Exhibition Brief Launch
The purpose of this assignment is to work collaboratively as a group and create work for a site specific exhibition in a location beyond Kingsway campus.
The brief was launched on the 1st of December 2015. I have teamed up with 3 other students, 2 of them with whom I have not worked with before. Im excited to work together because we all have varied & different interests, so it will be interesting to see who takes what role and what is produced at the end of the project. My group consists of Liz & Amy, who’s interests’ are based on fashion and beauty; and George, with whom I have previously worked who is similar to me and very open to the prospect of attempting new things.
On the 8th we all went together on an off site visit where we explored alternative spaces for possible exhibitions in and around chester. Following this off site visit, myself and my group discussed some possible options.
Spaces viewed on off site visit
Chester indoor market hall
The area was nice and spacious & some of the stalls were not in use, which would have provided for a small exhibition space that could’ve looked similar to a gallery. Plenty of locals would be able to view & enjoy the exhibition, which would create good exposure for us and show good communication between the university and their students with the local community.
Chester University Riverside Campus
Many of the walls were empty with no pictures of painting hung up inside the building, so if our exhibition was to be set up there, I feel like many people would notice it. One of last years exhibition was also held at the Riverside campus, within glass cabinets which are now being used to display vintage health books and vintage medical instruments. The lighting here was good, but artificial lighting could be considered.
Chester University New Business School
Everything was very new and clean with some pictures hung up on the walls. We moved upstairs via the very lavish glass semi spiral staircase. The walls upstairs were abnormally long but also very bare. There were some very large spaces along the stair case which could exhibition large pieces on white walls. In the cafeteria, the walls were a dark beige/brown/crimson-esque with sparkles, so anything potentially exhibited there would have to take that into consideration. Will it help the piece of work?
Ideas & spaces discussed with the group
From the beginning, myself and my group decided that installing our exhibition within a clothing store would be very difficult. Most of the clothing stores are worldwide companies not likely to collaborate with a group of students firstly because we would be taking up ‘exhibition’ space that they would normally use to promote their clothing, and secondly, they would be unlikely to agree with our project ideas unless we promoted their line.
Therefore, our second idea was to contact several bars and pubs in Chester. Liz made a draft email which read;
I was wondering if you were able to help me, I am a student from Chester University studying Photography. I have an up coming project with involves n exhibition of photographs in a chosen location. I was wondering whether you were interested in taking part, by collaborating with myself and my group in choosing a theme for out project and hosting it at your location.”
The underlined words are corrections I pointed out to Liz. Other than that we were all comfortable and confident in the email.
The email was sent out to the following;
- The Botanist
- Red Door
- Fiesta Havana
We received replies from the following;
- The Botanist : “Hi Liz, Can you please email some more information to firstname.lastname@example.org and I will be able to look in to this when i arrive back off my annual leave.”
- Kuckoo’s : “Hi Liz. Yes we’d love to help you out. We do a lot of work with UCLAN in Preston with the photography department and it would be a please to do this in Chester also. As for a theme… We are hugely passionate about all things cocktail. So ‘The Art of Garnish’ would be my preferred theme. We love big & over the top garnishes on our cocktails so it would be a great excuse to really go crazy with it. Let me know if this works for you and maybe a short meeting to discuss particulars might be a good idea. Kind regards, Richard Powell. Kuckoo owner.
From these replies we started to suggest several ideas amongst each other which included:
- Making head pieces out of their garnishes
- Portrait shots
- Using the drinks in the portrait shots
- Make up relevant to the drinks
- Male and female models
- Various angles/ Reflections
- Take photos of the drinks (maybe in different locations?)
Tuesday 12th January
Feedback from class;
- Be specific with what we want to do
- Don’t allow Kuckoo’s to direct your shoots
- Don’t give Kuckoo’s any of your images until a contract of some sort is signed
- Size of prints?
- How many finals?
After a feed back session on our ideas with the whole class we went to the bar and spoke with the owner, Richard. He was very easy going and seemed very interested interested in our ideas. He showed us around the bar, where we discovered that the best place to exhibit our final images would be nearby the stairs; the red light is less harsh & its a lot lighter, therefore making the images clearer for the viewers. Below are some pictures we took of the bar as well as the very exciting menu!
Here is some email evidence of our contact with Richard over the duration of the project
In todays session we spent the first hour experimenting with light filters in the studio, the most successful colours we found were red, green, pink & blue. However we found that the red filter created a very harsh light on our faces so we are trying to think of a way to mute the colour a little. We also explored framing, composition and how many models we could use. After looking through our contact sheet we decided which cocktail each of us would photograph. I myself am shooting the Hanky Panky & Southern Bell Smash.
Studio Lighting & colour filters test shoot contact sheets
Thinking about the shoot: When looking through these studio test shoot photo’s is it obvious that the model will require to wear heavy contouring so that the contrast can be easily seen. The eye-shadow can be very ‘popping’ and extravagant to match the colour of the drink. The Hanky Panky is made with strawberries and Lemon slices, so I will incorporate red and/yellow into this shoot. The second drink, Southern Bell Smash includes marshmallows & apple slices, so the possibility of including chocolate could make this shoot very exciting. I will experiment with clothing on the day, I am unsure of wether to match the clothes to the drink, use plain white or black or get the model to use a bandeau so that no straps can be seen.
After speaking with Tracy she suggested to look at the following;
- Commercial photographers & advertising photographers
- Drinks photographers
- Editorial photographers
- Bar & Club photography
- Kirsty Mitchell
- Gareth O’Connell
- Tom Wood
Has previously worked with all major drinks brands, including Grey Goose Vodka, Bailey’s & Jack Daniels. Alongside drinks photography he has published his works in magazines and created a large online portfolio. Here is a link to his website; Rob Lawson Website
The images above are some of Lawson’s photographs called ‘Cocktails from above.’ I am very interested in this kind of photography. I feel that the birds eye view of these cocktails shows a very different kind of perspective of looking at drinks, in this way you can almost deconstruct it and see what ingredients are used in an interesting way. The black background makes the colours spring to life and almost look as if they were pictured at cocktail hour.
These photographs are similar but yet different and less intimate compared to those of Lawson. The photographs taken by Studio3 are more action shots, drinks being poured. They have a mix of images, some taken in the studio whilst some are taken in the bar. those taken in the studio have very bright backgrounds, where as those taken in the bar are ‘busier’ photographers and less attention seeking. Its as if the drinks feel more at home in that setting. When comparing them to the drinks that Kuckoo’s serve however, they are much less extravagant. I feel that the cocktails that Kuckoo’s produce would be perfectly suited for studio photography because there are so many different ingredients and elements involved.
Scherer has similar photos to those of Studio3. Some taken in the studio and some taken in the bar. Those taken in the bar are action shots, pouring ect.. Although I think the images are well presented & edited, I don’t think they are as interesting compared to those of Lawson. I’ve also noticed that hardly any of the artist research concerning beverage photography rarely include any models/people in them. This would be something to think about and look into.
Stephen Conroy is a London based food photographer who specialises in advertising, PR, packaging and editorial photography and has had his work featured by many of the UK’s largest brands as well as global brands, such as Kinder, Knorr, McDonalds and Tesco. His images are aimed at picturing fresh produce and natural images using real daylight or re-created daylight!
Website can be found here: Stephen Conroy
The first photograph looks very similar in style to those of Rob lawson, however they are slightly too editorial for the kind of image I have in mind for the shoot.
Tom Wood was born in the west of Ireland in 1951. He is best known for his photographs in Liverpool and Mersyside and has published numerous books including, ‘Looking for Love’ in which he has photographed regular city-dwellers on a night out. He is able to capture many emotions and typical nuances involved within a night out without the subject noticing. They are unaware of his presence which has allowed for some interesting photographs of people, but also drinks which is our main focus in this project. In his photographs, I really like the fact that the drinks make an integral part of the image.
When doing my artist research I came across this website ‘Fstoppers’ which would help us if we were to use Colour Gels in the studio again. Shooting with Colour Gels
The following link is to help us when photographing in the Location, Kuckoo’s bar itself.
Friday 22nd Jan – Studio Shoot with Kuckoo’s drinks
Today we had the owner of Kuckoo’s, Richard, and one of his talented bartenders, Andy, come in to the studio to make the drinks for us to photograph. When we found out that they would be present during the shoot, we discussed as a group that it might feel like we are under pressure to do well. However, they were both very kind and let us get on with our work. They hadn’t been able to bring the ingredients for the Southern Bell Smash drink, so for me personally, they created a cocktail with nearly all the garnishes to photograph. In the end I shot the Hanky Panky and the made up cocktail.
Reflecting on the shoot: Although I had fun during the shoot with preparing my models make-up and watching the drinks be made, I personally struggled with photographing my model with the drinks. Many of the poses I had in mind were not compatible with the studio or the garnishes that had been brought in. Even though I felt comfortable with my group members around me in the studio, I did feel slightly under pressure to not copy the same poses that their models had done previously.
These are some of my preferred images
26th Jan – 2nd Feb
When I began editing these images in Lightroom, I knew that I had to keep in conjunction with the red theme seen throughout the bar. So on many of my images I increased the red saturation in the split-toning section to create the red effect all over the photograph rather than in just one specific area. It also helped that both of my beverages were red, it meant that they already stood out in the pictures. When looking at the first edited image below, you can see that I did apply a lot of make up, simply because of the fact that I thought that the drink prepared had enough colour in it! Applying colourful make up to her face would have distracted from the drink. When looking at the second image, I did apply some yellow eye shadow because I knew I would be taking close-up images. Strangely enough, now that I am looking at these pictures again, I notice that the distant photographs works well in collaboration to the size of her drink, just like the close up image works well alongside the smaller beverage.
I used the adjustment brush on the second image to brighten up the drink as it was very dark in the original image.
After some discussion with my group, I decided with their support that for the following shoot I would model instead of photograph because of the difficulties I had experienced in the studio. By being a model, I hope to understand and explore variations of poses with guidance of the photographers (Amy, Liz and George.) Because of my difficulty with this type of photography, I wanted to experiment and research other types of photography that would be suitable for this project. Thats when I thought of photographing just the garnishes by themselves, separated from the drinks. By looking on Pinterest, I discovered some fun and playful ways to get this across.
The link to my Pinterest Board can be found here; Collaborative Practice Board
I feel that the over head photography also links well with the work of Rob Lawson as his photographs are also taken from above, possibly also using a copy stand!
9th February – Shoot in Kuckoo’s
For this planned shoot I acted as a model for the team as I still wanted to be involved. Doing it this way, I was able to help my team with taking the photographs and offered my assistance and thoughts when I could. It was very difficult being a model because I knew the difficulty of working with the harsh red light, but in the end we still managed to create a large portfolio of work within Kuckoo’s. The photographs taken of the drinks were particularly successful!
Below are some contact sheets showing me modelling.
Artist Research for Garnish Shoots
The easiest way to find inspiration and examples of what my vision was for these photographs was through Pinterest, and through there I was able to find various websites and blogs which gave me new ideas!
The first was ‘The Red List.’ Website link is: The Red List
The artist/photographer I looked at on this page was called Florent Tanet, through clicking on the links, editorial, food, and then unusual concepts, where a large list of people’s were was available to view. I liked her’s the best due to the simplicity and nude colours seen within some of her images.
Another photographers page that caught my eye on The Red List website was the work of Lauren Hillebrandt. Her photographs also incorporate very simplistic and simple minded concepts which are intriguing to look at, as well as inspirational for the layout of the fruit shoot that is planned. I don’t think I will be as experimental as the works of Hillebrandt & Tanet, but I certainly do like their very minimalistic outcomes.
Unfortunately I could not find many interesting facts on Mackenzie, apart from the fact that she is a designer currently living near Chicago who loves collaboration and experimentation. Her work on Pinterest stood out for me straight away, the colours were very bold but yet still very calm to the eyes. In the information section for these photographs she explains that they were for a project in collaboration with a Tea and Coffee company. To achieve the colours in the mugs she used milk with food-colouring!
Alongside this project, she has various other pages and work that you can look at on her page ; Mackenzie Freemire
With Mackenzie’s work, I’m inspired to use bold colours of fruits and paper beneath. I think that it would work well with promoting the garnishes that Kuckoo’s use within their drinks.
This is another website that I came across through Pinterest. Studio DIY is a creative lifestyle company who try to encourage people to make life a party! They share fun and bold DIY projects for recipes, tricks and ideas. Many of the projects are larger than most and they certainly are not afraid to use bright colour within their work. The project I stumbled upon is called ‘When life gives you lemons: DIY lemon photo booth.’ If I had the funds to create images like these, I definitely would have! I think they would have fit in perfectly with some of the ideas I had for my model in the studio shooting session, however when thinking about this project in correlation with the look and feel of Kuckoo’s, it would probably not have worked as well. Unless, we tried to incorporate lots of red fruits! However, the images are still relevant in terms of their effortless look. I hope to incorporate that into my work with the garnishes.
The link for their website is: Studio DIY
Shay is a product stylist and commercial photography for growing creative brands and businesses. She has worked with incredible companies such as Sugarfina, a luxury candy brand as well as many others. One of her specialisations is working with overhead flats created specifically for catalogues and web based media & advertising images. Her portfolio varies from food products to jewellery, shoes, candy and the list goes on. I found her website also through pinterest. What I stumbled upon was one of her inspiration boards, which in turn gave me inspiration! Her 2015 resolution was to shoot more citrus, which is one of the garnishes used in the kuckoo’s beverages. The images below are the result of her playing around with the citrus in the studio.
Her website is http://shaycochrane.com/
Shay’s work is definitely something that I am looking at closely for inspiration. I really like the overhead look and sharpness of the images final result.
12th February – Test shoot with Copy Stand
Above is a small diagram similar to the copy stand we used.
The reason we chose to shoot in this way was because many of the artist’s we’ve looked at use this method of photography, for example, Rob Lawson and Shay Cochrane.
Myself and George had never used the copy stand before so we decided to have a test shoot and see the results before taking it on with all the garnishes. These are the contact prints from the shoot. Unfortunately, a lecture was moved into the room where the copy stand sits, and we were asked to leave. Therefore we did not get as many images as we had hoped but it gave us a good idea on where to go and what we needed to think of to prepare for the next shoot after development week.
Reflecting on the shoot: Although the images were somewhat interesting, the make them stand out, more colourful garnishes were definitely needed! Colour is also needed to make these images fit in with the studio and location shoots.
23rd February – Garnish Shoot 2
After reflecting on the test shoot and actually really liking the look of the images, myself and george booked another session with the Copy Stand.
In preparation for this shoot, I particularly took inspiration from the works of Shay Cochrane and Mackenzie Freemire. I really liked the idea of combining Freemire’s colourful and bold work with the some of Shay’s more hectic yet peaceful images. We used several garnishes that are seen within Kuckoo’s drinks, including lemons, apples, blueberries, rasberry’s and many more and lay them upon really bright background papers. We mostly stuck to red for the connection to Kuckoo’s bar! I purchased the coloured paper from WHS.
For this shoot, we attempted to emulate the work we had researched on Pinterest. With every new layout, we tried to incorporate some sort of red, be it the background or red piece of fruit or both combined! We also wanted to vary the amounts of garnishes in each frame, some look very busy and others really simplistic and nearly empty. For some images we experimented with the colour gels that we used for the studio shoot.
Final Images Garnish Shoot
When I edited these images, I found that apart from increasing the contrast and brightness slightly, the bigger changes that I made were the sharpness of the images. I wanted them to be bold and stand out amongst the rest, eye catching and make people think. Yet still simple and easy to look at. What I also really like about these photographs that they can be viewed both portrait and landscape which will help when setting up the exhibition as I know that we will have various photograph sizes being put up.
Discussion on Exhibition layout
We’ve all agreed as a group that the work should emulate the way that the art is put up in Kuckoo’s itself. The bar has many pictures & posters framed in various sizes all spread around the bar, but not in any particular order which is what we want to carry on into our exhibition. The example below is a picture I have taken from Kuckoo’s website.
Our initial idea was to display our exhibition beneath the stairs. However, when we went to put up the exhibition we found that the frames (that belong to Kuckoo) that were already there had been nailed into the brick wall. We had originally been told that they were removable so this made a set back in our progress on the day. The original ideas that we had thought of looked a bit like this:
Therefore we had to change our location within the bar slightly, which only ended up being directly onto the opposite side of the brick wall and onto the glass wall which separated the stairs from the whisky bar that is only open on certain days of the week. We all immediately thought that it would look really great to display the images following and flowing with the stairs. We used red light along the stair case to illuminate the area.
Note that we are in the process of creating a contract so that the bar can use our images.
The first shoot for myself was less successful than I had hoped it to be, however, I was able to find some good photographs within the contact sheets which, when edited became final pieces that I can say I am proud of! The studio shoot, although slightly unsuccessful, became an eye opener for me because it allowed me to realise my weakness within this area of photography, which is when I started researching garnish and food photography.
The photographers most inspirational to my work with the garnishes are Rob Lawson, Shay Cochrane and Mackenzie Freemire. Rob Lawson introduced me to the possibility of photographing from above, and it was by looking at the work of Shay and Mackenzie that I thought to incorporate such bold and risky colours whilst using the copy stand. By shooting with the copy stand, we were able to create a strong series of work which when exhibited in between the larger photographs, really brought the exhibition to life. The bright colours essentially attracted viewers but also light up the darker images taken in the studio and on location.
It was interesting to see the variety of work that we each came up with. Lizzie focusing more on her studio photographs, Amy more on the product photographs and George on the location shoot as well as the garnish shoot. It was also great to see that it all came together so nicely!
In hindsight, I wish I had given the product/location photography a go, but at the same time, it was exciting being on the other side of the lens and experiencing what models go through. I was lucky to know the photographers so I felt very comfortable with their guidance and directions. I would also have liked to shoot the cocktails in the style that Rob Lawson photographed his from above! Although sometimes we didn’t agree on everything, my group were a respectable team to be a part of, and with each others advice I think we created a worthy exhibition.