Melissa Hooper

A blog dedicated to documenting my A2 Photography work

Finals 10 Photographs

These are my final images for my summer project ‘Red Riding Hood’. During this shoot I explored the different ways in which I could position the models to create my desired concept. I also experimented with different depths of field, lighting, composition and focal colours. 

Techniques and Methods

After studying Annie Leibovitz’s work I have combined my original ideas with techniques I have learnt from observing her photographs. 

Lighting: I normally shoot using natural light but instead for this photo shoot I aim to experiment with electronic flash and a range of different light sources since I will be shooting in low light conditions. Using imitation light my photographs will be clear and visable despite lacking natural light.

Location: A good background will really help to convey the concept of what I will be trying to achieve. I plan to shoot out in a heavily wooded forest which will help me to create a slightly haunting and creepy atmosphere.

Colours: Red will be my main focus for colour, the cape/ cloak being my centre point. Natural colours such as greens and browns will feature in the landscape so that my photographs will look realistic opposed to looking staged. 

Costumes and Make-up: Red Riding Hood will be wearing white tights and a black skirt and top, this is so that the cape/ cloak will be more vibrant against these plain colours. I will use white powder to give the model a much more pale complexion, this will help for when I focus around the eyes making them look brighter and also making the red cape/ cloak stand out more. I will experiment with red lipstick as well, I want the model to look innocent and young and I’m unsure whether red lipstick will tarnish this concept. As for the wolf I am not following the typical convention of ‘The Wolf’ known in Red Riding Hood, instead I want to add my own more modern approach to the Wolf. I will achieve this by using a plastic wolf mask to convey the idea of the wolf but dress the model in a waist coat and tie. I’m hoping this will help to give a slightly surreal feel to the Wolf and ergo the whole image. 

Critical Reference- Annie Leibovitz

Annie Leibovitz is an American fashion photographer who is famous for her portraitures of celebrities. Whilst studying her work I realised Leibovitz always has a strong concept that either relate to the celebrities, showing the models personality or using the celebrities as models for her own concepts. She has shot many celebrities with the concept of fairy tales and fantasy, I have studied this particular aspect of her work since it relates to my own. Each collection beautifully captures the stories in a classic way keeping to the original concept, using colours and famous props relating to each tale but as I looked through her work I noticed that despite keeping to the initial story she still captures it in her own individual way by putting a modern spin on them. Being a fashion photographer she uses clothing as a key point to convey each character, for my own shoot I will take this idea on board and use costumes as a way to present my characters of Red Riding Hood and the Wolf. Annie has photographed everything from Disney fairy tales to classic novels such as Alice in Wonderland. Lighting is a technique that has clearly been used to capture her photographs, I am used to working with natural light but for this project I am going to instead experiment with electronic flash and other sources of light. Leibovitz heavily edits a lot of her pictures to add to the ‘fantasy’ idea, although her original idea is still there. I plan to edit my pictures somewhat but would prefer to rely on mostly shooting in raw so that I can instead depend on the different technical techniques such as aperture, lighting and composition. 

Natalie Vodianova as Alice (in Wonderland)

This is one of my favourite photographs out of Annie Leibovitz’s collections since it is not noticeably edited which I believe gives a refreshing feel to the picture. The positions of each model helps to create atmosphere and sets the mood for the photograph also relating back to what point in the story the photograph is conveying.

Drew Barrymore as Belle (Beauty and the Beast)

The first thing that catches my eye in this photograph is not the lion head but instead the vivid colours within the image. The different shades of red and other majestic colours helps to create a suitable background for the concept. I also think the positions the models are in feel a lot more realistic opposed to some of the pictures which I believe look slightly forced. 

Keira Knightley as Dorothy (The Wizard of Oz)

Although I don’t believe the models look natural with the positions they are in I do like the background and costumes used to convey to concept. once again the bright colours helps to create the story and the lighting is used effectively to give the idea of it being real rather than a set.

Gisele Bundchen as Wendy (Peter Pan)

I am impressed by the lighting in this photograph since although we can clearly see the time in the photograph is night we are still able to see every part of the picture clearly. The wind blowing against the curtains and night gown is a nice touch to add to the realism but I believe it is defeated by the editing which, even though I understand is there to add to the fantasy feel, I still think it takes away the more realistic touch Annie could of achieved.

Introduction to Personal Investigation (Genre Specialism)

Conceptual Portraiture: What is it?

Conceptual photography captures a particular concept or idea that the photographer wishes to convey to the viewer, the photograph’s composition and other technical features are normally planned out before the shot has been taken. I have combined this with Portraiture meaning I will use people as props to convey my final concept. 

Concept: What I will be doing.

I want to create a series of photographs based on the tale of Red Riding Hood since I am interested about exploring how to turn fantasy and tales into images conveying the original concept whilst also adding an individual touch. Although I have studied portraiture and have also had an interest in conceptual photography I believe study the two as one genre will be interesting and different opposed to seeing them as separate genres.

Related Artist: Annie Leibovitz.

Annie Leibovitz has produced a series of photographs with the concept of Disney fairy tales. I will be researching her work and study the different methods and techniques she used to convey the concept and capture her photographs.


New Documentary Forms

Give one example of how the photographers explore & question the power of photography as a documentary medium from this exhibition?

I found Akram Zaatari’s work extremely compelling and emotive, the two photographs I have selected are beautifully captured whilst also conveying a strong sense of sadness. Behind these photographs lies a morbidly chilling tale of a women trapped in an endless depression by her own husband which eventually leads her to suicide. Her husband demanded Zaatari to destroy the photographs due to his possessive nature towards his wife, instead they came to a compromise that Zaatari would scratch the negatives he had taken of her. I believe this melancholy story has been captured within the photographs, the scratches documenting the frustration and pain she had been inflicted with by her husband. I had noticed that her eyes had not been scratched and are still clearly visible, I am unsure whether this was purposefully done by the photographer but by keeping the eyes unmarked we are able to see the sadness in them even with a faint smile upon her lips. Akram Zaatari has preserved the beauty and memory of this women and documented her struggle in a unique and interesting way.

Living Man Declared Dead and Other Chapters: Igorot

Living Man Declared Dead and Other Chapters: Reincarnation. 

This was one of my favourite chapters since it was displayed differently from the rest. Repeating the same sequence of photographs to convey the reincarnation of Ribal Btaddini’s grandfather Milhem Btaddini. 

London Exhibition- Tate Modern

Taryn Simon

What is the meaning behind her work? What is your opinion on it?

American photographer Taryn Simon presents A Living Man Declared Dead and Other Chapters, a collection of photographs from all over the world that took four years to complete. Simon took four years researching bloodlines and recording each individual families story, she documented the bloodline by taking a series of photographs of each family member using a plain background (and in some cases just using the background if the family member were unable or unwilling to participate) and with each person having the same blank expression. The plain colourless backgrounds and blank expressions were to symbolise the equality amongst each family and she was then able to build on the families story by using other related photographs. Each chapter shows a different story surrounding politics, sexuality, religious views and other conflicting circumstances. At first I was sceptical about the exhibition and not convinced that it would convey it’s true meaning and thought the photographs could of been captured in a different way but after visiting the gallery and viewing each chapter I am now made aware of the exhibition’s emotive qualities and believe that it does truly show how seemingly random events in our lifetime play a massive role in our family trees future when our lives are weaved amongst others to create a rich and interesting heritage. Showing how each face has its place. 


Final Stop-Motion Video

This is my completed stop-motion music video. The song I used is by The National- Exile Vilify, I used this song because it has a good lyrical structure that I was able to photograph. When I took picture sequences I used a tripod to keep the camera in place so that when it was in video form it would run smoothly. Light was an issue whilst shooting because I used natural light so I had to be careful what times I would shoot at due to light changing, by shooting at mid-day on days with clear skies I was able to keep the lighting consistent. I believe I was able to stick to my original plan well but made some slight changes so that the photographs would sync better with the music. I would of liked to have used a camera remote control for the shutter release, so that I wouldn’t of had to touch the camera since when I did the tripod would move slightly altering the camera’s positioning. The sky sequences took up to two hours with me taking pictures every minute, meaning I would of benefited using a timed shutter release control for that also. From this project I have learnt how to use movie editing software and capture stop motion sequences. If I was to revisit stop motion photography I would like to create a video using movement of people rather than typography. 

This is exactly the type of thing I want to achieve when doing my stop-motion video. It shows various creative ways of photographing the letters. It also reminded me that sometimes I will need to fill in pauses of the song where there are no lyrics. I like the idea of using clouds moving or the sky turning from day to night, so I will attempt to photograph these scenes to fill gaps. This video’s editing is done well and the lyrics sync perfectly which is something I aspire to when editing mine.