Project 1: Picture Story – Curating Self (Process, Concepts & Test Shots)

For this project, I wanted to challenge myself to tell my story, be comfortable and as candid as Nan Goldin to show certain sides of me and how I came to be the person I am today. During the process of this project, I pushed myself to come up with interesting concepts using various techniques such as the use of semiotics, denotation and connotation, play with contrasting elements such as the value of darkness, the meaning behind the concept and mood of the setting. My goal is to send out an impactful message while telling my life story to my peers.

The photos are taken on iPhone 8+ and Olympus DSLR camera.


 Look at me now… 

Process of Component 1: Me

Planning of concepts for Component 1: Me


Experimentation of Concept 1 – “Stoic Sculpture” :

Artist Reference: Alex Maeda

I was inspired by Alex Maeda’s style of making humans and living spaces into 2D. The concept of painting myself is really interesting and I want to see how it can add value to convey the meaning behind my concept which is my achievements and struggles.

Selected Test Shots for Concept 1 – “Stoic Sculpture” :

These are the test shots selected for review and I experimented with various shots and angles to find out which framing will be able to convey the narrative behind the concept the best.

Selected photo is the fifth photo with medium close up taken at a high angle because it shows a sense of vulnerability.


Experimentation of Concept 2 – “I can’t be fucked anymore” :

For one of the concepts for component 1, I wanted to send out an impactful message about a pivotal moment in my life. I was figuring out on how to do it and I got inspired by Jayde Tan when I was browsing through our local photographer’s Instagram page. I explored with my body to show vulnerability yet convey a message on my bare back.

Selected Test Shots for Concept 2 – “I can’t be fucked anymore” :

For this concept, I experimented with long shot, medium shot and medium close up. The third test shot is selected because it focuses on the impactful message as well as the red silk robe which signifies pride. It’s taken from a low angle to show that I’m in control and suits the narrative.


Experimentation & Selected Test Shots for Concept 3 – “Carefree – I do what I want” :

I experimented with various part of my room and tried of different expressions and gestures to convey the feeling of being a carefree person without any care in the world. The selected test shot is the fourth photo because the background is white and my expression is suitable.

Artist Reference: UglyWorldWide – You Can Do It

I was inspired by Uglyworldwide because she tends to convey her mood by doing quirky makeup on her face and I incorporated this style into my concept because it gives off a carefree vibe.


 Searching for happiness

Process of Component 2: My Object

Process of Planning Component 2: My Object


Selected Test Shots for Concept 1 – “Windmill of Happiness” :

I tried using lighting to achieve a reflection effect but in the end, I chose test shot 4 because I realised I should keep it simple because happiness to me is about enjoying the simple things in life.


Selected Test Shots for Concept 2 – “Existential Crisis” :

To show the contrast between depression and happiness, I have chosen the second photo because it’s more interactive and it has more contrasting element of the childlike innocence and hope for happiness, and the smoke which is the will to survive.

Framing for Concept 2 – “Existential Crisis” :

For the chosen photo, during the review of test shots, Prof Serena asked to focus on one object so it’s not confusing. Hence, I cropped away the cigarette in the original photo and frame it to be a medium shot so it focus on the details of the emphasis which is the vibrant rainbow windmill and the smoke. In addition, I did colour correcting to make the colour more blueish to make it gloomy.

This made me realised how framing will immediately zoom into the main point of the narrative and less is more.


Brandon Woelfel’s artwork (Processed with VSCO with e8 preset)

I was inspired by Brandon Woelfel’s way of using colour smoke grenade to add vibrancy into his photos. However, instead of using vibrancy, I want to incorporate smoke in a depressing way to have a conflicting effect with the vibrant rainbow windmill.


Selected Test Shots for Concept 3 – “A reminder…” :

The process of capturing this concept is really tedious because I had to use a tripod, timer and blow the windmill at the same time. It took quite a long time because I wanted to achieve a medium shot at an eye level with a white background.

I was in dilemma to pick between the second and the third photo but I’ve chosen the third photo because the facial expression is more intense even though it was a mistake to have my head cropped out. Also, after consulting with my classmates and friends, they said the second photo is a bit too boring and there’s no emphasis compared to the third photo.

Framing for Concept 3 – “A reminder…” :

For the framing for this photo concept, I’ve framed it to be medium close up to focus on the details of the rotating windmill and the intense look from my facial expression. My aim was focus on the main emphasis of the story which is eyeing on my future happiness despite my struggling situation. Hence, I decided to edit the colour tone of the photo to have a blue hue.

Other rejected test shots for Component 2 – My Object:

Experimented various angles and shots of me interacting with my rainbow windmill but it’s not really impactful compared to the selected test shots. However, being able to try out different shots, knowing how to pose even though it’s weird doing it by myself was a fun experience. Thank god, I’m shameless and I didn’t mind people watching me do my project alone:


 Daddy is gone…

Process of Component 3: My World

Process of Planning Component 3: My World


Selected Test Shots for Concept 1 – “Gone…” :

For the concept, I took wide shots to show the environment of my world with my younger self with the windmill in it. My focus was to place contrasting visuals between my sad self and the vibrancy of the playground. I tried to play around with the infrastructure available to express the pang of sadness of receiving the news by using the railings of the playground to show that my life is ruined like how people will get a black mark in their records when they enter prison. (Leaving a scar in my life)

I’ve chosen the second photo because the environment of the location I wanted to showcase is really obvious and the feelings I wanted to express is really suitable and child-like for the narrative.


Framing for Concept 1 – “Gone…” :

For the framing of this photo concept, I decided to use Rule of Thirds to crop the photo to put emphasis on me crouching down, hugging my knees. I wanted to showcase how the playground it’s a happy place for the people around me in the photo but how I’m unhappy about the tragic news using a blue hue for the mood at that exact happy location.


Selected Test Shots for Concept 2 – “Taken away” :

To convey the cause of how my dad passed away, I tried placing the windmill and the beer bottle using the Rule of Thirds and decided to use the third photo. I prefer the long shot of the photo with the kid facing away from the camera in the background.


Selected Test Shots for Concept 3 – “The beginning of my downhill” :

To convey the message that my life is scarred for life and it went downhill, I tried experimenting using different poses and angles. The chosen photo is the fifth one because it places emphasis on how my life went downhill since I’m sitting on the slide. The medium close up shot focuses on the bloody hands and how broken I am from the body gesture.


Framing for Concept 3 – “The beginning of my downhill” :

For the chosen photo, to amplify the depressing mood, I colour corrected the photo to have more cool tones so the red bloody  will stand out more


Other rejected test shots for Component 3 – My World:

These are the rejected test shots because it doesn’t fit the narrative or capture the location of the environment well.



  • It was really tough managing everything by myself from using the camera, tripod, timer as well as, trying to pose in time to capture the right moment.
  • Figuring out the concepts and planning out the shots and framing is tedious and enjoyable at the same time.

This project has equipped me with useful skills that I could use in future projects or any concepts that I’m planning to do.

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