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The Photograph as an Object: Slowly Disappearing into Nothing Leanne Warren

First Artist Analysis –Kim Anderson When looking at the theme, I felt that a good approach would be through taking quite regular portraiture photographs that seemed innocent, and stand well on enough on their own. I wanted to find someone to photograph that had captured my interest, and that person would be my younger brother. I wanted to look into how to make child’s photography look effective –with personality and a positive atmosphere about them. Since graduating in Textile and Surface design, Kim has created an extensive portfolio of artwork for a variety of greetings card publishers, gift wrap, cross stitch kits and wall art in the UK, Europe and the United States.

Examples of Kim Anderson’s work

I found that Kim Anderson’s children’s photography to be effective in capturing this exact mood and felt that she was a real inspiration in choosing children’s photography as her photography really does look effective, sweet and humorous all at once. I overall feel that the essence of these photographs which brings them into such a colourful mood is allowing the children to be able to do whatever they want in the photograph, leaving it completely down to them how the photograph turns out. This leads to effectively bringing out a photograph which shows a lot of personality in each specific child –something I believe that Anderson was aiming for when she took these photographs. I wanted to use photographs that I had taken of my brother which would show how he really acted –I didn’t particularly want those of which he was told to sit and smile and wanted to use images in which my brother would naturally respond to the camera. It came out with various different results, all of which I think effectively portray a mood and personality trait of his.

Initial Photographs

Second Artist -Stephen Gill Something that I felt would help to disguise the photograph, whilst simultaneously helping to capture that innocent theme from showing portraiture of children, was flower pressing. This is a technique in which plants, flowers and such are placed over the top of images to make the photograph appear more crowded and yet somewhat more decorative –which I think it is effectively doing.

Gill began photography when young. In 1985, while still at school, Gill began work with a Bristol-based photography company, copying and restoring old photographs. Two years later, he began working full-time in a one-hour photo lab. In 1992 he enrolled in a Photography Foundation course at South Gloucestershire and Stroud College in Bristol and, a year later, began work at Magnum Photos in London. In 1997 he became a freelance photographer. In an interview, where Gill was asked about the way he photographed things and the reasoning behind photographing what he did, he responded with the following: “For quite a few years I've been making photographic work in the London borough of Hackney, where I live. Recently, I've been trying to photograph not just what the place looks like, but also trying to include as much as I can of what it feels like. I started collecting little bits of stuff from actual places, and then putting them inside the camera. Bits of plant life, seeds, or glass: I drop them in just before loading the film.�

Gill, through these photographs, is effectively incorporating the plants and natural life into an image and making them look natural. They are ultimately changing how the photograph looks and is, therefore, gradually making the normal image gradually disappear. I feel that overall this technique will help later on in the developments to make the image look extremely obscure, but as a gradual process, adding the plant-life to the images, although giving the images a more light-hearted appearance, do begin to make the image look more obscured –which is my overall aim with the project.

Development 1

Third Artist Inspiration –Richard Prince Richard Prince is definitely an influence in thinking about painting over the portraits, as I want to make the image and the face gradually disappear into nothing and therefore, painting over the main features of the face would ensure that there would be elements of the portrait gradually fading away.

Development 2

Final Development I wanted to try and create even more of a distorted picture with these photographs, and therefore decided that one way to do this was through smudging the images and trying to make the colours run from the images slightly –really taking away the initial innocence that is portrayed through child portraiture. I decided that quite an easy way to do this was to hold the images up, drop water onto the top of the image and then allow it to simply roll down to the bottom. After letting it dry, I came out with the following results:

Evaluation My initial intention with this project was to be able to take an innocent and ordinary looking portrait of my younger sibling, and then turn it into something that no longer resembled anything distinctively like this. I think that I managed to achieve this – the images now looking more surreal and having a slightly ethereal look about them. The staining and drained colour on my final developments make the images look old – as if they had been disintegrating. I took these photographs roughly a year ago whilst my family was on holiday, but I felt that they are quite effective in capturing a certain sense of personality –whilst meanwhile creating an image which is in a nice and warm environment. I think that I didn’t exactly need to take the images all in the same place either, as it creates a small sense of variation. However, looking back, perhaps it would have been a better idea to use images which are only close up portraits of him, as some of the more distanced photographs look nice initially, but often lose some good elements after they were developed.

I feel that my initial photographs were good at capturing the initial innocence of the portraits that I wanted to get, and I also feel that my developments helped to follow the theme of slowly disappearing into nothing. I think that my first development, which was inspired by Stephen Gill, slightly enhanced the photographs, if anything, to gain that innocent feel, but the ones inspired by Richard Prince were the ones that really helped in order to make the images seem as if they were slowly fading away into nothing –the innocence and normality of the photographs fading until they no longer looked anything like how they used to. I think that I planned out my photographs pretty well, taking them step by step to try and make them slowly fade, and I feel that I had a reason for developing them all the way I did. I also feel that I’ve experimented with my developments in ways that I haven’t tried before –taking creative risks in order to try and make the images appear different, unique and, overall, develop a feeling of slowly fading away into nothing. I think that people will be able to feel a slight emotional impact when they look at these photographs, and could interpret them in very different ways.

Whilst someone may see it as looking at a nostalgic and incredibly old image, someone else may see it as trying to show that children lose their innocence and don’t stay young forever. Either way, these images effectively make people think and question things –which, in my opinion, makes a successful set of photographs. In conclusion, I’m quite pleased with my photographs, and I think that they effectively follow along the theme of slowly fading away into nothing. If I had more time on the project, I might explore different ways to make the image look more torn and old –perhaps through burning the photographs and cutting holes out of the image. But, overall, I think that the images created are effective enough on their own.

Extra project