Francesca Woodman [Portrait/Tableaux]

  • Francesca Woodman was an American photographer.

Some of Woodman’s black and white images have been taken with long exposure times; so when she or her models moved, it captured their movements as ‘ghostly’ blurred forms,  and their faces can’t be seen which makes these image surreal – however not all her images have blurred figures, some of them are partly hidden behind objects/props that have been place on purpose or objects that were already at her locations (in most – but not all her images, her models or herself either have their faces covered with objects, blurred out due to movement or cropped out of the images).

The locations she used were big spaces with peeling wallpaper and wooden floor boards; sometimes she used things like the wallpaper or doorways to hide herself and her models, so they were hidden. And as I said before she; used props like mirrors, glass and cloth to help ‘distort’ her images further, mirrors would add a ‘second view’ to parts of the image that you wouldn’t have been able to see (for example; the model’s face and what is behind the subject).

When she used a long exposure time and had her subject move; the subject’s body would almost merge into surroundings, which could make people stop and look at the images closer, longer, or even for a second time, to make out what is in the image – it makes her work very unique! Having blurred figures makes you want to focus on the backgrounds and locations more, they made me wonder if the figures were really there? I did think that this could have reflected how Woodman felt at the time. 

The meanings behind her images have been left as a debate as the message isn’t clearer enough to understand exactly what was going on in these images; however once you’ve sat down and study the image more – you start to make your own meanings behind the image and ask your own questions about it; it makes people more connected to the images as they might start thinking about personal stuff and make up their own stories for the image, I prefer this, because when I have people look at my work, it’s nice to hear what someone else thinks about it and what they think the story is, because their opinions and experience could be different to my own. 

Some people have compared Francesca Woodman to Cindy Sherman; as Sherman tends to photograph herself and other female models as well in her images (or feminist photography).

When she used parts of the ripped wallpaper; it kinda links with ‘hiding’ idea for tableaux: “Masks: Have faces covered; either with a ballroom mask (Masquerade), or animal mask. Covering something up/hiding something.” I could use objects besides masks to hide people, but I don’t want to use long exposure times as I want to be able to see the figures for my tableaux images. In one of Woodman’s images she had her models hold what looks like a magazine cover or an image with someone else’s face on it, this ‘changes’ their identity! I would like to use this technique in my portraits and create blurred figures and capture ‘movement’ and have thing change or disappear within the exposer.

  • Research for: “Capture Movement: I’d love to do some portraits that look at everyday movements, but I would like to show the movement in my work; like a long exposed image were you can see a ghostly figure move across the image. Examples of movements: walking, running, arms moving, covering eyes, dancing. I’m not too sure whether to do this in the studio or outside (maybe I should try out both).”


1 Comment

  1. Pingback: Portrait shoot [07/03/14] | Portraiture, Tableaux and Still-life

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