Use your camera as a measuring device. This doesn’t refer to the distance scale on the focus ring (!). Rather, find a subject that you have empathy with and take a sequence of shots to ‘explore the distance between you’. Add the sequence to your learning log, indicating which is your ‘select’ – your best shot.
When you review the set to decide upon a ‘select’, don’t evaluate the shots just according to the idea you had when you took the photographs; instead evaluate it by what you discover within the frame (you’ve already done this in Exercise 1.4). In other words, be open to the unexpected. In conversation with the author, the photographer Alexia Clorinda expressed this idea in the following way:
Look critically at the work you did by including what you didn’t mean to do. Include the mistake, or your unconscious, or whatever you want to call it, and analyse it not from the point of view of your intention, but because it is there.
For this exercise I used a group of teenagers from a local dance group Unity. A local photographer, Andrew Barton, organised a workshop – some of the photos are shot in his studio and some outside in the local area.
For this exercise I have chosen photos that on looking at them generally have something unexpected in the shot rather than the more formal, completely composed, smiling young people.
I have a lot of empathy with children and young people as I work with them on a daily basis as part of my job as a social worker. This group were great to work with because, as they relaxed, they came up with their own ideas for poses, and you could see they were having a lot of fun.
In terms of distance – the group in the studio set ups were relatively close and it was easy to get into a dialogue and get the girls to change the pose. They were at more of a distance in the car park but by this stage they were very relaxed and able to come up with ideas of their own. I was restricted by only having the two lenses with me – some of our group who had a telephoto took photos at more of a distance in the car park.
I used my Canon 6D camera and mainly used a 50 mm lens in the studio and the 24-105 mm lens for the outdoor photography. The camera was set on a tripod with a wireless trigger to utilise the studio lights.
There were two main set ups used in the studio – one with a black background and one with a white background as shown in the diagram below.
Lens EF24-105 with focal length of 58mm 1/160, f9, ISO100
In this photo I did have the wall of the studio and edge of one of the lights included – this was a difficulty with being part of a group of photographers all vying for the best spot! However it does frame the photo on the left. I’ve also included it because it is somewhat unexpected in that it is not completely formally posed with the two girls on the right clearly enjoying a joke together.
Lens 50 mm, 1/200, f10, ISO 100
In contrast this picture is more formally posed – however I think a bit of ‘punctum’ is added to the photo by the ginger headed girl at the top looking sideways down at the group.
Lens 50mm f.18 II, 1/200, f8, ISO100
In this photo the studio umbrellas have been used to help ‘frame’ the group. Again the ‘mistake’ is the inclusion of the photo wall and gobo light. This could be fixed by a square crop as below:
Lens 50 mm 1/200 f8 ISO100
Again I enjoyed the spontaneity of the two back girls in this photo however there are several mistakes – the back girl’s arm is chopped off, the lighting has made the front girl’s photo look orange and I think there is too much umbrella in the left half of the photo.
Lens 50 mm, 1/200, f8, ISO100
Lens 50mm; 1/200, f9, ISO100
This was a pose that the girls sorted out for themselves – however the left hand girl at the front struggled with it which is why she was lifting her head that point.
Lens EF 24-105, 1/25, f10, ISO 100
This was one taken outside a church across the road. For me there is at least one mistake and one unintentional inclusion. I think this one may have been improved by a vertical orientation which at the least included the entire door. There is also the green moss at the side which I’m not sure detracts from the photo. The girl in pink is also not focused well – probably due to the shutter speed being too low. The addition of flash would also have helped – unfortunately my flash decided to die at this point and it was not a battery problem – I’ve had to buy a new flash since then.
Lens 24-105, 1/50/ ISO 200, f22
This photo includes some ‘framing’ – the blue metal railings and edge of the wall to the left and the top of the tower and wall to the right. A slow shutter speed on Tv was used in order to give the sense of motion – I could equally have chosen to use a fast shutter speed to freeze the action. I feel the incorporation of the speed bump and down ramp to the right gives some context that this is taken in a car park. For me this is my ‘select’ as it does have some framing that gives context to the photo but also has some action along with the clock tower giving a bit of ‘ punctum’.
Lens 24-105, 1/160, f4, ISO 200
This last photo was also taken in the car park and is framed by the walls each side. I think if you didn’t know this was a planned shoot it gives the idea of a group of teenagers hanging around and creating their own fun – in fact you often see groups of young people in this car park.
I really enjoyed working with this group of young people – they were willing to try anything and were pleased to have the attention of our group. I do have a lot more images from the day that look much more formally posed but I felt these examples both highlight learning from the day (i.e. from the ‘mistakes’) but often seemed to have a more punctum due to a less formal pose.