Task II / Evaluation

Four final responses to the given brief of “Identity”, refining mediums from analog to digital, exploring how a person can be represented within photography and how my production impacts this. Conceptually, the outcomes reflect vegans for who they are whilst breaking stereotypes faced as a community, inviting the viewer to use their own recognition, henceforth the title of “Meat Us” – a play on words hindering the concept behind the photographs shown without giving too much definition of their meaning.

Fixated upon Andrea Gjestvang’s natural portraits depicting a number of surviving victims and J A Mortram’s series entitled ‘small town inertia’ also embarking on documenting surrounding individuals. Both of these photographers heavily influenced my own practice, subtle notions of their framing and approaching subjects can be seen in tests shoot taken by myself. An example, photographing local vegans in their personal environments to focus on more direct outcomes such as the shoot at the rescue.

Opting to challenge myself and after a number of workshops ranging from analog to digital, I felt most comfortable in using a Mamiya rz67, a large format film camera suited for portrait work. Having shot some quick test shoots in advance, film truly captured the depth and rawness in which I desired for this project. However, it must be said using analog hindered my project slightly. Unfortunately the Mamyia used had double exposed over half the rolls shot, producing unusable outcomes and setting myself behind in the brief. In hindsight, digital outcomes should of been taken to support the mamiya encase of a situation like this arising.

Furthermore, I have been able to reflect upon this positively. Shooting analog is an exciting practice. With only 12 shots per roll, you truly try to conceive your perspective whilst ensuring you “get the shot”. Analog definitely helped my confidence in approaching strangers (vegans) whilst directing shoots, I took pride in each location I went too, knowing the outcomes needed to be as refined as possible in order to reflect their identities as individuals and a community.

The final outcomes depict Mark the owner of F.R.I.E.N.D and Sarah a volunteer interacting with the rescue animals living at the sanctuary. The juxtaposition between four photographs depict off guarded portrayals of themselves in reflection to the directed images. It can been seen as the conflicts between the meat and dairy industry and the hidden truths behind them both. Symbolising this through Mark and Sarah’s pose – who when directed took pride in themselves as vegans and when captured off guard expose their emotional bonds towards animals; instead viewing the rescues as beings not products.

Cropping the photographs to square format allows for our attention as the viewer to fully project upon the subjects, removing distractions. The outcomes acknowledge the brief set yet alter my own statements slightly. Previously I had suggested to depict vegans in a less stereotypical manner, breaking away from the stigmas faced as a group. Yet, it can be clearly seen the outcomes now only hinder these stereotypes more. Subconsciously I had felt depicting vegans away from the stereotypes would portray us as a group in a more reasonable perspective to an omnivore.  However, this can only be said to be my own self conscious. Reflecting Sarah and Mark for themselves instead exposes the compassion behind the lifestyle – this isn’t just a diet or a “fad”, veganism is a movement and one of change.

Task I / Alec Soth – Hellen van Meene

Alec Soth, a portrait photographer devotes his series entitled ‘Broken Manual’ to escapees of civilisation. Documenting numerous individuals from monks to hermits, the overall series represents those who wish to seek an alternative lifestyle in conjunction to the everyday. Evidently, Soth’s use of available light endorses a cinematic feel. Pose profoundly plays a vital role in dictating the subject chosen. Visually the expression appears blank yet relaxed, a natural reflection left to our own interpretation of the image – adding depth to the portrait conceptually and visually. Is his expression a symbol of the sanctuary in which he has found from breaking the mundane? Granted, prop hinders subtle notions through styling too. An example shown within the subjects facial hair, indicating an “off grid” nature. The figure has fully let go of everyday routines and subjected appearances of a clean shaven man. The marked clothing worn also shares an indication of the subjects characteristics, a gesture of the rawness of living away from the commercial lifestyle and his personality as an individual. Displaying the subject outside forms a canvas, a blanket in which the body is laid against stimulating us as audience to question the significance of the environment surrounding the body. The figure shown is truly immersed with nature. His position between the mossy background forms juxtaposition between his self worth as a being whilst comparing the figure to nature itself. Soth breaks away from stereotypes of the working man and interrupts our ideologies of lifestyles today.

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Hellen van Meene – an artist whose approach bares witness of teenage girls through the use of square format. It is apparent, Meene reflects upon adolescence throughout the portrait of the subject portrayed. Prop vitally plays a role, comparing the figure to the mattress behind. Symbolising the girl as an object in multiple aspects. The towel beside reflects the light onto the subject, directing our viewpoint as the audience whilst mimicking the figures clothes. Simliar again, the towel below also mirrors the subjects styling, in this case the blue toned skirt opposite. Conceptually Hellen Van Meene reflects the “single” mattress as a means to project the status of the individual stood by herself, as if the mattress is a symbol for her independence as a female. The pose is left as a blank canvas, allowing us as the audience to again project our own subconscious upon the subject portrayed. Although blank, it is clear the viewer holds herself confidently yet her facial expression conflicts against this, carrying notions of someone who is overworked and fatigued. The combination of framing and location invites the viewer into the environment in which the subject is standing within. As the audience we able to connect to the surroundings as her residence, signifying home further forming the figures identity and her placement within class.

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