Project Evaluation…

Coming back to uni after a long summer break, being given a new project and being able to work with people again excited me. I started this unit off on a high, I was feeling inspired, organised and ready to get my project and series of images done. Which soon started to deteriorate. I started to become less organised, uninspired and I have ended up pretty much hating my final images. 

When we were very first given this brief, the idea of plastic pollution being my topic came into my head straight away. I was excited, confident and wanted to get the ball rolling almost instantly. I sat and spoke to Alys Tomlinson about my idea and where I wanted to go with it, and she liked where my head was at with it, which thrilled me even more. I had an instant vision in my head of what I wanted to do, and I was going to do it. 

A few weeks went by and while ideas and research were coming along, we had a few group tutorials and meetings with our tutors to explain our ideas and where we were at with our project. My first few meetings with a group, Geraint and Matt started off great, I pitched my idea, showed them my research and it was all a positive outcome, all I had to do was shoot my pictures. 

This is where a few issues started to come in. Like I said, I had a vision in my head that I wanted to create, but, that wasn’t how my pictures turned out. I worked with what I could, and then it was time for my formative assessment with Geraint. I showed him where my WordPress was at at the time, and the images I had just taken. After explaining my project to Geraint he understood my pictures and seemed to like them, which gave me a little confidence boost that I was on the right tracks. He gave me some ideas of how I could improve my pictures for when I next show them to him or Matt. 

Weeks went by, I shot another set of images, then it came to be my meeting with Matt. This didn’t go so well, and ever since this meeting I have hated my work, felt like my whole project has been an absolute shambles and really regret the project idea I chose to execute from the start. I really started kicking myself and getting myself down over this project, worrying that what I have done isn’t good enough and that I am not going to get a good grade for my first project back, in my last year at university. 

My actual photoshoots went well overall. I managed to collect more than enough plastic rubbish, find a bathtub to use and a model willing to help me, get good enough lighting and take my images. This wasn’t an issue, but looking back over my images now, and receiving feedback, I’m not 100% happy with them. I don’t feel that they show my photography skills well and what I am capable of. I could have definitely picked a different topic to show off my photo taking ability and something that I would’ve been happy with. As I had this idea at the very start of the project, I jumped straight on it too quick and didn’t want to steer away from it as I was originally very intrigued by the idea of doing plastic pollution. I wish I had sat back and thought about another idea that I would’ve enjoyed photographing more. 

A positive note of my project is my digital workbook on WordPress. I put a lot of effort into filling up my workbook with a lot of research, images and writing and feel that this is a good reflection of how much effort I put into doing my work and that I am capable of getting a lot of work done in time for a deadline. I also feel I have created a series of images that have stuck to my narrative throughout, which is obvious in my workbook. They work individually and coherently to show the topic of plastic. 

I feel like I will enter the Sony Photo Awards again, but next time with a stronger set of images that show off the best of my photographic ability.

To finish this evaluation off I will sum up how I feel overall…

– Unhappy with my images, not my usual photographic style, perhaps too narrative driven?
– Disheartened and down after my meeting feedback
– I like how full my WordPress is and feel I have done a good job on it
– Next time, pick a topic where I can really enjoy myself and create images that show off the best of my photography skills

Career Plan…

 Throughout the ‘To Master’ unit, it has been very much based on our careers after uni, mastering photography, getting our work out there and learning what the industry is like from professionals coming in to speak to us. Over the last few months I have learnt some new things which are going to help me in the future. 

First of all, my images. Now, although I am not 100% happy with them, they come under the category that I love photographing the most, Portraiture. Portraiture has always been my favourite thing to photograph, whether it be a fashion or beauty shoot in the studio, to a fun outdoors shoot shot on my mobile phone or 35mm film camera. I love capturing peoples expressions, fashion sense, colours and individual looks. It is a very diverse industry/category to like photographing and want to go into, as you can do a lot and experiment with portraiture. It can be used for a small commission such as an advert for the back of a leaflet, or it can be used for a bigger commission such as shooting the new AW18 campaign for Louis Vuitton. It can even be composed in a more contemporary arty way, making it more abstract and put a meaning behind it. Its very open to allow you to put your own twist on it, and that is what I like about portraiture so much. 

Every day I am seeing new inspiration from photographers and artists that I keep saved my phone or noted down in a notebook and I always refer back to them when finding inspiration for a photoshoot. I like to take inspiration from a number of people and almost add my own individual element, to combine the two ideas together. This way, I am keeping my photography fresh and individual. 

I decided to photograph portraiture with a narrative behind it as at the start I thought I could execute this quite well. Along the way I came across some problems and overall I am not 100% happy with the final images I have produced (will be explained further in my evaluation). I love both portraiture and a debate so what more could I want. So this was the path that I went down as I thought that I might be able to expand my portfolio with a more abstract attempt at portraiture after this project. 

Secondly, during this unit we have had to have a think about some other competitions we may want to enter throughout the year to get our name and work known in the photography world. As part of this unit we had to create a competitions table/calendar so we could easily keep track of which ones we might enter and when. I have put the deadline dates into my diary to remind myself of when I need to enter some of the competitions by. I came across some very interesting looking competitions that I did like the look of and will most likely enter before the deadlines. The ones I chose interested me the most due to the categories I can enter, the type of work I can submit, and the prizes you can potentially win. These are the competitions I am looking at possibly entering…

I am hoping that by creating some new work for these competitions and entering them will give me a chance for someone to notice my work and to potentially have something come of it, whether it be an email of congratulations or a small job commission. Any form of recognition would be good for my career at this early stage. 

Lastly, during this term we have had a number of guest speakers coming in to talk to us about their careers, their success stories and what it is like to be working in the photography industry. I have made notes throughout the term from the speakers we have had in and have been putting their tips to use… with emailing people, how to approach clients/useful contacts, how to act professional, and how to just keep trying your best. I found the Bruno Bayley talk the most useful one as he was young, been to uni and got a job, he seemed like the most relatable person to listen to at this stage of my degree/career. He gave us some really good tips, tricks and stories on his experiences within the industry (which I have included in a previous post with my notes). 

Combining everything, I feel like I have gained a lot of extra inspiration, numerous tips and advice on how to tackle the industry and a good set plan of what I am going to do and when by, making me feel a lot more confident for after university life and my future career. 

Other Competitions I Am Going To Enter…

During this project we had to think about other competitions we may enter throughout the year as well as the Son World Photo Awards. In the first few weeks of this unit starting, Matt talked to us about creating a table of competitions we may enter in the future. I made a rough start on one during the early stages of this unit…

This was a rough draft that I drew up in my notebook so I could keep track of the competitions I had seen of interest to me. I decided to make it neater and easier to read, so I typed it up on a computer…

I decided to focus on these competitions in particular, as while searching for which ones I could enter (based on the deadline, entry fee and prizes), these ones appealed to me the most. I wrote next to each of them why they appealed to me and why I would enter them. 

Now I am coming to the end of this project, I am going to put the competition deadlines in my diary and brainstorm some ideas for some competitions I may enter next year. I would like to create some new, good quality work to enter as I would like to give myself the chance to be noticed and get my name/work out in the big wide world. 

My Image Series Description…

As well as submitting our images we had to give our series a name and write a short description, no longer than 150 words, about our images. Including information like why we took them. I went simple with mine. This is the series name and image description I submitted…

Series name- Plastic Pollution

Series description-

Plastic pollution has been on the rise in the media lately, it seems to be all we see in the papers, on TV and on posters. Seeing it everywhere, it has been on my mind a lot. 

I decided to create this series of images to get a message across about plastic pollution, the message being, if you wouldn’t pollute your friends and families surroundings, why are you doing it to aquatic life in the sea? 

I used a model covered and submerged in plastic to get the eerie feel across, with her looking lifeless and uncomfortable. As it is only what happens to the animals in the sea. 

Experimenting With Text/ Turning My Images Into Adverts…

During my project, I had the idea of my images possibly being used as plastic pollution adverts. While doing research and finding ideas for my project initially, I came across a lot of plastic pollution adverts with text quotes on them, which helped enhance the message of the images. I have had ideas of possibly using text on top for my final images, but decided against it for the competition as I didn’t like how they looked for submission to Sony. However, I am going to show my experiments with text on my images anyway. 

I couldn’t seem to find the the right place for the text to go over my images, it didn’t sit right anywhere around her face, and if it did go over the top of her face it took away too much from the image behind it. I didn’t like the writing at the side as it didn’t look like it should be there, and overall, not figuring out where it looked right, this made me decide not to include text altogether.

My Final Images…

These are the final images I am choosing to include in my series… 

I have chosen these particular images as I feel that the tones, shadows and contrast turned out best in these pictures, and they reference the animals and plastic pollution issue best. If I imagine that my model was an animal not a person, the reference works well with the narrative. 

They also work well as a series arranged in a number of ways…

As they work well as a series, it doesn’t matter in which order they are viewed in as they all tell a separate story as well as being viewed together.

Black and White vs Colour…

One thing both Geraint and Matt asked me during my meeting was “why black and white?” and I explained to them that I personally prefer them in black and white as there is no colour distracting the viewer from focusing on the model and the plastic, it makes the images look more moody and eerie and a little abstract and I prefer how the details look. They both also said for me to try them in colour and see how they look compared to black and white, so I edited a few in colour to compare how they look.

I don’t think they look bad in colour but I am going to stick to black and white as I feel that the colour is just too distracting and unnecessary, and the black and white ones almost like abstract where you can’t quite tell what is in the water with her. 

Cropping Down My Images (1-2.5)…

During my tutorial with Geraint a few weeks ago, he suggested that I crop my images down to measurements around 1-2.9, making it crop down to a billboard style image. He suggested this as I was saying that my images could almost be used for a plastic pollution advert and I could experiment with putting text on top, which is when he then suggested cropping them down to that size. 

I mentioned what Geraint had said during my meeting with Matt and Matt started cropping some of my images down to 1-2.9 to see how they’d look and he liked the look of them cropped down to billboard size and suggest that I try them all at that size. I went for 1-2.5 as 1-2.9 was a little too small  for my liking and lost too much of the image, having it slightly bigger made a difference in how the image looked.

I prefer them cropped down to this size as there isn’t any negative space in the image, no bathtub or tiled wall showing, just the model and the plastic, and where some of them have cropped it makes you focus on the details more.

Cropped images @ 1-2.5-

Re Editing Some Of My Images…

Another thing Matt was going through in my meeting was the editing of my images. He liked some of what I had done so far but showed me a way I could edit them in black and white and get the contrast and brightness right with the colours in the images. He opened up some of my images in Photoshop, converted them in greyscale and then adjusted the colour tones to make some whiter than others and some darker than others.

Although they look similar to the edits I have already done, it has made a slight difference to the images, they look a little bit sharper. Taking Matt’s idea on board, I re-edited some of my favourite images using the method he showed me…

Opening them in Photoshop…

My new edits…

Painting Reference- The Story of Ophelia

During my meeting with Matt, he gave me an artist painting to look at as reference for my images. The painting is called “The Story of Ophelia” by John Everett Millais. 

Here is some information about the painting…

This piece of artwork references my images in the sense of having a lady laying in water, surrounded by objects, having a very blank expression on her face.

My images are kind of the opposite of this painting, as the Ophelia painting is about her being in love, and then suffering from madness and grief, being surrounded by pretty flowers and dying accidentally from falling, where as my images are about my model being surrounded by plastic and dirty water, relaying how our aquatic wildlife live now a days, which isn’t an accident, we are the reason plastic pollution exists. 

Meeting With Matt…

Today I had a meeting with Matt, I booked in to see him at 2pm to discuss my images, my WordPress and use it as a last opportunity to ask him questions before we hand all our work in next week. Now, I wasn’t expecting all positives to come from this meeting, I was expecting some negatives to come from it, and to be given some changes to make, but I didn’t expect my whole half an hour meeting to be all negatives and pretty much no positives. 

Put it this way, I left this meeting feeling really disheartened, unappreciated, stressed, upset and really disappointed with my work. Usually, I wouldn’t post anything like this on my WordPress, and haven’t done about any tutors before, but I feel like I need to address this and say how it made me feel towards my project. 

I started off my meeting by showing Matt my images, the first round I took with the soft box light and the second round I retook with the flash gun. Matt didn’t seem to say any positives about my images as I was explaining which ones I liked and why, I was going through them and kept getting the two sets confused as he kept saying that the lighting wasn’t as good in the first set of images compared to the second set, which I kept reminding him was because the first set weren’t done with a flash. Another comment he made about my images was that the plastic bottles made ‘ugly’ images, now I know he probably meant it about how the bottles looked in the images overall, but I couldn’t help but take it personally and think that he was saying my images were ugly. I said to Matt that I quite liked my bottle images, as they referenced the plastic in the ocean taking over animal habitats in the water, and again he reiterated that the bottles were ugly and that he didn’t like them. 

While then going through more of my images with Matt, he wasn’t pleased at who I photographed in my pictures and kept making the statement “you should’ve used a proper model”. Now, this didn’t sit right with me as it wasn’t very practical for me to get a “proper model” in. Other people in my class didn’t use “proper models” they used people they knew, and even people on the course, and Matt didn’t make the comment to them, so why did he make it to me? 

Im not being funny but what classes someone as a “proper model”? If Matt was referring to an agency model, as a proper model, then let me say why it wouldn’t have been practical or possible for me to find one (for free bearing in mind). I have used agency models before (for free), and the agency only accept the free job for the models if they get some benefits from it for their portfolio. And I’m not being funny, but no agency model would agree to work on a shoot like this as it wouldn’t look good in their portfolio. No agency model would want to travel down to Hertfordshire where I had use of a bathtub, submerge themselves in dirty bath water and then be covered in plastic. They wouldn’t want to feature that in their portfolio, and if they did really want to do the shoot, they would most likely charge me for it as they wouldn’t benefit from it, and they’d have to travel quite far. Even if an agency model did agree to work on this style shoot with me, but couldn’t travel to Hertfordshire, I would have to try and find a bath tub somewhere to do my shoot in? I can’t afford to hire one in a studio or anything so using one close to home for free was very practical. As I said before, this comment about using a “proper model” wasn’t made to anyone else but me? Why?…

Next thing Matt commented on was the contact sheets I had on my WordPress, I have uploaded contact sheets before for previous projects, and never been told to take them down or edit them so the images were larger? So why have I now? Matt saw the contact sheets on my WordPress and said ‘he hates looking a them as they’re an eyesore’. Again, I know other people in my class who have used contact sheets on their WordPress, with pictures the same size and even smaller than mine, and he didn’t make a comment to them about it? So again, why did he make the comment to me?

Matt told me at the start of my meeting that my WordPress was ‘looking good’ which I was pleased about. But during the meeting, Matt was telling me to put my cross reference animal images on my WordPress, which I already had done before this meeting, so has he even looked at my WordPress? He must’ve done as he said it was ‘looking good’ but didn’t see that I had already put up what he asked me to? 

The only useful things to come from this meeting was Matt showed me some art work called ‘Story of Ophelia’ to look at and reference and he also showed me how to crop down my images better and slightly adjust the black and white editing. 

As I said at the very start of this post, I left this meeting feeling very disheartened, unappreciated for the amount of work I had done, stressed, upset and disappointed in my own work. I left feeling like I wanted to start everything again and that my images weren’t good enough, and don’t feel confident that I will come out with a good grade from this unit. 

New Edits…

I had a good look through my second set of images and picked these ones as some of my best ones, and decided to experiment editing them in black and white. I really like them in black and white as there is no colour distracting you from the image as whole, the harsh lighting creates good contrast within the black and white tones. I also feel that the images being quite dark, makes the plastic in the images almost look like some form of monster, taking over the model and the water. 

I definitely prefer my pictures cropped down to landscape rather than portrait, having them landscape allows the plastic to fill more of the picture, making it one of the main focuses of the image. When looking over the images, I kept referring to the images of the animals caught in plastic in the ocean, to see if my images I have taken get my idea across, and I feel like there is a close reference/link to the model being trapped and caught in plastic like the animals are. 

Talk With Bruno Bayley

Yesterday we had the pleasure of a guest speaker coming in to give us a talk all morning. This week the talk was given by Bruno Bayley, who is the current Managing Editor at Magnum Photos. Magnum Photos is the worlds oldest artistic collective. It was found in WW2 by four photographers and is still going today. Bruno is also judging the Student category of this years Sony Worlds Photo Awards. 

He came in and gave us a talk about the previous work he’s done at Vice, his current work at Magnum and some tips and tricks to help tackle the industry and contacting people. During the talk, I sat and made some notes as he was speaking, I found the talk useful and he made some goo points…

The notes I made…

  • He started at Vice at the age of 20
  • He was Associate Editor for 2 years and then Managing Editor for another 2 years
  • He became an Editor at Vice as they didn’t have one
  • He found that working at Magnum is really different to Vice as Magnum is more pictorial work the editorial
  • If you want an editor to read an email, present it well, give it a good title to catch their attention as theyre busy a lot of the time. He learnt this while working at Vice, got rejected a lot then learnt how to get responses
  • Figure out the best place for your work, the project you want to punch, its a waste of time to email the wrong person. Apply social norms, don’t do or say anything you wouldn’t say to anyone in class or out and about. Be yourself
  • Push for a face to face meeting, theyre hard to get as some people are busy, if you can get one its worth while, as your name and work sticks in their mind better
  • Make the most of any connections you already have, sometimes its not what you know, its who you know
  • He left uni, done a classics degree, then a fast track journalism course, then got the job at Vice
  • He got the job at Vice as he met the Editor at the time in a pub through mutual friends, he didn’t really say yes or no, but Bruno turned up at the office every day for three days after, hoping for the editor to be there, then he turned up on the same day as him and got the job
  • He started at Vice as a glorified intern
  • He did lots of advertorial work
  • He made the effort to learn contemporary photography and graphics really well, better than anyone else in the office so it became his signature thing at Vice, he became the Managing Editor
  • Magnum is a very photographically focused place, no matter what team you’re working with, they expect you to have a good understanding of the agency and photographic knowledge
  • Don’t be too disheartened if you don’t get a reply, find a balance between persistence and patience

Second Shoot Day & New Contact Sheets

How the shoot went…

After I had a tutorial meeting with Geraint and he gave me some feedback on how I can improve my images, I decided to give it another go, taking his feedback on board and re shoot my pictures. This time around, I used a harsher lighting, which I used my flash gun for, I removed all labels from the plastic rubbish so there were no colour or advertising distractions in my images at all, and I took more of my images landscape, making it easier for me to crop down into a billboard (1-2.9) format like Geraint suggested. 

As I had already has a go at doing my shoot the first time round, I knew exactly what I was doing this time round and things went a lot smoother, therefore I had more time to experiment with different things. Such as different types of plastic, the way I placed them in the bath with the model and even how the water looked (some clear and some dirty). I thought trying it with dirty water might add to the narrative of my images a bit more, in the sense of how we are ‘dirtying’ our oceans with plastic everyday. 

Majority of these images came out a lot better than the ones I took the first time around. However, if I feel that some of the first lot of images will work with my new second lot, then I may use a mixture of the two, depending on how they fit as a series once they’ve been edited and played around with.

My model was really patient with me when photographing these images, she worked well with me and was even giving me a few ideas on things I could do to change the images around so I had a wide range of different looking images. I felt comfortable working with my model and was overall happy with how my shoot day went and how my images turned out. 

Contact Sheets…

(New) Equipment List, Lighting Diagram and Image Composition

Things I will need on the day of my shoot…

For my new lighting set up, I am going to have my large soft box facing away from the model, but still have it there so a little bit of light will be lighting up the room as well as my flash. I will then photograph my model from above the bath tub with my flash gun on top of my camera. Having the flash directly above the model and the plastic, will light it up a lot harsher and brighter, making the colours and details stand out more. 

My new lighting diagram and set up…

As well as sticking to similar image compositions like before, I am going to photograph the plastic binding similar to my diagram, I will wrap some of it around my models face to show restriction, and then I will have her buried underneath it in the water also. It will kind of look like the plastic binding is consuming my model which I want, as it shows how plastic is consuming our oceans and animal habitats. 

How some of my new images will look…

Meeting With Geraint…

A few days ago, I had a tutorial meeting with our course leader Geraint. We were given time slots to either see Matt or Geraint and I was given an afternoon slot. 

As Geraint hadn’t seen my work or known anything about my project before he started by getting me to basically explain my project idea, and I quickly went through my WordPress with him to explain it a bit clearer and I showed him my mood boards for visual references. I explained to him the message I want to get across and why and say what I am going to do next.

Once he had a better understanding of my project as a whole, I showed him my images I had taken, I got up a few of the best ones, unedited so he could see what they were like. He quite liked them and he said that they fit my project well. He then gave me some tips and ideas on how I could retake my images to improve them. I made notes while he was talking to me to take his ideas on board. I also said to him about how I changed some to black and white and preferred them to colour, so there won’t be any labels or colours distracting the viewer and he said it would still be good for me to retake them without any labels on or anything

The notes I made from what he said were…

  • Get rid of the labels and bottle caps so there isn’t any advertising, colour or distracting the viewer from the main focus of the image.
  • Look at using a harsher lighting, like a strong flash maybe?
  • Consider how I want to compose my pictures, advertising images look good in a panoramic view, 1-2.9
  • Don’t have a lot of the bathtub edges in the shot
  • Add more plastic, adds emphasis, can’t have too much 

The Narrative Of My Images…

The narrative of my images is to almost say “if you wouldn’t do it to yourself, friends or family, why do it to the wildlife”. I wanted to almost recreate the images of animals being caught in and choked on plastic (below). I wanted my model to look uncomfortable being surrounded by so much rubbish, and I wanted to create images of her ‘choking’ on straws and ‘suffocating’ under a plastic sheet, as although it looks morbid and uncomfortable to look at, it gets the message across well. It opens up the viewers eyes to the harsh reality of whats going on under water. 

I even hope that maybe my series of images might open up peoples eyes to recycling more. If my images were to be of a fish, turtle or seal, people probably wouldn’t think twice about them, but if but imagine it was us humans that were being affected by so much plastic waste we can hardly survive, then we would think to do something about it. 


Once I has a proper look through my first set of images, I selected my best few and decided to edit them. When editing them, I found that having them in black and white looked a lot better than keeping them in colour. I think they look better in black and white as they give the images a more morbid effect, make the images look darker and sadder and because there isn’t any colour distracting the viewer, the main focus is the girl surrounded in all this plastic rubbish. 

To edit the images, I simply turned down the saturation to make them black and white. I then adjusted and skated around with brightness, contrast, curves, exposure, dodge and burn. I was happy with how the edits turned out as they were the images I kind of expected to end up with for this project, the main thing is that they tell the narrative of my series and so far I believe they do. 

Shoot Day & Annotated Contact Sheet

How the shoot went…

As I didn’t need to book the studio for my shoot, all I needed was  someone who was free, to model for me in a bath tub full of water, who didn’t mind me coming round their house and using their bathroom and filling it with plastic rubbish. Luckily someone I knew was free quite a lot which made it easy for us to arrange date to shoot my images and use their bathtub. 

When I started to set my equipment up in the bathroom, I had a few issues with space, the bathroom wasn’t the biggest, but it did the job. Due to it not being overly spacious, I had to be aware of my surroundings as I didn’t want to knock any lighting or anything over and into the bathtub full of water. Once I was comfortable with how my lights and everything was set up, I was good to go.

I got my model to lay in the bathtub, and I aimed the soft box at the top half of her face and torso to make sure I captured the main part of my images in good lighting. Once I was happy with where my lights were placed, I started pouring packs of straws in the bathtub around my model. When the straws were in the tub, it didn’t look like I had as many as what I had in my bag. I bought 300 straws and it didn’t look like many at all in the water. 

To compromise with this, and make it look like I had a lot more straws, I pushed them all up to the top of the tub and had them surround my models head and stuck them in her hair. This gave a better impact of them ‘invading her space’ and them being a nuisance in the water. My second idea with the straws was to then have the model stick a bunch of them in her mouth, like she was choking on them, as animals choke on our plastic rubbish in their habitat. 

After I had photographed my model surrounded in straws, I then moved on to plastic bottles. I had about 25 plastic bottles including coke bottles, milk bottles, water bottles, washing detergent bottles, a right mixture of shapes and sizes. I placed the bottles in the water with my model and even after having 10 or so in the water, the tub looked really full, but I continued to put them all in to give the effect that she was uncomfortably surrounded by them. My aim for these images was to make it look like the bottles were taking over her surroundings, just having a small amount of her face/head showing to look like she was almost drowning in plastic. While doing my shoot, my model said it was hard for her to move about, and it made me think about how hard it must be for the wildlife to swim around and find food in amongst all our plastic rubbish in their homes. 

Lastly, I then wanted to use a large plastic sheet I had collected from work. The sheet was thin like a carrier bag so you could see through it slightly. I got my model to hold the sheet around her head and asked her to breathe in a bit so that the sheet would go inside her mouth, to give the impression she was choking. These images gave a really cool effect as it did look like she was choking, and where it was tight round her face you could make out there was a face underneath it. 

As this was my first attempt at taking my images, I was quite happy with how they came out. I am confident that they get my message/narrative across quite strongly. I think I may need to do some more pictures with different types of plastic and also redo the straw images by adding more to the water.

Contact Sheets…

Lighting Plan, Equipment List and Image Composition…

Now I am ready to start photographing my images, I decided to make a lighting diagram, equipment list and some sketches to refer back to along with my mood boards when photographing my pictures. 

Things I will need on the day of my shoot…
How I will set up my area and light my images…
How I want my images to look…

Image References…

These are the main images I am going to refer back to when it comes to shooting my final images for this project.

Testing Shoot- Plastic, Lighting and Water…

Now I had enough plastic to start testing some photographs with, I thought I would do a simple test shoot using a bath tub and some soft box lighting to see how they’d turn out.

I filled a bath tub with a small amount of water, set up a soft box light and added in some straws and plastic bottles. I wanted to see how the lighting would look on the plastic and water as I don’t want a lot of bright reflection.

This was my initial set up…


Testing with straws-


When testing the soft box lighting with the straws in the bath, I really liked the way the colours came out, especially in the first image. Although I didn’t use a model in my test shoot, it is easy to imagine a model submerged under water surrounded by straws in these images, and I feel that it would work for the narrative of my project. If I was to use this idea in my final images, I would add more straws and have them over the models face, in their hair and surrounding their body.


Testing with plastic bottles- 


When testing with the plastic bottles, I found that the water looked a bit darker than the straws, but I liked the way that the soft box lit up the plastic bottles. With the plastic bottles, as they are bigger than a lot of other plastic waste, I will add more in to the water to completely submerge the model within them. The idea of the models head popping out of the plastic bottles will tell the narrative that plastic is an issue, and you can imagine it being an animal in the sea, having to live around it.


Testing movement in water- 


As some of Alban Grodidier’s images show movement within the water, I decided to do a few images to test water movements incase I wanted to include it in my final images. I changed the exposure time and F stop to see which settings worked best. If I want to include water movement within my final images, I will do it in a way so it looks like the model is sinking in the water, capturing the ripples and bubbles.



Plastics I Will Use…

Rather than going out and purchasing plastic items for me to then use the plastic waste for my images, I decided to reach out to people and get them to keep their plastic recycling for me, so I can sort through it and use it in my images. I put a status up on Facebook this time last week, after my meeting with Matt, and I got a good response from it.

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I had people commenting on my status saying they’d keep their plastic rubbish for me to use, I had friends texting me saying the same thing. Within a week of collecting and keeping plastic waste, and other people giving me theirs too, I have MORE than enough to use in my pictures.

While collecting plastic and receiving it from other people, it was crazy to see how much plastic waste each household collects. Even from my own house within a day, I managed to fill a whole large plastic bag.

I work in fashion retail, and all of our clothing comes in individual plastic packets, which then come in bundles which are also in plastic packets, and then these come in bigger plastic packets which are then inside a cardboard box. When going through just one tub of delivery, its not hard to fill a whole rubbish bag with the plastic packets and coat hangers. This is how I also got a lot of my plastic, I kept a lot of it from work as I knew I would be able to collect more than enough to use for images. The shocking thing is, these types of plastic in retail aren’t recyclable.

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To collect some straws, I decided to go round a few local pubs and ask for some packs of plastic straws that they no longer use, as majority have now changed to paper. Rather than them sitting there doing nothing, I thought I would use them for my pictures.

Recyclable & Non Recyclable Plastics…

While thinking of what types of plastic waste I will use in my images, I decided to do a bit of research into what items are recyclable and which ones aren’t. As we do a lot of recycling at home, I was now curious.

I was shocked by my results.

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It was shocking to see how many items can’t actually be recycled, and I know we have a lot of these items going into the recycling each week, to now know they can’t be recycled made me think and almost feel bad as they more than likely end up sitting in landfill sights or the sea.

When using plastic in my images, I want to use a mixture of sizes, colours and types of plastic, both recyclable and non recyclable.

Group Tutorial With Matt…

Last week we had a tutorial meetings with Matt to discuss our ideas further and get some help if we needed it. I was confident going in to this meeting as I had some good mood boards to show Matt, and really liked the idea I had in my head, and I was looking forward to seeing what other people thought of my ideas too.

I started off discussing my idea with Matt and showing him my mood boards. I told him that I wanted the narrative/message to be about the current plastic pollution issue, and I wanted my images to say something along the lines of “if you wouldn’t do it to your own family/friends, why are you doing it to the wildlife and our world?”. Matt seemed to like this message and idea, which I was pleased with as I was excited to create my images. I then showed him my mood boards in further detail and it seemed that I had so many different image ideas, that they wouldn’t fit together in a series. They were all good ideas according to Matt, but I needed to narrow down and focus on one specific idea and create a series from that.

Further on in the discussion, I showed my mood boards to the other people in my meeting, and Paige came up with a good idea of using one specific type of plastic for each image, so for example if I did a series of 5 images, I could use just straws in one image, plastic bottles in another, carrier bags in the other and so on. I really liked this idea, as it would make each of my images slightly different but still work as a series together. As I was then swaying towards this idea, Jenna showed me the photographer Alban Grosidier, whose work I had seen before and also come across again recently when finding inspiration. Jenna elaborated on the idea of maybe doing a similar thing to what Alban does and submerge people in a bath tub of water and combining the plastic within that.

This then sparked the idea in my head of getting someone or different people in a bath tub and surrounding them in a different type of plastic. This style of image would work in getting my message across as it would show real people being ‘drowned’ in plastic, which is what we’re doing to the wildlife that live in the ocean now. We are drowning and killing them in masses of plastic. 

As I was talking ideas aloud to Matt, it then gave me anther idea of using the different types of plastic in the bath tub different ways. For example, some of the news articles show animals choking on plastic, so I could get one of my models to be choking on a bunch of straws. Other news articles show fish and birds being caught in plastic bags, I could then use plastic bags to ‘suffocate’ a model while in water.

The more I was speaking to Matt and the group, my final idea came to my mind and I felt I was ready to start planning it in depth and planning a test shoot.

Photographer Inspiration…


Known for his outrageous photographic style with bold messages, colours and looks, Rankin is a photographer known world wide for a reason. He has always been one of my biggest inspirations ever since I first picked up a camera, and knew I would find some sort of inspiration from him for this project.

I had a look on his website, and came across a few images that stood out to me that could potentially work with my idea for this project.

Take away the commercial facial expressions and bright colours from the images and what I will take from them is the relationship of the materials and the skin. In the first two images, I like how the liquid is smothering their skin, I could potentially use black liquid to look like oil, as that is also a problem within the oceans. From the second picture I will take the sense of essentially ‘choking’ someone on some plastic. As animals are choking on plastic and dying daily, maybe using a person choking on plastic will send more of a message? Lastly, the third picture really intrigues me, how they have tightly wrapped the face in what looks like elastic bands, and how it is restricting she face and skin. I like this idea but instead of elastic bands, using plastic wrapping around the face to show how it restricts movement.

Hendrik Kerstens-

Hendrik is a Dutch born photographer, who in 1995 left his business to follow up his love for art and photography. His wife worked full time to help financially support his photography dream, and his daughter was left at home with him for long hours of the day. While thinking creatively, he decided to start using his daughter Paula, as his muse for his work. He composed his photographs with his interest in the Great Dutch Master paintings of the 17th Century.

The simplicity and materials used in these portraits are what drew me to use this series as some inspiration for my project. Again, I like the use of materials and plastic on the human body. These photos are quite eerie due to the dark background, dark clothing and dim lighting. I am not too sure on what the message is behind these images, or even if there is one, but the inspiration I will take from these images is how to use plastic materials on a model. In my images, I can integrate plastic in the hair, on the skin or even use it as clothing.

Alban Grosdidier-

Alban Grosdidier is a French photographer born in 1989, living between London and Paris.He started his professional career in photography by collaborating to the editorial team of French anti-HIV festival Solidays in 2010; until 2013, he focused on HIV-focused movements, LGBTI groups, feminist activists and the event landscape in Paris. In 2012, his portrait series Drowning – a visual comment on big city life – and the subsequent street exhibitions in Paris became his first internationally recognised series, with publications in It’s Nice That, Zeit Online, My Modern Met, Fubiz, Yatzer and Il Post. This marked the beginning of his career as a portrait photographer, with various collaborations in the music industry.

When I first saw these images a few years ago, I thought they were quite disturbing as the people look deceased underneath the water. As I have got older, and my photographic knowledge has got broader, I recently come across these images again and I can look at these images in a less disturbing way and in a more artistic one. Rather than focusing just on how the model looks, there is more to look at with the patterns in the water, the contrasting tones on the skin, and how it is lit. If I am to use water within my images, I will take inspiration from this on how to capture that water movements and how to light it.

Maria Teicher-

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What I love about these paintings is the plastic and how it is surrounding the skin, almost acting as a layer of skin on its own. The lighting on the plastic makes the lines and shapes really interesting to look at. Although they don’t look like the are neccesarily suffering or suffocating, this may be a good way to get my message across to do with the plastic in the oceans problem. Using plastic on the human body will convey a strong message of how the plastic would affect us if we were to be living in the sea.

Developed Moodboard

With a better understanding of where I want to go with this project and what kind of message I want to get across, I made a new moodboard with some fresher ideas on there. I find I work better with visual mood boards as I can put my ideas together on one page, and then pick bits from each visual to try and form a more solid idea.

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Developing An Idea Further…

As I am interested in the news, whats going on with the plastic pollution and the creative portrait images I found, I have thought of a way to combine them together, and also tell a narrative for my image series.

Although the series of images don’t have to be narrative driven, or have a story to tell, I personally feel like it helps the images speak louder and are stronger with a strong message or story behind them.

The story behind my series of images would be to do with the plastic pollution. I want to say to my audience something along the lines of “don’t do it, if you wouldn’t do it to your own home or your own kids”. Basically saying, stop putting plastic into the ocean where it harms animals and ruins their ‘homes’ if you wouldn’t do it to your own. 

I want to try and take images that combine the use of people, plastic, rubbish and water to try and get this message across, as I feel that if I can do it right, then it will work spot on and will hopefully have a good chance in the competition.