Author Archives: Justine Lee

Final Project Proposal – Glossier

Glossier is a skincare and beauty company that breaks the norm of makeup being something used to conceal, something you need to make yourself feel beautiful. Their products are created to embrace the skin you’re in, to provide affordable, easy, everyday skincare and makeup. Their major competitors are Milk Makeup, RMS Beauty, Laura Mercier, Lilah B., amongst others. Their current advertising is very fresh, minimalistic, modern, and targets a young demographic. They use a diverse range of female models with different skin types.

Since the beginning of the semester, I knew I wanted to do something in beauty. I chose Glossier because this is the competition for most of the brands out there. This company skyrocketed very fast through their social media advertisements. I’d like to work for companies like Glossier, companies like this that have a core set of beliefs, that value the products/service they provide. Like most beauty campaigns, Glossier also uses front light. From looking at Glossier’s current and previous advertisement,  a pastel color backdrop is typically used (purple, pink, baby blue). Looking at Olson’s work for Glossier, he uses a baby blue backdrop and the models seem very free and happy. On the other hand, Jackson’s work for Glossier has the more traditional beauty shot approach. For the most part, the camera seems to be eye level or slightly below at some angles. When I shoot next week, I definitely want to incorporate both Olson and Jackson’s approach combining free, happy, and traditional. From looking at the shots with two people, they’re usually shot close up, cutting out parts of the face’s to fill in the frame leaving very little negative space. I am going to have a few friends come in to be my models. I am going to shoot them individually and in pairs. I’ve decided to photograph without the actual products from Glossier. I want to communicate the brand’s aesthetic and ideals with the models being the center of focus.

Richard Foster’s Fragrance Campaigns

Richard Foster is a luxury still life photographer. He has worked with companies such as Tom Ford, Bottega, Stella McCartney, Prada and much more. His work is very elegant and minimalistic. Looking at his fragrance campaigns, each one of them is very dynamic and accentuate the shape and color of the bottle. For the Tom Ford campaign, there are two different fragrances. The first is a blue bottle in a rectangle bottle shape. The use of the diagonals on the background and platform compliment the diagonal made from the reflection of the bottle. As opposed to this one which is more rigid and sharp, the other Tom Ford fragrance (Jasmin Rouge) is more fluid and smooth. The bottle is red and shaped like a cylinder which means it has a smooth edge. He uses depth by bringing forth the main subject while semi-silhouetting the other bottle in the background.

For the Bottega Veneta campaign, he uses shadows and symmetry to form bug-like ‘wings’. The wings are pretty amazing because of the different layers in transparency that bring it to life. The wings look like they’re attached to the bottle, and angled in a way that makes it seem like the bottle is flying up. The beige color background compliments the small frosted clear bottle. The Stella McCartney campaign is shot at an angle above showing how the bottle is reflected in the light. Having a white background and platform allows the colors of the bottle to shine through. Also, because of the way the bottle is shaped, light is reflected in different angles. Lastly, the Prada campaign is shot using a rule of thirds. Using a dark/black background with this pink spotlight effect is interesting. The first spotlight is pointed towards the three products and the second is angled above pointing down. Using the pink spotlights was a nice touch because the packaging is pink and the fragrance bottles are orange. At the bottom of the bottle, you can see reflects of the pink light. He not only captures the beauty of each individual product/object through lighting but also through a product’s packaging as well.

Richard Foster is a highly sought after still life photographer because he truly brings out the beauty from each object. He takes the time to study his objects and explores how light shapes all the different aspects.

The Work of Tim Wallace

Tim Wallace is a commercial photographer that specializes in locomotives. He’s worked with a range of clientele such as Aston Martin, Lexus, Ferrari, etc. He is known for his strong lighting ability and use of his environment. He is able to work on location as well as in the studio. From looking through his car photography, they all seem to have a similar style. His use of lighting and location give off a sense of drama. Being that he shoots cars and trucks, he really captures the idea that this object is in motion. Whether it is in his studio shots or shots on location.

His use of shadow and reflection provide a sense of dimension that the car isn’t just some flat object. The way the lighting hits the metal adds this airbrushed look that makes the car feel luxurious, sleek and sophisticated. His shots on location are pretty amazing. Each is perfectly set for the particular type of car being shot. Some of the photographs with the dark background really bring light to the car. Your eye is immediately drawn to the car and its fine details. These photographs are very well composed and are aesthetically pleasing to look at. I am really big on cars and always go to the auto show every year at the Javits Center. After looking at Tim’s work, I admire cars even more.

Still Life Work of Julia Sent

Julia Sent is a still life photographer. She works with produce, objects, and artifacts. Her photographs may seem like these random pieces put together but they each tell a different story. Objects are part of our everyday lives, some hold memories or experiences. We usually develop attachments to objects that hold some sentimental value, and I think it’s beautiful that Julia illuminates those ideals in her photography.

Julia’s photographs are very simple, very well composed and shot low key/eye level. They each fit the frame quite nicely with a good amount of negative space. The lighting helps to bring forward the little details on each object. In most of her photos, there seems to be a key light used and a fill light used. The key light is on the right side of the objects. Each object doesn’t overpower each other, they are combined well that each object holds its own. In the photos, each set up is set on a flat surface, usually with some dark, textured fabric. The backdrop is black, the darkness highlights the different naturally vibrant colors of some of these objects, especially the produce. My two favorite are the Scalped Pomegranates and the Lychee. In the one with the pomegranates, you can see the detailed clusters of those gem-like seeds. The rich, berry red/burgundy color contrasting against the dark background really stands out.

The lychee one is interesting because not many people know what lychee is or let alone what it actually looks like. I like that she only had 3 of them peeled/de-shelled. I like the comparison between what it looks like peeled and what it looks like not peeled. On the outside, you have this brownish red color with a rough looking texture and on the inside, you have this white, plump, smooth deliciousness. Your eye is immediately drawn to the peeled ones because it is white and it stands out from the darkness. It kind of has this idea that you can’t judge a book by its cover. You wouldn’t have thought this would be what it looked like on the inside if you’ve never had it.

Art of the Mountain: Through the Chinese Photographer’s Lens

The pieces from exhibit Art of the Mountain: Through the Chinese Photographer’s Lens at the China Institute Gallery were all very well composed and beautifully shot.

The first photograph I chose was Huangshan: Monkey Enjoying a View of the Sea, 2012 by Zhang Jiaxuan. The first thing I noticed from this photograph was the rich blue color from the mountains and the sea of clouds. It wasn’t until I carefully looked at the photo that I saw this monkey looking figure on the top left. After reading the description that goes along with this photograph, it turns out that it’s not an actual monkey but actually a huge rock. This reminded me of the Monkey King. Those of you, who aren’t familiar with the tale he is a fictional character born from a stone who is immortal, possesses strength and speed, is able to transform and has a staff. Zhang wanted to capture this magical sea of clouds because it makes you feel as if you were in the sky, that it isn’t a sea on earth, but a sea in heaven. It is interesting to hear that because the Monkey King wanted to be amongst the gods as an equal but was never recognized as one, so he rebelled. In this photograph, it is kind of like the monkey king looking into the distance at heaven, a place he longs to be a part of but can’t reach.

Addressing the composition of this photograph, there is a rule of thirds, the monkey rock on top of the peak in a third of the frame. Based on the angle of light hitting the sides of the mountains, the light is coming from the right. There is a sense of depth, the mountain on the bottom right of the photo being in the foreground, the monkey on top of the peak mid-ground, and the sea of clouds in the background.

Another photograph I chose was Huangshan A093, 1991 by Wang Wusheng. This was taken at Paiyunting, Xihai area, Mount Huang. The composition of this photograph is in black and white. It looks like a scene taken right out of Jurassic Park with no signs of human life and uninhabitable. The mountain in the middle of the photo reminds me of a tuning fork. There is a strong contrast between dark and light. The misty fog seems to illuminate the details on the mountains, the trees hanging alongside, and the peak on the ‘tuning fork’ looking mountain. There is also a sense of foreground, mid-ground, and background. The trees on the bottom left of the mountain are the foreground, the two peaks in the midst of the fog in the middle ground, and the rest of the mountains and fog in the background. The ‘tuning fork’ peak could even be interpreted as an entrance to a different world but that might just be my imagination.

Lastly, the one that peaked my interest the most was the photograph titled Peach Blossom Colony, 2011 (Series: Peach Blossom Colony No. 1) by Yang Yongliang. The subject of Yang’s Peach Blossom Colony originates from Tao Yuanming’s “Record of the Peach Blossom Spring” fable in prose form about a fisherman who finds a secluded utopia. The subject of this photograph is the woman on the left wearing white. She is standing in what appears to be a deserted wasteland. To the right, you see scattered blossoms, a piece of machinery and in the back, you see these mountains. However, if you look up close these mountains are actually buildings collaged together to form the shape of the mountain. To the left behind the withering trees, you see what looks like suburb housing along with two other people. There were two directions the woman could have gone in, the one with the more peaceful secluded society or the modern, fast-paced society. By the way her body is positioned, she appears to be heading in the direction of the scattered blossoms and modern buildings.

In the foreground you have the woman standing in the barren wasteland, in the middle ground are the paths, and the background is the two different societies. The angle this is shot at seems kind of like a panoramic view. There is a composed direction to looking at this photograph; your eye automatically goes to the woman wearing the white dress because of the strong contrast. Then your eye follows her direction toward the scattered blossoms and onward to the mountains. Yang’s intended message is that in the development of today’s society, materialism and consumerism have progressively taken their toll on the life of mankind. What was once green forests are now concrete reinforced with iron bars. Seen from afar, his photograph seems very peaceful. When you take a closer look, you see the details and elements of modernization.

Philip Lorca-DiCorcia Hustlers

All of the photographs from the series Hustlers were very captivating and opened a light on male prostitutes in the 90’s. The one photo that caught my attention was Chris, 28 years old, Los Angeles, California, $30. The photo shows Chris sitting on the edge of what looks like the second floor of a motel, his arms holding the top of the bar while his head rests on the bar below. The light appears to be in front of him or even slightly below him. The light casts a shadow in the back creating a silhouette of him being hung or even crucified. I can feel that sense of loneliness and emptiness from looking at his face and the way he is positioned. He has that hollow look in his face as if there is no emotion. The shadow can also be depicted as his soul being locked behind bars. He probably didn’t think that coming to Hollywood he would have ended up like this. It feels like for him there is nothing left in life, that by doing this he is just barely surviving. The bars can be interpreted as him holding on to that bit of life he has left deep inside. I know I’m just rambling on about there being a deeper meaning behind the photograph at this point but there is so much I get from looking at this. Meticulously planned or not, I think DiCorcia truly captured the real loneliness of all these people.

Richard Avedon and Jonathan Mannion

Richard Avedon was a well known portrait and fashion photographer. He’s photographed people like Gloria Vanderbilt and Marilyn Monroe. His portrait style is very unique. From looking at his work, it’s very expressive. His photographs definitely capture the moment. He liked shooting in black and white. His photos show very strong contrasts between the light and dark areas.

Jonathan Mannion had the honor to work under Avedon as his assistant. He was able to observe the psychological connection between Avedon and his subjects. Mannion’s love for hip hop and pop culture really helped to create portraits that personified many recognized names in the business. Looking at Mannion’s work, it is apparent that there is a similar style to his portraits. He also shot in black and white and had very strong contrasts. There’s a lot of dimension and kind of harshness (not in a bad way) of using such contrasts. It brings the subject matter forwards. It has a dramatic effect as well as a grungy look, kind of very in your face and like “I’m not intimidated by anybody” look. In addition, it also highlights the higher points on a subjects face to capture certain shadows. The portrait of Jay Z is a prime example of Mannion using Avedon’s portrait style. It’s very high contrast, not only seen in his face but in his outfit. His outfit is black and white. In his face, you can see the shadows under his brow bone, under the eyes, bottom and side of his nose, and under his lip on his chin. They aren’t unflattering shadows help to emphasize the particular features.



Demi Moore and Beyonce

Well, I want to start off by saying both these women looked absolutely fantastic in both of these photographs and still do. They were both shots during their pregnancy and they were both positioned similarly, except that Demi was standing up as opposed to Beyonce who was sitting down. Demi’s was very natural and dramatic with no props and a solid color backdrop whereas, Beyonce’s is colorful and more embellished. Beyonce’s has a floral throne with a sky backdrop.

Demi’s was shot in 1991 by Annie Leibovitz, which was a time where shooting nude in such a manner was “indecent”. Leibovitz idea of shooting this was to combat societies value of thinness by showing the uncomfortable, distorted (not in a terrible way) female form when pregnant. To show that beauty comes in other forms too not just what society deems as “perfect”. This photograph is very natural and raw. It was shot to make women feel empowered and feel free. Leibovitz used Rembrandt lighting. You can see the triangle shown on her right cheek. The shadows help to illuminate the face and parts of the body, like the belly. The lighting adds a more dramatic effect. One arm was positioned over her breast while the other was over her belly. They are both positioned in a way that says, “this is my body and I am not ashamed”. Her head tilted slightly and her eyes looking up shows confidence, that there is no reason for her to look down or feel any less.

On the other hand, Beyonce’s photograph was shot in 2017 by Awol Erizku, during a time where the feminist movement was making waves and great strides in women equality. Beyonce wasn’t completely nude like Demi was. Both her arms were positioned over her belly. Unlike Demi, Beyonce was looking directly at the camera straight on. The photograph seems to be taken with front lighting. There doesn’t seem to be as much dimension to this photo compared to Demi’s. I feel like the use of all the props and background deter from the subject herself but that’s just my two cents.

Yousuf Karsh and Nadav Kander

Yousuf Karsh was an Armenian-Canadian photographer from the 20th century who is known for his portraiture of notable individuals like Albert Einstein, Martin Luther King, John F. Kennedy, Queen Elizabeth, etc. For Yousuf Karsh, his main focus is to capture one’s inward power. To capture their true sense of self, not the mask they put on for others. The portrait that I love the most from Karsh is of Audrey Hepburn 1956. I absolutely love and adore her and her movies. She was not only an actress but also a humanitarian. This portrait is actually one of my favorites of her. I’ve used it in one of the projects I did on her. I like that she isn’t looking directly at the camera with her eyes looking down. It not only captures her elegance but her sincerity as well. The way this photo is captured has a sense of intimacy being shot so up close. His portraits provide a more intimate glimpse and insight to some of the most outstanding personalities of our time.

Nadav Kander is still a working photographer who is known for his portraits and landscapes. Unlike Karsh who wanted to capture one’s true self, Kander captures his own through his work. His work has a sense of direction. His strong belief is that nothing is out of bounds. Looking at his portraits, they are very unconventional. The tone of his solitary portrait series is very cool toned. His use of light, props, expression, and posture add to the theme of being alone and isolated. The people he chose for this series were quite interesting. I think these people fit his solitary vision. There are a few that I really liked. Two of them were slightly similar, Eddie Redmayne, Forest, 2016 and Rosamund Pike II, 2015. I liked how he incorporated the forest shadow as an overlay. It gives me the idea that they’re one with nature or that humans are these creatures of habit.

Both of these two photographers are pretty admirable. There is one who wants to capture the true essence and rawness of a person, and then you have one who isn’t bound by convention and what a normal portrait should look like but rather what it can become. What I want to emulate in the upcoming portrait assignments are a bit of both. I want to follow my own artistic direction along with one’s true self. I hope that makes sense.

Dawoud Bey – Class Pictures

Dawoud Bey’s class pictures aren’t the typical cookie cutter photos you take at school every year where you sit upright, your body turned at a slight angle, and your face turned to the camera. This series is very powerful because not only does it capture the essence of each student but the way expression, posture, lighting, and the background are used ties it all together. Using these elements, he tells a narrative from the perspective of the student.

Bey’s portrait style is very raw and natural. From his work, you can tell he likes to capture a subject in their natural environment. He gets to know his subject before capturing them on camera. For this class picture series, he had 45 minutes sessions with each student before he photographed him or her. Establishing a connection is important because then the subject is comfortable. In these class pictures, you can see each student is sitting down and are posing in ways that feel most natural and comfortable for them. In most of the photos, he used broad light in addition to the natural lighting in the room to add depth to their expressions and the way their arms were positioned. He uses depth of field and shoots each student very close up, filling in the frame. The subject is the predominant element but the background is very significant as well. In this case, the backgrounds add to each student’s story.

From looking at Bey’s work, how I might approach portrait photography is to establish a connection with the subject. With that connection, my subject is able to feel free. I want to be able to use light to help capture emotions and mood. More importantly, I want to be able to convey a story through my subject’s eyes in a picture.