For my practical response I am going to explore the theme of youth, particularly the identity of young people and how this is can be presented abstractly. Being young is a mutual experience shared by everyone and so I want to create a body of work that resonates with people but presented using a less traditional, obvious method.
'we are family'
'We Are Family' is an exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery showcasing work that explores the variations between families across the UK. The series was taken by British photographer Sian Davey who provides a thoughtful insight into the dynamics of one of the most integral structures within society. The portraits document family meal times specifically, capturing people unposed and relaxed in a setting familiar to them. I liked Davey's use of natural light to frame aspects of her photos and so will try and apply this when producing my response to my brief. The people featured in the images also appear unaware or uninterested in the camera's presence producing a pure and genuine reflection of family life. When responding to my brief I wish to present an honest depiction of teenagers and so will encourage people to be uninhibited by the camera.
Salinger's series 'In My Room' takes an insightful look inside the bedrooms of teenagers in the 90s. Her aim when capturing the images was to challenge stereotypes presented in the media at the time that reduced young people down to categories. Salinger saw the importance of the transitional period of adolescence and wanted to prove that young people had their own individual identities. When taking the pictures Salinger would spend about six hours with each person, two of these hours was spent interviewing them, collecting their stories. Reading the interviews alongside the photo of each teen makes the series far more personal, the judgment you make when looking at one of the photos is often forgotten by the time you've read their words. This was an important aim for Salinger, she wanted to prove that teenagers are more than the stereotype you may attribute to them. In an interview with i-D she says "These are people. The way teenagers are reduced to a one-liner is such an error in the way we look at things".
Salinger's series is striking. This is partially due to the intensely decorated bedrooms of the teens captured in the images, posters adorn wall and ceiling and bright paint covers every other visible surface. You are forced to stare curiously at each image, panning slowly so as not to miss anything. For my first response to my brief I want my images to captivate viewers in the way Salinger's work does. To do this I will frame my photos in a similar way with the room being central focus but having the young person present, interacting with their environment in some way so as to appear natural and unposed.
The first response to my brief looks at young people in an environment familiar and personal to them, their room. How a person chooses to design their room is an immediate form of self-expression, giving those that see it an insight into the personality of the owner. My series looks at the identities of young people by documenting their rooms and how this varies between people.
Alice, 17 and Emma, 15
I think I was able to successfully capture the rooms of the young people, giving viewers a clear picture of who the person it belongs to might be. However, I don't think that having people sat in their rooms necessarily contributes anything to the picture other than putting a face to the place. It may have been more effective to have just photographed the rooms and left the young people anonymous, forcing viewers to think more imaginatively about who lives there. Some of the images also look very posed which defeats my aim of replicating the natural, comfortable atmosphere in Sian Davey's work. To combat this I could have taken the photos in a more informal setting as people may have felt more at ease.
The second response to my brief looks at objects people feel represent them or that they value. This had a similar aim to my first response, to explore the identities of young people and how they present them. Although I wanted it to be clear what the objects were I also wanted to photograph them in a way that makes them slightly ambiguous at first by playing with angles and light.
I think I was successful in photographing the objects abstractly and I was able to increase their ambiguity by putting them in black and white and increasing the contrast. However, I think that the images are uninteresting individually and would be more effective if paired with other images such as the pictures of people's rooms. I could do this on photoshop or by hand using a collage method.
For this development I combined the photos I took of young people in their rooms and the objects they selected that represented them to form three collages. The aim was to create a single image that encompassed key features of a person's identity. I chose to do this by hand as opposed to on photoshop as I felt it gave me more freedom and flexibility in arranging the different components.
I think I was successful in creating the collages. I incorporated the separate images in a complimentary way and presented the identity of each person. If I was to develop this further I would plan each composition more in advance. I would think more in depth about the scale I want for each image, the complimentary shapes and colours and how I can communicate the identity of each person visually. I would also incorporate relevant images and quotes from magazines and newspapers to create a more general presentation of youth culture.
For the second development I took portraits of my grandad and projected them into rooms and onto objects in his house. This is an alternate method to collaging but with a similar aim- to contain elements of a person's identity in one photo. I chose to put the portraits in black and white as it emphasised his features as well as making the images more visible when projected.
I used our trip to Berlin as an opportunity to photograph young people in the city hoping to draw comparisons and similarities between them and youth in other countries. This response examines the way people choose to present themselves through clothing and how they interact with others and the environment.
I was successful in photographing people naturally, unaware of the camera and so uninhibited. However, this response is very literal and so does not link to my brief which is to explore young people and their identity abstractly. To improve this so it adheres more to my brief I could use a less rigid photographic approach such as zooming into peoples faces or producing a double exposure, layering pictures of different individuals on top of each other. I should also include images of young people from different countries so people are able to see any comparisons or similarities.