Photomedia: Proposal – Body, Portrait & Object

Ideas & Project Development: (Mind Dump!)

  • Exploration of relationships / attachments to objects; focusing on patterns of consumption
  • Analyse / investigate ideas of fetishism and objectification as a selling point; commercial car photography is shiny, new, perfect and aesthetically pleasing / easy on the eye (strong visual effect create a sense of surrealism in images) – Purpose is linked to consumption.
  • The social history & significance of a car
  • Commercial photography and aesthetics; potentially explore the opposite of this by photographing used, aged and dirty elements of vehicles; exploration of juxtaposition (Cindy Sherman)
  • Exploration of more personal relations to cars; how do we rely on objects?… how do they define us?…
  • Attaching a theoretical framework to cars…
  • Influenced by my own personal experiences / memories; struggles with isolation, escape and social & cultural significance, and ‘the unattainable object”  (links and ties with class, wealth)
  • Photograph the ‘real’; real cars are used, worn, aged and imperfect
  • Photographs that focus on areas / aspects of the vehicle that have been used, explore close-ups, shallow depth of field, temporal themes – past, present, future

Possible techniques:

  • Reflection on memory? photograph reflections in mirrors  (Lee Friedlander)
  • Sharp or dreamlike images?
  • Study cars development, worn, aged, imperfection
  • Vehicles as a portal of reflection and thought
  • Shallow depth of field (close-ups/macros)
  • Captured in an unconventional way; challenging existing images / characteristics by grounding my images with a theoretical framework / analysis
  • By challenging mainstream / commercial car photography I aim to incite reflection and thought on our dependency / relationship to objects (in particular cars) – We aren’t used to seeing vehicles photographed in such a way)
  • Engineering and aesthetic of cars are celebrated as a genius invention; photographed to be consumed as an appreciation of the mechanisation and design (normally!)
  • Photograph ‘used / aged’ areas of the vehicle… e.g. pedals, steering wheel, exhaust?, mirrors (relations to temporality – Past, Present and Future)
  • Aesthetically pleasing compositions but the subject is used, imperfect and dirty (reality) – Juxtaposition; Cindy Sherman
  • Shooting in colour to challenge existing forms?… or Black and White for tonal / dramatic contrasts?…

“My initial photographic intentions were to bridge connections between objects and portraiture. Originally, I wanted to explore anthropomorphism and ‘Pareidolia’ through analysis of mundane objects commonly found in an everyday setting. I made the decision to focus on vehicles, in particular… cars, because of their ability to transport the individual from one place to another. Focusing precisely on cars as my subject I was influenced largely by my own personal experiences; grounded in childhood memories and discourses of freedom, liberation, independence and mostly, escape. Because of this, I was compelled to investigate the connections and attachments we forge with our personal objects. Aiming to construct a vehicle as a framing device and portal of reflection and investigation. Traditionally, transportation photography is featured in commercial settings, marketed to advertise or encourage consumption of the commodity form.

Commercially, vehicles are depicted as highly aesthetic, constructed either by bright, shiny and over-saturated colours or dramatic, tonal black and white. I believe that this photographic form (Cars) embodies discourses of objectification, fetishism and consumption of both cars as products but also as art forms. Utilised to showcase the sophisticated mechanisation and design, often depicting subjects as ‘flawless’ and as objects of physical and visual consumption. Frequently edited in such a manner that arguably drifts into the realms of surrealism due to high levels of perfection, and glossy aesthetics. This was a compelling influence in my project, I wanted to explore and challenge these commercial characterises by photographing the subject as ‘natural’, ‘aged’ and ‘imperfect’.My investigation into the established relations and social significance between vehicle and owner will be illustrated by close up shots. Featuring ‘used’ and ‘aged’ areas of the vehicle as a tool to challenge existing commercial photographic structures by evoking juxtaposition and reflection on our use of vehicles.

I was highly influenced by photographers such as Lee Friedlander and Cindy Sherman. I intended to create and investigate a sense of temporality by capturing the indents and traces left by human exposure and interaction. Proposing to shoot detailed macro shots that illustrate the ‘realness’ and ‘raw’ nature of my subject in an attempt to critique our established relations with vehicles as inanimate objects. My interest in commercial auto photography led me to investigate and analyse discourses of fetishism, consumption, dependency and escape. Aiming to capture the ‘imperfect’ and ‘flawed’ imprints of used vehicles to illustrate a more realistic construction of the vehicle. Hoping to photograph the various different textures, worn and aged surfaces that expose the human traces by utilising techniques such as shallow depth of field to create a sense of intimacy between human and object. My interest in photographers such as Cindy Sherman led me to my proposed methodology of creating juxtaposition by photographing the ‘aged’ and ‘imperfect’ nature of vehicles but by using post-production processes to create highly stylized images that will feature immense quality and detail by utilizing clarity and over-saturation to contrast subject and photograph in an attempt to evoke reflection. I intend to shoot my Canon 750D with a macro lens to achieve immense tone, contrast, saturation and detail by use of a shallow depth of field. My images will hopefully evoke juxtaposition and reflection on our relationships and attachments to material objects by investigating exploring discourses of fetishism, consumption, dependency and escape.”

Word Count – 546

Contact Sheet –contactsheet-001


Exterior – Wheels…

Exterior – Wheels: The images featured within this set, display sections taken from alloy wheels. I have made the conscious decision to keep the colour present within these images to challenge existing commercial forms of car photography. I aimed to explore and depict the ‘natural’ and ‘raw’ appearance of a ‘typical’ vehicle; revealing the damaged, imperfections that are attached to repeated human interaction and use.

These images utilise techniques such as a shallow depth of field and macro close-ups, drawing attention to the worn and neglected surfaces of the alloys. These shots thus, exploring the implications of use; connoting degradation and the passing of time. The intense and close-up shots illustrate the damage in a highly detailed way that appears eye catching. The choice of close-ups and a shallow depth of field also connotes a strong sense of intimacy and proximity between viewer and subject thus linking back to my exploration of the personal attachments we establish with our objects, a vehicle can be an intimate and private space used for exploration and refuge.

I wanted to create an image series that explores and investigates the human traces of activity left behind. These images utilise natural lighting that cast strong and bold shadows over the images that help to illustrate the structure of the wheel itself, utilising typical commercial conventions by photographing segments of the vehicle that create a sense of objectification and visual consumption. The combination of colour, contrast and tone all aid the production of the detailed and highly aesthetic appearance of the images which is further juxtaposed by the subject on the screen which denotes the grubby, dirty and neglected creating a strong sense of contrast between subject and technique.

Exterior – Windows…

Exterior – Windows: The photograph depicts a macro shot of a car window. The use of a shallow depth of field allows for extreme detail. The manner the subject has been photographed initially conceals the actuality of the subject. The angle that the image is shot in utilises visually aesthetic characteristics such as deep and rich colours as well as strong lines and diagonals. The image is lit with natural lighting from above that reflects from the window seal that draws attention to the moss growing in the grooves and crevices. The focused and detailed depiction of the moss creates connotations of ageing, neglect and dirt thus, outlining the traces left behind from human use / neglect. The unkept and neglected nature of the vehicle connotates the passing of time, illustrating how nature is reclaiming the material and physical essence of the man-made commodity.

Exterior – Surfaces…


Exterior – Surfaces (Windscreen) :Techniques such as shallow depth of field and close up detail. Due to the composition and the angle of the image, initially, it is unclear what the object on screen actually is. Only a small section of the image is in focus which draws attention the neglected appearance of the surface as well as a decaying leaf lodged within a grove. The subject is lit from above. Consequently, creating strong, dark shadows as well as large tonal contrast.

The photograph portrays in close detail a texture from a section of the vehicle; a window. Visibly, a leaf is lodge within a grove of the windscreen, again creating illustrating the ageing deterioration of use and the passing of time. Dirt is visible within the surface displayed which depicts the neglected, used and dirty surface, it is interesting to mention that throughout this series the images themselves are shot utilising technique that is visually enticing, appearing aesthetic and pleasing, however, they are juxtaposed / contrasted by the dirty, neglected and aged content on the screen.


Exterior – Surfaces (Number Plate): This image is of a rear number plate, employing strategies such as a narrow depth of field, detailed macro shot as well as lines and diagonals. The small area that is in focus, draws attention to the texture of the plate. Dirt and visible grime as well as the flaking plastic coding that is peeling away from the plate, creating connotations of neglect and the passing of time. The grubby yellow number plate is contrasted by the surrounding black area and black print visible within the composition.


Exterior – Surfaces (Rear Taillight): This photographic image displays techniques such as shallow depth of field. Consequently, only a small amount of detail is visible. The image depicts the rear end of the vehicle, only the taillight and vehicle emblem is visible compositionally. I have made the conscious decision to keep colour present within the image, as a result the shiny, silver emblem is contrasted by the black paintwork, brightly coloured red taillight and the blurred green tones apparent in the background. Due to the intense close-up angle of the shot, a strong sense of intimacy is established between the viewer and the vehicle which reflects the nature of the relationship we establish with our private vehicles.

Small flecks of dirt and grime are visible on the black painted surface illustrating the used and aged nature of the vehicle as a consequence of repeated use and exposure to the elements. These images signify and illustrate a temporal journey and study of the implications of time and human interaction.

Interior – Gears…

Interior – Gears : The image shows a close up shot of a gear lever, due to the shallow depth of field and detail displayed this becomes the focal point of the image because it is in strong focus. The image was lit with natural lighting from above, consequently, the image appears dark, shadowy and underexposed. Due to the under-exposure and darkness of the photograph, the image appears to be flattened which subtly connotates themes of surrealism.

Due to the positioning of the natural lighting, the image is darkest towards the bottom-right side of the photo. This darkness outlines the sharp silver edging of the gear stick which further focuses attention to the lever itself. The close up and detailed nature of the gear knob reveals subtle details, the vehicles windscreen is reflected off of the top of the gear lever. The shallow depth of field reveals subtle details such as the presence of fingerprint smudges, the human residues left behind from use or interaction again connotates the passing of time and the forgotten traces. I made the conscious decision to shoot these images in colour, despite this, due to the lighting and tones of the images they appear to exhibit similar characteristics of black and white photography. I made this decision to keep the colour present in an attempt to challenge the conventions of commercial car photography.

Interior – Surfaces…

Interior – Surfaces: These images all incorporate technical strategies such as a shallow depth of field, close up angles and rich colours. All depicting particular areas of the car interior, this set of images all show and illustrate traces of human use and engagement. Displaying examples such as dust, dirt and grime, worn down and degraded surfaces as well as fingerprint smudges. Again I have made the conscious decision to keep the colour present within these images in order to create a rich sense of aesthetics that juxtapose and challenge existing forms of commercial car photography that typically utilised a black and white style.

Photographing inside of the car with the use of only natural light. It is also important to acknowledge that I am also photographing dark surfaces; these photographs exhibit, strong and dark shadows creating a diverse sense of tone, depth and perspective. These dark tones and shadows indicate actually and accentuate the curves and textures of the interior design of the vehicle.

I want to pay particular focus on the images that shows small sections of the steering wheel which appear worn, aged and damaged through repeated use. These images draw on and illustrate discourses of degeneration by exploring and illustrating the implications / consequences of human interaction with cars. These images are all shot in macro and intense close-up angles; this was a conscious decision. I aimed to denote a strong sense of intimacy by exemplifying the proximity between viewer and camera but also in an attempt to illustrate and explore the intimate connections we establish with our own vehicles. Our vehicles represent a personalised and private space that is tailored to the individual, a place of control, separation/protection from the outside whilst providing us with accessibility. It is interesting to mention that these images all employ a technical and highly aesthetic style and appearance but this is juxtaposed/challenged by the depiction of the imperfect and dirty nature of the subjects displayed. I was highly influenced by photographers such as lee Friedlander, Cindy Sherman and Stephen Wilkes.


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