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A Student Studying Photography

Portraits is an area of photography, though I'm interested in, terrifies me! My reclusive introverted nature coupled with my insecurities, overthinking and self doubt, make my experiences trying to approach, request and direct people for portraiture a cringe worthy experience. This is unfortunately reflected in my technical skills. If I relaxed more, worried less, took my time, my focus particularly on the stranger portraits would be far better. The first image, was my second attempt at photographing a stranger, it didn't make my final portfolio images because of the poor focus. But I learnt that I can use my reclusive introverted nature and even my insecurities and nervousness, in certain situations especially photographing strangers & street photography, those qualities often make people relax more, the camera is big scary and intimidating, but the person behind the camera isn't, being honest with people about that, relaxes them. But as seen in my final daylight portrait of a stranger, though overall I was extremely pleased with the shot, my nervousness and need to quickly take the image so not to monopolise too much of their time resulted in the one image I took being slightly soft focus. Though I took my time with the image, I could have took a little longer taking an extra one or two images, concentrating on focus.

Even in the studio, I find Portrait photography a nerve wracking experience, but I am able to focus by reminding myself this is what's expected of me as a photographer, when someone walks into a studio they expect to be directed & photographed. The first two images are practice shots for my Clean white brief. The third was the first time I worked with a model, I had an image of Selena Gomez that I was emulating the mood of, I find I work best and more confidently when I have a clear plan or idea to focus to, when I know what I want the final image to look like, even if the very final image looks nothing like the original plan! Though the film print of this image resulted in much nicer tonal range and an ageless authentic feel, I'm still very pleased with the digital version. The experience gave me the confidence to direct my subject more whilst photographing them.

My Sphere brief, though not included in my portfolio, taught me to always be open to experimenting with different techniques, sometimes experimenting can lead you places you least expected with fascinating results. Also my Panning technique with the Sphere brief resulted in a much more aesthetically pleasing and technically correct image than in my later Sports brief.
If I had been asked to do this brief a year earlier, I probably would have broke down! But since the end on my NC photography course when the foundations of my personal project began and my realisation that Photography is Therapy, that subconsciously I'd been using it as such, that it is the very core reason for my passion for photography, the ability to express myself through my work has been fundamental to me being a Survivor! So when this brief was issued I felt ready, I used my personal Fortitude Project as the basis of this, as a month previously I had already started exploring the therapeutic benefits of self-portraits. I immediately had a series of ideas I wanted to explore, I knew my place would be somewhere I've yet to visit, but had aspired to be in the future, I knew I wanted my object and portrait to be in this place. I had ideas of making the portrait subjective and surreal but brightly coloured to reflect my thoughts and feelings, and I knew immediately what my objects would be. When I spent the day at this beach shooting the images, other than the research that had already made me fall in love with the area, I had no idea what to expect, which was also an important factor I wanted to come through in my work. I had a plan, but it was flexible enough to adapt to the unknown. Something I've learnt is vitally important in photography. I quickly discovered that tying in my Personal project and work that I was required to do, created a lot of passion and enthusiasm within me. From then on I tried to do this as much as I could.
When we were asked to add personal work to our portfolio, rather than add work from my personal project I was already integrating into my college work, I decided to add some of my images from my first holiday abroad. As a photographer it was a visually extraordinary experience, which has had a powerful impact on how I see the world around me, which in turn has impacted my work. They may have a very ‘holiday’ feel to them, but I started to notice a pattern in my street photography as I went through the three days of images I had taken last month.
Over all the aims of the calendar were achieved and we've had a lot of positive feedback. I learnt a great deal from this project, the advantages and disadvantages to working under pressure to deadlines and working under someone's guidance. The thing I found hugely fascinating was watching how someone one else edited down my images and the ideas and thoughts created for others by my images. It was extremely exciting and educational having someone to bounce ideas of and hearing their views on those ideas. There are creative restraints working to a brief but I learnt that you can still achieve interesting ideas and results if you don't allow those restraints to have a negative impact. I don't feel this is my best collection of work, and even in the short month since the final images were shot I feel I could do better now, but it was most definitely an achievement I'm proud to have experienced and learnt from. My work was published in a Calendar, to be precise 1000 copies of a calendar! That was an amazing experience!
This brief was so far out my comfort zone, as a result taught me so much! Sports photography (that doesn't involve motorbikes) was never an area I showed much interest in at all. I did not understand how people would choose to photograph sports, one of my many naive judgements bias and based on my own likes and prejudice! Another learning curve, in more than just photography. Though it may not be my best work, the experience of photographing such a fast paced sport, the thrill of getting a semi-decent shot, the adrenaline high, the crowd atmosphere you soak up, made for and exciting, rewarding and eye-opening experience! I struggled a great deal achieving a panning shot for this sport, but framing and capturing the fast paced action, may not have been my strongest work, was definitely not my worst.
Being given a mundane object and tasked with photographing it in an interesting way, is the type of work I'm quickly learning that I enjoy! Being able to slow down and spend time focusing on one thing, exploring it fully, attempting to show it in a different way, make people think twice about they way the view things! I think that ties in very closely to my personal work and expression.
Though this still life is a constructed set, the thought process & ideas were very personal and expressive, again very closely linked with the thoughts and ideas based on my personal project. This brief fascinated me, one of my first questions when faced with this brief, was what do I have lying around my home that I could recycle and use as a set, every element of the image was carefully thought out to create and express my desired mood.
When I was given this brief, I dabbled with and almost dismissed the idea of creating a Star Wars movie poster because of my own self doubts. But I decided to jump into the deep end and deal with the panic. The landscape was taken in Loch Lomond, I wanted to get the lighting from sunrise through the winter trees. The portrait is not my best work, with more time and more confidence to step out my comfort zone, it would have been nice to have a model in a more realistic outfit. As it stands, my model was someone I knew and the outfit a cheap version I had lying around. Not my most creative moment. I know I could do much better! I spent a lot of time, using many layers and masks, for this image, learnt a lot of new photoshop skills in the process, so in this aspect of the work I believe it was successful.

It took a lot of photos and exploring to come up with the final three images for this brief. I had an attachment to another image which I find visually expressive, it worked better as an individual image than with in any set I had, by which time I'd processed 4 films. Given more time I would have loved to went out and took more images with that photo in mind. The final middle image is not shown here, but has had some work done to it to lighten the sky more. My original thought when looking over these images was the phrase 'Man vs nature' there is an oddly strange balance. Not something I personally agree with in reality, but perhaps with in photography. I find the outer images negative space quite powerful.

Through being volunteer Photographer at the Moira Anderson foundation, I've gained real world experiences doing projects, briefs and gigs for clients, which has led to several paid jobs with more lined up in the future.
final thoughts

It's become obvious that my best work is done, when I plan, think through what I intend to do and when there is a personal connection to the passion that fuels my love of photography.

My Personal Project Graded Unit Idea
I already have an idea, as I've mentioned, I'm going to use this opportunity to expand my personal project in the direction I've been meaning to since I started it.
The Fortitude Project is a photography project visually expressing the thought, feelings & experiences of abuse survivors. When I'm not working with other survivors to visually express their experiences I've been working on my own.
It's about using the power of photography to empower and heal.
I've been intending to work with more survivors to collaborate a series of images for each person that expresses themselves visually.

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