Monday, 3 March 2014

Influential Artists

Looking through a PowerPoint document created by my teacher and the exam booklet I found 6 artists whose work I felt was very inspirational. 

From this mood board I have decided to look closer at the work of Philip Toledano and Sophie Calle.

Phillip Toledano - Research

Phillip Toledano is a French photographer who created a series of photographs called "days with my father" which I felt were incredibly moving. The use of subtle lighting and minimalist models creates a strong sad emotion. He created the series over three years capturing the last few years he spent with his father in an emotional and intimate way. I found an interview including pictures which Toledano did with The Guardian found on this link: As I read it I felt incredibly sad, the way he had to tell his father repeatedly that his wife/mother had passed away because of his fathers lack of short term memory was truly sad. I feel these pictures have so much meaning within them that they truly are powerful images. They evoke such a strong feeling from me it's incredible how Toledano can capture three years of sadness from his father and himself in a beautiful photographic way. As you read about his father and mothers love for one another it creates so much power and one photograph which features his mother and father embracing resonates this emotion. 

Phillip Toledano - Studying his work

Looking at his work I found two photographs to be incredible. The emotion they portray is simply beautiful and I love how the lighting influences the mood. 

 Sophie Calle - Research

Sophie Calle produces emotional artwork which combines words and images to create powerful responses from viewers. A series of photographs titled: 'Take Care of Yours' explore different responses to an email written from Sophie Calle's boyfriend breaking up with her. Calle uses a variety of women and photographs there emotional responses to reading the letter. She wanted these other women to answer her question about what this letter was about. She asked 107 women to interpret it for her. I find her work is very emotional, she puts her own personal experience into her work which gives it a strong meaning. This is something I hope to achieve within my own work. The way in which she uses her models to display such strong emotion and meaning communicates strong messages to viewers observing her work. 

Sophie Calle - Studying her work

Looking at her work I found two pieces to be very influential. The way she uses minimal photography is very creative. 

Comparing Phillip Toledano with Sophie Calle

After looking at these two artists individually I found that in fact they are many similarities between them. I also want to replicate a photograph from each artist. In the venn diagram below I have chosen an image from each artist which I like and want to replicate and comparing/contrasts the artists themselves. 

Phillip Toledano - Re-creation

There are many aspects to this photograph which make it so emotional. In order for me to accurately replicate it I need to consider all of these.
  • There is an older person used - I could use a younger person but make the hands appear wrinkly (possibly place them into water). 
  • The note says "Phillip, I've missed you, Edward" and is written on the back of a sheet of paper with typed writing on it.
  • Depth of field has been used well here - therefore I don't need to worry too much about eh setting, I can place some chairs in front of the model slightly far away.
  • The lighting is very subdued so I can use the natural lighting already in the room and edit the levels later in Photoshop if necessary. 

Contact Sheets

Best Image

I selected this image as I felt it was the best one. None of these images turned out brilliantly and I wasn't very happy with them, however this one seemed best. It showed depth of field well and the lighting helped convey a somber tone. 

I took this photograph into Photoshop and began enhancing it. To begin with I did a basic level adjustment. However this made the reds too prominant and the overall image too dark. Therefore to equal it out I adjusted the colour balance and made cyan and green higher so that the image wasn't too dark. I then wanted to enhance the use of the colour green - green is associated with sadness and presents a somber tone - so I placed a sheet of green over the picture and overlaid using a soft light and lowered the opacity to 31%. I also wanted to emphasise the depth of field, I therefore selected the background and using the gaussian blur I made it more blurry.
This response links to the idea of growth and evolution as it represents the life cycle and how eventually we will die. However, it does it in a beautiful way and very respectful. Unlike some photography involving death this image emits the theme in a peaceful way.
I feel as a response this is incredibly weak. Toledano's photography evokes strong emotions from his audience and my own image doesn't do this. I found it difficult to replicate another artists work exactly, however, I have learnt from this some key techniques which I can use when creating my own work. A key technique I learnt from Toledano is the importance of colour and how using colour can manipulate the audience into feeling certain moods. I therefore will bear this in mind when creating my own photography. I feel this could have been better if I had staged it better and used a different set. The repetition of the colour red evokes the theme of danger and passion two themes I don't want to show within this context.

Sophie Calle - Re-creation

When re-creating this photograph I need to ensure I consider all the key features of this photograph to make the replication accurate.
  • A woman has been used wearing dark clothing reflecting the darkness of the room - I don't have a room with dark walls but can make the room itself dark and then enhance the darkness in Photoshop.
  • The lighting comes in from the left in strips, I can show this by placing a lamp behind some blinds allowing the light to come through in sections.
  • The letter the woman is reading covers most of her face except her eyes I need to replicate the models positioning and expressions to show a clear emotion. 
Contact Sheets

Best Image

Out of all the images this own was the strongest. It is a clear image and shows the main context of the image. Also I feel through using editing techniques I can make it look more similar to Sophie Calle's original photograph. 
I took it into Photoshop and began by editing the levels and curves. Next I made a new layer and filled it black. I then got the biggest rubber and changed the opacity to 57% and rubbed out the black layer slightly. This made the whole image darker. I then needed to add a spotlight effect however I couldn't access lighting effects tool in Photoshop so had to create a new layer and filled it white. I then rubbed out the majority of it and overlaid it so it looked like a spotlight. I then wanted to try and replicate how the lines came across her face so I drew a rectangle and using it cut out lines from the fake spotlight I made. 
This photograph links to the idea of growth and evolution as it shows how relationships can grow and evolve but on the flip side of this it also shows how they can be ruined and damage.
I found this image incredibly hard to re-create. Every time I tried to work with lights it made the room either too bright or too dark. I did, however learn about the importance of light and how it can affect an image hugely. I therefore want to go onto work with lighting and how I can manipulate it myself to evoke certain moods. I feel the lines look very bad in this image and make it look obviously false whereas if I had just kept it with the dark going to light shadowing it may not have looked so bad. 

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