Posts Tagged ‘Portraits’

The street I live on has seen much change in years gone by. It has moved on from the days it was nicknamed “Little Jerusalem” to the vast ethnic diversity that can be seen there today. I decided to go up and down the Dublin city centre stretch and show the business’s from circa 1960 to present day.

1960 Eddie Thornton’s Grocery Store

img005

1964 Gregory Conlon’s Curio Shop

unowak061

1975 James and Seamus Traver’s of Travers Photography

unowak054

2001 Khuram Khan Business Solutions

unowak057

2009 Waqas Baig New Image Barber Shop

unowak056

2010 Pasha Khan Style and Style

img003

All image credits to Shuttermaniac.

Advertisements

This was a task I was to undertake for college, that I thought I would share. This is the deconstruction of an image using opinions from professionals across the fashion industry.

The Nude

Kate Moss signed up to David Yurman’s company in 2010 to model his new line of jewellery, posing with a ring from his upcoming autumn collection. Yurman himself started out in the art world as a prominent sculptor (Nordstrom, 2012), his wife also shared artistic flair being a recognised painter. The couple realised the importance of classic tradition when it comes to what should be in their advertising campaigns. The collaboration between themselves and an established photographer would make for an attractive and lucrative advertisement. Moss is photographed by Peter Lindberg (Grazia, 2010) on a beach with a few key elements on display. The ring is the main focus of the commission. I selected this particular shot because, in what it is surrounded by, the ring itself becomes redundant. This makes me question who or what is being advertised by the nude. By illustrating naked form in such a way, what cultural assumptions do we make in order to understand such powerful and seductive imagery?

Smith (2004, p56) validates that a client’s shoulders, in order to appear more interesting and less rigid should not form a horizontal line throughout the frame. Moss certainly does appear more alluring and less distant. The pose draws you in and increases the length at which you would normally gaze upon the subject. This seems to be a popular stance for models that want to appear aloof and alluring when on the final turn on the catwalk and indeed this particular pose comes from classical roots. Edward Steichen photographed Gwili Andre in an almost identical method (Ewing 2008, p 253) when she modelled jewellery by Tiffany in Vanity Fair in 1936. This shows that traditional mechanisms are still being used today to attract clients to purchase products.

Steichen suggested (Ewing, 2008, p191) that if you take good photographs the art will follow suit. I believe that Lindberg may have been inspired by this standard, although in order to appeal to a more demanding consumer, he would have had to have added something else. Tobia Bezzola commented (Ewing, 2008, p192)on De Meyer who at the time was the chief photographer of Vanity Fair, to develop a form of fashion photography that itself engages the art of seduction rather than merely serving to document the art of the couturier, meant that the objective qualities of the attire were of scant interest. This suggested that even back in 1914 fashion photographers were beginning to realise the power of the nude to increase the potential value of the model associated in the advertised image. Although this commodifies the naked model, actual, rather than suggestive exposure will increase the market value of the product on offer.

Kate Moss was discovered by the owner of Storm Modelling Agency at the tender age of fourteen in JFK international airport (MCM, 2012). During her career to her mid-thirties she has intrigued her viewers by promoting vulnerability and her dominance as the queen of Heroin Chic. The image directors knew that by placing Moss in an ad campaign on a beach, soaked and appearing fragile that the viewer would feel empowered over her and relate that feeling perhaps to the jewellery that was being advertised. She is after all hiding herself behind the ring. But as we are no longer in the early 1920’s, and the fact it’s just a ring, is she really hiding anything. Or is it in fact she is really trying to promote something else?

Considering other models would have bared themselves for promotion, I looked at the portrait of Demi Moore by Annie Leibovitz (Carter, 2008 p56). Although its popularity with audiences spanning the globe attracted considerable controversy Susan Kandel (Kandel,1992) defended Moore and Leibovitz against traditionalist right wing protesters and sympathised with the progression of the nude in contemporary art. “While the self-righteous on the right lambasted the photograph’s flamboyant immodesty, the well-intentioned on the left hailed its progressiveness. Woman displayed as an expanded object, happily complicit both with her expansion and her objectification.”  Kandel validates that the representation of the female body in twentieth century photography is laden with unease and constant negotiation between the physical and institutional bodies that constitute the very meanings of a women’s self-representation. Athough Kate Moss exposing a single nipple on the magazine advert attracted controversy we should realise that this is the movement of the times.

Many feel that the movement of exposure, in which female nudity is upon us now, stems from an attitude dating back to the early 1900’s. Josephine Baker (Rosetta, 2007) was one such icon which continues to inspire a century later. Famous for barely-there dresses and no-holds-barred dance routines, her exotic beauty generated nicknames “Black Venus,” “Black Pearl” and “Creole Goddess.” Admirers bestowed a plethora of gifts, including diamonds and cars. Even today her legacy exists in live performance, art, photography, fashion and film. With all the glamour attained by baring all for the camera it’s clear to see why culture has transgressed in this direction due to demand and reward from the audience. Contemporary audiences are no different.

John Tagg (1998, p16) observes the socialisation of production and consumption, with the mechanisms of discipline and desire to reveal that, by combining the two notions we are offering a medium by which we have little or no control. The technology of the camera itself is creating a division of power both between the controller and the possessor. Tagg states that within the space of these contradictions there is undoubtedly room for cultural resistance, although dissent rarely develops. Even if in today’s pressing advertisements, there contrives much controversy, there will never be enough negative press to assert a deceleration of such a strong cultural movement. This adheres with the age-old phrase that any publicity is good publicity.

On reflection, this image, even with its controversy, shows us a sign of progression in fashion and advertising. We realise that the nude has immense power in the stimulus of separating ourselves from our hard earned finances. Moss gains acclaim from the fashion world, in keeping with and moving forward the notions of au courant feminism. David Yurman projects his acknowledgement of the movement by the advertising of his products in the current fashion, and society is influenced by what they see in the magazine of this ultra-modern culture. Peter (Lindberg, 1998) proposes that “creativity is really a rebirth, a true tone we feel for ourselves and for our world. All this is a question of how deep we are willing to go”.­­

As mentioned in my “About Me” page and in my previous “Monster Under The Bed” post I hinted upon my Grandmothers collection of photos under the bed. As the first part of this series was a bit heavy on the text side, I’ve decided to be easy on you guys. This is a small collection of the shots which made me want to be a Photographer today. I hope you enjoy them as much as I have.

Bill & Elly Smith (c. 1948)  (1)Bill & Elly Smith (c. 1948)  (2)Bill & Elly Smith (c. 1948)  (3)Bill Smith next to his brother John's grave in Egypt 1942Elly SmithGreat Granny&Grampa SmithJohn (Ernest AJ) Smith (1919-1942)lastscanLinda Smith restored

I wont go into explicit detail as to who, what and where these were taken. I’ll let you make up you’re own mind. I will tell you though, that they span from 1945 to 1967.  From shortly after WWii finished to shortly before the best decade that music ever saw.

 

First of all it would be unfair to assume that all persons originating from Transylvania are Vampires. I live with one and my neck is relatively bite-free. I do, however keep a large garland of the age-old pungent rose in our kitchen. Joking aside, the reason I am interviewing this interesting gentleman today is to show the determination he had to provide for his family through a really tough Communist regime. These were times without Facebook and camera-phones, where making a side-living from photography could have landed him in serious trouble with the Romanian Securitate resulting in substantial fines, and even Jail. I got to know Dorin Avram and his family through my partner who happens to be his niece.

When did your passion for takings photographs begin?

“I always liked the Photography.  After I got married and we had the kids, I started it professionally to make a second income.”

Is there a photographer that you particularly liked back then?

“No, there was none.” (It’s important to state here that during Communism, only classic literature and political propaganda would have been stocked in the libraries. Researching photographers would have been near impossible).

What year did you start taking photographs to make extra income and what camera did you use?

” It was in the year of 1986. The camera was a  Zenit 35mm Rangefinder. I did weddings, baptism, birthdays and all kinds of family portraits”.

I assume you couldn’t send your negatives to a camera store to develop and print them. How did you get your hands on the chemicals and paper?

“Well, the photo paper I bought now and then from photo shops, but in bigger amounts for storage, and the solutions too at first. Later on I bought the chemicals from the pharmacy and mixed the solutions myself. I had a scale, that was very accurate. You had to have the exact amount of each chemical for the solution!”

Roughly how long during the Communist regime were you in business for?

“From 1986 until 1991 when we left Romania to come to Germany. The communist regime ended 1990, so I did it for about five years.”

It’s said that one in three Romanians was an informant for the Securitate*. Where did you do your processing and was it well hidden?

“There was a secret room in our apartment, which was my laboratory/ darkroom. I think it was around 1.5 by 2 meters long or something like that. The door to it was our coat rack and you could open it, if you pulled a secret crank and rolled the door open. The door was really heavy.”

I’m sure everyone would love to see how you organised yourself. Could you draw a quick picture of the set up?

If you were caught by the authorities what was the penalty?

“It was a high monetary penalty. How much it was, I don’t remember. Prison was less the case.”

Do you think people are as passionate about photography now, as you were back then?

“I think yes! I see Artemis for example; she takes pictures of everything… I think she is more passionate about it now than I was then. I tried a lot back then and I did everything myself (developing etc.), but today I think it would be too expensive for me…

Were there any moments when young children would sneak in and open the secret door, or turn on the light by accident, destroying your pictures?  For example young Artemis or Alexandru?

“Yes… but only the pictures on the paper were damaged, but it almost never happened. It wasn’t as tragic, because the film itself wasn’t damaged and I could just do it again and I had always enough photo paper.

Last year, at your son Alexandru’s wedding in Germany, I saw you with a Canon DSLR. Do you prefer digital cameras now, or do you still have a love for the old film?

“I prefer the digital photography, it’s so much easier!”

Would you ever get back into taking pictures for a living, or have you ‘hung up your boxing gloves’?

“If I could make good money again then probably I would.”

10-year college reunion partyBaptism group photobaptismfamily portrait

*Control over society became stricter and stricter, with an East German-style phone bugging system installed, and with Securitate recruiting more agents, extending censorship and keeping tabs and records on a large segment of the population. By 1989, according to CNSAS (the Council for Studies of the Archives of the Former Securitate), one in three Romanians was an informant for the Securitate. Due to this state of affairs, income from tourism dropped substantially by 75%, with the three main tour operators that organized trips in Romania leaving the country by 1987.

As a follow up to the lens-less camera post earlier, Camera Obscura, I thought I’d explore another means in which to take a picture without a lens. Inspired by those age-old office party bum shots I thought I’d try a photocopier. Well, a modern day document scanner. So I set about it with a shelf of old camera junk, and my head.

Here are the results.

Although it looks a little creepy it was very quick to do and free if you already have a scanner!

Get to it, get copying. Lee.

But not in Movember.

It’s coming near to the end of the month, and all around the city the Moustaches are shaping up. The variations are endless and I’ve seen pretty much all that can be achieved from “the original” to “the Zappa” and everything in between. The Dali, Fu Manchu, Handlebar, Imperial, Horshoe, Pencil, Toothbrush, Walrus, Chevron etc……

The charity’s policy is simple.

“Once registered at movember.com each Mo Bro must begin his hairy journey on the 1st of Movember with a smooth, clean shaven face. If you join the campaign a few day late don’t worry, the Mo the merrier. For the entire month each Mo Bro must grow and groom a moustache and here’s where a few basic rules come in, there is to be no joining of the mo to the sideburns (that’s considered a beard), there’s to be no joining of the handlebars to the chin (that’s considered a goatee) and each Mo Bro must conduct himself like a true gentleman.” credit.

In our local bar all five of the barmen were rounded up by the “Mo Sis” (The ladies must organise the gentlemen by distributing the collection pots and generally run each specific campaign). I’ve heard they raised a great sum of cash for the Men’s health organisations, and everyone who participated had a great time doing it.

When I saw the iPhone photos posted on Facebook I decided to rob them, and place the head-shots into the appropriate environment for each moustache.

This might cheer up the dull weather..

These edited images are going to be on full display in the bar on the official collection night. So if you happen to be in Dublin on Friday 23rd November then pop down to Ryans of Parkgate and donate a little towards a great charity. Just in case you’re wondering, it also happens to be the best bar for Guiness in the area too. You’re welcome.

When asked to go down and take shots of your mates band make sure you do it justice. Every job you encounter will take you on to the next, so make sure it’s correctly executed. You can be sure that if you’re last shoot was a little lazy then you will only get half the cash for the next one if anything at all! You should be aiming to increase your income. Not eventually be that guy who works for free but it’s ok because he’s not that great. Even if it is your best pal’s first live performance do the best you can. I have to make it clear though, some free work is never a bad idea if you know it may lead on to another project.

  • In order to set up your camera correctly to allow for all available light in the venue, you’ll have to get down there the day before and check for yourself.
  • I usually bump up the ISO to 800 or 1600.
  • Change mode to monotone (Most will tell you not too but I get faster, clearer, sharper images when the camera doesn’t have to process colour).
  • Use a fast prime lens like the super reliable 50mm. Best investment I ever made and not a great expense either. For Canon. For Nikon. The 50mm prime lets in a whole heap of light with its shallow depth of field. This allows you pinpoint the exact location of your viewer’s attention.
  • Try to leave your flash at home. Good flashes are not cheap and this will ruin your hot-shoe connection if someone knocks it, trust me. Fixing your camera’s hotshoe and a broken flash will destroy your insurance policy.
  • Get to know the whole band, not just the lead guy, to the point that when you’re snapping away, they will not be distracted by your presence during a song. And when you want them to turn and face you, all you have to do is gesture slightly. Do not take the attention away from the stage!
  • Do hand out business cards. It’ll quickly get fans to leave you with some space to work if they think they are helping you promote their favourite band. Speaking of which use the Security guys if things get out of hand. Equipment damaged by beer and elbows quickly adds up. Think about insurance.

I think I’ve covered all the technical aspects, now it’s up to you to get out there and capture what makes this particular band special using nothing but imagery. As always I’ll leave you with a wee example. This is Worth and Bondi. I’ll stick a video at the bottom of the page for you. See if you can tell me what the drums are..

Here are the shots.

I’ll leave the comments open to you guys on this one.