Research: Fashion Photographers

In the previous post I looked at a few images from Irving Penn and Richard Avedon. In this post I am looking at the following fashion photographers as they are listed in the OCA course book:

  • Sarah Moon
  • David Lachapelle
  • Mario Testino
  • Terry Richardson

However, it should be noted that the fact that Mario Testino and Terry Richardson are both being investigated for sexual offences cannot be ignored. Articles such as this one in the Guardian Mario Testino and Bruce Weber ‘sexually exploited models’ and this one in the Independent Terry Richardson Sexual Allegations which mention that Conde Nast International (publishers of Vogue, GQ etc) have allegedly suspended or severed ties with them. I will be taking a brief look at their images for completeness but do not intend to spend too much time doing so.

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Assignment 4 – Photography Reflective Commentary

In writing the essay for Assignment 4, I have attempted to demonstrate understanding of the historic and cultural contexts of La Jetée as they seemed particularly relevant. It also seemed appropriate to reference later works by Chris Marker and others that were influenced by the film.

As I felt that the photography was integral to this work, I attempted to justify that argument using other sources and theoretical arguments from people such as Susan Sontag and the concept of the role of the reader. This was introduced when reading Roland Barthes’ essay ‘The Death of the Author’ in Part 2 (Creative Reading) and I wanted to start trying to tie together the learning from different sections.

I have tried to use a variety of sources but am still having difficulty finding primary sources. For example, I found a quote from Marker to Jacques Ledoux however I could not find the original letter, only quote from it in Darke’s book. I have tried to engage with the overarching themes of time and place in this essay as well as focussing on the importance of Marker’s use of photography.

I have attempted to act on my tutor’s feedback from earlier assignments, for example including a link in my bibliography to ensure that I am cross-referencing all my work.

As I mentioned in Part 3 Exercise 3 I have felt conflicted studying Photography. Whilst I have always enjoyed taking photographs, it was frustrating to realise how little stamina I have compared to a decade ago. To compensate for fluctuating energy and the shake I develop when tired, I realised that I needed to capitalise on higher energy levels by not procrastinating and planning ideas for practical tasks in advance.

Studying photography has shown me that it is worth looking to other disciplines for ideas on composition, colour combination and subject matter. Discussions with someone who had worked with David Bailey made it clear that the only way to get better at photography was to take lots of photographs so in future I intend to be more confident using trial and error to learn how to improve my understanding of my own camera and lenses.

Artists such as Ben Shahn and Yvan Salomone who use photography as prompts for their art fascinated me. Although it is challenging for me to undertake too much photography, I am keen to use it as a way to supplement my broader creative work. Reading Dialogue with Photography it became apparent that many photographers such as Minor White and Brassaï also engage in other creative practices.

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Assignment 4 – Chris Marker’s Use of Photography in La Jetée to Explore the Themes of Time and Place

Chris Marker’s Use of Photography in La Jetée to Explore the Themes of Time and Place

Time and place are explored in Chris Marker’s 1962 short film, La Jetée. Constructed almost entirely from photographs, the French story of a time travel experiment post-nuclear war is overshadowed by death, acting as momento mori. Orly airport viewing platform dominates the protagonist’s dreams. A place synonymous with travel combined with Marker’s stills invites the viewer to become a fellow tourist in time. Continue reading “Assignment 4 – Chris Marker’s Use of Photography in La Jetée to Explore the Themes of Time and Place”

Exercise 3: Elevated Viewpoints

Derek Trillo’s The Cheshire Plain from Beeston Castle (2008) uses an elevated viewpoint to create an abstract landscape photograph. By choosing to remove the horizon and look down upon the landscape gives a map-like perspective to the image. In Trillo’s image, this effect is not complete as the trees remain vertical and their shadows can be seen rather than looking  like green blobs where only the leafy canopy is visible as they would appear to be if we were looking perpendicular to the plane ground. Had the image been taken from ground level, it would have been dominated by the trees and bushes visible and Trillo would not have been able to achieve the patchwork effect seen.

Similarly, Peter Mansell has chosen to use an elevated perspective across a city or town to achieve the effect of a general survey. There is a much greater sense of space compared to if the image had been taken from ground level where the view would have been obstructed by buildings, people and cars. The elevated view makes the city or town seem relatively serene compared to the bustle of busy streets.

Using elevated viewpoints appears to homogenise landscapes that can be very chaotic on a local level. There is usually an increased sense of space if the horizon is included in the view. It seems to me that within society, elevated viewpoints often have an association with the divine. My impression of Christianity is of a God that sits up high, looking down. Status can be conferred by seating position, for instance Judges usually sit higher than defendants and boxes at theatres were traditionally above the level of the stage.

I was able to see John Davies Agecroft Power Station, Salford (1983) at Towner Gallery in Eastbourne. It was one of the first images to catch my attention in the A Green & Pleasant Land Photography Exhibition (before I noticed it in the OCA coursework) as it was an impressively large print and the viewer was left feeling as though they were looking out onto the view. The row of stacks dominate the initial viewing and it is only when you look more closely at the foreground that you notice the cars and football match. Including these elements in the foreground allows Davies to show the scale of the Agecroft Power Station chimneys. The chimneys in this image overwhelm the landscape but the football game played in the shadow of the towers humanises the image. Where the image could be bleak and remote, the fact that there is a match right next to them shows that there are those who’s lives are overshadowed by the towers. The inclusion of the footballers also heightens the sense of scale as otherwise the only clear reference points for scale would be the trees and cars in the foreground. As they are so much closer to the camera, alone they will not act as good reference points.