Photography -- Model Challenges & Working Out the Details
Visiting Artist Lecture with Harriete Estel Berman

Drowning, Strangled, Suffocating in Plastic -- and Experimenting with Images

This series of posts has reviewed the photographic documentation of the Black Plastic Gyre Necklace.  The formats included a standard plain white background, a mannequin, and a posed live model.  I had one more rather radical idea that I wanted to reveal in a post before a final comparison of all the formats. Model dress rehersal practicing post 
I had an idea of creating a photographic image that could possibly convey a larger environmental message rather than strictly focusing on documenting the necklace.  

Creativity_incThis post shows the progression of this photographic experiment.  The step-by-step images illustrate the evolution of my idea and highlight the reality that most projects are not fully coherent at the initial conception.  All too often we forget the trials and tribulations during the hours of preparation and the work that it takes to bring an idea to reality.   There can be lots of mistakes along the way, and that is O.K.  If you ever read the book, Creativity, Inc * you will hear numerous anecdotes about Pixar's ideas, storylines and characters that required tenacious development, multiple iterations, mistakes, and revelations all the way through.

For my photo experiment, I took tangible steps at the very beginning and planned to give it time to evolve.  I sewed the sheer organza dress and reserved an evening for a practice session with Jen, the live model, in my living room -- literally a dress rehearsal (shown above.) 

Then on the next day, the experimental postures that seemed to work best in my living room were photographed at Philip Cohen's studio (shown below.)  We were trying to portray what drowning or floating in a deluge of plastics looks like.

model practicing postures for photo shoot with Black Plastic Gyre Necklace

A couple of experimental postures were just the beginning..... 

model practicing on the saw horses for experimental image

Photoshop magic took out the sawhorse support for the photo (below.)

model practicing drowning for experiment with Black Plastic Gyre Necklace

Then the image was handed off to my daughter, Aryn Shelander, a professional graphic expert for more Photoshop experimentation. Aryn was very supportive of the photo experiment idea and took on responsibility for the final result. 

I saved a few of the many iterations as Aryn sent progress reports to me and asked for creative direction. Below are screen grabs as the modified photo developed.  I will also admit that it took lots of back and forth iterations to figure out exactly what to do to get the intended imaginary.   It was a trial and error effort that evolved throughout.

Black Plastic Gyre Necklace experiment very blue
Experimental Iteration #1

For example, we decided that  Experimental Iteration #1 was too blue. 

Next, Experimental Iteration #2 (below), we tried changing the colors of the water

Black Plastic Gyre Necklace with variable water
Experimental Iteration #2


In a further evolution, Iteration #3 (below ), we changed the color of the deeper water and added the cityscape to appear that it was also submerged in water.

Black Plastic Gyre Necklace with underwater flooded city
Experimental Iteration #3 

With these details, the image and my intended message were converging.

In Experimental Iteration #4 below, we added some floating trash in the water and added 
a shadow under the necklace to make it appear that it is suspended near the bottom.    

Black Plastic Gyre Necklace submerged in climate change metaphor
Experimental Iteration #4

In Experimental Iteration #5 (below) the water is murkier.  This is a nice effect, but it also made it too hard to see the necklace. 

Black Plastic Gyre Necklace 6 with dity murky water
Experimental Iteration #5

Aryn decided that the necklace needed more clarity.

In this final version (Iteration #6 below), a little extra contrast helps the necklace to show up a bit more. 

 Black Plastic Gyre Necklace cityscape 7 with trash

Experiment Iteration #6 final

Iteration #6, above, is the tentative final photo for my radical experiment.  Aryn and I decided to stop at this point and think about it for a while. As of this post, this photo experiment has taken close to three weeks of development including Photoshop iterations. 

A tip from the Photoshop professionals is to create separate layers for the various effects so that you can push and pull, change, or alter each element separately.    

The hardest part for me was to realize that the necklace and the model were now components of a different artwork -- the photo.  The Black Plastic Gyre Necklace is literally submerged in the larger message about climate change, plastic pollution, and the impact of plastic in the oceans strangling marine animals and fish.

Your opinions are most welcome. What do you think? I look forward to hearing what you may have to say.

Harriete  

More Information about the Black Plastic Gyre Necklace can be found on my website.

Previous Posts in this series about photographing the Black Plastic Gyre Necklace:
 

Photography -- Model Challenges & Working Out the Details

Photography -- Mannequin Needed! Rent, Buy, or Borrow? Basic or Stylized?

Photography and The Plain White Background

Photography - More than Documentation?

 

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