Video Research- Sob Stories & Interviews…

As another part to our client’s ‘before fame’ story, we have to create a short 2 minute video. In the form of a sob story interview, like the ones you see on Britain’s Got Talent and X Factor. This video is to allow us to tell our characters story through the use of film as well as photography. We are allowed to portray our character however we want and have total control over how and what we film.

To give myself some ideas and inspiration for my video, I looked into some examples of sob story videos that have already been seen on the talent shows on TV. When watching them I will note down elements from each one, and make a list of things I need to apply to my own video…

Susan Boyle- Britains Got Talent
  • she is asked questions to find out information about her as a person
  • reveals name, age and where she is from
  • asked about future aspirations
  • asked why she entered and wants to win the competition
Mark McCollum- Britains Got Talent
  • asked the same questions about name, age, where they’re from
  • judges asked him why he was there and what he entered the competition for
  • emotional family story capturing attention of judges and audience
  • gives his audition more of a purpose
J Sol- X Factor
  • asked about name, age, location
  • why they want to do this competition, what they will be singing
  • emotional story of family loss
  • makes judges and audience upset and captivated by emotional performance
  • sad music after he finished singing adds emotion

As well as talent show auditions/interviews, another style of interview I looked into was Vogue 73 questions. I have been watching these videos for a long time now and have always loved how they communicate with the celebrity and how they easily find out so much about them.

I like how the interviewer enters the celebrities house, instantly showing us a bit about their style and personality, through no words. The questions and answers are very short and quick, making sure they get 73 fit into the video. I find it a really interesting way to learn a lot about someone and keep it quite fun and interesting to watch. If I am to do a video in this style, I won’t ask 73 questions, but a fair few in this similar style. Creating a personal connection to my character and learning a lot about them and their home.

After watching these audition and interview videos and noted down aspect of each one that I can apply to my own video, I am going to start planning how I am going to film it and writing the script for what I can get my character to say.

I want a few of my scenes to look like homely, light hearted and personal…

Photographer Research- Storytelling

Phil Borges-

Phil Borges is a social documentary photographer and filmmaker. For over twenty-five years Phil Borges has been documenting tribal cultures, striving to create an understanding of the challenges they face. In his documentary portrait work he uses people and their surroundings to tell their story.

He uses elements of close cropped portraits, strong lighting to create strong contrast and obvious tribe elements such as their hand made jewellery and tribal markings. Using and repeating all of these strong elements really helps tell the story within his photographs. I think that the close cropped portrait is a good way to still show someones character and attributes without them getting too lost in the background.

Martin Parr-

Martin Parr is a British documentary photographer and photojournalist. He is well known for his photography work that depicts the reality of certain places he visits. For example, the streets and the beach. His documentary portraits tell a story as he captures people in that moment before its gone. He gets really up close and personal with photographing ‘regular’ people while they’re minding their own business and doing their own thing. Parr uses a lot of peoples character, the surroundings and colour to bring his images to life.

Just from looking at his portrait project of people at the beach, it makes you want to know more about the person. He paints their character very obvious and very well, it kind of gives you an idea as to what the person might actually be like. When I look at his work, I can imagine what the people would sound like, what their name, age and occupation would be. His work is so enticing and exciting that it makes you study the characters of the people in detail, and leaves you wanting more.

Bruce Gilden-

Bruce Gilden is someone whose work I have looked into a lot and feel I know well now. Gilden is an American documentary photographer who documents the streets of New York and takes portraits of every day people. The elements that make his work stand out are the facial expressions and emotions he manages to capture in the people at that exact moment. giving us a sense of character and what that person may be like behind his lens.He lights his images by flashing his camera and a hand held portable flash right in someones face, this makes them stand out and contrast against the background, making them the main feature of the photo.

From all 3 photographers, I am going to take certain elements to help build and tell my characters story through a single image. I want to make elements obvious to tell you who they are, I want to use bright lighting to make them stand out more than anything else in the image and I want to use quite a close crop to tell a lot about my person, without them getting lost in a lot of unnecessary background.

Location & Lighting- Sketches and Diagrams

Now I knew how I wanted my before shot to look, I really had to decide how I wanted to shoot it in Paige’s house. As I had been to her house before I was able to draw up some diagrams of where and how in her house I could shoot it depending on the seating and lighting coming through the windows. Luckily there are a lot of windows in her front room so it will be nice and bright without adding a lot of extra lighting. I am going to use a form of portable flash, most likely a speed light as it is small, easy to carry and brings bold lighting when needed. I feel it will be a good way for me to bring out the bright pink on Paige and the fur texture in her dog.

Below the diagram I drew of Paige’s living room I roughly drew up some types of images I could take to show off my client. I drew up different scenarios using Paige, the dog and parts of her living room. One of Paige grooming the dog on a table, one of Paige sitting and proudly holding her dog and the third one the same but involving a giant eddy bear. Paige has a giant 5ft teddy bear at her house that I am going to experiment with in my images, I feel that adding the teddy bear into it will add a fun and girly element. I will experiment with and without it and see which looks best.

Images of the living room location-

As you can see it is a very well lit room from the amount of window light being let into the room. There are also a number of chairs to sit and film the interview on and lots of space for us to work in.

Before Shot- Styling, Lighting, Props & Equipment…


The styling for this shoot is going to be quite simple, yet affective. As I am going to style my client in a way that makes it obvious what she’s about. As I have the attribute Barbie doll, I picture that as someone who likes to look after themselves, strives to look perfect, love the colour pink and diamonds, your very typical, blonde bimbo girly girl.

After looking into how some Barbie dolls are dressed and presented I noticed some key elements that stood out, that related to the idea I had in mind for my before shot. One being the colour pink, two involving a small dog, and three looking like they like to look after themselves and look good. After looking into Barbie dolls, I took it upon myself to start finding outfits and accessories I could use to style my client in their before scenario.

I looked online for outfits I could order, and that would come in time and I had luck finding suitable things quite easily. I decided that I was going to style the shoot myself as I was confident enough to do so, and I didn’t have enough time to source a proper stylist. I did ask a few people but it was very short notice and some people didn’t reply. So I had no choice but to take matters into my own hands. I browsed online and finally came to a decision on an outfit I was going to get my model to wear…

I decided on getting my model to wear a pink PU/Vinyl material outfit as to me that screams plastic and a barbie doll is made out of all plastic. The shade of pink is very girly and I feel would work well for a ‘barbie doll’ bimbo look. I also chose a tight fitting outfit to show that she loves herself, her body and can rock anything she wears, especially if its pink. I got the silver choker as an extra accessory to ‘bling’ her up. I noticed some of the barbie dolls wearing silver jewellery and thought it would add an element of glam to the look. I feel that the pink hair scrunchies will add a cute, girly vibe to the outfit and completes the look. Having the models hair half up and half down tied with a pink scunchie is very girly and glam.

As for the makeup, I also wanted it to stick within the pink, girly theme. I wanted it to be over the top and look glamorous. To show that my barbie doll character puts a lot of effort into how she looks and shows that she clearly takes pride. I instantly thought of getting make inspiration from one of my favourite celebrities, Alaska 5000. She is a drag queen from the shoe Ru Paul’s drag race, and she always reminds me of a drag version of a barbie doll. Alaska is often seen in pink with very girly glamorous makeup. I found some images of some makeup I will take inspiration from and apply to my models barbie doll look.

Props & Equipment-

For the props in this before shot I wanted to use things that really help tell the story of my client. I want to make my clients attributes clear through the use of small props. The styling will get the barbie doll aspect through, so I am going to try and get the dog groomer aspect through with props such as a dog brush, clippers, scissors, shampoo and more importantly a dog. I want to paint a picture of her being a dog lover as well as a dog groomer and get a dog involved in the picture. Preferably a small, bag sized dog to show the stereotypical barbie doll, girly girl look. Kind of like Paris Hilton, clutching a small dog. I want to use the grooming props to make it obvious what she does for a day job, as that is the only thing I can really rely on to show that. I want to have my model holding the equipment and pretending to clipper the dogs. I have some of these props at home that I can use on the day of the shoot, so I know I won’t have any issues sourcing them.

I asked my model Paige if I could use her small dog that she showed me when she sent me an image and she said that was perfectly fine, so I had all my prop elements sorted. The only other prop I needed to finish off telling my story was a location, and Paige also said I could shoot and film at her house, so it was all good to go.


To light my image, I want to keep it quite a simple set up but have it quite bright. I want to have it bright to show the bright pink colours in the makeup and clothing and to also highlight the texture in the dogs fur. A lot of the lighting will be made up of natural lighting when photographing it at Paige’s house, having been to her house before, I know where the windows are situated and where gives us the best lighting. I want to keep the set up quite simple so it is easier for me to transport equipment to and from the location. Below are some examples of how I am going to light my before shot…


Below is an equipment list I have made for all the things I am going to need to photograph my before shot. Creating this list will allow me to figure out every thing I need and also make sure I don’t forget anything on the shoot day…

  • Canon camera
  • 24-70mm lens
  • SD cards
  • Spare camera battery
  • Portable flash (either flash kit or speedlite)
  • Pink vinyl top
  • Pink vinyl skirt
  • Pink scrunchie
  • Silver choker
  • Small dog
  • Dog clippers
  • Dog brush
  • Moodboards

Before Shot- Visuals (How Will My Image Look?)

Having a model confirmed and mood boards made, I knew what kind of final image I wanted to have. I knew that I wanted my model to look like a pink loving, ditsy blonde dog lover, in the before shot and video, and then afterwards see her transform out of that look and into the next big Ragga music superstar.

To get the message across that my client had attributes such as female, solo artist, barbie doll, being a dog groomer and into ragga music, I had to make sure I included certain elements to get these across. To get the barbie doll attribute across I knew I needed to involve glam makeup, done up hair, the colour pink and tight fitting clothing. To get the dog groomer attribute across, I knew I needed to involve a dog or dogs and some dog grooming accessories such as a brush, clips, scissors or shampoo. I also needed to remember that however my before shot looked was how my 2 minute video was going to look, as I was planning on shooting them together on the same day.

While finding visual inspiration, I came across some images and want to create something similar to these for my ‘Before’ fame picture of my client…

The elements I definitely want involved in my before picture are-

  • lots of the colour pink (makeup and outfit)
  • a small dog
  • looking like they look after themselves
  • grooming accessories
  • like they’re working

Who Will Be My Model?

Now I had more solid ideas running through my mind in this project, and we didn’t have an awful lot of time to complete this project in, it was time for me to start sourcing my model who will pose for my before shot, after shot and also do some acting in the 2 minute interview video. I needed to find someone who fit my barbie doll idea and would be able to be made into one of the looks from my ‘Before’ moodboard. I wanted someone blonde, slim, pretty and not afraid to let loose in front of the camera.

I put out a couple of adverts and mood boards asking for people to get in touch if they were interested, but I didn’t have a lot of luck. I kept trying over the span of a couple of days, but then it started getting to a point where I needed to start getting things together and start shooting/filming. So with time running out, I really had to think.

I don’t know why I didn’t think of it sooner, but my friend Paige popped to mind. We have become friends through collaborating on photoshoots and projects this term and we are now comfortable with working with one another. Luckily, she also fit the look I was after… she had blonde hair, was slim, and confident in front of the camera. As a bonus she also had dogs I could use to get across my ‘dog groomer’ attribute, that she often clipped and groomed herself to save paying out for someone else to do it.

I ran all of my ideas past Paige and she was excited to work with me and help me out on this project in such a short space of time, I couldn’t be more over the moon! Paige was also kind enough to offer her house for me to film in, which I have been to once before so I am familiar with where the natural light comes in, and how much space we have to work with.

Paige has previous modelling experience and is comfortable being put into any look/style and working with it. She has worked with being glammed up and the colour pink before, so I had an idea she would look good in my before shot and video interview. She also sent me an image of her 3 dogs she has, who she said I can use when photographing and filming.

Now I had my model sorted, I needed to start thinking about what my before shot will look like, how it is going to be styled, and how I am going to light it.

Before Shot Planning…

My before shot will tell the story of my client before they go through the transition of fame. I want my before shot to show my client in their home environment, dressed how they want, in a comfortable setting that they’re familiar with. I want to get their true personality across in their clothing, hair, makeup and how they act.

As my client is a ‘female barbie doll’ I am going to incorporate this attribute through the fashion styling. I have an idea to dress her in tight all pink clothing, wearing high heels, with blonde hair, and a lot of silver diamond jewellery. This kind of fashion and colour way to me says ‘fake, plastic barbie doll’ which is the kind of characteristics I want to get across. I want her to come across as a fake, ditsy blonde girl who loves pink and loves to look after herself. Putting a kind of comical aspect into the ‘barbie doll’ term and making it come across quite literal.

As well as a ‘barbie doll’, my clients day job is a dog groomer. I want this to also be taken quite literally and made obvious in my before shot and in the 2 minute interview video. I have ideas to make the ‘dog grooming’ side of it stand out by using dogs in my before shot, video and even my after shot for the ‘album cover’. I am going to try and find someone who has a dog, or numerous dogs, that I can use in my project too. Having dogs involved will make it seem that she really loves dogs, and I can film/photograph her bathing and grooming them to make it obvious what she does. I am going to get them to pretend to ‘groom’ their dog by brushing, clipping or bathing their dog to show that she grooms them as her day job.

Below is a mood board of visual references for how I want my before shot to look…

I now need to look for a model to use. I need to find someone who fits the character profile of my attributes and also someone who has a dog or dogs, and also someone who would be comfortable with me filming them in their home.

Colours Moodboards

These are some visual reference mood boards for some of the colours involved in my before and after shots.

With one of my attributes being ‘barbie doll’, I am going to use different shades of pink, purple, silver and gold. As these are the typical ‘girly’ colours associated with Barbie dolls and ditsy, blonde girly girls.

The attribute of Ragga music will come into my image through colours also. The colours of the Rasta and Jamaican culture is red, black, green and yellow. I will style my model and studio to have these colours involved so the Ragga music is obviously coming through.

Before Shot- Colour Swatches-

After Shot- Colour Swatches-

Research From The Brief’s ‘Reading List’…

On our project brief is a reading list of suggested books and articles we can read to help guide us with our research and ideas for this project unit. I thought I would try and find some of them online and give them a read, or see if I could find anything about them online. I unfortunately didn’t have time to order any of the books and have physical copies by this point as my research had moved on to producing my images and film.

I didn’t manage to find a lot online about all of the books on the reading list, I managed to find a paper/essay someone had written on the book called “Six Thinking Hats” by E DeBono. There were some useful bits of writing about the book in the paper that I found useful for this project.

I really like the last bit of text in relation to this project. The part where it says “creating something which was not there” relates to how I first felt about my clients attributes when I picked them at random. At first there was no idea or relation between the individual characteristics at first, but after some creative thoughts and help, there was something there. I also like the bit where it says “having new, fresh ideas that have not been used before”. I can relate this to the project in a sense of making the images and video something new, fresh, unique, something that hasn’t necessarily been done before, and something that is unique to your style of work and the style and personality of your client.

I couldn’t find any online versions of the last book on the reading list, but I managed to find a small snippet of information from a website it was featured on. The book was “Social Work: Saatchi and Saatchi- Cause Related Ideas by E Jones.

The piece of text that I like in relation to this project is the bit where it says “the way to gain the trust of an audience is to simply tell the truth”, meaning that you have to make your clients story and style of music quite obvious to the audience in order for it to catch their attention almost instantly. The truth being about where they came from and what they did before their music career.

Ragga Artists- Album Covers, Music & Videos…

Ragga Artists Album Covers-

I searched for Ragga artists album covers and analysed them. I made notes on things that stood out to me, things that made it look like a Ragga album cover and some similarities within them all…

Music and Videos-

I also decided to listen to their songs and watch their music videos, to educate myself on the style of album cover, fashion styling and client I will produce…

What is Ragga music?

When I drew ‘Ragga’ music out of the genre envelope, I wast entirely sure on what it was when I first saw it. I had an idea it would be something to do with Reggae music, but not sure what Ragga meant.

I took to google to have a look at what is was and the definition of Ragga music…

These are some artists I have heard of and listened to, who produce the genre Ragga music…

  • Rihanna
  • Sean Paul
  • Popcaan
  • Sean Kingston
  • Gyptian
  • Shaggy

Speaking To Matthew…

Our first lesson finished early and I decided to stay behind for a while after so I could speak to Matthew. I wanted to run my ideas past him to see what he thought, and to see if he could give me any help on where to go next with it. I showed Matthew my rough moodboard I made during lunch, and explained the kind of vision I had in my head for my album cover shot with my client and her dog. Geraint was also present in the room at this time and he gave me some help and ideas too along with Matthew.

These were the ideas Matthew gave me…

These were some more solid ideas I had after speaking to Matthew and Geraint…

Now I had a clearer idea of what I will be doing for this project, it was time for me to go home and make some more mood boards, source a model, a dog and book the studio etc.

First Initial Ideas…

Now I had picked my attributes, it was time to start thinking of ideas and creating mood boards to see what kind of outcome I could create. When the lesson finished for lunch, I made some quick mood boards based on rough ideas I had come to mind after the lesson.

I made this moodboard as a rough starting point based off of the “barbie doll” attribute. I initially took Barbie Doll as a; blonde, ditsy, skinny, glammed up, pink loving character. I thought using the barbie doll theme quite literally would make a really fun and exciting image, as it seems very opposite to the Ragga music industry. I could incorporate the dog groomer aspect into it by adding a small dog like a Chihuahua or sausage dog, and then add the Ragga music into it by using an African/Caribbean model.

I looked into the film ‘Life Size’ with Tyra Banks as a bit of inspiration. It is a film about Tyra Banks playing a plastic barbie doll, which then comes to life. I like how she looks very barbie like in a sense of having very glamorous hair and makeup, wearing pink and a lot of jewellery. I then looked into Drag Queens for some inspiration on the glamorous pink makeup. All of these ideas started linking up to visions in my head of how my final outcome images and video could look.

I then looked more into the ‘Dog Groomer’ attribute and started looking more into how I could incorporate that into my work. I instantly thought of an image I had seen before, where the person and the dog in the image both look alike. I couldn’t remember who the photographer was, but I googled the type of imagery I had in mind and found exactly what I was looking for…

I thought that involving a dog into the images in this kind of style would make it more fun and interesting to photograph and to see in the final outcome. It was an intriguing idea for me to do as I hadn’t photographed a dog and a model in the same photograph before!

The only aspect I was really struggling with was how to incorporate the “Ragga” music side of my client. I was going to stay behind after the lesson had finished to speak to Matthew and Geraint to see if they could give me some help on how I can intertwine Ragga music into my final images and video.

Picking My Clients Attributes…

Once we had been briefed on the new unit project in the morning, the afternoon was when we found out what our client/character would be like.

Matthew passed 3 enveloped round the classroom, and we each had to pick one attribute out of each envelope. One envelope was their day to day job, one envelope was their physical attributes and another envelope was their genre of music they perform. We had to pick them out at random and couldn’t change any of the attributes we originally picked out.

The envelopes got passed around to me and I picked out these attributes…

  • Occupation/ day job- DOG GROOMER
  • Physical attributes- FEMALE, SOLO ARTIST, BARBIE DOLL
  • Music style- RAGGA

When I first picked out these three characteristics I was very sceptical if they could all work together and create something that would work. I really wanted to change them to something I was comfortable working with but on some self reflection, I decided to stick with them as it would be fun to push myself out of my comfort zone.

Having a project like this where you get given a type of person, and you have to work with their personality, appearance and style is what happens in the industry, so this project will be good practise for what we could end up working with in the future.

My plan is to work with my random attributes and put them together in a way that still represents my style of photography.

Project Summary & Notes…

To sum up the new project brief, we have to create and hand in the following…

  • Character/client profile for a ‘rising music star’
  • 1 x ‘Before’ shot of the your character/client in their natural/home setting
  • 1 x ‘After’ shot of your character/client once they’ve been through their journey to fame in the music industry
  • 1 x 2 minute long video/interview. Creating a sob story/ inspirational journey effect to tell the story of where your client started and where they are now in their music career
  • Physical submission of 2x image prints, 2x final images, RAWS, JPEGS and MP4 file of 2 minute video- 10th May by 3pm on Level 4
  • Moodle upload of 2x final images, RAWS, JPEGS and MP4 video file- 10th May by 4pm on Moodle
  • 13th or 14th group presentations to showcase your client and their career you’ve created

Project Brief & Matthew Hawker…

On Tuesday 16th April, we started our final term of Year 3 with a new project brief for a unit called “Working With A Client”. This unit was a short one running for only 4 weeks. It was being run by a guest tutor called Matthew Hawker.

Matthew Hawker is a British art director and designer who has worked in the creative industry for over 20 years. Matthew worked at i-D magazine as an art director for 10 years, and in his career he worked on 150 magazines, 30 books and brand identities. He is a high calibre art director who has created advertising material for major fashion labels including: Chanel, Diesel, Fire & Ice, Firetrap, Hilfiger, Levis, Nike, Yohji Yamamoto and Y-3. Matthew now has SYCO (Sony Records) as one of his clients. In the briefing lesson, he was telling us he has worked with Simon Cowell and his TV shows Britain’s Got Talent and The X Factor.

It was very interesting to hear about Matthew’s successful career and to hear some of the famous names he’s worked with.

This is our new project brief for Matthew’s ‘Working With A Client’ unit…