Exercise 5.1: (P.105): (Creating Still-life)

Brief:

Create a set of still-life pictures showing traces of life without using people.

You could do this with your camera phone to reflect the vernacular and transient nature of these moments or you could choose to use high-quality imagery to give these moments gravitas, like Nigel Shafran. Your technical decisions should back up your ideas, so write a short reflective commentary detailing these decisions and the reasons for them.

I have taken two sets of pictures, the first set is taken with my digital camera while the second set I took with my iPhone.

Canon EOS 5D Mark III

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I captured memories of my years at my parents’ house before getting married and moving out, photographs of my room and things that evoke special memories to me.

 

iPhone

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I captured objects that are related to my children at my own home.

Comparing both sets to me it shows how neat my room is when I was single as there is no clutter and everything is in place while having kids turned my house into a mess with my kids’ stuff misplaced here and there.  I am not complaining though, it is obvious that those messy rooms provided me with more creative thinking regarding what photographs to take!

It was easier to take shots with the iPhone then just add filters to it, however I did not use the iPhone camera to its fullest, I just took quick snap shots without bothering with technical modes while with the digital camera I was more concerned with the basics and technical issues as well as post processing.  I do enjoy taking photographs sometimes with my phone when it comes to photographs including family and friends while I prefer my digital camera for artistic photographs specially because the phone’s lens is not as good as the camera lens.  The photograph might look as good but when zooming in or blowing up the picture for a print; the result is terrible.

With people now shooting using their iPhones even the food they are about to eat take them away from their experience, instead of looking at a piece of art and thinking about it or watching a play and concentrating on it; people take photographs with their smart phones thus they prevent themselves from enjoying the moment and living the experience.  However, I do admit that it is easier to share the photographs using the technology available through phones nowadays.  It is also a good way to capture a moment and smart phones make it easier than cameras.

 

 

 

Exercise 4.5 (P.85): (Written or Spoken Words)

Brief:

Find words that have been written or spoken by someone else. You can gather these words from a variety of means – interviews, journals, archives, eavesdropping. Your subject may be a friend, stranger, alive or dead. Select your five favourite examples and create five images that do justice to the essence of those words.

You may choose to present your images with or without the original words. Either way, make sure that the images are working hard to tell a story. If you decide to include the words, ensure that they add to the meaning rather than describing the image or shutting it down. Try to keep your image-and-text combinations consistent – perhaps they are all overheard conversations on a bus or all come from an old newspaper report. Keep them part of a story.

Consider different ways of presenting the words. Audio or video might lend itself well to this kind of work, or a projection of images using voice-over. Experiment.

On 2012, I worked on assignment 5 for the old course The Art of Photography (TAOP), it was about applying the techniques we learnt in illustration and narrative.  We were asked to present the work as a cover on a magazine.

For that assignment I was inspired by a song of the famous Lebanese singer (Fairouz).  Her song is called (Shadi).  Shadi is a name of a boy.  It is a song about a boy and a girl who used to play together until death separated them because of the war.  The last lyric in the song says:  “I grew up and Shadi remained the boy I knew, playing in the snow”.  Of course the song is in Arabic but the translated lyrics can be found here.  The story I worked on was inspired by this last sentence but it was about twin girls where one of them had cancer.

Below is my work for that assignment:

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The song with lyrics is in the video below

Fayrouz – Chadi – unforgettable Arabic song (Eng Subtitle)
ALSHARHANI

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Exercise 4.4 (p.80): Images Without Captions

Brief:

Over the space of a few weeks gather newspapers that you can cut up, preferably including a mixture of different political points of view. Have a look through and cut out some images without their captions. You could choose advertising images or news. For each image, write three or four different captions that enable you to bend the image to different and conflicting points of view.What does this tell you about the power of text and image combinations?

Now write some text that re-contextualises these images and opens them up to alternative interpretations. Write some notes in your learning log about this exercise. How might you use what you’ve learnt to add a new dimension to your own work?

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These photos of a Russian model Viktoria Odintcova has been spread all over the social media from her own Instagram account to newspapers and blogs.  The photographs and even videos of the model were posted showing her dangling from one of the world’s  tallest skyscrapers in Dubai when it opened in 2013 with no safety gear!

Odintcova’s photographs showed her leaning backwards over the edge of the skyscraper clanged to the hand of a male assistant.  The model was ordered by the Dubai police to sign a written statement pledging not to repeat the stunt.

The same photographs of the model was given different captions on different blogs and newspapers:

  • The National blogs:  Russian model Viktoria Odintcova risks life for dangerous Dubai selfie.
  • Emirates 247:  New images released of model hanging off 306m skyscraper in Dubai.
  • London Evening Standard:  Russian Instagram model Viktoria Odintcova hauled before police after dangling from Dubai skyscraper.
  • Gulf News:  Model’s death-defying stunt in Dubai goes viral.
  • The Sun:  HEIGHT OF STUPIDITY Russian model risks her life to get the perfect snap by dangling off a 1,000ft Dubai skyscraper with NO safety rope.
  • The Telegraph:  The moment Russian model Viki Odintcova risks her life in daredevil Dubai photoshoot.

I thought of giving it other captions such as:

  • Reckless Act by a Russian Model.
  • The Price People Pay to Get Famous.
  • A photoshoot on one of the highest skyscrapers in Dubai.
  • Pursuit of Fame.

All of these captions would give the same meaning to the true story behind the photograph.  The captions and text are assisting us in getting the image to float in the right direction.  However if my captions were something like:

  • Security Lapse in one of the Tallest Skyscrapers in the World.
  • Fake Viral Pictures of a Russian Model on one of the Tallest Skyscrapers in Dubai.

The story will be twisted to a different direction and the meaning of the image will change.  It is like having an image of an apple and calling it a sin instead of an apple.

Captions and texts can lead away from a photograph and take the viewers far beyond the image.

An example is a photograph of a group of three woman where one appear to have a pair of knickers around her ankles. The photograph was published in The Sun Newspaper on the 21st October 2009.  The photograph was taken advantage of by various internet sites and blogs.  The photograph is credited to the Wales News Service and had the headline: “Booze ban for binge hotspot”.  On The Daily Mail the same photograph was used not pixellated accompanied by the title: “The streets of no shame: The shocking picture that epitomises Britain’s ladette culture”.

This photograph has been used to represent the downsides of drinking in public and outlines the decision by the local authority to allow the Wales police to arrest anyone who drinks in public places.  In a follow up article, The Sun quoted that the woman in the photograph was not drunk and the knickers were not hers but a joke she shared with the group she was with.  Roland Barthes defines this type of text as “relay”.


Bibliography / References:

Alan Markham (2009).  How Does Text Shape the Understanding of Photographs?  [online].  Alan Markham Photography.  Available from:  http://www.alanmarkham.co.uk/Essays/image_text.php  [Accessed 23, February 2017].

George L. Dillon (2000). Art and the Semiotics of Images: Three Questions About Visual Meaning [online]. Available from:  http://faculty.washington.edu/dillon/rhethtml/signifiers/sigsave.html [Accessed 23, February 2017].

Martinec R., Salway A. A System for Image-Text Relations in New (and Old) Media [online]. Available from: http://www.bbrel.co.uk/pdfs/06Martinec-Salway.pdf [Accessed 23, February 2017].

Thomas Tallis School.  Text and Image [online].  Tallis Photography.  Available from:  http://tallisphotography.weebly.com/text-and-image.html  [Accessed 23, February 2017].

Exercise 4.3 (p. 80): Storyboard

Brief:

Create a storyboard where the image does not depend on the text and the text adds something new to the narrative. This exercise is a light-hearted look at the role of image and text. Aim for it to be around 10 frames long. Draw the picture storyboard first and then add the text. Note how the story is affected when the text is added.

The Storyboard I created is about my daily routine life and it might basically relate to most of the stay at home moms’ lives.  I sketched a quick stick man figures storyboard first in a separate paper then I printed a ready empty storyboard template and tried my best to draw decent characters.  Although my kids commented that the boy in frame (5) looks like a dog; I am happy with the results!

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Picture Storyboard with No Text

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Picture Storyboard with Text

In this Storyboard the images came first and then the text and words were added to interpret what was already there.  When adding a text to an image; it can change the meaning or enhance it.  The text here did not replace the image but is equal to it.  Both the text and image interact and supplement each other.

It is said that “A picture tells a thousand words”.  Looking at the storyboard without the text, the images grab attention and they contribute to the storytelling process, then with the text added, the combination of both image and text contribute to the whole storytelling process where the text conveys information that the image could not provide such as in the last frame.  The images provide the ideas and concept where it tends to free the imagination while the text provides labels to the images and directs the thinking to a conclusion.

Exercise 4.2 (P.79): (Presentation of Images & Text)

Brief:

Choose a day that you can spend out and about looking with no particular agenda. Be conscious of how images and texts are presented to you in the real world – on billboards, in magazines and newspapers, and online, for example. Make notes in your learning log on some specific examples and reflect upon what impact the text has on how you read the overall message.

Consider:

  • Does the text close the image down (i.e. inform or direct your reading) or open it up (i.e. allow for your personal interpretation to play a part in creating the final meaning)?
  • What do you think was the intention of the creator in each instance?

 

As I was looking through the (Porter) magazine, I came across this advertisement for diamonds Jewelry by Van Cleef & Arpels:

These are only three out of other images for the same advertisement.  The other images show the model naked wearing nothing but a necklace and another of her in bed or the bathtub half-naked.  To me the advertisement portrayed the woman as a sex object since the term (sex sells) is used widely nowadays.  The men would see those models in such advertisements as decorative and sex objects and will be willing to spend the money on those jewelry while the women would feel the importance of owning these diamonds in order to attract the other sex or to feel sexy and desirable.

Roland Barthes calls these photographs pornographic photographs and describes them as a naive photograph without intention and without calculation.  The images show one piece of jewelry that is presented by sex and only that!

On the other hand, I came across another advertisement of Cartier another famous jewelry brand:

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The advertisement still use the woman but in a more modest way.  We are here more able to look at the jewelry clearly and connect it with the model as (diamond is woman’s best friend).  There is no real linguistic message associated with this image, other than the caption Cartier (name of brand) and Diamond collection.

Looking through the internet, I found this advertisement about animal anti-cruelty league.  At first I couldn’t tell it was a dog but after reading the text or caption on the image; I figured that out.  The symbolic idea the image represents is that the dog is not a soccer ball to be kicked (abused).  The caption on the image complements the idea of animal abuse.  The viewer here tries to figure out the main idea from the image at the beginning and then the text comes to support it and explain it.  The accompanying text is a parasitical message which illustrates the picture.  I found the advertisement quite powerful.

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Advertising Agency: Lowe Bull, Cape Town, South Africa

 

Another advertisement caught my attention online was the one about owning a gun in America.  The image is quite powerful by its own but it keeps you wondering about the main idea behind the advertisement.  The written commentary associated with the photo illustrates the picture.

Here the text supports the image and overcomes it. The text in white font with black outline suggests mystery, you read the caption and wonder. The white font suggests the purity in thinking at the beginning as you think ok of course the gun is the answer but the black outline gives you that mystery of “is it?” then the white font turns to red to signify aggressiveness and boldness and gives you that feeling of a faster heartbeat that commands your attention. The answer then comes in a small size font text below the image giving us the answer. The smaller font below the image connects the larger words above the image saying something else. The idea is to make us read two different thoughts by looking at one being more mysterious and the other bold and truthful.


Bibliography / References:

Barthes, R. (2008) Camera Lucida. TATE Publishing: London.

Barthes, R. Rhetoric of the Image [online]. Available from: https://faculty.georgetown.edu/irvinem/theory/Barthes-Rhetoric-of-the-image-ex.pdf [Accessed 17, February 2017].

Exercise 4.1 (p.75): (Looking at Advertisements)

Brief:

OCA tutor Dawn Woolley writes a regular blog on Link 10 called ‘Looking at Advertisements’. Read one of Dawn’s articles and write a blog post or make a comment on the site in response.

Dawn article “Looking at Adverts: 12” discusses cosmetic products and how the producers of these products claim that their products such as concealer, lipstick etc can produce the same effect that Photoshop can do to the photo.  They claim that if the consumer use their products; they do not need to modify or smooth the skin afterwards using digital manipulation software.  This indicates the impact of the rise of the selfies and phone cameras.

Meredeth Jones explains that the standard of beauty nowadays has become based on manipulated images rather than real faces.

Cosmetic products now claim to diminish bad photos stating that there is no such thing as bad lighting.  They claim their products can help be “Photo ready” all the time.  Therefore, the adverts of these products now state that they do not retouch their adverts which could be a positive step.

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The Maybelline advert for “The Eraser” has been banned by the authority because it used digital manipulation techniques which was considered a way to misleading the public.

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Bibliography / References:

Dawn Woolley (2015).  Looking at Adverts: 12 [online]. WeAreOCA.  Available from: https://weareoca.com/photography/looking-at-adverts-12/ [Accessed 06, February 2016]

Exercise 3.4 The gaze (p.70)

Brief:

Produce a series of five portraits that use some of the types of gaze defined. The specifics of how you achieve this are down to you; you choose which types of gaze you wish to address and who your subject might be in relation to this decision. What you’re trying to achieve through these portraits is a sense of implied narrative, which you can explain through a short supporting statement. Don’t try and be too literal here; the viewer must be able to interact with the portraits and begin to make their own connection to the work, aided by the type of gaze you’ve employed.

2

The Direct Address

3

The Direct Address

 

4

The Direct Address

6

The Look of the Camera

 

5

The Spectator’s Gaze

 

1

The Spectator’s Gaze

All photographs except the last one of (the lady with the cinnamon bark) were taken at a mining place in Srilanka.  The first three photographs imply direct gaze where the subjects are looking at the camera.  This type of gaze suggests acknowledgement of the photographer.  Facial expression here is very important.  The subjects look back with different faces and different gazes.  In all three we see a returned gaze accompanied by a friendly smile.  This establishes communication to the muted confrontational role of the returned gaze.

“Frontality is a central technique of a ‘documentary rhetoric’ in photography” (Tagg 1998: 189)

Women look more into the camera than men, children and older people more than other adults, the poor more than the wealthy.  In Srilanka, the people are very friendly thus they tend to look at the camera more.  The workers in the first three photographs looking at the camera here signify naturalness and friendliness.

The fourth photograph implies the look of the camera or the photographer’s gaze.  The photograph subject matter, composition, framing, depth of field, color balance, sharpness etc. all are of result of the photographer’s choice.  I stood in the worker’s place and shot out over his back to capture his hand and work.  This gives the viewer the chance to share the photographer’s interest in what the subject is doing rather than the worker himself.

The last two photographs are the Spectator’s gaze.  We get to know who the worker is by reading his/her gaze while they are paying attention to what they are doing rather than the camera.

In short, all photographs tell stories about looking.


Bibliography / References:

Wells, L. (ed) (2003) The Photography Reader. Abingdon: Routledge.

 

 

 

Exercise 3.2 (P.60): (Personality Aspects)

Brief:

Make a list of some aspects of your personality that make you unique. Start taking a few pictures that could begin to express this. How could you develop this into a body of work?

Personality traits:

Super mom, creative, don’t show emotions, discreet, sensitive, depressed when things go wrong or when loosing a close one, polite, not very social, shy, not comfortable in big gatherings and formal occasions.

Since I don’t like to show my emotions or express them verbally; I tend to capture them in my photographs.  I do not take self portraits as I prefer to be behind the camera but my photographs whether they are portraits or general photography are always a mirror to my feelings and own self at that certain moment.  I represent moods to express how I feel.  For example, I use black and white to add drama to my portraits:

I create mood with dark shadows to a scene to intensify my dark emotions and give the feeling of loneliness or mystery or even nostalgia:

The Square Mile

See all the photographs of this series of my work for “The Square Mile” here.

When I am happy and in a good mood; my photographs tend to be live with bright colors and happy portraits:

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My work reflects my mood.  Wether it is joy or sorrow, the photographs portray my emotions.  If I can’t distill my voice into one image; I use story telling:

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From my assignment 5 at (The Art Of Photography) old course

It’s not always the person that is exuding a persona, but rather the objects or scene surrounding them such as movement and chaotic in this photograph:

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Photographs can be more engaging and powerful when information is withheld.  Engaging the senses in the photographs brings out memories of the scene portrayed.

To develop a body of work; Carol Bove an American artist explains:

“I believe that in order to make something that’s meaningful you have to start by figuring yourself out psychologically”.

Self portraits can be created in every image, it reflects who we are more than the people portrayed.  The mood the photographer is in at a certain moment will reflect on how he sees others while photographing them.


Bibliography / References:

Ingalls, K.  A Guide for Developing a Cohesive Body of Work [online]. Click & Company. Available from: http://www.clickinmoms.com/blog/a-guide-for-developing-a-cohesive-body-of-work-by-kristin-ingalls/# [Accessed 6 December, 2016].

Kim, E. (2011).  How to Express Yourself as an Artist and Photographer [online]. Available from: http://erickimphotography.com/blog/2015/04/23/how-to-express-yourself-as-an-artist-and-photographer/ [Accessed 6 December, 2016].

Roberts, B. (2011).  Photographic Portraits: Narrative and Memory [online]. FQS. Available from: http://www.qualitative-research.net/index.php/fqs/article/view/1680/3203#g5 [Accessed 6 December, 2016].

Seaman, A.  (2012).  Identifying and Capturing Personality in Your Portraits [online]. Envatotuts+. Available from: https://photography.tutsplus.com/articles/identifying-and-capturing-personality-in-your-portraits–photo-9618 [Accessed 6 December, 2016].

 

 

Exercise 3.3 (p.66): Marginalization

Brief:

Write a reflection in your learning log about some of the ways in which marginalised or under-represented people or groups could be badly or unhelpfully portrayed. How might being an insider help combat this?

Media plays a significant role in shaping the way we understand and see the world around us.  Common stereotypes about religions, homeless, race, people with disabilities, unemployed people, gender, old age etc. may not reflect reality.  These stereotypes affect these groups and thus gives more power and privileges to certain groups than others.

Political philosopher Iris Marion Young defines marginalization in her study of justice:  “Marginals are people this system of labour cannot or will not use”.  As a result, marginalized  people or group get excluded from society’s major activities and lack full respect in society. For example unemployed people are at risk of being por and also lack respect of their communities. Under-represented people may feel isolated and may have had fewer opportunities to pursue educational and professional goals.

As an insider understanding and focusing on the specific needs of individuals in the relation to the different aspects of inequality they experience helps recognize the factors the inequality derives from such as age, geographical location, disability, ethnicity etc.  Negative attitude towards a specific group causes discrimination which result in denying access for those specific groups to resources and services thus they are hinder from opportunities for their own personal development.

We have to be positive role models and understand and respect those groups so they themselves won’t suffer from low self-esteem and confidence.  We have to understand the reasons and factors that made them become who they are.  Respect them and help when needed.

A  research showed that problems faced by person with disability is not their impairment but the poverty, exclusion and marginalisation which is often caused by stigma and prejudice about disability (Groce, 2011).

I as a photographer should consider the ethical sides when planning to photograph marginalized groups.  I should consider the motives behind creating the image and preserve the subject’s dignity.  The story I should aim for should honor the subject’s circumstances and give hope and faith but not in anyway degrade or dishonor those people  and rob their dignity.


Bibliography / References:

Cain Emma, Steff Marion, Wortmann Marc, Beatles Sylvia, Cordier Sylvie (2012). Voices of the Marginalized: Persons with Disabilities, Older People, People with Mental Health Issues [online]. Global Thematic Consultation. Available from: http://www.addc.org.au/documents/resources/voices-of-the-marginalized-persons-with-disabilities-older-people-people-with-mental-health-issues_927.pdf [Accessed 4 December, 2016].

Jenson Jane (2000).  Thinking about Marginalization: What, Who and Why? [online].  Canadian Policy Research Networks Inc. (CPRN).  Available from:  http://cprn3.library.carleton.ca/documents/15746_en.pdf  [Accessed 4 December, 2016]

The Critical Media Project. Race & Ethnicity [online]. Available from:  http://www.criticalmediaproject.org/cml/topicbackground/race-ethnicity/  [Accessed 4 December, 2016].

Exercise 3.1 (p.60): (Mirrors and Windows)

Brief:

Go through your photographic archive and select around ten pictures. Separate them into two piles: one entitled ‘mirrors’ and the other entitled ‘windows’.

• What did you put in each pile and why?

• Did you have any difficulties in categorising them?

You may like to repeat the exercise with some different images and record your responses. It would be interesting to see you place the same image in both camps and review your reasons for doing so.

My Photographic Archive:

Scanning my photographic archive it was obvious that my photography is either shots of places I visited or photos of my family.  It is also obvious that most of my photographs are mirrors rather than windows as I personally use photography as a mirror to my identity and feelings.  I like to portray my feelings into photographs.  They reflect my feelings at a certain time and tend to be manipulated.  My family members especially my kids’ photographs work as a mirror to my world sometimes.  On the other hand, my window photographs are straight forward of documented places I visited.

Mirrors:

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My little girl photograph is a mirror to my inner world.  I took this photo and the rest of the series after my grandfather passed away as a way of grieving, letting go and trying to heal.

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Portrait of my little girl that represents timeless innocence and me wishing to go back to those old days.  The mood of the photograph is like looking out of the window and seeing the good old memories flash by me.

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Again, a series taken after my grandfather passed away.  Although it was a photo I took for assignment 5 for the course (The Art of Photography) which tells a story about a girl who lost her twin sister; the photo was created out of pain.  It reflects how happiness has slipped from me that day.

Windows:

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The photo is of skiers in Zermatt, Switzerland.  It’s a window as it works as a landscape documentary of the place.

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The scene is a window to how winter is in Austria.

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Another documented photograph of a place I visited (Mauritius).  It is a window to the environment and climate of Mauritius.

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This photograph is a window to the culture of South Africa and the Xhosa tribe.  It was taken at the Cultural Village in Sun City in South Africa.

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Dancing Water Show in Macau, Hong Kong.  A window to the art of the country.

Mirrors and Windows:

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I feel that this photograph can be a window to the environment, climate and attraction in the place taken in (Hyde Park, London) and at the same time it’s a mirror because it is also a portrait of my husband and girls.

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A window and a mirror:  it’s a portrait of my son and part of it is a mirror to my identity and at the same time it is a window of a metamorphosis image that tells a story about neglected children and the devastating effect on them.  Saying this does not mean  I was a neglected child but it’s the mood and feeling I was in when creating the photo frames it as a mirror.

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This scene is in Sweden although it could be interpreted as a landscape photograph of the country (window); it is also a (mirror) to my inner world.  It is like the outer world being a reflection of my inner self because I recreated the photo (manipulation) to tell a story about who I am or how I feel at that certain moment.

I did not have difficulties categorising my photographs to windows and mirrors because they are either manipulated photos expressing my own self or a straightforward photograph of a documented place.