side-tracked… [again!]

Re-writing Bourdin post for third time—gone from raging at the machine to thinking I must just do a short piece on him and the exhibition for the time being. Did loads of research last few days on the role of fashion photography as art—and this was where the digression was taking me. But have to get post done, move onto assignment. Compromise—no time to “do” fashion photography  critique properly at the moment—do some readings and put here, leave others till later—maybe much later —but my thoughts are there—will investigate as a long-term project and commentary.

Bright, S. (2011) ‘Fashion’, in Art Photography Now. London: Thames & Hudson. pp. 132–155.

  • [133] art and fashion photography seen as independent—art lofty, not tainted by commercialisation, briefs, clients
  • [134] what about increasing business side of the art world? [art as commodity—Koons, Hirst etc]
  • fashion photography as commercial aspect—belongs to an industry—this ‘demystifies’ it?
  • fashion photography exhibitions tend to get more publicity than ‘fine-art’ exhibitions—because larger, youth market attends
  • including fashion photography in a museum—asks questions about history of art and concept of ‘master’—therefore fashion photography tends to be shown outside of the context of the musem—in more commercial galleries
  • excludes concept of master because it is a collaboration—work of photographer, stylists, art director, clients, assistants [again ask question of studios of the old masters in painting; or the collaboration in the creation of the artworks of Koons and Hirst]
  • fashion photography does not need museums or galleries—fashion photography has numerous outlets—magazines, videos, lookbooks etc—galleries use fashion photography to get in numbers
  • [135] references ‘Fashioning Fiction’ [MoMA 2004]—comments on fact that museum opted to show the work in traditional manner—as opposed to relating to the industry within which it operates—the artwork is thus understood by placing it within the context of fine art
  • exhibition explored trends in fashion photography—staged tableaux, diarist aprroach, the cinematic—comments that museums only welcome fashion photography on its [the museums] own terms
  • most commercial fashion photography is not art—that of high-end labels and mags often is [more on this from other readings]
  • mentions Tina Barney, Nan Goldin, Larry Sultan, Philip-Lorca diCorcia, Sam Taylor-Wood, Collier Shorr[1], Justine Kurland—photographers tended to keep fashio work separate from ‘personal’—now more of a symbiotic relationship—badge of pride, increased exposure, street credibility and glamour
  • some fashion photographers increasing represented by commercial art galleries—increasing as photography gains prominence in contemporary art
  • computer and digital manipulation—long accepted in fashion industry—now becoming more accepted in the gallery
  • conversely—magazines are becoming ‘softer’—don’t wish to upset their advertisers—galleries step in and take up the slack—able to offer space without those constraints—she reckons that museums will have to adjust
  • growing change in magazine culture from safe, glossy, high-end mags to mags which mix fashion, music and documentary—references ‘The Face’ [closed 2004] and ‘I-D’ magazine [there are more now—have mentioned elsewhere]—have given fashion photography new credibility—giving more freedom to construct narratives with personal meaning
  • [136] Jonathan de Villiers: work has critical or political edge—’Waiting’ [L'Uomo Vogue 2003/4]—finds restrictions placed by commercial work are interesting—in ‘Waiting’ focused on sense of banality—feels sometimes too much ‘spectacle’ in fashion
  • [140] Nick Knight: often uses fashion to highlight more political issues—ageism, size, shows physically challenged. Sees photography simplpe as medium to communicate—uses superficilaity and fickleness of fashion to draw attention to causes. ‘W’ magazine shoot—tanning of horse to highlight where pony-skin boots come from.
  • [142] Craig McDean—reacted against high-gloss & glamour of fashion mags—’I Love Fast Cars’ [1999]—drag racing; ‘Lifescapes’—American iconography—blends/layers landscapes with personal narratives
  • [144] Mert+Marcus—cite Bellmer and Bourdin as influences—surrealist—uncanny, representation of female sexuality. Made ‘art’ before fashion—do not see much difference. Deny using artists as reference [so disagree—have done a fair bit of M+M bashing in my journal—but over that transcription thing now!]
  • [146] Koto Bolofo—better known for work outside of fashion—’Sibusiso Mbhele’, book and film; and ‘Fish Helicopter’ [MoMA 2000]. Blends tradition of African commercial studio with surrealist humours & playfulness. Rich use of colour is reminiscent of 1970′s cine film. Lesotho horsemen story—Olympic team—Italian Vogue—use of props—both traditional African mixed with English motifs in blankets—props show status—blankets, pins, shields, knobkerrie.
  • [148] Camille Vivier—works equally in fashion and gallery world. Differentiates less and less between fashion and art; says difference is more dependent on context and process of realization, and not on the intention. Influenced by cinema—fashion photo is mise-en-scene—each detail included must serve the image. Hitchock and Lynch. Use of narrative is important—see beyond the representation—allow for different interpretations and imaginations. Meeting point between subject, her intention and collective imagination.
  • [150] Mario Sorrenti—1990s—mainly operates in commercial—but is collected by museums and galleries.
  • [152] Corinne Day—Kate Moss—Vogue 1993, heroin chick, grunge—influential on young photographers—merge personal life with fashion—7 yrs out ‘Diary’ candid account—life + friends
  • [154] Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin—computers & digital early stage ‘Final Fantasy’ [1993] science, ethics [more info[2]]

[1] Interesting that he is represented by an agency called ‘Art+Commerce’—number of fashion photographers on their books.
[2] Smelek, A. (2009) Fashion and Visual Culture [online]. Available from: (Accessed 17 April 2013).

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pictures…tim walker

Looked at this book a couple of years back, when Borders still existed at Oxford Circus; and opted not to buy it…

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light vs lighting

Still trying to get to grips with the concept of lighting—know that in the past when I have used lights. I have used them to make the object visible in a darkened room as opposed to using lighting creatively to illustrate concepts such as texture, colour, volume or shape. Read Prakel’s book on lighting—which is now on the ‘suggested further reading’ section of the TAOP reading list. Found the book easy to follow and understand; and felt that it linked more closely with the lighting coursework in the red folder.

But I was determined to go further—and so have tackled Light: Science and Magic—which is on the essential section of the reading list. This is hard going! It is the third time that I have attempted the book; and I am not going to let it defeat me. So far, I have managed the first four chapters, so there are another six to go. But am finding that by taking it slowly and making the mind-maps; it is starting to make more sense.

I still have to try all the experiments in the book—and doubt I will have time before my assignment is due—but I am obsessed/determined/pig-headed about lighting—and it will make sense one day!

The first four chapter mind-maps are available here:

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if i could turn back time…

I know the blog has been pretty quiet this week—and it’s because I have finally returned to old student methods. I have so many books on the bookshelf; and decided that it was time that I actually sat down and ‘studied’ one, instead of dipping in and out—and remembering nothing. So the week I tackled a book off the reading list—Fox, A. and Caruana, N. (2012) Behind the Image—Research in Photography. Lausanne: AVA Publishing—and really happy that I did too.

I’ve been floundering a little when I got feedback from my tutor saying more evidence of research was needed. They said they could see that I had done research—but it needed to be referenced—and to be honest—I just did not get it. But now, after reading—no, studying the book—I think I do. So I am much happier! Wish it had been available earlier.

Really recommend the book—rate the first four chapters very highly [lion's share of the book]—they gave me valuable insight into what is required and the value of research. Felt that a little towards the end, there was some repetition. But that could also have been me getting tired.

Attaching a PDF of the mind maps—two versions— as it depends on the size of your monitor.

If like me, you don’t get this research thing, and how to go about it, and how to record it—then give the book a whirl. No, mine is not up for grabs—I might give it a re-read in the future.


Forgot to mention that there is a useful self-evaluation form on pg 101. As they say, the first few times you do a self-evaluation, it’s useful to have something that gives you a structure to follow which will help focus your thoughts and questions. Am going to give it a whirl for assignment 4 and will let you know what I think. I’m the sort of girl who needs structure and foundations to guide her; until I feel ‘safe’ enough to fly by myself!

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your camera loves you…!

your camera loves you…!

It’s been a while since I posted anything to my reading list, even though I have done a fair amount…

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thinking inside the frame…

Been a really productive day—much blogging, reading and thinking—too grey outside to do anything else. What I have read are ‘The Photographer’s Eye’ by John Szarkowski; and ‘The Nature of Photographs’ by Stephen Shore. Both books will demand a re-read as I progress through this course, because I am still nowhere near a stage where I understand what I am looking at when I look at a photograph, I have no idea of the vocabulary; and I certainly cannot ‘read’ them yet. But that will come with practise (she says hoping, anxiously).

One of the points that I found interesting was the concept of the Frame and how placement of the content within the frame can be very important. Normally, what I would do, is try to encompass my entire subject within the frame; and normally place them somewhere along the rule of thirds (if possible, and if I was thinking). If the subject were a person; I would try to keep them looking into the image; similarly with a vehicle, I would have it driving into the image. I suppose that I use the frame ‘passively’ as described by Shore (2010) on page 60. My subjects very seldom interact with the frame as such.

But, when reading about Japanese woodcuts (Shore 2010-pg64) and (Szarkowski-2009), and their comments on how the picture edge can be used as a cropping device; and how the frame can give more emphasis to elements which are cropped by it; I had a little think! If I took three basic images of a car, one in its normal position within the frame; one entering the frame and one exiting the frame, they would all be saying different things? Wouldn’t they? It’s too grey to go outside today and do that—maybe tomorrow morning, I might try.

The other thing I found interesting was that with our framing we could create relationships between persons within the frame that had not existed, that we can use the frame to isolate them as such. I’m hoping that I managed to do that in this image below, shot while I was gathering images for my colour coursework.

contrasting colours in copenhagen

I consciously cropped the mother of the child (left) out of the image because she was dressed in a drab brown coat; and I wanted there to be a connection between the woman with the red hat and the child in the red ‘bin’. I also hoped that the shadow from the bin, the woman’s eyeline and the way the child is looking in her direction would also help. It would have been better if the person with the red coat had not been in the background?

But I am also seeing some other things that I have battled to see in the past—triangles. I think there is a triangle created by the three red objects in the image; and an inverted one—the yellow objects in the centre; and if I really push it, a third triangle in the grouping on the right. Okay, it’s not a great shot, the woman in the red hat is blurred because she was moving; and it’s really rather busy; but it does have contrasting colours in it! [So, the image is likely to re-appear in coursework!]

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food photography: from snapshots to great shots

I’m so tempted to call this a ‘book of the week’ post; but that might mean…

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hungry eye 2

hungry eye 2

There was a plop through the postbox this morning—not the light plop of a letter or the heavy thud of a book…

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hungry eye magazine

hungry eye magazine

There’s a new fusion magazine which might be worth a look. Called ‘Hungry Eye’, it seems to be where many—who left Professional Photographer a few months back—have moved.

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serial photography

serial photography

Had been dipping casually into Harald Mante’s book entitled ‘Serial Photography: Using Themed Images to Improve Your Photographic Skills‘, an interesting read.

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alternative thinking…

On the train into London, reading article entitled ‘Alternative Thinking’, on Jonathan Stead in Black + White Photography, August 2011. (pp. 10-16)

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train your gaze

Reading “Train your Gaze”: A Practical and Theoretical Introduction to Portrait Photography”, by R. Angier on iPad as I commute into London. Lots of it makes sense; and will demand a proper re-read/study.

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