Photographing the unseen
Start by doing some reflection in your learning log. What kinds of subjects might be seen as un-photographable? How might you go about portraying them using photography? List a few examples of what you have been experiencing lately. Make of list of at least 7 ideas. Try and keep to things you have a personal interest in or curiosity about. Keep a notebook with you at all times and make notes when ideas strike you interesting. Implement one of your ideas. Aim for tightly edited and visually consistent series of 7-10 images.
This assignment has turned out to be surprisingly enjoyable. When first reading the brief and the choices on what we could do I really was not sure what I was going to do and using props seemed like the safe way to go. After having a think I started to realize that actually photographing the unseen could be a really fun and interesting task to execute. I felt that trying to photograph the unseen would be much more creative which Id enjoy as I like to get the creative juices flowing but not only that it would be somewhat of a challenge and push me out of my safe zone. Once I had made the decision to go forth with photographing the unseen in my written journal I wrote down some ideas of what I thought was un-photographable.
- Sometimes forms of illness
Pretty much your basic thinking of what cant be photographed. I decided that the next best move for me would be to do some research and have a look around to see what I could find on un-photographable things.
My research started off from finding an exhibition called The Unphotographable that was held Fraenkel Gallery in San Francisco in 2013. It consisted of 50 works by different photographers inclucded unknown ones from the early 19th and 20th centuries. (https://riannameliaphotography.wordpress.com/2015/02/25/assignment-2-research/)
My research then stemmed from this and began to look at photographers from the exhibition. I briefly looked at work by Alfred Stieglitz and Christian Marclay, but went to look at photographer Wolfgang Tillman’s work in much more depth. Tillman’s work sparked a great interest and I loved his abstract approach in created beautiful works of art with a photographic medium. (https://riannameliaphotography.wordpress.com/2015/02/25/photographer-research-wolfgang-tillmans/
Wolfgang Tillman, Ostgut Freischwimmer, 2004
This research had given me the drive to pursue photographing the unseen for the assignment. I decided to make more lists and think about the unseen a little more in depth than I had previously.
At first my thoughts were obvious ones again like previously
- Black holes
- Area 51
But then after a while new ones started to come into mind.
- History is unphotographable as its the past unless we take photos of pictures taken from the time along with artifacts and so on.
- Spirits, ghosts and souls
- Something we never see in a photograph is the lens that was used to capture it.
- Thoughts and ideas in our heads unless spoken of or shown.
- I guess a lot of things go unseen in everyday life we overlook and take things for granted but i don’t think that would work as that would be photographable.
- Emotion and feeling are somewhat unphotographable, only perceived but then that could be unseen as people can be good at hiding what they really feel.
- Illness- just because a person on the outside may not look physically ill doesn’t mean they they are not.
- Light is unseen we only record what it reflects.
I did end up surprising myself with what I had come up with as I thought they were quite good points.
I kept a little log of thoughts and feelings in my written journal, after a few days of writing I noticed that a pattern was emerging that I wrote about my feelings and emotions quite a bit and noticed that sometimes the weather effected how I was feeling. This is where my idea started to form. So I had feelings and emotion but I was not sure which to go with but after thinking about it it was obvious feelings of course as emotions are visible and can be photographed. Feelings on the other hand are similar to emotion but are a state of mind whereas emotions are used to express feelings but this can be misinterpreted.
Being inspired by Wolfgang Tillman’s artistic approach to his work I wanted to do the same with my work but was not really sure how to go about it, then it come to me that I have a big interest in double exposure and have experimented before with my lomography camera but my attempts were not to successful. Some high end SLRs have double exposure feature built into them but unfortunately my camera does not so my only other option was to take a series of photos and merge them together in Photoshop to achieve the same look as a double exposure.
My next step was to gather some old photographs and see what I could do with them in Photoshop to see if this would actually work or not. I spent some time working out different ways of editing and working with blend modes to achieve a look that I was happy.
I was quite pleased with my attempts. I then went on to do some photographer research and look at work by photographers that had worked with double exposure I did not manage to find much but I came across a couple and these can be found here > https://riannameliaphotography.wordpress.com/2015/03/11/photographer-research-assignment-prep/
After my attempts I felt confident enough to start taking photographs. I decided that as this ideas was based from my own thoughts and feelings I thought I would use myself and my feelings and merge them together as my attempt of photographing the unseen. I took a series of images of myself over different days this would be my starting point. I also then went on to photograph things around me that had effected my feelings for example weather landscape, people that kind of thing.
I had edited a series of images using different layers blending modes and by getting the desired colouring effects i used colour balance and selective colour along with curves and contrast to achieve the looks. I also edited in black and white as I was not sure whether to colour or black and white.
A screen shot of my files which were ready for choosing which ones that were going to be put into the assignment at the end. As i said before I did edit in black and white too and decided that colour would work better as some images did work really well in black and white and some did not at all and I think without colour it was hard to get the emotion and feeling through the image as I think colour can help produce the response with the viewer.
I could have added a few black and white images to the set but as the brief stated it wanted between 7-10 consistent images this would then make the set inconsistent if I had done this so thought colour would be the best choice.
My chosen Images
Photograph 1- Inquisitive
Photograph 2- Woeful
Photograph 3- Content
Photograph 4- Fortunate
Photograph 5- Sorrowful
Photograph 6- Wishy washy
Photograph 7- Entice
I’ve also added this one in as I liked the outcome of the image.
Photograph 8- Optimistic
That is my set of images for the assignment. I have tried to push myself and show the unseen with photography I feel that my images have come out OK and some of them I am more happy with than others but overall I feel that I got nudged out of my safety zone and tried to ignite my creative side and to put that in to my work. I am not sure if I have gone in the right direction with this assignment but I think that I have done much better than I first thought when I orginally started the assignment. I have had fun with experimenting and I think this has shown me not to be scared of trying to express through photography as the results can be surprisingly good. I feel that I have found a new like for pushing myself and that its good to this as you learn new things even if they don’t go right its a learning curve. I am now ready and have my photographs printed ready to be sent off for reviewing.