Taking part as a model for the Coventry University watersports society promotional shoot; was beneficial as I could observe from the other side of the camera. I also talked to the photographer of Digital Flow Alex Rawson (https://www.facebook.com/digitalflow.ltd?fref=ts) prior to the shoot, to understand how other photographs plan and organize their photo-shoots.
Photographer for Zivile Steniukynaite’s underwater performance:
“So basically, I was doing it for my uni, but now I am developing it further for Severn Trent commission. The performance is about: the death, mourning, struggle, illusion. I lost my dad this autumn and he drown, that is why I am doing it under the water ”
Zivile’s photographic ideas for her performance (photographed by Jenny Stonely):
My photographic ideas for underwater performance (photographed by Jenny Stonely):
To get the images and video that Zivile Steniukynaite required for her commission I worked cohesively as part of a team. I was taking the photographs from underwater, whereas others from the team took photographs from above and used GoPro cameras to film the performance from under the water. It was great to get an experience like this, and to work together as a team and share ideas. I enjoyed the fact that it wasn’t my project, but I was working to Zivile Steniukynaite’s brief, this meant that I had to understand what she wanted first before I started to shoot. I thoroughly enjoyed taking the underwater shots as they were challenging, it was a new environment to be in whilst taking photographs. I feel that the skills that I have taken from this photo shoot will help me professionally, as they have taught me how to work cohesively as well as how to adapt to new environments that I may be taking photographs in, in the future. In my first letter to self, (https://jstonelyphotography.wordpress.com/2012/10/04/letter-to-self/), I said that I would like to try underwater photography, this has now happened, and I plan to do this again in the future. I would like to work on my own ideas and create my own underwater creation for my photography portfolio. I am proud of the work I produced, having spoken to Zivile Steniukynaite and the others on the team, we all agree that the photographs and videos produced, work well together and successfully demonstrate Zivile Steniukynaite performance and her ideas.
Assisting Digital Flow:
Through my networking I got the opportunity to assist a “Digital Flow” photographer Henry Ho. I was presented with an opportunity to practice my portable lighting skills, for this shoot we used speed lights and a soft box. I was comfortable understanding what the photographer wanted as I had just completed my “Working with Light” module. This gave me the professional experience that I will require in the future when assisting other photographers, I now understand what this job entails. I enjoyed working together with Henry Ho as my creative thoughts worked well with his technical skills.
I chose the iconic song “these boots are made for walking” from the 60’s, as there was a natural link between this song and my great love of shoes. I felt this song had a great deal of power and influence. It has been used for many things, including films and political propaganda. The song was used on television coverage of troops during the American Vietnam War.
My interpretation of the lyrics were that the girl is seeing a guy who is metaphorically walking all over here and using her as a door matt, not treating her the way he should. And she is saying that one day the tables will turn and the same will happen to him.
I instantly thought about stiletto boots walking on a mans back and I saw a link to Paul Smith and his image of a woman jumping on a mans chest with stilettos on (http://www.paulmsmith.co.uk/portfolio/this-is-not-pornography/this-is-not-pornography.html).
My inspiration for the style of the shoot also came from Helmut Newton (http://www.helmutnewton.com). I found his images very useful as they had the same aesthetic style to what I wanted to capture in my imagery. I want to take the literal approach and photograph the boots actually walking all over a man.
Finding models that were willing to take part in this shoot was a challenge; I needed a male who would happily be walked on in boots, and a female who would walk on a mans back with care. I needed to know that the models would be able to be careful, and that the female would be able to walk on the man without actually hurting him with the stiletto. I wanted the shoot to look realistic, however I didn’t want anyone to actually get hurt. I know that this is sometimes an obstacle in industry as well, that the right models have to be chosen for the shoot, and this photo-shoot has helped me realise this.
I particularly like the images I have taken from above, as this angle demonstrates a feeling of dominance; this creates more impact. The song makes a bold statement and so I also wanted to do this with my images.
I chose to pin these images to a boot, as I felt that the main subject of the song was the boots, and how “these boots are made for walking”. This brings the literal subject matter of the photo-shoot and displays it on the actual object. I felt this set my idea in concrete, my photo-shoot all came from the inspiration of a song about boots.
I have learnt how difficult it is to take a natural picture of something that doesn’t normally occur, and could be potentially harmful to the models. If I was to do this shoot again, I would consider using a manikin, or otherwise a great deal of editing and using two photographs like Paul Smith has done in his work. The use of an actual physical boot to mount my work upon creates a bold platform for the viewer to experience.
-Helmut Newton, Private Property, Marshall Blonsky, Schirmer/Mosel Verlag Gmbh (June 30, 2004)
Under-represented group Artifact:
I produced an Artifact on Military families, as I feel strongly about how military family life is disrupted. I know that we need a military, however I am not sure I agree fully with how it is run. Sure it may be fine for single men or women, who can maintain a relationship with their parents and friends back home. However if you have your own family it is completely different. The military personnel gets training, and are taught how to cope etc. But what about the families they leave behind, their children. Some children aren’t even old enough to understand where one of their parents disappears off to for months. I think that the families aren’t represented in the media. They are expected to get on with their daily lives, like nothing has happened. If a man or woman is away on tour, their family may not hear from them in weeks. This is no ordinary family life style. This is under represented in the media, and that there should be more support for the families still at home.
There are many photographs taken of their return. But what is life like when the spouse isn’t around. When life has to carry on without that significant other. If it be someone’s Dad, Mum, Wife or Husband. We aren’t shown images of this life, this is hidden from the public. What does the family become? How do they cope? Is there enough support for those left behind? Although it is mentioned occasionally in the media, I still think it is underrepresented.
Here is a quote from Sam Winston whose husband is serving in Afganistan, “But the strain these circumstances can put on a couple and the family unit is, I believe, an untold story. That is a side to army life that people do not see: how a conflict, especially one such as Afghanistan, affects all those indirectly involved: the wives, the parents and the children. The ones left behind.” (Sam Winston, The Guardian). This is one of the very few stories about the families in the media.
I thought about blocking out the military personnel in the images, as I wanted to illustrate their absence. It is hard to find images of when they aren’t there, as this is not covered much in the media; I also wanted to show how many photographs there are of the Military’s return, but not of when they are gone. Therefore I decided to use the imagery of their return, yet blocking them out; thus emphasizing my point of their absence. For this I used images I found on the Internet, my project became a cameraless task. I used John Stezaker’s collages for inspiration, as he also uses others imagery to create something of his own with.
When I visited the “Photographers gallery” I came across Geraldo De Barros, in an exhibit titled “What remains”. This lead me to his work “Fotoformas”, I see a link with how he physically manipulates his work, to my work and my physical manipulations.
If I didn’t have the time constraints I would do this project in a documentary style. I would ask permission of real families to photograph and cover their experiences. From the significant other actually leaving and the situation the families are left to cope with.
I wanted to use frames to create a photomontage, creating a similar feel to how the originals of these photographs may have been displayed in the family home. However instead of the original images, I displayed my manipulated imagery of the families without their significant other. A simple idea and physical difference to the image makes a bold statement about the absence illustrated.
Final Letter to self,
Looking back upon my letter to self at the beginning of the year, I realise I am a few steps closer to what I want to ultimately achieve. My aim was to work towards being a successful professional photographer.
I have learnt how to properly organize my studies and myself. This will be beneficial to me, as it will help me to be an efficient photographer in the future.
I have tried many new things and taught myself an array of new techniques. I did this by researching the effect I wanted to achieve, and working hard to gain the same effect in my own work. This worked particularly well for Assignment 1 “Encountering Culture” in 150MC as I gained a new understanding of how to use multiple exposures for a great visual effect (https://jstonelyphotography.wordpress.com/2012/10/21/encountering-culture/). I also feel that researching photography theories has helped me broaden my thinking, this is apparent in my Assignment 1 for 151MC “Creative Digital Practice”, as I linked my project to two texts by Levi Strauss (Aesthetic or anesthetic?) and (The Epiphany of the Other), this influenced the way I worked (https://jstonelyphotography.wordpress.com/2013/01/22/assignment-1/).
Going to CUEFS (Coventry University East Asian Film Society) screenings also took organization and planning, as there weren’t many screenings, I needed to make sure that I was free. This let me explore other cultures and how they approach various subjects, including life experiences. I frequently used social networking sights such as Facebook to get a group of fellow students to all go together to the screenings.
Whilst at different events such as the “Freeze” festival and Ice Hockey matches I developed my network of professional photographers; these contacts will defiantly be useful. By talking to professionals I gained a further understanding of a professional approach to photography. After photographing these events myself I am looking into becoming an action sport photographer.
I took part as a model for the Coventry University watersports society promotional shoot; I felt this was beneficial as I could observe from the other side of the camera. I also talked to the photographer of Digital Flow Alex Rawson (https://www.facebook.com/digitalflow.ltd?fref=ts) prior to the shoot, to understand how other photographs plan and organize their photo-shoots. Similarly I took part as an extra on a short film shoot in London, in a film called “The Three of Us”, giving me the opportunity again to observe, and understand filming more. I have also learnt how to work work cohesively when I worked as part of a team for Zivile Steniukynaite’s underwater performance, as well as learning how to adapt to new environments that I may be taking photographs in, in the future. Through my networking I got the opportunity to assist a “Digital Flow” photographer Henry Ho, this gave me the professional experience that I will require in the future when assisting other photographers, I now understand what this job entails, I enjoyed working together as my creative thoughts worked well with his technical skills.
Travelling to Ireland let me experience exhibitions I otherwise wouldn’t have been able to see, some of which looked at Irish culture, this broadened my understanding of influences on Irish photography. I was able to organise my own schedule with my peers to visit and explore Dublin and Belfast.
I have developed upon my personal professionalism; I can organize myself well, and teach myself new things, I have explored new areas, and broadened my networks, and I have explored other cultures, and planned trips. All of these skills that I have learnt and developed upon, will benefit me, and lead me closer to ultimately being a professional photographer.
Being an Extra for a Short Film
I realise that understanding other aspects of media, along with photography will help me be a stronger photographer. After completing Assignment 2 for 151MC (https://jstonelyphotography.wordpress.com/2013/02/03/assignment-2/), I realized that I would benefit from experiencing others filming.
I jumped at the chance of being an extra on a short film being shot in London’s Rag Factory in Brick Lane. I got hold of the producer of “The Three of Us”, a few emails were sent and he soon sent me a call sheet. I attended the filming on the evening of April the 10th. It was a great opportunity, and allowed me to experience how it felt to be on the other side of the camera. I took in my surroundings and tried to absorb as much information as possible. After 3hours of filming I had a greater understanding of how much effort goes in to even a short film. This film was being shot over a weekend. However the final wedding scene took 3hours to film and a few hours prior to set up; the set; the props; hair and make up, etc. I imagine that it took even more time to plan and organise the shoot.
It was interesting to see how many takes it took to capture the footage they wanted, and how clever they were with the angles they shot from. It was a low budget film however I think they did a magnificent job, everyone involved was amazing and friendly, they all really wanted to be there. The other extras were enthusiastic even though they we were all just volunteering. It was a great experience to be part of, and I would love to do it again in the future. Being within the scene meant I could observe without being in the way, whilst assisting them shoot their film as well. The people I have met have broadened my networking, which is always a good source to have. I think this experience has helped develop my personal skills towards becoming a professional photographer.