Stages of Life

Stages of Life

Every one of us must go through different stages in our life. My goal is to show the value of each life in the world we all share together. From the moment of conception to the day we breathe our last breath, God has a valuable plan for each of our lives. In this project I sought to depict life’s these different stages of life while I matured in my photographic ability.

The actual subjects consist of people, starting with a newborn and ending with an elderly, retired man. I am focusing on important periods of 0-3 months, 12-18 months, 3-5 years, 8-12 years, teenagers, college age, young married, middle aged, and extended retired.

Light in photography can evoke a psychological mood or emotion in a scene. In this project I am using lighting to match the energy or peaceful mood of the scenes. While I normally enjoy finding quality, unassisted lighting, for this project I worked hard to produce assisted lighting that mimics accurately what the normal eye sees everyday. Studying the assisted reality lighting style of W. Eugene Smith greatly improved my use of assisted reality lighting using a variety of reflectors, scrims, and occasional continuous and flash enhancements.

I use directional side and back lighting to create shadows that add visual interest and depth in the story. In terms of spatial relationship, my challenge is to show the depth with only a mononuclear camera. I purposefully do not have the shadows fall behind the subjects because I want to replicate dimension that we see normally with our stereovision. Through this project I have seen growth in my ability to create believable depth in my images.

Through my subjects I am trying to show energy and hope rather than depression or anxiety. The contrast amounts are carefully directed to transfer the story’s particular emotion fitting for the scene. The images start with high contrast lighting to suggest the energy and excitement of the early years of life. For the last couple scenes lower contrast is used to show the mature people in their peaceful, later days. In the picture of the elderly man, the lower contrast seeks to reflect the happy reminiscing of the last days of life.

Colors and values are a vital part of photography’s visual experience. They evoke a mood or feeling based on the overall hue of the image. All the images have warm hues in the range of 0 degrees red to about 60 degrees yellow. Warm colors, mainly oranges and reds, tend to demand attention by coming forward in a viewer’s perception. The images range from analogous to monochromatic color schemes.

The amount of red and orange saturation is high to help support the warm, inviting tones of the lighting. The last few pictures have a less saturated look to fit the serene narrative better. Artists and master painters have used color effectively for millenniums. Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio repeatedly used warm tones to create visually engaging and dramatic scenes. In many of his works he used orange and reds to show expression and energy. These are some of the characteristics I am using in my color work.

   In my project I am not concentrating on purely form or narrative. While it is impossible to avoid using form because everything is made up of lines and shapes, my main goal is to create powerful narrative aspects with the portraits. The form of the images is meant to enhance the strong narratives that are seen in the project.

In the first two pictures below, the light is from behind the subject and curtains and is reflected by the wall. The high contrast, directional light helps to show the energy and excitement of the growing mind of a 4-year old and the independence of an 8-year old. In the third picture below, the light is also from behind but is controlled in a less harsh and less contrasted look to create a different narrative. The colors are also muted in the saturation which helps to suggest the peaceful and thoughtful narrative to the viewer.

For my lower contrasted portraits of the elderly, I studied the lighting of Philip Toledano’s project Days with my Father. While the effects of aging can be hard on a person’s body, the eternal spirit of an elderly person can still be confident in the promise of life with God once the earthly body passes away (2 Corinthians 5:6-8).      

My photography genre is assisted documentary with a portraiture emphasis because I desire my audience to relate to the scenes that could appear naturally in their own lives. Each scene is intended to communicate an idea or story fitting to the age group. The pictures do not appear completely staged or artificial but tell strong narratives with limited manipulation in the construction process. Each person deliberately does not look directly at the camera but instead is engaged in a normal task appropriate for the energy reflected in their age and lifestyle. The project is unified with contrast of saturation, analogous colors, vertical compositions, single person scenes, and spatial lighting positions.

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