Artist Research

My first shoot with Apollo and Jurgen did not go as planned. At the time I was confident in my abilities to take some decent portraits which would not only stand make the model look good but also the mask. However, this confidence was not deserved as the end result shows. I have criticised my work for being naive and juvenile and I only have myself to blame for this as I did very little proper research into what I would like the images to come out like, so I have decided to rectify this for my future shoots

A surprising source was a book about a model called Isabella Blow, a book of the same name written by Martina Rink. This is a book of my mothers that I picked up when I noticed the front cover which is that of the model with a mask on. Isabella Blow was a model that worked with many designers and photographers modelling hats and masks.  In the book was a catalogue of people she had worked with and one of those was Robert Astley Sparke. The images in the book were risque so I looked further into this work on his website. Although the images aren’t all to my taste, there were two that stood out. One of Will.I.Am in sunglasses struck i instantly liked as the focus went straight to his eyewear. Although not a mask, the principal could be used in some of my shoots going forward, but I do think that the background is too distracting and more focus should be put on the principal.  I also like the vibrance of the image, a trait that is shown in other pictures he has produced, Such as the image of the girl in sunglasses with two more models in the background. I wish I had been this versatile when I had Apollo and Jurgen at my disposal. These are traits I would like to replicate going forward

My research took me to some other photographers as well, such as Eric Lafforgue. He is primarily a travel photographer but has taken many portraits on his journeys, presumably all of them strangers and this is what attracted my attention as in each of his images, he has managed to pose the subject exactly as he wants them and make it look natural. This is the skill i admire the most of his, as its the weakest area of my own skillset and something I struggled with greatly with Apollo and Jurgen. Each image has a direct focus as well with nothing to distract you. The image of the small girl with blue eyes as well as the one of the girl in the head scarf are well lit, well posed and nothing to distract you from the focus of the image. I spent a great deal of time going through his website, exploring his extraordinary work

I also tried to find examples of masks in fashion, a more direct and relevant link to the work we are producing. I found work by Alexander McQueen in a series called Savage Beauty which utilises masks in his collection. Although this collection is an incredible piece of creative work, it is far too avant-garde for what we have in mind so I found more relevant pieces such as those by Versace and Raquel Allegra. The imagery used by the latter was much more to my liking as it was simple, effective and made the mask a focal point as the image of the woman in matching dress and mask shows 
However, my favourite belongs to Burberry, a brand close to me as we have a factory in my hometown. The images here are well lit but exceedingly simple and effective. there is no doubt as the brand, due to the famous pattern, but also the focus is entirely on the mask. The models are either looking into the camera or to one side and I think this is something I can effectively recreate without a studio 

Going forward I will try to take heed of my notes of these two photographers and hope that it will result in an improvement in my own work.

References for research:

Rink, M. (2010). Isabella Blow (8th ed.). Thames & Hudson.

Lafforgue, E. (N.D). People > Kurd. Eric Lafforgue Photography.

Yotka, S. (2020). People Are Wearing Masks Everywhere—Except in Fashion Look Books. Vogue.

Block, I. (2020). Burberry releases face mask with signature check pattern on antimicrobial fabric. Dezeen.

Sparke, R. (N.D). Portfolio. Robert Astley Sparke.

80s Style Shoot

Today i arranged a photoshoot with two models, Apollo and his flatmate Jurgen, in Huddersfield market and the surrounding area, the aim of which was to produce a series of fashion type images in a style akin to the 1980s. This is a period of time that the market was open and was a part of the culture and peoples lives during that time so it fits in with the narrative of the project. The opportunity was taken to use an Olympus OM10 35mm camera which was made in 1980 to give the images an authentic look and to bring the viewer closer to the time period. a digital camera was also used in case the Olympus failed.

This was my first photoshoot with a model for a while and I felt rusty. I wasn’t able to direct the model as I wanted, a talent I have struggled with in the past, and it took me a while to come up with ideas. I eventually settled on a phone box nearby that had been vandalised as this was often a sight in the 1980s but I could not figure out the best way to make use of it. I direct them to pick up the handle or relax in/on the booth as well but my initial thoughts was for them to smoke a cigarette inside and try and make it look as though they were responsible for the state of the booth but I then remembered that this was a shoot for a mask and that this should be the focus, not the theme. 

I did a variety of shots but I used backgrounds that were a little rough, or as some of my collaborative parters would say “edgy”, So i focused on delivery entrances, graffiti’d walls and run down architecture to suit the narrative we were trying to follow. I tried to focus more on Apollo during the shoot as he had an outfit that looked a little 80s to me, Jurgen who had come down and volunteered had a top on that was based on a 90s video game despite it being in an 80s style. 

The results of the shoot are mixed, and I would go as far as saying that they are juvenile and naive, almost of an amateur level and I would need more practice to get the kind of shoots I want. e The more favourable images in this series are the ones where the models have more natural stances, and the eye of the viewer is drawn directly to the mask rather than the model or background. Some of the images are taken at interesting angles however as some are taken very low down, drawing our gaze directly to the model. Others are head on, like a documentary style of image focusing more on the eyes of the model. Going forward, producing more images will result in better outcomes as that process with breed familiarity with the genre and aid focus on the product itself. 

Formative Results

Today was the day we got our results from our formative assessment and I was very surprised at our overall result. The feedback was positive too, especially about the idea of dispensing the masks from a vending machine. There was evidence of good communication between all the members of the team which was shown by us placing our strongest skills in the relevant areas and this contributed to the strong outcome, this also meant that the overall idea made for a strong a collaborative outcome.

On a personal note, it was nice to see that my work was referenced directly in the outcome as well and this gave me more confidence about the creative decisions I had made as these were not necessarily warmly received when I pitched them to some members of the group. Shooting the market in 35mm and Polaroid using period specific cameras and formats drew praise as did the idea of keeping the polystyrene head in it black packaging as which showed an innovative response to the brief. This has given me the confidence to go ahead with a fashion shoot idea I had of shooting people in period specific clothing with the mask and using the camera from the same period. 

This feedback has meant that the group has stepped up the production of a website and instagram page and has also clarified who creates the imagery for both as there has been some dispute about this by some members. The materials have also been ordered so the mask can be made in sufficient quantities.

Using Format