Has never looked so good
We were told that as a class we had to formulate ideas for a Film Noir photoshoot. Upon receiving this task and myself being a bit of a film nerd, I wanted to approach this task utilising the many cinematography techniques used in film making, which I believe photographers carelessly overlook when producing their images.
I always like to be different when I do something and I want to approach this task by producing neo noir images. I guess I should define what is meant by neo noir or as it’s sometimes referred to as post noir or pseudo noir. Neo noir’s emergence in the 80s’ was a re-enactment of the film noir genre. Movie critics argue that film noir can never be done again because it is no longer the 40s’ and 50’s and that the time period is one of the major aspects of the film noir genre.
I somewhat agree with this and this is why I like the idea of neo noir as I believe it aims towards the same goal as film noir did to the original audiences. It uses the same cinematography techniques (dark locations, dark themes etc) and some new ones created since, and the mood and feel generated in the films are somewhat the same only just more contemporised.
Neo noir approaches the emotional/physical disturbances in a more graphic way because today’s audiences require more demanding displays of psychological dementia, aesthetic film techniques and on screen violence to illustrate the same mood/story that the original film noir did to the older audiences.
One of the major updates in neo noir is the use of colour. I feel as though the introduction of colour increases the effectiveness of scenes/settings as movies can utilise many colours to achieve the same results that black and white did for film noir ( a red light in a dark room and a flickering green neon sign for example) and even better.
I’m going to post up all types of things that inspire me in this area of Noir and write about them and how I plan to draw inspiration from them or build upon it etc.
– Dark City
It’s as if they’re wearing coats made of shadows that are accentuated by what little light is in the scene.
– Dark City
The acute angled shots help to reinforce the claustrophobic and helplessness that the characters are subject to in the movies.
– Sin City
I like the use of the low angle in this image and how the cars headlights halo the young girl as she walks down the dark alleyway.
I believe that having a complete white setting with a dark theme can still accomplish the noir idea without having to have a contrasty shadow setting. The stark white vista in the movie i believe still achieves the bleakness and helplessness of the situation.
– Bringing out the dead.
Noirs are often set indoors in spaces with low key lighting.
outdoor scenes often take places in narrow dark, wet and dirty alley ways.
I feel a good shot could be created with an alleyway post rain with a flickering colour neon sign and a lone figure in the scene being silhouetted by the neon sign light.
-Renaissance (a black and white animated science fiction)
This movie is brimming with good examples that could be drawn upon for inspiration.
The washed out colours in the scenes really reinforce the emotion of the character and what they’re currently feeling in the scene.
I like the leading lines and the basic composition of this image.
– Pulp Fiction
The deep colours used in scenes coupled with the graphic nature of the scenes really work well together.
– The Dark Knight
– LA Confidential
– The Machinist
– The Usual Suspects
-Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
– Mulholland Drive
Emotions punctuate almost all the significant events in our lives. We feel proud when we win a race; we become angry when we learn that something of ours has been stolen; we are joyful at the birth of our children; and we experience profound grief and sadness at the death of someone we love.
The emotions we experience seem to strongly influence how we act in response to these events. The joy and pride encourage renewed commitment to advance and protect career and family; the anger motivates us to seek justice and retribution; and the sadness pushes us to seek aid and comfort while coming to terms with our loss.
The challenge as the photographer is to be able to freeze the moment and the emotion. This is the challenge I faced when I took on this assignment.
Abbas/ Magnum Photos
for the photo of “Anger” I want to experiment with some technical aspects of photography to show a person experiencing anger.
Dorothea Lange, 1936
Background of the artist: Can you find any connection between their childhood/background, socio economic background, lifestyle etc. that informed their work.
Dennis Stock was born july 24, 1928 in New York, in the later years of what most called the Roaring Twenties, where America was in the process of transitioning from a wartime economy to that of a peacetime economy. Stock joined the US Army in 1947 at the young age of 19 and served for 5 years before being discharged in 1951.
Soon after leaving the army he became an assistant to Eugene Smith, the king of Life photo-essayists only to be let go a few weeks later and told to pursue an apprenticeship with Gjon Mili (who Eugene felt was better prepared to handle stock), the gregarious Albanian, whose lively studio, full of dancers, musicians, actors and models, became Stock’s university.
As a 23-year-old, Stock came to national attention in 1951 when he won the first prize in the story division of Life magazine’s young photographers’ contest for his photo essay on the arrival in New York of emigrants from Europe who had been homeless since the end of World War II.
Does the photographer have a political affiliation? Does the photographer have a philosophical viewpoint that influences their work? I.e. what is their world view and can you connect this to their work
Dennis Stock called himself the “self-assigned” photographer because he did the work he wanted to do. He would find something that interested him and chase after it with his camera until he was satisfied with what he had captured.
“I’m not a photojournalist, and never wanted to be one. I am a photo essayist. I will never follow the news of the day, but search out my own stories based on what enlightens me, what helps me grow, what gives me spiritual insight – in short, what I love.” I feel that this sentiment can be seen throughout all his life’s work especially in that of his time he spent with actor James Dean, where he captured the ‘real’ james dean and not the james dean the world saw in the movies.
“I just go out there and follow my nose and if it ends up being iconic, so be it, it is not in my intention. “
“Art is a well-articulated manifestation of an aspect of life. I have been privileged to view much of life through my cameras, making the journey an enlightened experience. My emphasis has mainly been on affirmative reactions to human behaviour and a strong attraction to the beauty in nature.”
What camera/technical aspects of their work need to be explored and how do you intend to explore this in your own work?
There wasn’t much literature available about what camera Dennis Stock used for his photography
What are the main points about the artist that you are attracted too? Ie why do you like their work? Is it all surface or is there something deeper running here
I’m drawn to how he captures another side of the subject that may be overlooked so easily. His visual biography of James Dean back at home with his family show a different James Dean, one that was not yet hit by the lime light. He also took photographs of Audrey Hepburn during her filming of the movie “Sabrina” before she had hit the big time aswell.
I found what Stock said about Hepburn interesting “She was very un-Hollywood, which was the key to the whole thing. She wasn’t glamorous. She didn’t try to be glamorous.”
I believe he produced great photos of the actors he worked with and exposed a different side of them, a more true and natural side of the person.
What were the primary cultural and political movements of the time?
From the late ‘50s and early ‘60s the Civil Rights Movement was in full swing while he was taking lively portraits of jazz musicians, including Louis Armstrong, Billie Holiday, Sidney Bechet, Gene Krupa and Duke Ellington and produced a book “Jazz Street”.
Hugh Hefner had launched Playboy Magazine during a time where sex was still relatively an unspoken topic.
In the late ‘60s he was taking photos of the hippies attempting to reshape society according to ideals of love and caring.
The swinging ‘60s witnessed the Vietnam war, The Beatles, the Jfk assassination, Martin Luther King’s I have a dream speech, Feminism, Woodstock and Man walking on the moon
What other art movements were happening at the time?
At that time in Hollywood there was a wave of style emanating from the Actors Studio, there was Marlon Brando, Paul Newman and Montgomery Cliff to name a few and he felt that James Dean was the next to join the ranks of them.
Abstract expressionism which was the first American specific art movement gained worldwide influence which was responsible for putting New York City in the centre of the artistic world. Jackson Pollock was one of the most influential artists of this particular movement.
The Pop art movement was art based on modern popular culture and the mass media. Two influential proponents of this movement were Andy Warhol and Roy Lichenstein.
We were given the task of copying/emulating the style of the photographer and coming up with our own photos. I used these photos as the basis of my work for this task.