of the individual photographs. What I mean by this is that I started with a photo showing nationalism, then western influence, Russia’s ideal, a dividing image, Russia’s ideal, western influence, and finally another photograph showing nationalism. I chose this sequence not only because it was aesthetically pleasing, but I also wanted to pair up the cultural features that I found in order to create a rhythmical collection. I also chose this specific order as I felt that the sense of nationalism within Russia is currently being challenged by small influences from the western world, which in turn adapts Russia’s overall wealthy and powerful ideal. As for the middle, dividing photograph, I simply wanted to include an image that showed a cultural difference between Russia and the western world whilst also choosing an image that was symmetrical in itself in order to enhance the symmetrical sequence of the collection.

 

“SELFIE” PROJECT:

Final “Selfie” Project Contact Sheet

As for my “Selfie” Project, I looked through each of my photos and decided to remove ones that were either too similar to other photos in terms of using the same environment, or any that didn’t follow the same technique as the others.

Once this was complete, I then went through and edited each of the images so that they had a similar temperature and exposure, before centralizing my face, in order to achieve a continued style.

VIDEO PRESENTATION:

Moscow #Selfie Project by Holly Constantine from Holly Constantine on Vimeo.

Video – As stated during the planning stage of this “Selfie” Project, I wanted to create a video of all of my “Selfie” images. This was simply due to the fact that this was the typical medium that a “Selfie” project took and I wanted to create one in order to enhance my film editing skills. As you have also seen from my video, the definition of a “Selfie” is to be able to upload the image to a social media website which is also another reason why I chose to use this presentation format.

Titles/Introduction – I decided to use a number of titles and introductions in my film in order to introduce the context and meaning behind the project. I wanted to increase the projects provenance and show the viewers that there was more to this project than just engulfing myself in the popular trend of “Selfie’s”. Including the definition of a “Selfie” automatically meant that I gave a greater understanding to any viewer’s that were unsure as to the terms meaning. I also included a brief introduction into my other project that I conducted out in Moscow in order to show the viewer that I have created more work in case they were interested in it. This then lead me on to using a very popular line from a song that is currently out at the moment stating: “But first, let me take a #Selfie”. This was included to appeal to the younger audience whilst also making a subtle link to how popular the “Selfie” trend is at the moment.

Font – As for the font, I chose one font that I would use throughout the entire film in order to increase the continuity of the collection. I also chose to use a font that was very similar to the font used by the app “Instagram” which is one of the leading social networking platforms that young people use to share photos, including “Selfie’s”.

No filmed aspects – As you may remember, earlier I also stated that I was going to start and end my video with filmed environmental shots in order to give the viewer an understanding as to location of this project. However, I decided against this idea as I not only think that this would have taken away from my “Selfie” photographs, but I also feel that it would suggest to the viewer that I am a media student rather than a photography student, leading to potential confusion over other projects of mine hat they may come across at a later date. Instead, as said before, I decided to use simple text highlighting the main aspects of the project in order broaden the viewers understanding about the project.

Photo length – As for the length of the “Selfie” photographs, I decided to have them very short in order to show influence from the videos that I researched. This short length of photos can also be used to show the dramatic change in environment in a quick way, whilst also narrowing down the 6 days of tourist activities into a short, watchable video. The shortness of the photographs can also represent the non-permanent aspect of a “Selfie” photograph (you can upload it and delete it as many times as you like until you are happy with the outcome).

No Place Names on Images – Whilst editing together my video, I also looked back at Christopher Rehage’s “The Longest Way” and saw that he included titles of where the photos were taken at the bottom of the images. Although I thought this was a good idea, as it would show where the photographs were taken, enhancing the tourist “Selfie” aspect of the project, when I attempted to do this, I felt like it made the photos look less professional and hindered the pleasant aesthetics of the images.

Credits – After the small collection of “Selfie” photographs, I then ended my video with a number of typical credits. I started off with a screen showing that all of the photographs within the video and the video itself belong to me through placing a standard copyright statement. Following this there is a “With Thanks To” screen that simply shows my appreciation to the university and the tutors for the opportunity, and then I included the names and titles of the work that influenced me and the audio that I used (due to copyright laws). To end the whole video, I then included my contact details for my WordPress blog, Facebook page, and Twitter Account, not only so that the viewers know where to view my work if they wanted, but to also enhance the social networking side of the “Selfie” trend.

Transitions – As for the transitions used within the video, they varied between simple fades to fast-paced cuts. The simple fades were used on all of the title screens and the audio, whereas the fast-paced cuts were used solely on the “Selfie” images. The main reason for this was to make the video aesthetically pleasing whilst also giving it a sense of rhythm and continuation. The fading transition also often slows down the pace of the video, enhancing its narrative feel, whilst the fast cuts were used to increase the noticeable, visible changes in the environment surrounding my “Selfie” pose.

Audio – Finally, the audio selection that I chose was an orchestra cover of a slightly upbeat song that I felt fit perfectly with my video. I decided not to start the audio at the same time as the video as I wanted to give the viewer the overarching theme of the project before the audio began to play. The audio therefore came in as I started introducing my project in more detail, which added to the narrative feel at the beginning of the video. I also timed the audio so that it got a lot more upbeat as it got closer to the “Selfie” photos, representing the start of the main part of the project. By doing this, the tempo of the music also lessens after the “Selfie” photos, which can be used to symbolize the ending of the photos and the upsetting ending of the trip.

 

MOSCOW EXHIBITION:

As you have already seen, at the beginning of these projects, it was suggested that through taking part in this experience, we would be able to present our final products in an exhibition. After returning back to England, I soon realized that this supposed exhibition may not be as definite as first thought. However, as you can see from my planning and process above, I still wanted to create two professional photographic pieces that could be included in an exhibition environment if it were to still take place (see above for details on each piece suggesting why I wanted to include them in an exhibition). This would also enhance the professionalism of my portfolio and CV by allowing me to include a section of work that could be used in an exhibition due to its high quality.

 

WHAT I WOULD CHANGE:

After completing both of my projects and feeling incredibly happy with my final pieces, the next step is to reflect on them in order to see if I would change anything if I revisited the task. Please find my thoughts and suggestions below.

“Who is Russia?” Project:

For my “Who is Russia?” project, I really enjoyed the theme and concept that I came up with in response to a very small title brief. I feel that this is probably one of the strongest ideas that I have had to a given brief and although I felt that it was quite challenging to achieve the shots that I wanted (especially in a foreign country that had strict photographic laws) I feel that I responded to my created theme well.

One thing I would change, however, is, as you can see above, I actually ended up taking a lot of photographs on the trip to Moscow, and I would love to do something with them as I feel that there are a number of strong images that I can use. Although they don’t necessarily fit in with the theme of the project that I created, I feel like there are still a strong set of images that respond to the overarching title of “Who is Russia?”. If I were to continue this notion, I think that I would probably turn them into a small book of some sorts, representing that of a personal travel journal in order to enhance the provenance and permanence of the photographs and this extra project.

 

“Selfie” Project:

Although I have got quite a good response to my Moscow “Selfie” video, and I very much enjoyed this project and feel that my film editing skills have increased during the process, there are still some things that I would change if I were to revisit it.

The first couple of changes are mainly to do with technicality. I feel that for this project to be as successful as I had dreamed, a lot more “Selfie’s” will need to be created as the actual photographic side of the project only takes up a small amount of the video’s time. The next aspect that I would change is that I would try to enhance the quality of my images by working on my technique in order to achieve more professional looking images and to create an even more cohesive piece.

However, as I do feel that this project is relatively successful even though it isn’t as big as I had imagined, I am seriously considering taking the project further when I go travelling around Europe next year.

Finally, although I do love the video that I have created, and feel that it is one of my better videos to date, if this project were to continue, on a larger scale, I have thought of how I would adapt it to an exhibition piece. I would print out all of my “Selfie’s” to a small Polaroid type size and mount them on the wall in an informal cluster in order to represent that of a personal travel scrapbook. I would then turn my exhibition installment into an experience by leaving a space in between all of my “Selfie’s” and encouraging the viewer to stand in the space provided (with my “Selfie’s” behind them) and take their own “Selfie”. I would then enhance the understanding of the social media aspect of the “Selfie” trend, and create a Facebook page where viewers can upload their responses. This project will therefore become a collaboration experience.

TIME SHEET:

WEEKLY TASKS X3

  • 2 hours x3 – 6 hours

IEMS

  • 1 hour

TUESDAY 18TH MARCH 2014 – Planning

  • 10am-5pm – 7 hours

WEDNESDAY 19TH MARCH 2014 – Research

  • 10:30am-1pm, 2-6pm – 6.5 hours

THURSDAY 27TH MARCH 2014 – Forms

  • 7-9pm – 2 hours

 

MOSCOW TRIP:

Monday 28th April 2014

  • Selfie Project – 1 hour

Tuesday 19th April – Friday 3rd May 2014

  • 10:30am-5pm – 6.5 hours
  • x4 (Tuesday-Friday) – 26 hours

Saturday 3rd May 2014

  • Selfie Project – 1 hour

 

SUNDAY 4TH MAY 2014  – Edit Photos

  • 10am-12pm, 3pm-6pm, 6:30pm-7pm – 5.5 hours

MONDAY 5TH MAY 2014  – “Selfie” Project Film

  • 10:30am-1pm, 2pm-4pm, 7pm-8:30pm – 6 hours

TUESDAY 6TH MAY 2014 – “Selfie” Project Film and Written Work

  • 9:00am-1pm, 2pm-5:30pm – 7.5 hours

WEDNESDAY 7TH MAY 2014 – Written Work

  • 10:30am-11:30am – 1 hour

 

Total time = 70.5 hours (11.75 days)

 

DEMANDS OF THE WORKING ENVIRONMENT:

Looking back over my learning objects, I found that I needed to reflect on the working environment, any demands that it placed on me and whether I met those demands.

Showing very similar environmental demands to my freelancing opportunity to  Sydney, New Zealand, and Hawaii, I found that this freelancing experience to Moscow was actually the most demanding placement when it came to the working environment. This is because I was, once again, creating work in an unknown location which meant that I had to adapt to a number of external factors (including weather conditions), as well as carrying all of my equipment round due to not knowing what I would find to photograph. However, I did again find that this really helped me to enhance my opportunistic photography.

Nevertheless, this placement opportunity in Moscow showed a much greater demand in the working environment, due to a number of factors. The language barrier between myself and the visited country was incredibly difficult to understand, especially when all of the road signs were in the Russian lettering, but I made an effort to learn the basics of the Russian language and took around appropriate maps and guide books in order to try and relieve the problem slightly. The second demand was the photographic laws within Russia. As these laws are very strict, I found that it left little for me to photograph and so, as seen from above, I had to be creative in the photographic briefs that I created for myself.

SKILLS GAINED/ENHANCED:

For this opportunity to count towards my professional placement module, I had to create my own photographic project based around the given title, “Who is Russia?”. I then researched and planned my two created projects: the first looking at cultural differences between Russia and the western world, and the other exploring the trend of “Selfie’s” throughout travel, before completing a project proposal form, and exploring what I wanted to do with the images upon my return. This opportunity will also end with a Media and Photography exhibition organized, curated, and held by the members of the Moscow 2014 trip, adding to the freelancing skills I already have.

This opportunity offered similar skill gaining to that of my other freelance placement, including reinforcing all of my prior strengths and challenging all of my prior weaknesses (excluding my emotional weakness and perfectionist aspect) and increasing my creative work through increasing my photographic skills and through the understanding of the process behind freelancing. This also included working and adapting to unknown locations which in turn enhanced my opportunistic photography skills. However, it also allowed me to learn the basics of a different language and enhance my team working skills through working with and helping different people interested in the media industry.

A list of mainly transferable (and some specialist) skills that I feel I gained or enhanced during this placement can be found below:

  • Communication skills
  • Networking skills
  • Organization skills
  • Research skills
  • Team working skills
  • Creative skills (specialist skill)
  • Motivated
  • Ability to work under pressure
  • Time management
  • Computer, camera and technology (editing) skills (specialist skill)
  • Initiative
  • Hard-worker
  • Friendly
  • Mange stress effectively
  • Patience
  • Confidence in front of large groups
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