Mid-Point Presentation Reflection

Last week was a mid-point presentation, and I got a lot of helpful feedbacks after my presentation. Here are things that need more tweaks and things that should stay as it is.

One of the important aspects of the presentation I have to work on is clearing the language. The inclusion of basic information and personal experiences were good supplement to the content, but the focus on sugar addiction got lost towards the end. I focused too much on the process and eventually furthered away from the topic of the project. This made some people confused, especially on the way my photographs relate to addiction. So, what I need to do is to just simply bring back the content while I talk about the process. Color and lighting could also tie back to sugar too. It’s the moment of indulgence and pleasure you gain while you consume unhealthy food.

Another key feedback I received was about the photographs. Pasting sugary food on top of the skin works, and many people responded positively on photographs that had an even exposure of the skin and the sugary food. There were also favors towards bright and colorful ones (e.g. jolly rancher and refined sugar), especially since it resonates with playful look that sugar has. Because of this, I have to be careful with sweets that are monochromatic and darker (e.g. chocolate). Overall, the disgustingly beautiful aesthetic is evident throughout the photographs, and I need to make sure this is continued throughout.

And speaking on continuation, I realized I need help with editing. Some of the photographs I put out was not necessary the ones I thought it was good, but it had a lot of great positive responses. After the presentation, I recognized those photographs’ potentiality more. What I should do early in April is to print out small-sized photographs and ask people around for help narrowing down the best of best. I also need to document a lot more to show the process.



One on One Reflection

It’s always good to have feedbacks from other people when you’ve looked at the same thing for the longest time. So far, I’m heading into the right direction and is also on track with time. Let’s keep it up till the end of the semester!

Couple things to note for the sour candy series though. I need to be aware of color in the composition. In particular, the red sour candy is so vibrant compared to others. It’s just very loud and overwhelming when placed next to other colors. Julie pointed this out and I do agree a lot. Since I can lay out the sour candy by my hand, perhaps putting the analogous colors – orange, yellow, green, and white – first and then adding red and purple might help compositionally.

Another thing to remember is keeping balance between the skin exposure and the sour candy (or gummy bear in the next week). Too much candy on the hand changes the subject of the photograph. The hand is completely hidden and only candies are seen. On the other hand, too less candy and too much skin rather loose interest in relation between dominant and sub-dominant structure of the photograph. This will be hard to tackle at one try. I just have to keep shooting variations till I get to the ‘one’.

Here are two photographs we all thought was the most successful in the sour candy/gummy bear series:

By the way, I shot couple more shots with sour candy and newer shots of gummy bear. I might as well put them here before I begin re-shoot next week with these materials. The first 7 photos are sour candy melted in the same way as the purple one from previous week. The last 4 photos are gummy bears. I was going to lay the bears out just like sour candy at first, but the inside isn’t sticky at all. So, I decided to chop them finely to see how it turns out. They look interesting so far.

Side note: I forgot to check-out 100mm macro lens, which I usually use. The ratio and the size of candies might be a little different compared to last week.

And I must go to Luck’s on High St. for candies. And of course it’s going to be props. I mean, what else do you do with candies?

Project Process 2/19

So, I’m officially ending the jolly rancher series. I feel pretty confident about this particular series of photos; the colors, the texture, the lighting, and above all, the concept came out nicely. Now, moving on to the next sugary food: chocolate.

Since Valentine’s day/season hit its highest peak last week, I went ahead and bought some cheap boxes of chocolate. I basically followed the same method as I did in jolly rancher. Chocolates were cracked open and crushed into tiny bits and pieces, and was applied to the surface of the hand by using egg white as adhesive. Here are few of the shots:

I’m not very proud of these photographs. Actually, I am not at all. Nothing appears appetizing, pretty, cute, nor seductive. Instead they just look like…something else that is way more disgusting. And this pretty much falls from what I am striving for. It was so much more difficult than I thought it was going to be. So, I’ve decided to continue experimenting with chocolate till the end. Hopefully the end product will elevate its aesthetic.

Another set of photographs I did this week is the sugar clusters. I photographed these similarly to the mineral-looking jolly rancher: black background, slight reflection, small aperture, and macro shot. There weren’t too much light reflected off of the sugar, but here they are:

Just like the chocolate, I wasn’t very excited about these when I viewed the final image. Each sugar cluster looks weirdly placed in the space. They even seem to be trying too hard to look like something else. Perhaps it’s the shape of the cluster. It doesn’t resemble crystal and minerals very much (although I’m sure I’ve seen something like this before in the museum). Additionally, like Julie said, the composition can also be the reason why it’s not quite fitting. There were more negative space/background shown in the jolly rancher.

I plan to shoot these sugar cluster again. I feel like I can make it way better pretty quickly. There are couple of things I can do next time. Rather than letting the cluster form naturally, I mass produce them like cookie, or even put them in a mold. During the shoot, the sugar on the surface can be wiped away since they are distracting the dominant object. Also, I could add some moisture to the surface of the cluster, so that the highlight of each sugar particle can be emphasized more.

Overall, it was a good week to make mistakes and learn from them.


Project Process 2/12

This week, I continued editing photographs of jolly ranchers from last week. There are so many that I needed to go back more than once to see which was compositionally and visually better than others. In addition to images from the last previous, here are some more of the photographs that I found evoking:

Just like I mentioned a little in the previous post, the visual style is very different. Just by looking at the images, it is obvious that the wet surfaced version appear more gross than others. The egg white on the hand especially helps the aesthetic through its thick jelly-like texture. On top of that, the jelly ranchers literally melts in there, breaking apart into goos.

The overall images reminds me of the chemicals found in human digestive system. More specifically, I keep imagining the stomach and how everything dissolves into simple elements. Not only are the chemicals sucking energy out of the jolly rancher, but it seems to be slowly dissolving the hand, as well. In the context of sugar consumption, I feel this style is different from the first series, but still sticks to the overarching theme of sugar consumption. And what if I change the background progressively through the series? That might be something I will consider later.

On the other hand, the images with the drier surface with tiny bits of jolly rancher are rather pretty and cute. The colors of jolly rancher are pastel, and this is what mostly gives a party-like, happy tonality. They are eye-catching on their own, but I have to say they don’t fit very well with the other photos because of its aesthetic. The candies doesn’t emerge out of the skin, and furthermore appear more like glass pieces. I don’t think this stye is going to work.

I also shot jolly rancher like the world’s most expensive mineral.  These candies are bigger chunks of smashed jolly rancher which I was unable to minimize them further. I suddenly realized that they could be seen as minerals in a way, so I simply decided to shoot some. This was definitely a quick inspirational activity, but I thought I leave the result here:

Surprisingly, the jolly rancher look very much like minerals! I showed these images to several people from different majors, and they all were amazed to discover the true identity of these gems. The black background especially present the jolly ranchers as luxurious rare material that are housed in museums, while the white background presents them like a high quality diamond. I’m not sure where this is going to lead, but I think it has some potential.

Project Process 2/5

More jolly rancher time!

From the previous shoots, I learned couple things about jolly rancher. One of the obvious findings overcrowding and cluttered texture when colored sprinkles are added. Jolly ranchers themselves are in diverse colors, so naturally, when another layers of rainbow colors join in the club, it becomes overwhelming. Plus, the white sugar desaturates the bright intense hue created by artificial colorings. I want to focus solely on the sugar food, and I don’t think the addition of white sugar and colored sprinkles worked very well.

Another discovery is that clenching the hand into fist doesn’t work in the case of jolly rancher. Some of the jolly rancher clusters are too big that many fall apart instead of moving upwards on the surface.

During this shoot, I was careful to show more palm instead of covering the hand entirely with the sugar and jolly rancher. I know I have been contemplating about this since the last semester. Both revealing and covering the palm makes sense in the context of what I am doing. Exposing the skin lets the viewer recognized the surface while experiencing the image, while covering the palm raises questions as to what the surface is. Right now, I feel strongly that these photographs are much more about the interaction between the sugar food and the hand. To do so, the skin needs to be shown visually along with the sugar and sugar food.

I also did 3 different versions: a) re-trying white sugar + jolly; b) just jolly; and c) just jolly with dryer surface and smaller pieces. Here are the results:

a) re-try white sugar + jolly rancher

b) jolly rancher (wetter surface)

c) jolly rancher (drier surface) + smaller pieces of jolly rancher

Overall, I feel like the jolly rancher is better off by itself. No white sugar, no color sprinkles, and no glitters for assistance. In addition, it gets more difficult to expose the skin when the sugar and jolly rancher piles up on top of each other. The layer became thicker and thicker to an extent where it was unnatural if I tried to scrap some parts of it. There are also many concave and convex surfaces. When all the photographs come together as one series, I think it’s clear enough that sugar is the main overarching theme throughout the photographs.

So far I’m liking both the wetness around the jolly rancher, and the detailed movements created by the tiny pieces of jolly rancher. The wet version particularly keeps the disgustingly beautiful style. They appear very different from the previous sugared hand, but the image size, the palm, and the sugar connects them pretty well. Though I do notice that the egg white becomes a little bit of an annoyance, especially when the light reflects off of it. It should be an easy fix in Photoshop. Also, I probably have to re-evaluate the chocolate chip cookies since that series was shot with white sugar.

While I was crushing the jolly rancher into smaller pieces, I realized how some of the larger chunks resemble minerals. Their form and surface textures are very similar to quartz when looked closely. The colors are of course too unnatural and vibrant to exist in the natural world:


I wonder…if I shoot these pieces on a black background ,in a way the museum does for it archival system, would they mimic minerals much more? Perhaps the jolly rancher will appear much more luxurious and rare. Or maybe if a scientific label is placed in front of them, will the pieces conflict with what they truly are? I sense irony here, but I’m not sure if it is working. I’ll shoot couple photographs to see how this imagery will work.