17 November 2010

Research Project: Evaluation

Looking back on my project from this session, if given the chance, I would have changed some things that I did within my project.  For example, although I am happy with the subject choice that I made, after editing and seeing the final product, my way of depicting this issue was not the way I originally wanted to do it.  Although I like the subtly in my editing, I would have preferred to have a series of images with a bit more of a 'bang' to them, something that would really get the message across to the viewer and the public.  If I had more time, I also have worked longer and slower on my images so that they were the best that they could have been.

However, in saying this, I am still happy with the end result of my project.  It was a very hard thing to come up with, analyse and demonstrate a contemporary issue, as they are exactly that, contemporary and current relevant issues.  

Overall, I am pretty happy with the work I have done. I know that I have completed better work in the past, but I still am satisfied with what I achieved.

New reseach from Mission Australia...

In a national survey released yesterday, Mission Australia found that the leading personal concern for young Australians was body image.  As this is relevant to my topic, I thought I should mention it.

The report found that 31.1% of those surveyed were concerned about the way they look, followed by family conflict (27.8%) and stress (27.3%).

For the full report and article from Mission Australia: http://www.missionaustralia.com.au/news/2493-body-image-and-environment-of-greatest-concern-to-young-australians 

16 November 2010

Research Project: Artist Statement

Digitally Altered Perfection

“Hook me up with a great photographer… and an expert re-toucher, and together we can create a beautiful illusion.“
-- Heidi Klum, model

For a long time now, body image has been a major issue and still, today, it doesn’t show any signs of slowing down.  In today’s technological world and with the development of photo-editing software such as Adobe Photoshop, everyone with the accessibility and capability can edit and manipulate their images into what they desire.  People are using these tools to create a false sense of reality and morph themselves into something completely different to the truth.  They are striving for digitally altered perfection.

Previous to the creating of such software as Photoshop, body image was a very old but still relevant issue.  Humans, for a long time now, have been constantly striving for an unattainable perfection, especially in terms of their bodies.  People make themselves suffer, make their bodies suffer and make others around them suffer, all in the hopes of achieving that ‘perfect’ body.  But, who determines what is perfect? Before the 1900s, the ideal body shape was a curvaceous woman, while in the 1920s, the desired body shape was thin and shapeless.  Similarly, in the 1950s, women strived for a shapely figure, but with the introduction of skinny models in the 1960s, the ideal and ‘perfect’ shape changed again and has seemed to stay like this until today.  What is deemed ‘normal’ or ‘perfect’ changes so often that it is impossible to pinpoint any one person as the ‘determiner’ of what is perfect.  The question now is, instead of blaming someone, should we be trying to change people’s negative perceptions of themselves?  Furthermore, should we be controlling the use of tools, such as Photoshop, that allow these unattainable and perfect images to emerge?

My images explore the obsession society has with digitally altering oneself in order to achieve perfection.  My main inspiration came from Vee Spears’ photographic series; Immortals.  Her work was relevant to my chosen topic and had a similar technique and idea to what I had too.  Her models are edited to look perfect and flawless and then placed in fantasy-like scenes.  Similarly, my models were edited using Photoshop so that the right side of their bodies was ‘perfect’.  To help me determine what is considered ‘perfect’ and what ‘flaws’ are, I looked at numerous images, articles and commentaries in magazines and on the internet.  This allowed me to identify and adopt these ‘perfect’ characteristics and apply them to my images.  In addition to the perfect side, I kept the left side of my models’ bodies untouched as I wanted to demonstrate that although a lot goes into making them ‘perfect’, the other side looks just as good.  

This issue, although not exclusively, affects mainly young women and teenagers and this is why I chose to use three young women as my subjects.  The young women that I chose are all beautiful in their own ways but they also have flaws, just like everyone else.  Although subtle in its editing, a lot was done to make the ‘perfect’ side seem flawless.  To give you a brief idea, my models, with the help of my amateur Photoshop training and a few online tutorials, went through procedures involving their stomachs, belly buttons, arms, shoulders, collar bones and chests, chin and jaw lines, noses, eyes, lips, eyebrows, hair and skin.  It may seem like an excessive amount but think of all the people who stand in front of a mirror and go through a similar checklist in their head.  And, now, thanks to Photoshop, we can achieve this falseness and strive for that beautiful illusion called digitally altered perfection.

10 November 2010

An old project...

While looking at old vintage Vogue covers for my last post, I came across the cover that I had used back in Year 10 for a photography project.  It was simply a lighting project to get us used to using the studio lighting, etc. and I chose to recreate an old Vogue cover for my image.  As it sort of has to do with body image (not really, but who cares...), here is the original and my attempt:


08 November 2010


Sorry I haven't been posting anything of late, I have been kept frantically busy by the process of taking and editing all of my photographs.

Just to keep you in the loop, I went with the second idea I had, which was the 'before and after' one.  Its turning out to be a lot of work so it should be interesting to see how they all turn out...

On the 'before and after' topic, these images of Jessica Alba demonstrate the abilities Photoshop can have.  But, why would we want to look like 'Barbie Doll' Jessica on the right, when 'natural' Jessica on the left looks just as good, maybe even better...

01 November 2010

Research Project: Ideas for final photos...

So, while I have been trying to decide on how I am going to photograph, portray and demonstrate this issue, I have been looking at other people's work (ie. Vee Spears plus other artists) and seeing what they have been doing and how they have been presenting their work.

One amateur series I found was the work by Mollie Ruskin. Her project is called "We Might As Well Be Made of Plastic", which pretty much sums up her purpose of it too.  Her work is a form of appropriation, so it ties in nicely with my older posts on the topic.  Some of the images from the project, sourced from her Flickr account, can be seen below:

After looking at all of these artists and their ideas, I have also thought of some of my own ways in which I can photograph this issue.

One idea I had was to get famous (or not so famous) magazine covers and put in a 'real' and unedited image of someone else.  This would hopefully demonstrate the falseness of the images depicted and seen in today's society, which is a point I am hoping to make through this major project.

Another idea was to do a before and after type shot, where half of the subject is edited to look 'perfect' while the other is left untouched.  Hopefully this would demonstrate a stark contrast and an eye opening of what is possible and how far Photoshop has allowed us to go with digital editing.

I'll keep you updated! :)

28 October 2010

Research Project: Vee Speers


Vee Speers lives and works in Paris, ... Vee Speers was born in Australia and studied at Queensland College of Art. Her work has been widely exhibited and has been seen in publications including The Sunday Times, ... and Black and White Magazine. ... Vee Speers's The Birthday Party, is a collection of portraits of children inspired by her daughter's birthday party. Having observed children playing at being adults, Speers imagined what characters they would create if they pushed their role-playing to imaginative extremes. In these photographs she has stripped away the idealistic stereotypes of childhood, capturing them happy to experiment with imperfection and embrace the grotesque.
(Edited extract from: Artist's website)

Bordello: the art of seduction

"Speers, an Australian fine-art photographer who has lived near the infamous Rue St. Denis red-light district in Paris for 14 years, has created edgy photos that play with seduction, sensuality and femininity."

The Birthday Party

"Imagine you are 8 or 9 or 10 years old. You are invited to a birthday party, a costume party, and encouraged to dress up as a creature of your own wild imagination. How would you imagine your alter ego at age 10?  Some of the innocent ones dress as princesses, dancers, spacemen, or angels — sublime and stunning. Some boys choose the macho images of soldiers or gladiators. Other young party-goers seem more in touch with their dark sides, ..."


"Immortal, plays to ... age-old sensibilities and timeless longings while riffing on the very contemporary convergence of similar ideas, ideals, and forms that have invaded our consciousness in our media-driven, technology-rich consumer cultures.  At once alluring and disquieting, these portraits of naked beautiful youths are set against backdrops of Eden-like natural beauty, or scenes of post-apocalyptic destruction. These Immortals are real people, young and beautiful, but they seem isolated, exposed and vulnerable, trapped, distant, on guard, defiant, all alone in a strange land, and confronted by echoes of subliminal fears and insecurities."

Vee Speers wide variety of work demonstrate many different issues using many different techniques and styles.  I really enjoy looking at how her technique and style have developed and grown over these projects.  Each series delves into a unique and interesting topic and I really like and enjoy Speers' work.

In terms of body image, all three of Speer's projects reflect this issue, but Speers' Immortals probably best represent what I am hoping to achieve.  The idea that it is a fantasy, this perfection we are all striving for, is really important within this issue.  Also, her use of younger subjects is interesting too, as, being a young person, I find this relevant to the topic of Body Image...