This will be the conclusion of this photo series that I have yet to name. The series consists of seven photos, this was originally going to be six, but I added a self-portrait as I think it is important to show the artists interpretation of his/her own self.
The seven portraits are: Friend, Linguist, Traveller, Musician, Memory, Emotion, and Photographer.
For each subject, I asked a series of questions relating to my topic, music. This gave me the ability to chose the best photo of them for this project and layer meaning that was relevant to them through editing.
To achieve this similar visual style, I used a shallow depth of field to focus the image on the face of my subjects while having a blurred background. I also have used light to highlight my subjects faces, this is also required to create the edited text-effect. For this, all but one of my images were shot indoors where I could control the amount of light on my subject. The one portrait that I shot outdoors was more of a struggle but the background directly related to the subject’s relationship to music. As my subjects were all still, I was not limited by shutter-speed so could get more light.
The questions I asked were as follows;
- Favourite song (and why)
- Favourite genre (and why)
- What music means to you
- Why do you enjoy listening to music
- Favourite artist
- Favourite lyric
- How did you get into music
These questions I hoped would give me variation between each subject and helped me construct a narrative behind each image.
Trial and error
I began this project by taking photos of items that ‘visualised’ music by showing its consequence, eg the chips on the drumsticks indicate they have created a lot of noise.
These photos ended up appearing more as product photography and I thought it was impossible to convey what I wanted using this style. I wanted to show music’s power and thought a better way to do this would be to use people and show music’s effect on them. That is when I decided to change my approach to this project, and focus on how and why people enjoyed or even depended on music.
I wanted to have a portrait with direct interpolation and a blank facial expression. This is a technique I learned in week three whilst doing portraits, it gives power to the viewer as the facial expression is another method of layering meaning onto a photo.
I had tested out using different facial expressions but quickly decided against it.
The straight-faced style seemed to give a more serious and thus genuine feel to the photo and conveyed a relationship to music that was more than simply enjoyment.
I shot these images with a focus on the highlights of the face. For the effect you work, a lot of light needs to be on the face of the subject to this was imperative. I shot with a wide aperture to give the most light in the image, using natural lighting from windows in each photo, and a 1/60 shutter speed. This is slow enough to give a decent amount of light without blurring the image. After taking the photos, I edited them first in Camera Raw CC to ensure I had a well-exposed shot so the effect of layering text into their skin worked as well as it could.
I took a number of alternative shots for every subject I photographed in order to have a number of options to choose from.
For each subject I created a brief based on their answers to my questions above.
“Name of the song“
Title of photograph
Description of the image.
“Fly Away With Me“
The Linguist learns a new language through music. The barrier of language is broken through music. Her favourite song is about overcoming fears, and this she has done through music.
The Traveller’s favourite song is one based on truth. His genre, Hip-Hop, is based on truth. Music to him means safety, it means a home where he has none. To him, music is a method to access memory and the/his past and a friend when he is alone.
“Pulaski At Night“
To The Musician, music is a place for family comfort and a method of interaction. She has played the piano and saxophone from an early age. Her Father has played all of his life. Music helps her interact and feel closer to those she loves.
Music to The Emotional is a universal tool. All people can enjoy one art form and all can express themselves and understand others expressions. An emotional release and an avenue to spend time focussing on herself is achieved through music.
The Memory uses music to remember better times, to remember summer and to remember home while she is away. She plays music to connect with others and to fill a silence. She is kind and uses music to connect with others and to connect with the past.
The Friend uses music socially. She is able to blend in with a crowd and communicate using music. Where she would be stranded, music offers her a bridge to communicate through.
The Photographer has played music, spread music on the radio and learned through music. He expresses himself through music and is influenced and educated by what he hears, not just what he sees. Music to him is a tool to inspire, a friend when he is alone and a necessity to maintain his drive/motivation.
This series shows how music affects people, how it defines them, how it assists them and mainly how it helps them. Music is a very personal entertainment, people can enjoy the same style of music or even the same song for totally different reasons. I have always been fascinated by music’s power to unite and to empower and being able to visualise this phenomenon in these subjects has been a challenging by rewarding experience.
Going on from this project, I want to focus on how people can enjoy music in alternative ways. This spawns from my original idea of how music can be ‘seen’ but with a focus on the people who are enjoying music, not the objects making the music as I began with.