Film obsession

After receiving my feedback for assignment to photographing the unseen I’ve decided whilst working towards the 3rd assignment that I would continue doing some further research and experiments. So far I have decided to do some experimenting with film. I got my old canon film camera out to see if I could double exposure with it but because it is a later model of film camera it isn’t possible to rewind the film back so I bought 2 cameras off Ebay I bought a Minolta XG2 and a illford sportsman I also have a minolta X-500 so i don’t know if these cameras are good or not but they will do for experimenting with. I have also got my Diana lomography camera out  as i Have some film and have used a roll of film so once I have got the film processed I will post my results.

photographer research: Imogen cunningham

Imogen Cunningham was an American born photographer and was one of America’s finest photographers. In a career that spanned nearly 70 years she worked in almost every genre of photography imaginable and in a variety of photographic styles, from soft-focus Pictorialism to sharp edge modernism. She shot everything that, as she said, “could be exposed to light.” Her portraiture was sought after by the rich and famous, and her images were widely published.

Throughout her long photographic life one thing remained constant: She photographed the world with a woman’s eye, from a viewpoint far different than that of the male dominated photographic world of her time and ours. Cunningham was an original and an essential part of the development of modern photography in America.

Imogen often took nude self-portraits, something she did throughout her life — although as she got older she more often appeared clothed than not. As her granddaughter Meg Partridge, director of the Imogen Cunningham Trust said: “Her self-portraits really show her sense of humor, and she was smart about her career. She actively published her work in magazines and newspapers. She had a good eye, but she was a great editor. She knew how to edit her work, so what the world sees is an impressive selection of work.”

I found a couple of interesting videos on youtube about her.

Self portriats by Imogen cunningham

Imogen and gryff about 1917

self portrait in 1863 costume, taken about 1909

Self portrait with camera taken in 1912

self portriat with camera taken late 1920s

Self portrait taken 1933

self portrait, denmark, 1963

Self portrait, 1974

All the above images belong to the Imogen Cunningham trust

Photographer research: Arthur Weegee

American photographer of Austrian birth. He emigrated to the USA in 1910 and took numerous odd jobs, including working as an itinerant photographer and as an assistant to a commercial photographer. In 1924 he was hired as a dark-room technician by Acme Newspictures (later United Press International Photos). He left, however, in 1935 to become a freelance photographer. He worked at night and competed with the police to be first at the scene of a crime, selling his photographs to tabloids and photographic agencies. It was at this time that he earned the name Weegee (appropriated from the Ouija board) for his uncanny ability to make such early appearances at scenes of violence and catastrophe.

Weegee made only a meagre existence from his photographs, mostly shots of bloody murders, fires, the seedy Bowery district and sympathetic views of people who lived on the streets of New York at night. Weegee became a master of the sensational. Despite this fact, one of his most famous images is The Critic (seeNaked City, pp. 130–31), a photograph of high society. It captures the tiara-crowned heads and diamond-laden necks of the wealthy Mrs George Washington Kavanaugh and Lady Peel, who are both scorned by the sneering silhouette of a middle-aged street woman. The Critic was very different from Weegee’s many bloody street scenes from the time, for example the image of a murdered racketeer (see Naked City, p. 87).

In 1945 Weegee published his first book, Naked City, followed in 1946 by Weegee’s People. The success of Naked City was tremendous and ensured his financial security. Having suddenly achieved this fame, Weegee went to Hollywood where he maintained his nocturnal schedule but made portraits of film stars and fashionable night spots, which he published in 1953 in Naked Hollywood. In 1945 Weegee also received the professional approbation of Edward Steichen, then Director of Photography at MOMA, New York, who included Weegee’s work in the exhibition 50 Photographs by 50 Photographers. Having gained recognition after the mid-1940s as a photographer in circles outside the tabloid press, he turned to more self-consciously artistic photo-caricatures of celebrities using distorting trick lenses, for example Marilyn Monroe (see Naked Hollywood, cover).

Weegee usually used a standard press camera, a Speed Graphic with a 4×5 inch format and automatic flash. He had little knowledge of, and little interest in, purely artistic photography, and neither his compositions nor his prints were made with particular care in the early part of his career. Weegee’s artistic ingenuousness is demonstrated by the one term he adapted from art, ‘Rembrandt lighting’: by this he referred to the use of a dark background with the subject in bright light; he accomplished tonal selection automatically by the use of flash. This lighting was the key to the striking effect of his photographs: with it, he claimed, he could render a gruesome scene less distasteful, while still providing enough high-contrast detail to help the publisher to sell newspapers, even when reproduced in the dots of newspaper half-tones.

Weegee also made many night photographs using an infra-red flash, allowing him to photograph voyeuristically such scenes as lovers at a film or on a park bench. With infra-red film and flash he also captured high society at night. This lighting made women’s make-up garish, emphasized their facial veins and deleted dental caps in the smiles of New York’s privileged classes; After the Opera … At Sammy’s Night Club on the Bowery(see Weegee’s People, illustrates this well. Weegee can be seen as the American counterpart to Brassaï, who photographed Paris street scenes at night. Weegee’s themes of nudists, circus performers, freaks and street people were later taken up and developed by Diane Arbus in the early 1960s.

Mary Christian
From Grove Art Online

I know Arthur Weegee did not focus on himself as the subject in his works but there are a few of his photographs were he has taken self portraits and I found them to be interesting and from around the eras that I like.

Self portraits of Arthur Weegee 

Arthur Weegee, Self portrait in police station, 1940

Arthur "Weegee" Fellig Self Portrait

Arthur weegee, self portrait

Weegee in Coventry, 1963,

I adore this photograph! from the photographs that I have looked at of weegee’s self portraits in almost every one he has a fat cigar hanign out of his mouth along with the same expression. I really dont know what it is about this photograph but I think its his expression that draws me in, along with the whites of the eyes. his eyes have a cheeky spark to them.

I came across some really cool images that are right up my street from the last assignment I did double exposure and I have found images of weegee and his experiments with double exposure.

I found the images on getty.

'London' : News Photos

'My Headquarters' : News Photos

Self Portrait Distortion : News Photos

'Sightseeing Tours' : News Photos

Self Portrait Distortion : News Photos

Tony Curtis? Distortion : News Photos

Weegee Distorted : News Photos

Weegee's Silhouette : News Photos

Weegee In NYC : News Photos

Weegee Sleeps : News Photos

Images are taken from getty and can be found here

Let the research begin

So I have found around 20 photographers so far that I am going to look into, some I will look at in more depth than others it depends how inspiring i find there work.

Noel S Ozaid

Not a famous photographer but I find her self portraits incredibly powerful. I came across a post about her on my modern met.

Prejudice, Noel S Ozaid

Silence, Noel S Ozaid

Destiny, Noel S Ozaid

Sinking, Noel S Ozaid

Sally Mann

Mann is an American photographer best known for her large black-and-white photographs—at first of her young children, then later of landscapes suggesting decay and death. Recently she had a bad accident involving one of her horses and it was her relationship with horses, and with one horse-related event in particular, that gave birth to this series of self portraits.

it was many monthsof recovery and limited activity, a torment for a prolific artist. But Mann had found she could take pictures of herself without having to lug around the camera, finding a trove of material within the confines of her own face (Self-Portraits) and her own damaged torso. Mann has continued  to make more then 200 new ambrotypes since the accident in 2006 and the artist had created a new technique for this project which was based on 19th century processes but that incorporates a modern sensibility. Each unique image is captured as a wet-plate positive on a large, black glass plate and then is joined with others in groupings of 3, 9, 20, and even up to 75 plates.

Untitled (Self-Portrait), 2006-12

Untitled (Self-Portrait), 2006-12, Sally Mann

Detail Image

Untitled (Self-Portrait), 2006-12, Sally Mann

Detail Image

Untitled (Self-Portrait), 2006-12, Sally Mann

Detail Image

Untitled (Self-Portrait), 2006-12, Sally Mann

Detail Image

Untitled (Self-Portrait), 2006-12, Sally Mann

Detail Image

Untitled (Self-Portrait), 2006-12, Sally Mann

I really like the way that Sally Mann has used such old techniques in her work with the wet plates as the results are really impressive and have turned out suitably bruised and battered, dark exposures with minimal contrast or focus, causing eyes and facial features to rise from the darkness. This seems to have helped Mann portray her experiences while she was recovering from her accident.

Andy Warhol

Andy Warhol was a great inspiration of mine through my art years and school and college and I loved his approach to his work I also liked looking at the photographs that were taken in his factory the lifestyle always looked so glamours. I briefly mentioned Andy Warhol back in The Art of photography as I has done research on Stephen Shore as his early work was with taking a lot of photographs of Andy Warhol.

I decided to add this photo because this is not how Andy Warhol was on a daily basis he is obviously  expressing himself through drag. I quite like photography like this when its a self portrait but not at the same time by becoming someone else.

Self-Portrait in Drag, 1981

Andy Warhol (American, 1928-1987)

Self-Portrait in Drag, 1981

Polaroid™ Polacolor 2

4 1/4 x 3 3/8 in. (10.8 x 8.6 cm.)

Hippolyte Bayard 

Self portrait as a drowned man, Hippolyte Bayard.1840.

This image is not a photograph of a drowned man but of a man that as far as we know was one of the first men to start intentional fakery in photography, first practical joke and maybe for propaganda/ protest uses. He was a French civil servant who, in his spare time, happened to invent his own method of reliably capturing photographic images on paper as no other was known to exist.

After his  invention of the direct positive photographic process, Hippolyte was visited by a man by the name of François Arago, who some how convinced him to postpone making an announcement of his find to the French Academy of Sciences. François Arago was a close personal friend of another fellow, who had made his own presentation to the members of the Académie des Sciences, and went by the name of Louis Daguerre.

By the time Bayard finally got round to present to the Académie they had already made a large investment in Daguerre and his process. so their reaction was to pay Bayard a tiny sum for his troubles and assure him his process was so inferior as to be essentially useless.  So basically Hippolyte got shafted, hard, and he knew it.

It seems that the self portrait a drowned man was in protest but It wasn’t as subtle a protest as it would seem at first glance On the back, written in third person, is Hippolyte’s suicide note in which states his grievance.

 “The corpse which you see here is that of M. Bayard, inventor of the process that has just been shown to you. As far as I know this indefatigable experimenter has been occupied for about three years with his discovery. The Government, which has been only too generous to Monsieur Daguerre, has said it can do nothing for Monsieur Bayard, and the poor wretch has drowned himself. Oh the vagaries of human life…! He has been at the morgue for several days, and no-one has recognized or claimed him. Ladies and gentlemen, you’d better pass along for fear of offending your sense of smell, for as you can observe, the face and hands of the gentleman are beginning to decay.”

So in a way this was one of the first photographic ways to show a big 2 fingers to the world. Bayard continued to take photographs for 47 more years until his death in 1887.


Noel S Ozaid

Sally Mann-

Andy Warhol-

Hippolyte Bayard-

Tutor feedback for Assignment 2 photographing the unseen

For assignment 2 photographing the unseen I wanted to make up for my poor attempt for the 1st assignment. I was going to go with using props for the assignment as it seemed a safe option but I felt that photographing the unseen would be more of a challenge for myself along with pushing me out of my comfort zone.

Overall my feedback from my tutor has been really good and I am really pleased with the comments i received back. These have definitely been a confidence boost as I have been doubting myself lately. I was also worried that I may have gone down the wrong route of trying to push my creativity but I don’t think this is the case.

I was really pleased with comments a few comments made by my tutor,

“You clearly have a natural capacity for design. Some of these shots would work effectively as fashion or advertising shots.”

“Your work is exciting and vibrant- your creativity is unusually high for a level one student and its a pleasure to see.”

I think overall I had generally good feedback a few pointers which I am going to take on board and re-work on the assignment for example the titles as my tutor thinks they are too directive and now thinking about it I guess they are quite forceful upon the viewer so maybe I will scrap the titles.

Generally I don’t think I have much to rework on apart from the titles and maybe the photograph of the eye with the man and dog.

I feel really positive for my next assignment, this has shown me not to be scared of letting myself be creative even though the outcome might be wrong. Its all about expressing myself as a photographer and finding my way of what kind of photographer I want to be.

My tutor suggested looking at Rhino Kawauchi as my work  visually reminded her of Kawauchi’s Illuminance book. I am very familiar with Kawauchi’s work as I have researched her a few times especially in The art of photography.

I think I will try get my hands on a copy of her book as I do really like her work.

It was also suggested to look into spirit photography as I mentioned it in my assignment preparations so I will that aswell at some point.

I also need to read some more books so I will do that too and I have some gallery visits planned too.

Phototgrapher Research: claude cahun

Claude Cahun (25 October 1894 – 8 December 1954) was a French artist, photographer and writer Her work was both political and personal, and often undermined traditional concepts of gender roles. Born in Nantes as Lucy Renee Mathilde Schwob, she began making self photographic portraits as early as 1912 (aged 18) and continued o do so right through until the 1930’s. Around 1919 she changed her name to claude cahun and moved to Paris with her life long partner and step sibling Suzanne Malherbe. The two collaborated on various written works, sculptures, photomontages and collages.


Claude Cahun, Self-Portrait, Silver gelatin print on paper, 1928

Claude Cahun, Self-Portrait, Silver gelatin print on paper, 1929

Cahun’s self portraits seem to put the viewer into a very uncomfortable relationship with  her photographs.I feel like I am left feeling confused and somewhat struggling with my inner desire to know the gender of the subject whom I am uncertain about and to characterize the image with familiar labels. Cahun’s changing personalities are unpleasantly unsettling and disruptive to the system that society demands. The photos seem to be an attack on the clichés of Cahun’s time,  through a division of visual boundaries showing us underlying political issues about the function and rules of society of that time.