• Ellie Bell

PART IV: TEST SHOOTING STILL-LIFE FROM HOME

Updated: Jul 6

Using the information on my local food bank's website I began shooting the various food items in the space of my kitchen.


The first set of photographs show urgently needed items like biscuits, tinned fruit and fruit juice, what's included in an emergency food parcel, what it may look like to only have plenty of cereal in your cupboard and also a tin of beans holding a fork to represent loneliness.


Although I'm not completely happy with all of the results, as compositions and camera settings could be improved, I'm satisfied with the method of using still-life and basing the adapted project on food bank items and how it looks to live from such a small amount of food.


The photograph of the biscuit is one of the most successful out of this set because it shows the harsh reality of making something simple and small last, and enjoying it as much as possible. The matching colours of the biscuit and table reflect the dry, boring, beige nature of packet or tinned foods, which contrast well with the basic white plate.


The composition of the photograph displaying the range of foods in an emergency food parcel needs improving. More empty space would show the lack of foods better. The angle needs adjusting so the camera is more level with the products for less distortion. Although the kitchen table works well as the core of the project to show continuity, the radiator behind is slightly distracting and could need editing out, or moving the table could possibly work.


Photographing large quantities of cereal could definitely develop further. Perhaps showing what three meals a day looks like just from being made up of cereal, or showing the discomfort of having to eat dry cereals if you'd ran out of long-life milk.


As loneliness is another factor that I would like to highlight and the effects of eating alone and not social eating, I'm interested in representing the lonely side of being in poverty and not being able to invite friends or family over for dinner or go out for a meal. As I've already discovered, people eating alone generally don't tend to make much effort to prepare and cook a good meal just for themselves. The photo of the tin of beans represents the saddening effects that regularly eating alone has on a person, and the bad health effects this may inflict.

From doing the test shoot I realised that the project could be presented into two to three short zines. With one theme being the urgently needed foods, another showing the cereal that there is plenty of and possibly a final one representing loneliness.


To fill the zines without there being too much repetition there needs to be breathing space in between the photographs as they are quite harsh and shocking. Empty pages could be effective, or perhaps photos showing the simplicities of the normal kitchen space.


Research


Looking in to the documentation of kitchen spaces, Carrie Mae Weems' The Kitchen Table Series and Mette Bersang's Untitled Interiors were very distinct and the practises are significant to my project.



The Kitchen Table Series, 1990 by Carrie Mae Weems


The relevance of The Kitchen Table Series is that the physical kitchen table is used as the body of documentation and remains uniformed throughout. Although Weems' project is concerned with a different subject, the representation of females and performative self-portraiture, it shows the passing of time and ordinary lives. The significance here for me is that the kitchen remains the same, the table is in the same place, always there, but the people around it and the objects on it change. It shows how life continues, with the mundane normalities but then also the bad days. The representation of an actual normal life is increasingly important today as society masks over imperfections. The honest tendency this series has is perhaps what led it to become so significant and seminal.



Untitled Interiors, 2010 by Mette Bersang


Bersang's work has a simple context but is rather aesthetic with a calming mood. The space looks inviting and relaxed, but also poses questions to the viewer. For example; the location, who the space belongs to, who are the two people that will be seated at the table, why neutral and natural looking decor and what's the significance of the sunlight coming through. This type of practise definitely allows viewers to gather their own thoughts as the photographs aren't hard-hitting with an immediate interpretation. There's an essence of time throughout this short series too as the sunlight must only pass during a certain time of the day, and only of course when there are no clouds. These photographs are also successful in being uniformed and show continuation through the succinct mood and colour tones.



These two series have provoked my thoughts around developing my project by remaining uniformed without worrying about repetition and simultaneously allowing the viewer breathing space. The kitchen table is important in my series as it immediately sets the scene of food, eating and universal normalities. I will keep creating still-lifes on the kitchen table but also look for other points of interest in the space of the kitchen that are perhaps mundane and usually overlooked, but are important in reiterating how food banks should be normalised as they are used by ordinary people.


See my next posts to have a look at how I get on with these developments!