Is it all just a personal opinion?
Since starting at NTU I have found that my view-point has shifted often over the past 6 weeks or so. Recently we have written an essay for a visual analysis and I got an image by the photographer Sarah moon. Having spent two years studying design it wasn’t the easiest task for me and I felt that I lacked knowledge in this area but I gave it my best shot and managed to write 750 words that hopefully made sense.
I started off by feeling like I had to represent the image within the way the photographer had wanted it to be perceived, I found that this left me with little desire to write anything due to not really feeling like I agreed with the story accompanying my image. So instead I took myself back to square one and thought about what my initial idea’s had been (in one of our seminars we had just jotted down a few first impressions) this helped me to feel little more grounded and I had a clearer direction of how I was wanting to tackle the structure of the essay.
I think that when talking about someone else’s work its important to think about how you view the image and story rather than worrying about what its meant to say. Coming to university I felt like there was only one right or wrong opinion and was linear in the way in which it was intended to be perceived is the only correct way to view something. I’ve started being more loose when it comes to write and wrong and spending more time thinking about emotions and how each aspect makes me feel as both a consumer and a creator.
Sarah moon, 1987
A single blurry image that looks like it was captured on a film camera. The models body isn’t in full shot, she’s dressed in a burlesque style costume and the image looks as though it was taken as an action shot from a dance. Her costume is covering the most intermate part of a women’s body, yet lacks volume so leaves nothing to the imagination. The image is made up of lots of negative space, paired with a grey focus on the colour of the female’s skin, it’s important to note the tone of grey is dull and battleship rather than light and refreshing. The image is in the style of monochrome therefore deepening the message and allowing the photography to speak for itself rather than the colours of what looks like it would be a very elaborate costume, making the figure the light of the image and drawing attention to the shape of the silhouette. This is a typical body shape for women in the late 1980’s, with a slightly more voluptuous figure yet still looking healthy. There isn’t a systematic structure to the image due to the fact its fluid and slightly blurry however; on the other hand, it does also look as though it could have been specifically positioned in this way giving off a hint of the female being used as a puppet or mannequin to achieve the final shot. Having the body slightly off centre could represent that her job isn’t linear and suggest a level of unease, compared to an image found on vogue 1963 produced by David bailey where the woman is bold and certain of herself. Sarah Moon’s image doesn’t represent an individual sense of confidence although the clothing choices would suggest otherwise, this is important as it is ironic that the female looks uneasy yet is baring herself very prominently to the camera. I think that the set up behind this image would consist of a spot light shining on the dancer as the shadowing in this image is so strong and distinctively focusing on only the model and her under garment. This image would have been taken from a low point you can tell this from the perspective of the silhouette, making her look elongated and therefore potentially more attractive. This would also elongate the arms and legs of the model making her appear taller and portraying that a women can be tall in a society that is deeming her as small and invaluable. The inspiration from this image would have been fluid and expressive, Sarah moon is provoking conversation using both expressive and creative art. The mood that accompanies the image possesses both provocative thinking but also sad, slightly less empowering outcomes. The outfit is speaking for a sultry and luxurious experience while the overall disposition of the image suggests that the female in it is slightly sad and embarrassed. We know this because her face is gaunt and even through the blurry photography you can tell she is wearing a lot of makeup and therefore is covering up her real self. The disguise through the outfit and makeup therefore makes the audience feel concerned for the type of job role she has fallen into; this concept allows you to think deeper into the story behind the image and deconstruct each aspect starting with the lifestyle choices through to the mental wellbeing of the female within it. Overall taking all aspects into consideration I think that this image is a powerful one that is well thought out however still taken with a relaxed manner letting the stature and body language do most of the talking. Approaching the development of a film photo suggests there was a story that was important enough to be captured and shared with the audience not only in the memory of the event, but as an after appreciation. I think this photo would have been showcased in a gallery along with other photos of women expressing themselves in a time when it was taboo to show off the female form. This image possessed a powerful message showing that females can be bold and beautiful while embracing they’re body. I think that Sarah Moon wanted to say this without words but also wanted the person looking at the photo to find their own deeper meaning and something that made them feel empowered to behave however they felt necessary or made them feel alive.