Create a series of between six and ten photographs on one of the following subjects:
After reading the brief, I had a few different ideas for a photographic series. One of which came about during a conversation with a friend, who is suffering from Cancer. I discovered she wished she had asked me to document her journey from the start. As a result of this conversation, I had the idea to do a photographic series on Living with Cancer, to which she agreed.
I wanted to reflect the reality of cancer in my series. I did not want to shy away from the hard images that are rarely seen as I felt this would not do the subject matter justice.
The photographers I found most inspirational and influential for this series were Walker Evans and Don McCullin, due to their similarities in capturing the hard realities of life. They achieved powerful images by using black and white and avoiding the distraction of colour. This is something I thought would work well with my series.
In addition to the above photographers I also took inspiration from Mona Kuhn, particularly in terms of the close framing and depth of field creating an intimacy between the subject and viewer.
In order to capture the photographs I had planned on the first day, I set the ISO to auto to ensure a faster shutter speed avoiding any blur. Prior to taking the photographs I decided to use a longer focal length for the more relaxed photographs and a shorter focal length for the pained images, which would be slightly harsher on the skin, picking up the subtleties when she winced.
On the first day I struggled with the lack of space within the room, which restricted my viewpoints. Although I had planned for this, there are many photographs with items in the background which are distracting. On the second day we staged the photographs enabling me to control the ISO at a lower setting and to move furniture around allowing me to choose my viewpoint and background.
Living with Cancer
I have never taken portrait photographs prior to this course, so the whole experience has been new to me. Because I had planned the photographs I wished to take prior to starting, I managed to capture natural expressions, especially in the eyes on the first day. This was achieved by not staging or posing my friend and leaving her to naturally fall into the positions I was looking for. However, I feel that on the second day I achieved better technical photographs by staging and posing my friend and having a clearer background. This worked really well on the images where I did not require the emotion to be reflected in the eyes.
Although I have made a step forward in incorporating the frame as an active part of the image rather than just using it to frame an image, I do need to work a bit more on this aspect and gain a better understanding. The other aspect that I feel still needs improvement is standing back and when reviewing my images and deciding which images work best together as a series.
Overall I feel that the I have managed to capture the images I had planned resulting in a powerful photographic series on Cancer through portraiture.
Day One Contact Sheet
Day Two Contact Sheet