Category Archives: Part 5 Constructed realities and the fabricated image

Assignment 5 Planning – Preselection

It was the first sunny day in weeks, so I grabbed the opportunity to go and shoot for this final assignment. The makeup took longer than the trial run and I seemed to battle a bit this time, but in the end I think I got it to work. This time I had the proper fake blood which worked really well. It stayed wet, but was sticky to the touch and held its drips very well.

I lugged all my equipment along in case extra lighting was needed, but I managed to shoot with natural light which was a bonus. Navigating with camera equipment across wet logs, stumps and narrow pathways was tricky. My husband was hampered by the mask he work which allowed very limited vision and I slipped on a mossy root and managed to do a face plant with my camera in my hand. Thankfully I managed to keep the lens up so no damage there!

I think I’m going to go with a series of 3 images. The first I’ll call “The Stalker”, the second, “The Shooter” and the last “Trophy Photo”. I have whittled down the first two photos, but still need to make a decision for the final image, which will be one of these below. Comments most welcome.

Holding head up
Holding head up
Crouched beside prey
Crouched beside prey
Foot on prey
Foot on prey
Prey draped on log
Prey draped on log



Exercise: Recording

The Brief:

Record a real conversation with a friend. (It’s up to you whether you ask permission or not!)

Before listening to the recording, write your account of both sides of the conversation.

Then listen to the recording and make notes of the discrepancies. Perhaps there are unfinished sentences, stammers, pauses, miscommunications etc.

Reflect on the believability of re-enacted narratives and how this can be applied to constructed photography. What do you learn from the conversation recording process and how can you transfer what you learned into making pictures?

I was not able to do this exercise as I have no tape recorder, and believe it or not, I do not have a cell phone either. However I do know from experience that I would have recorded a pretty accurate account, as I used to take verbatim minutes during collective bargaining with the BC government and the teachers’ union.

But this brief takes me back to a game we used to play in primary school. It was called “telephone”. We would gather a large group together and sit in a circle. One person would think up a sentence, then whisper it to the person on his/her right, who would then whisper the sentence to the person his right again and so on until the sentence arrived at the person who was seated to the left of the originator of the sentence. The final person would then say the sentence out loud and it was always funny to see how distorted the message had become. Miscommunication happens when words are not understood or pronounced properly. Accents can also affect communication.

I believe that photographic narratives can be re-enacted to be believable. We only have to look at Jeff Wall’s A Sudden Gust of Wind to see a successful re-enactment. I think the key to making a believable constructed photograph is to pay attention to the details. It’s the tiny details or lack thereof that will give the image away.  Proper planning is vital.

The only reality which counts in the end is the interpretation which is profound.

John Grierson

Reference List

Bate, David (2009) Photography: The Key Concepts. London: Bloomsbury

Zoe Leonard and Cheryl Dunye

We are instructed to look at Zoe Leonard and Cheryl Dunye’s collaborative project, The Fae Richards Photo Archive. The photographic narrative is about an African-American actress in the 1920’s named Fae Richards. What makes this project interesting is that Fae Richards is an entirely fictitious character. She is played by Cheryl Dunye and the narrative spans her entire “life”.  Leonard and Dunye’s objective with this fictitious narrative was to highlight the lack of information of the African-American lesbian community, as well as to question the truthfulness of our histories.  As the saying goes “To the victor the spoils” (and the right to rewrite history) which is very evident in my birth country of South Africa. The history that is now taught in the schools in South Africa is very different that which I learnt as a child. Who is included in our written histories rather depends on the ruling political party/regime or government of the day. Minorities and the defeated regimes tend to be written out of history in an attempt to wipe out any evidence of previous existence.

Repurposed narratives make us question the veracity of documented history and in so doing help to increase our understanding of the events.

I have a slew of my own photographic archives which could possibly be used in a project. I haven’t really given archives much thought previously to this assignment, but can see that it would be quite an interesting project to tackle.


Archives Creative Practice Zoe Leonard & Cheryl Dunye [online]. Birmingham City University. Available from: [Accessed 7 March, 2016]

Assignment 5 Planning – Makeup Trial Run

With the weather threatening to rain at any minute, I persuaded my eldest son to be my guinea pig/model for my trial run at creating a mock bullet wound.

I had looked at a couple of Youtube videos for “how to” instructions and I followed a blend of these two videos: Hallowe’en Tutorial: How To Bullet Hole and Home Made Halloween Bullet Wound. I have to say that I initially thought it would be a piece of cake, but it is much harder to do than I envisaged.

So to begin with I dabbed a touch of liquid latex to my son’s forehead and then proceeded to layer bits of torn tissue covered by latex to form the prosthetic. Each layer has to dry properly and a hair dryer becomes very handy at this stage. Once all the layers have been built up, I then proceeded to poke hole with a sharp nail scissors in the middle of the prosthetic – this is the difficult bit as you can’t really feel how deep you are going and I didn’t want to cut into my son! Once that was done, I proceeded to widen the hole to an approximate bullet hole size. I then applied black grease paint to the inside of the hole to give it depth. Then I applied foundation to the prosthetic to blend it with the surrounding skin. It was at this stage that I realised that I’d made the prosthetic a little too big as it was crinkling around the edges just above my son’s eyebrows. Next time I shall know to make it smaller.

The next step was to apply some red grease paint in and around the wound. Then I added touches of green and yellow to reflect bruising and basically kept playing with the paints until I thought it looked realistic.  Unfortunately I hadn’t been able to purchase fake blood at the store, so I tried a red cream, but that was a little too orange for my liking. I tried mixing in a little black to deepen the shade, but the black was too overwhelming. After much trial and error and dropping the card I was using as pallet to mix the red and black, only to discover the card had landed face up between my butt and the side of the chair I was sitting on, covering my pants in grease paint, I eventually was satisfied with my result.

The different stages of building this make up are documented in the gallery below. All I need to do now is source some viscous fake blood.

Reference List

Hallowe’en Tutorial: How To Bullet Hole [vidcast, online] myeyeshadowisodd 03/09/2010. 11 min 37 secs. (accessed 06/08/2016)

Home Made Halloween Bullet Wound [vidcast, online] 0RainbowAngel0 23/10/2009. 7 min 08 secs. (accessed 06/03/2016)

Assignment 5 Planning – Location Scouting

I made good use of an open window of a few rain free hours today and went location scouting for a suitable forest in which to shoot my final assignment.  There is one forest just around the corner from where I live that I’m quite familiar with and which has a nice open space for lighting and such paraphernalia but it is a well beaten path and I’d prefer to find a location where I’m don’t have to contend with looky-loos.

So I ventured up the road and up to the knoll and came across a location that looked as if it might be suitable. I couldn’t see in so that was a good sign. Although the forest (Kealy Woods Park) is surrounded by houses and a school, it was rather deserted.

I followed a few paths through the forest, taking photos of interesting angles which could be potential locations for some of the shots I’m planning. As I got deeper into the forest I noticed that there was a huge rock outcrop in the centre.  I managed to clamber down the path over tree roots and logs and came to the bottom of the cliff.  Immediately the scene from the Lion King came to mind where the lion is on top of the rocky outcrop surveying his kingdom.  This spot was quite remote and offered some space for lighting equipment. Not that I have much of that. I’ll mainly be using my flash on a lightstand, and reflectors, if needed. The natural light was quite beautiful, even though I was there in the middle of the day. So early morning or evening will be even better with some longer shadows. I retraced my steps and found the path leading to the top of the rocky outcrop and found a good spot for a downwards looking angle.

So I think I’ve found my quiet location I was looking for. I didn’t come across a single soul while I was there. Some of the photos I took can be seen in the gallery below – they are basically straight out the camera, only some highlight/contrast and clarity adjustments were made.

Assignment 5 Planning

I had identified my subject for this assignment quite a while ago. My theme is going to be “anti-hunting/anti-poaching”, but I plan on giving it a bit of a twist. I was inspired by the TV series “Zoo” where animals go on the rampage and start hunting humans. I am constantly sickened by the photos of poached rhinos or elephants, hunted for their tusks and pointless game hunting, which are shared with me by friends and family back in South Africa. I  started to contemplate what would it look like if the shoe was on the other foot, or if you (the human) were me (the animal)…

Initially I thought I would just do one photo, but I am now leaning towards a short series. I will have to see where my intuition takes me.

As the narrative will be totally fictional, I will be emphasising that by photographing in non-indigenous spaces. I couldn’t justify a quick trip to the savannah pleins of Africa to do this shoot.

So on my to do list is to scout out a suitable forest location. I’m looking for some place that has a bit of open space where I can spread out my lighting equipment and preferably where there isn’t much foot traffic. I think I will also need a bit of dense forest as well. Luckily there is no shortage of forests where I live, so this is the easy part.

I also have to procure either a real or a good fake rifle to use. I will most probably go the route of a toy rifle as I don’t want to have to get involved with gun permits and so on. This will also allow me the flexibility of being able to go back and reshoot as I need without having to have the gun’s owner tag along.

I have acquired an animal’s facial mask and I think I can get away with only using the face mask. I can dress my husband up in hunting clothes to compensate for the animal fur, without losing any translation in the message that I hope to bring across. Thankfully I can use my family members as models for this assignment.

I will also need to research how to do bullet hole makeup. I have watched a couple of youtube videos on this and it seems to be something that I can do fairly easily so I’ll do some practice shots of that as well.

Exercise: Question for Seller

Our course manual sends us off to look at Nicky Bird’s project Question for Seller, in order to explore a little into creating new meanings for old photographs. Bird was interested in family photos and purchased collections of photographs on eBay which intrigued her. She made a bid for the collections that no one else was interested and bought them. She always asked her sellers the following: ‘How did you come across the photos and what, if anything, do you know about them?’

She states that the sellers’ answers are quite revealing: some are simply getting rid of photos that don’t mean anything to them – their family history or relevance has been lost. She then exhibited the photographs in a gallery, hung them on the walls and featured them in an album. At the end of the exhibition the photographs were auctioned off with a starting price of 99p. The album was simultaneously auctioned off on eBay with the bidding closing on the same night.

Question for Seller re-situates images in a different context and in so doing allows for a new dialogue to take place. Reflect on the following in your learning blog:

Does their presence on a gallery wall give these images an elevated status?

  • Most definitely. These were photos that families no longer wanted. Their relevance was no longer felt within the family, or not even understood. Only one person was interested in purchasing the photos. Yet now these “throw-aways” are elevated to the highest echelon of “photographic society” by being exhibited in a gallery. The photographs hang on walls to be seen by many interested people.

Where does their meaning derive from?

  • Because the connotation of these photos is one of discarded and unloved items, viewers will tend to attach their own interpretations to these images, perhaps by relating to their own stash of photographic images that are tucked away in a shoe box somewhere in the attic, or by seeing something familiar in the images that triggers old memories. As Barthes (1980: 107) states: ‘Photography … authenticates the existence of a certain being, I want to discover that being in the photograph completely’.

When they are sold (again on eBay, via auction direct from the gallery) is their value increased by the fact that they’re now ‘art’?

  • Yes it is. During the original eBay auction the only bidder was Nicky Bird who probably paid very little for the photos. However, once exhibited in a gallery under the auspices of a well known photographer (Nicky Bird), the photographs took on an intrinsic value as opposed to just being old snapshots. Possibly there were no negatives that accompanied the photographs at the initial sale to Bird, so the photos would be limited editions as well.
Reference List

Barthes, Roland. (1980) Camera Lucida Reflections on Photography.  New York: Hill and Wang