With Graduation evening tonight I guess this is my last post for Aqueous.
Overall I had had the ride of my life! Its been amazing but its also been bumpy!
I need to thank so many people for making Aqueous possible.
These people include, The models…
Kelly Rice, Katherine Soames, Kelsey-Lee Pearse, Catrina Smith and Alexandra Rafael.
The generous people who assisted, not only on the shoots….
Julian Sharp, Oliver Birdsall, Christian Hood, Brian Low, Dylan Daniels, Stefano farrante (I sure hope I haven’t forgotten anyone)
Sarah Smith, Geoff McGeachin and Chloe Little.
My prints sponsor…
And all the people who believed in me!
Family, Limehouse creative, CaptureLab and my Friends.
Although Aqueous is now over, as is college, I am so grateful I had this experience and I look forward to creating new things. I have just launched my new website www.rhiannonjansma.com and I can’t wait to upload Aqueous to my collection!
I figure the best way to sum this experience would be to let you all read what I presented to the marking panel for Aqueous….
Hi my name is Rhiannon and I would like to start by showing you a clip from behind the scenes of Aqueous.
Aqueous is 90L of paint, 5 naked models, 2, 844 photographs and 144 tedious hours editing
Aqueous is a study of the human form using a liquid aesthetic. I chose to use liquid because I believe that liquid is beautifully descriptive of the shape of the surface that it moves over and this helps to make my series unique.
For me my major project had to fill a purpose and that was to get me a job as a retoucher. Because of this Aqueous was not my original project. Before Aqueous I had started a project called Oddities. Oddities was a series of photo manipulations. Each image in the series was comprised of components from 3 different photoshoots.
This meant that although I began shooting straight away, 2 photos in or 6 photoshoots later realised that I was in over my head and would have to take a leap and begin a new project that was more achievable.
This was when Aqueous was born. I feel that aqueous is a much better representation of my photographic abilities and in that regard was far more challenging.
I began Aqueous with the intention of creating 10 A1 prints and a book with Momento. How things have changed. I am extremely happy with the outcome of the series. I now have a 64 page book through blurb and have created an exhibition that far exceeds anything I thought I was possible of creating.
To develop Aqueous I had a very intensive testing phase. When I began the series I wasn’t too sure that I would be able to pull of a shoot of this nature as I knew that there was a lot of potential health risks involved.
I had to find a liquid that met many criteria. It had to be safe on human skin and safe if potentially swallowed, it had to leave the model without eye irritations, and be easily removed. It had to be of a certain liquidity and without fumes, and it had to be glossy and reflective. Finding a liquid that met all of these requirements was quite overwhelming.
I began by contacting photographers whom had used paint on human faces before. The general consensus was that photographers either used body paint or gauche paint, both of which were out of my budget and not available in the bulk amounts that I would desire.
I decided to test a dairy cream, and as black food products aren’t as readily available, I also tested black and white kindergarten paint.
Apart from the obvious insights to gain from the testing phase such as lighting and what liquid to use I wanted to gain insight into what the model was going to go through, so I tested all of the liquids on myself. This allowed me to know how hard I could push my models and what I could do to ensure their comfort. It also gave them reassurance that I was speaking from experience.
From the testing phase I learnt many things.
Dairy cream was a no go as it burnt my eyes.
Both paints would need to be mixed with 60% water to ensure liquidity.
The white paint was lumpy and would need to be strained through a flour sifter.
The models would have trouble breathing and would be very cold, so I would need to give them many breaks throughout shooting and would need to buy a heater.
I was also surprised by the difficulty lighting the liquids and ended up with two differing lighting set ups. One with 5 lights and one with 6.
I sent models the images of myself to explain the concept and eventually found models who would be willing to shoot nude and let me pour paint over them, unpaid. This was something I had worried about.
I then bought a heater, arranged a team of assistants and a week later was my first shoot. Knowing that I was attempting something quite ambitious My first shoot was strategically with a model I had shot before. Working with a model that I already had developed a relationship with gave me one less thing to worry about on my first shoot.
This was lucky because the first shoot didn’t run smoothly. Set up took much longer than initially expected and I had to finish the shoot early. This resulted in a lack of black images. It did however teach me a valuable lesson. I would now need at least 2 hours for set up and pack down. This shoot became the foundation for continuous improvements.
Every time that I shot I improved in someway. Whether it was wrapping something else in plastic or changing my workflow I could feel continuous improvement. At the beginning of shooting I was photographing one model in 5 hours however by my last shoot I was photographing 2 models in the same time period. It really felt amazing; I knew that this was a turning point for me and my photography. I felt inspired and looked forward to what I could learn next. During the shooting phase I also arranged some shoots solely to photograph paint motifs for the title and credit pages of my book.
After shooting had ceased I began the editing process. I initially picked the best photographs from each shoot and began editing them until they were completed. This however began to take too long and I instead edited them until they were 50% complete. I then had 81 images that were 50% edited. From these 81 I picked 30 images for my book and finished editing only these 30. Although I didn’t know it at the time doing this saved me a lot of time in the future. 2 days before I was due to go to print my hard drive died and I lost all of the edits. Luckily I still had the 50% images and I managed to get things done on time.
Although my original intention was to create a Momento book with glossy pages and an embossed fabric cover I now have a Blurb book instead.
Deciding to change from Momento to blurb was a something I never intended to do however I am happy that I did so. When it was time to print my book I reviewed the stature of my exhibition and decided that I wouldn’t require such an extravagant book anymore as my exhibition is my main focal point. This was a great decision for me because although I am very happy with the outcome of my book and the quality of the images I don’t feel that my images are particularly suited to being confined within a book format.
With this being said another outcome of my project that I didn’t expect is my exhibition Two of a Kind with fellow student Sian.
After beginning my project I really felt that I had begun something unique that I wanted to share with a large audience and thought the most appropriate way to do this would be through an exhibition.
Sian and I felt that collaborating together would not only save both of us money but because both of our works are monochromatic and of the nude and naked our works would complement eachother in the same space. This idea was the foundation of a 3 day exhibition occurring next week from November 29th till December 1st.
The first few steps to planning our exhibition were quite stressful. Initially we were both working with different budgets and were concerned about securing a gallery.
As it turns out, I got a job as a retoucher and after searching many galleries Sian and I fell in love with gallery District 01.
Both Sian and I wanted to have an exhibition that oozed atmosphere. We wanted to have an event that people came to and stayed at for an hour or so. For this purpose we booked a well known DJ for the opening night and picked a gallery that had a rustic feel that people could relax in.
When we made the appointment to visit the gallery, the curator offered Sian and I the opportunity to showcase our work in an Art and about event, Bizaare Bazaar. The catch was we had two weeks to organise prints and the easels to display them on. Needless to say we jumped at the opportunity and began preparation immediately. This event was a great success and taught us important things we could take with us to our own exhibition. From this I learnt keys things about the transportation of our work and was given insight into the way the audience perceived my work. This opportunity also gave us a chance to advertise our own exhibition and perhaps instilled in us a bit of a DIY bug.
For the event we built our own easels and we have been creating things ourselves since. For our own exhibition we have brewed 100L of our own beer, created our own drink labels, designed our own flyers and media proposals and I have since had a rubber stamp made and created my own business cards.
Needless to say these small projects have given us an endless list of things to do that has often been stressful however adding these personal touches are something that we think will really turn our exhibition into an experience and with the exhibition only a week away I can safely say it was all worth it.
Another key step in my project was how I would display my work. The work behind me is not my final display as my final display is being saved for two of a kind.
When I started this journey I knew I wanted large prints to accentuate the details in the paint and so the viewer could get right up close to my work. For this I decided on A1 prints. A1 prints however would ultimately set me back around $700 though which was not in my budget so I turned to crowd funding to assist with this cost. When I did this the owner of my local camera house saw my work and offered to sponsor me. I was delighted, said yes and started test printing. This was very valuable because I learnt that because I shot right out to give me the option to crop where I pleased I lost half of my image resolution and would no longer be able to print A1. Needless to say I was heart broken. I had a print sponsor that would let me print as large as I liked but I didn’t have the files.
Long story short I did some testing and now have 9 A1 squared prints and a rectangle, professionally mounted on 9mm MDF board. I chose squares because it allowed me to shrink the portion of the image that was captured and extend the background to still allow for big prints that could be easily absorbed by the viewer. This process taught me two key lessons.
No matter what goes wrong there is always a resolution. You just have to look hard to find it and I also learnt the importance of testing things. I tested everything. Whether it was how waterproof a sticker was or the strength of a hook I tested everything and I am sure without these tests I would have had many failures.
With all this in mind I think the things that I have experienced during this process have far outweighed the things I have produced.
Now at the end of this project many things happened during the journey that surprised me.
I met people that began as models and ended up as friends. I had a model tell me that my shoot has given her more confidence and changed the way she views herself. From that point onwards this changed the way I viewed what I was creating and the way that I was shooting. I had a model travel 8 hours on a train to be apart of my series and it was often this excitement for my idea that got me excited and showed me that I had duty to uphold to these people.
I met a particular assistant that devoted himself to my shoots as much as I did. And until I had this help I didn’t realise how many things I couldn’t have done on my own.
Overall I am most impressed with how much I have grown and how many times I have surprised myself. Although I hated the problems, I love the solutions.