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Independent Project – Contrast in Fashion and Beauty Hannah Beedle


Why I chose this project For my independent project, I wanted to focus on quite a controversial subject. I am interested in fashion and beauty, and therefore I wanted to experiment within this, incorporating portraiture as well as conventional fashion photography. I find it interesting how models/people that we see in magazines in the fashion and beauty industry are always portrayed as flawless. The media sends constant subliminal messages to us (females in particular) which make us feel uncomfortable in our own skin. We are always aspiring to look like someone else, who has the perfect body, perfect skin etc. Within this project I want to explore this theme in different ways. I want to challenge the perfect, digitally retouched portraits that we see in magazines for hair and make up adverts etc. In order to do this I plan to photograph ordinary people, that are not necessarily young and skinny – people who would not be considered as beautiful by the media. Therefore, I want to show how these photos using these types of models can actually be beautiful. I also would like to explore the unglamorous side of fashion. We are always used to seeing models posing in photoshoots, but does this actually reflect their personality? I want to look at a candid/spontaneous style of photography, focusing on models in their posed, photoshoot state, and then the models behind the scenes. I feel it would be interesting to explore a side of fashion we do not see.


Idea One With my first idea, I want to explore contrasting two ideas within fashion. To do this, I want to create fashion photographs i.e. a model posing on set, like you would see in a typical magazine. I will then take behind the scenes style photos with a candid feel which will reflect the ordinary side and personality of the model, rather than the ultra-glamorous side that we are used to seeing. This may involve the posed photographs alongside the model doing everyday things, e.g. reading a book. I wish to display these contrasting images using a stop-motion technique along with music which will support the motion of the film. I plan to take my photos in natural light in a woodland environment as if my model was having a photoshoot for a winter fashion season shoot. In order to create a successful stop-motion, I will need to devise a plan as to the structure of the film. For example, the order in which events will be captured, moving from one section to the next smoothly e.g. transitioning from behind the scenes to on set. I may also need to consider using a tripod so that the final moving image is not too jerky.


Artist Analysis

Kate Moss – Photographed by Terry Richardson in his Soho studio, July 23rd, 2011

Terry Richardson specialises in fashion photography, and often photographs models, including Kate Moss, for various magazines such as Harper’s Bazaar. However, he also often invites models and celebrities to his studio where he likes to take photos that create a relaxed, candid atmosphere i.e. not posed. These two photographs are linked so closely to one another in terms of the representation of Kate. It’s possible in the first photo, she has just arrived to the shoot (wearing a jacket), and because she is so used to being photographed for serious, high fashion stories, the facial expression captured by Richardson is one she feels comfortable with. The second photo, however, completely contradicts the first. We can assume that it was taken later on during the shoot as her jacket has been taken off, and her body language combined with the facial expression displays a different side to her personality. Richardson’s role may have contributed to the result of this photograph e.g. he may have made her laugh or smile through an everyday conversation, which then enabled him to successfully capture Kate in a natural state. Richardson may have been influenced by his interest to capture photos that contradict the stereotypical fashion and portrait photographs in magazines, and to portray Kate Moss in a different way to how he usually does.


Artist Analysis I feel that these photos combined are important, firstly because of how they depict the two sides of Kate Moss’ personality. The first photograph seems to portray an image of seriousness, business and high fashion, whereas the second photo illustrates that Kate is still an ordinary person with an ability to display happiness, even though we don’t usually see her in this way. Her body language may even suggest she is quite timid. I also believe the photos are important because they raise questions about the shoot, and the relationship between the photographer and Kate herself. For example, we can ask what Richardson had previously spoken about with Kate in order for her to react in that natural way. Did he tell her to do that or was it spontaneous? From research, I know that Richardson has photographed Kate many times, and they are quite good friends. This could be crucial in capturing a natural/un-posed picture like this because she is more likely to feel comfortable around him and be herself, as opposed to if she was being photographed by a stranger. In terms of my personal response to the photographs, the idea of capturing two different sides of a model is very interesting to me. I definitely feel that the relationship between the photographer and the model has an effect on being able to capture this successfully, and I can sense this in these photos. I also think the use of monochrome is quite effective, with the plain white background. The lack of colour allows the viewer to perhaps look deeper into the photograph and focus on the image of Kate that Richardson is trying to display, rather than focusing on the actual aesthetic elements of the photo.

These photos have inspired me to really consider how I want my model to be portrayed in my stop motion. I want to show a clear transition from the model in their natural state to a posed one when photographed on set. I really want to challenge how models are usually perceived. After studying these particular photos, I am also considering editing my photos into black, similarly to Richardson. The additional photo on this slide is another of Kate, photographed by Terry Richardson. This has also inspired me to consider the content of my photographs, and how I can portray the ‘behind the scenes’ atmosphere e.g. putting on lipstick, and perhaps other things that display the true personality of the model.


My Photographs These are some initial photographs from the stop-motion, edited.


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My Photographs The actual stop-motion animation is located below this presentation on the tumblr page.


Evaluation of Idea One My main intention with idea one was to reveal a different idea within fashion/beauty. The photographs of models we see in magazines do not often reflect the truth behind the person, their hobbies, feelings etc; they are simply posed images. With my photographs I wanted to challenge the stereotypical view of models that people have i.e. the view that all models have no intelligence, and they all live on salad. My aim here was to contrast these preconceptions, and enhance a concept that we rarely see. To successfully portray this, I photographed a model before they came on set for the shoot, putting on lipstick, reading a newspaper and eating crisps to create natural, candid style photographs that give us more information about the actual person. For my model I chose someone who I knew well, and who would feel comfortable being themself around me to try and create more accurate, natural photographs like Terry Richardson with Kate Moss. To then show the contrast, I photographed the model on the set in a posed manner, reflecting the typical style of images we see in magazines. To then bring these two concepts together, I wanted to experiment with a technique I was unfamiliar with, and I thought putting the photos in sequence as a stop-motion would be effective. On the whole I am pleased with the initial photos on their own and definitely the final moving film as I believe I have achieved my intentions. With regard to technical aspects, I considered the effect of different focusing within my stop-motion. I decided to shoot out of focus, and back into focus when changing the scene or the activity the model was doing. After putting this together into a moving image, I feel that it works well. To enhance the out of focus shots even more I edited a few frames on Photoshop. In terms of lighting, I chose to have the model on location, and therefore I used an ISO of 200 as it was quite dull and raining outside. However, when editing I found that quite a few photographs were overexposed and required editing. This definitely improved the quality of my photographs. Due to the fact that I was creating a stop-motion and not individual photographs, I think my use of composition was not as effective as it could have been. I felt that I was restricted from experimenting with angles and considering composition too much because the transitions between the photos had to be quite smooth, changing gradually. When editing the final moving series of images I chose to leave the behind the scenes photos in black and white, and the on set photos in colour so the viewer is able to clearly distinguish between the two scenes/atmosphere. I think the use of black and white there also highlights that this is a different scene that we see, so it is being revealed slowly, whereas the colour frames are what we are used to seeing.


Evaluation of Idea One I feel that my photos will impact the viewer due to the strong black and white editing, and the difference between the appearance of the posed images and the candid, behind the scenes photos. I think the stopmotion will have quite a strong impact because it is quite a unique way of piecing photographs together, and I feel the music, appropriately titled ‘Photographs’ just enhances it. Altogether they may have an impact on the viewer in that they may make them think about the contrast of character displayed. I think they will allow the viewer to open their eyes as to how models and regular people are no different. In reality, they are just hidden behind makeup, and a posed character that doesn’t truly reflect their natural self and personality. This is the kind of symbolism that I wanted to achieve with my images & stop motion. However, I’m not so sure whether the deeper meaning is that obvious, and perhaps it would be good to provide an explanation, if it were to be exhibited. Overall, I am happy with the individual photos and the stop-motion aesthetically, and how they portray this message.


Idea Two With this second idea, I mainly want to explore portraiture. I plan to take photos of middle aged, ordinary people with nothing to cover their imperfections. In this way I want to contrast the typical portraits we see in magazines that are considered perfect. I will experiment with composition to make my photos interesting, and I also will have the models making different facial expressions which will allow me to capture the imperfections differently. I will take my photos in natural light and I will edit the photos on Photoshop to actually emphasize the wrinkles, blemishes and other skin imperfections that everybody has- and yet we are constantly sent subliminal messages from the media that if it’s not flawless, it’s not beautiful. I want to challenge this in my photos.


Artist Analysis – Nikki Krecicki I think it’s possible that the photographer is trying to portray a message about beauty, which is implied by the caption, ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder.’ It suggests that everyone has different opinions as to who or what is beautiful. Perhaps the photographer has played on this idiom by focusing the photo onto the eye itself which is very prominent. I believe the photo symbollizes that anything can be beautiful, including old, wrinkly skin. It’s possible that the photographer had been influenced by simply being intrigued by old people and their facial features, or perhaps they were influenced by typical portrait photographs that are highly airbrushed, and similarly to me, they wanted to challenge this.

‘Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.’

Personally, when I first saw this photo I was so captured by it. I find the natural atmosphere of the photo very intriguing, and the fact that the old person looks captivated by something that is not seen in the frame. I also think the use of monochrome definitely enhances the highlights and shadows within the skin and it almost resembles a woody/tree bark-like texture. This again conjures up thoughts and ideas of nature/natural beauty. I believe that the photographer was successful in portraying their message, and I feel that this photo has given me quite a few ideas for my photographs. With my photos, I want to definitely edit them into black and white, and edit aspects of the photos thoroughly in order to emphasize imperfections, similarly to what Nikki Krecicki has done. I also plan to highlight the eyes within the photos, and I may have the backgrounds either very bright or very dark to show a clear contrast against the person in the foreground.


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Artist Analysis – Jerry Uelsmann I feel that this photo could highlight several issues/ideas. Firstly, I think it may be trying to highlight the idea of human architecture destroying landscapes. Due to the population of the world constantly expanding, we have to destroy land to some extent in order to build homes and other facilities. The building in this photo seems to stand above the tree roots, as if it takes precedence, and that the tree is not as important. This may therefore represent the view of Governments or certain organizations that are in favour of deforestation and creating new buildings. The tree roots look as if they are engulfing the derelict building, so this photo may also be trying to portray the view of environmentalists who fight for conservation of beautiful landscapes. This particular image does not display nature in a tranquil way; it is gritty, but nonetheless aesthetically pleasing. It’s possible the photo simply highlights destruction in general. I think focuses on the concept of nature vs. man i.e. our structures against nature’s structures. The photographer has juxtaposed these ideas in an interesting way, emphasizing that everything ages. The building, although a man made structure, eventually becomes worn away, and so does nature, through seasons and weathering etc. The old roots and bottom of the tree trunk portray this. This photo as well as ‘Untitled, 2003’ also illustrate how nature and humans go hand in hand. The first photo may be trying to show how the buildings and other things we make come from nature i.e. wood from trees. The actual technique of blending these two pieces together (the tree and the building) display a smooth transition from raw materials, to a finished product that is arguably more useful to us. From looking at Jerry Uelsmann’s photographs in general, including the two I have included here, it seems as if his technique is definitely influenced by the idea of nature and the different components that make up landscapes. He then seems to make a connection between nature and people, possibly because he feels that people play an important role in mandmade landscapes, and that is it important that we cherish the entirely natural landscapes on this Earth. Many of his pieces use the technique of juxtaposing two ideas while maintaining a smooth, peaceful atmosphere in the photos. I feel that he may have been influenced by the idea of surrealism, and therefore he creates images that we know are not real, but they look it .

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Artist Analysis – Jerry Uelsmann My personal response to Uelsmann’s photograph is definitely positive. I am interested in his use of black and white, to create contrast whilst maintaining subtle tones. I am also intrigued by the idea of combining man with nature, as in a sense, they are related in so many ways. The second photograph ‘Untitled, 2003’ to me is so visually striking because of the dark lake i.e. the negative space is so contrasting against the hands which clearly dominate the photograph. The soft, cloudy sky and the simple silhouettes enhance the tranquility of the image, and this photo really portrays a calmer side of nature, along with human contribution. For me, the shape of the hands in this photo almost tells us to be gentle, and admire the beauty of nature that surrounds us i.e. the simple water ripple, in its delicacy. The thing I have found most inspirational about Jerry Uelsmann’s work is the concept of blending nature with people. In terms of technique, I will use photoshop to combine my photos together. I plan to take photos of tree branches and various textures within nature that share visual similarities to the facial features/imperfections within my portrait photos. I then intend to combine them in this way to create visually interesting images. Similarly to Uelsmann, I really aim to focus on the textures and details.

Untitled, 2003


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Evaluation of Idea Two My main intention with idea two was to explore beauty in a different and possibly controversial way. Many portrait photographs that we see mainly include young, fresh-faced people, possibly with imperfections that are digitally airbrushed. Therefore the people are portrayed to be flawless, when in reality that is not how they look. With idea two I wanted to display a contrast to these preconceptions. In order to do this I chose to photograph middle-aged, ordinary people in their natural state. To challenge these ‘beautiful’ portraits we see in magazines, I actually enhanced the wrinkles and imperfections to create grainy, detailed images. In terms of developing these photographs, my intention was to combine them with something that is considered beautiful i.e. nature. It is interesting how many of the textures within nature are similar to facial features and textures e.g. veins in leaves, the shape of tree branches etc. I therefore wanted to bring the two concepts together to create interesting photos. Photographing objects/shapes within nature and actually incorporating dirt, rain etc. into my photographs is something I haven’t really explored before so I thought it would challenge my creativity. Overall, I was pleased with my photographs in what I wanted to achieve. In terms of my initial photos, I wanted to experiment with photographing people from various angles and definitely using composition effectively. For many of my photos, the models’ faces take up most of the frame. However, my reason for this was to really capture the detailed skin texture, and this is evident in my initial photographs. I felt I should photograph in natural light so that natural highlights and shadows would be created, unlilke studio portraiture where often full frontal lighting is used to minimize shadows, therefore creating the illusion of a more flawless face. It was also important for me to focus correctly to make the facial features as crisp and defined as possible. Although it was quite cloudy, I used an ISO of 200 as it was relatively bright, combined with an f stop 4 and a shutter speed of 1/125 to avoid camera shake. By using these settings and basic editing on Photoshop I think I achieved successful initial photographs. To really emphasise the details in my portraits I used Silver Efex software to edit my photos into black and white and really define them. This software was incredibly useful as it allowed me to spend a long time editing various points within my photos, such as adjusting highlights and shadows, and structure etc. I feel that editing the photos into black and white proves more effective than if they were in colour, because it really allows the textures to stand out, and it means the colour doesn’t distract the viewer from that, which is really important.


Evaluation of Idea Two With regard to my developmental photographs (the photos in the soil), I also tried to experiment with various angles and composition to create interesting images. I feel that the impact of the dirt on the photographs is effective, making them look worn and distressed, yet surrounded by leaves, bark etc. In addition, I edited these photos on Photoshop alongside the other developmentals (tree branches, leaf overlays etc.) I felt that these Photoshop experiments proved to be successful, and they quite clearly demonstrate similarities between humans and nature. With some of the leaf/tree pictures I took, I thought it would be interesting to have these remain in colour, whilst combined with the black and white portraits to create contrasted images. To edit some of my developmental photos even further, I incorporated some scratchy and dusty textures to add a vintage and slightly distressed feel to the images. In terms of my initial photos, they have an impact on the viewer in the way they are so striking, particularly due to the contrast within the facial textures. The use of black and white editing definitely allows the photos to make a stronger impact. The developmental photos are also quite striking, mainly because I used various methods of overlaying and combining the nature and portrait photos together. I also think merging black and white imagery with colour creates a strong contrast and allows the viewer to make a clear distinction between the two different subject matters. With this idea I really wanted to symbolize that not everybody is perfect i.e. everyone has their individual features, and I wanted to challenge this preconception of beauty we are used to seeing in portraiture. By combining my portraits with nature which is considered beautiful, it almost balances the argument to create unique and interesting imagery. I think with an explanation the symbolism in the images would be more clear. I asked people’s opinions on these photographs. Someone said that the initial portraits are incredibly detailed and HD-like and that they allow you to see details that are usually hidden/forgotten about. Another viewer stated that the developmental photos are fascinating, yet somewhat deep, in that the buried photos almost portray the idea of going back to nature e.g. when we are buried when we die. The viewers could see that I was trying to emphasize the connection between humans and nature.


Final Outcomes


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Full Project Evaluation Generally I am pleased with my initial photographs for both ideas of this project. This is because for my second idea, I feel the photos make a strong impact visually, due to the composition that I considered and most of all, the textures and detail within the photos. However, I would have liked to have experimented more with close-ups of the face e.g. really focusing on the wrinkles/lines around the eye area. I think this would have made my photos more varied, although they are supposed to be portrait photos. Therefore, I am pleased with those. I was also pleased with some initial photos I created from my stop-motion for idea one as I think they successfully display the contrast between the onset photos and the behind the scenes, as well as the model’s interests and personality. Due to the theme of my project, I was really quite set on what image/message I wanted to portray. However, I thought that finding artistic ways to do this was quite difficult, and I really didn’t have many ideas as to how to experiment physically with my photographs. Therefore, for my second idea I decided to experiment with Photoshop mainly, which I found very effective in terms of combining the portraits and elements of nature together. I did a physical experiment involving distressing the photos in dirt and combining them with nature in that way. I was pleased with these photos also, however I don’t feel they display the similarities between shapes and texture in nature and faces as well as the computer-based images, which was my main aim. Photoshop editing definitely allowed me to experiment with creating smooth blending e.g. from the wrinkles in the face to the tree branches. Again, with my first idea I knew what image I wanted to put across but I wasn’t sure of what technical developments I could use. However, I thought a stop-motion would be effective as it was a technique I had never experimented with before. As it was my first time, I don’t think the transitions were as smooth as they could have been. I still wanted to experiment with different angles and composition which is quite difficult when you have to think about moving onto the next shot. However, when put together with music, I am quite pleased with the finished animation. If I had more time I probably would have edited it further, by perhaps incorporating text or moving images on top of the animation to support it, created on Photoshop. For idea one, I found it quite difficult to make direct artist links as not many have explored the same idea I did. However, I thought Terry Richardson’s photos of Kate Moss accurately conveyed the different sides to her personality, and it made me think about how I could portray this in my photos, as well as considering the relationship between me (the photographer) and the model because I felt that this could influence the atmosphere of the photographs. My first artist for idea two, Nikki Krecicki, was effective because it was a very strong link in terms of being visually and also symbolically connected. What inspired me with her work was how beautiful wrinkles and imperfections can actually be. I feel that media and society has changed the definition of ‘beautiful’, and everyone is so judgemental nowadays. I thought her work really portrays the same message as mine, and therefore I included Krecicki’s photo as inspiration. It also gave me ideas in terms of focusing on skin texture, and also highlighting the eyes for an added impact. Jerry Uelsmann was also quite an influential artist because it allowed me to think about how I could blend two subject matters together i.e. portraiture and nature, and this also gave me ideas as to how I could use Photoshop. His technique also influenced me in terms of my final outcomes, by overlaying the images on top of hands.


Full Project Evaluation On the whole I am pleased with how I approached the project, and although the two ideas are quite different, they still challenge the stereotypical views of the beauty and fashion world. As I felt the stop-motion was somewhat a final piece for the first idea, my final pieces were a further development of idea two. Again, looking at Jerry Uelsmann’s work, I photographed hands of some of the people in the portrait photos, enhancing the lines and textures within them. Using Photoshop I overlayed some of the developmental photos on the hands. I think the 4 final outcomes all work together as a set, and I am very pleased with how they turned out. Using Photoshop for these enabled me to accurately position the images onto the hands for a more effective image, as opposed to if I were to use a technique like projections. If I had more time on this project, I would have liked to look at the idea of plastic surgery, and ‘digital’ plastic surgery i.e. modifying people’s appearance. as this supports the underlying theme of the project. I would focus on it in a negative way, because it creates a false representation of people, and yet the fashion and beauty industry often feel that plastic surgery is the only way to make you beautiful. I could have looked at work by Serge Comte, who sees plastic surgery as a method of self-harm and this is conveyed in his work which is digitally manipulated. I may have also looked at Daniel Gordon’s work who creates collages from magazine photos to re-construct facial images. I think this idea would have created an interesting twist to the project.


Independent Project Final