During the Coronavirus pandemic we have been forced into an entirely new world of video calls and social media. Zoom has become a household name and has been used for both personal and professional reasons.
While producing my project, 'Curtains Down' I relied very heavily upon zoom as this was my line to connect with the people I was photographing. I did two test shoots with friends to really consider as to how this project would work. For the first one, I asked the model to join on their phone and I photographed my iPad. Once this shoot was complete, I quickly realised that I needed as much light as possible to produce the best images as that particular shoot was shot in the evening with minimal light inside both of our houses. Next, moving on from this, I set up my final test shoot with another friend and instead asked if we could create the work during the day and instead of using my iPad, I photographed both my computer and TV which Dramatically increased the quality.
After consulting with many different people, I eventually felt as though I had enough people to be part of the project, in order for it to be successful.
I liased with my models and ensured we agreed a date and time which suited them best. I then set up individual, scheduled zoom meetings for the models to join, along with asking all of the models to join on the zoom app on their phones as I found that the latest phone cameras are a much better quality than web cams, along with being easier to move around, too.
I do believe that Zoom was in fact the best option for this project as I knew it would be more reliable than other calling platforms as long as myself and the person on the other end of the call kept a stable connection to wifi. I had some hiccups with my wifi but I did expect that.
As my main focus this year has been creating virtual photoshoots, I have come to learn ways as to how to effectively do it with minimal grain. I was fortunate in that I had access to a full frame camera and a Mac which did massively help in terms of quality. I also experimented with photographing both the screen on my Mac and also connecting my computer to the TV and Photographing said TV.
My biggest tips for photographing a virtual photoshoot are:
Throughout my degree, I have been an active user of social media for both personal and professional use.
As I have moved through my degree, my need and use for the photography Instagram account I set up in 2017, along with my Facebook page, and linked in has slowly increased in value to me. As time has progressed, I have utilised my instagram account much more than I ever did before my degree. I never knew what to post or how to approach it, and quite honestly did not have the confidence to sell myself and market myself and my work as a business.
After photographing my photo book for my second year work, I have been incredibly fortunate to build a small following of people on instagram. As a result of my involvement with the those in the musical theatre industry, I have photographed certain people in a show and have then been able to ask whether they would model as part of my final year work. Thus keeping the networks I initiate. My approach with contacting people is sometimes email but often lies with instagram messages. This is incredibly useful to me and I believe will continue to be useful for many years as my instagram grows due to it's sheer ease of use.
Instagram Itself is something I have found to be my main social platform which I use over Facebook and other platforms because of the ability to share my pictures easily and on an account which is much more simplistic to access. I also hugely enjoy using techniques such as using polls and me actually going on the account and talking to the camera on the stories to relate to my audience. It may not have a huge affect now but It always helps with the idea of running yourself as a business and growth within this, which I believes needs to contain your approach to providing something which the viewer is interested in tuning in to.
Due to our inability as a year group to meet in person as a result of the ongoing pandemic, we had to produce our interim exhibitions through digital means this year. We opted to use a website called 'art steps' which has different scenarios and pre made exhibition spaces online for you to utilise and add your work to the walls.
I chose the use of one picture per person I had photographed, creating consistency and some sense of direction, too. Alongside the pictures on my exhibition walls, I had also written a brief artist statement about the work which I included straight in front of you on the back wall as you viewed the space. The 'untitled' title was a space holder as at that point, I hadn't decided on a name for the project. In addition, only 7 of the 8 women I photographed were part of the exhibition as I still had the 8th person to photograph.
Of course the use of virtual exhibitions is useful for the time being, especially for practice with sequencing. However, I fear that this technique of working doesn't give us the true insight into producing a real exhibition in person. We have some disconnect, I feel. On the flipside of this, for the purpose of using the exhibition for educational purposes, we work together in a much more collaborative sense as a group when viewing and feeding back on each other's work. Artsteps did, however, give us as photographers the chance to be more creative with our set ups.
Curtains Down is a project I have been developing and producing throughout my final year at university. 'Curtains Down' is a term used in the theatre industry to signify that a show is over since when the curtness are down and closed, a show is not currently occurring or the show has finished. This Project shows female performers in their own home environment, all dressed up to the nines but essentially no place to go.
I gained a keen interest into photographing musical theatre shows and performers in the second year of my degree when creating my photo book for a project. I photographed all of the work for this photobook, a few weeks before the world completely shut down due to the Coronavirus pandemic. In addition to businesses completely halting at the beginning of the pandemic, theatres are something which have had a huge hit both financially and emotionally for the performers and businesses within. Many of those featured in my project have had very very little work this past year and could only dream of being back on a stage again. Everything is still incredibly uncertain.
Unfortunately, a year on, we are still battling said pandemic but when it came to the production of my final major project, this didn't stop my creativity levels and ideas from running high. I still wanted to work with musical theatre performers and opted to use a video calling platform called 'Zoom' which has been popular this last year to photograph the performers through my computer screen with a camera, while they posed at the other end. I organised and sourced the performers myself.
It has been an incredibly enlightening and refreshing experience to test a new technique and essentially move with the times to try some new things. The experience has been truly invaluable to me and my craft. It is something which I hope to keep with me as a possible new technique even when things do go back to normal.
Please see the 'Curtains Down' tab within the 'gallery' to see the work produced for this project.
During Nicole's lecture, we had the opportunity to ask her various different questions about her work and the industry. The following are some of the questions we asked, along with some tips she gave, too.
How to charge and develop rates
Do you use a particular set of lenses?
How do you build a genuine following with comments?
What do you tether to?
What do you use for retouching?
Nicole is a fashion and beauty photographer along with being a retoucher, too. She has produced work for the likes of the women's luxury formal wear and dress company, Nadine Merabi and is currently based in Huddersfield since graduating from Huddersfield University on the photography course a number of years ago.
The approach Nicole has is to work with digital photography means and creates a large amount of commercial and promotional work for well known makeup brands such as HD brows who often don't actually want retouching done on their images, which is a huge advancement as far as the industry is concerned as retouching and changing peoples bodies through photoshop has always been a prevalent element to the photography and beauty industry.
Along with working with brands, Nicole also produces work alongside boss models, a modelling agency, too.
The work Nicole produces truly inspires me in my craft and journey as her work, in my opinion is impeccably well shot and edited. It naturally encourages me to think as to what she has done to produce this level of work and drives me to learn as to how I could create my own work to this level, too.
Jopek, N Editorial work for Nadine Merabi
During a lecture by Silvana, we had the opportunity to ask her questions both related to her craft and her life as a photographer. She begun the lecture with tips for us which included the following.
Did you struggle to articulate your practice (blog posts)?
How to approach models/hair and makeup artists for tests?
Is there anything I can be doing to make myself look more established in product and commercial work?
Tips for working with musicians
How to prepare for portfolio reviews
Tips for getting your foot in the door when graduating
Silvana originates from Venezuela, but moved to the UK to study at Huddersfield University and is now an alumni of the photography course. She does some commercial work and personal projects, both while using film as the primary way of shooting. Since graduating from the course, Silvana has been incredibly successful and boasts experience photographing a range of celebrities. The piece of work she produced which particularly drew me into her work were her images she took of the singer Anne-Marie as this kind of live performance and portraiture photography is what I would really like to delve into.
Trevale, S via Instagram
Sian is an experimental photographer using creative and surrealist approaches to her work while photographing not only people but inanimate objects. Her lecture was full of advice which I found to be very useful. Some of these included what is mentioned below.
Overall, Sian's work did stick with me as being hugely experimental, but she also encouraged a very forgiving, understanding, and practical approach to us when giving advice. I really enjoyed her positive mindset, too.