Growth was the second image for my series, it is to represent the next stage after birth.
When planning this image I referred back to ‘Creating A Series’ in Brooke Shaden’s book Inspiration In Photography. Some key wording from this section in her book:
“Creating a series is relevant because it allows the photographer to tell a meaningful story in an organic way…….a series takes the viewer into a new world……each picture expands on the last and when images relate, the story grows”
Image from Brooke Shaden’s Facebook Page
In this series by Brooke there is a different agenda to each image, three parts to the story, although all photographed in the same place with the same bed sheet each image conveys a message or feeling that can relate to the next.
Whilst researching for my Dissertation – Composite Photography and how is it used by contemporary photographers? I included the work from Anne Geddes who is an award-winning pioneer of creative newborn photography. For example, never had babies been posed and edited to give the illusion of flying on the back of a bird before her success in the 1990s.
The introduction on her website says:
Like no photographer before her, her imagery singularly captures the beauty, purity and vulnerability of children embodying her deeply held belief that each and every child must be “protected, nurtured and loved”.
Developing the concept for ‘Grow’
Anne Geddes’ mantra and theory behind her baby images was Protected, Nurtured, Loved – this inspired the concept of my series.
When creating a series of images they need to form a story, my first image was about the otherworldly stage before birth. This next image is about what happens when a baby enters our world and the changes that take place.
As soon as a baby is born it is forced into a new world, before it was naked curled up in a warm, dark, comfy place surrounded by amniotic fluid. There it is fed and has everything it needs, soothed by the muffled sounds of its mothers movements.
‘Coming into the world initially means coming from another, leaving a first environment, a first dwelling in another. There the surroundings were liquid and warm, and the foetus lived in almost weightlessness, beyond the fact that it’s weight was carried by another. Giving birth to itself, the new human behaves like a demiurge and takes an incredible risk. It can do nothing else, but such an exploit will prey on its entire existence as an incentive to and an anguish of venturing to attempt the impossible: to live by oneself.’
To Be Born: Genesis of a new human being | Luce Irigaray
The transition from the womb into our modern world is what could be described as traumatic and brave. Removed from its safe place, it’s soon surrounded by lights, shapes, noises, prodded and poked, washed then dressed in clothes. This is a very different situation in comparison to ancient times, babies weren’t born into a sterile room. Many born in their humble homes or in fields as their mothers worked. Even for the higher class there was very natural apparatus used. As stated in an article Childbirth in the ancient world it refers to information from the Roman writer Soranus, who lists the simple necessary items for childbirth:
‘For normal labour one must prepare beforehand: olive oil, warm water, warm fomentations, soft sea sponges, pieces of wool, strips of cloth, a pillow, things to smell, a midwife’s stool or chair, two beds and a proper room’
I planned to have a baby lying in a flower, still keeping the connection with nature but paying attention to the changes that happen when the baby enters our world. As it is touched and surrounded with man-made artificial items like clothes and hats.
At first I thought about using a real flower but decided on fake as a better representation of a hospital bed which is far from natural. I then did some research on different types of flowers to get an idea of what type might look the best with a baby inside.
The peony or the dahlia appealed to me, the centres of them could be flattened to allow a curled up baby inside so I set out to finding an artificial version similar.
The plan was to create a symbolic portrayal of a baby born into artificial surroundings. To do this I plan to photograph an artificial flower to create the background plate. Making sure there is enough space inside the flower for a baby to be added in Photoshop.
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 | Top left angle
I chose the one below, the foliage is real but the flower is fake. I tidied it up in Photoshop, removing any distracting marks and used curves to reduce the magenta from the background. It was then ready to add the baby inside:
The Sleep Gods were on my side again in this shoot, everything went to plan and I was able to photograph her exactly how I needed to in order to add her to the flower in Photoshop. Same process of set-up was used as for ‘Earth’, the pink wool that was inside the flower was the same as what was around her.
I didn’t struggle with the edit of this image like I did with ‘Creation’ it was pretty straight forward. I used two images of her because I liked the ribbon and her feet in one but I preferred her hand and mouth in another. When I think I’ve finished a composite I still keep tweaking it, every time I look at it for at least a week or so there’s always something that I’ve missed. Once it was finished I had it printed and realised when I placed it next to ‘Creation’ that the overall colour of ‘Grow’ had a cold tone in the background:
To fix this I warmed up the background and added one of my textures layers over the top and using a layer mask I painted it on where needed:
It was only a subtle change but enough to make them look more balanced next to each other:
Colour theory was an important consideration, I chose blush pinks because not only are they generally associated with girls, a controversial subject which I am unbiased about, but are referred to in many other ways which applied to this image:
Pink, a delicate color that means sweet, nice, playful, cute, romantic, charming, feminine, and tenderness, is associated with bubble gum, flowers, babies, little girls, cotton candy, and sweetness.
The color pink is the color of universal love of oneself and of others. Pink represents friendship, affection, harmony, inner peace, and approachability.
Pink is the official color for little girls and represents sugar and spice and everything nice. Pink is the sweet side of the color red. While the color red stirs up passion, aggression, and action, large amounts of the color pink can actually create physical weakness.
‘Growth’ was a much easier process than ‘Creation’, perhaps learning from what I did the first time round or just having a clearer idea of the final image from the start helped. Luckily I had another plain sailing shoot with a settled baby so there was nothing to trip me up along the way. I probably won’t be as lucky the third time round! I’m really pleased with the final edit and think that I achieved the second part of the series. A symbolic portrayal of a baby born into our world dressed and surrounded by the creations of man.