Experiment: Photo shoot #2 – dog walk

A second photo shoot idea was sketched out below. The phrase behind this one was “One day I’d like us to go for a walk”. I had the idea of a dog being walked or possibly a dog walking its master. This gave the opportunity of including a dog lead, so the viewer being pulled into the shot, hence providing a dynamic way into the image. Of the sketches below the right one is most dynamic, the character is on the back foot so pulling the viewer into the frame. The middle sketch is effectively a selfie and the slack lead appears to be a camera shutter release cable – this is definitely not what I was wanting to achieve.

The two images below were the most successful of the set. Initially I chose a plain woodland floor as the backdrop as I thought this would be consistent with plain background of the first photo shoot in the field. This is a sinister photograph and the impact of effectively two dominant colours has a powerful clarity. The single background texture appears to be moving, being slightly distorted at the bottom of the image. I did use a wide angle lens for this shot and was concerned that the distortion would look unnatural but in retrospect I do like the visual unease that this adds. The image has a dreamlike quality; purity but with an angry bite. The benefit of the lack of context in the background also isolates the subject, we don’t know where they are trying to tempt us to go. Is it a place of safety or danger? If we are to follow them then it will be with complete trust.

The second photograph added a taught lead and background detail. In contrast to the first image, this one shows a confidence stance, we are being dominated not coaxed. We are being pulled into the scene and not being asked to make a decision. We can see a destination that looks safe so why are we resisting? I was concerned that the lead would look like a remote camera shutter release cable but its tightness removes this connection.

What is our impression of the language on the signs? Remembering the words of Kant, ‘free play’ exists in each photograph, as we are keen to translate what is being shown. Do we analyse the language differently depending on the pose? To me the top image suggests a gentle invitation whereas the bottom is an order. The notion of an order is a twist on the actual meaning as “One day I’d like us to go for a walk” has been turned into a command. I like the subliminal meaning that has been implied.

The second image is also a good complement to the best shot from the first photo shoot, as shown below. The poses are relatable, the landscapes have vanishing points and the signs are held high. Both poses are also quite threatening but in different ways, one is pushing us away but the other is pulling us in. Have I simulated the hot and cold yo-yo of a relationship in the chaotic stages of breakdown? Yes, I think this disparity creates high tension between the pair.

Summary & next steps

The challenge is how progress this series and add to the narrative without destroying what has been created. There is an opportunity to create diptych pairs as I’m enjoying the tension created here. The message of love/hate resonates in my memory so diptychs are something I’ll consider.

The other consideration is further layering onto these images and experimenting with their presentation in different contexts. As they stand, these photographs appear contemporary, we have no reference point to consider that we are looking at history. History evokes memory and this is definitely an area to further investigate.

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