Assignment 5: Personal Project

For this final assignment on the Digital Photographic Practise course I have been tasked with creating a brief that includes the opportunity to showcase the culmination of my development from this course in between 10 and 12 photographs. With a choice of theme the assignment is really left wide open for me to decide what I wish to produce and how I go about it. I have discussed this in my planning of the assignment and will further add to it here. To begin with in this assignment the open choice of subject can leave you feeling panicked and unsure of choices and decisions made on it, the thought that it isn’t demanding enough or especially in this case, artistic enough are well conceived throughout the course but with this final opportunity to produce a selection of images I am aiming to successfully produce something slightly different that requires thought and consideration throughout while maintaing the skills learnt on the course where possible. I have always been interested in advertising and marketing, the level of consideration applied to the finished article is more than anyone considers when looking at it, and in a way that is the marker for good advertisement, the images need to not just grab the viewers attention, the works of London professional product photographer Amanda Maddox [1] are a fine example of this, their beautifully contrived compositions allow for the viewer to be immersed in the product before truly appreciating its value. This grabs the viewers attention, they want the product before they know the price, often this way reduces the chance of a price putting the viewer off as they have already pictured themselves with the product. This effective method of marketing and advertisement is widespread throughout the medium, especially within the photographic side of it. The use of it within magazines, billboards and social media allow advertisements that are geared purposefully towards a chosen demographic, this allows for a potentially higher return on the cost which also enables the advertising agency to produce multiple ads geared to appeal to different demographics. I will attempt to include examples of these professional advertising and marketing techniques within the photographs.

As shown in the planning of the assignment here is the brief for what I aim to produce.

To produce 12 photographs of 6 individual products in a professional and creative manner that both attractively show the product while also giving further idea on its use and quality. Each image will be individually considered while also being combined in a pair with its counterpart on the same product. Each photograph will be constructed and captured under studio lighting conditions allowing for a professional result. Products and props will be purchased new to give the impression where possible of a professional and serious production. The images will be individually considered for mood and style, while the only connection between them is the product.

The images I have produced for this assignment are as followed.

Kitchen Knife Set:

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This first image showing the kitchen knife set is a very minimalist and basic composition that focuses directly on the focal point. The strong parallel lines of the cut in the laptop and the back of the knife draw the viewer into the image, while the connection between the two makes it apparent that caused it due to it being a knife and its placement. The reflection on the knife is muted slightly due to a use of tracing paper, this has given the knife a more realistic appearance that makes it stand out against the lighter tones of the laptop. The darkness of the screen has muted the interest in the top of the image while the light and detail on the top of the screen still keeps the subject in context while it fills the frame. I like the implied triangle that is created using the black screen and handle of the knife, this adds to the composition and gives the cut in the laptop balance in the overall image. In a similar vain to photographer Uri Gersht [2], the destruction of something, in his case floral arrangements depicts not only what we see but also the evidence of something happen, in his case the explosion and in this case the cutting of the laptop with the knife which effectively shows the quality of said knife.

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This traditional warm still life image is the second that represents the kitchen knife set. The warm tones and soft lighting effectively give this image a homely mood that would appeal to the consumer while the intricacy to which it appears the knife can cut at allows for cooking enthusiasts to be interested also. I like the composition of this image, the build up to the final image is similar to that of my workflow contrived in assignment one, beginning with just the knife and the carrot I considered the dead space both in the foreground and the back ground spoilt the image which gave it a very simple and uninspiring image. By adding the chopped salad onion in the foreground and the whole mushrooms in the background I felt not only did it give the negative space within the image a more interest, and depth overall it also cemented the ‘process’ of the image by giving evidence of the past, present, and future process taking place. Similar in composition to that of Claude Monet’s 1880 painting ‘Still Life with Apples and Grapes’ the image shows more than the subject with further indication to its surroundings.

Disposable Barbecue:

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This first image of a disposable barbecue is a tightly framed letterbox image showing the intense flames and strong griddle of this quality product. The strength of the flames are to emphasise not only the quality of the product, as some of these can be very poor but to also capture the eye of the viewer. The flames draw in the subject, who then look further at the amount of charcoal and strength of the griddle. I envisioned this image being suitable for the packaging, perhaps the side panel or front as I feel it gives an attractive representation of the product.

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This full on profile view of the product was taken to grab the attention of the viewer, the subtle lit BBQ gives a very low key feel to the already dark image which only works to give the flames a more vibrant and impressive feel. I love the emotive nature of this image, similar to photographing food and being able to taste it when looking here I find looking at it you get that feeling of warmth you would stood close to it which is a very strong tool within advertisement photography. I love the movement within the flames, this 3 second exposure to allow for the light also gave the movement within the flames a very attractive feel that still remained detailed.

Laptop:

Untitled-1For this first image showing the advertisement of a laptop I have chosen to focus on a feature and quality of it, the processor. I have used a 4 second exposure in controlled natural light to allow for the movement in the fingers that represent the speed that it is being used at. I think this interesting focal point captures the eye and draws the viewer further into the image, notably to the text on the screen. I feel this image would be suited for an online campaign, something that allows for a further video advertisement in a similar style to that of Apple’s. The minimalistic image focuses the viewer on the product and the photographs message, allowing for the product to speak for itself. I like the idea of this image, I think it is bold and effective in displaying its message however the colour tones on the laptop are not as bright as I would have hoped, leading the hands of the subject to not stand out as much as they do against the white background. I would also have like to been able to capture the screen in a more effective way that gives it more focus in the photograph.

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Continuing the focus of looking at the laptops individual qualities within a photograph, I have in this image considered the machines, RAM (memory). The idea behind this image was to emphasise the speed of which the computer is able to run and by placing the laptop within the laptop it depicts the idea of its so fast its like having numerous computers within one. I achieved this photograph by taking one image then transferring the image to the laptop and placing it full screen, then taking another and continuing for another photograph. I then found that the screen wasn’t producing strong enough so in an attempt to continue building the depth in the image I used Photoshop to place the images within the screen further into the image using the distort tool to manipulate it into position.

Special K:

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For this next product I have chosen to use Kellogs Special K cereal, I felt that the use of an everyday food item would be an interesting element to the assignment that anyone could relate too. I wanted to construct a very traditional and simple still life arrangement that successfully showed off the subject attractively. The placement of each item within the image creates an implied triangle leading the eye throughout the image in a pleasing manner that allows the viewer to easily take in the subject. The lighting for this image was initially very simple using just two lights to evenly light the entire still life allowing for a bright colourful image, I maintained this requirement while also ensuring the light to the cameras right was placed slightly higher, this gave the attractive line of light down the length of the spoon which attracts the eye to the bowl of cereal. The placement of the berries was a considered addition with the one raspberry slightly separated from the rest, I felt this further added to the connection between the fresh fruit and the cereal.

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This second photograph showing the Special K is a breakdown of the ingredients in an attractive and eye catching composition. Taking inspiration from the fourth assignment on image manipulation I have created this image purposely with 5 different images. The idea of the image was to show each element of the meal being brought together in an exciting and interesting way that captures the viewer. Taken in a mock kitchen I created the image is broken down into 5 parts,

  • The bowl with splash, foreground and tiles.
  • The stream of milk
  • Strawberries in focus
  • Blurred strawberries
  • Cereal

The ingredient elements have been brought together to form  three inter wining streams into the bowl that emphasise the natural ingredients and health benefits of the Special K Cereal. I found this to a be very tricky and time consuming effect as it was important for me to maintain a balance between each ingredient and to produce an interesting image. The image however was made more interesting when I also had the idea to drop a strawberry into the bowl of milk to produce the splash. This high speed photography effect gives the image, in my opinion punctum. I like the foreground interest in the image I think it gives the photograph more depth and further adds to the composition and idea that the ingredients are simple and natural, however I feel the lighting on it is not perfect with the right side of the bowl obviously being in shadow, I like this for the bowl as it shows form but with the inclusion of the fruit and cereal it doesn’t show off the strawberry successfully.

Shampoo:

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For this first image of a shampoo bottle I have created a mock bathroom shelf with the use of the kitchen tiles used earlier in the assignment for another photograph. The premise behind the image is to emphasise this ‘Simple’ brand of shampoo stands ahead of the rest. I have shown this by firstly placing the bottle in a prominent position that stands out amongst other shampoo bottles and to further emphasise this I have used a light fitted with a snoot to illuminate the single bottle against the rest. I have found this has really made the bottle stand out against the rest successfully while still maintaining in keeping the colours saturated and not losing detail.

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The second image showing the shampoo shows the bottle placed surrounded by its own bubbles. I really like this image and feel it is one of the strongest in the assignment, the simple and bold composition focuses the viewer first and foremost on the the bottle and the product, which is simply supported in the image by the bubbles surrounding it. I think the idea works very well and the bottle is further emphasised in the image by the use of the side light, this produces the shadow on the left of the frame which effectively shows the form and shape of the bottle for the consumer. I think this image works very well overall and effectively catches the attention of the viewer while also benefitting from strong colours to make it stand out. I would have improved this photograph in hindsight by placing the bottle and bubbles on a lighter table as I feel the darker wood has dulled the bubbles slightly.

Heinz Tomato Sauce:

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This first photograph of the Tomato Sauce is a very bold and captivating image that grabs the attention of the viewer with the bright red of the sauce. The placement of the bottle coming in from the side is firstly so the sauce would run out of it but secondly because it catches the eye more and makes a more abstract composition of an instantly recognisable icon. I photographed this with one light from the cameras left and reflected the light back across the subject, this allowed for better definition on the drip of sauce while also maintaing the light on the bottle. I maintain the consistency of the sauce by initially trialling the speed at which it came out as to if it produced a drip big enough, I found that it didn’t, the sauce falling to the table before achieving a sufficient size. I then mixed cornflower into the sauce to adjust the consistency before then trying it again. This resulted in a much thicker sauce and a larger drip that stayed in position longer, because of this I was able to capture the image I had set out too.

IMG_2136-Edit-EditThis final image of the assignment and second of the Heinz Tomato Sauce shows a thought out idea that was accurately and successfully created. I had the idea of showing that Tomato Sauce was suitable for ‘posh’ dinners, and that a characteristic of higher cuisine is often the presentation. I then decided that to produce similar swirls as you see in these restraints with tomato ketchup and a chip was an interesting and fun juxtaposition. It was the added inclusion of the chip in a top hat and bib that added an element of humour and further improved the interest in the photograph making it more widely appreciated. I think this image could be improved upon with further consideration on lighting as the slight area reflected on the bottle does give shape to the bottle ultimately catches the eye to much.

I have mentioned in the beginning of this assignment and also before in the planning how I came to decide upon this subject as my final project and I am glad I did, I have found it to be a very enjoyable, in-depth and challenging idea that has pushed me both creatively and technically and given me the opportunity to troubleshoot both design issues and photographic. I think in all it was a good choice of theme, it gave a varied opportunity to individual photographs that allowed me to both look at my development and also on to what I hope to achieve with this assignment. Although I feel the theme was a good choice I think it could have further been improved with the choices of subjects, I did have a couple of other ideas lined up but due to time constraints I wasn’t able to comfortably work on those for admission into the assignment. Overall I think the assignment well, the general plan of the assignment was kept to while the individual plans for each day of shooting and each product stayed relatively secure with only minor variations on the order of photographing. I feel areas in which I could have improved on and that went wrong in this assignment was my skill at lighting the subject, I have a very basic education on lighting and have mainly taught myself through trial and area about what I think works be it artistically or professionally. I feel I have used the lighting correctly and effectively and perhaps its the finishing touches and further consideration that I lack which can ultimately improve a photograph considerably. I feel that there is a wide spectrum within the photographs of creative, artistic and thoughtful photography to straightforward compositions. Each image has been thoroughly considered and thought out, and I feel in the cases of the more straightforward images, such as of the disposable barbecue it doesn’t do them justice and if I had time I would like to have addressed that further to allow for a more positive and confident outcome. When I look back at the brief and consider the parameters I gave myself and compare that to what I have produced I feel on a whole I have kept to it, I think each image is an attractive representation of itself, it shows it in a positive light that contains professionalism throughout while also being creative with the majority of images and thought process surrounding them and the choice of subject. Throughout the assignment I encounter many technically problems from creating the sets for the images or just simply placement of items that required suspending from above or by taking multiple exposures to correct different areas of the image for exposure, for example the image containing the laptop within a laptop. I achieved each problem no matter what it was by taking my time and considering the options available to me to ensure I maintained the vision I was trying to achieve, this resulted in a successful selection of images which I feel compliment the brief well and effectively.

[1] http://www.amandamaddox.com

[2] http://www.theguardian.com/culture/gallery/2013/oct/19/10-best-contemporary-still-lifes#/?picture=420272873&index=1

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