This exercise is all about looking at a familiar environment in a new and exciting way. You will explore your ‘neighbourhood’ (Up to max 100m of where you live) and your home will be your subject for this project.
Working within this confined area, you need to take six pictures from a ‘worm’s-eye’ view. The six pictures should take on a child like approach, not only in height but also in the wonderment of rediscovering the common place.
Concentrate on finding exciting angles and thinking about some of the compositional points discussed in the session and reading. Your pictures can be close up or even abstract, but think about continuity between your images and especially about what they say about your neighbourhood.
From your six pictures choose your best three and post them on your blog. Add an explanation about what you feel you have achieved.
When I approached this task I immediately took inspiration from the image featured on the brief for the mini task by Richard Billingham.
The angle from down below looked really effective and although it wasn’t looking exactly looking up as a worm’s eye view would suggest it definitely provided a different view of the situation. The feature of this image that caught my eye was the dog and I felt a connection because we have cats in our household and they are definitely part of the family, therefore part of my neighbourhood. However we are renowned as a family for picking pets that are a little bit strange, so just as Billingham perhaps subconsciously did with his series of images, I set out to create a set of images that depicted the ‘alternative’ personalities of my cats using a different viewpoint.
I have two cats: one of them is quite timid and the other delights in getting in my way, so in order to not spook or provoke them I used my phone to take pictures. This would allow me to get closer to them and to photograph from different angles that a full DSLR might not let me, it would also give me the flexibility and portability needed to change my situation at short notice. I photographed both my cats in a variety of different locations, trying to get a different perspective and portray them in an alternative view. Part way through the exercise I realised that the images appeared to be much more effective if I chose to exclude the face of the cat and focus on more abstract qualities that define them. This started giving me some images that looked really quite odd which I really enjoyed as in my view, my cats are really quite odd too.
I decided to focus on one quality from each cat to capture, my first cat Tiffin is extremely lazy and spends most of the day just crashed out on my parent’s bed. When she’s happy she gets her claws out and holds on to anything near by, which is often my leg when she chooses to sit on my lap. I chose to capture her claws whilst showing a tiny bit of her face in the background, so the viewer knows it is a photograph of the cat but their attention is drawn to the paw in the foreground first. Similar to the last image, the perspective makes the paw look larger, so as a viewer you feel that this is the focus of the photograph.
For my second cat I chose to try and capture her restlessness, she is quite shy and never stands still when someone is trying to pay attention to her because she doesn’t like a lot of physical contact. Initially I was frustrated when using my phone because I couldn’t control the settings like I would be able to with my camera, however I found that the default shutter of the phone allowed a bit of motion blur which was actually really effective for the concept I was trying to achieve. Again by photographing from below and not including the face, I attempted to draw the audience away from simply thinking it was a photograph of the cat and to extract a deeper meaning.
As with the first image I wanted to portray the laziness of my cat, I felt by approaching it in the same method visually would give a good consistency and balance to the other images. I didn’t want to create a big imbalance between the two images of the same cat. Like with before I chose to photograph from this perspective because it makes the paws look really big as this is the part of the image I wanted to emphasise. There are a few differences in colour between the first image and this image but as it was taken in the same room therefore the environment and background is the consistent.
I feel like I have achieved an effective set of images that work well as a set of three, however I feel personally that the first image is the most effective and despite doing many different shoots with my pets, I didn’t manage to achieve that same wow-factor in the other images. Perhaps maybe with more time and more planning I could achieve more images that are strong in composition although I do accept that it is quite hard to work with subjects that don’t take any direction! Taking images from another point of view has made me consider how I can take this style of photographing forward and apply it to me photography coursework and in my own practice outside of the MA.