A Good Day for a Photoshoot

Sunday’s are always good days to get out and do something creative, it’s personally my favourite day of the week. So I used my Sunday to take myself, my good friends Andrew and Charlotte, and my little clay tumours. I had already made a list of places that I was hoping to visit for the photographs in order to structure and organise the day:

  • The Early Bird cafe (Woodville Road)
  • Cathays train station
  • The fruit market
  • Tesco/ other supermarket stores
  • Andrews car dashboard
  • Cardiff centre market
  • Roath Park/ Bute Park
  • Ice cream van

Luckily Charlotte used to work with the lady that owns the Early Bird cafe, so it definitely took the edge of trying to explain what I wanted to do there, avoiding the possibility of assaulting both her and her customers. Sites such as the train station, the parks and Andrews car also came easily to me as I didn’t have to ask for permission or brief anyone on the subject. After checking out some of the locations and giving them a little more thought when convening with my helpers, I decided against heading into any supermarket stores. I originally planned these into my day as I was working along similar lines of the bookcase idea, where the tumours can be placed on a shelf and amongst other daily objects and situations that offer opportunity for human interaction, yet I decided against this as I wanted to keep any branding out of my photographs.

The Early Bird 

Our first stop for the day was to the Early Bird Cafe. As said before Charlotte has worked with the owner preciously, and she turned out to be an absolute sweetheart. She was very kind and welcoming and spent the time to talk with me about my work too. It turns out her mother works with her also, and she used to do ceramics herself, so many fruitful conversations were had. We ordered two pots of tea and a cinnamon bun.

We go stuck into the photo’s pretty quickly, and the setting turned out to be extremely wonderful for the type of photographs that I had been hoping to take. Due to the Cafe being pretty new, the pottery and cutlery used for our table were all unbranded and luckily they were similar colours to my chosen colour scheme. This meant that my images had some consistency and they didn’t become too busy or difficult to look at. Other colours were pretty neutral such as soft greys, beiges and browns. I took full use of the situation we were in; using all of our bodies that were present meant that we could experiment with the level of human interaction in the photos.

It was through these first batch of photographs that I realised something about the people in my photos. I found them to be more successful when there were only parts of the body featuring in the photos, and what I found to work the most were the hands. The hands are a intimate part of the body and they are usually the first point of interaction with other objects and people. This also gives me a great opportunity to still work with different ages; as well as intimate, the hands are also quite unique to the individual. They can harbour many unique traits that represent their personality, these can range from skin blemishes such as moles or scars, or jewellery such as wedding rings. This also can apply to the older audience, soft and wrinkled hands will do just as well if not better than featuring a full bodied person. This means there is equal focus on both the ceramic pieces and the amount of human interaction in the images, which makes for a successful image. The images where there is no human interaction present leaves the photo feeling staged and a little lifeless, and seem like they are just missing something. Another aspect of these photos that I thought worked really well for the composition, are the people that feature in the background. The camera I used had a feature that let me alter how blurred the back ground information is. This came in handy for one shot in particular, with the objects on the table in focus and the main focal point of the image, yet in the background, although out of focus, are clear silhouettes of two people conversing over drinks and food. I think the birds-eye view shot of the table can be a really successful, but i’m just not sure whether it is working for this scenario. Maybe it would work a little better if the items and the arms were placed a little better, with the camera being straight and inline with the table, parallel with the negative space.

Here are some of my favourite shots from this location:

The Car Dashboard

Another setting that I wanted to shoot my ceramic pieces in is the dashboard of a car. Luckily for me, one of my helpers Andrew drove us to all the locations. I found the idea of using a car dashboard rather fitting as a wide number of people us this as form of transport each day. Another interesting thing about dashboards is that they are usually personalised to that owner of the car. Whether this is a cluster of forget-me-nots tied around the rear view mirror, or heap of keep-me-sakes clustered on the dashboard, all these things bring you hints of the owners personality and can potentially represent enough human interaction in the photographs, however this is something to be explored. When taking the photographs, we began stationary. We had a little play about with where to put the piece, to see where it sat well and comfortably (both for the photographs and also in a position where it wouldn’t fall and break). I grew a little anxious of the outcomes of the photos, as they seemed to be coming out a little dark, however because the sun came out to play with us, the light that was coming through the front window allowed for us to play with lighting and shadows. However, when a few photos had been taken I checked back over them and decided that it would be better if we started to drive around a little more, to mix up the view outside of the front window, and also capture the natural movements of the driver interacting with the car, making the images feel a little less staged. By doing this that meant we sometimes captured other people going about their day to day business outside of the car; this sort of reinforced the idea of people getting on with their lives whilst struggling with the disease, and the people around you can be blissfully aware of what you’re going through. It makes me think of how we should always be kind to others as we just don’t know what battles everyone else are facing. In these photos we managed to get some profiles of both the driver and passenger of the car. Again, these details were dark but clear enough to make out the silhouette of what is happening. This also worked well for the composition of these images, give them some breadth and a sort of frame. Here are some of the photos that I felt worked well:

The Train Station

I was quite excited for this location. I thought there might be some great opportunities to include a wide range of people in the photographs. I was hoping there would be a range of people waiting to catch a train, however unfortunately it was ever so quiet that day. I wanted to see ifI could explore with different ages here, but alas no. But the sun was still on our side and we took full advantage of this glory. This location was great to experiment with different camera angles, and also the colours of the shelter and the lines that cropped up in my images made by platforms and tracks really contributed to the composition and structure of my images, giving them depth and horizon lines. From the shoot in the cafe, I wanted to re-visit the idea of shooting an image from birds-eye view. This angle also seems as though we are shooting it from the perspective of the person involved in the photographs. I wasn’t too sure if this was something that I wanted to portray in my images; I hadn’t planned to give any kind of human perspective or narrative in the images, more as though the photos had been captured without knowledge, almost capturing a a rare and natural moment in someones life as they are interacting, handling and living with this disease. This time instead of using hands, we headed more towards including the feet and shoes in the image. In the instances where we included the hands, we used props such as a mobile phone to enforce the fact that this person isn’t particularly paying attention to whats around him/her. However what I found by including this kind of actually felt like I was targeting a younger audience, seeing as the youth of today seem to be tied to their electronic devices. However these images also have strong composition and colours throughout, so it may be an idea to revisit this location and retake these images without having the phone included. With these photographs, I feel like the more successful images are the ones where the ceramic tumour is further away from the person, as though it is lingering behind, catching up with them or shadowing their steps.

There’s also something rather sinister about this batch of photos. When you take the plunge to look and think a little deeper into the setting here, it boils down to ‘waiting’. Waiting for the train to arrive, waiting for someone to get off; there is anticipation in these photos which seem to have an interesting link with the tumours that are lingering around. I don’t know about you, but it makes me rather anxious.

The Steps

Whilst at the train station I thought it would be a good idea to take advantage of what else was around me that I could use for some good photos. There were some steps that took you over to the other side of the station, and we thought this may also be a good chance to get some photos with the chance of including passers-by. Like with the station photos, these kind of shots featured more feet and shoes rather than hands, when people walked up and down the steps. At first I wasn’t too sure if these photos were working and speaking the message that I needed them to, but when I looked back at the photos I began to find some that worked well. By having feet clearly walking past these objects, it again reinforces that people tend to carry on and put these thoughts to the back of their minds rather than directly deal with it. I was hoping there would be more human interaction in the photos, however it wasn’t too busy, and people seemed to shy away from the objects (which is rather interesting). We quickly learned that the photos worked much better when they weren’t so crammed and busy, with one or two people featuring being enough. The sun had become a little lower in these photos but this worked well for it shining onto the steps on how it highlighted the object. When using this location, I decided that this ceramic object worked best for the location and the lighting. As this one was rather spikey, lumpy and the heaviest of them all, yet it seems to be the one that is stands out the most due it its vibrant blue colours. I also want to be conscious of what tumours I use for each photograph and how many times they feature in photographs in order to have an equal appearance throughout. When looking back over the images, I thought the ones where the camera is further away from the object were the more successful ones, but after conversing with others, it seemed as thought the images where I am closer to the image and there is less of the person’s body shown to be the more successful.

The Bench

We took a little trip down to Roath park. We originally went there in order to see if we could get our hands on a happy ice-cream van man. It seemed like a great idea at the time-  ask if I can put the objects in the window of the van, and photograph the amount of involvement and human interaction when someone buys an ice-cream, and the process of making and handing over the ice-cream. However, I soon shot this idea down, because I think it is a little silly and doesn’t really fit with the rest of the images I have taken so far. Also, buying an ice-cream isn’t exactly part of the everyday- mostly just the summer. This also takes me back creating relationships between the objects and dieting.

Once this idea had gone, we wandered around to see what else we could use for some photos. All we could really find was a bench, but it seemed to be rather lovely. It was simplistic and minimalist and fit within the these of my photos so far, so we decided to give it a go. The photo’s seemed to be working well, and we managed to capture the activities of others around us. The sun was even lower by this point yet still bright. It wasn’t until I got home and looked over the photos until I realised that maybe the images came out a little too bright, leaving me unsure whether or not I shall be using them. Saying that, the concept of them work really well and there is a good level of ignorance and acceptance in these images.

These are all the photos that I got from the first day. I feel like I have a good and strong selection of photographs from this day, and there definitely some in here that I think will make the final cut. Now I want to go back through all of these photos and begin to filter them out into the most successful ones, and touch them up. Once this has been done, I can take the pictures to both Amelia and Dan and see what they think.





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