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When planning this series I looked at different photographers and their series’ that told stories. A photographer whose work stood out to me and who I could relate to was Erwin Olaf’s series ‘Dusk and Dawn’. The series shows perfectly set up, quite normal scenes with models standing, styled beautifully but just standing staring, looking with some blank stare. When I saw these photos I was inspired by this glazed over look because I feel like that sometimes and I think everyone can. That feeling when you are with people but your mind is somewhere else. My series plays on this feeling, it is about a girl who has a hidden story, the part that isn’t told in the photo because she shows nothing. It is all hidden inside, she’s there in person but she’s not involved. My scenes tell stories on their own, each photo has its own story because it represents a situation, everyone is doing something, working, talking, reading or playing and every character has its part in the story. The styling and the setup also has its story, the way that the table is made, lounge is set up and things are placed. The style I chose for the clothing was a sort of vintage-modern and the clothes were usually smart-casual.
I shot my scenes quite straight on for effect, all the photos are shot at a similar angle which is a slightly upward angle to show her power because while there may be something going on, she’s still strong, she’s still at work and still seeing her family and friends. The lighting setup I used was ambient light along with a single flash. I did this so that the ambient light could set the mood and the flash lit her so that she kind of looked out of place. I used a wide angle lens in order to fit quite a lot in the frame but also to exaggerate space. It made the distance between her and the other people look bigger, like she’s moving forward and they’re staying where they should be.
My first image is at the office. Everyone is working and talking around her and she is frozen, no-one is paying attention to her. She has a file in her hands, because she has something to do, only its slipped her mind because some other thought is haunting her and that is how she came to this frozen state. She looks in place,dressed properly, makeup done but her empty stare is what makes her look unnatural and out of place.
The second image is of a group of people playing tennis, a normal activity. Only she is there to participate but cannot. She can only just stare, looking useless. The clouds in the sky echo her feelings inside, they give us a clue to what she’s thinking because they show this mood, only she doesn’t, she reveals nothing. On one hand she’s letting down the team, she’s not playing and that will make it harder for her partner, or are they letting her down? They can see shes not OK, no-one comes to her aid. No-one tries and even if they did, would they really understand?
My third image is of a lounge scene, her boyfriend and her brother on either side of her. They’re reading magazines and chatting, engaging, communicating. The blank stare remains, even with her family and someone so close to her she cannot reveal what’s going on. Does she even know they’re there? This photo shows that from the outside she has so much, a loving family and boyfriend, a beautiful home. But does she really? They haven’t helped her, perhaps they don’t notice anything wrong but whatever it is she needs something and she hasn’t got it.
My fourth image is of a family dinner scene, a happy family. Mom, dad and brother at the table. There are candles, her mom took the time to make the table look smart and to make a delicious dinner only she is somewhere else. Her mom offers her a plate while her brother and dad converse but there is no response from her. Its just her close family and she’s not herself.
My final image is of her going to bed with her boyfriend, the one person she loves more than anyone and who loves her. Its the end of another day, she can breathe a sigh of relief that its over and she got through it, but she’s stuck, not even getting into bed but halfway there. The blank stare doesn’t change even though she’s alone with that one special person. He reads on, not because he doesn’t love her or doesn’t care but maybe he’s tried to help already, there’s nothing he can do. Maybe he doesn’t realise how far gone she is.
This series tells a story, and hides a story. From looking at the photos you can see the obvious story, see what’s going on and who is who. But there’s a part of the story that you don’t know, the part that is behind the blank stare of the porcelain like face. It may leave you with questions or suggestions about what has happened. That’s the beauty of it, the story is the viewer’s to finish because they will see the story of when they felt like that.