I’ve been doing a lot of interviews recently and naturally this means I’ve been asked a lot of questions about my photography, in particular my influences, process and plans for the future. However in one of my interviews, instead of producing my portfolio straightaway to the interviewer or being asked an initial series of questions, I was simply asked to pull out my strongest image and talk about it.
This was an interesting question for me to consider; I realised that my strongest image may not be the same as the image I was most proud of. What makes an image strong? Was it the image that I liked this best or one that most accurately conveyed the message I was trying to show?
Images that I am proud of:
Tethered: One of the reasons I am proud of this image is because of the technical skill it required to create, particularly as it is a self-portrait. Not only did I have to levitate my subject (in this case, myself) I also had to believeably composite the limbs and wool, achieve my desire colouring and make sure that the image told the story that I wanted it to tell. This image ended up being shortlisted in the top 25 of The National School Photography Awards 2016 in the Post-16 category (theme: self portrait). I was really happy with the final product and it ticked all the boxes I wanted it to. I adored the colouring and the visual aspects of it, but also I was certain that I’d achieved my goal of presenting my idea.
Metamorphosis: This image at the time I shot it, was a step away from a lot of the things I’d been doing. I did very little to the colouring and the image has a square format, which is a rare thing for me. The room I shot this in was far smaller that it appears in the image as I had to expand the wall in Photoshop. Other than the butterflies, which are the main focus of the image, the thing that stands out most for me would be the texture on the wall, which I feel gives the image a grungy effect. I also really like the simplicity of this image. I think it is the (successful) step away from what I’m used to and adapting to that challenge that makes me particularly proud of this image.
The Hungry Earth: This image took me soooo long to edit, possibly the longest any image has taken me.There were so many things to consider: the vines, the colour of the leaves and environment, the subject herself- hair, skin etc. The idea behind this one was that this magical forest was dying and it caught a young girl who got lost one day and has been feeding on her for years in order to sustain itself.This meant that I had to make the subject look both old and youthful at the same time. I also decided to change the colour of the leave to red to indicate that instead of feeding off sunlight and water, the plants are consuming the girl’s life-force instead (and also as a nod to the red weed in H.G Wells’ War of the Worlds). This edit will never be perfect, it is rather speckled in places, but I really love this image.
Images that I would show as part of my portfolio:
The following images are the ones that I feel show my style most clearly. They’re not necessarily the most technically excellent images, but they convey my intention to use storytelling and fantasy in my images. I would probably include the above images in this as well.
My Strongest Image:
So which would I put forward as my strongest image? I knew it had to be one that had a strong story behind it as I would need to be able to discuss it for some time. I also knew that it had to visually embody the style of images I want to be creating. In order to answer this, I had to assess what I thought my strengths as a photographer were.
Colour– I know that I really think about colour when creating my images, in particular complimentary colours, and the result is usually good.
Lighting– I use natural lighting in my images and this is effective in creating the mood I want to achieve.
Story/concept– Story plays an incredibly important part in my images and it is usually the foundations for the work I create. If the story behind an image hasn’t been considered properly, then 9 times out of 10 the image won’t work.
The image I eventually went with was one I’d created fairly recently as part of a series
I chose this one because I know I’d really thought about every aspect of it, the framing, the pose of the subject(s), the lighting, the location, costume, colour…I could talk about the meaning and my intentions behind it and the things necessary for the interview, but also I knew it was one of my most striking images. Additionally, it is also one of my most recent ones, which hopefully means that I’ve learnt from previous images and improved. I’m very proud of all aspects of this image, particularly the location and colouring.
Self evaluation is an important thing to be able to do as an artist, I think. It is good to be able to look at your work and pick out what you do well (as well as things that you’d like to improve), not only because it gives a nice self-esteem boost, but also because you identify what it is about your work that makes it good, or that sets it apart from others, which obviously will help you no end in creating future work.