At the beginning of this unit I was against doing any form of still life, as it never suited my tastes, that was until the first workshop we had, creating vanitas still life photos in the studio, and not only did I enjoy working in the studio, but I liked the outcome of the painterly looking photographs. As I enjoyed this so much I chose to research into vanitas further, and it became a strong influence to my work. It was from looking at the skulls in this that sent me in the direction of my next research, Day of the Dead, something that I have always been interested in. I then knew the direction of my project, but wasn’t sure on what I wanted my outcome to be. So I started off by sticking to a still life theme. These two research themes, made the bulk of my project, at points I found vanitas slightly tedious and repetitive.

It was through test shoots that I found a cross over between the morbidity of vanitas and celebration of the Day of the Dead. I struggled with the research this unit, as I wasn’t sure on who or what to look at (minus the two main themes). The majority of my research is on other artists who use different media, not just photographers, this definitely influenced my final pieces, as I wanted to combine two medias, especially because of the rivalry between painters and photographers.

My original concept for here to there was, from life to death, shown through the use of the skull and flowers, however it developed further into a comparison between the British culture and Mexican culture and how we/they cope with death, one is shunned to the side, and thought about along with the colour black, and the latter is a bright and colourful celebration.

I enjoyed shooting in the studio this unit as it was something that I shied away from previously, but with practice and experiments I learnt lots of new skills in the studio, and found it highly enjoyable. One aspect that did crop up as a difficulty was sourcing the skulls to photograph, as they were very difficult to buy, and as they were so expensive those who did own them were reluctant to lending them to me. All this meant was when I did shoot, I only had a certain amount of time allocated to me. This did put pressure on me, but it only made me work more efficiently with my time.

I found that this time, it seemed that I had much more work to do, but managed my time a lot better than previously, and coped with it all easier. Learning more and more about Day of the Dead was my favourite research as I felt I really got in depth knowledge about the subject. I enjoyed getting my hands stuck in with all the experiments to my photos, and doing this pushed me to be more creative in my outcome.

As I was painting onto my final pieces, I was really worried about how it would dry, as I didn’t want it to ruin the photo, or be too over powering. I chose 8 images as my final pieces so it could show the transition from British culture to Mexican, I showed this by building up the flowers around the skull in the studio, and by building up the paint on each photo, so you start with a very bare and dull photo and end with a vibrant and full photograph, heavily decorated with paint. I am pleased with series of photos that I have produced, if I was to display them, I would present them in two columns, so you could see them as a group as it would have more impact.

If I was to add anything more to this project or re-do it, I would do more photoshoots, just to get in more practice. Overall I enjoyed this project but found it more demanding, this added pressure I feel helped me meet my deadline without having to work up until the last minute.


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