152 Pre-Class Session

So, to give ourselves a bit of a running start into the new module, we had a pre-class looking at various artists that used light in various ways. However it wasn’t just the conventional studio light and surrounding on a human subject; rather we were introduced to different ways we could use light to our add vantage.

Agata Madejska’s work Kosmos was a great way to move against the tide of using light on people; rather the light was used in a different manner. The pictures were taken in the last hour of daylight, creating an unusual effect in wish Agata says “In these hours a change takes place: the light leaves, the darkness arrives.” By taking away this light, it itself creates this negative space around the object. From what we are used to seeing in the playground is now changed into a much more peculiar shape that begins to reduce the previous connotations we once had with it.


Another artist that uses light to create negative space to bring attention to the objects is Ori Gersht. I had seen his work previously, in which my main focus on his work was primarily was the extraordinary shutter speed shots he was producing with the destruction of the many items. However, I now begin to see that what actually makes these pictures so unique is the pure black background; by using a forward light onto black paper to absorb the light, our main focus is on the items. This is turn takes the emphasis away from the surroundings, so that there is only a few things that we have to focus on. But in turn this benefits the light, as the fragments are able to manipulate the light into unique patterns that we might not be able to do as easily.

MSG-GERSO-00117 -300

So after looking at various artist like these, it was time for us to do research into our own given artist in our groups to explore and answer questions on the way they use light. I was given the artist Philip-Lorca diCorcia, with main emphasis on his series a Storybook life. The picture that I found to be one of the most interesting uses of light was the following:

Philip-Lorca diCorcia - Hartford

In my eyes, I can tell straight away that there is an external flash being used here. Starting off, we need to look at the area the subject is in; it seems she is in the back of a kitchen, prepping food. So it’s very unlikely that you would see any types of windows in an area like this unless you was in the front. Then we must notice the contrast in colours and mood; in the back the tone is quite red and sombre, giving it a negative yet old feel. However for the subject everything appears bright, luring us in to this shiny area.
So looking at these slight differences tells us that there would be a few lights behind the camera being directed onto the subject, whilst avoiding the background if possible (slightly hard due to the metallic objects in the back.)

So what was the reasoning behind this work? Phillip wanted to photograph his family within these photos as he believed that he had more control over what he wanted to show within his pictures. However, he wanted to avoid any connections with the subjects in the pictures though, so he limited the amount of information available. So I feel that the lighting was used to put more emphasis on the subject to allow the view to create their own story on what is going on within the picture.

I feel that the lighting has been used effectively within this picture, due to the fact that it’s not in our face. A possible idea could have been to fully shine the subject in light while placing the background in almost pitch darkness, yet something like that would have been too distracting and worthless. The lighting has been balanced just right to give enough context to build up an image within our minds, but we have to fill the rest of the story from what has been given to us.

The technique I particularly like within this picture is the ability to expose the subject using light; Phillip’s way to to highlight the subject. An area I would be interested in would be to create a silhouette of the subject against a background, almost to create a mystery about who this person is and what they are doing.


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