Last thursday was the very successful private view of our End of Year Show “Hidden Rivers“. Numerous visitors were on hand to admire the varied and interesting array of works presented by the Class of 2014, BTEC National Diploma in Photography, of the Kensington and Chelsea College. The 2014 End of Year Show Photography Prize was won by the talented and creative Gesine Garz, whom I had the honour of modelling for many times during the past year.
For those of you who have not yet visited our exhibition, I present my contribution.
This is a series entitled “The Internal State of Men”, created in 2014, a group of portraits inviting you to identify the internal state of the model.
The title of this picture, inspired by the oeuvre of Sarah Moon, should speak for itself.
I also included some images familiar to the visitors of this blog, “The Dowager” and “The View, Horizontally“. The photo of “Los Espantos de Baldí” was included in the post about the colours of Costa Rica.
The final image I submitted to the Exhibition was one taken during my fashion shoot. It was created using my very own technique of rescuing photos which would otherwise be discarded. I call the photo “In a Different Light”.
If you like what you see and you are within the “neighbourhood”, stop by and visit our show.
Liquid Light is one of the most remarkable inventions in photography. It is a silver-based sensitiser and is a liquid form of the same emulsion found on ordinary photographic paper. (1) Liquid Light allows you to print photographs on a large variety of surfaces, such as wood, metal, glass and even eggs. (2)
In 2007, the largest photograph in the world was created with Liquid Light. It took 6 artists and 400 volunteers 9 months to create the image, named “The Great Picture”. The negative was created in and took up most of an aircraft hangar in California and measures 3,375 square feet. It was created by converting the hangar into a pinhole camera, which was recognised by the Guinness Book of World Records as the World’s Largest Camera. A total of 80 quarts of Liquid Lights were used. (2) One characteristic of Liquid Light is that it develops very quickly.
Solarization is the “complete or partial reversal of tones in an exposed and partially developed photographic print when given a uniform second exposure before being fixed and further developed to completion”. (3)
Recently, I experimented with Liquid Light on watercolour paper and got the (brilliant?) idea to attempt solarizing an image printed with the emulsion. This turned out to be a difficult endeavour as Liquid Light develops much faster than photographic paper. After a few totally black prints, a few tones began to emerge after shortening the already short time of the second exposure. And finally, success! Take a look at the original digital photo, the print using Liquid Light and the Solarized Liquid Light print.
(3) An Introduction to Some Experimental Techniques, Elspeth Ross, 2012
The finest work of Tony Ray-Jones (1941- 1972) was a record of the English at leisure. He was fascinated by the eccentricities of English social customs and Tony Ray-Jones spent the second half of the Sixties travelling across England, photographing what he considered to be a disappearing way of life. The resulting images are humorous yet melancholy .
As its title indicates, this is a photograph of a beauty contest. All the elements are there: a contestant in bathing suit and high heeled shoes, a microphone with which the contestants introduce themselves, a compère to guide the proceedings, the judges, complete with notepads, a catwalk and a public.
Furthermore this is a beauty contest at the beach and the catwalk is actually built in the water. From the looks of it, this contestant has just introduced herself and is starting her strut down the runway.
The bathing suit and figure of the contestant clearly exemplify the styles of the Sixties. However, for a daytime beauty contest on a beach, all the participants are highly overdressed. The contestant is wearing high-heeled pumps and is coifed in the style of the era, though more adequate for big city life than for the seaside. The compère and the judges are wearing dark suits, again much too formal for the beach and probably quite uncomfortable in the sun.
This is one of two photographs with the same title seen in the exhibition “Only in England“ at the Science Museum in London, presenting photographs by Tony Ray-Jones and Martin Parr. The other image shows a group of bored contestants and oblivious contest officials backstage.
Bathing suit beauty contests were extremely popular in the Sixties, particularly in England. The oldest international beauty competition, Miss World, actually started in England in the late Fifties. Yet despite this popularity, the public at this contest show absolutely no interest in it. This struck a cord with me.
Having been a beauty contest fan since the Sixties, I started organizing beauty contests in the late Eighties. As a contest producer, your worst nightmare is organizing an event that fails to grab the attention of the public. Having such a disinterested public is downright horrific.
Another item in this photograph that hijacked my attention was the high heeled pumps of the contestant. In the Nineties, the use of high heeled shoes in swimsuit competitions became a matter of much discussion, as it was argued that high heels are incongruous together with bathing suits. This idea is very much supported by this photograph.
Finally, the word “Shallow” is visible on the stage floor. With its visibility is Tony Ray-Jones expressing an opinion on the proceedings?
This image is a unique record of a beauty contest that takes itself too seriously and a public that does not take it at all.
 Science Museum Exhibition Notes
Before re-inventing myself as a photographer, I was and still am a pageant coach. Working with both men and women, I have had the privilege of working with talented, dedicated and committed young people in their quest for international success in beauty and modelling competitions. Doing this work you get to know the authentic personalities of the ones you are coaching. Some are truly committed to something greater than themselves, while others pretend to be as they believe that it is expected of them.
I have been extremely fortunate in that the vast majority of my coachees have been genuine and caring human beings. Michael-Rae Formston, Mr. Wales for Mr. World 2014, is definitely the real deal. A caring young man, who works with problem youth and is committed to his craft as a personal trainer and to the general well-being and happiness of others, Michael-Rae fulfils all the requirements to be selected as “The World’s Most Desirable Man”.
Off course, as I am now a photographer as well, my work with Michael-Rae included an impromptu photo-session.
For our digital darkroom (digital manipulation) Unit, we were required to produce a series of eight related, digitally manipulated photographs. Using Adobe Photoshop CS6, I produced a series on the evolution of photographic portraiture. Starting with the very early image, through the Pictorialist movement, Solarization, the Mod Sixties, Warholian imagery, Polaroid photos and Iphoneography selfies, I ended up with an imagined photo of the future.
With special thanks to my model, fellow photographer, Rodrigo da Silva
One of our assignments for the Digital Darkroom unit (Post Production of Digital Images) was to recreate images of photographers of the Pictorialist movement. According to Wikipedia (the encyclopedia of the Digital Age):
“Pictorialism is the name given to an international style and aesthetic movement that dominated photography during the later 19th and early 20th centuries. There is no standard definition of the term, but in general it refers to a style in which the photographer has somehow manipulated what would otherwise be a straightforward photograph as a means of “creating” an image rather than simply recording it”.
My best result was with an image by Alvin Langdon Coburn, taken 110 years ago. What do you think, did I nail the assignment? (Mine is on the right, just in case you have doubts!)
With special thanks to my beautiful model Etty Devereaux!
For this assignment you have to produce a number of digital photographs on the theme of “Fears and Obsession”. You will need to plan your photo-shoot and consider the type of lighting most suitable for the style of your photos. All work need to be shot in the photographic studio. You will experiment with high-key and low-key lighting and use a reference white/mid gray card, in order to set your White Balance in ACR later. A strong concept and the right props, combined with the appropriate image manipulation techniques, could produce outstanding outcomes. For the final submission you need to choose two digital images and manipulate them in Adobe Photoshop.
For this assignment I opted to depict the actual bodily sensations one feels when experiencing fear or obsession, rather than represent a specific obsession or fear. The images were converted to black-and-white and then given an overall colour to emphasise the feeling depicted, fear being a rather cold emotion and obsession a warm one. With special thanks to my awesome photographic actress/colleague photographer Katerina.
Some time ago I published a picture of Dante, my youngest dog, who is a very willing model. Alfita, my oldest dog who passed away last friday, was a very reluctant one.
At a young age, she would turn her back whenever she saw a picture and walk away. As she grew older, and especially after Dante joined the family, she relented a little. After moving to London in 2011, she finally decided that it was OK to be photographed.
At the ripe age of 15 1/2 she left us to join her family in doggie heaven. We miss you “cosita linda”…….