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Author: Aaron S

Fine Art & Fashion Photographer

Untitled (Novella)

I haven’t posted anything on this blog for a very, very long time, but I am planning to be regularly blogging soonish, so this is a quick update for anyone still following my work on here. In many ways, I think that this will be the main port of call for publishing my work online, and I plan to blog a lot more about my images, the processes behind them, online and offline inspirations, and about topics and themes that inform my work!

So here’s is my Novella series so far:

Untitled #1 (Novella)

Untitled #2 (Novella)Untitled #3 (Novella)Untitled #4 (Novella)Untitled#5(Novella)Untitled#6(Novella)Untitled#7 (Novella)Untitled#8 (Novella)Untitled#9 (Novella)Untitled#10 (Novella)Untitled#11(Novella)Untitled#12(Novella)Untitled#13(Novella)Untitled#14(Novella)Untitled#15(Novella)

I’ve finally shot and compiled images #1-#15, with images #16, #17 & #18 sitting on my desktop. I’m quite happy with the series so far, but I really need to travel a bit more and shoot more varying images/landscapes other than buildings and trees, and to get away from all of the greenery in my work! I really, really, want to use other people in this series as I think that it would be great to be able to direct people and consider the human/nature elements of the images a lot more, rather than trying to find images that correlate in some way. Perhaps I should map and plan the images out beforehand? This series was supposed to be more observational and easy going, but it’s actually turned out to become very structured, which I didn’t expect.

I have several favourites from the series so far, such as Untitled #3 and Untitled #11:

For some reason, these image just work aesthetically for me; they seem to ooze a sense of unresolved drama and mystery and I find myself wondering just how each of the images are connected.

 

Do you have a favourite image from the series so far?

New Year Reflection #1

profileimage

I shot this image about 4 years ago, in the corner of the common room at university.

I never would have thought that this many years later it would come to be face of my brand, representing the genre bending fine art & fashion work I aim to produce. I’m aware that my work is nowhere near at the level I want it to be and at times I worry greatly about this. But this is a new year. It’s time to let go of any doubts and fears that have held me back. Now is the time to go forward and grow!

Novella: A New Series

It’s been awhile since I last went out and shot some conceptual work, but now that I finally have, I’ve spent quite a lot of time thinking about how I am going to organise the images I shoot. In the past, up until my final year at university, I’ve often just shot images that I’ve considered to be “immortalised” (not the best choice of word, might replace that later..) without really paying attention to the idea of creating different series. Upon my final year of university, I had to create “a body of work”, hence my very first series, Out Of Time.

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In a way, I’m not too sure if that particular body of work is complete. I feel as if there is something missing from the set of images, but then maybe I feel that way because all of them (bar one) were shot whilst I was still a student, and now, as a graduate, I feel that my work should move on, should progress in some way.

So, because of this, I have spent a considerable amount of time thinking about different series of work that I’d like to create. What is is that I enjoy about photography? How am I going to make a series of work so that they look and feel connected? What are going to be the underlying themes for he series? If I shoot more than one at a time, how are they going to be different and will they have very different themes?

At the moment, I’ve got a rough idea for around 3 “major” series of work that I’d like to produce, but 2 of them contain very high ambitions, with (as you can imagine) large teams of models, stylists, hair and make up artists, a lot of cool clothes, exotic and grand locations, sets, sound stages and extensive travel costs. So, being the somewhat realistic fellow I am, I am going to focus on the one that is going to be the most convenient to shoot at this moment in time, which is the series that I’m going to call Novella:

Novella:

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When I was studying for my degree, I came across the work of Stephen Shore, Alec Soth and Todd Hido, all of whom are american photographers who shoot the most amazing pictures of the american landscape. Seeing this work, as well as knowing awesome photographers such as Rachael Bint and Tom Illsley who also shoot landscapes, really got me thinking about spaces and places and how they could feature more theoretically and aesthetically in my work. For Out Of Time, I shot outside, as it the was most convenient and suitable for the images I wanted to produce, but whilst shooting this, I tried shooting some landscapes, to experiment:

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As much as I like them, I feel that I connect better with a sense of human presence in my images (which I think is why I am drawn to buildings and architecture so much, but that’s a whole future blog post!), so I got to thinking about how I could add this to such landscapes. Because I wanted to move on from OOT, I didn’t want to really shoot more images with people outside somewhere (which is pretty much impossible), so I thought about the idea of diptychs and triptychs, (which I have future plans for!), but I didn’t feel that going from one image to two or three really worked. I wanted to create a series where I didn’t have the same restraints as my last one, a series where I could take a long time to create, and shoot a large volume of images and have a whole hit-and-miss selection process. In the end I decided that it would be good to work with a frame that holds six different images:

Novella1
Untitled #1 (Novella), 2016

The idea comes from cinematography, where people condense a whole film into any number of separate stills. I really like this idea because the very nature of cinema (time) is pulled apart and looking at a well known film in this way makes it seem very alien. When you watched it, you would have never seen these segments so isolated yet compiled together in such an equally considered but randomised way. Here are some examples of what I mean:

Personally, I like the chaotic nature of these kind of images and the way that allow me to be able to place locations and people together in one frame. Also, I’ve always been a fan of suggesting a narrative, so to create an image where what you see is not so perfectly understood really intrigues me.

I’ve chosen to title the series Novella, which, as you can see above, is a term used for a short novel or a long short story. I’m fully aware that I am entering into tricky territory with this title as I’m referring to what is principally considered to be literature. The reason I have chosen to do this is because I’m extremely interested in the idea of creating genre-bending work that explores the relationship between photography, literature and cinema and the post-digital age of storytelling.

I am going to be very flexible with this series. At the current time, I’m thinking that I am going to work on it gradually in between shooting another (smaller) series of self portraits and shooting fashion, to give me time to consider, collect, evaluate and shoot images.

There are a few things that I’m still unsure about. For example, I’m not at all sure how many images there’ll be before I deem the series “complete”, but I have the rough idea of shooting a lot, uploading and sharing them all but culling them down to a much smaller, concise, selection for website and exhibition purposes. I would, ideally, like to make a book, and probably arrange them out of sequence. (which is another problem I have; how do I title the images without sequencing them, or giving them some form of order?). Also, I’m unsure of how to control the narrative of each frame; I want to compile a lot of different images, but still make sure that there is an idea behind each image. I would like the images to be simultaneously spontaneous, random and considered, but without having to force any kind of certain “this image is about this”. I want the six images in one frame to be the only certainty.

I’m definitely considering this series to be a constant work in process; I’ve created 2 images so far, with a third one half done, but already I’ve had to think about the look of the images. I created the first image ages ago, just on a whim, last year before I thought about a new series, and I created the second image only a few days ago. The first and second image are edited in a vastly different way, with the first being edited in only one colour, and the second with a more considered colour palette. This is something I hadn’t even thought about; how the images are going to be colour graded and edited. I’m really torn between re-editing the first image again in technicolor so that it matches more with the second, or if I should just leave it and consider the future obstacle of what happens when an image from the series will look better in black and white than in colour, or whether mixing black and white and colour images would look good. These are obstacles that I’ll have to work through when they happen, but right now I’m happy to have found an idea that I feel is worthwhile pursuing. Also, I’m quite excited for the future possibilities of where the series could go, particularly the notion of literature and adding/considering using actual book pages and the relationship between image and text.

Filip @ Grace Model Management

My thoughts on my test shoot with Filip @ Gracemodelmanagement and how I adapted to working with the environment to produce different lighting techniques.

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Peregrine

Peregrine (adj):

  • Having no fixed home; changing location regularly as required for work or food.

Peregrine

Original Idea & Inspiration

This image is completely different to the one I originally set out to shoot. Unlike most of my other images, there was no sketch for me to refer to, nor did I make a mood board for inspiration.

Originally, I had the idea of shooting an image of this character who has been travelling for a long time down this long winding path. I wanted to suggest a sense of oddity by having them carry a suitcase to which they are handcuffed, that perhaps what lies in this suitcase is so valuable to them that they can’t let it go. In fact, the more that I thought about this reading, the more I felt that the image would mean something more significant, becoming a commentary on the way in we carry the weight of people, thoughts and feelings that we just can’t discard. I also wanted to hint at the character being some kind of outlaw, or someone who isn’t quite aligned with the rest of society; maybe someone who is a little bit more ‘freer’, yet are so constrained.

Suitcases are somewhat of a reoccurring theme in my work, particularly in my images Bearing The Burden and Detour, and I had both of these images in mind when I shot Peregrine. To be honest, I was a little worried, as I knew that all of these images would end up being similar, and although I suppose this is the case, I do think that Peregrine is more considered and shows a more thorough context.

Looking back for the inspiration of the image, I suppose I can trace the use of a suitcase back to the film The Two Faces Of January, which I watched only a few days ago, in which a character carries a suitcase of money around with him everywhere but I also like this idea of creating an image that has a bit more of a dynamic. Most of my images are quite still, so I thought that it would be great to shoot an image of someone running as it shows that the character has more of a purpose or a final destination in mind. My work is very much tied with the themes of uncertainty and journeys, which link to my overarching commentary about the duality of freedom and constraint within contemporary society.

The Set Up & Camera Settings:

Cinematography, as it always is, was very much an influence in this image, particularly in the way that I decided to place the camera:

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Normally, I shoot my images quite straight on so that the subject is parallel with the camera, but I decided to switch it up a little bit and placed the camera and tripod on a bench to raise the angle of the shot. Shooting from different angles is something I really want to experiment with, but as I’m still in the middle of a series, I don’t want to just start switching up the MO too much.

In terms of the set up for the image, I had the tripod and camera in place, and as I didn’t have an assistant, I decided to set the focusing of the camera to the center focus point, so that I knew where I’d have to be when the shutter clicked. I activated the shutter using my wireless remote set to timer mode, handcuffed myself to the suitcase and starting running back and forth to get the shot!

Here is a gif of other poses I had shot:

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Here were my camera settings:

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After I’d shot the poses and knew that there was at least one that I was happy with, I then expanded the frame, as I knew that I wanted the image to be quite a lot bigger to put a fair amount space between the character and the landscape. I almost always expand the frame by shooting the main image, then tilting and shooting two frames upwards (so that the images overlap one another) and then downwards. I Always do it in columns so that when it comes to photo merging them in photoshop so it is easier for me to organize the images which makes the process that little bit quicker.

I then swivel the camera left and right and do the same if I need to build a wider image. For this image, the frame expansion was quite challenging as it was quite windy, which meant that I ad to wait for the wind to die down before I shoot the images as I wanted to make sure that they matched up properly.

Postproduction:

As you can see by the editing video, my postproduction for this image consisted of only a three steps:

  1. Frame Expansion
  2. Compositing The Sky
  3. Colour Grading

Firstly, I make sure that I have expanded the frame using photo merge to make sure that I have an image that is not only a lot bigger than the standard singular image size, but doing this allows me to crop into my image without compromising the quality, which is super helpful in case I may need to print the image out in the future.

I then composited the sky. The reason I did this is really twofold. The first is because when I expanded the frame; I knew that I didn’t go high enough to get the full natural sky in the final image, so I shot a series of images of the sky at the location afterwards to photo merge so that I could add it in later. The second reason, very much the same reason I added the birds in post was because I’m interested in creating a ‘constructed’ image, especially one where it may not necessarily appear that it has been manipulated so much in photoshop. I know that some people may refer to this as more digital art than photography, but realistically, the advent of digital technology has changed the very definition of photography and I think that it’s future lies within the digital realm. Also, I like to think of photography as a way to reimagine reality and to create events and moments that did not happen. There is a nice little paradox with regards to photography and authenticity as I consider that all photographs are both documentarian and fictitious at the same time.

Lastly, when I was happy with the frame expansion and the sky, I then colour graded the image, which is actually just a process of messing around with selective colour layers, curves adjustment layers and adding solid colour adjustments to selected colour range areas. I really liked how underexposed the original image was, but I realized that keeping it like that would make the image too dark, and it would eliminate all of the details within the image.

Although, I really liked the natural colour palette, but I decided to add some of the same colour blue in the character’s shirt to the sky to visually tie the image together as well as changing the greens of image to a colour that’s more vivid, without being too saturated.

I also used some Adobe Kuler (an app which I highly recommend) swatches that I made ages ago to sample from. When I made them I just picked a bunch of random colours that I don’t often use, so that it is easier for me to remember to use them (otherwise I’d just completely forget!).

Here are some of the ones I used if you want them:

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Detail Shots:

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Adding the birds to the image was a completely spontaneous idea. I thought that, as there was so much vast sky, I wanted the viewer’s eye to be looking at something other but I didn’t actually think that they would so much to the overall image. The title, Peregrine, suggests a person who has no fixed home, someone left to wander around, looking for food and shelter, but it also the name of a bird. For me, the inclusion of the birds really ties the character to the idea of wandering, uncertainty and perhaps even escape, whether that’s from a certain someone or from or the escape from living a “normal” life. I also like to think that the birds suggest a certain sense of freedom for the character and by having them both travel in opposite directions gives the image more of a lonely and desolate undertone.

I hope you’ve enjoyed watching the editing process and reading about my image! If you have any questions, you can contact me by posting a comment below or contacting via the following social media sites!

Facebook

www.facebook.com/AaronSehmarPhotography

Twitter:

www.twitter.com/aaronsehmar

Instagram:

www.instagram.com/aaronsehmar

Email:

aaronsehmarphotography@gmail.com

Also, I would be very grateful if you could share my video or post! Any support is much appreciated!