Having completed the self portrait project, our next assessed work is a series of ten images which are themed. I haven’t yet decided on a theme, but given I usually photograph nature, I thought I would begin there. This morning the light was soft due to an overcast sky, which brought out the natural colours of the bushland. Dry conditions mean that trees are losing branches, bark is peeling away, and leaves litter the ground. As I walked, I settled on the theme of ‘Fallen’ for this series.
The word ‘Fallen’ has a number of connotations, so I enjoyed trying to capture a range of aspects in my photographs. Some fallen logs are homes for wildlife, others resemble human forms, others form geometrical objects. In some, I simply liked the contrasting colours.
Given this is an exploration, I have posted 17 photos unedited. I may choose one or two to work on and re-post them. In the meantime, I am interested to know which ones catch your eye and why.
A vital part of the development process for creatives and artists is to receive honest critical feedback on their work. Surprisingly, this can be extremely hard to find. Good intentions – like the desire to avoid upset- can mean it is difficult for artists to know how their work is interpreted. Without this knowledge it takes many more experiments and failures to achieve growth.
Putting work out into the public sphere can be confronting, and we all make ourselves vulnerable when we do this. However, I think it is one of the best ways of getting a range of perspectives on a new work. Small comments can create big sparks, leading the artist off in a completely different direction…as it has been for me with the feedback on my preliminary work for the Project 1 submission in my Photography and Social Media course.
The task is to submit three photographs of the self. This may take many forms, including the personal self, the creative self, the professional self, the self as a brand. It could be through representations of the self through objects and symbolism, or through abstracting the self into body parts or the use of pre-sets and filters. I’ve experimented with a few of these forms, as you can see from previous posts in the Digital Journal.
Students in my course posted the preliminary work for the first assessment piece in a discussion forum. This was to enable feedback to be given. My post featured six possible images I was considering for the final submission.
The first three were in the style of photo realism, taken in front of a mirror with my DSLR camera. I began by trying to capture myself as a photographer, and then began to work with the symbolism of the camera being a “visual voice’. For these shots, I placed the camera over my mouth.
Abstractions taken with a DSLR (image 4) and with an app on the iPhone (photo 5 and photo 6).
Photograph 4 was taken on the same day as photographs 1, 2 and 3. I used Photoshop gradients and filters to distort the image, achieving a slightly abstracted style. This prompted me to get out the iPhone and use one of the new apps ‘Colorburn’ to experiment more with colour and fragmentation. Photographs 5 and 6 were the result.
Planned Submission Photographs
Reflecting on the styles and colours, I originally intended to submit a series of photographs which moved from photo-realism to abstraction.
These are three images I chose. Image 2 I intended to represent the Personal Self, Image 4 was to represent the creative self, and Image 6 was an alternative for the Creative Self:
Feedback on my Pre-work
The image I liked the most was Image 6, but all three of the people who critiqued my work rated it lower on their list because they felt it did not reveal anything about me. Maybe that’s one reason I did like it, but I also felt it was full of symbolism in relation to my personality. The greens and blues at the bottom representing my love of nature, the shadow side of the self represented by a darker profile on one side of the face. A clear open gaze and a brain exploding with colour and ideas complete the picture. The more I reflected on the feedback, the more I realised this image was for those who know me. It became my representation of the personal self.
Image 2 was considered strong by all of those who critiqued my work. It is a clear photograph with the camera at the centre. With a steady gaze and soft lighting, it became the obvious Professional Self photograph.
So what to do about the Creative Self photograph? Images 4 and 5 received more positive feedback than I had expected, so Image 5 came into consideration. In the end, an aside by Michelle (who suggested one of my mood boards may be included) meant that I didn’t use Images 4 and 5 at all. By using a mood board as the third photograph, I am also using an image which does not include my face. My creative self is represented by images, colours, tones and words which convey a personal style I carry with me into my creative world. This concept really appealed to me.
Another useful suggestions was to reverse the photographs where the brand name Canon appears to be reversed because of the mirror. This is to avoid viewers being distracted by the reversed text. I flipped image 2 and image 4, and played around with flipping some of the others. The reverse angle on Image 4 really changed the feel of the photograph.
After much consideration, these were the final three photographs I submitted. While it is too late to change my submission, I am interested in your views on the options.
Creating mood boards has been one of the huge pleasures I’ve encountered in my course. Narrowing in on a core element of what I want to express in my photography, or differentiating between aspects of my creative self has enabled me to view my work from new perspectives. While I think I have always had these distinctions in my head, I came to realise they were not always well expressed for other people. I plan on continuing this practice will help me to communicate aspects of my brand more effectively.
Here are three mood boards which show the progression from the personal self, through the creative self, to a brand.
1.The Personal Self
Writing, cooking, good coffee, books, nature and my cats. These are the everyday experiences in my life. I also enjoy the aesthetics of natural light reflecting off glass, flowers and looking out the window to see wild birds.
These things repeat in my day to day experience. Drawing down to the essence of a day, I found that the colours were not as bright as I expected them to be. My day to day pallet is subdued in colour and tone. Grey and gold seem to be the predominant colours and shades. Perhaps this is why the aesthetics of light through glass, or light reflecting off gemstones attracts me.
2. The Creative Self
My creativity largely stems from nature. I am fortunate to live in an environment where natural bushland affords me the opportunity to photograph bushland species of plants, animals and birds on a daily basis. Subtle shifts in light can transform ordinary looking trunks or branches into brilliantly glowing trees or a human-like forms on the forest floor.
The photographs I show on my mood boards are all my own work. The poem and photograph ‘Beneath’ comes from my first exhibition ‘Layering the Landscape’ where I exhibited photographs showing the landscape along with poems which used the photograph as a metaphor for emotions.
The palette here is rich in green, blue and gold.
3 The Self as Brand
Musing Meanders is a business name I hold for the range of products I am creating from my photographs. As I am a writer and a photographer, I commissioned a graphic designer to create a logo for me. Tom, from Flat Elephant was able to encapsulate this with a design which could be a quill drawing a line, or a path, meandering through the bushland under a stylised tree, or a fallen leaf. Just perfect.
The products on this mood board are all my own designs from my own photographs.
In this mood board, I like the solid panels of green which allow the logo and the products to have their own unique place – as if they are all sitting on a series of shelves.
Creating a cohesive brand image from the diverse range of products is my next challenge and I think this mood board is a step in right direction. This is the self somewhat removed. My next challenge is to capture the self as a professional and merge this with brand to create a well-rounded social media experience.