- Creatively introduce yourself using only 3 photographs.
For task 1 what I wanted to portray was how I was someone who was a different person depending on who I was interacting with at that point of time and how I absorbed the emotions of those close to me.
On a trip to Gardens by the Bay to experiment with taking photos using the DSLR camera of the many different beautiful flowers that were there and I realised that those flowers could be used to represent the myriad of different personas and personalities that we all hold within ourselves.
Looking at this photo, this makes me realise that an asymmetrical composition gives rise to a far more interesting photo than a symmetrical one where the subject is in the center of the frame like in the previous 2 photos
First of all, please forgive me for not knowing the names of the flowers. The flowers there had really bright and vibrant colours and it was fairly easy to associate each flower to a certain type of emotion or personality. The red flowers could for example could easily represent passion, the purple flowers that look like faeries dancing could represent a joyful bubbly personality that is slightly mischievous. The white flower could represent innocence and the synthetic lotus could represent fake purity.
To capture the beauty of each individual flower, an close up shot was used and this I feel made the flower more important. The viewer is brought into an intimate position with the flower and I think that this was an apt camera angle to use when representing our different personas and personalities as I wanted to show how each and every one of them should be held dear and is beautiful in its own way. HOWEVER, although the flowers were ultimately very pretty and wonderful to take photos of, using individual flowers as a form of self portrait for all three shots I felt would have locked me into using close up shots which will result in a boring composition. A close up shot for the flower can be used for one photo, but to experiment with different angles and scale I would have to try something else.
Next I tried to capture pictures of the landscape.
For this flower tower, I used a extreme low angled shot to create a vanishing point using converging lines and essentially making the tower look like it is actually towering. However, what I don’t like is that due to the wide scale, we are unable to see the numerous tiny flowers, making the tower loses its “personality”.
I think that being able to capture the fine details, the small flowers that make up the huge tower would be able to represent numerous parts ( our personalities) that make up a whole.
I also played around with this area found within the Dome. I thought that the juxtaposition of fake Lego flowers was very apt to show how some of our personalities were sometimes more fake than the others, or how some personas/masks last longer than the others. Here I tried a wide scale high angled shot to capture all the different flowers. This however I feel makes the photo look messy as there is no focal point.
So that’s what I tried to do. I tried to zoom in for a focal point and the picture. The picture instantly becomes much neater. But of course, you lose the many different flowers which represent your many different personalities
So I tried to compromise by filling about 1/3rds of the frame with “negative space” to make the picture more neater. The negative space here however does not feel too empty as there is the reflection of the flowers and the trees. The more I went around taking photos the more I became sensitive to the picture composition
Lastly as mandated by the project brief, I played around with adding myself into the composition. This I found the most challenging as I find it difficult to compose the picture as the photographer and the subject at the same time.
To work around this I got a friend to pose as a substitute for me while I compose the photo first. However, even then, it is difficult to recreate the photo I am satisfied with.
Here I wanted to look like part of the background, to look almost camouflaged ( hence why I was wearing a floral print shirt). To show how I felt drowned by my different personalities sometimes.
I also played with the idea of looking away from the camera and directing the viewer’s gaze towards a subject. Making that subject tell the viewer about me. In a way I feel that this is a self-portrait, but with twist that is something else becomes your face.
For my final 3 works for Task 1, I chose a close up shot of a flower to show a core personality. A wide low angled shot to show how multiple different personas can make a beautiful whole and lastly, a medium shot to put myself in the picture but with a focus on the background to show how I sometimes feel lost due to the myriad of personalities that I have.
I decided to place the works in a linear fashion to create a narrative. Also mainly because I wanted the second picture of the Flower Tower to look like part of a whole from the first picture and by placing the second picture above the first one, the viewer’s gaze will naturally be lead up and eventually land softly on the final picture. Lastly I saturated the colours more as I really wanted to do justice to the flower’s bright and colourful appearance and also because I wanted the whole scene to look fantastical, to look like a dreamscape in a sense. I thought that would be apt as I was using them to represent personalities and personas. And thus it resulted in the final 3 photos.
Narrative: Have you ever felt like a different person whenever you talk to a different person? I have. In the past I used to be afraid that I didn’t know who my true self was. I didn’t know who I was, I kept borrowing personalities from the people I met , from the characters I’ve read. But that was in the past. Now I feel that I would never find my true self… as there is no true self to find. I feel that there is no one being that you find through your life that becomes the totality of who you are. It is my belief that we are made up of all the different personalities we create, all the different experiences we accumulate all the memories we have kept. And now I know that that’s beautiful. And at the core of it all, there is something uniquely you that ties it all together. That is what I fell makes you, who you are.
Things I could’ve improved on :
I felt that it was really cool how the first and the second picture looked like part of a whole however, because of this the third and last close-up pic looked a little out of place . Although the second picture lead the viewer’s gaze upwards towards the final picture it looked far too different from the rest. Even though the close up shot was apt for the message I was going for, I felt that maybe including more of the background would have made it look more integrated into the series and the viewer would be able to see the whole series as more of a whole.
For task 2, the object I have chosen as something of significance to me would be my diary as it contains bits and pieces of my memories, of my experiences and to me those are the most precious things in the world.
I essentially followed the brief’s instruction by taking the different shots instructed and curated them. I wanted to shots to show intimacy between me and the book.
- Close-up shot of the object with a neutral background.
First I started with a standard close up shot to show the whole object.
But I felt that this was uninteresting. It simply showed what the book was like. The image was devoid of emotion when I wanted to show my intimacy with the book. So i started to edit the image, increasing contrast and making the lighting more extreme. This instantly makes the book more important. It makes it seem as if this was not a normal book.
I next tried to play around with extreme close ups. Focusing on certain parts of the book like the corners and the edges as I felt that this gave the book more personality. It showed that the photographer knew every detail about he book to focus on them to show the viewer.
And then once again I played around with contrast, extreme lighting and saturation to bring out the book’s personality.
I wanted to show how the book was worn with time and how it has been used a lot as I feel that was how an object gets its own life, with time spent with the user, however, the side effect was that the book started to look more sinister… do I want that ?
Now after consultation, I found out that grass can be used as a neutral background. So to workaround the problem of the book becoming too sinister, I took photos of the book in a more bright,sunny and natural setting. To bring out the cheerful side of the book.
Instantly I felt that the book appeared much warmer more cheerful. It was now associated with more of a happy memory.
I tried to bring this out more once again by playing with the lighting and the saturation.
I also played around with opening the book and honestly i thought that this made it look much warmer, much more inviting. Because the book was open, it is now a lighter shade of brown and more than that, it is now literally inviting the onlooker to look at my thoughts.
There were however nothing written on those particular pages and would I want that? The viewer to look on an empty page in my diary when it is suppose represent my thoughts and memories which are precious to me.
I started thinking about adding my body into the picture and how that could show how much I really care for this book.
- Full figure shot with the object.
Honestly, I really didn’t like the head to toe shots. I felt that the book was too small for you to see so it loses its personality. It becomes simply a picture of a guy reading a book. You can’t tell that the book is of any importance. This might be because to capture head to toe you need a wider scale and that adds more of the background into the picture and thus this puts less focus on the model and even less focus is directed towards the book.
I tried to move in a little closer, but and from a different angle, But I felt the problem still persists. You simply can’t tell that this is an important book.
- Full figure shot of yourself interacting with the object.
I tried to interact more with the object and add more emotion to the head to toe shot by showing micro expressions eg. by gripping the book tightly. I thought yes this does definitely add more life but suddenly, the my posture and my shadow becomes important pieces of the picture too. I really didn’t like the slouching posture I had here as it just makes me and the picture as a whole messy. The shadow too had no meaning and it did not add to the picture.
Here I tried to eliminate the posture factor and made the shadow more minimal. I really like this shot as you can see the expressions shown by the hands. NOW, you can tell that the book was something important.
So next I tried to increase the scale to show not just micro expressions but as much expression as possible. This I felt made the book important but gave the book a very different feel. It made me realise that using micro expression would give a more somber feel while being obvious with your expression makes it more joyous.
- Mid range shot of me interacting with the object.
For the Mid range shots I once again played with obviously showing expressions vs showing micro expressions to switch the tone of the image. Happy VS somber.
Here I tried to imitate pictures usually associated with religious books where the forehead is pressed to the book. This I feel really shows how important the book is to me. This book to me is precious, it is my version of a bible, I have learnt from my past mistakes and memories and it has shaped who I am.
From this I moved on to trying to imitate other popular pictures. Kinda like Cindy Sherman and her film stills. I tried to add a comic aspect to the pictures.
Here I tried to make the book a literal lover and imitated how couples took photos of themselves when they lie next to each other. I took a step further and actually tired to take a selfie with the book.
This made me wonder actually. Why are these kind of photos so popular these days? What makes them aesthetically pleasing? For this project however, I felt that it did not work. Although the pictures do put importance on the book, It didn’t show intimacy which was what I was going for. And using the comic factor I felt dumbed down the audience a little, which was also not what I was going for. I wanted to show how much I loved my memories and experience, not tell it in a satirical way.
Close up shots of me interacting with the project.
At first I thought that this would be the most easiest scale to show intimacy with the book as that is what close up shots do, they can show the most emotion and micro expressions become apparent. However, it wasn’t as simple as I had thought ….
Suddenly micro expressions were TOO apparent and I realised that no matter how I gripped the book the awkwardness showed. Maybe if hands did’t work, other body parts might ????
For this task, I decided to choose, firstly a close up shot of me interacting with the object as I wanted to show the book’s beauty ( to show that it is special) and at the same time, add have a part of me in the frame to show my connection with the book.
Secondly, I chose a medium close up shot and thirdly a full body long shot. Here I chose these two shots as I wanted to show polarity. For the first shot I wanted to show how in my life I do have low points that I am not proud of but at the same time these are moments I would not change for the world.
This is because I believe that low moments make up who you are and I am at this point, pretty satisfied with where I am. Hence I tried to achieve this by giving a solemn look to the photo. For this second photo, I chose a playful joyous look to show the high points in my life and even the embarrassing moments that I love all the same as they are my precious moments that have lead me to where I am no. Lastly, even though natural lighting would have been enough, I chose to saturate them as firstly, I wanted them like in task 1 to look a little ethereal as I was talking about memories and moments, something of the cognitive mind. Secondly I wanted them to be bright and cheery like in task 1 to contrast with me next cluster of photos in task 3 which were more dark and sinister. Hence this resulted in the final 3 chosen photos.
Narrative: We all have high and low points in our lives. Like the rest of you, I too have low points that I am not proud of. Low points that hurt. Low points that changed me. But, despite all of that, I wouldn’t change them for the world. To me, low points in our lives make up who you are as much as the high points. and without them I wouldn’t be who I am today, and to be honest, I am pretty satisfied with who I am today. Most of the entries inside this book were written down when I was in secondary school and to be honest I am pretty embarrassed about them. In fact if I were to meet my secondary school self the first thing I would tell him is to ” STOP IT” , just stop it. But as much as I hate that kid now, I love him just as much as he paved the way for me to be standing right here as who I am. And those my friends, is the most precious thing in the world to me, my memories and experiences.
Things I could have improved on: Firstly, on hindsight, I realised that I might have played around with the saturation a little too much as the photos look slightly too orange. Yes I think they convey the feeling of showing a sort of dreamscape, but that worked better for task 1. Hence I think I could have done some colour correcting. Secondly, the close up shot of my book implied direction and directed the viewer’s gaze thanks to the lines created through my feet. I thought that was a really cool effect, however, i did not make use of this when laying out my photos not did my other two photos imply any form of direction thus this cool effect in the end became redundant. I feel that was a little bit of a shame … such a waste. I could have implied direction and directed the viewer’s gaze throughout all three photos and that way they would have looked more like part of a whole rather than individual photos.
- Take a series of photographs that is significant to you or fascinates you.
To me, the place that is significant to me and also fascinates me is my home. It is significant to me because obviously, it is the place I have called my home, all my life. I enjoy staying at home. I have a large family and it always very rowdy and lively. It is never boring to stay at home for me.
But at the same time, my house was pretty strange. My parents are really big on appearances so the house is very decorated. Some areas of the house are even on constant display, yet as the same time, my parents hate and never have guests over… so who are they on display for? Is this contradiction not strange to you? This idea of appearances also translates to how they expect us ( my siblings and I) to behave. To never ruin the family’s image.
Hence I tried to show this strangeness, firstly by using slanted framing and extreme angles.
I also tried using the “frame within a frame” effect to show how sometimes I feel disconnected from my house.
Next I tried to show the mess inside of my house. Due to my family being pretty large ( 6 members, including me) pockets of the house ( the ones not up for display) are in a constant mess. I thought showing this contrast of household mess in a decorated showroom-esque house would show viewers that the house is a little strange.
Looking at this I realised that I should incorporate some mess within the photos as it showed signs of life in the house. I wanted to show that this place was strange but also show that it was inhabited by a family.
After consultation in week 2 I realised that I was taking far too many photos of my living room ( as that was the area in my house that was most decorated). So the following weekend, I started taking photos of the different areas. I realised that each different room of my house too had some small bit that was to me also strange.
This room has always been a strange place to me. I guess it was because it was someone else’s place of comfort, in this case my parent’s.
My sister has always been someone I respected most in the world. At the same time however, there was always a little bit of fear mixed in as she can be stern and scary when she wants to. So this place has always been a little weird to me as she didn’t like me hanging around the room in the first place. That and that the room had always been very very messy.
Even my own room feel’s like it is not mine as I share it with 2 brothers.
Lastly, to try convey the feeling that there is something “off” about this place I played with colour, contrast and saturation.
Here, I wanted to show how this home was still a place I loved, so I decided to make it look bright and cheerful, BUT, I saturated it to the point where it is a little strange. I saturated it to the point where the viewer knows that the colours can’t be that bright in real life. And hence this disorients the viewer.
I brought this further by making the colours really strange. In the first photo I gave it a slight lime green tinge and for the second one there were no bars held and I gave it a rainbow tinge. Although yes this made it apparent that I these places were strange, I thought it was too obvious and it dumbed the audience a little.
Next, I tried doing the opposite and tried to reduce colour and saturation instead to make the place look slightly sinister instead and compared it to their saturated counterparts. I didn’t want to make the photo completely black and white as I thought once again that
was too obvious of me as a creator in trying to make the place look “off”. Hence I made it such that there was still colour and some warmth to hint that it was still a place close to my heart.
I also thought about how these photos would play with the ones from my previous task. Making the photos saturated would make them fit right in with the others while making them look sinister would show contrast.
In the end I decided to choose the more sinister looking photos as I thought firstly, that it showed clearly that there was something wrong with the place I was depicting, but not in an obnoxious “in your face” manner. Secondly, because the photos from the previous 2 tasks were very bright and saturated, I thought by showing contrast instead of making them bright too, it would gave the viewer some sort of visual break for their eyes. Hence this resulted in the 5 photos I would use.
This photo I chose and placed it right on top as i wanted it to be a picture that leads and invites the viewer into my home.
My Sofa area has always been a place that was strange to me. No one is allowed into this area. We have never played in it as kids and even now, we don’t step foot in the area. I is for display, but yet at the same time, my parents never invites any one over. Is this not strange ?
The entrance to my room. But it is a room that is mine only by name. I have relinquished all control to my brothers and in fact, I don’t even sleep in this room. I sleep in the hallway. Why then is it still called my room?
Such a beautiful swing… Do we actually swing on it? No we don’t. We use it as a clothes rack for our outfits the next day. Mainly because one, it is uncomfortable and 2 because there is a mirror behind the swing. Why put a mirror behind a swing?
Strangely enough, I have always felt comfortable in this room. Being inside it felt calming and for some reason it was always the coldest place in the house. Even on the warmest of days, the room would have a comfortable temperature. As a child I would always go to this room when I couldn’t sleep. This room however is also associated with a tense atmosphere. Whenever my mom was angry at my siblings and I, she would go inside her room and complain about us. But in a manner such that we could all hear her. During those moments you could cut the tension with a knife and I would hate to even be near this place. How can something be so comforting yet at the same time be uncomfortable?
Things I could have improved on:
During critique, a dear classmate Brendan noticed that in the photos I have chosen, I have clearly decided include the windows and show the light filtering through. Even in the photo of the Swing, you could see the light from the window through the reflection. This I thought was a very good observation and something I did not consciously do. I have however loved the way light flowed into the house through the windows. I could have made this more apparent by making the window more apparent in the Swing picture. For example, take the photo in such a way that the grills are actually seen through the reflection.
Critique and Reflections
Honestly, at first I didn’t how I was to tell a story about myself through these photos. In fact I wasn’t even sure how I was going to take these photos as I didn’t have a DSLR camera nor a tripod, so how was I to do self portraiture.But as I plunged in head first, by using friends as tripods and then actually going about to use a proper camera, it started to get more fun. At the same time however, it more challenges started popping up. I started to be more conscious of the elements within a photograph, the framing angle, the scale, the lighting. The position of every small thing within the photograph, how much clutter do I want within the frame? Questions such as these starting appearing without prompt and that’s when I knew I stated to enjoy myself. All in all I thought project 1 was a wonderful experience and I can only hope for many more to come.