The following is a presentation made at the end of the Surfaces and Strategies module. The video covers my current photographic practice and motivations and considers my production methodologies and presentation strategies.
Having an exhibition has really opened my eyes to how my work could be viewed by others.
I have been asked why I decided to to start the MA course, when in the questioner’s opinion, my previous work was already very good. This was interesting and not a question I had really though about myself. In answering her question, I now realise how important to me the challenge of the MA has been. Initially I enrolled because I thought it would be an interesting thing to do. I hadn’t realised that I was craving the technical and mental challenge the course has brought me.
A long and indent discussion with a fellow photographer about my ‘Only Human’ work was eye opening. To the visitor, the images were about tonality in the image. He was shocked that I had not used luminosity filters to get the tonal ranges seen in my images. To be honest, I haven’t ever used one of these filters (and don’t even know where they are on Photoshop!). He was interested in the minimal post processing that I do in Lightroom, and that I tried to get everything as right as I could in camera first.
He challenged me about some of my images – their tonal ranges, their crop and my choice of parts of bodies to photograph. I was able to justify and explain each of my images him, which encouraged me that I had made the right choices for the portfolio.
There was a really interesting conversation about the value of labels. The photographer always includes labels on his images to see it people agree with his take on things. I on the other hand do not include labels. I explained that I do not want to tell the tale, but want the viewer to read the story. He found this interesting and asked how the viewer was to get an indicator about where to start interpreting the work. My response was “the title of the project” and that the viewer needs to make their own links between images.
At the end of the discussion , he gave me his opinion as to the top 3 and bottom 3 of my images. Each one with his opinion. Whilst, I didn’t agree with his views, it was really interesting to hear how someone else viewed the images and to discuss this with him in depth.
The installation it self was great fun to curate and install. Thinking about the placement and how the work is presented has made me realise that this public display of work should be as personal to me as the work itself.
Overall, I have enjoyed hearing what people have to say about the work and am hopeful that the exhibition has prompted people to consider taking part in future project.
The exhibition was advertised through as many mediums as I could access. All helped to bring visitors in.
Facebook Page created for the exhibition – shared to many groups that could be interested. Posts scheduled everyday to keep profile raised:-
Videos published on Twitter:-
Posters created and published by the studio owner:-
All forms of advertising that I used brought in people. Many of the models and photographers I know shared the information and brought family and friends along.
A successful campaign is one that hits as many different types of social media as possible and gets in front of as many people as possible. Constant posts and encouraging others to share helps maintain the profile. I am sure that if we had had longer to complete this task I would have included advertisements in local papers and publications.
The traditional font (see blog post) sets the project up with a classical feel.
The white text on black is an indication that the project is presented in monochrome.
This image offers a strong opening to the portfolio. The composition is beautifully sculptural and striking. The viewer is encouraged to consider if the shape has been carved from a solid material rather than mere flesh.
Sculptures invite the viewer in and they often touch actual sculptures in galleries, running their hands over the forms. This is obviously not something that can happen here (nor would it be very appropriate), but the impression of tactility is part of the strength of the image.
The model freely offered this pose and commented on her modeling site that “I think I worried Jo. She didn’t know I could bend like that haha.”(Purpleport.com, 2017). She did shock me as I had no idea that she was so flexible.
A comment from a viewer of the image on the site commented “Bloody love this – beautiful bodyscape! (Purpleport.com, 2017).
The image has a range of tonal values with no blown highlights. The blacks are rich and velvety. This helps to make the image engaging for the audience.
The image of the lumpy legs was a late comer to the portfolio. The owner of these legs was keen for me to photograph them for the body of work.
By turning the legs through 90 degrees, I was able to create an interesting landscape.
Again, the tonal range is strong and enhances the detail in the lumps and bumps.
This is obviously not an image of a young nubile youth. We are a society obsessed with the culture of youth and so do not we usually expect to see these types of legs being photographed. My intent is to challenge that and to try to beautify the older generation through images like this. The influence of Coplans is evident here. However, Coplans tended to use much harsher lighting and I have tried not to do that. The contrast and clarity have been increased to show the detail in the forms, but the resultant image is gentler in the tones used.
This image reminds some of “a macro shot of one of those Australian grubs the aboriginals eat”. I have to admit, that I had not seen the image in that light before that comment.
The image has since been re-edited to increase the tonal range and to make it less grub-like in appearance.
The image may appear to have an unhealthy appearance to it, yet the owner of this body moved her body into a position to get this shot. She is a gorgeous woman, who you would not associate an unhealthy lifestyle with if you saw her clothed and walking down the street. This body of work has opened my eyes (and hopefully those of the viewer) to what lies beneath the surface of our clothes.
The close up of this elbow has a good range of rich tones. The detail is quite remarkable and has been enhanced by the lighting used, an 85mm/1.4 prime lens and the adjustments to clarity as part of the post-processing.
It was great to hear the owner of this elbow exclaim “that’s mine!” as she came into the exhibition.
This body shot also belongs to the elbow owner. She wanted to show me what a woman’s body looks like after having children quite a few years ago.
When she stands up, you would not know that the owner has these saggy looking parts. In fact, her art nude photographs reveal a toned body, with no hint of this memory of a major life event.
I have included this image as the identification of the part of the body is not immediately obvious. Also, as previously mentioned, my intent with this work is to challenge the obsession with youth and to beautify the older generation through images like this.
In this image, composition and form were of the utmost importance to me when taking the image. The composition conforms to the golden spiral. The eyes of the viewer are intended to sweep around the male form, taking in the minute details in the image.
The skin is smooth with soft hairs that delight the viewer. The eyes are drawn up to the little mole at the top of the image before they drop back down into the image again for another viewing.
This was another late arrival to the portfolio. The owner of this mole covered back was very generous with his participation in the project.
His back and other parts of his body are covered with these harmless moles (he is regularly checked at the hospital for those of you who are reading this and are worried). He describes his back as a ‘map of the universe’.
Again the tonal range and richness of the black really emphasise the speckledness of his back. The composition is reminiscent of the back portraits that Weston and others have done. However, shooting slightly off to one side at a shallow angle have enabled me to show more texture across the back.
By turning the image of a beautiful back onto its side, I have been able to portray a sensual landscape. In the media and publications, we do not get to see enough people with this type of body. It seems to me that unless you are young and skinny you are not considered photogenic. This model is the most photogenic person I know, and the most amazing person to go with it.
The image is elegant and empathetic; the tones rich and sumptuous. Bodies of all shapes and sizes deserve to be presented in a way that makes everyone seem more worthy of publication, and not just the ‘commercial’ body types.
This edit is a different version of the hairy bottom shot seen in earlier versions. This version is less obvious that it is a bottom, and does not jar the viewer’s eyes as much as the first version.
There is a bit of strength in the muscles that mirrors the strength of character of this model to disrobe before the questing gaze of the camera. This was out of his comfort zone, but he worked through this to achieve shots like this.
The amount of hair is quite remarkable. However, it does not repel or disgust the viewer but seems soft and fluffy like a teddy bear. The hair grows in really interesting patterns, which engages the viewer and encourages them to stop and stare.
This shot shows a glorious human back. The tonal range gives the image the appearance of a smooth stone sculpture that invites touch (again it would be inappropriate!). This increase the tactile feel and gives the viewer more to think about when looking at the image.
The model who this belongs to, has issues finding paid work because she does not conform to society’s ideal. However, it is far easier to photograph any model who is comfortable in their own skin, as she is.
This outstretched hand produces a landscape of rolling hills created by skin and sinew. There is a real gentleness to the sweeping form, that is enhanced by the tonal range and the lighting used.
The model that this belongs to has all sorts of different and wondrous parts to her body, several of which appear later in this portfolio.
The temptation was to turn this shot through 90 degrees to create another human landscape. I did debate that but feel that a vertical form is a more effective and impactful shot.
The tonal range and the richness of the black encourages the viewer to enjoy the texture of the skin.
The lighting and angle of shot have really worked well in this image to make the spine appear really prominent, more than it seemed in real life.
Tself-portrait portrait shot of my knee. I set up the lighting and camera and asked a friend to press the shutter (as my cable release was not focussing the image correctly)
The form has been described in many ways by viewers. My favourite is that it reminded someone of an “asteroid spinning its lonely way through space”.
My scars are from many operations and were described by one viewer as like Chinese symbols. I wear my scars with pride – they are part of me and remind me of the events I have been through in my life.
The tones help this to be a serene shot that is full of minute details that again makes the viewer stop and stare. They may have questions about the scars that cause them to further study the image.
This image is an abstract frontal shot of a man. The shapes were produced by trying out different arm positions and heights.
The image is full of details that make you look closely. The skin tags are captured well and enhanced with the lighting and post-processing. I find them fascinating to look at and hope that the viewer does too.
This image is a celebration of age worn with pride around the eyes of a kindhearted and generous man.
The shot was taken with a 85mm/1.4 prime lens to get as much detail as possible. There has been some cropping as part of the post-processing to make sure that the framing of the image was exactly as I wanted.
Like others, this is a gentler form of a Coplans influenced image. The muscle tone is enhanced by the lighting and clarity adjustments in post-processing.
This version replaces an earlier version that seemed too soft to me. The tonal range of this image is better and the form is more in line with the rest of the portfolio.
This image is simply fascinating to all who see it.
The neck structure has a monumental feel to it, rather like an effigy carved into the cliffs. My husband commented that it reminded him of the root structure of a Banyan tree.
The eyes of the viewer are drawn into the central features and details by the soft focus of the chin and the foreground area.
For the final image, we again return to the human body as a sensual landscape.
This shot was a serendipitous meeting of creative minds in the studio and is one of my favourites of the whole portfolio.
The interesting crop has been created by the clothing worn by the owner. Whilst I like this, I can appreciate that to others this may be slightly jarring.
In a webinar, this image was described as being like a 3D scan. Others see “an asteroid floating in the darkness of space” or an “unrolling scroll”. For me, this is tremendous because this image is creating a narrative of its own.
Purpleport.com. (2017). 404 – PurpleFail / Portfolio hosting and networking for models, photographers and related creatives / PurplePort. [online] Available at: http://purpleport.com/portfolio/afton/image/3338254/model/?referrer=josutherstphotos [Accessed 17 Aug. 2017].
The exhibition had several visitors over the duration who are featured in the Performance exhibit. As always, selfies were taken of the models with their images. Some of the images below I took of the models, others were sent to me after.
It was amazing to see the models coming to see themselves in the exhibition. More will be added in later posts as I receive them (or take them).
During the exhibition, I was offering photo shoots as part of the experience. Some who came are aspiring to be models, others just wanted to get involved. The images below are indicative of those taken from Friday 11th August – Thursday 17th August. Another shoot is planned at 12noon Friday 18th August and will be published in a later blog.
Visitor feedback 11th August – 17th August 2017.
The owner of the studio has generously written a diary and evaluation from her point of view. Her words are:
“Jo Sutherst photographic exhibition at PoZers Studio
Jo first came to PoZers Studio just over a year ago, at this point she had just started her “performance collaborations” project for her Masters. Jo had answered a casting for a local model in Swindon, the model had recommended my studio, as I am based on the outside of Swindon, off the A419 at Cricklade. Jo came to the studio to shoot the model and we just clicked instantly, Jo explained that she was doing her Masters degree in photography at Falmouth university, and she had actually shot a model who I was a huge fan of, Johnny O’Connell, and the image was of Johnny styled as a fairy and I absolutely loved the image. So to find out that Jo was the photographer behind the concept and the image was amazing. As I am a makeup artist, costume designer prop maker, and studio owner and Jo is such a lovely lady, phenomenal creative and fabulous photographer, it was inevitable we would build a creative connection. Jo Sutherst and PoZers Studio connections, collaborations, creative relationships and friendship was born.
Jo has been coming to PoZers for well over a year now and we have created a beautiful, fun and creative friendship, and I have watched Jo’s photography, projects, themes, genres, styles, evolve like a beautiful caterpillar into the most magnificent butterfly you could imagine. I am so honoured to have watch this process from the start, to where we are now. I have watched Jo’s skills, ideas, concepts and techniques explode out of that creative mind of hers, and being part of this, no matter how big or small, has been a total pleasure and I have made a friend for life.
When Jo told me a few months ago she was running an exhibition for part of her final module for this academic year, I jumped at the chance to get her to hold it at PoZers, when she ran the idea past by me, it was a no brainer. This is where the magic happens and also the dates that Jo gave me, the studio was quiet, it’s ‘location season’ and the majority of my regulars are shooting models in the great outdoors, so the studio hire goes quiet, meaning I could shut the studio totally for the 9 days, allowing Jo to show her work where so much of it had been created in the first place, having the space to create a “proper exhibition environment” and as I have extensive contacts in the photographic industry in the area this would create a constructive audience for Jo’s exhibition and allow others from the photography world to view her work, other than on social media. Many of the models that Jo used, also live in the area, and would be able to come and see themselves in the exhibition images where the image were actually created.
So from the day that Jo and I spoke about the exhibition, she started her in depth exhibition planning, keeping me informed of the process throughout, explaining her requirements from me, how she envisaged the exhibition, how to attract the crowds in, times the exhibition would run, workshops she would create, models she would shoot, castings to be put out etc. Last year, one of my very dear friends in the industry, Andy Cubin, introduced me to his beautiful 13-year-old daughter who wanted to become a makeup artist and she was also keen to model. Little Hannah was a dream to work with, she was a natural model, she probably was modelling for her dad from an early age and her interest in makeup was so passionate and her ability to apply her own was amazing. Hannah was our little junior model a few times and I had hoped to have her at PoZers a lot during 2017, to develop her makeup skills, doing work experience and allowing her to decide if this was the field she wanted to follow after leaving school. Jo shot with Hannah at PoZers at Halloween and had plans to shoot her again at our Christmas party on the 17th December. On Saturday 10th December, Hannah went to a friend’s for a sleep over, this was 3 days after her 14th birthday. Late into the evening, Hannah was taken ill quite suddenly, struggling to breathe. Her friend’s mum rang Andy and his wife immediately and then 999. Her parents arrived first and administered mouth to mouth and CPR, the paramedics turned up and took over, then the Wiltshire Air Ambulance team arrived to airlift her to the nearest hospital once they had her breathing again and out of danger. Unfortunately their services were never needed, Hannah died after 90 minutes of battling to revive her. She had been gone since her parents had arrived, but the teams didn’t give up on her, true heroes. The next day at 7.30am Andy sent me a very brief message “Alley- sorry to tell you that my little girl died last night. I’ll be in touch in due course xxx”… I couldn’t believe what I had just read and I read it repeatedly and couldn’t comprehend this was reality, I flicked into Facebook and saw Andy’s post on Facebook, then it hit me. As a mum and nearly losing my son the year before, I was instantly broken for Andy and Dawn and couldn’t bear to think that Hannah had died at 14 years old with no warning. Hannah was going to be modelling for me in less than a week, she was going to be my Christmas angel, and she can’t be an angel for real, it’s not right. Hannah’s death hit everyone hard at PoZers, all we could do was try to imagine the pain that Andy and Dawn must be going through, so I decided to cancel our Christmas party. There was no hope that any of us could have celebrated the season, the day, knowing Hannah should be with us, it was just unthinkable. I expressed my concerns to Andy, but he wanted it to continue, but I just couldn’t do it, it was wrong, Hannah should have been there, it was wrong. Andy dismissed my concerns, explaining Hannah would have been so upset that I would have cancelled it, so I decided that I would still go ahead, on the terms that all the money raised, would go towards something to remember Hannah by. Andy decided that he should open a charity page and raise money for Wiltshire Air Ambulance in Hannah’s memory, so he created a “Just Giving Page” for Hannah and made it live on the Monday afternoon, setting the target realistically at £999 hoping to raise enough to make a difference by Christmas.
So from here we shared the page amongst our friends, my PoZers Facebook page etc. Andy had a huge following on Facebook, he was a very influential photographer in Wiltshire, having had flown with the Red Arrows for years and is currently a captain for British Airways. Before we knew it, Hannah’s page had raised over £10k in 24 hours and it went up and up and up. Soon the local newspapers, then the nationals, radio stations, BBC television were on the story and Hannah’s page, suddenly we went global, and we were getting donations from America, Australia, everywhere. It costs £9k a day to keep the air ambulance in the sky, in 24 hours we had achieved this, then 48 hours, it kept on coming in and to date, Hannah’s page has raised over £60k, £50k of that was raised in the first 2 weeks. Because it has slowed down, it’s upset me to think that Hannah’s memory might be slipping away, so because Jo had shot Hannah at PoZers, Jo helped me with her “Celebration of life” shoot, days after her death and connected with the entire fund raising events and pages, I asked her what her thoughts were on running her exhibition and donating the profits to Wiltshire Air Ambulance through Hannah’s “Just Giving Page”, and she had already thought of it, we literally connected on the same wavelength without realising. So not only is Jo an amazing creative, she is a genuinely kind and beautiful person, agreeing to give any profits from the charity to Hannah’s page, it’s not just about the money, for Jo and I, its about keeping Hannah’s memory alive, we both worked with Hannah and we still struggle getting our heads around her death.
Now Jo had sorted out this part of her exhibition, she then continued shooting at PoZers as she was still working really hard to get her final images for this module, obviously they were going to be part of the exhibition, so it was really important to get the shoots that Jo needed to create her final collection. It’s been amazing being part of Jo’s Masters and photographic journey this last year, we have become such good friends, we really are on the same wave length creatively, but our styles are very different, but are passions are the same. Jo lives, eats and breathes photography, she doesn’t give it anything less than 101% 24/7 and she deserves all the success in the world, I am just flattered she chose PoZers to hold her exhibition, I am so proud to have Jo part of the PoZers group, having Jo in my life really is a very positive thing, one day I really hope to be as great a photographer as Jo, she’s inspirational and I am so excited to see her exhibition at PoZers.
Thursday 10th August:
Today PoZers was closed as today was Jo’s setting up day. I arrived at the studio at 9.30 and got the kettle on. Jo arrived straight after me, bringing in boxes of goodies to display at the studio. The first thing was to go through her exhibition drawings and to separate the various images to the right areas. We started with studio 2 (the smaller of my two studios) this was going to be the “Performance exhibition”. Jo and I ran washing lines across the studio in a variety of manners, zig zag across the walls from the backdrop poles in the corner, to a couple of feet away from the poles, in triangles. Once the line was secured, Jo then arranged her images accordingly. Jo and I shuffled everything around the studio, making sure she had the maximum space for the viewers to enjoy and take in her art. We decorated the performance area with some of PoZers props, Jo took charge of the décor and I assisted where I could. This was Jo’s exhibition, she needed to put her spin and add her touch to the finished exhibition. I helped Jo as much as possible, but she really created something amazing for her performance section, seeing is believing and I am sure the photographs say it all.
Jo and I then moved into the front studio and started her “Only Human” exhibition. Again we followed Jo’s plans, but Jo gave me the images, not in any particular order and then asked me to select the images at random, rather than being pre-planned and regimental in the styling of the walls. The layout in this studio would be far simpler, bold, strong and professional, completely different from the performance room. This part of the exhibition was about abstract forms of the human body in black and white images. During Jo’s exhibitions she is creating workshops and demonstrations, so we needed the studio to be functional, at the same time we wanted it looking far different than it normally does, so my regulars have the wow factor upon entrance. Jo kept the images at the end of the studio where my clients walk through the door, straight into a welcoming seated area. This allows the audience to be captivated as soon as they walked through the door then in front of them would be the studio area, where Jo’s workshops would be held. These areas would remain simple, plain and normal, unlike the rest of the studio areas.
This corner of the studio is now known as “Hannah’s Corner” in memory of this beautiful little girl, for as long as I run PoZers, the images will remain here, I am however moving them to the makeup corner so she can watch over me. These images were taken by Andy, her fabulous father, and photographer, and displays Hannah’s stages of life beautifully.
Here we have the entrance to the studio with Jo’s exhibition board, and of course our main door has to be decorated with Jo’s fabulous, fun portraits. Jo has done a fabulous job of making PoZers her home from home exhibition, and I was so proud she was showing the work created here and even prouder to host her exhibition.
Friday 11th August: opening day of the exhibition
Jo and I both arrived bright and early to the studio, to ensure we were ready for the doors opening at 10. Jo is running an exhibition talk and walk through everyday at 11, and we wanted Jo to do her walk through in a video format to share on the event page to entice our audience. We had some of my regulars visit to support Jo and the charity. We had a male model we have worked with previously bring his son and his son’s girlfriend for their very first couple shoot. The teenage couple would like to go into modelling, and the model friend of ours knew that Jo would really look after them both and treat them with kindness and respect that they should have for their very first shoot. Jo is amazing at bonding with her subjects, she casts a magic aura over everyone she has in the studio, bringing them to life in front of the camera. A couple of the photographers stayed and watched Jo shooting, which was nice, as they witnessed how a professional shoot with teenage models should be handled. I also filmed Jo working with the group and it was great to see them all sign the visitor book upon leaving. Today was a great first day for Jo’s exhibition, she’s created something of great interest for everyone. We have the black and white abstract images of the human body, which I might add, has had the majority of people questioning which image is which part of the body, which is fun, it engages the audience, and some people have come up with the most bizarre answers, it’s been hilarious.
Saturday 12th August: closed exhibition – male art nude workshop
Today the studio was opened bright and early as Jo’s workshop was running today, themed around shooting male art nudes. This is one of the genres that Jo had only explored for the first time back in May, and discovered that she was really good at it, despite being uncomfortable to start with, she’s become a natural and very comfortable around nude men, which I have to say I am still struggling with. We set the studio up ready for the attendees’ arrival at 9, kettle on as usual and all the learning aids laid out ready for their arrival. Jo had created a goody bag for each and every attendee. This delighted the ladies attending, and gave the workshop that personal touch. The first hour Jo ran through a wide range of instructions, inspirational images, explanations of lighting and effects etc. All the ladies interacted and I videoed this section, on and off for around 15 minutes.
As ever, Jo was amazing with the ladies who attended, she soon put them at ease and disposed of any inhibitions they might have about the next 4 hours. The model arrived at 10am, and also helped Jo to relax the group, I found the very first male nude shoot that Jo performed at PoZers, very intimidating, so I could empathise with the ladies who attended, but Jo soon put them at ease and Clint was amazing too. The four hours of shooting with Clint and Jo’s training programme was fabulous. The ladies, by an hour in, were totally relaxed and comfortable with the model’s nudity, and they also came up with their own poses, played with the lighting, experimented with materials, back drops etc. It really was a great workshop and was wonderful watching Jo sharing her skills with the group.
Sunday 13th August: exhibition and portrait session.
Today was a beautiful day and even better it was another day in the studio with Jo and visitors to see her stunning work. We had some of the models that Jo had worked with before, they came along to see themselves in Jo’s exhibition and got selfies, stood next to their images, it was so funny. At 12 we had a lady come along to the studio who had been part of Jo’s work just two weeks earlier, she had gone from a lady who just wanted to give modelling a try, to her registering on a modelling portfolio site, called PurplePort and getting paid work already. Wow!!! Jo has created her very first model, she felt so relaxed around Jo, and loved her images so much, she decided to become a model as her new hobby, how amazing is that? This is what kind of influence she has on those she works with. Something magical happens in the studio when Jo arrives, I am really going to miss her when she goes back to work in September, we have spent so much time together this summer, I am going to miss her terribly. The shoot went on for 2½ hours and we had so much fun. Jo created some stunning portraits in this time with our newly found model. It’s a fabulous feeling making someone fall in love with an industry that you have loved too. Let’s hope her experiences with others are just as positive as with Jo and I.
Monday 14th August: exhibition and private male art nude session
Today started with rain over Wiltshire, but the sun shone inside PoZers as it always does when Jo’s here. Today was our quietist day, with it being a Monday, we had some public through the door before our male art nude session, with a lovely gentleman who was going through a “bucket list” of things to do in life, and doing a male art nude session, with the theme of body parts, wasn’t one you get to apply for everyday on Facebook, so he thought “what the hell???” He was really, really nervous to start with, bless him, but after 15-20 minutes he managed to shed his robe and go through the necessary poses for Jo to create the images she required. He ended up really enjoying it in the end, gave up his fear and just got on with it. People just love getting their clothes off for Jo!!!! Seriously, I don’t know how she does it!!! They literally strip!!!! It’s amazing. People just gel with Jo and she makes them feel comfortable in the skin they’re in. I have seen people come to the studio, never doing anything like this before, totally petrified, no confidence, never taken their clothes off for a soul before, can’t even deal with a family photo opportunity, yet they arrive at the studio, completely terrified, within no time at all they’ve had a cuppa and a chat, looked around the studio, next thing they are taking their clothes off!!!! Magic.
Tuesday 15th August: portrait and fashion demonstration
Today was a great day. I had some of my camera club ladies attend the exhibition and Jo gave them the fully guided tour and answered all of their questions. Some of them really tested Jo’s knowledge and asked quite in-depth questions, which were quite fascinating, several we hadn’t heard or thought of ourselves. It was great having another photographer’s critique, especially constructive critiques from other female photographers. Once the ladies had finished their tours, chat and critique we had a beautiful young lady, Emily come for a fashion and portrait session with Jo. Emily came to my modelling workshop a few weeks ago, and I have managed to get her a few shoots since, even paid work, but she was more than happy to be guided and shot by Jo, as she really loves her work. Emily’s levels are currently fashion only, so Jo went for some fabulous, flattering and fun portraits and fashion poses, which Emily loved. Emily really loosened up with Jo, which was great to see, her last shoot at PoZers wasn’t too successful, the photographer was really slow and struggles to connect with the models, pose and instruct, but was a great learning curve for Emily. Jo is the complete opposite, so it was lovely for Emily to be part of the demonstration and work with another female photographer, other than me. To finish off the day, my photography mentor came along to see the exhibition. He is a positive attendee to have along to an exhibition, as he loves photography with all his heart, and loves nothing more than to chat with other like minded creatives, challenge their skills, deconstruct their images and give a fair and honest critique. This was the first time that Jo had had the chance to really talk to my mentor and I think it was a huge positive, someone testing Jo’s knowledge, reasons for choosing her final images, questioning her crops, why monotone, why edit the ways she does etc. I think it’s constructive to be challenged when it’s done in a non-threatening manner, I always find his feedback and constructive criticism really helpful, however art is like beauty, in the eye of the beholder, Jo is strong enough to hold her own when her images are questioned. A great end to a great day.
Wednesday 16th August: presentation filming
Today was really constructive for Jo and myself. We got in bright and early so that we could film Jo’s presentation. Jo could have quite easily just created a power point presentation with images, voice-overs and text, but if she created her presentation like all the other “presentation cop-outs” she wouldn’t be Jo!!!! We had so much fun finding a part of the studio, which would really work for the backdrop to her very important presentation. We set the camera up on the tripod and ensured the framing worked with Jo sat comfortably, microphone in place and constantly running through her lines so that she was memorising them as much as possible. We played around, changed the wording, set the lights up and performed the presentation in blocks. I don’t think I have laughed so much since I can’t remember when!!!! I was literally crying at so many opportunities today, my ribs hurt and my eyes puffed up. Jo is really comfortable speaking to the public, she’s a teacher, she does this everyday in front of her students, she has a strong, clear and precise tone, she learnt her lines, she had autocue if needed, everything should have flowed easily and gone perfectly, you’d think so anyway, wouldn’t you? To be fair the majority went amazingly, but when Jo forgot her words or mispronounced a word she pulled funny faces and said such hilarious things to cover up the “Fluff” I was keeling over and dying with laughter. I was counting Jo in and pressing record and stopping at the relevant point, so when one of the bloopers occurred, I was literally crying with laughter. I have told Jo she has to put together the “Bloopers”!!! They are the funniest things ever!!! It was just like watching the old show “It will be alright on the night” back in the 1980’s and 90’s, it’s the funniest thing I have witnessed in such a long time. Jo is always great fun to be around, but at all times she is a true professional and pushes so hard to be the best at everything she does, so watching her fluff her lines absolutely tickled me pink, sorry Jo, you should know my sense of humour by now, her presentation is fabulous, but her bloopers are even better, I am just hoping she puts them together and makes a YouTube video, because I reckon she could become a YouTube phenomenon with this.
Right, once we finally got the presentation over and done with and professionally recorded, it was time to open the doors to the public, I was still giggling of course, the rest of the day I was a blithering mess, as usual, Jo was as professional as ever and carried on showing this throughout the day, showing her guests around the exhibition and not mentioning the presentation funnily enough!!!! Lol…. Oh and I got to meet Jo’s mum today, that was another highlight and bless her, she travelled all the way from Coventry to see her amazing daughter’s exhibition, she was definitely a proud mother, to be fair, if Jo was my daughter, I’d be bursting with pride too. So lovely to meet the fabulous lady that moulded this creative, beautiful, fun, fabulous, dedicated, hardworking woman.
Thursday 17th August: exhibition and constrictive talks about photography
Today was really interesting, we started slightly later then the other days, as Jo was at her school this morning as it was “A-level results day”, a very stressful day for all the youngsters across the country. Jo arrived in a really positive mood, the majority of her students got the grades they had hoped for, and so this was a great start to the day. We had a lovely range of attendees today, we had two gentlemen I know from the Swindon photographic society, I have met them both on 2 occasions now and this is why they came to the exhibition, because I had attended one of theirs. It’s funny and lovely how photographers support one another, sometimes I wonder if it’s support or whether it’s curiosity, purely to observe the capabilities of others and whether they are a threat to them photographically. I think both of them were shocked at what they saw in the main studio. I had described Jo to them, as my “Fairy Lady’, they weren’t quite expecting to see nudity, body parts, monochrome, light and shade, abstract etc. So for the shock factor, this really worked and was quite hilarious, to see their faces, responses and their constructive opinions. They both spent a lot more time of the “Only Human” section, than they did on the performance room. I think this was because they were expecting the performance images, from what I had informed them about Jo, so came back through to studio one and talked about the “abstracts of body parts” (as they worded it). One of them had very little to say about the images, but he observed very intensely, whereas the other gentleman questioned the images such as male or female? Why monochrome? Why negative space? Why white borders? Why randomly placed? Why no labels of explanation? Why choose the main studio for the strongest images? What started the fascination? Why nudity? Why abstract? Of course Jo had constructive answers for everything he threw at her, which impressed him. He’s very challenging of female photographers, so I was chuffed when Jo held her own and answered all his questions straight away, it was funny because he thought his challenge would throw a spanner in the works, and it didn’t!!!! Go Jo!!!!! He really presumed that with her being a female photographer it would be about the images solely and she wouldn’t have the knowledge behind the technical ability of creating the images. Wrong!!!! This was a standing moment against the male photographers who believe that women only create images that viewers go gooey over. Jo’s body parts has more of a shock factor than he anticipated with this particular female photographer, I hate the whole stereo-typing that certain males in the industry label us with. If her performance images would have been in studio 1, this would have allowed him to use this stereotyping of female photographers, but it wasn’t, it was the “Only Human” images that he saw first. Initially we did plan to put the body parts in studio 2, as several contained nudity, but the performance room allowed us to create a staged performance, and added humour to the humorous, but technically stunning imagery.
An hour or so later, we had 3 of the models who have been in Jo’s performance exhibition make a surprise visit, arriving at separate times. The first was one of my favourite creations I did with Jo and that was our friend and fellow creative photographer, Mark. Mark let us abuse him and turn him into a Pop art fairy, and I don’t think I have ever laughed so much as I did that day. The funny thing was, Mark knew that Jo and I would do something awful to him (in a good way) and he actually volunteered. I am really proud of the fact that Mark is my friend and that he allowed me to go wild with whatever we wanted, he is what I call a “real man” !!!! What I loved even more was the fact he was proud of his images, so proud that he brought his 6 year old son along to look at Jo’s exhibition too. Now that is a fabulous father and a wonderful man. Yes, we might have turned the poor man into a fairy, but god he rocked a 6ft 4inch fairy.
The other two fairies were both models and funnily enough didn’t know each other before their shoots, which occurred on the same day, and now they have become really good friends, which is lovely that Jo’s work has also built friendships that will hopefully last forever. Mel and Sam were amazing models and we had so much fun that day, poor Mel had an accident around a month ago, and is currently on crutches and her right leg is in a huge boot, protecting a badly injured ankle, so she has barely left the house bless her. So I think seeing herself looking amazing, on the studio 2 wall, really cheered her up and having Mel back at the studio really made our day. Sam is the final model of today. Sam kindly brought poor injured Mel from Bristol, so they could both see their beautiful faces on our walls. It was a total delight to spend the afternoon with them, we had such a laugh and it was great to relive the day they both first met at PoZers, and I am so glad they came along to see the part they both played in Jo’s amazing exhibition.
One more day at the exhibition and that’s the end….. but is it ????? For me it’s still the beginning because I believe that Jo’s journey will be ever changing and ever evolving into something new. Shame this diary needs to be in tonight, so I don’t get to write about tomorrow !!! Who knows what could happen??? At PoZers anything is possible. Jo is living proof of this.
Constructive evaluation of Jo Sutherst photographic exhibition at PoZers
The last seven days with Jo have been fabulous. PoZers has hosted its first photographic exhibition, which has drawn in a wider photographic audience than I first imagined, therefore leading to further work for both Jo and myself. Obviously, now that Jo and I have a very close friendship, whereas initially, it was a client/studio owner relationship, but that quickly changed and the friendship has grown over the last year, when she leaves tomorrow, I am going to be sad and will really miss her company.
Jo and I always have so much fun on our shoots together, this week allowed me to witness how professional Jo was, whereas normally we would be behaving in the same manor of the shoot style, laughs and giggles with performance, more seriousness with the artistic nudes and body parts, as many of the subjects were naked in front of the camera for the first time, except for the models. This week I have watched Jo walk through her exhibition and explained the reasoning behind her work, she’s been very constructive and technical about her body part display and then going into the performance area, she’s been the Jo I work with, as the beautiful humour of the wonderful lady has been as clear as her images.
I have watched Jo perform several demonstrations, several workshops, we’ve recorded her presentation, amongst other videos, we’ve created for the exhibition including filming part of her make art nude workshop on Saturday. During these moments I have seen a different “Jo”, I have seen the “Jo” that is professional down to the core, seen the “Jo” that is passionate about her work, I have seen the Jo that can hold her own when discussing her technical abilities to a wider audience. I always knew that Jo was capable of all of the above, but haven’t actually witnessed it first hand, until this week, and this has clarified to me that Jo is a fully professional female photographer who loves her art, loves testing her abilities, loves sharing her work and the meaning behind it all. Gaining her Masters will just tell the world what she is capable of, but I witnessed it first hand and for me Jo is already that phenomenal professional she’s striving to become, she’s already there, but to have her Masters will clarify this to the world, but it should be her abilities as a photographer that does this, but many people want to see that piece of paper that officially tags her as a capable photographer, of course not everyone who has their Masters is as good as Jo, after all, it’s a piece of paper, true photography comes from the heart, mind, and soul.
Jo’s work should be coming down tomorrow after the exhibition finishes, but I have asked Jo if she would like to leave it up. PoZers is a quirky studio, after 18 months owning the studio, my business is proving to be successful and growing, being renowned for being fun and quirky, so I believe that Jo’s exhibition will help enhance what can be created at PoZers, in a studio environment, her imagery is, therefore, a phenomenal way to make the studio even more quirky, filling with the walls with humour in studio 2 and serious photography with her body parts and beautiful monochrome, technical ability, this will then drum up conversation in the studio, and give me the opportunity to chat about my phenomenal friend and like minded creative. It would be an honour to have Jo’s work here permanently, maybe over time the area may become slightly smaller as my work becomes an exhibition in my own studio, but for now, I am honoured to have her work in the studio and have her visitors book stay ever open for people to write their opinions of her work.
Thank you, Jo, for a phenomenal 9 days (1 day set up, 8 days exhibiting) it’s been a total pleasure having your work on my walls, and here’s to you always being a part of PoZers. May we grow old and wrinkly together, with our cameras witnessing the most amazing images that we create until our demise.”
My thanks go to Alley for this wonderful diary and evaluation. The studio with Alley was definitely the best place to have this exhibition!
I had anticipated that this would be the final version. I was happy with each image and its place in the portfolio, then I had a final shoot for this module with “Simon” and this resulted in images that really warranted inclusion. This version is presented here for completeness.
As a qualified teacher, leading a workshop was always going to offer me the chance to enthusiastically share my passion with like minded individuals.
The workshop was planned and delivered on the 12th August. The topic was one that had been requested by a club that I belong to – a male art nude session. For the participants (all ladies), there was a mix of excitement and nervousness when they arrived at 9am. I started the session with introductions and a general briefing.
Each participant was given a goody bag with resources needed for the day. This included a notebook, which they eagerly filled with notes throughout the day.
The first discussions of the day were about model etiquette, lighting for art nude, and potential poses that can be used when working with a nude model. I also explained my motivation for the work that I have been doing and this prompted an in-depth discussion about the gaze. One of the participants, Holly, is currently studying for her BA Photography and has a particular interest in gaze. The entire group had an in depth discussion about the male vs the female gaze, as well as considering the gay gaze and how that may be different from the other gazes.
Once the model, Clint, arrived at 10 am, I started the practical part of the workshop with a single light, low key lighting set up against a black drop. To ease the participants into working with a nude male model, the session started with the model being topless. The participants were nervous originally, but very quickly were able to ask Clint to pose how they wanted him to. A second light was introduced to show the different effect that this would have to the images.
After 45 minutes or so, I explained that Clint would be naked for the next part of the workshop. So the ladies put their brave pants on as Clint’s came off, and the session got underway. One of the ladies, Anne, commented that she felt that the ambiance in the room had changed and that it became harder to make conversation with the model. This did not last for very long though as they settled down quickly as they were so engrossed in obtaining the best images that they could. There were moments of awkwardness, especially when the ladies wanted to ask Clint to position his penis so that it couldn’t be seen on camera. There is no delicate way to say things sometimes, but once you have had that conversation, it isn’t a problem anymore.
Very soon Clint’s nakedness became irrelevant and less noticeable, with the ladies relaxing into the session well. They became more and more confident with directing Clint with poses and positions. There are poses that Clint is unable to perform because of his muscularity, and others he needs to empty his lungs for parts of his body to fit together; this the ladies found really interesting.
The agenda I had planned for the day was adjusted as we went along. This is where my years of teaching really help, as the ability to seamlessly alter and adjust the teaching segments as the session progresses is something that I am comfortable with.
We moved onto high key lighting against a white backdrop. This offered the opportunity for a different type of shot. The backdrop was lit to provide separation of the model and the ladies tried with the light on and off to see the effects.
The ladies were also introduced to shooting through sheer material and shooting a model in a mask. Both of these set ups have provided them with creative, experimental images that they were proud of.
The final lighting set up was backlighting the model to create just an outline. The main studio lights were turned off to reduce stray light interfering with the shot. To enable focusing, I shone a light onto the back of Clint’s head. This set up was done both on the white and black backdrops, with successful images from both.
At the end of the workshop, an in-depth discussion took place with the ladies and Clint. The discussion turned to gaze and the conversation was extremely interesting. Clint is an experienced model and has been photographed predominantly by male photographers in the past. He feels that male photographers converse less and that they are in some cases, intimidated and uncomfortable with his nudity. It was interesting that he found some acted threatened by his nude body. Women, however, do not seem to experience that.
Clint explained that when he looks at an image of himself, he is able to tell whether a straight man, a gay man or a woman had taken the image. The images taken by a woman or a gay man have a very different feel to those taken by the straight man. The images taken by women tend to concentrate predominantly on shapes and form. The poses are gentle and do not challenge the viewer, as the penis is often not visible, and nudity is implied and not explicit. The images taken by gay men tend to concentrate on the prominence of the penis in the image and often have humour running through them. These images can often have a direct sexual content through positioning and pose. The images taken by the straight men show Clint as strong and powerful. His muscles become the main focus of the image and the penis, whilst visible is often almost irrelevant.
For each shoot, Clint is fully aware and involved in the making of the images. He is keen to ensure that the shots are exactly what the photographer wanted. In order for the participants to publish any images, they had to get a model release form signed (and a small fee paid). I provided them with these release forms and had explained the importance of getting these signed at each opportunity when shooting with models.
The workshop was a great success, with the participants all taking away images that they are proud of. Throughout the session, we examined their images and talked about how they could improve and develop their work. At times I felt almost redundant as their confidence grew and they were happy to ask Clint to produce different poses using the source material I had brought along.
During the day, I realised that I photograph the male nude using each gaze – the male gaze, female gaze and gay gaze. My images are very varied and include many different styles. Having the discussions with Clint and the ladies really helped me to realise this. The ladies did challenge me on my images at times and were interested in why I shot images in a particular way. I did enjoy these conversations as they made me realise why I chose different gazes for different views.
My teaching style is relaxed. I like to make sure that I have prepared and planned for all eventualities, and that the participants leave having had an enjoyable and worthwhile experience. I am a kinesthetic learner and find that by doing things I remember them. This is the main learning experience type I used in the workshop. I also provided learning materials for both visual learners (hand-outs and resources) and aural learners through discussions and tutor talking sessions.
The participants have left feedback explaining that they enjoyed the day and felt they learned a lot. Holly has published a couple of images on the photography club page and has written a blog post for her course about the experience. Warning – proud teacher moment
Link to Holly’s blog – https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/47575220/posts/1558042999
For me, the workshop offered a great way to communicate my work with other like-minded individuals. Being able to share the enthusiasm I have for photography and to see the quality of images that the attendees have produced, is a feeling that is hard to explain. It is a privilege to be in a position to do this.
Figure 2: Facebook.com. (2017). 需要安全验证. [online] Available at: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1418068544921050/ [Accessed 13 Aug. 2017].