Concepts and Approaches- Essay Ideas

For my essay and presentation I started off with two images revolving around my main passion fashion photography. These were the images below, by Stephen Meisel (water and oil) and Melvin Sokolosky (the bubble), see images below.

Although these images are classified in the same genre of fashion photography they are very different and definitely have different subcultures. Meisel’s image is more on the political spectrum where as Sokolsky’s image is classed more as fantasy and not reality. Even though both have elements of the other sub genre, and others too they are definitely on different spectrums and would allow me to create very different essays. I made a few notes on each topic before deciding to go with the Stephen Meisel image (water and oil). I decided on this one over the other image purely because I thought there was a lot more to talk about. Although I love both images and think I could write 3000 words on either I decided that the political side of fashion would prove to be a much more interesting topic and one that I haven’t particularly researched in the past. Therefore this module is giving me the chance to learn a lot more about a subject area that I have a lot of interest in! Below are the few notes that I made on the Melvin Sokolsky image:

Fashion

  • A popular or the latest style of clothing, hair, decoration, or behavior.

Fashion Photography

  • A genre of photography devoted to displaying clothing and other fashion Fashion photography is most often conducted for advertisements or fashion magazines such as Vogue, Vanity Fair, or Elle.
  • Sometimes used as a method to raise awareness of current issues- this isn’t always seen as a good thing and is sometimes criticized
  • Sub cultures within this: commercial, editorial, political, couture/high fashion, beauty and more
  • I am most interested in the political side of things, this probably also links into editorial photography

Fantasy fashion photography

Inspirations

Things to include:

  • How the images was made- no Photoshop, slight retouching on negative- taken a certain way so the wire cant be seen
  • Mass production
  • Fantasy side of the genre
  • Inspired by garden of earthly delights

And here are the more detailed notes that I made about the Stephen Meisel image, some of these points are the same as the previous notes, however I will expand on them differently to how I would of done if I was focusing on the other image.

Fashion

  • A popular or the latest style of clothing, hair, decoration, or behavior.
  • Can represent certain times and issues, brings in a political side
  • Fashion can repeat itself and come back around

Fashion Photography

  • A genre of photography devoted to displaying clothing and other fashion Fashion photography is most often conducted for advertisements or fashion magazines such as Vogue, Vanity Fair, or Elle.
  • Sometimes used as a method to raise awareness of current issues- this isn’t always seen as a good thing and is sometimes criticized
  • Sub sections within this: commercial, editorial, political, couture/high fashion, beauty and more
  • I am most interested in the political side of things, this probably also links into editorial photography

Politics/political

  • The activities associated with the governance of a country or area, especially the debate between parties having power.
  • Link to fashion photography- political messages- this may be an obvious or an underlying message linked to the current politics, could be as simple as someone raising awareness.
  • Is bringing a political message into fashion photography a good thing? Is it too raw if it is current? Unsympathetic- look at positives and negatives

Truth

  • This style of photography is the truth, and showing a current issue- reality
  • The other side of this is fantasy fashion photography- something that isn’t real, maybe a fairy-tale

Modernism

  • Reflecting modern society and current problems by expressing these through his art work of the oil spill in Mexico

Essay Structure:

Introduction

Fashion and photography

Political/realism

Fantasy fashion photography?/ history of political photography

Ethics

Conclusion

Things to bring in/ think about more:

  • Politics and aesthetics
  • Underlying cultural tone
  • Mass production of fashion photography- e.g. this image is from vogue
  • Sebastiao Selgado- Mali (Ingrid Sischy- ‘good intentions’ quote)
  • Historical context
  • Is the ‘whole truth’ seen?
  • Include quotes and other images
  • Do not accept the term political artists, we are all artists in the work responding to a conception of the world therefore all political, if its not political and doesn’t engage in the world it is not art it is decoration – Alfredo Jaar
  • Make people feel something, if you can make it beautiful they will sit up and listen- ethical problem in the viewers mind- confused and angry- got them to think about the act of conception- Richard Mosse
  • Fashion should be art and not just decoration- have a political meaning behind it
  • Look a lot into the ethical side of things- is it ethical to represent these issues***
  • Are we drawing attention to current issues or just glamorizing them and forgetting their severity?***
  • Is a lot of fashion naively unaware of politics? Its good to bring in meaning…?
  • Fashion photography towards current issues may be seen as unsympathetic and not very tasteful, but are they just trying to draw a bigger message and show the complexity of these issues?***
  • News reports are normally biased in one way or another; want people to see the bigger picture? And question more things. People will never see the full picture, are extreme reactions expected with political fashion photography?***
  • A photograph is capable of influencing, but is this for the better? In this case, fundraising may increase?
  • Representation of the female body- gender studies, how the body has been portrayed
  • Death and the female body
  • Politics of waste
  • Capitalism ad the female body
  • Introduction describes what your essay is going to do, include what concepts you are going to include- each section- conclusion rounds everything off
  • Capitalism- an economic and political system in which a country’s trade and industry are controlled by private owners for profit, rather than by the state.

Things to read further into:

  • Zoolander movie, could this be referenced?
  • Norbert Baska, Der Migrant
  • Ingrid Sischy- good intentions

Do I need to bring in fantasy? Or is that going off topic?

When thinking of the title, go in specific- maybe reference to a certain time period or image

  • Publication or artwork- title in italics
  • 3-4 quotes per page (with conclusion bing the exception)
  • Conclusion- more for summarising your essay and making personal comments/thoughts

I have also complied a list of quotes that may come in handy whilst writing the essay, to refer to or even just to inspire me when I don’t know where to take my essay, here is the list:

  • I do not accept the term political artists, we are all artists in the work responding to a conception of the world therefore all political, if its not political and doesn’t engage in the world it is not art it is decoration’ – Alfredo Jaar
  • ‘Make people feel something, if you can make it beautiful they will sit up and listen- ethical problem in the viewers mind- confused and angry- got them to think about the act of conception’– Richard Mosse- get exact quote- video lecture 4
  • ‘They cause those who see them to ask themselves: are we allowed to view what is being exposed?’ –Between the eyes book
  • ‘What right have I to represent you?’ –Between the eyes book
  • ‘Why can’t beauty be a call to action?’- Between the eyes book
  • ‘There is no ecstasy of beauty in which I will not remember mans misery’ –Robert Buchan ‘In bloods domaine’
  • ‘Beauty has no other origin but the singular would, different in every case, hidden or visible…’ – Jean Genet ‘The studio of Alberto Giacometti’
  • ‘Challenge the commonly held belief that the fashion world is somehow separate or immune from politics’- http://www.disphotic.com/migrant-chic-or-why-fashion-is-politics/
  • ‘To misquote Coco Chanel: ‘fashion fades, only politics remains the same’.’- http://www.disphotic.com/migrant-chic-or-why-fashion-is-politics/
  • ‘Photographs can’t change the world, but they can change people, and people can change the world.’- http://www.disphotic.com/photographs-wont-change-the-world/

I have started writing my essay and so far I think it is going well. I have done a lot of research and reading, however this certainly doesn’t mean I am done and won’t continue to do this. Because of the amount of research that I have done so far I have found it easy to put into words what to say, and found that the introduction pretty much wrote itself. This is definitely a bonus and I think I have gone about starting this module in the right way, doing a lot of research before I even started writing, and continuing to do so throughout writing the essay as well. I am so interesting in this subject matter and thoroughly enjoy writing the essay itself- something I never thought I would say! I have already learnt a great deal and I’m sure there is more to come!

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