Assignment 2 Planning

With the poor weather of a typical English spring, my initial planning for assignment 2 was to concentrate on opportunities for indoor lighting. Then the sun came out! I looked out of the window and thought; “why not do a set on garden ornaments?”

My tutor suggested a number of photographers to look at but the one whose work provided the most inspiration for this assignment was Chip Simons. His images are characterised by strong colours, distorted perspectives and lots of legs! But the two sets on his web site ( that resonated with me were “Bunny” and “Monsters and things”

In his own words, “My “Bunny” series is a strange and sad fairy tale about the ending of a world…for some very innocent creatures that lived along the Rio Grande river valley in New Mexico…once upon a time.” and The "Monsters" series is about “people and society and my friends…and how everyone is a monster deep down…if they are tempted.” Simply put, “Bunny” comprises a series of images of a human character dressed in a bunny costume and photographed with a series of props and in different locations. “Monsters” is similar, except substitute monster costumes.

He has his own unique style which words cannot describe but here are a few examples:





Part of the attraction for the garden gnomes was my fascination with taking pictures of statues and trying to represent them as lifelike, I wanted to do the same with the garden variety of statues. Here are some preliminary pictures I took:




I thought these were quite nice photos that met the brief, although it has to be said that there was not enough dynamic range to make them as technically challenging as they might be.

I also did some research into the folklore around garden gnomes. They apparently perform vital overnight gardening tasks. There are also groups that are dedicated to the liberation of gnomes, notably the French organisation, “Front de libération des nains de jardin” (The Garden Gnome Liberation Front). Their aim is to take gnomes from their captive location and relocate them in the wild. It is not known whether this is the wish of the gnomes or just the action of well-meaning do-gooders.

Of course, not all garden ornaments are gnomes. Many are based on cartoon characters or animals and they seem just to be present for entertainment.

I really connect with the whimsical nature of Chip Simon’s work but what I most gleaned from looking at it and can relate to the current assignment was the use of props to help tell the story. Whereas I was before only interested in taking nice pictures of garden ornaments, bound together simply because they were pictures of similar subject matter, after looking at his work, I developed my own story line and used props to help bring it to life.

From this I developed a shot list. The main difficulty here was to use the lighting models in the assignment to support the ideas behind the picture so I considered each shot in relation to the possible lighting scenarios.

Then I waited for the right weather!

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