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Monday, 29 November 2010

Project Direction?

We had a group discussion session and concerns were aired about the project not having enough gravitas due to the subjects that have been used being models, also the issue that the images are very contrived.

The images were deliberately stark in their make up as I was wanting to strip away any signs of personality. Likewise the subjects were shot in a very stark studio setup so that all the viewer would focus upon was the body language of the sitter.

I have explored a number of avenues to try and get involved with people with Postnatal Depression(PND), but it is proving to be extremely difficult.
I have contacted a number of Mother and Toddler groups in Lincoln in the hope that someone may come forward. I think it would actually be better to converse with someone who has gone through the condition some time ago rather than someone who is going through the trauma at the moment. I have therefore put out a request  for anyone who has suffered, any age group or generation to come forward if they feel they can. There is very little information on PND prior to recent years but it must have been present in times gone by, something our mothers and grandmothers may have suffered to some degree.  Something not acknowledged or discussed perhaps. I think having gone through it and come out the other end it would be slightly easier to talk about.

I had been in contacted with the PND unit in Lincoln a number of weeks ago and at first they were extremely reluctant to even discuss what went on there. They were naturally very protective of the women who attended sessions there and initially felt that any contact with the women involved would be impossible. The lady in charge however has been very helpful with information regarding the condition and has agreed to let me film a session with her later on this week and discuss some new information they have been issued with regarding the condition and subsequent treatment of it. She has also indicated that there may be someone that may after all be willing to talk to me. I won't get too excited by this yet as it is only a possibility!

Rob and Ros suggested that if I cannot get women to film or photograph it may be an idea to try and photograph more abstract images. Less obvious but related images so I'm looking into that at the moment as well.
Another route I am going to look at it is conversing with women through network sites such as the PND Facebook sites. Ideally it would be great to be able to have ongoing discussions and maybe try and get them to post some photographs. Having never used facebook before it will be yet something else I will have to get some lessons on.

At the moment it is frustrating as I am desperate to get ahead with the project and take photographs but I don't know how things are going to pan out. I think with my next project it would be very wise to avoid any human involvement at all!

Monday, 8 November 2010

Projection thoughts

Gustav Klimt
With the next stage of my project I'd like to project images onto a background behind my sitters.These images are going to portray what we consider to be the 'norm' as far as bonding is concerned. I'm using traditional old master paintings in a way of emphasising  the age old expectations. I had initially wondered about a collage of parents snapshots but I imagine copywrite would be an issue.
I am envisaging quite a few difficulties with the lighting so I'll just see how it goes.The idea is to film the subject sitting emotionless with the images flashing behind.

Hirsch(1997) Family photos tend to be constructed with a screen made up of dominant mythologies and conceptions ; nevertheless they can more easily show us what we wish our family to be, and therefore what , most frequently it is not.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Baby Studio Session

The young mother,head turned away from her crying baby not able to cope with caring for the child.

A simple shot but nevertheless one  hopefully with impact.. 

Home shoot

I took home the portable flash to see if it was going to be possible to do photoshoots on location with the babies. The flash unit was easy to set up,but I ran into problems with the backdrop (the dog didn't exactly help by pulling at the cloth). It was difficult to get a smooth backdrop and I wasn't keen on the colour.I also found it difficult to get the distance required between subject and backdrop.
Mike kindly helped out with some photoshop lessons to sort out the backdrop once shot, but also to fiddle with the image of the baby to overcome reflection issues.
I wanted to convey this stripping of identity with the woman wrapped in a plain sheet,no makeup,blank expression. The baby,a paper representation of the real thing,held at a distance.

Innocence personified

 Just in case I encountered any problems with the baby subjects I decided to have some separate images of them. I also liked the idea of using photos of them to enforce the idea of separation from the mother . This is the lovely Kai just three weeks old.

Friday, 5 November 2010

Emotional Ties

The bonding process between the mother and baby within the first few months of life is deemed to be crucial in teaching the child how to form loving relationships. If there is a breakdown of this connection it has been seen to have a profound affect on general behaviour and  the childs ability to cope with relationships through life.

  British psychiatrist and psychoanalyst John Bowlby(1969,1973,1980) developed a theory looking at the creation and destruction of emotional ties between  babies and their mothers. Bowlby researched the effect on the child of separation  from the carer. He indicates that the childs predisposition is to become attached to the carer, which manifests itself in behaviours aimed at maintaining proximity or stimulating interaction (eg.,crying ,smiling ,following, clinging).

This evolutionary theory of attachment suggests the child comes into the world pre-programmed to form attachments with others as a survival tactic as at this stage it is the mother that supplies the sustenance. He believed that this close proximity and bonding was an important aspect of the infants development not just in the early stages but in the long term.
 Many studies have been carried out to look into the long term effects of this lack of bonding between the mother and child and it is recognised that even mild depressive symptoms can impact very significantly on not just this bond but even more importantly the way in which all subsequent relationships are viewed.
Moehler E.(2006)

The Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale

This is a post-partum  questionnaire that was developed by healthcare experts to determine the level of postnatal depression,if any,was evident.

Monday, 1 November 2010

Anne Arden McDonald

I think these two photographs convey a feeling of introspectiveness and solitude.
Anne Arden McDonald manages to make you feel the vulnerability of the subject. Her self-portraits convey many emotions that relate to her own fears,dreams and desires. She creates these breathtaking images in these derelict spaces.She spends time initially clearing the space of rubbish and allowing time for her ideas to be shaped by the feel of the space itself .
She rarely names her prints as she prefers for people to make up their own narratives.She also tellingly rarely lets her face be seen as she says it can be too 'emotionally loaded'.
I love the light in these pictures and the structure of the rooms.The figure in the lower photograph curled into a ball as if hiding but caught in the brightest light.

New Project Idea

I have been looking again at the Tennison images . It made me wonder about the feelings and expression of the mother with child and how pictures of this subject are almost always portrayed with this loving happy bond.The bland expression could however signify so much more.

Postnatal Depression

Postnatal depression affects 1-8 women.The world is full of photographs of women bonding with their babies .Mothers with their new offspring wrapped in the warmth of their arms gaze lovingly at the fruit of their loins. There is this massive build-up of expectation in pregnancy with this creation of a new life.It is  usually regarded as an incredible joyous time,everyone looking forward to the actual birth with great excitement. There is lots of talk about 'ultimate fullfillment 'as a mother.

'When this does not occur naturally women can experience feelings of deep shame and isolation at a time when they are needed most both physically and emotionally.'
A Hanzak, Eyes without a Sparkle

Lack of Bonding
Most new mothers experience exhaustion , tearfulness , and an inability to cope in the first few weeks of parenting. However , if this is severe and continues after this point it can be a symptom of something more sinister.
Postnatal depression can manifest itself in many different forms including apathy , mental and physical fatigue , irratibility ,violent and distructive thoughts or even actions and feelings of isolation.

Postpartum depression can severely disrupt the bonding between mother and offspring and as a result can result in feelings of detachment and apathy towards the child. There is a loss of confidence and with this a desire to withdraw from their surroundings , to avoid contact ,even with the child.

Psychosocial Adaptation to Pregnancy,Regina Lederman
Case history

'There was a feeling of being detached from everyone and everything around me.It is like living in a bubble.I'm near things yet far away.'

Thursday, 28 October 2010

A Complete Rethink

I was having problems finding dancers to come in to be photographed.This combined with Adams talk on research I began to have doubts about the substance surrounding my proposal and the difficulties of actually putting it together.
I had only managed the  one rather unsucessful studio session so far using my  daughter.

I subsequently spent the next few days going over everything again, looking at my original ideas but trying to find something with more depth,less personal ,something that could have a stronger research base.

Monday, 25 October 2010

Joyce Tennison

The fabric wound around my daughter with her face only slightly exposed gave her an impression of mystery.

Clem had suggested that I look at Joyce Tennison and this particular image struck a note with me.There was something in the blank expression,the stripping away of personality with the veil-type wrapping of cloth around her head and the plain silk wrapped around her body. Although she is still incredibly beautiful there is something quite haunting about her too.

This second Tennison photograph again has her trademark expressionless face but there is what appears to be genuine warmth and tenderness in her posture as she gently holds the baby to her.She has however one hand holding the baby s leg and the other is placed on her own arm as opposed to touching the baby s back.Could this suggest some detachment?

Overexposure in the Studio

I actually had my first session in the studio last Saturday but was too embarrassed to show the results.I was however persuaded by Clem that we should blog our work no matter how appalling , as hopefully it will show our progression eventually,so here goes:

I unfortunately borrowed a camera from the media store and then discovered on the day I could not link it to the flash cable in the studio.  I therefore had to resort to camera flash and studio lights. Not the best combination , hence the overexposed images.Thankfully my ' models ' were my 12 year old daughter and friends, so time was not an issue .Enough of the excuses....

I was attempting to capture this feeling of pushing out from a confined space,being wrapped in a cocoon .

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Swirling Thoughts

I am conscious of lots of thoughts and ideas swirling around in my head at the moment.There are also all the many new learning skills that have to be taken on board.I would like to try and convey this type of movement in  my photographs too.
Both the Claire Davidson photo and the Light drawings of Barbara Morgan show this crazy muddled swirling form.I may have to take separate images of the figure and the tangled movement and then lair them to get the right effect.Possibly using slow exposure fluorescent coloured tubes?

Nick Knight

                                                              Nick knight - War

This dynamic image is just so full of raw energy , movement and anger.The perspective adds to the sense of chaos.

The Relationship of Colour

                                                                          Zafer Baren    

Colour is going to be important in the development of this project. I 'd like to use colour to help to convey the various stages and emotions .

                                   'Colours are the mother tongue of the subconscious'
                                                                                               Carl Gustav Jung

Jung looked into the different characterisations of people and divided these into four colours- RED , YELLOW, BLUE and GREEN. He believed that we all fell into two categories of either introvert or extrovert but that everyone should have all four colours in their make-up.If one or more colours were missing he described the person as flawed.

We use colour in our language on a regular basis to describe feelings and emotions.People are said to be 'green with envy',' in the pink','seeing red','true blue','white as a ghost','yellow bellied'.Colour and emotions are so closely related that we use these terms as descriptions for concepts and feelings that go beyond words and language.
Steven Bleicher- Contemporary Colour ,Theory and Use

There is obviously a huge amount of information that can be looked at in this area and I will come back to it.

Monday, 11 October 2010


It seems impossible to read any books concerning dance and not come across photographer Barbara Morgan and her connection to the famous dancer , Martha Graham. In the Re-issue of Martha Graham : Sixteen Dances in Photographs by Barbara  Morgan 1980 by Curtis Carter , he said ;

'Through her art she reveals the inner landscape that is a dancers world'

The photograph above, 'Ekstasis' is a static figure but, she still wished  to give movement to the picture.To do this she concentrated on the fabric of the garment and chopped of the head and feet . A rather strange way to photograph a dancer , nonetheless , highly effective.

I have started to look into the choreography of dance and again have found constant references of Martha Graham.

Monday, 4 October 2010

An awakening of the senses

We have been asked to get out of our comfort zone for our first project so we have no comfort blanket to hide under. I have always felt most at ease photographing inanimate objects.Being able to take your time and compose the image has always appealed. Strong moody B &W architectural shots with abstract overtones , using mainly available light. I have therefore decided to move away from this as much as possible . I will do as much as  can in the extreme  opposite. The initial plan is to shoot dance moves in a studio situation using colour, capturing the movement .

 At present I  see this developing as a personal journey of discovery. I envisage  that it will probably take me on a long and winding road.

Here I am embarking on a massive learning curve as a  mature student. There is high excitement at the prospect of starting but also a feeling of panic about knowing where to begin .There are so many different threads of learning that I will have to master before I can even start to work on a project.Where to start?

Lois Greenfield

I came across the extremely stunning photographs of Lois Greenfield. This cocoon type photograph in particular resonated with my feelings of restarting, new beginning , rebirth .

'Lament' -Martha Graham by Barbara Morgan

Arthur Fink
I adore the movement in this shot.The fact that it looks so organic

Claire Davidson