Friday, 21 March 2008

Poodles and the seaside

Images found on Google

For Easter project ideas I am thinking of poodle parlours or maybe luxurious dog spas as they seem to be marketed as. A 35mm approach and a set of portraits shot on medium format. I want to find as outrageous grooming as possible. The idea is to shoot colour and add a bit of fill flash for the portraits. Been surfing the net, yellow pages etc to try to find the perfect salon. One thing is clear, U.S would have been absolutely brilliant for this project idea. Nevertheless London is catching up, Yellow pages states that dog pampering services are up 93% from 2001.
I am attracted to the idea of how much our society spend on pet care, not just the grooming but boutique dog hotels, dog fashion, there is a yearly fashion show at Harrods called Pet - a - Porter showcasing the best fashion in doggie world. It is held in November each year but I will keep that in mind for the future. The search for pink poodles and extreme cuts continues....

Paul suggested I find a place in U.K and approach it in the same way as I want to continue the Kaliningrad project, that is to shoot medium format, mixing landscapes and portraits of people. This is what I like best to go places and explore them. Loads of choice and I am still very much researching ideas.
A few thoughts:
A place called Drigg, small coastal village in Cumbria. It is the place where most of Britain's low level radio active waste is being put and in January this year the government made a deal with the council to expand the site. Strange place to live I think but there is only 300 people living in Drigg and looks rather tiny on the aerial photos I have seen. Maybe not enough scope....

The decline of the English seaside resort or perhaps it is being born again.....? Decline is often much more attractive to photograph, I love crumbling paint and abandonment but it is hardly a new story. Looking for an angle..

In Morecambe Bay an old hotel is being restored to its 1930's heydays, the rest of Morecambe is in crumbling. On channel 4 a few month ago they questioned who would come to a boutique hotel in such a depressing place.

Folkestone has been seriously regenerated from its decline. Business man Roger de Haan has invested in art and galleries etc. It all sounds like a rather hip place to hang out. Folkstone is a gateway to mainland Europe with the channel tunnel.

Had a look at Sealand, a micro nation that I heard about a while back, well terribly disappointed to find out that Sealand is only made up of a sea barge, a military base during world war II. In 1967 Former English major and radio broadcaster Paddy Roy Bates occupied the island, named it Sealand and settled there. Recently there was a fire and as I understand it no one lives there now. Anyway it is really quite mad.

Hopefully I will get time to check out a few places on Monday like Ramsgate, Margate, Folkstone, Great Yarmouth.

Wednesday, 12 March 2008

Many things to think about

For the portrait brief I decided to focus on Muslim women, particularly western women that have converted to Islam. I have done some portraits on this subject before and wanted to explore further and try some different approaches. I found a really good lady (or so I thought) who agreed to pictures but changed her mind after I taken the photographs! The reason was that her husband got really upset about it when he found out, she said I could not use them for anything. I will respect that apart from putting one up here on the blog. (below) I was really not happy with the pictures I had taken anyway, some of the photos are really cliche, her looking out of the window, trapped in her house, so what was I thinking? It was raining and the house was not very attractive. It is a real shame since her story is so interesting, she is in her third marriage, she was the second wife in her previous marriage which she finally could not cope with. She converted to Islam because after her first divorce she felt the church would not accept her anymore. Religion is her obsession.

Awful picture

I tried Iman a German girl who I have met briefly before through a contact, I thought she be good for close ups since you can kind of tell from her face that she is northern European. To stick to head shots was really difficult and new to me, I find my self wanting to include more of the scene, stepping back.


Iman is a student of linguistics and lives in a house with two other Muslim girls, Aia from Egypt (also student - Visual communication)and Leila from France (working) I asked if I could photograph them together. I wanted to illustrate who many Muslims chose London because of its multiculturalism. Iman says life for her is so much easier in London, in Germany she is not treated as a German anymore. I had arranged to shoot them on the stairs outside the British museum this did not work out, it was hard to get them together during daylight time and I had to opt for stairs outside The Tower of London, with the light coming down very fast. I did not do very well, made a stupid mistake in many of the images, where the girls further back are slight out of focus and the background is not right. Did some more at their house. I used flash and it is really harsh I really, really have to sort out my flash skills. I always desperately try to avoid using flash.

Aia, Leila and Iman

Through Iman, I met Julia another convert, I was interested in her because she has a n MA in theology and converted to Islam half way through. Julia does not wear a headscarf. I think that it is important to include that not all Muslim women do, but it is really hard to convey this in the photographs..... and I don't want to photograph her standing outside a mosque exactly.


Aqeela is my third person, I have photographed her before but wanted to try some new things, her putting her hijab on looking in the mirror etc. The light was very good coming through the windows and I managed to use natural light reflecting a bit in some of the shots and using tripod for some.



I also went to Trafalgar Square for 7am the other day to meet up with Sheila from Save the Pigeons Organisation. Since the feeding ban came in to place volunteers from this organisation has been feeding the birds every morning, but are now forced to feed just of the square. I had this image in my head of loads of pigeons flying around her. Sheila said the pigeons had gone a lot more shy lately because of lack of human contact. I came back with a set of pictures that did not work at all.
So it has been a pretty step learning curve. I enjoyed the portraits, the interaction with people is very rewarding. I need to practise a lot more on composition and light and most of all to be more assertive in these situations. There are so many things to think about, the most important being representation I think.