Project 3: self absented portraiture, exercise- Nigel Shafran

For this exercise we were asked to look at Nigel Shafran’s series washing up and to answer some questions that were asked. Washing up (2000) is a series by Nigel Shafran that he took in 2000 that consisted of images showing washing up in his kitchen but occasionally somewhere else. The series of images have text included along with them and this usually goes in to detail about what had be eaten but sometimes included other interesting information.

4th January 2000. Three bean soup, cauliflower vegetable cheese. Morning coffee and croissants.

28th January 2000. Crumpets, tuna salad sandwich, seitan stew and rice.

31st January 2000.  Horrible crumpets and Jill’s jam, rosehip tea, smoked salmon on bread and alphalfa sprout salad, apple, left over veg haggis, and seitan spinach and burnt rice to come!

25th April 2000.  8.00pm by Terry’s watch. Branflakes, toast, mint tea at John and Sara’s in Glasgow. Picked up Iranian pitta filled breads in Glasgow [eaten on motorway], Chicken Dalgleish, potatoes and veg, strawberry and apple sponge with cream at Jill and Terry’s with Jo, Kathy and Ruth.

with this series we do not know if Nigel himself did the washing up or if his wife had done it. By looking at the photographs the main thing you notice is how neat and tidy the washing up is stacked. My washing up never looks that neat. This could be an insight to the person who washes up could show that they are a tidy person.

I find this series a simple set of images and I find it quite an odd subject to approach and it did leave me wondering why Shafran would want to take on such a subject. Whilst having a look around his website at other series he had done I came across an interview with Paul Elliman.

 Er, dunno really. It’s not supposed to be
an idea. I wanted to start the New Year with something
optimistic. And personal. Something with lots of shapes,
where shapes would change, keep changing

(Elliman 2000)

This style of photography is quite boring to me as its repetitive even though the items of washing up changes its not the most exciting thing to look at. I guess what I am trying to say politely is that I am not a fan of Nigel Shafran I feel quite harsh saying that but I am just being honest. I did take the time to look at his other series to see if they were more interesting but they really did not thrill me. I found one of his series funny as he photographed teen in a shopping centre this made me laugh because it looks like it was taken in the 80s and there is some outrageous hair do and clothing.


Did it surprise you that this was taken by a man?

No not really, its just a pile of washing up men wash up all the time.

In your opinion does gender contribute to the creation of an image?

I do not think that gender contributes to the creation of a photograph that really does depend on more so of interests, hobbies and personality. I do think that there would be different outcomes if the same photograph was taken by a man and by a women due to different approaches and thinking. As men think differently to women.

What does this series achieve by not including people?

I think by not including people it adds some mystery as we do not know what Ruth (Nigel’s wife) looks like or even Nigel for that matter. From just looking at the image we know someone has been there and done the washing up by adding people I think this would then change the feel of the series by quite a lot from a still life series by adding people you then maybe be shifting it towards the lines of social documentary.

Do you regard them as interesting still life compositions?

I regard them as being still life compositions but Interesting still life compositions is a bit of a push for me. I appreciate what this series is and there is a good use of shapes that help make the composition more interesting to the eye. Its a personal take on the everyday routine of cooking, eating, washing up and putting away the dishes. We are invited to take a look and have an idea of what happened before hand and what will happen after the text also helps us to get more of an insight.

References used

photographer research: Bunny Yeager

I was sat thinking about photographers that I like and was thinking back to pin up photographers and I remembered that Bunny Yeager did self portraits so thought Id look at her work again as I do love her work.

Bunny Yeager born as  Linnea Eleanor Yeager; March 13, 1929 was an American photographer and pin up model. Yeager became one of the most photographed models in the Miami. After giving up her modelling career she started a new chapter but this time behind the camera.In 1954 she met Bettie page and most of the photographs of her of that year and became a key role in helping Page become famous. After Bettie Pages retirement Yeager continued to be a successful photographer and had took well known images of Ursula Andress on the beach in the 1962 James Bond film and discovered a lot of models as well.

She also had a book that was published in 1964 called how I photograph myself, I have tried finding a copy of this to read but I am not having much luck with getting my hands on a copy but I will keep trying.

Sadly Bunny died just last year.

Self portraits

Bunny Yeager Self Portrait #1

Bunny Yeager self portrait #2

Bunny Yeager self portrait #5

Bunny Yeager self portrait #7

Bunny Yeager self portrait #9

Bunny Yeager self portrait #10

Other work by Bunny

Images were found here.

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-