Simon Lewis

AOP Part Five


DSC_7517 DSC_7517 (1)

After an enforced break I was glad to get back into the AOP exercises in this section. I found this task enormous fun as I had to essentially ‘design’ a photograph, rather than just capture something that happened in front of me. I really enjoyed the creative challenge of coming up with a unique idea and then finding a way of turning it into reality.

For this exercise I was quite clear about what I did not want: rain soaked umbrella’s providing scant protection to shoppers or workers as they hurry home, rain drops in puddles or any of the other ‘predictable‘ choices. And when I thought about it, I realised that the image was not so much about rain, but the effects of rain - what does it mean? Possible answers could mean very different things in a variety of places. Once again, it seems to be a question of context. One raindrop in a parched desert, the coming of the monsoon season, rain stops play at Wimbledon, and so on...

And it was the ‘rain stops play’ idea I tried to evoke with my magazine cover. Imagine - the long summer holidays stretching away into the distance and all that free time available to run and play. Perfect but for one thing: rain. So my image is a shot of a young girl looking out into the summer garden during a rain shower. Her image is reflected in the glass of the window and distorted by the glass, raindrops and selective defocussing (she is placed behind and right of the camera). Just my luck that we were in one of the driest spells of the summer so far, however I managed with plenty of water drops on the window pane from a spray bottle. Next time I’d like to enhance the feeling of rain actually falling in the background (a garden hose perhaps?). Nonetheless I am pleased how the emphasis and focus is on the water drops on the glass. All else is out of focus and, to me at least, a question of imagination and interpretation.

Lighting was a mix of natural (background) and a directed flash on the girl plush a small splash of flash on the foreground flowers. 1250/s f8 ISO200 55mm.

Finally, as the exercise was about shooting for a magazine cover, I have mocked up a typical cover to demonstrate how I deliberately framed for text to be overlaid on the image.



‘The Adventures of Goodnight & Loving’ by Leslie Thomas is the book I chose to illustrate. It’s the story of one mans transformation from dull worker-bee accountant to global nomad and hero. The story features neither title character, Goodnight nor Loving.

Here is a review of the book as it appears on the Amazon website.

The shattering blow of being told you are being divorced, please go away, starts the story and the hero bumbles his way through one scenario and another, all totally different. He never loses that kindly gentle man attitude whilst engaging in quite serious escapades, drifting along from one adventure to another.

The people he meets and the lives he touches are all so different, so well drawn and in some instances so poignant, Thomas has obviously let his imagination run free, but the hero of the novel is a very quiet man who, having had life throw him a curve ball, follows the way life leads him.”

My goal was to create a cover that firstly includes a series of contrasts. These are created visually: attaché case vs. sombrero, business suit vs. holiday attire, railway track vs. exotic island, sensible shoes vs. flip-flops and so on.

I also mixed the monochromatic suit with the colourful attire of the holidaymaker but swapped them so the businessman appears in a bright, tropical setting while the holidaymaker stands against a stark, dull, monochromatic backdrop.

Combined, the image appears to be of one man in two settings. But by cropping out the person’s head this is left deliberately ambiguous. Is it one person or two? Is it Goodnight or Loving? Perhaps even someone else?

And who are Goodnight and Loving anyway? are they characters or simply adjectives? Again, there is a sense of ambiguity here.

And finally the use of two typefaces creates further contrast to the visual narrative.



PART ONE - symbols for growth
Q: What symbols can you think of for growth?

Adult holding a baby
Modern buildings next to derelict ones
Small boy staring up at huge ship

PART TWO - symbols for a variety of concepts

This exercise involved finding symbols to indicate the concepts of growth, excess, crime, silence and poverty. Never one to make life easy for myself I realised that my initial ideas worked, but they were predictable and lacking: they met the requirement but did not fulfil the brief. For example, it was quite straightforward to decide that a broken window might illustrate the idea of crime, but the question I kept asking myself was ‘what does it mean?’. I worked out that the missing ingredient was context. By adding an extra step to the exercise I was able to insert a context and then develop far stronger stories. Here is what I did:

Step 1:
Using the concept or desired meaning (e.g. growth), what is the first symbol that springs to mind?
Step 2:
Taking that concept, what is the desired context or purpose for the image?
Step 3:
In context, what does the symbol look like now?

Click the word
‘Symbols’ below to view my ideas. Click your browsers back button to return.

Evidence of Action

‘Restless’: 1/60s f4.5 ISO 200

Another trip to the US: this time Houston and the Westin hotel. Famed for their beds (supposedly), I decided to use the one in my room to illustrate this exercise. The sharp morning light from the large windows to the left of the room showed off the crumpled sheets nicely (helped with fill flash bounced from the ceiling). The lighting, crisp whites and wrinkled lines of the linen reveal the bed to be empty after what appears to be a restless night.