Working With Light


I must be honest, I am not particularly pleased with my final artefact. I like the images and the arrangement but the quality of the photo book hasn’t lived up to my expectations. The pages aren’t aligned accurately, there are some glue smears on the pages, the spine of the cover is slightly too big and the print quality of the images are pretty poor. I printed the images on my computer at home on cartridge paper, a really bad idea. I now know never to do this again. I only did this because I didn’t want to stick the actual photos in as I felt it would look too much like a scrapbook. I would like to remake the book, but instead of printing myself, I would go to the print bureau to get quality images printed onto better quality paper with a nicer finish. I would then construct the book again, being careful of applying glue and keeping surfaces clean.

The smaller book I made before hand as a trial was better quality than my final photo book. This could be because the first book I made was considerably smaller and had less room for error. I do prefer smaller books, so may make it smaller in the future.

But I didn’t get as much time creating the object as I would have liked. I had only a couple of days to complete it as I could only get the opportunity to have assistance in editing down days after I had completed my images. So for the amount of time I had to create the book, I think I did okay.

I definitely think that presenting my work in a book works well, but the nature of my work can transfer to numerous ways of presenting, I think. I am considering making a photo film, but I had done this before for other modules and wanted to try something new, hence why I am submitting a book.

Overall, I am pleased with the images I have created. I think I convey the story I am trying to get across, well that was the impression I got when I presented the images to my peers and they all understood what was happening in them. This was a huge relief. I have a habit of over thinking an idea and going way off the point. This is something that I am learning to control now. I have found that it is better to keep an idea simple, as too much of an idea only allows for more confusion if not conveyed properly.

This body of work has certainly given me new ideas. I think this is only the start. I would like to play around over the summer with the images I have and different ways of presenting.

The Playbook by Alex S. Maclean

I was browsing the library the other day for some new inspiration for my final piece and came across Alex S. Maclean’s book The Playbook. The first thing that drew me to this was, to be honest, it’s size (it is slightly larger than A5). For most people, the size of a book wouldn’t be a desciding factor in whether they would borrow or purchase it. I have to travel into Uni, and carrying a massive book with me is a huge pain. This is something I need to consider when making my book. I also prefer smaller books because they tend to be more discreet. You can read them in public without the experience being intruded.

Anyway, less about size and more about the book. Other reasons for why I was drawn to this book was the cover. It has a foamy, spongy sort of feel, much like a child’s book. It is tactile, adding interest to the reader.  Also, the cover was very colourful, depicting an image from within the book of rollercoasters. This book looked like a lot of fun from the start.

Traffic at a baseball game at Memorial Stadium, Baltimore, Md., April 1990 © Alex S. Maclean

Traffic at a baseball game at Memorial Stadium, Baltimore, Md., April 1990 © Alex S. Maclean

The book contains aerial images of spaces in America, finding the fun, colour and childlike fantasy within the American landscape. BUt he doesn’t just point the camera at the obvious, such as Disneyland and themed hotels. He looks at the less obvious aswell. I particularly liked this image of the cars as it is something more mundane than the others but the repetitiveness of the image. And this was the image for me that really triggered childhood memories. These cars resemble toy cars taken from the child’s view.

This book for me covers human presence in a number of ways.  Human presence is physically within many of the images, with people in the composition but they are so small they are essentially a number, part of a pattern. There is also the human presence in terms of perspective. The images are very child like, pointing the camera at things that either resemble toys or really interesting fun places such as theme parks.

Aerial photography has never really been an interest of mine. I’ve only ever really seen it used when door to door salesman try to flog you a picture of your own house from above. It was quite refreshing to read a photo book that wasn’t stuffy in any way using what I view as quite a traditional and niche method. It didn’t necessarily have a massive issue to raise. You could say it may pick up on the fakery and commercialism of the American landscape, but most people know that anyway. It was fun guessing what the image could be before reading the caption and then being amazed when the caption was read at how amazing these places looked. Also, because these places are all in America, it is almost a persuasive body of work in the way I really wanted to be in all of these places. (Maybe not so much the traffic jam though, I’m sure that looks way more fun from above). Overall, a fun book.

Photo book Practice

Photo book practice © Hollie Woodward 2012

Before I went into making my final photo book, I didn’t want to risk screwing up big time and not having enough materials to recover, so I decided to make a smaller version using scrap paper and cut offs from the hardcover materials.

I wanted to make sure the process of book making gave me the quality I wanted my final artefact to have. I want to use fabric and wasn’t sure whether it would be suitable for the front cover, as it may be too thick and look more like a scrapbook than a photo book. I knew it was a risk using fabric with a pattern and not one block colour, as it can give a less professional finish. But I was actually quite surprised at the quality of the finish. I do need to bear in mind the corners of the fabric, this will probably be the only problem when making my hardcover. I was also pleased that the glue didn’t seep through the fabric, making a nasty finish and a horrible mess. Thumbs up to the cover fabric.

Overall, I am pleased with the finish of the book. The pages in the centre aren’t great. They were off cuts so weren’t all exactly the same size and the edges aren’t well aligned but I was more concerned about the finish of the cover rather than the inside. I was pretty confident in making the inside and will do with more precision when making my final photo book. So, now all I have to do is get on with the photo book, and I am pretty excited about it.

My photo book will be made using cartridge paper as it has a much nicer and more professional finish, whilst still being reasonably strong. I plan to print onto the pages as opposed to sticking my prints onto the pages. I wanted to avoid sticking the prints on as I think it looks more like a scrapbook, which isn’t the finish I want for my final piece. Also, I have more freedom with the size of the image, meaning I can have pages with multiple images on without having to crop them. This will mean though that I have to be careful when printing them out to be double-sided and aligned properly. This should be fairly easy though with the aid of Photoshop. I have done a few tests and all is well so far.

My book will be square as I have both landscape and portrait images in my book. I don’t want to have a landscape book with full bleed landscapes and then small portraits to fit on the page. With a square book, the book will be even for both landscape and portrait orientated images.

But why present my work as a photo book? Well, there are a number of reasons. I felt it really suited my subject and my message. I am commenting on the effect technology, particularly video games, have on children. I shot my work in analogue and wanted to keep the body of work as analogue and handmade as possible without looking naff. Also, the point of this project is to tell some kind of story around the theme of human presence. Story telling is traditionally in books, archived for years to come. Stories are an essential part of the process of growing up, learning morals and what is right and wrong. Putting my work into this format fits well with the purpose.

Saying this, in the summer I do plan to look into taking pieces from this book and create a new body of work based on the faceless images of the boys. I would like to photograph more children using their technology and present in an exhibition space. I am lucky to have contacts that would be interested in exhibiting my work in a small-scale solo show to start with. I have already begun the process of enquiring and applying for a place and fingers crossed will get a slot to exhibit. I am unsure how I would present these in terms of size, framing etc. but after creating more images within that theme I think I will have a better idea of how I want them presented.

Editing Down

Yesterday, I edited down my images with the help of my peers and tutors. I had an idea of which images were the strongest but wanted to know others opinions. I find that having spent too long looking at my photos, I tend to lose sight of which ones are the most effective.

I had a lot of very similar images with slight difference in facial expressions, taken from slightly different angles etc. I was interested to see what other people thought were the best out of all of them. I was actually quite surprised at how many images made it to the final edit. I knew there would be quite a few as I have chosen to present it as a book and for it to be worth reading it needs to have some length. The final edit consists of 36 images over 19 double spreads.

I knew where I wanted to start and where I wanted to finish with the images I have taken but the part I was unsure about was the middle section. I didn’t know whether I was putting too much in or not enough, but thanks to numerous opinions from people with different tastes and approaches to their work, I think I have got a good strong final edit that I am pleased with.

It was interesting to see what people thought of my images. I was asked during the process who my influences were photographically and I couldn’t answer. I am inspired by many photographers but I never felt they really influenced my style. I thought I just shot what I could when I could. So I was surprised when someone commented on my work resembling Larry Clark’s Tulsa. Obviously, I’m not depicting drug taking but the repetitiveness of some images and the revisiting of the same locations resembles Larry Clark’s work, which I found interesting as I was really into Tulsa in the last module.

One of the key points of my final piece is previsualation. I understand that it is quite difficult to do this when my chosen subject (the boys) can be temperamental and I only get a small window of time with them. But I knew what I wanted to say and I knew how I was going to do it. I knew how to approach the boys individually as well as what I wanted to photograph. I knew I wanted shots of their reactions, but this wasn’t the main focus of the work I wanted to create as I felt it has been done before. I also knew I wanted more images of the boys “without faces”. My ideas were using pools of light to create silhouettes, shielding their faces. I also had the idea of hiding the boys faces behind the technology they were using as well as photographing them from behind looking at what they are playing. The point of all of these ideas were to reflect the loss of identity, childhood and I suppose time. I also wanted to photograph the boys around other people whilst engrossed in games, whether it be each other, relatives or even strangers, reflecting how they react socially with others. From observation, I knew they tend to become completely ignorant, to the point of not even noticing I was photographing them.

Overall, I am pretty pleased with my final edit and looking forward to making my book.

And all the rest

The rest of the images I have taken over the weekend for my final project. I now need to edit them down, getting the best images that work well together creating a story.

Bed Time

These images were taken just before bedtime for the boys, and still are playing on the Ipad and laptop. I love the ignorance to what is going on around him whilst Harley is in the kitchen. The use of light with the images of Harley on the stairs are kind of the opposite to what I have been trying to do with the other images. Before I have been using a strong light source behind them to create a silhouette effect. In these two images, I have used the light on the screen to illuminate his face only. These have been poorly executed. I should have used a tripod and a faster film to create these images, achieving a sharper image.