Throughout this series of images there has been a prop, there is an infinite amount of props that I could have used but I wanted it to be minimal. By using as little as possible to tell the story, I find it adds an intensity to the image. Each prop in my images has symbolized something; the wooden shell was the mother’s womb and the flower was artificial surroundings a baby is born into. When it came to choosing the prop for this image I struggled coming up with ideas for what could represent the act of nurturing. In The Philosophy & Practices of Nurturing Parenting it is defined as:
Nurturing is a critical skill for all forms on the planet. For human beings, it is the most important characteristic for all of us to treat others and ourselves with respect, compassion caring and dignity.
Understanding the meaning of nurturing was one thing but finding a way to show it in a non-literal way was when I hit a wall. All I could think of was a baby with a parent or loved one?? Which would be a realistic representation not a symbolic one.
Referring back to Inspiration In Photography by Brooke Shaden, she discusses the use of props:
Do what makes you happy. Try thinking about what objects are near and dear to you. It might be a favourite necklace or rose that was pressed in a book years ago….. Whatever it is start with what you love
And like magic Brooke’s words opened a different door of thinking, I went to my home and as soon as I seen Charlie Bear I knew he was perfect. I don’t buy teddies, unless they are for my children but on our recent trip at Christmas to Chester Zoo I fell in love with him. I’ve never seen a teddy with such a beautiful face and although feeling rather stupid I couldn’t leave without him. I’m thinking of him more as a collectors item that can be kept in the family…. that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it! He can sit, move his head and has movable limbs which made him even more perfect for this image.
The plan for this image was to have the bear sat holding the baby, with his moveable limbs I hoped to be able to arrange him in a position that would allow this. I will use the same backdrop as in the first 2 images for consistency. Like before, I photographed the background plate first. I sat Charlie Bear in various positions that would allow room for a baby to be placed in and around him.
EQUIPMENT & CAMERA SETTINGS:
Tripod – Essential!! Everything needed to be in focus, I used a small aperture and a slow shutter speed to maximise the light.
LIGHTING: Jinbei EF 200 watt sunlight LED | 45 degree angle from the front upper left of the teddy
Since researching Anne Geddes for my Dissertation I realised this image was definitely a subconscious inspiration in the creation of ‘Nurture’.
Although different in colour and format to what I intended, I also wanted to show a connection, creating the illusion the bear is real, caring and nurturing the baby.
As I predicted, there was no way I was going to have 3 shoots in a row that went without a hitch! Baby Noah was great but he didn’t like being fiddled with once he was off to sleep. And the fiddling is key to perfecting the perfect shot!
EQUIPMENT & CAMERA SETTINGS:
Tripod – Essential!! BUT because Noah was already not settling for long I didn’t want to waste any time so I skipped setting up the tripod this time.
I also forgot to use a smaller aperture, because I was concentrating on just keeping him asleep it slipped my mind.
Lighting: Jinbei EF 200 watt sunlight LED | 45 degree angle from the front upper left of baby.
I planned to tuck some dark fluff under his head and hands which would make the composite easier but he was waking up every time I moved him. This meant I had to make the most of what I had, sometimes you can push your luck. If he had woken I might not have been able to lie him in this ‘head on hands’ position again.
The composite took many hours in Photoshop to get right, there was lots of time spent correcting areas pixel by pixel. If the baby was on a similar coloured fabric it would have been much easier. The fabric was almost white so this had to be removed completely, if it had been a different shade of brown changing the colour to match would have been easy to do by changing the HUE / SATURATION.
At this stage it was nearly finished, I then compared it next to my other images:
It was noticeably lighter, like with ‘Growth’ I warmed it up in Photoshop using curves and made the colour of the bears feet and baby’s hat more saturated then painted on a darker vignette.
Each image was individually designed adhering to the six main principles of design:
UNITY / HARMONY – BALANCE – HIERARCHY – SCALE / PROPORTION – DOMINANCE / EMPHASIS – SIMILARITY & CONTRAST
All having visually pleasing aesthetics that work together as a series / triptych.
The plan for my final image of this series was to symbolise the act of nurturing and I feel like I have achieved this here. Like the other images only one prop was used along with a single light drawing your eyes to the bear and baby. I consciously edited this so that it would match in colour and composition to the others.
We know the bear’s not real but the way it tends to the baby gives it life and draws you into a story where maybe it could be real. Some might look and think the baby is in the arms of a giant teddy, or others might know it’s not but wonder …. and that’s the great thing about creating composites or any art of any kind. If a viewer has to look twice then you’ve got their attention, something has resonated with them.
‘Art is about connecting with others, building communities of people who can relate to or be inspired to do something similar. Everyone has the ability to impact others with their work. You may not realise it or you may never realise it but it will happen’