If my life was a film, I would constantly have perfect hair and make-up. If my life was a film, exciting characters and thrilling plot lines would always surround me. If my life was a film, I would emerge victorious and heroic when facing dramatic turning points in life. The film industry creates an alternate World to the one we live in, bringing intriguing stories to life and discarding the unsavoury elements of the day-to-day with exciting plots and beautiful characters.
Commercial photographers such as Michael Muller and Alex Prager employ a cinematic vernacular in their work, particularly when photographing film stars in keeping with their recognizable roles. For example, Michael Muller’s photograph of Robert Downing Junior taken between Iron Man films depicts a slightly manic Downing smoking and wielding a machine gun; similar to his role in Iron Man where he plays a destructive character in command of heavy artillery. The construction of the familiar aspects of the characters identity being transformed slightly into a portrait of the actor allows the audience to relate closely to the image, as the traits of the character is easily related to the actor themselves through recognition.
Michael Muller: Robert Downey Jnr. photographed in 2009 between Iron Man and Iron Man 2
Michael Muller:Joaquin Phoenix photographed around I Walk the Line, 2005
David Campbell argues that ‘narrative offers a sense of coherence/purpose, whereas real-life events don’t. We desire story structure, even if we know it’s false.’ There is a contradictory quality of the cinema due to the realistic nature of the characters yet unrealistic presentation of true life. Visual aids to communication are a vital element to demonstrating a narrative, ‘a combination of methods [are used] to transmit those constructions to others.’ It is clear that the events in our lives can only be recorded through the use of narrative. The creation of a moment, either visually or written requires a strong leading narrative in order to present the relevant facts to the audience. For this reason, narrative is a critical component within photography, one which must be used in order to provide an understanding.
There is a range of accepted aesthetic principles applied to cinematic works and an encoded semiotic language to film that has been harnessed by photographers previously. Cindy Sherman’s Untitled Film Stills attempt the incorporation of such rules in the creation of imitations of stereotypical film scenes. Though my work also will employ these principles, I will be applying them to a less banal concept of cinematic works. By setting out to create a series of film stills, I understand that in order to subvert this language I first need to speak the ‘language’ of Michael Muller et al.
Cindy Sherman: Untitled Film Stills,1997-1980
I intend to create works in which I demonstrate a strong narrative of subject through a single image, ultimately summarizing a story. The ability to create a narrative and intrigue through a single image using the language of cinema which itself builds on that of painting in the on-going development of my own personal practice charts a clear progression path from my work in picbod, phonar and towards a career as DOP. I will be providing a solid understanding of the atmosphere and story line by evoking strong emotional ties to a subject through the construction of an image by creating a sequence of images detailing moments from my life and the lives of my peers.
Dave Hill: Hiding the Map from Adventure Series