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To summarise, my project involves a series of both street and staged photographs. I am trying to see whether staged photography can have the same level of liveness and spontaneity that street photography has.
My whole project up until this point, from my initial proposal, to my development log has been done with a high research approach. I have researched thoroughly into the topics of street and staged photography, mobile phone photography, and black and white photography. I have also gone further and analysed the work of some street photographers even deeper, and looked more into ways to make my photographs have a sense of liveness. Overall, doing this amount of research has enabled me to gain a good understanding into my project. I am now ready to implement my findings into my practical work and hopefully will be able to capture a range of photographs which show this.
Overall, I am going to capture all of my photos on a mobile phone and I will aim for all of my photographs to be black and white, have a high contrast appearance and have a slightly darker exposure, this will hopefully make them all look very cohesive as a collection of photographs.
The Definition of Street Photography
I would also like to mention two definitions of street photography – which are what I am going to be following throughout the capturing of my images. Quite simply, street photography is ‘a genre of photography that records everyday life in a public place’ (Britannica, n.d.). And to reiterate what my personal definition of street photography is, as mentioned in my proposal, ‘a photograph taken in the street of a singular moment in time (including a living thing)’. Overall, this is the guideline that I will be considering when taking both my street and staged photographs. I will most likely need to think about this definition more when capturing the staged photos compared to the candid photos. I will need to try and make the staged photos naturally seem like they are singular moments taken in the street, to really capture the feeling of liveness.
Britannica (n.d.) Street photography. Available online: https://www.britannica.com/art/street-photography [Accessed 06/05/22].
Safety and Potential Problems
I would like to address some possible problems that I may encounter when capturing both the street and staged photos. I feel like any potential problems will most likely happen when I am capturing the candid street photographs. I will essentially be taking photographs of strangers and people may react unpredictably to me taking their photo if I were to be caught as some people don’t like having their photo taken, or some may wonder what I am doing. As stated, I am taking all of my photographs on my mobile phone as it should be a subtle and unobtrusive tool – I think that if I use a mobile phone many people won’t even notice I am capturing them on a photo. If, in the event that someone were to approach me I would have to use my initiative dependant on the situation and in the event that they were unhappy with me taking their image, I would have to delete it. Hopefully though, this instance will not happen as I am confident enough that I can judge the situation well and I will only be capturing a photo if I myself feel comfortable with the subjects, and as stated, I will be going about it in a very subtle way. Also, as stated in my earlier blogpost, I will be blurring the faces of anyone who ends up in my photographs who haven’t consented to their photo being taken so I can always explain this to someone if they were to ask.
In terms of any problems that may arise with the staged photographs, my model is consenting to his photographs being taken, so that isn’t an issue and I won’t be blurring his face. Other members of the public may end up being captured in these staged photos, but that again fits into what I previously spoke about. We will just have to make sure everything is safe in terms of his equipment being out on the street, in terms of possible damage, or in the event of possible theft. To help prevent this from happening, we will make sure to take care handling the equipment and we will never be leaving anything unattended/won’t set up our scene anywhere where we feel at risk.
Overall, when capturing the street and staged photographs, I will be considering general health and safety. This includes having good awareness of my surroundings, as I just stated earlier for the staged photographs, but I will also need to consider this when taking the street photos as I will be alone when taking these images which can be quite a vulnerable position to be in. I will ensure I feel comfortable in the locations I am capturing the photos and will use my initiative.
Finally in terms of potential problems, I would like to mention a more personal problem that may arise. I personally already enjoy photography as a hobby, and I mainly like to shoot architectural street photography, where generally, I try to capture the least amount of people as possible in my work. I often get anxiety in social situations, particularly if there are lots of people, for example in busy streets. For this project, I will really be pushing myself due to it being centred on taking photos of people in the street. This is something that I really wanted to do though, to not only push myself out of my comfort zone to help me gain more confidence, but to also help to improve upon my skills as a photographer and branch out into other genres to help me become more creative. I will have to work on trying to not feel awkward or even embarrassed when taking peoples photos, which I often do. To combat any anxiety I may have, I will be taking photographs in locations that I know well and I will only take a photo if I feel comfortable in doing so, I will also be able to take breaks if needed.
I am also going to be putting some consideration into the weather conditions when capturing my photographs. This isn’t because I am concerned by the weather, but more about the different types of lighting the weather gives. I personally like to take photos when it is quite cloudy/overcast as I find that this produces the best type of lighting. Ideally, I am going to try and aim to capture the photographs (in particular the staged photos which I already have more control over) in this type of weather condition.
However, obviously, the weather is very unpredictable and I have to acknowledge that I may not necessarily be able to sit and wait around for my ‘ideal’ type of weather and lighting conditions to take the photos in, as I may miss out on some interesting photographs. I am more than likely just going to have to adapt to the situation on the planned photography days.
If it were to be raining, I won’t be doing the staged photos, due to not wanting to damage any of my models musical equipment, but I do feel that rainy candid street photographs can be really beautiful, so I will definitely attempt to still capture some candid photos on these days.
If it were to be really sunny, this can help add to the high contrast look that I am going for but also sometimes photographs taken in this type of lighting has the tendency to turn out really over-exposed, to rectify this I would either try and find somewhere a bit more shaded, not shoot in very bright, harsh midday sun (which can often cause unflattering shadows) or alternatively, edit the exposure more in post-production editing.
Overall, my project won’t really involve any costs at all. I already have the phone which I will be capturing the photos with, and I also already own the back-up camera in case of any problems with the phone. The photo editing app, Photoshop Express that I will be using is free and already on my phone. I will also be using the regular desktop Photoshop to blur the faces, this I already have on my laptop. The only costing will be the petrol costs and parking at some of the locations which I will be covering.
Due to the nature of my work mostly being very spontaneous, I won’t be able to make a really rigid and strict plan. Instead, I will be allocating potential photography days by looking at my schedule, and seeing when in the timescale I could possible go out and capture the photographs. On these days, I will also be considering the weather conditions as mentioned previously, although as stated, I don’t want this to be too much of an obstacle. I also need to consider that even if I do go out with the intention of capturing lots of photographs, on some days I may not necessarily see anything worthy of capturing, which is why I am going to try and allocate as many days and times as possible so that I can have as many opportunities as possible.
The staged photographs require slightly more planning as I am going to be considering not only my, but also my models schedule so these will require slightly more planning, and the planned days for these will need to be stuck to better.
Above shows my gantt chart that I have created so I have a timescale to go by
As seen on my Gantt chart above, my project is going to be split into two parts. Throughout April, I am aiming to do all of the photo capturing, and I am planning on editing the photos as I go along, as stated I can do this easily on my phone. The next stage which takes place in the first two weeks of May, is the final stage ready for the project deadline on the 17th May. During this time I will compile all of the final images and do any final touches which may include things like taking some more photos if I feel that I do not have enough. Hopefully, by sticking to this timescale as well as possible, I will be able to complete the project in a reasonable amount of time before the deadline.
Here is a calendar I created where I have highlighted possible photo capturing days for April 2022
Finally, I created a calendar of April 2022 where I have highlighted possible days where I will be free to go out and capture photos. As seen on my calendar, the possible days for the street photography are highlighted in black, and the staged photos are highlighted in red. The red days are the days I have checked my model is free. Some of the days are split into morning and afternoon too, depending on my plans. Also, on the allocated staged photography days, I may be able to capture some candid street photography too, hence why some of the days are both colours. Overall, I may not end up going out photographing on all of the highlighted days, or I may end up adding in additional days and times when I find I have spare time, but this is just a vague guideline I will try to go by.
My initial ideas for my digital story
One of my first tasks when starting this project was to start developing ideas for what I could do for my digital story. Here, I started off by writing down some potential ideas for my digital story including the genre, story structure, audience, medium examples and some theme ideas.
My initial mind map showing my further development of the woodland idea
I then set about developing these ideas further and I decided to create a mind map exploring the woodland setting idea, as I felt this had lots of potential story and character ideas and would suit my chosen slice of life genre and the audience.
Once the woodland ideas began forming, I decided to create a Pinterest moodboard as I personally like a visual method to gain inspiration for projects, I find that it really helps me to expand upon my initial ideas.
Here is my Pinterest moodboard containing visual inspiration for my piece
From looking at the Pinterest board, it should hopefully show some ideas of how I will be aiming for the overall aesthetic of my piece to be. I was able to find lots of photos that I find inspiring for potential environment and world designs, character designs and colour scheme ideas.
Inspiration For My Piece
As seen in my mind map, I already had some inspiration in mind for my piece. During the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns, I began watching a genre of anime called ‘Slice of Life’ which basically shows a characters everyday life, often where they are taking part in fairly mundane tasks such as going to school, to the shops and making food. ‘Watching something close to real life might sound somewhat uninteresting for others, but with good storytelling and a diverse set of characters, these titles can easily affect someone on an emotional level. As such, many fans turn to slice of life if they need something comforting and heartwarming’ (Añonuevo, 2022). I too have found watching slice of life anime a form of escapism during the pandemic so I too would like to incorporate aspects of the genre into my story.
A screenshot from the Anime, Hakumei and Mikochi
The slice of life genre can often cross over into other genres such as fantasy which I would also like to incorporate some elements from within my story. An example of one of these would be the anime and manga ‘Hakumei and Mikochi’ that I have watched and read. It centres around two main characters, Hakumei and Mikochi who live ‘in a [magical woodland] world inhabited by people only a few inches tall’ (MyAnimeList, n.d.) and the daily adventures they go on. I really like the concept of this and I am aiming for something similar in my piece.
A screenshot from the Studio Ghibli film, Kiki’s Delivery Service
Studio Ghibli films are also a good example of anime which incorporate fantasy elements but are still done in a fairly relaxed way. Some good examples would be ‘Kiki’s Delivery Service’ and ‘My Neighbour Totoro’ which are two films I really love and find very inspiring. I also find the art style of Studio Ghibli films very inspiring. Studio Ghibli is well-known for having beautiful background art, as seen in the example above, and I too would like to have a big emphasis on this in my piece.
Some slice-of-life moments from the Moomins TV show
Another big inspiration for me would be the Moomins animated TV show. I watched it as a child growing up in the 90’s and I recently decided to rewatch all of the episodes. I find that the art style is really inspiring, I particularly love the character and background designs and the use of colour. The overall vibe of the Moomins is quite relaxed which I really like too, adding to the slice-of-life feeling which I would like. I also like the outdoorsy, woodland setting of the Moomins which is another reason for why I have also chosen the woodland theme.
Here is a photo showing an example of some pages within the Hakumei and Mikochi manga
As stated previously, I have also read the Hakumei and Mikochi manga. I mainly decided to read it because I was so inspired by the beautiful art style used within the anime and I wanted to look at the original illustrations closer as illustration is something which I really enjoy. As seen above, the art style on each panel is very intricate which is something I am really drawn to.
A photo showing some pages in the Moomin comic book ‘Moomin’s Desert Island’
Like the Moomins TV show, another big inspiration for me would be the Moomins books and comic strips created by Tove Jansson. I am a big fan of Jansson’s illustration style, as seen above in the double page spread from the comic ‘Moomin’s Desert Island’ I love how despite the comic strip being in black and white, Jansson has utilised textures and shading in each panel to ensure a good level of contrast. Despite the fact that I am wanting to create my piece in colour, I do find the concept of utilising lots of different textures very appealing.
Deciding Upon A Medium
I did have some potential medium ideas at the start of the project, but I decided to not jump straight into choosing a medium at first as I felt that a better starting point would be to think of the initial story ideas and gain some inspiration first. After doing this, I came to the realisation that I wanted to create a digital comic. I wanted to use this as an opportunity to improve upon my illustration skills and to create more illustration work for my portfolio.
Some screenshots of the digital comics, Moomins and Yuru Camp viewed on my phone
There are lots of websites available that allow you to view digital comics and manga, both at a price and for free. They can also be viewed on a desktop and on a mobile phone, which is probably the more popular method as many people like to read them on the go. The user is able to scroll through the pages continuously which is something I will have to consider. There are more traditional style digital comics as seen in the two screenshots shown above, which are basically physical comics which have been digitised. There is also the webcomic style which have been made solely for viewing on digital platforms. These often have less panels than the more traditional style comics and tend to make better use of space.
Some initial sketches of my main characters
Next, I started to develop some character designs. I already had the idea for a mushroom themed character who would be the main character in the story and her best friend who would be moss themed. I started out by sketching some ideas down as seen above. I wanted to incorporate the mushroom/moss elements into each individual character and played around with ways of doing this, mostly through the characters hair. I also tried out various clothing styles.
My final character designs of Mushi and Elf Cap
I then took my initial designs and developed them further to create the final designs for the two main characters which are named Mushi and Elf Cap. Mushi is inspired by the iconic red and white spotted mushroom variety, ‘Amanita Muscaria’ and Elf Cap is inspired by the moss variety, ‘Elf Cap Moss’.
I spent some time creating the colour schemes for the characters, I wanted them to both have a natural, earthy colour palette but I also wanted to ensure that they had their own unique pop of colour to help them stand out such as the use of red on Mushi and the use of green on Elf Cap. I also wanted the pop of colour to look striking when the characters are together, hence the choice of red and green which are complimentary colours in the colour wheel.
I also started designing some potential background/secondary characters who live in Mushi and Elf Cap’s world. Here, I have designed a potential friend for them – named Snowdrop who is inspired by the Snowdrop flower. I knew when designing her that I wanted Mushi and Elf Cap to come to her rescue somehow, so I gave her the shy personality trait.
The other characters I have designed are possible insects and creatures that may be encountered in a woodland. If using any of these characters, I will have to think about the scale of their size in relation to the background art and also to the main characters who I have stated are 4-5 inches tall.
Here are some photographs that I took in the woods to help me with the environmental designs
Again, as Mushi and Elf Cap are very small in height and live on the woodland floor, their world will seem really big to them but in reality, only covers one small area of a woodland. I decided that it would be a good idea to go out for a walk in the woods and take some photographs to help me when designing the environment. I tried to take the photos from a height similar to Mushi and Elf Cap’s small stature – to gain a better understanding of how the world would look through their eyes.
A sketch of one of my background ideas
I then used my photographs as inspiration and started to draw some potential background art, focusing on the scale of things such as the trees and grass. I sketched out the line drawing to help get the scale of everything to how I wanted it.
A coloured version of the potential background art
Finally, I created a coloured version, using Procreate. I wanted my comic to have a very natural, hand-drawn, paper sort of appearance, almost like something from an illustrated children’s book. I experimented with the various brushes and textures until I created this style which I felt suits the desired look and complimented my existing character designs. I also took some inspiration from the inspiring art styles that I have previously mentioned liking mainly the Hakumei and Mikochi anime, Studio Ghibli films and Moomins TV show.
Map of The World
A map showing the world where my digital comic will be set
I then decided to draw out a map of their world to help me start visualising the location more, and to help think about potential storylines. Again, due to the small scale of my characters I also reflected this in the map design. The trees appear really big, the buildings are made out of cardboard boxes and what to them is a lake is just a puddle in reality. I may also include a more detailed map illustration similar to this somewhere around the beginning of my comic to help set the scene for the reader. This is something that Tove Jansson illustrated for in the Moomins books, and I find it helps the reader to understand the location better, and again, is something that has inspired me.
My colour scheme which I hope to follow
Here, I created a colour palette which I will be following in my final digital comic. As I had already designed the characters and their individual colour palettes, I needed to incorporate more colours to be used in the backgrounds and other characters. I selected the colour palette myself, using colours that I felt would work well together. I stuck to a very natural and earthy palette which I felt would work perfectly in the woodland setting.
I have decided to not limit the audience for my digital story, so I won’t be aiming it at a specific demographic as I genuinely feel that slice of life stories and anime have such a wide audience, particularly as they don’t tend to have any gore or violence so therefore can be enjoyed from a young age. This will be reflected in all aspects of my digital comic from the illustrations to the dialogue.
After looking at some existing digital comics earlier on in the project when deciding on the medium, I decided that I too would like to design my digital comic to be best viewed on a smartphone and therefore will be making it scrollable. I plan on illustrating each panel on the iPad app, Procreate and I will then be importing these illustrations and arranging them onto Adobe XD. I feel that XD would be the ideal app for creating this as I find it quite straightforward to use and it has good options for creating scrollable prototypes that fit with specific phone dimensions.
Here I have created a video of a very basic panel style layout I have designed
I created a very basic prototype on XD to have a practise with the scrollable feature as seen above, I was also able to experiment with possible layout ideas. Digital comics aren’t always strictly uniform/grid like with their layouts, they instead will often have varying numbers of panels on each row depending on the importance of the panel, but at the same time will fit into an overall frame on the page. Overall after viewing this prototype on my phone, I felt that some of the panels may be slightly too small, especially as I wanted some of my illustrations to be quite detailed, I feel like the details may go unnoticed if the panels were smaller.
Here I have created a video showing a digital comic style layout I have designed
I then decided to try out more of a webcomic style layout which as well as being scrollable, the ‘panels are arranged in a mostly vertical order, with more space in between them, to accommodate for the smaller display size.’ (ArtRocket, n.d.). Webcomics often have large, detailed illustrations and areas with more space which may include small illustrations or areas of speech. I definitely prefer this method as I feel that the reader will be able to see my illustrations better, and it will hopefully make the dialogue clearer and less cluttered. It also seems a more creative and less restricted layout compared to the other style, I like how I will be able to illustrate bigger, detailed panels but that I can also have some which aren’t completely filled with illustrations and instead utilise white space.
Text and Typography
Here is a practice of possible font sizes using XD
Next, I decided to try out some different font sizes to see what would be best suited for my digital story. Having already looked at some existing digital comics and manga, I realised that all of them were in clear, easy to read sans serif fonts and always seemed to use capital letters. I have chosen a font which I feel will be suitable called ‘League Gothic’ and as seen above, I tried out various font sizes. After viewing them on my phone I felt that size 10 was too small and quite hard to read, so I will most likely go for size 11 or 12 in my final digital comic.
Here I have began to outline my storyline
I then began thinking about my basic storyline. In one of our lectures, I learnt about the various storytelling tropes/structures and from that I decided I would like to aim for a ‘mountain’ storytelling style as I felt this would best suit the digital comic format.
For the story idea, I took into consideration my characters personality and hobbies from the character designs that I created, and I also looked at the map of the location to help me visualise potential storylines and what could possibly happen in their world.
Here I have created a timeline of my story
I decided to create a story timeline to help me to visualise the sections better. My story has been split into three classic sections: beginning, middle and end. The beginning of my story is the part in which I want the characters and location to be established, hence why it begins by focusing on the two main characters, Mushi and Elf Cap and the two main locations, their house and the village.
The middle part is where the problems arise, or looking back to the storytelling tropes, it would be the peak of the mountain. In my story, the problematic part starts when they realise that they don’t have enough money for the bus fare home. They begin the longer journey of having to walk back home instead, with their heavy shopping bags. The peak of the middle problem section is where they encounter the giant pile of litter and realise their friend, Snowdrop is stuck.
Next, the ending section starts which is where all of the problems are resolved. In this part, Mushi and Elf Cap will help to free Snowdrop from the rubbish, they will all then get back to Mushi and Elf Cap’s house where they all enjoy some tea and cake after their stressful day. Finally, the story will end with Elf Cap watching the human litter pickers sorting out the litter.
I then decided to take my storyline overview and create a storyboard to help me visualise the story better and outline the settings/scenes ready for creating the final digital comic. Although the storyboard is done in a basic illustration style, and not how the final art style will be, it has helped me to think more about possible illustrations in the final panels.
When it comes to writing comics, ‘the two most notable ways to write a comic book are the “Full Script Method” and the “Marvel Method” (Cronin, 2018). The Full Script Method is where the ‘writer will write out a comic book script […] describing each panel for the artist to then draw’ (Cronin, 2018). The Marvel Method is where ‘the artist would […] layout the pages for the story based on the plot and then the writer would add dialogue to the finished pages’ (Cronin, 2018). I am going to use the Marvel Method for my project, this is mainly because there is only myself working on this project and I personally find it easier to work this way in terms of the dialogue. I have a general idea of what the characters may say to each other, but I personally much prefer doing the visual side of things first.
Here is my gantt chart showing what tasks need doing and when
I have also decided to create a Gantt chart to help me outline what tasks need to be done and a timescale of when I should aim to complete them by. By working to this timescale, it should ensure that I get this project done on time.
Añonuevo, M (2022) Anime’s most feel-good genre, slice of life, explained. Available online: https://www.cbr.com/slice-of-life-anime-genre-meaning-explained/ [Accessed 13/02/22].
MyAnimeList (n.d.) Hakumei to Mikochi. Available online: https://myanimelist.net/anime/36094/Hakumei_to_Mikochi [Accessed 13/02/22].
GoodSleepzzZ (2018) Hakomei to Mikochi’s tiny’s night. Available online: https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=1446692665 [Accessed 13/02/22].
Rose, S (2016) Kiki’s Delivery Service review – lovable Studio Ghibli coming-of-age story. Available online: https://www.theguardian.com/film/2016/may/26/kikis-delivery-service-review-lovable-studio-ghibli-coming-of-age-story [Accessed 17/03/22].
Keatulie (2019) ten minutes of slice-of-life moomin moments [Video]. Available online: youtube.com/watch?v=xaCyG4siUeI&t=18s [Accessed 17/03/22].
Kashiki, T (2014) Cafe and Raisin Bread. Hakumei & Mikochi 2 Tiny Little Life in the Woods, 156-157.
Jansson, T (2006) Moomin’s Desert Island. Moomin volume one, 88-89.
Readmanganato (n.d.) Yurucamp vol.1 chapter 1: mt fuji and cup ramen. Available online: https://readmanganato.com/manga-xd975260/chapter-1 [Acessed 13/02/22].
Read Comic Online (n.d.) Moomin the complete tove jansson comic strip. Available online: https://readcomiconline.li/Comic/Moomin-The-Complete-Tove-Jansson-Comic-Strip/TPB-1?id=190795 [Accessed 13/02/22].
Farah, T (2021) The other magic mushroom: why a canadian startup is suddenly interested in the fungus from super mario [Photograph]. Available online: https://www.discovermagazine.com/health/the-other-magic-mushroom-why-a-canadian-startup-is-suddenly-interested-in [Accessed 16/02/22].
Taylor, M (n.d.) Scarlet elf cup [Photograph]. Available online: https://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/trees-woods-and-wildlife/fungi-and-lichens/scarlet-elf-cup/ [Accessed 16/02/22].
Art Rocket (n.d.) Tips for creating vertical scrolling webtoons. Available online: https://www.clipstudio.net/how-to-draw/archives/157055 [Accessed 16/03/22].
Cronin, B (2018) How Stan Lee became synonymous with the ‘Marvel Method’. Available online: https://www.cbr.com/marvel-comics-stan-lee-marvel-method/ [Accessed 18/02/22].
My final project is going to consist of a portfolio of photographs taken in the street, some will be completely spontaneous and some will be staged, they will all be displayed alongside each other so the viewer won’t necessarily be able to tell them apart.
The spontaneous photos won’t require too much planning, as the name suggests they need to be taken very candidly. They will involve me spending time in some of the locations that I have previously outlined, and looking out for interesting street scenes with my phone at hand ready to capture them. The staged photographs will require more planning than the spontaneous photos. A big part of the staged aspect of my project will be attempting to make the photographs look convincingly spontaneous.
To help me with making the staged photos appear spontaneous, I decided to read the book ‘Liveness’ by Philip Auslander. Despite the fact that the book is mostly focused on performance in theatre and TV/film, I felt that I would be able to apply some advice from the book into my own project, because essentially, my model will be ‘performing’ for my photographs.
One such instance would be where Auslander talks about ‘the pleasure of live performance as deriving from interaction with others’ (Auslander, 2008:76). For this, I may try to do some photos where my model is playing music but looking straight into the camera, almost as if he is giving eye contact to the viewer which will hopefully help to create a ‘bond with the performer’ (Auslander, 2008:76) and therefore make the image seem live.
Another example I thought was quite helpful for my work is where Auslander discusses how in television, ‘events from outside are transmitted into the viewers home’ (Auslander, 2008:16) and how ‘the position of the television viewer relative to the image on the screen was often compared with that of a boxing fan sitting ringside or theatre-goer with the best seat in the house’ (Auslander, 2008:16). This can link to my photography work, in that I will need to consider the angles and directions that I take my photos in, to capture the best possible view of the scene to help make the viewer feel as if they are part of it, and again, add to the liveness. I am going to try and ensure they are all taken at a height that a regular person would be viewing the scene. For this, I will just take them at regular street-level, stood up and holding the camera in front of my face. I would like my photographs to have a sense of liveness to the viewer, almost as if they are really seeing the scenes through my eyes at the time it was captured – that they are in the audience watching a performance by the busker, or walking past him in the street.
Staged Photo Ideas
Overall, my staged photos are still going to be taken in the street and not a studio, this is so that the staged photographs still look very cohesive alongside the candid street photographs. The staged photographs will all be focusing on a busker, modelled by my partner who is a musician. Here, I have started thinking about some potential photographs that I could capture, thinking about the photographs I have researched in my proposal, by considering the potential locations and by thinking about my findings from the ‘Liveness’ book.
As stated, my staged photographs will be focusing on a busker so I will definitely be taking multiple photos of him performing, and for some of these I will definitely take inspiration from my findings from the Liveness book and include some photos where he is looking directly into the camera to give a sense of interaction and liveness.
However, I do not want all of the staged photographs to just be of him performing – I wanted to have a look into doing some photographs depicting the moments of his life both before and after the performance. These may include:
I will be capturing some more staged photos in addition to the ones mentioned above, many I am going to figure out on the day of shooting as new ideas will most likely come about when I am on location and already directing the model.
The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life
In addition to my findings and thoughts about making my photographs seem spontaneous and having a sense of liveness, I would like to acknowledge the work of Sociologist, Erving Goffman. Goffman has explored the ways in which we all act differently in social situations, depending on the situation and setting. He compares how we present ourselves within social situations to actors in theatrical performances. In particular, Goffman uses the theatrical terms ‘front’ and ‘backstage.’ ‘Front stage refers to actions that are observed by others, […] an example of a front stage would be the difference between how one would behave in a business meeting versus how one behaves at home with family. When Goffman refers to backstage means is how people act when they are relaxed or unobserved.’ (Crossman, 2019).
In terms of the front stage, Goffman explains how the setting in which an individual is in plays a big part to this ‘performance.’
First, there is the ‘setting’, involving furniture, decor, physical lay-out, and other background items which supply the scenery and stage props for the spate of human action played out before, within, or upon it. A setting tends to stay put, geographically speaking, so that those who would use a particular setting as part of their performance cannot begin their act until they have brought themselves to the appropriate place and must terminate their performance when they leave it. (Goffman, 1956:13)
I found this idea to be interesting for my work, as essentially, when my model is in his ‘setting’ (on the street ready for busking) surrounded by his ‘props’ (such as his guitar and microphone), if I went by this theory, my model will basically already be presenting himself differently in this situation, regardless of any direction by myself.
Overall, I found Goffman’s concept to be very intriguing. In a sense, there will never be a way to capture a true ‘liveness’ of anyone, even within candid photography because we are all always somehow putting on a performance or act depending on the situation, even if we are simply just walking down the street.
Auslander, P (2008) Liveness performance in a mediated culture. Abingdon: Routledge
Crossman, A (2019) The Meaning and Purpose of the Dramaturgical Perspective. Available online: https://www.thoughtco.com/dramaturgical-perspective-definition-3026261 [Accessed 31/03/22].
Goffman, E (1956) The presentation of self in everyday life. Monograph. University of Edinburgh. Available online: https://monoskop.org/images/1/19/Goffman_Erving_The_Presentation_of_Self_in_Everyday_Life.pdf [Accessed 31/03/22].
For the potential location ideas for my photographs, I will be focusing on places where I will be able to travel to easily and reasonably quickly. I am also going to focus on places which I have already spent a lot of time exploring so I will therefore know my way around and know the areas/streets with the best potential locations for my photographs. Overall, the three main places I will be taking my photographs will be Hull, Beverley and York. As I am based in South Cave in East Yorkshire, all of these places are within easy travelling distance to me. Hull and Beverley are both about a 20 minute drive away, and York is the furthest at 1 hour which I still feel is very reasonable and I frequently like to travel there for leisure anyway so this won’t be an issue. I also may end up going on some spontaneous days out/trips elsewhere but I always carry my phone around so will easily be able to capture any interesting sights.
Here, I am going to highlight some potential streets and areas that I could take photos in, both what I feel will be suitable for both spontaneous and staged photos. They are all places I have visited previously, so I have selected them as I think they will have interesting back drops/are busy streets with potentially lots of interesting people to photograph. Here, I will also explain my reasoning for choosing each location more in depth.
Overall, I feel that Hull city centre has some great backdrops due to the wide variety of architecture (both new and old) which should result in a variety of photographs. There are multiple areas of Hull city centre that I would like to focus on:
The Fruit market area is a very vibrant and creative part of Hull. Humber Street is the main street within the area which has been recently re-developed, many of the buildings are former warehouses from when the area was a fruit market due to the nearby dock but it now houses independent restaurants and shops but most have retained their warehouse style appearance giving way to some unique architecture. The marina is also here which is always full of boats, and there’s also the nearby Murdoch Connection pedestrian bridge which links the fruit market area to the old town.
Queen Victoria Square:
Queen Victoria Square is a very central and busy part of Hull, where multiple streets meet. Many architecturally interesting buildings surround the square such as the City Hall, maritime museum, Feren’s art gallery and Princes Quay shopping centre. There is lots of seating areas, some fountains and a large statue of Queen Victoria atop a pedestal with stairs and benches surrounding it. Near to Queen Victoria Square, there is also Paragon Arcade, a Victorian shopping arcade which has beautiful architecture and often has people sat outside the cafes and walking down the archways.
Central Outdoor Shopping Streets:
The central outdoor shopping streets of Hull may also be good options for photographs. They mainly consist of King Edward Street and Jameson Street, which are both busy thoroughfares with lots of shops, cafes and businesses. There is also a large mural of three ships where the two streets meet which may provide a good backdrop for example for a wide angle photo.
Hull Old Town:
Finally I will explore the streets around Hull’s Old Town. There is some historic architecture around this area, such as Hull Minster and High Street. The High Street has even been a filming location recently for the film Enola Holmes 2, which is set in Victorian London. This shows how interesting the buildings here are, and how they will hopefully prove to be good locations for some of my photos. The Old Town is a quieter area of Hull, but still has lots of shops, cafes, pubs and museums so I may be able to capture something interesting here.
Although Beverley is only a small town, it has some interesting parts and beautiful architecture which would be great photo settings. I’ve highlighted the main areas spanning from the North Bar to the Minster in the South. The street that links these two is the high street which is always quite thriving so there should be lots of photo opportunities here. There are also some interesting things along the street such as a bandstand.
I find that York is always quite a busy city, so I will hopefully be able to find some interesting photo opportunities. I also really love old and interesting architecture which York is full of due to it being a medieval city so I will have lots of great potential backdrops for my photos. I’ve also spent lots of time exploring York over the years and know my way around it really well. Overall, I have highlighted many of the streets in central York, the majority being within the City Walls.
All location screenshots taken from Google Maps
Google (2022) Google Maps. Available online: https://www.google.com/maps [Accessed 06/03/22].
Here, I am going to outline how I will be editing my photographs using my mobile phone. I will be mostly taking inspiration from the overall look of the photos taken by the photographers I previously researched in my proposal, and from those that I analysed further in my ‘Analysing Photographers Work‘ blogpost.
When it comes to editing photos, every photograph is unique and will be taken in different lighting conditions and some require more adjustments than others, but by practising these techniques I am hoping it will help to clarify how I wish my final photos to appear and to get used to using the settings within the editing app.
I have decided that I will be using the mobile app ‘Photoshop Express’ which is Adobe’s free, simplified mobile version of photoshop. I find it straightforward enough to use and it has plenty of settings which can be adjusted such as exposure, contrast, saturation, highlights and shadows.
Fig 1: Decreasing the saturation completely to eliminate all colours and make it black and white
Fig 2: Increasing the exposure as I felt it was slightly too dark in parts
Fig 3: Increasing the contrast until I felt it looked appealing – in this case I increased it all the way
Fig 4: Adding in some black tones to make the details on the buildings stand out
Photo 1 before and after editing
Fig 5: Decreasing the saturation completely to eliminate all colours and make it black and white
Fig 6: Decreasing the exposure as I felt it was too over exposed in parts
Fig 7: Increasing the contrast – I didn’t do this one all the way but still made it quite high
Fig 8: Adding some brightness to the shadows – I felt some parts needed highlighting better
Photo 2 before and after editing
Fig 9: Decreasing the saturation completely to eliminate all colours and make it black and white
Fig 10: Decreasing the exposure as it seemed too bright
Fig 11: Increasing the contrast – again, I didn’t do this one all the way but it was increased
Fig 12: Adding in some black tones
Photo 3 before and after editing
Overall, the editing of each photograph only took me a few minutes to do as the process is so straightforward. As stated earlier, each photo is unique so therefore has very different requirements when adjusting the settings, as seen from editing these images. Some photos needed their exposure increasing, some decreasing and some, like photo 1, were able to have their contrast increased all the way and still look good, whereas if I did this on some it wouldn’t look good at all.
Due to the fact that there isn’t a set way in which I will be editing my photos and so I will be unable to follow a constrained process of editing, I will instead just focus on the overall final look I would like my photos to have which is black and white, high contrast and darker appearance. I will have to judge each photos editing needs individually when it comes to the final editing.
Blurring of Faces
I would also like to clarify here that in my final portfolio, I will be blurring the faces of anyone who ends up in my photographs who haven’t consented to their photo being taken – this will most likely be in the spontaneous street photos but it is also very likely that some people may end up in the background of my staged photographs as these will still be captured in the street.
For this step, I will be using Photoshop to create the blur effect after I have edited it on my phone and before uploading it to the portfolio. To do this, I will upload the photograph, zoom in on the face(s), draw a circle around the persons face using the Circle Marquee Tool, then I will apply the Gaussian Blur filter. I will then be able to alter the intensity of the blur, so will do it just enough so that the persons identity can’t be seen. Finally, the photo can be exported. Overall, this process is very important but it still shouldn’t take me that long to do. I have practised doing on a couple of photos already, and it was very simple to do.