Stuck again.

I was a bit eager to start the course and managed to come up with a fantastic theme for my  first assignment only to discover a bit later that most of my set-ups were time-consuming.

I had good ideas about most of my pictures, but the still life genre requires a lot of attention to small detail because small details could make or break a picture. As result of that I was constantly in search of one more prop. As it often happens with food, if you can’t take your picture straight after you’ve got your prop, you need to get its replacement. By the middle of February, my fantastic project lost its appeal. I’d taken incredible shots in my imagination, but was still struggling to archive them in camera. It seemed that I always needed another prop.

It was great to meet a few students who had already done that module or were at least half way through it. Talking to them, I realised that I should really simplify my project and concentrate more on its photographic workflow than on its artistic side. So, I put my thinking hat on to find a different theme and discovered that I am stuck.

Since I set my heart on a still life assignment, my research was about still life photography: its ideas, history and photographers. Changing my project to a different photographic genre is a bit difficult. Firstly, I don’t know a lot about landscapes and more important I am not a landscape photographer. I love looking at the amazing photographs of landscape in books and galleries, but I don’t feel like getting up very early to go out on my own with my heavy tripod.

The other possible option is to take a set of portraits. I’ve seen so many interesting portraits recently (famous paintings with a child as a model, sleeping child journey, mother and her small daughter doing yoga, Red Riding Hood by Sal Cincotta) that it is a bit difficult for me to come with something simple and interesting that doesn’t require a lot of props.

I managed to come up with a simple idea that was possible to carry on in my small village, but my son was down with a bad chickenpox and I had to put it off. He is finally back to school, but there are Easter school holidays approaching (I can take only snap shots with my two kids in tow) and also, there is still a high possibility for my second child to catch chickenpox, so I can’t plan portraits. It looks like I am back to the square one: still life. It feels like I am stuck.

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2 thoughts on “Stuck again.

  1. Hi Etana, I’m sure you will work it out, you always do. However there is another approach you could take, ie rather than thinking about subjects and props step back and try to think about the motives and aspirations that drive you in life and come out through your photography.

    I have written three posts in my other blog ‘davidcollinsphoto’ about a technique called Personal Construct Theory. It is used a lot in psychology, personal development and management to get underneath the ‘superficial’ labels we use to describe our world and experiences to learn more about the way simple constructs/concepts we use to describe the world are linked to deeper emotions and values that make us who and what we are. For example ‘red’ as a construct can be used to categorise colours but it also has deeper associations relating to danger or warmth.

    You prefer ‘still life’ photography, I prefer ‘landscape’. Why? What are the differences between us that the two genres tap into? The answer will vary for different people but for example you may get more satisfaction by CREATING scenes, where I might be more rewarded by FINDING existing compositions that I appeal to me in some way.

    If you try to think about ‘still life’ from a PCT perspective and then work back to subjects when you have clarified what ‘still life’ signifies to you at a deeper emotional/psychological level it might open up new ideas for subjects/props and combinations of them. As an example, I seem to remember some images you produced relating to fire in the kitchen, at one level this is could be reflected in a still life of a kitchen (almost documentary), at another level you could arrange the composition so it is about general safety at home but at another level you could arrange a composition that taps into deeper drivers such as a mother’s deep motivation to protect their children and so lead to ideas about all sorts of alternative proposal/compositions that could signify that.

    Sorry if this is a bit long winded but metaphorically it’s a bit like looking through binoculars the wrong way. instead of concentrating on detail you would be trying to take a wider view of what ‘still life’ means to you which might open up a wider range of potential subjects/compositions.

    The posts I have done on Personal Construct Theory in relation to photography are: ‘Developing as a photographer and Personal construct Theory’, ‘Identifying the hidden messages in images using Laddering’ and ‘A ladder to evocative images’. If the approach helps and you want any further discussion about it then I’m happy to do that. Good luck. David

  2. Thanks David. I’ll have a look at your blog tonight. It would be useful to look at my problem from a different point of view.

    Probably, I’ve made it sounds like my set ups were just a several items placed together, but I was trying to create a story with them. Recently, I’ve been looking at a different type of still life (I wrote a post about it, but haven’t made it public yet) and now I’m trying to find a new style of still life for me which is going to be different from the style in those pictures https://www.flickr.com/photos/curious-amateur/sets/72157624086167240/ Probably, it’s being in a kind of transitional state makes things difficult for me. I don’t want to work in the old style, but I don’t know what is my new style is going to be. Taking into the account that my first assignment is only about the workflow: drafting-planning-preparation-execution and so on, I made a big problem out of nothing 🙂

    I know that I’m going to use my original idea for a different project later this year.

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