Gary Schneider // Heads

After looking at Wolfgang Tillman's work on abstraction and movement, I decided to look for more inspiration in my book, "Why It Does Not Have To Be In Focus: Modern Photography Explained". In particular the section on abstract photography, where I came across a piece called "Shirley", by Gary Schneider. I was particularly drawn to his work because you get such a sense of character from these portraits, despite being still images. I also find the technique in which these were created really unique, as Schneider exposed his shutter for 10 minutes, in a pitch black room, while his subject's remained completely still as he traced their faces with a small torch. Doing this technique reveals something really interesting within these subjects, and despite how surreal the images look, this is made even more so, in that way that the subjects almost look blind and lost in this situation, which is obviously very uncomfortable for them. To me this series makes a rebellious comment on what modern day portraiture has become and really shows how the way someone moves, is a lot more defining of them as I person, rather than a quick glamourised portrait photograph.


This above image, is my favourite from Gary Schneider's Heads series, entitled Shirley, who is the subject of the portrait. I particularly like this image above, to the others in this series because I think the glasses that the subject is wearing, brings a whole new level to this image, which I find really interesting. To me it offers this idea about perspective and how someone sees the world. For example this light we can see in the glasses, created by Schneider's torch, reveals to us this new dimension to the image, in what the subject has in front of them. It also to me looks like some formation of storm clouds, which evokes these ideas about how someone can perceive the world around them, and how their feelings and their outlook on the world, that forms in their conscience, mentally can effect everything they perceive around them.

This dark surrounding behind the subject also gives a really intimate feel to this image and really makes us feel like we are seeing into this person's head and way of thinking. For me this use of a long exposure time of 10 minutes, creating a soft blur of movement, where the subject has moved slightly, really allows the viewer to get much more of a sense of the subject and get much more emotionally from this image. To me there is something really haunting about the way the subject looks blind, as they are suspended in these ten minutes. It really gives you a lot to think about in response to this image, which is why both visually and conceptually I think these photographs from Schneider are so effective, and are really going to inspire my future work, not just in this project but my processes and aims as a photographer in general.

This conceptual work has really inspired me to put a lot of thought into the ideas behind my work and why I choose certain methods of image making. I now really like the idea of doing something with movement in my work but would like to explore more ways of creating movement, and the comments it can make and bring artistically, and conceptually to my future work. 


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