At the beginning of the module my project did not have a title, I just called it Cars with Names. My plan was to use a quote from someone I met who had named their car, perhaps something comical or witty which I thought would go well with the images. This however did not happen, I had lots of conversations but nothing anyone said stood out to me. I also played with the idea of using the term anthropomorphic, but it seemed too obvious when combined with the images.
The title My Girl only came when I had picked my final images and realised they all had feminine names; Kylie, Goddess, Amber, Poppy, Penelope and The Bitch. Poppy, Goddess and The Bitch are owned by women and Kylie, Penelope and Amber are owned by men. This wasn’t planned but I do like that it worked out that way.
The subject matter of my project are the cars themselves. I did consider taking pictures of the owners as well as the cars but I thought it would be best to have the project aimed solely at the cars. I decided to take the photographs of the cars close up. I wanted to focus on the curves, or anything that sets the car apart from others, or could perhaps influence whether the car is given a feminine or masculine name. I chose this subject because as I have recently found it very interesting how people name their cars and the thought process which goes with it.
As the images are very close up the photographs in the project are very simplistic, and some are more abstract than others. However, cars are not a difficult subject matter to distinguish, even if you don’t own one, everyone has at least seen one.
My biggest influence for this project was Martin Parr, I especially looked at his projects Think of England (2000) and Signs of the Time: a portrait of the nation’s tastes (1992). Visually I liked the high saturation of his images, and the composition. A lot of his work looks at the details, whether it’s someone’s clothes, or the interior of their house. I also thought his documentary approach to his subject matter was appropriate for my project.
I also thought that Parr’s comical approach to photographing his subjects would also be presented well in my project as I took a lot of photographs of the stickers people put on their cars. These are not going to be included in this project, but for a separate one I thought it would be very interesting.
Aims, Objectives, Concept
My aim for this project was to present photographs of different cars which represented their name/gender given to them. The main concept for the project was why we give cars genders; do they have features which represent this gender? People who are car enthusiasts can talk forever about their car, and where happy to talk to me about it, and everyone I spoke to at the Ace Café had a name for them. Most of the names had a reason behind them, but not all of them did, for some it was just to do with the colour of the car, or the model.
I think through my imagery I have come to resolve my concept; however, I think the idea behind the images comes through more in some than others. Overall all however I am pleased with how my objectives have been resolved, and all together I think the idea of gender and cars comes through with the title and the inclusion of the names of the cars.
To create my images, I used a 35mm camera with a 50mm lens. I also tried using a 135mm lens, with Ektar 100 film. Alongside I also used a ring flash, this was an essential accessory for my camera as the Ace Café events I went to were all at night. This was something I did not consider when using a 135mm lens, I could not get close enough to the car to use the ring flash on the camera, so an assistant had to hold it closer for me. The ring flash however gave me flash back on the shiny surface of the cars. I also had difficultly focussing my images because it was dark, and the outdoor lights were not always usefully positioned. With the images, I took during the day I did not have this issue. It was bright enough that the ring flash would not even register with a light metre. The images taken without flash are flatter, and represent the actual colour of the car successfully.
For the presentation of my images, I considered different options. One of which I was very keen on doing was presenting them in a domestic way, in frames you would find in a family home. However, with the images I had produced it was best to print them bigger and have them presented in a clinical, clean way, which goes with the style of the images.
The main audience of my images would be car enthusiasts, or people interested in documentary or fine art photography. I think I will have effectively communicated my concept to my identified audience through the context of my images, and how they are presented in the gallery space. The combination of the images, the title and description of my photographs will come together to create the context of the work.
The strength of my project are the images, and the concept. I am really pleased with the final images I have produced for the project, and I think that they have successfully shown what I aimed to achieve. The close up images will make the viewer consider the different aspects of the car rather than the whole thing put together. Especially when it comes to naming them, and giving them a gender depending on the name.
The weakness of my project was some of the ways in which I tried to photograph the cars, if I was able to photograph all the cars during the day I would have produced more images which I thought were good enough to display.
In the future to improve this piece of work I would perhaps, as well as photograph, film my encounters in a documentary style such as Martin Parrs. I think it would be very interesting for an audience to see the process.