Artists Statement: Portraits
For this final project I decided to utilize as many of the elements that we learned to complete it. I found that during the process, unity, rhythm, and implied lines became the primary elements I pulled on. As for the concept of the portraits, I wanted to get away from the stereotypical portrait of a person and instead chose the ground, something that is typically les interesting. The challenge for me was finding something intriguing about this boring ground. In my blogpost I said that I use to be the kid who always walked around looking down, and that this was mostly due to my feet being turned in and me not wanting to trip. During that time I noticed patterns, bizarre markings, garbage pieces with handwritten notes and the like. I really dislike taking pictures of the same people and landscapes that I’m stuck seeing everyday, and I have since refrained from looking at my feet all the time when I walk, but I thought that maybe now it might be one of the more interesting subjects on campus. A portrait, simply put, is an impression or illustration of a something or someone.
My first three ground shots rely very heavily on the use of the unity within the negative, inactive space. I decided when editing, that I could draw more heavily on the item itself if it was the other colorful object. I like the way it added to the background a more receding effect, almost making it duller than it already was in comparison, and then pushing the foreground into prominence. In two of them the pebbles create this effect and in the third it’s the unity found in mulch. The photograph of the cigarettes had an excellent use of line and the best part was that I had found it that way; there was no posing necessary. The gravel is still present on the left hand side and it balanced out with the smoothness of the sidewalk and then I really liked the complimenting vertical angel the objects are at.
I’m very interested in the story behind how things came to be and that was the motive behind this series, Grounded. I had walked around the train tracks a little ways down and just wondered why I found the things that I did, near active tracks. The best for me is the petrified bird: the position of this bird was as if it had lay down and allowed itself to be eaten by flies. The flowers that grew with no dirt, the Smufs piece that came from what? All of it interests me on a level beyond its present state and more of its recent past. I think this makes a coherent series of unique portraits that give life and maybe even metaphorical face to the common ground.
What could have worked better might have been my editing if anything, I believe that conceptually it is fine, but it is really hard to comb through each picture to desaturate the smallest of corners and sections when the picture can only be blown up so big. If done again I would like to take the idea of the portrait even further out the box.
My final portraits. Title: GROUNDED.
Who says portraits have to be of people? I thought for the longest time that that was what it was limited to. I get tired of photographing the same people, locations, objects which happens often because I’m stuck on campus. I decided to do a series of photos that focus and hone in on the use and abuse of the ground; the ground would be the theme that travels through and carry over into the next photo, but the objects and found things would always change. I use to walk a lot with my head down (mostly because I have in-toe and didn’t want to trip) and as much as people said it was a low confidence thing, I began to realize how many cool findings happened when I did. There’s a common understanding that we all share the same foot path, its just interesting to see what we drop and leave behind along the way which is why this series is going to pull thematic elements from the Traces project as well as formulating its own.
Memories on the Body
For the traces project I initially wanted to capture things that I thought had been left for dead in a sense, kind of forgotten and still have and essence that lingered. I had been set on the idea of something more structural, but as I tried to make the idea work together in a series I realized my location was highly limiting. I began to play with less structured ideas like the traces of literal art left by the painters and drawers in the studio, but discouraged by that I began to shift away to something more organic. I though of the body and the multiple forms it takes which would give a better variety, and then the obvious thought of a trace on the body became that of a tattoo, but then there are those of the stories told by scars, cuts, bruises, and other various markings on the body.
I moved towards a mix of tattoos and scars since I found bruises harder to find. The adventure it was asking strangers a) if they had scars b) if they wanted to share and then c) the story behind them that added a wonderful relationship between me and them suddenly. I found myself completely pleasantly shocked, intriguingly saddened, and wonderfully stricken with emotion from the openness of the random students I asked and the stories they gave.
The first picture in the series is of a girl whose name I never learned, here’s what I did: these are the scars she use to give herself after cutting. It looked as though at some point she had stopped eating and found beauty in the hidden places that she could cut; as if anorexia drew attention to her stomach, but still hid her scars in plain sight. Her smile is devilish as she looks at the deep contours of her now tiny frame and holds the shirt up with this odd curiosity as if to see if they are still there, these wounds of a battle against herself. The second shot of her is of another place where she use to cut, usually covered by sleeves she wears them no problem now, as if to say she knows that she’s won.
The second in the series is a tattoo of my friends never born child; bizarrely it doesn’t rest over his heart. I asked him why, and he told me the child never had a chance to grab it. I thought it applied perfectly, the footprint being a representation of a trace that never was. The other shot of him is of his tattooed wrists’ displaying his religious side and I found that to be symbolic of a trace of a higher authority, at least in his eyes. Placed in a vulnerable spot it perfectly embodies the feeling of total sacrifice for the idea.
Next there is the scarification that another person let me capture. I find the openness about bodily demarcations to be more liberal here, and maybe that’s just the place, but it makes for great conversation and photography. I tried to capture the girlyness of her body by incorporating the panties in the shot and contrasting it with the harsh redness of the body art.
Mostly I tried to capture the traces of memories or a certain time, mindset, or idea that was left on the body by choice. The scars of battle or the ink to remind them of what’s important. More appealing for me than capturing the shots became capturing the stories. The choice of size was an after thought; I thought because h nature of the photography was so personal, the experience should be personal too. The smaller the picture, the closer the viewer has to get to understand it and thus more intimate the experience is. I thought these should be viewed with a certain level of intimacy.
I have plan for the traces project. One is to find essence of things that once were: things forgotten, or unused or rendered unimportant. The other option is leftovers that were left for the memory, meant for revisiting and keeping alive the idea or feeling that was present then. I don’t have an emotion that I personally want attached to my shots and getting them to works as a series is a bit of a struggle because I don’t see how, without explanation, pictures of multiple traces probably of different places and items will function together. I’m leaning more towards the second idea for traces; something along the lines of lingering memory.
The snapshots assignment was actually harder for me than any of the other assignments; when you work with subjects who hardly know your there, your hardly able to control the situation. I found my shots to be luck of the draw or by happenstance to be intriguing. I couldn’t tell people where to stand, how to look, or what to do. There is little that can be done to order the chaos found in snapshots. I live in New York, which made this assignment both fun and dull, and the same time, because I already know if I go certain places I’ll see certain things, but then again I’m never really sure. The photos weren’t supposed to work together as a series but I selected four that I thought I could work together to give an accurate taste of the city. It’s hard for me to capture in only four snapshots, the essence of such a live place because the things I like the most, are the unpredicted happenings, the things that take me by surprise.
The city has a lot of flavor, something I usually equate with color; but it’s also sometimes hidden which is why I chose one colorful subject to dominate the frame per picture. The photos were all treated with attention to intensifying colors, making them as vibrant as possible while keeping the surroundings as untouched as possible; this is how I feel the city functions, the few gems are the action of the city and everything is simply a consequence of them. There are medium high contrasts to reflect the semi saturations and keep the eye drawn to specific parts of the composition before taking in the setting as a whole.
I made a choice to focus on the individual, their loneliness, their ability to blend, their ability to stand out. I think that city life is really about the experience of the whole through the individual, so I tried to keep that as an underlying thematic style in these shots. By having the two pictures of the supremely colorful men, it reduces the absurdity opposed to if there was only one picture making him stand alone; there becomes an order and normalcy about the chaos of the subject. The man standing in front of the cube is almost lost in the enormity of the sculpture, but it doesn’t seems to phase him and I think the surrounding color lifts what would otherwise be a very depressing shot. The storeowner at off center right sits, the only real thing amongst ads for the unattainable, and the surrealism is a wonderful after addition. Here the color is bombarding and practically overwhelming: just another metaphor for how the flavor of the city can be. Sometimes too much.
I take a lot of pride in the diversity of my city and if I was given another chance to do this I would really plan out my time of days more carefully and since I know the areas that I like I would plan for times of high traffic. Because lighting is really the only thing really can be controlled, I would work harder to control the way that my subjects would be lit and then I would play with my angles a bit more; for this set I really stayed within horizontal and vertical framings.
I want my shots to be representations of the city: of its sporadic nature and of the beautiful uncertainty. Living in one of the busiest cities on earth, what normally assaults the mind of a tourist, ceases to excite me and so I’m worried I might miss something amazing. I enjoyed the way that Eggleston captured his subjects making them feel almost uncomfortable visibly in his photos: I don’t want that feel but I do want to pay attention to the individual and their relationship to the space they’re in.
I don’t know what can really be controlled in a snapshot series because your simply capturing what is already there; there’s no discernable composition and I actually feel that snapshots can’t be accredited to the photographer because they only took what was already there. I want to find a way to make them more “mine” through framing and the like. I really like Gary’s NYC photos and how they give minor indications of the city.
This Windogrand is a good example of the solidarity I aim to capture.
Here its the of center framing and dominating feel of the negative space.
Again the framing.
This is a perfect example of the individual in relation to the space their in.