This was a challenging project in that it required a set of images on a theme that should work as a collective whole rather than just individual images.
Editorial photography is basically all that is not advertising in a magazine and is used to illustrate the features and articles that are the core content of a publication. It can also be content for web sites and specific images for things like corporate annual reports.
Having spent some time looking at the editorial work of still life, particularly food, photographer Tessa Traeger I was particularly inspired by a later work of hers called the “Voices of the Vervais” a series of images featuring artisan producers of food in the Vervais region of France, many of them featuring just their hands and their respective produce.
Accordingly I decided to create a series of photographs in a similar style i.e. focussing on the subjects hands either working at their hobby or business provided it was predominantly manual in nature and /or could feature the items they either grow or make.
I made a number of self imposed “rules” concerning the images in order to ensure there would be a consistent style to the resulting images.
These were :
- Images to be (predominantly) black and white.
- They would be photographed on location using natural light.
- A range of formats would be used, i.e. portrait, landscape and square.
These limitations were very largely adhered too and I found this discipline useful in combination with having a written a brief to ensure the images met the criteria as I reviewed the images on an ongoing basis and on location to ensure I had achieved my aims.
I had always intended to produce B&W images as per Tessa Traegers original work but modified this slightly once I took “The Woodturner” Image as I felt that whilst the black and white treatment enhanced the hand and background the detail and beauty of the wooden apple was to some considerable degree lost. The selectively coloured image captures the best of both worlds in my view.
The only other major exception was “Expectant Mother” as it was taken using flash rather than natural light and this was a result of the simple logistics of the heavily pregnant model, understandably, not wanting to be outside on a cold, dank day in the middle of winter with a large amount of bare flesh exposed.
As I produced more images I developed a simple style of post processing which seems to work well and produced pleasing results. The basic steps are to apply a high pass filter to selective areas of the image (generally bare flesh i.e. the hands) this brings out detail in the hands such as hair and wrinkles adding depth and interest to the image, flatten the image and de-saturate the image finally adjusting brightness and contrast. Images are then cropped and straightened for final presentation.
The additional steps for the selectively coloured images are to add a layer mask and paint in the required coloured area with a combination of brush and masking techniques.
Overall I think I have compiled a pleasing set of images that meet the objectives of the theme. I discarded two of the earliest images – “Gardener” and “Self Portrait” – because as the project progressed I become more demanding of the quality of images I wanted to produce and I found this a useful discipline to be critical of the work in order to maintain the standard of the project.
What could be improved?
The very last images were completed the week before the deadline mainly due to a variety of logistical issues, completing the images earlier would have provided more time for evaluation and finalisation of the images e.g. framing of all images.
The project has inspired me to continue this series as I feel there is great scope to continue this theme in all sorts of directions as once you start to look the range of possible subjects it is immense and can be achieved without enormous preparation or expense required to obtain a single image.
One aspect I find particularly intriguing is that whilst the single images are interesting in their own right then the collected images have a stronger appeal when viewed as a set and would, I feel, make the basis of an exhibition in a suitable space.