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  • Writer's pictureJaz

Draft One: 'Eyes'

I was looking at a photography book of mugshots and stumbled across the Civil Rights era. I thought to myself how amazing it was that a mugshot – something connoted to be bad because of it’s association with criminality and the prison system – can be turned on it’s head depending on context. In a perfect world, a mugshot would always be because someone has broken the law and is going through the process of rehabilitation (not punishment; once we see justice as how much we can punish people who do crimes we like less than others (e.g. giving terrorists the death threat but not regular mass murderers or hate crimes), then it’s not really about justice is it? If we don’t rehabilitate people, what happens to them after their 20 year sentence? They reoffend and nobody benefits). But often times, people who go to prison are actually innocent, or are fighting against an unjust system that has become normalised. To me this showed how certain conventions can be turned on their heads. Acknowledging negative associations or ‘sticky objects’ (Ahmed, 2004) attached to the word and racial group ‘Black’, it was worth looking at instances where these objects can be separated from a word or image.

From Raynal Pellicer’s ‘Mug Shots: An Archive of the Famous, Infamous, and Most Wanted’ (2010: 214 – 215)

I’ve started working on the aesthetics of the image a lil more now. As it stands, I took a quick selfie to use. I have my own DSLRs, but I didn’t want to get caught up in adjusting the settings. Plus, I have this weird habit of wanting everything to make sense once I use the DSLR. What I mean is, if I use a DSLR to take a self-portrait, I’ll need a tripod to do so. And once I take out the tripod, I might as well make sure the lighting is good; and why use autofocus or any automated settings for that matter? And might as well find a decent background – I know a place down the road…

And before I know it, I’m spending too much time on a first draft that is just to test out aesthetics. It’s supposed to be a quick ting for a reason. I can work on the settings and location at another date.

So I took a quick selfie on my phone. Don’t ask why I’m looking down instead of at the camera – I’m better behind the camera rather than in front. It didn't help that I was in the middle of a breakout either.

In my actual portraits, I’ll ensure the subject’s eyes are open wider.

Here are the subsequent variations I did, using software like photoshop, Canva, and the editing tools on my phone. This was just to explore the possibilities with my work:

I liked these two the most – the first one for it’s almost ‘gritty environmental portrait look,’ and the second one because the monotone silvertone look would allow me to put the focus on whatever I do to the eyes. For this draft, I settled on the silvertone one and added a gold behind the eyes. In my last post I said something about the soul being of value and containing valuable thoughts and ideas – and I thought the use of gold to blot out the eyes would be quite effective.

Though it does stand out, I don’t like how it looks. The silver tones and the gold eyes contrast in a way I don’t like, and if I do continue with the gold look, I probably won’t add it in post. I want the gold to be more subtle, and maybe a paint or ink will be able to fulfil that, whilst also giving the image a less jagged, regimented look.

Anyway, here's the before and after:

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