Research Photographers and their work

This blog post will be about research and gaining inspiration for what I want to shoot and create. I looked at three different photographer and a range of their images to which I describe the images. (I do not own these images and they are being used as a visual aid to explore their work.)

Trent Parke (Australian Street Photographer):

Trent Parke is an Australian street photographer, who works under a photography organisation called Magnum. Trent has had photo books produced based on his journeys around Australia; where he tries to capture the essence of the image. “Minutes to Midnight” was a book he created when he started his journey in 2003. He drove at least 56,000 miles round Australia, taking photographs depicting the many different areas of the outback but bringing across a story within each image.

TP Pic1From a first glance you can see the composition of this picture is very complicated, there are many different types of people in the frame. Unlike the first image, we can see more detail on the people in the picture. We also can see different shades of grey on the people, allowing us to capture an idea of what they are wearing. This is very different from the first image, as the people are just silhouettes, they are just black on white.

Another aspect of the composition to consider is the human/peoples positions are varied within the frame. It portrays a sense of urgency in the picture. Trent has managed to capture in essence “the calm before the storm”. We can see this through the different actions of the people within the frame reacting to what is about to happen.

The centre of the image looks like the floor has been retouched/dodged to lighten the area which is highlighted/the subject of the image.. This could suggest that the centre is where the storm has started as the people, around the outside, have yet to be affected.

TP Pic2This image in particular appeals to me because of the composition and the position where the image was captured. I find it particularly clever how the person to the left of the image is in the foreground, while also being unfocussed as it immediately draws your attention to the focussed area of the image – the middle ground.

It is essentially a space, a street crossing, but no one is crossing due to the rain. Looking further on you can see other people that look like they are waiting for the rain to clear. This gives the impression that the theme of the image is about shelter, if you were to believe the person in the foreground is a child, but we have no certainty that this is a child or an adult.

The image does, however, make us want to question why the person, child or adult, is out in the rain, as we have no confirmation that this was shot in the day or the night. This allows Trent Parke to convey a dark mysterious story which makes the viewer feel that image needs more than just one look to gain the full experience, as you could say the image is more than skin deep with many layers enticing the viewer to truly grasp the message being conveyed by Trent Parke. For me this a very interesting picture, that not only is well composed, but has a very interesting subject that goes beyond the metaphorical sense of depicting a story within a scene.

TP Pic3Here is another image from Trent Parke’s “Minutes to Midnight”. This image seems to be taken at night and with a long exposure. Therefore this would have been taken on a large format camera with a tripod. The person in the foreground is very odd, as they have been bleached into the image through post processing of the image. The person feels very out of place and though is relatively small compared to the rest of the image you are constantly drawn to the person. The image’s composition fits the rule of thirds and is relatively well composed. I find this image very interesting because it is doesn’t have a lot to look at but it causes you to think and wonder what could be there in the darkness. The overall exposure follows suit with a lot of Trent’s work, which has quite a strong contrast.

TP Pic4This is another photo from Trent Parke’s “Minutes to Midnight”. This image is taken in a city as you can just make out the building in the background while in the foreground there are peoples shadows being casted onto a moving object. This would have to been taken at longer exposure rather than a faster exposure because that would have frozen the vehicle in place. Like many of Trent’s images they are very odd and come across as slightly surreal and encapsulate a story within the frame causing you to view the image for longer as you try to understand the story it conveys. The shadows of the people are strange and give the impression that people are posing but in quite a dominant stance. Here we also see another dark exposure with quite a strong contrast however this is used to draw your attention to the shadows.

Duane Michals (American Photographer):

Duane Michals was an American Photographer known for his interesting and unique style of creating photo-sequences. Michals’ is also known for not owning a studio of his own; however, he worked within commercial photography and created portraits of people in their own environment, which was a stark contrast to the method of other photographers of the time.

DM Pic1The image to the left is a photo-sequence, called “Death Comes to the Old Lady”. The photo sequence consists of 5 images of an old woman sitting in a chair and a second figure walking into the frame and taking the old woman. The composition of the image fits the rule of thirds quite well and creates quite a nice frame. The tonal range is quite light compared to the strong “contrasty” exposures. It seems that the image approaches some dark themes such as death and where we go after that. The images are quite chilling and disturbing but do not show any blood they are just slightly suggestive of death and the afterlife, which makes it more disturbing as we don’t know what happens.

DM Pic2This is another photo-sequence by Duane Michals called “Chance Meeting”. A Chance Meeting is less surreal than “Death Comes to the old lady” and “Things are queer” this seems more factual than fiction. Even though it isn’t as interesting with the figure that seems disfigured the context of this photo-sequence is interesting and is seems like it is from a Detective television show. The compositional elements of this image are interesting great and follow the main principles of the rule of thirds and all the images in the sequence follow the rule of thirds.

DM Pic3Here is another photo-sequence from Duane Michals called “Things are queer”. However I cannot quite understand this image, and creates a sense of curiosity within the viewer. This is more dynamic than the other photo-sequences as it changes the scene completely which makes for a more interesting photo-sequence. The contrast of the overall exposures varies from each image, which creates for interesting set images.

Richard Avedon (American Fashion and Portrait Photographer)

Richard Avedon was an American fashion and portrait photographer who was known by many to help define “America’s image of style, beauty and culture for the last half-century” – The New York Times. He has shot for a few magazines such as Vogue and Life, and Calvin Klein.

RA Pic1I find this image really interesting as it appeals to my interests within Portraiture and Fashion Photography. I think it takes quite a macabre and brunt approach to life and death; it also is quite a dark image and suggests other possible themes. The saturation of the colour has been slightly subdued which also contributes to the overall dark themes of the image. The mirror and the skeleton creates slight confusion on what the image is trying to convey it also gives the idea that people will stop at nothing in the face of vanity. The model is perfectly aligned with the skeleton, which goes hand in hand with the meaning of life and death. It is also an interesting way of showing of the dress, as it seems less of a fashion shot and more a contemporary shot.

In the end I gained some interesting ideas and will discuss them within my next post the initial ideas of intent.


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