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...

27 October 2010

Research Project: Raphael Mazzucco


Raphael Mazzucco is one of the world's most influential and talented fashion photographers; ... Raphael continues to define the look of popular culture, ... A native of Vancouver, Canada, Raphael has recently brought his considerable talent to bear in creating a new collection of images (as seen in his groundbreaking anthology - "Raphael Mazzucco Collected Art") that merge his love of the photograph with the sensuality of painting. American Photo has hailed him as "one of the top 50 photographers in the world to watch."

Raphael Mazzucco's work is very traditional but still modern in his techniques and concepts.  His work is very beautiful and alluring and I can see why he has been named one of the top 50 photographers in the world.  His work is simplistic and really interesting and inspiring to look at.

In terms of Body Image, Mazzucco does conform to stereotypes surrounding male and female beauty.  Although most of his images are of females, when Mazzucco does photograph males, he makes them appear rugged, dirty and gritty, like a man is supposedly meant to look like.  Meanwhile, on the other hand, he makes his female subject appear to be flawless, smooth and almost angelic.  These two differences can be seen throughout majority of his work, especially in his celebrity portraits (seen above and below).

All info and images from Artist's website

26 October 2010

Research Project: David LaChapelle

David LaChapelle, recipient of the 1997 International Center of Photography's Infinity Award and the 1996 VH1 Fashion Award for Photographer of the Year, creates images that are cultural cues as well as advertising campaigns...  Born in North Carolina, LaChapelle studied at the Art Student's League and School of Visual Arts. He began his photography career by creating fine art images for Interview Magazine and has evolved his photography into an idiosyncratic and highly personal combination of reportage and surrealism.  In 1997, LaChapelle released LaChapelle Land, a coffee table volume of his images published by Callaway Editions/Simon & Shuster. It is further evidence of a photography style that can be compared to no one. He continues to push his colors to new extremes while reinventing the vivid palette that is uniquely his. Lachapelle is one of photography's brightest stars, bringing high intensity, larger than life images to the pages of magazines worldwide.

David LaChapelle's work is very outgoing, unique and different.  He uses a lot of concept when constructing his images plus also a great amount of colour and 'over-the-top-ness'.  His work doesn't really hold any major documentary meaning within society but yet it is celebrated worldwide, proving that his often racy portraits must be doing something right...

In relation to "Body Image", LaChapelle anyways uses thin, popular and, how society might describe as, 'beautiful' models as his subjects, only using larger and different body shapes in lesser roles, such as the thinner model demonstrating a type of dominance over the other models (example below).  He also uses a lot of photo editing, as seen in the images of Christina Aguilera and Britney Spears.  Their flawless skin, their big bright eyes, everything looks over the top and 'plastic', like real life Barbies.  Although to some it looks fake, others see it as how the celebrity really is.  They see perfection and try to strive for it themselves, sometimes reaching dangerous levels...

All images from Artist's website

25 October 2010

Research Project: Digitally Altered Perfection

There has always been issues within society surrounding body image of both men and women.  However, more recently, the issue of body image has been reignited with the development of digital technologies such as Adobe Photoshop and other digital altering programs.  Now, thanks to the development of these programs, it is possible to digitally alter oneself to appear 'perfect'.

For my major project, I will explore and document this contemporary and controversial issue.

Currently, I am not 100% set on how I will present my images or how I they will be made, but now, that I have set my issue, I will be able to think further about this...

For my project, we have to look at to three artists in reference to our project.  For my project, I will be looking at:

David LaChapelle

Raphael Mazzucco
(from artist's website: http://www.miconworldwide.com/)

Vee Speers

Some interesting websites I found while researching for my project:

Some relevant reading...

13 October 2010

A very powerful image...

Cheshire, Ohio, 2009

While looking for photographs about contemporary issues, I came across this image by American photographer Daniel Shea.

Personally, I think he is a very good photographer, in terms of content, context and technique.  He has established a unique medium-format-ish, de-saturated colour technique for his images, and it usually works really well with the subject matter that he chooses to photograph.

I also found another image by Shea that I immediately liked.  It's composition, colour and unusual subject matter just really interested me.  To me, it also looks fake, like its a very tiny chair sitting on hand-made rocks or something... similar to the work of Slinkachu...

Larry Gibson’s Chair, 2007

Artist's website: http://dsheaphoto.net/

12 October 2010

Contemporary Photographer: JR

"JR is a young French photographer who has become a hero to many people who encounter his work. He doesn’t use his real name, because most of the work he does is illegal.  
JR makes provocative black-and-white photos, and enlarges them into very large billboard size prints. Then, with a friend or two, under cover of the night, he illegally pastes these photos onto large walls in very public urban spaces.
His illegal work has been celebrated by several outlets of mainstream media, and he has been granted official, authorized exhibitions of his photographs in prominent places in Paris and Amsterdam in recent years."

(Extract from Lens Culture website)

'28 millimetres' Project
"Armed with a 28 mm lens, JR shot full frame portraits of young people from this neighbourhood (in France) and the nearby district of The Forestière. This no frills, straightforward technique allowed them (JR and friend, Ladj Ly) to get very close to this generation. 
Interviewing them, without restrictions, on the recent events of November 2005.  The first portraits were illegally pasted on the east walls of Paris, a district that was once run-down, but has now become a residency for the bourgeois bohemian, who are shielded from the flames.  
With a certain 'in your face' rudeness, they provoke passers-by and question the social and media representation of a generation that people only want to see outside the doors of Paris or on the news."  
(Extract from '28 millimetres' website)


'Face2Face' Project

"When we (JR and friend) met in 2005, we decided to go together in the Middle-East to figure out why Palestinians and Israelis couldn't find a way to get along together.  We then traveled across the Israeli and Palestinian cities without speaking much. Just looking to this world with amazement.  This holy place for Judaism, Christianity and Islam.  This tiny area where you can see mountains, sea, deserts and lakes, love and hate, hope and despair embedded together.  After a week, we had a conclusion with the same words: these people look the same; they speak almost the same language, like twin brothers raised in different families.  ... It's obvious, but they don't see that.  We must put them face to face. ...
The Face2Face project is to make portraits of Palestinians and Israelis doing the same job and to post them face to face, in huge formats, in unavoidable places, on the Israeli and the Palestinian sides.  ... We hope that this project will contribute to a better understanding between Israelis and Palestinians.  
Today, "Face to face" is necessary.  
Within a few years, we will come back for "Hand in hand"."
(Extract from 'Face2Face' website)

 Original images...
...and after being put on public exhibition.

I find JR's work inspiring and original.  He has found a way to get his message across to the public without having to go through the restricting channels of the media and press.  I do find it quite amazing that he is able to put up these billboard sized images without raising any serious amount of suspicion.

Personally, I think it takes a lot of guts to put your work out there where it will make a major statement and is also open to all sorts of criticism from a large broad audience.  In one way, as a photographer, you are making a statement which, usually, means a lot to you so you will go to extraordinary lengths to get your message out there.  Yet, in doing so, you are also opening yourself up to a wide range of criticism.  Your work becomes open to the public which is full of all sorts of different generations, cultural and social backgrounds and could generate a variety of responses.  But, I guess, it is just the sort of risk that you would weigh when wanting to make these sort of decisions...

Artist's website: http://jr-art.net/
First image and 'Face2Face' project images from:
'28 millimetres' project images and website: http://www.28millimetres.com/index_en.html
'Face2Face' project website: http://www.face2faceproject.com/
JR on Lens Culture website: http://www.lensculture.com/jr.html

Australia's Contemporary Issues

While I have been researching for my major project, I came across a very valid list about Australia's contemporary issues.  The list includes:
    • Selling Australia - how does the world see Australia?
    • National Identity - how do Australians see Australia? What does it mean to be Australian?
    • Indigenous Australia - do they hold any rights in society?
    • Environmental Issues - climate change, pollution, sustainable future...
    • Sydney or the Bush - we are an urbanized nation but still have a want for the 'bush'... 
    • Pop Culture in Australia - our struggle to develop and maintain a national identity throughout the world...
These are just a few contemporary issues that I could focus on for my assignment.  Here are a few more that I thought of...
    • Pollution (e.g. light, emissions)
    • The development of the urban environment
    • Body Image
    • The relationship between humans and technology
    • Homelessness
    • Teenager Issues (e.g. pregnancy, drugs, alcohol)

So.. this leaves me with something to think about... 

11 October 2010

Appropriation: Julia Curtin

"RESETTLEMENT focuses on the vernacular architecture, the transient, makeshift structures inhabited by the migratory victims of the 1930's Great Depression. By sampling images from the Farm Security Administration catalogue, a vast collection of works by photographers (e.g. Walker Evans, Dorothea Lange) that became central to defining aspects of the documentary and images that are embedded in the history of photography, I have deconstructed and subsequently reconstructed these buildings to form a three dimensional model of the settlement depicted in the original image. Through this process I attempt to open up a contemporary space for the interpretation of this work."
(Extract from Artist's website)

The homes in 'Resettlement' are fragile and temporary, existing to be photographed, a medium that enables them a legacy of their own. Curtin, through her own labored means of building a structure that exists longer due to documentation than because of its physical and structural integrity, pays homage to these homes that once were as well as the WPA photographers who first captured them.

 Tulare County, California. Cheap auto camp housing for citrus workers, 1930s by Dorothea Lange

House without windows, home of sharecropper cut-over farmers of Mississippi bottoms, Missouri. No 1. by Julia Curtin

I think that Julia Curtin work is very conceptual and well executed. However, without the use of the old photographs as inspiration, this concept of recreating old houses, and the final product that has come of these ideas, would be completely lost.  Without the background knowledge given to the viewer, I would not call these images photographs.  This is probably because it pushes the boundaries of what we would usually refer to as photography as, although it is a photo, the subject of the image is not a very interesting subject.

However, in saying all this, as I mentioned before, I do like these images for their simplicity, idea and the overall concept of the appropriation used here.