Shooting eyeball closeups isn't cutting it anymore
August 17, 2010 2:34 PM   Subscribe

I've been tasked at school to photograph a negative emotion. I had a plan in place which broke to bits when I forgot my camera at school over the weekend. I need to shoot something tomorrow, but I'm having trouble being more creative than some crude and banal ideas for photographs of fear. I can't find inspiration online - all I come up with is crappy stock photography. Can you please point out for me good online and free resources on scene staging in films, resources on photographing emotions or good examples of emotional photos?
posted by ye#ara to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (25 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Do you have time to pop down to the local hospital? Plenty of misery, fear, boredom, despair to go round there.
posted by biffa at 2:44 PM on August 17, 2010

Why don't you just photograph yourself and title it "Anxiety"?
posted by KokuRyu at 2:45 PM on August 17, 2010 [7 favorites]

How about the ad photos of theatrical plays of your favourite theatre?
posted by oxit at 2:46 PM on August 17, 2010

I don't like the suggestion of actually causing people to feel negative emotion in order to then be able to take a photo of the resulting facial expression, but if you wanted to do that it would be easier to just insult people rather than taking a long time to take their photograph as The World Famous suggests (although, of course, their negative emotion in that case might express itself as an assault on your person). The world is full of negative emotion, sad to say. Go to the emergency ward of a hospital, or visit seriously ill patients. Sick or injured people are often unhappy. Go to a police station and observe people who have been arrested. They are not happy. If you just want to observe impatient people, they can be found at long lines at checkout counters. Just observe the world around you, and be prepared to take a picture.
posted by grizzled at 2:49 PM on August 17, 2010

Just take a picture of a ditch with some trash in it and call it done!
posted by meepmeow at 2:51 PM on August 17, 2010

Put your camera on the highest resolution, find an insect, position your foot so it casts a shoe-shaped shadow over it and hit the button. Crop,shop to enhance feeling of doom.
posted by carmicha at 2:52 PM on August 17, 2010

Disposable camera + precise moment of orgasm.
posted by griphus at 2:53 PM on August 17, 2010

Best answer: "good examples of emotional photos"

I think one of the key things that made the HOPA girl hoax so popular was the range of emotions she projected in her facial expressions. It was over-the-top acting, but it might give you some ideas.
posted by Jacqueline at 2:56 PM on August 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Go find an actor and get him to cry for you.
posted by komara at 3:03 PM on August 17, 2010

Response by poster: Well, our instructor prefers that we stage it. I think what he wants most is us to shoot emotions without people, but I'm kinda reluctant to stage scene and I'm really having trouble coming up with something which is not banal. I want to shoot at my grandparents' place, which is really emotional [at least for me], but it's two hours away.

grizzled: Awesome suggestion. I thought about heading to the hospital, to the nuclear medicine ward but your suggestion of the emergency room is so much better. It's full of miserable people who are waiting in line while in pain.

KokuRyu: Yeah, I should have done that before my job interview this morning. Or when my car broke down after lunch. Maybe I'll look for people whose car broke down tomorrow.
posted by ye#ara at 3:10 PM on August 17, 2010

Well, I looked at your Flickr photos and some of your architectural shots address alienation pretty well (thinking especially of this one and this one). If you enjoy taking pictures of buildings, can you do something with that re negative emotions without people.
posted by carmicha at 3:21 PM on August 17, 2010

I think what he wants most is us to shoot emotions without people,

Can you get away with anthropomorphism? Because a trip to a dog rescue will net you pictures of sad looking puppies, which works on two levels: 1.) People putting emotions into animal expressions, and 2.) the actual inherent sadness in unwanted, caged dogs.
posted by quin at 3:25 PM on August 17, 2010

The interesting part of this project seems like it would be making the viewer think about what a "negative" emotion is. If you can't get away with using your photograph to present an argument as bold as "there's no such thing" maybe you can find something more subtle. Crying is easy - and as you say - banal. How about pride? hubris? Are the Phelpses demonstrating nearby?
posted by fritley at 3:54 PM on August 17, 2010

Get a piece of drywall, slap some paint on it, punch a hole in it. Hang a crooked picture on it to add to the impression that it's a wall. Now take a photo of anger. Or take a picture of a slamming door, which could give you some interesting motion blur. Still anger.

Not staged, and not devoid of people, but if you position yourself near traffic, you might get some good images of road rage.
posted by willnot at 4:04 PM on August 17, 2010

Take picture of sad people sitting in their cars.
posted by bonobothegreat at 4:19 PM on August 17, 2010

See, I'm thinking with my 'I've been in therapy a while' brain.

And here's what I'm thinking. Emotions are not inherently positive or negative. Emotions give us information, and perform other tasks.

I'm thinking: find a way to photograph inappropriate joy. Someone glad to find out that an ex lover has an STD? The joy is an emotion most would describe as positive, until you get the context.

So in short, I think this assignebt is more about context than anything else.

(but I am the person who failed college photography, ceramics and ballet. So tale my thoughts with a grain of salt.)
posted by bilabial at 4:54 PM on August 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

Or. Where I am in Florida, there is a lot of homelessness.

Evidence of that is pretty damn distressing, if you're going the route of evoking an emotion.
posted by bilabial at 4:55 PM on August 17, 2010

Paul Ekman and the FACS (Facial Action Coding System) has cataloged human emotions for the past 30 years and has broken it down to a few dozen basic emotions. That's a good place to start.

For context, go to any newspaper and open to a random page, especially the local crime pages.

What about places that hold great emotion - either happy or sad (the juxtaposition could be cool).

Here's some starting points.

- A playground
- A bus depot
- A church
- A hospital
- A cemetery
- A junk yard
- A long stretch of road
- A suburban home
- A dinner table

What you're suffering from is a form of writer's block. Just roll the dice (gambling - there's another theme) - throw a dart (sports, bars, two more themes) at a map (travel, loneliness, lost) and go do it.
posted by MesoFilter at 6:31 PM on August 17, 2010

Emotion + Location + Props = story told.


Anger + Supermarket + Kitchen Knife.

Sadness + Forest + Baby Doll.

Fear + Playground + Watermelon.

Okay, some may be more absurd than others.
posted by MesoFilter at 6:33 PM on August 17, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks everyone. I'm in for a day of traffic jams, bus stations and a venture to the hospital if I can stand the 40 minute bus ride there.

MesoFilter: That's where I was originally going. But everything I come up with is succumbing to kitsch.

I'll report back tonight with the photos.
posted by ye#ara at 11:12 PM on August 17, 2010

Response by poster: So, the promised update: I managed to shoot a lot of indifference and a couple of architecture shots. Apparently, one isn't allowed to photograph in emergency rooms. However, there was only a couple there, and I did shoot them. Badly. Today's photo set. It contains two or three pictures I might actually use.
posted by ye#ara at 10:42 AM on August 18, 2010

My vote would be for this one if not for that nasty horizontal that couldn't be avoided. If not that then this one.

That is, if you're asking for opinions. If not, forget I said anything.

posted by komara at 10:53 AM on August 18, 2010

Wow, first time I've forgotten to close a tag in a comment. How embarrassing.
posted by komara at 10:54 AM on August 18, 2010

Aaaaaaaaand now I come back to see I typed horizontal when I meant vertical. Good grief.

This is your friend and mine, signing off the internet until his brain comes back,
posted by komara at 12:25 PM on August 18, 2010

0189: I like the light, and the emotion isn't your typical negative one. Here (to me) you have a woman who struggles with physical experiences (knees ache, feet sore etc), quite possibly other disappointments of old age: less physical beauty, low income etc.

0219: The emotion is caught in mother and child, waiting, irritated with each other and the wait, no back support on the seat.

0227: She seems to be crying as a result of a phone call.
posted by b33j at 2:43 AM on August 20, 2010

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