The story telling unit is a concept I feel inspired to write, for this unit I would like to recreate the stages of having lymphoma and how I recount those stages: the physiology and emotions, the phases of the emotions and the impact that the diagnosis had on me. I completed the full course of treatment and subsequently was informed that the disease had returned and was now considered to be refractory this resulted in further far more intense treatment. I would like to display this concept as a book format ideally that would juxtapose how theory and practice are not easily predicted; I want to share my journey in all its undulations. I would like the book to be factual and essentially autobiographical in its theme, the stark medical facts and the emotions that are felt.
I would like it to be a visual representation but also incorporating text to support the main theme of the story. This is aimed at the viewer having a greater understanding enabling them to build a greater knowledge of the situation. I’d like it to represent the clinical elements, but I would veer away from this as I would like to change aesthetic so that the story becomes a little more abstract and beautiful but also have a cinematic ambience much like the work of Gregory Crewdson. The inspiration of Gregory suggests to me that I should I feel empowered to use the compositional strategy he uses within his work, naturally this will be on a much smaller scale due to the timeframe in order to achieve my concept, project. I feel that his ideas are far too ambitious for me to emulate in their entirety. I would also like to expand on the creative aesthetic by using colour in an extremely beautiful dreamy ambience in order to engage the viewer but much like the work of Gregory, I want to underpin the profound depths educate and enlighten the audience. I will use the creative writing element of this unit to reinforce the story and again use the idea of a factual journey but also a deeply personal story providing the backdrop that will build the synopsis of my story. I want to use dark complex metaphors and utilise them visually similarly I want to change the focus slightly to create an abstract feel that creates some beauty and reduces the starkness of the subject matter.
I want to explore many different formats hopefully inspiring me to understand how to use creative writing to my advantage. I hope that it will convey the most effective visualisation of the concept. I shall create many different elements and hopefully, this will help build my knowledge base in understanding what creative writing can add to my photography and how best to achieve the optimum results from this medium.
This body of work will use a studio setup, self-portraiture, varied lighting conditions and different colour spectrums. I shall experiment with these different elements. I will then work on the photographic body in Photoshop in order to create a cohesive visual representation of my story. I want the core elements to comprise different metaphors which will ultimately create a complex narrative enhancing the melancholic theme.
The story of my diagnosis seemed to be the most pertinent subject especially as it followed on naturally from Uncertainty in Beyond Photography. The disease has been fundamental in my life at the moment and therefore created the ultimate inspiration.
The unit was an emotional journey for me to relive the time, reflect and rethink the passage of time, the events were unfolding during the time and I constantly needed to rewrite, re-edit and change focus, sometimes this happened on a daily basis.
I spent a great deal of time reading a vast quantity of books: The Cambridge Introduction to Narrative, H. Porter Abbott. Was wonderfully insightful, similarly Media, Culture and Society by Paul Hodkinson, was a very structured and covered a broad perspective, Art and Text was a useful resource to help with the story construction. I found Pictures On a Page by Harold Evans and Pictures From Home by Larry Sultan gave an inspirational guide to aid the composition of my work, I rewrote the pieces several times as my style changed depending on the emotiveness of my disease process, the undulating moods and lethargy that my illness altered and subsequently transformed the style I wished to convey.
I think the subject whilst it maybe a sombre disease I have tried to show the necessity for hope and courage, I appreciate the subject may not appeal to everyone but the disease does not need consent so some insight helps to encourage knowledge, understanding and compassion.
The concept is hugely personal to me and it has been challenging to write as the events are not complete at the time of writing. I found on the Internet inspirational writers and Artist who showed their individual writing styles in equally emotive situations. Classical writers who seemed to quote emotions that I felt and I included some of my favourites in my work.
I changed styles at different stages but eventually returned to the autobiographical style as it seemed to reflect my journey in a more logical way, moreover it provided balance and pace.
The practical work was challenging due to the lack of opportunity as the illness prevented my ability to work very often in the studio, I had to experiment and use an Ad Hoc style to explore some of the subject matter but ultimately the pictures do convey the story I wish to tell.
I hope that next time to be well and have more flexibility to explore a wider range but I have learnt a great deal and improvisation has been a learning curve too. The concept was altered as originally I wanted to juxtapose the treatment plan, implementation and outcome, but the disease altered that concept and provided the journeys progress and setbacks, outcomes and penult imamate staging. I wanted to focus on Gregory Crewdson but in fact, my style emulated Corinne Day in the oscillations that the storyline underpinned. This quote by Day has a parallel with everything that inspires me; “I really believe you have to have time off to be creative, which is why I don’t have a darkroom. If I did have one, I’d spend my whole life revolving around photography, and then I wouldn’t get any inspiration to take pictures.”
I found the unit very interesting and challenging due to the emotions that were transforming my abilities however I found it therapeutic to explore and recreate the scenes.
Gregory Crewdson is an American photographer born in New York in 1962 and is currently still working in New York.
At aged ten, Crewdson had his first experience with photography when he first saw the work of Diane Arbus at the Museum Of Modern Art in New York. Crewdson studied photography at the University of New York-Purchase College in 1985. Crewdson, three years later then graduated with his Masters in Photography at the Yale University.
Crewdson’s style is the mundane surreal domestic environment, in his first series in which he uses a wide variety of subject matter including; birds, insects, mutated body parts. The first of his series focuses on narratives based upon paranoia, lust and fantasy. Crewdson changed his style regularly from vibrant close-ups to monochromatic” bird’s eye view” captures.
In his latter series, he introduced colour back into his style, using large format, to enhance the cinematic ambience inspired by Steven Steinberg. His work is staged tableaus of suburban life. The series is documentation in a domestic environment, these photographs result in of obscenely dramatic and unsettling feelings of isolation, despite them being in a vernacular neighbourhood. Crewdson’s work would have required a vast array of assistants, procedural set building and actors in order to achieve the series. Crewdson created many photographic series. In 1963 Crewdson decided to become a professor where he studied his Master’s degree and has remained there ever since. Crewdson has suggested that in the future would like to direct his own feature film.
Crewdson is my biggest inspiration he inspires me to examine every individual element that is put in the photographic image, to make it procedural, balanced and dystonic to the viewer. I want to capture the cinematic elements of Crewdson’s work as I feel this grabs the viewer in such a way that the image has more presence and longevity to be savoured, exhaustingly wishing to unpick every part of the image and therefore pieced together an overall story. This is something I feel Crewdson does incredibly well, he manages to enthral in both text and image. Crewdson’s work is both artistic with an element of poetry a strong narrative that inspires you just really want to view a whole series and form your own opinions and concept of what is happening in the image. Crewdson makes you want to learn about all the cinematic components, the compositional balancing but also the tonal and colour spectrum and lighting that is so masterfully used within his work. I would like to make a smaller scale set that will have everything purposely placed, thus to create a finely tuned composition but in a much more simplistic way than perhaps Crewdson’s work as I shall not have the assistance or resources Crewdson has at his disposal.
Crewdson has said that he wanted to construct the world in photographs which is something I feel fascinates me. This is something that heavily resonates within me is it something I have found myself doing within my work. I love to build a theatrical environment to house my ideas Crewdson is also fascinated by the limitations of photography that a still image will ultimately freeze time, one is left feeling like an unresolved question something that you never really going to understand fully. This is again something I feel my work has an element of by the pure nature of metaphors within my work. I often feel that some of my metaphors are lost within my work as they are insignificant to most viewers but heavily impactful to me.
The Spirit Leaves The Body
Duane Michals was born in Pennsylvania in 1932. Michals found himself fascinated by art even in his youth which inspired him into taking classes in an art museum in his hometown. Michals then decided that he wanted to receive his own B.A. in Graphic Design at the University of Denver. Shortly after Michals completed his Degree he moved to New York. Michals carried on working in the Graphic Design field until his sudden interest in Photography transpired. This sudden change in Michals’ career began in 1958. It started when he travelled to the Soviet Union, Michals took documentary portraits of strangers on the streets, formally known as a “social landscape.” From there onwards Michals’ love for photography was ignited making a series corresponding to extensive sublimity. He held his first exhibition in 1963. Michals’ excelled in both Commercial and non-commercial photography.
Michals’ style was sequential imagery, a style conducting myths and enigma. The aim is to expand the creative process in order to condense all possibilities of photography. The expressive pathways Michals’ used over the years varied, this was due to the influencers he utilised ranging from: literary, philosophy and painters like René Magritte and Balthus. This had a direct impact on Michals’ work as some influences tackled death: memory, desire, gender and sexuality, these issues became paramount in much of Michals’ work. Many critics couldn’t understand Michals urge to ask so many questions and felt that not enough people ask questions or are curiously minded. Michals used an abundance of multiple exposures to summon an ethereal feel he typically staged scenes forming sequences that became a series leading into books, sometimes experimenting with text and drawings. Michals found that photography can be very limiting especially in the nature of the medium not expressing the vibrancy or evoking the full extent of the feeling. Michals found himself writing corresponding text for the viewer to reduce misinterpretation.
I can relate to this as I share this feeling, though photography conveys a certain amount of information it never completely or wholly displays the full extent it is predominantly due to the nature of the medium, therefore, you are provoked into capturing a series of images in order to get across everything you desire. I encountered an issue in the last unit as I wanted to include so much information. I found that with photography it’s very limiting as maintaining simplicity rules is essential and therefore not including text or metaphors in the work as they can be misinterpreted therefore ultimately losing much of the depth behind the work. I have found that by adding text, however, you are enhancing the story. I feel as too many pictures without text lose a personal interpretation and narrative and have therefore chosen to support my images with text and insightful explanations.
Michals photographed a man (Fred) with Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease he was fascinated by all the incredibly strange things Fred would say. When Michals was making his work he started asking rhetorical questions one being “why do you think we are here?” but none of his assistants really ever answered but Fred replied, “to take care of each other”. Michals thought this was incredible. I personally find this exceptionally fascinating by the pure nature of how the brain changes from age and health. Michals’ was fascinated by these changes too because he believed when we are younger emotions are raw and more painful than when we’re old due to desensitisation. It’s a sublime beauty that Michals apparently looks into and captures the most. This raw emotion is something I would like to capture within my work. I feel that I’m of a similar nature and that I thoroughly enjoy looking at the sublime parts of life. The artist pays significant details to the subtleties in life. Michals pays particular attention to things that are usually lost and tries to incorporate this within his own work. The curiousness of the audience is embraced but never the reasoning behind why we are questioning is something that Michals does which is also something that I would like to incorporate in my work ethos.
Patrick O’Sullivan is an American cinematic photographer. O’Sullivan was commissioned by the Australian Cancer Council to make a series on the effects of cancer to promote an anti-smoking campaign.
O’Sullivan finds the world right now a strange place, opened by a lack of teaching and so he focused his energies to incorporate his knowledge into teaching others and he has done this by creating a website called WanderingDP.com. The idea behind this is to teach the younger cinematographers everything they need to know about being in the industry.
O’Sullivan teaches all the key elements of cinematography by going through lighting diagrams, the ratio in order to achieve interesting compositions, the thought processes and the reasons why you do this creatively, how you have to adapt shooting styles to solve issues whilst onset. Patrick shows you this through theory and application. He is able to inform you on how to balance the storytelling aspects and also informs you about the restrictions you encounter with the camera. O’Sullivan informs you of everything you need to consider before you shoot. He also looks into the colour correction.
I think the advertising O’Sullivan has done is incredible as it has a great level of depth. I feel he embarks on heavy emotions that are connected with a cancer diagnosis. He has a very strong cinematic ambience but also a narrative-based point of view that you the viewer can feel like a “fly on the wall”. He utilises things that most people wouldn’t usually think of when they think of cancer and how it affects the patients family around them. I think the work is very hard-hitting and immensely powerful to the viewer. It looks at colour and lighting to tell most of the story the subject is quite subtle but using his skill, he manages to make this dramatic to the viewer. I feel this is something I strive to accomplish and feel it is an element I would like to incorporate within my own work, to feel subtle but in fact be extremely dramatic. I want to focus on both narrative and cinematic ambiences. I wish to highlight things that most people would not think about with this diagnosis and bring that to the attention of the viewer. I want to make it relatable like O’Sullivan but I want to utilise lighting and colour to enhance the outcome of the photographic series I shall make. I also want to make it feel like it’s a journey throughout the diagnosis even though Sullivan looks at different diagnoses within the cancer canopy I will only focus on one cancer. I would like to show the whole process of the diagnosis. O’Sullivan’s work feels very much like a series that is very well put together which this obviously comes from the fact that it’s a commercial video promoting giving up smoking though I do not have the same motives I still wanted to be impactful and educational for the viewer.
Nicky Hamilton is a self-taught fine art photographer and was born in 1982 in Britain. Hamilton is head of Art in an advertising agency but his main focus in his photographic career has been to build and design extravagant sets in the highly thermographic realm in which to create astonishing detail on which to build the narrative. Hamilton investigates characters with existential emotional states. He does this with performance and symbolism which is reminiscent of the makeup of the characteristics.
Hamilton feels that he is a visual person. He would watch films and pausing moments he would absorb and understand all the emotions provoked in each scene of the film.
The images seen above come from the series The Lonely Man in which Hamilton took three months to design, build, correctly and physically shoot the set. The series was inspired by his own childhood and the emotions he went through and all the thoughts he had. Hamilton feels that his childhood inspired his passion for photography, he felt that his parents muted all emotions from his life and he was left unsure of emotions, he’d be left with anxiety when creating narratives and it would profoundly affect him. His parents couldn’t understand this whilst he was reminiscing over this he remembered his father being very drunk and driving into a neighbour’s house, this embedded all sorts of fear that subsequently became a trigger to Hamilton.
The concept behind the work is to emulate his family’s life. His father was a builder when Hamilton was young, there were lots of happy memories to be shared with the whole family however in the mid-80s his father was injured in an accident in which resulted in the loss of his business and the family home, the country was in a crisis and his father had impaired judgement. His father turned to crime and subsequently drug addiction, culminating in an attempt to commit suicide.
The concept Hamilton wanted to achieve in the photographic process is to slow down the processes as he felt that photography was too fast paced. When Hamilton opened his studio he experimented, closely planning and executing every image he’d take there. He wanted to slow down his process, changes pace similar to an artist with a canvas painting improving the quality and the timeliness, he ventured away from location photography as he felt it to be too fast paced which he felt wasn’t his style. Hamilton shows us this in the way he works as his method is very procedural but still very precisely contemplated. His process starts with a sketch then into a 3-D visual concept and then continues to include testing lighting conditions as well as the colour palette and then resultantly he physically builds and styles his sets. He uses a combination of continuous lights (this could be to enable him to create multiple exposures) he uses a medium format Hasselblad, this is something historically that has always been a strong choice in the photography world. Something that perhaps is also historically well-known is retouching the image to create the desired aesthetic look. This is something that he is also very procedural about as he spends a vast amount of time making the images represent a cinematic ambience.
Hamilton is again another artist who is fascinated by creating reality through images of personal events. This is the concept of my body of work as I shall be bringing the stages throughout my diagnosis into a reality in a photographic summary. Hamilton uses cinematic photography to piece together the story and place the meaning into the image. Hamilton does this through compositional, tonal, lighting and colour to embark on this narrative. The viewer you instantly feel part of the story inspired to understand every element of the capture the underpinning behind the images and why Hamilton wanted to show you this event. I feel by placing the images around the house you feel more attached to the sense of comforting homeliness. I feel that every element in cinematic photography is highly researched incorporating all the elements available to enhance this series as they work extremely well in this combination. I feel this is the essence of storytelling but I certainly want to endeavour to use this style.
“Me after the doctor told me I had a brain tumor Bellvue Hospital New York 1996”
Corinne Day is a British photographer born in London, 1965. Day made a strong impact with her style and perception of photography in the early 1990s. Day is a self-taught photographer, with a hard edged style in fashion photography. Day harnessed biographical metaphors through some of her work. Day was raised by her grandmother. Creativity became a very fluid constituent as she had inspiring artists surrounding her who taught and introduced her to the creative outlet that she spent the rest of her career in. During her lifetime she would always admire documentary and environmental portraiture themes which inspired and became her own style. Day enabled a whole new level of genre. Day achieved many wonderful objectives through conducting long and close relationships with many of her sitters, ultimately commenced the sitters personality which lend to candid and intimate portraits.
In the 1990s Day became known for her grunge aesthetic in lifestyle and fashion. This style then became popular and grew into an international style. The concept of her style is a documentary impression that should cause slight discomfort.
Day left school at sixteen, she tried out a few careers, including modelling, she worked as a catalogue model for all sorts of magazines, some even international. Day then became disheartened and felt that because she was an unorthodox beauty and almost too mundane to be the face of vogue. Day saw other models which changed her perception of beauty and started photographing them in a mundane documentary style journal format. In this period she met her soon to be husband Mark Szaszy. It was Szaszy who was responsible for teaching Day the art of photography as his career is film directing.
Day’s grunge style shortly took the attention of The Face magazine who then commissioned a fashion shoot. As Day had to source a model, it was in this time that she came across the now famous Kate Moss which Day lead Kate to her successes. Day became impenitent about her style. “Photography is getting as close as you can to real life, showing us things we don’t normally see. These are people’s most intimate moments, and sometimes intimacy is sad.” Photography was her extension of expression, and she used it to have great depth but it was also something she felt she shouldn’t be judged upon. The media however liked to judge her grunge style which lead her to feel dissatisfied with the commercial world though she returned to fashion after she released her book. Day spent many years photographing images for her first book ‘Diary’ (2000), The book features everyday normalities, relationships, drugs, nudity and sex. The book pays visual homage to Day’s life in the 1990s and her personality through this time and all with her grunge style. The book is desolate in nature, heart-warmingly personal but most of all has many intimate whimsical tendencies.
“Good friends make you face the truth about yourself and you do the same for them, as painful, or as pleasurable, as the truth may be.”
In 1996 Day collapsed and was taken to hospital, where she was diagnosed with a brain tumour. Day insisted her husband Mark should record all the events following this. One of these images is above, I feel the intense depth of this image is genius and it literally feels like a journal but also personal and almost unheard of for this time as it’s so raw and there’s no Hollywood glamour about the image. You get to feel that you’re going on the journey with her and feel like a close friend and understand her emotions and real record of events. Unfortunately in 2009 it was found that day had another brain tumour and sadly died in 2010 as a result it.
I feel incredibly inspired by Day as she embraced a new style and though she had been highly criticised for it she never lost her faith in the style eventually it brought her much success. I feel she’s incredibly inspiring in many ways, essentially the work takes you to an entirely fresh level of personality creation. She managed to capture so many personality components even though it appears such mundane subject matter, but ultimately the way of life is transfused though the images and therefore it creates a relatable aspect for the viewer. The viewer is able to fit themselves into the work. It’s a beautiful memory of the 90s and it’s a beautiful memory of Day’s life especially as she so tragically passed away. In the particular image above it resonates with me on another level due to haunting feel of the image and the news that had just been relayed to her by her doctor her expression transforms this image into a profoundly deep and meaningful capture. The title “Me after the doctor told me I had a brain tumor Bellvue Hospital New York 1996” evokes empathetic feelings and reminds me of the feelings induced by my own diagnosis and will for anyone else who has had similar experiences. I feel that the journey within this book of these events and the way that they’re captured in such a raw and candid way really conveys the poignant message of how events are unfolding and are provoking a reaction. I feel that I should take elements from this work and recreate the raw and candid tendencies as it itself creates a metaphoric view that is dramatic to look at. I would also like to put text with image much like Day has as this ultimately creates a huge impact on the photographic image portrayed.