Igor Oussenko


   I found the work of Igor Oussenko on website Behance Network, i fell in love with it instantly because it has huge references to Art Nouveau.

These are images you wouldnt forget, one pushes an illusion of gravity and the other with amazing flair.


Assignment Two PH2000 – Constructed Image

Assignment Two asks that we choose one of the following films;

Vertigo  Alfred Hitchcock  1958

Rear Window  Alfred Hitchcock 1954

Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown   Pedro Almodovar 1985

Peeping Tom   Michael Powell  1959

Shallow Grave  Danny Boyle  1994

Hidden  Michael Haneke  2005

All the films are in some way concerned with structures of looking and you need to make reference to this in your own response..

From this you must devise a photographic project as a response to the film you have selected.  There are no guidelines as to the subject and style that your project takes, however you must justify all your decisions in your workbook, and it should be clear how the work relates to an aspect of the film; theme, cinematography , framing devices, point of view etc

We have deliberately left the brief open to allow for your own interpretation and creativity, however, you must use one of the following pieces of equipment in the production of your final images:

  • Medium Format camera
  • Photographic Studio
  • Location Lighting Kit

You should keep some kind of workbook or journal in which you include all evidence of the development of the project.  This could be research, concepts, evaluative notes, test shoots, contact sheets, test prints etc.  All decisions made throughout the project will be expected to be justified in your workbook.

 he final outcome of this project will be 3 photographic prints.  These could be darkroom prints or digital prints, however they will be expected to be exhibition quality, so allow yourself enough time to produce these.  You do not necessarily have to do these prints yourself.  These prints should be completely unmounted and can be no bigger than 12×16 inches.

You will also have to include a 500 word evaluation of the project.  

All work should then be submitted in a clearly labelled folder that is no larger than A3 in size.  Work submitted in plastic bags or loose will not be accepted.


The film follows three friends that are searching for a new roommate. After a long search they decide on an older man, only to find him dead 2 days after he moves in. After searching his room they find he has a huge suitcase of money. They decide to keep the money and hide the body after much deliberation. Drawing straws sees David [ the most moral character] in charge of chopping off the hands and feet of the corpse and pulling out his teeth. They bury the body in the forest and the female character takes the hands and feet to work at the hospital to be incinerated. From this point the friendships become strained, lack of communication and seeing the other two trying to take the money, David moves into the attic to protect the money, he drills holes through the ceiling to spy on the others. When the criminals associated with the dead housemate come looking and force their way into the house go up to the attic they meet their deaths at the hands of David and a hammer. Again he deals with the corpses… at this point the friendships are none existent. Suspicion from the police shakes everyone up and when the corpses are discovered by the police all characters start to imagine how they will get away with the money. David now has a Jekyl and Hyde personality. He tries to leave alone with the money after promising Juliet she can leave with him. The final stand off is a heated fight between all three in the middle of the night. Ending in Alex being stabbed by David in the shoulder and being trapped on the floorboards, juliet stabbing David dead in the neck and leaving with the money. Shortly after leaving to go abroad Juliet finds that the money has been switched with newspaper clippings. Alex had switched them earlier and hidden the money under the floorboards where he lay. Its unclear at the end whether he is dead or not or gets away with any money. The ending is a stark contrast to the start where all friends is now mutual three-way hatred.

The idea of the project is not to visually respond to the theme or borrow inspirations but to pick up on a theme and respond to that.

Visually…. Alot of elements used lure us in. If i were to use some of the visuals in my repsonce i would focus on things like this


Throughout the theme I picked up on a few ideas;

  • All or Nothing, was said when drawing straws on who should deal with the corpse. In the end they fought for all or nothing instead of morality or friendships
  • The loss of morality once wealth is involved, everyone has a price.
  • Betrayal
  • Criminals searching for Criminals
  • Drawing Straws, chance
  • All three characters toast on “Love and Happiness Forever”

All or nothing…

Contacts #2


Steve Neaves – I emailed Steve Neaves because he’s one of my favourite photographers. At the time i thought he wouldn’t get back to me, but he did asking for my details.


Alex Lockett – An ex student who came back to give a talk. I asked his advice afterwards. He has taken me email and promised to forward any photographers or contacts he feel are more suited to me.

Alex also advised me to get in touch with a list of photographers, a prosthetics artist we found online and an advertising company called VCCP


My next step is to contact a few more photographers, and go to look at the journals kept in the library.

Biennial Response and Catch Up

What I have done so far;

* Three portrait shoots

* Ventriloquist Shoot

*Experiment and started a self-portrait

*Contacted and got a Response for Brian Walker

*Completed Biennial project and received assignment two

Bowens lighting kit is booked for Friday..

Original Idea =

Drawbacks of the original shoot.. the fact that Karrina hangs the washing as it would fall on a normal washing line, and my idea is to create a oposite curve. With this idea, the location is crucial. I have to think about the semiotics the curve would create, added the clothing and colours. The composition and line around the creation of the curve. Materials to make the curve would also take time to experiment with.

Location Hunting for the shoot…

Another idea i have developed which would give me more chance to experiment with lighting as it’s a location i know involves a back garden. Taking influence from Crewdson, I would like to make an amateur scene using the style of his in this garden. The clothing idea i gained from Kaikkonen would be used in the way of the shed. It won’t be a predictable washing line, and i hope still surreal.



As I developed more into the shoot I realise that the clothing idea is just being added in as a relation to the work of Kaikkonen, which is wrong. The idea is to take a theme and communicate it accordingly with an original spin. I’m feeling like I have to add the clothes and don’t know how. I then went back to my original notes and realised I was equally inspired by painter Tim Eitel who had produced quite narrative and ambiguous scenes with a great use of composition and colour. The scenes are dark and subtle, there are figures within the scenes like the work of Crewdson.


The following picture is one that I took from Renshaw street. Of all Eitels works i most liked this one. I feel that the way my ideas are developing definitely fit with these ideas of constructed scene instead of installations. I’ve always related better to paintings than other forms of art especially for inspiration within photography as there feels like no limits.

Using the garden locations i am going for an Eitel, Crewdson collaboration taking the theme of a suspicious or ambiguous setup. During the shoot I will arrange props differently and try to focus on what the audience gets from it, the key is the lighting. And that is what I need to practice and use to my advantage.

My plan is to light the shed from the inside, create a pool of light leading up to the shed and a  light coming from the house to fill it in, it has three strengths. I also have the option of lighting the actual house [ windows] as an experiment to practise my use of white balance.

My aim with the shoot is to create a line of interest leading up to the shed with experimentation witn props. I wanted to make the image a HDR to get the best range of tones, which shouldn’t be too difficult provided I have a tripod and no models.

The Shoot – 16th October

Problems- The Kenro infra-red was the main issue during the shoot. Because of the angles I wanted the lights at I had to be much higher than the lights [ me and the tripod on top of a table] and the lights at the lowest they could be. I was therefore connecting the infra-red from above. Another problem was getting the balance between the infra-red signals and the lights seeing each other to trigger. I now realise I solution to this would’ve been to use a METZ as an extra light source. Which I needed because I had to compensate for the fact I let it get to dark.

The back of the soft box was missing, which created flair onto a nearby bush. I had to juggle the frame and try and cover it to overcome this. Otherwise it was a good shoot, and my constant experimentation led to a realised outcome. I was able to right the negatives on shoot and get the lighting right.

The Setup – Shooting with this stark light picks up on the crude colours, I shot as dusk with the Bowen’s to avoid this look.

Stage One – The idea was to create a Crewdson look. At this stage I made sure I achieved the framing I wanted but also discovered that I could use the windows of the shed for effect, which I hadn’t imagined before hand. At this point I experimented with clothes in accordance to my first ideas relating to the installations of Kaikkonen. The idea was to create an ambiguity that leaves the audience unsure of the nature of the scene – abandonment or crime. However I felt it too was staged and some of the clothing far to distracting I.e the white shoot.

Stage two – Secondly I removed some of the clothing. Still the same issues as before and in addition, the leg of the lighting kit is showing in the shed, the battery pack showing. I added the shoes as a prop which I feel make more of an impact. [ the aforementioned flair on the bush here is clear in this shot]

Stage three – Added leaves, added the boots, kept the clothes to see how it all worked together. I feel the clothes are boring and suggest its definitely a man which I don’t want. I’m also not cool with the framing here, the veg patch box to the right is distracting. The flair is clear here too. One amazing thing I did discover was the shadow that is cast by a tree by the house light. I turned it on to be able to focus more clearly and slowing the shutter speed caught it.

Stage four – I experimented with the framing, I feel this isn’t enough to the left hand side and the light is cut too abruptly. The spade also doesn’t catch the light coming from the left. Which I want it to. I will have to edit well to remove the wires from lighting kit. I tried to make a HDR image but it was impossible with the wind.

Final Image… [before edit]– In the end I chose to shoot at a different angle to remove the box to the right and to get the lure of the light on the right.


Post-production – Dodging, burning, cropping, patching, white balance.

Evaluation- From start to finish I am happy with the way the project went. It evolved for the better and although there were many things to overcome there were also some happy accidents [ the pattern on the shed]. I learnt to build a scene without using people, the suggestion of life. Constantly thinking of how the image is looked at by an audience, and most importantly the lighting. I will ask a number of people what they get from the image to see if I was successful. If I were to do a similar shoot again I would get more than one assistant and be in a mind set of the problems i had before to overcome them beforehand.

The Constructed Scene

Gregory Crewdson and Director of photography and film, Rick Sands. Crewdson says he recognises the familiar but also fantasy in all his works.


Guy Bourdin – A photographer I have always looked to when trying to create narratives. I think its amazing how he creates something subtly mostly without models and in some cases with limbs in the shots… and yet its flamboyant… It draws the audience in with a slick, colourful and glamorous aesthetic.

Jeff Wall – believes in photography from visuals. To witness an interesting event, and add thought or more meaning and construct at a later date. I totally agree with this method. The moment can be yours, you can change things and add your mark. This particular image

Similarly Karen Knorr below constructs scenes of what she calls country life. It’s quite fashion orientated, with classic photographic techniques [framing, use of black and white, composition and tone] I’d say it has connotations of the work of August Sander from early 1900’s. This is a very different and subtle way using construction which doesn’t look as worked as some other photographers who push the boundaries like Crewdson or Lux.









Noemie Goudal, a photographer which I have not heard of. From what I have researched her work feels like elaborate child portraiture, similar to the way Sally Mann sometimes photographs her own children but with a strange constructed and rough around the edges approach. It’s not an obvious creation fo narrative and feels more about the production of the image, that moment rather than what could happen. It’s not highly polished and I completely focus on the models.

Loretta Lux. Original, digital manipulation 

    Thomas Demand – Creates Paper Sculptures to look like the everyday, the result is a surreal subject that is on the line of real life, animation and sculpture. Its images where the audience have to look closer. 

Sandy Skoglund – A photographer who undoubtedly constructs her scenes. What most interesting about Skoglund is that it feels so original, its humourous, childlike, animated and could work in an advertising context as well as art photography. It’s ahead of its time, her archive of work goes back past the 1980’s and I believe someone would think this is modern-day. The combination of Art practise and photography is why I relate to her work so much.

Alejandro Chaskielberg – Is a fairly newly recognised photographer who recently exhibited in the Brighton Biennial. After watching as video of him talking about his works it is evident that he shoots on large format using the moonlight to make his pieces come alive. The detail, narrative and colour are amazing in the collection. He uses the potential of his surroundings to the maximum, and the model and pose are so simple but are made so much more interesting by the execution. Much like Crewdson comments on his own work.. it feels familiar but with elements of fantasy. I’d also say that the images are so strong they can stand alone or as part as the vast collection they belong to.

Bettina Rhiems – The previous work reminded me of conceptual and fashion photographer Bettina Rhiems, whose locations can be key just like Chaskielberg and Crewdson although she works differently in terms of inclusion of models. This is an obvious construction because of the use of model and framing, contact. Rhiems takes influence from the past, there is reference to different periods in art history but also religion. This image represents baptism, and the archive has a lot of references to jesus and christianity, it is however untaken in a visually slick way but the content is crude and risky.

I next looked into more images that take reference to art history…

First Example

Opehlia – Millais 1952 – Is a painting about a Shakespeare character called Ophelia.

Tom Hunter 2000 – This is a modern-day, unglamorous and real version of the original, Unlike the others that follow I feel this image literally concentrates on the scene and not the beauty of death.

Gregory Crewdson 2001

Crewdson has chosen to use his trademark style and usual elaborate choice of setup and control to respond to the original. It’s a familiar location with the fantasy the original had, still keeping the strong relationship between beauty and death that the original painter insists upon.

Nadav Kander 2003

I most like the response made by Kander, by keeping and styling a location and model, it loses the connotations of death that the others have and becomes all about the art and representation of women in a contrasting way that the Pre-Raphelites had in mind in the beginning.

Another creative has used the original image to influence and music video, which is a fascinating response.

The Second Example

Olympia, Édouard Manet, 1863

YSL campaign 1998

Both remakes have a very literal translation to the original inspiration, both choosing to recreate the scenes in similar locations and in Kander’s case with a very similar models. The original painting was a comment on prostitution, servants which comes across with subtle clues, such as the cat at the bottom of the bed. It is a striking portrait that the audience is forced to make eye contact in on this intimate moment. This is echoed into Kander’s version, because the nudity is still there making a statement about the model. However in the YSL ad roles have been reversed, the man is clothed and the shot very stylised. This suggests the man being dominant, unlikely to be represented as a prostitute, but still waited on by the woman.

Nadav Kander

Case Study Candidate

Brian Walker the photographer and Post-production genius got back to me.. he said;

Subject: Inspired..
Date: Fri, 8 Oct 2010 13:27:38 +0000

I am a second year photography student studying at UCLAN [Lancashire] university. Although im confident in my surrealist photography what i really want to do is combine a digital art twist into it like you do. Your work has led my creativity into a less conventional means of photography, for which im so grateful for.

Im contacting you to ask if there would be a chance to interview you to ask your advice, come and assist a shoot or project or anything you would need. Im not interested in money, just desperate to improve my practise and learn about my options. To see your pieces come to life before my eyes would be a dream come true.

Thank you so much for your time

Natalie Mayer

Reply =

Date: Sat, 9 Oct 2010 21:38:39 +0000

Hi Natalie,

Thanks for your intertest in my work, I am glad to hear that I have had some influence in your own.
Is your work currently available to view online? I would be interested to see what you have been up to.

As for interviewing and assisting, it seems that the Lancaster Uni is a LONG way from Sydney Australia!
Feel free to ask any questions however.

from Brian

Subject: RE: Inspired..
Date: Sun, 10 Oct 2010 15:27:47 +0000

I really appreciate you contacting me back, i contacted you in particular because you are a practitioner that resembles what i most want to do. I currently have a case study to do where i basically have to present, report and gain clear knowledge of what i want to be. The problem being is that i dont know, i need to find a path into conceptual surreal type art and photography with my own style. I have attached some works that i have done, hope you like them.. i see alot of my work as experiments for larger things to follow.

With the case study i mentioned, i have to interview a practitioner face to face, or if you would be willing to take part, over the phone. [ i would have to look into how i do this]

Another opertunity, since we are poles apart is something the university is keen to set up for students, which is a bursary supporting any trips to different countries. Im asking if there would be any chance of arranging this so i could assist and see the work that you do, which would completly change my life. If this is inconvinient for you i completly understand.

Thank you so much for you time once again, and i apologise that my work was not avaliable online [somthing i am working on]

From Natalie


Hi Natalie,

thanks for sending through your works, they’re looking very good. I did a whole lot of experimenting in my earlier years too. It is the best way to build up your skills.

As for the interview, over the phone may work. We would just have to see how it would work as you say.

As for coming to Australia to see me work, I don’t think it would be appropriate, as the work you see online is very sporadic and it is more the post production which ties my images together,
as I am a fanatic about detail and composition. Do try and get some work experince, as it is invaluable.

Best of luck with future works and let me know if you want to do a phone interview if you can work out how best to do so.

from Brian

Subject: RE: Inspired..
Date: Wed, 13 Oct 2010 11:48:50 +0000

Apologies for not being in contact any sooner, the deadlines were chasing me! Ive just been working on a Ventriloquist shoot which turned out quite well.

With regards to the phone interview, i just wondered if you were able to do it over skype? I downloaded the software yesterday to see how straight forward it would be, and i think its the best option. If you are unable to take part in that my tutor said he could try and arrange the phone call.

As i would like to put some thought into the questions as this is a valuable experience for me [thank you once again], and i have to catch up with some readings would it be ok with you to make the call in early November?

From Natalie

Hi Natalie,
No probs with deadlines etc. I know how that can be.
As for the interview, we could even just have a phonecall over skype…
Anyway, I am sure we can work it out.
from Brian

As a phone conversation appears to be the idea, i decided to download skype

A drawback of regular skype is that i will not be able to record the conversation [ other than use of a dictaphone] and do not want to come across as unproffessional. I therefore asked some friends and they sent me to this website


Where i downloaded a free recording software add on to skype called PrettyMay. Someone else has suggested Audacity as the software i should use. Because i have the proposal to sort out first i will discuss the questions i will be asking with Tutor Steve Speed and refine them.

Induction 4 White Backgrounds


1. Rankin

2.Irving Penn

3. Richard Avedon

4.David Bailey

All are well known for their classic use of the White Background, once you master the basics you can forget about the technical side and          concentrate on prop, model and pose, resulting in amazing portraits. My favourite of the above is the one by Avedon, its so unique and says so much about the model. The contrast is so striking, the eye contact and the framing make the portrait. The variety of these images shows the variety that can be achieved with the studio.

The key elements in getting a crisp white background are;  Even and symmetrical lighting across the background, using a diffuser, either the white umbrellas or the soft-boxes. In addition, always check the wattage of the lamps when you enter the studio. And most importantly to get a crisp outline on the model, the lights lighting the curve must be exactly one and a half stops brighter than the lighting on the subject. For example if you decide you want a short depth of field and choose 5.6 as your aperture the white background would need a meter reading of 8 and a half. When metering the background it is more useful to do it without the sync cord especially on the infinity curve as the lights have a greater chance of moving.

Firstly  photographer and assistant/model get into place and set up the background lights, take a meter reading until correct. Check both lights are equal wattage and on equal power and place boards in between the model and the back lights to stop spillage of light, meter. Set up the light lighting the model and make sure it meters at 1 and a half stops dimmer than the back lights. Take the photo when the model is in place with the aperture for the model.

I now have some ideas i want to try in the studio, which i have booked for the Tuesday 19th October. 1.30 till 5pm.

Ideas = A portrait of a man holding a hot drink, for this i will contact Darren for a risk assesment. I already have a portrait in mind that inspired me, which i will scan in and put with the final images. For this i will also be booking the bronica medium format camera to get practise.

The second idea being creation of a silhouette using the white background techniques without a light on the model, hopefully i can create some interesting shapes.