Commercial products vs. Still Life Project

Having not done a project in a while I thought it’s time to get my butt in gear and do one. I’ve been looking at a lot of product photography jobs in the last few weeks, all of which want a product style portfolio. Whilst it’s not in my nature to produce a series of “consumerism” images, I can’t think of a better job than spending all day in a studio with objects and playing around with lighting.

This made me think about a project in which I can both fulfil¬†my desire¬†to create and build a series of images for product photography jobs. I looked around my room, thinking “What objects can I photograph?” I thought about this past year and decided things I brought back from Japan would be great.

Not having access to Cov¬†uni’s studio anymore I had to improvise and googled it. To my delight I found this great tutorial article “How to Create an Inexpensive Photography Lightbox” – so I did. It’s a great temporary solution if you are tight on money and rich in time.


I started with the conventional white background set up, and then moved onto a more meaningful idea Рusing posters-maps and documents that coincide with the object. I know neither of these ideas were great or original, but I just had to start somewhere.

I took my Blue Rose figure down from my shelf and began shooting, I used a map of Tokyo’s Akihabara district¬†synonymous with anime/manga and Otaku¬†culture.

testest2 testtest

As I said before this is just a kick off point, my plan is to research still life projects. However, I’m aware that what constitutes as good commercial product photography is not what I would consider a thought provoking series, I may have to run two series at the same time using the same objects.

Let the research begin… Yay!

The Apocalypse

In the last hour or so I have had a realisation. Struggling to find what I am interested in and a focus area for this blog after leaving University has had me questioning myself for weeks now. I like anime, I like film, I like books but I am not your typical fan of any of these areas, I don’t dedicate my life to them or obsesses over them 24/7.

Upon return from seeing the Pacific Rim at the cinema I thought about the medias across all boards which I obsess over (this thought ignited by a Pacific Rim obsession coming on). They all have one common thread. Apocalypse.

Let’s begin with my first serious obsession, Lost. Week after week as a 13 year old girl I would watch as Jack, Kate and the gang went about their business. Now some people might argue Lost doesn’t revolve around apocalyptic themes, but in my eyes it does. For the characters involved their worlds have been destroyed, they have to rebuild and adapt to survive.

From this point on I cannot recall a time line of my obsessions. Unlike the majority of fans, I am not a “full timer” if you like. For example my favorite anime at the moment Shingeki No Kyojin is aired online every week, however I have only seen 5 of the 14 episodes. When I become obsessed it’s accompanied by a serious level of intensity. Spending a day or two immersing myself in the world I have chosen to experience. I recall my first year of University after purchasing the Buffy Boxset to pass time and watching every episode within 2 weeks, I genuinely jumped when I first embarked on a human on the streets of Coventry, thinking he was a nasty vamp. Before I jumped into slayer mode I quickly recollaborated and remembered to my sadness, “It isn’t real”.

fan art by Bacafreak

This may sound strange to some but this immersion is the satisfaction fandom gives me. I don’t particularly care which anime is top of the charts or knowing the latest releases. What I look for is the connection that makes me not want to leave the house until I know how it ends.

I seem to be digressing a tad, my point is that today I realised that the majority of media that consumes my life is based on some sort of apocalypse.

Below are my favourite anime and films at the moment (both lists are in constant flux), unaware until today of the weird obsession I seem to have.

– Deadman Wonderland

“A massive earthquake ravaged Japan’s mainland and destroyed most of Tokyo, sinking three-quarters of it into the ocean. Ten years later, the story starts with Igarashi Ganta, a seemingly ordinary, unassuming middle school student attending Nagano Prefecture’s middle school. An escapee, a survivor of the great earthquake, Ganta has no memories of the tragedy and has lived a simple, normal life. This all changes one day when a strange man covered in blood and crimson armour appears, floating, out of his classroom windows, and massacres Ganta’s entire class and, instead of killing him, embeds a red crystal shard in his chest. Within days of the massacre, Ganta is convicted of the crime, following a suspiciously quick trial, is sentenced to life imprisonment in Deadman Wonderland, a massive theme-park-like prison.”
– Synopsis by T.H.E.M anime review

– Cassherns Sins

The world is in ruin. Everywhere, robots are rusting and breaking down, unable to repair themselves. Humans come few and far between with extinction inevitable. Chaos is ensuing, despair consumes the hearts of most, and all of this can be blamed on the actions of one robot by the name of Casshern. Chased by hordes of the vengeful, the now amnesia stricken Casshen walks the Earth slowly remembering his greatest sin; killing Luna, the Sun that was name Moon. With no place to hide, he must reconcile with his past. However, those around him are not so soon to forgive.
-Synopsis by The Nihon Review

– Puella Magi Madoka Magica

She has a loving family and best friends, laughs and cries from time to time… Madoka Kaname, an eighth grader of Mitakihara middle school, is one of those who lives such a life. One day, she had a very magical encounter. She doesn’t know if it happened by chance or by fate yet. This is a fateful encounter that can change her destiny‚ÄĒthis is a beginning of the new story of the magical witch girls.
– Synopsis by Aniplex of America

– Shingeki No Kyojin

Several hundred years ago, humans were nearly exterminated by giants. Giants are typically several stories tall, seem to have no intelligence, devour human beings and, worst of all, seem to do it for the pleasure rather than as a food source. A small percentage of humanity survived by walling themselves in a city protected by extremely high walls, even taller than the biggest of giants.

Flash forward to the present and the city has not seen a giant in over 100 years. Teenage boy Eren and his foster sister Mikasa witness something horrific as the city walls are destroyed by a super giant that appears out of thin air. As the smaller giants flood the city, the two kids watch in horror as their mother is eaten alive. Eren vows that he will murder every single giant and take revenge for all of mankind.
– Synopsis by Kiss Anime

– Fifth Element

A cab driver in the 23rd century finds himself battling an evil force during an apocalyptic war as he tries to secure a mysterious “fifth element.”
-Synopsis by Star Pulse

– Dredd

A feared urban cop takes on a vicious city drug dealer in a futuristic metropolis as director Pete Travis (Vantage Point) and screenwriter Alex Garland (28 Days Later, Sunshine) team to bring iconic 2000A.D. lawman Judge Dredd to the big screen. In the future, much of North America has been poisoned by radiation. The sprawling urban jungle Mega City One stretches from Boston to Washington D.C., and in order to keep the growing criminal element in check, police enforcers called “Judges” have been given the power of judge, jury, and executioner. Judge Dredd (Karl Urban) is the most feared of them all, delivering death sentences with impunity as he fights to rid the streets of “Slo-Mo” — a powerful new drug that alters its user’s perception of time. In the process of training psychic rookie Cassandra Anderson (Olivia Thirlby), Dredd receives a report of an incident in a sprawling criminal stronghold ruled by fearsome drug lord Ma-Ma (Lena Headey), and ventures in to investigate. Upon learning that one of her top men has been captured by Dredd shortly thereafter, an enraged Ma-Ma seizes control of her massive 200-story complex, launching an all-out war against the Judges as Dredd and Cassandra find themselves trapped in the belly of the beast.
-Synopsis by MSN

– Pacific Rim

When legions of monstrous creatures, known as Kaiju, started rising from the sea, a war began that would take millions of lives and consume humanity‚Äôs resources for years on end. To combat the giant Kaiju, a special type of weapon was devised: massive robots, called Jaegers, which are controlled simultaneously by two pilots whose minds are locked in a neural bridge. But even the Jaegers are proving nearly defenseless in the face of the relentless Kaiju. On the verge of defeat, the forces defending mankind have no choice but to turn to two unlikely heroes‚ÄĒa washed up former pilot (Charlie Hunnam) and an untested trainee (Rinko Kikuchi)‚ÄĒwho are teamed to drive a legendary but seemingly obsolete Jaeger from the past. Together, they stand as mankind‚Äôs last hope against the mounting apocalypse.
Official Synopsis

Part of me is considering transforming this blog into a one stop apocolyptic source, reading books, manga and watching all sorts of crazy films and anime, I mean there have got to be others out their like me right?


I’ve been struggling to write a CV for days, unless I have a job in mind I find it hard to show how I best adapt my writing to fit the job. So I decided to choose a job I am applying for and write a CV specifically for that. The job in mind is an Artefact Photographer for a 2014 exhibition in Communication technology at the London¬†Museum¬†of Science. I read through the criteria and wrote the CV specifically for this job.


PDF Portfolios

I decided to make 2 portfolios because there are 2 main routes I wish to go down and I wanted to be specific with each portfolio rather than make one open un-edited one.

Career Portfolio РTo support CV and focus specifically on artefact/product photography jobs.

J-Culture Portfolio РTo display my work within the Japanese pop culture area, for conventions and cosplay photoshoot jobs.

Existing PDF portfolios

I am new to the concept of a portfolio, I have never been asked for one or attempted to make one that isn’t a physical sketch book. When I think about it I imagine a document like the exhibition catalogue myself and Helen made. A portfolio that can be viewed on ipad, iphone and desktop making it¬†versatile¬†and interactive. I thought I would take a look at¬†existing¬†portfolios online to see which presentations I think work best and which not so much. Click the names to see the portfolio.

Heinz Baumann
This design is simple, but I don’t think the portfolio has a specific direction, I see food, fashion, still life and landscape. Maybe the photographer is trying to show versatility but I think like a CV a portfolio needs to be tailored for the job in mind. Also is noticed a lack of text and branding which is key in my opinion.

Vadim Belokovsky
I like the¬†consistency¬†of this portfolio, and the use of space, the pages aren’t stuffed with images; It resembles a photo book in that sense. It also has a strong¬†emphasis¬†on portraiture which is obviously the photographers chosen area. I also like the opening page, almost like a front cover, nice and simple.

Jason Grow
I like the text at the start, giving a bit of context, however I feel this is slightly too long, being able to edit down a good selection is all part of being a photographer and a portfolio is a perfect way to show your editorial skills.

I think now I just need to start making it, I want to include more text then the ones above and make it especially for ipads and iphones using the skills i learnt with the portfolio.

Setting Up Raw format and Private View

Now the show is up and running it’s important to reflect on the set up¬†process¬†and how the private view went.

Tuesday 28th May: Catalogue and Supporting text

Tuesday was set aside for painting the gallery space and prepping it for the show, myself and Helen however had taken on the responsibility of sorting out the supportive text for everyones work so it was our job for that day to get that ordered and finish off the catalogue. We spent most of this day watching online videos on DPS the software we were using to make the catalogue. After the research we realised we had to completely change the layout of the magazine to fit the iPad dimensions and make each spread just one landscape page. It was a learning curve a stressful day, but with trial and error and persistency we got the visual elements and most of the interactive ones too sorted including embedding videos and a live twitter feed for feedback. The only thing we had problems with was getting the buttons within the catalogue to work. As for the supporting text, we designed each piece to look similar to the catalogue, using peoples twitter usernames to enforce the online interactivity regarding the degree show. After lots of phoning companies for quotes we found outdoor banners 4 u, a coventry based company who could get 21 x 15cm by 15cm lots of text printed straight onto foam board for £20, we went with this because of the low cost and fast printing services. 

Wednesday 29th May: Hanging work

Wednesday gave me an opportunity to actually get into the exhibition space. The layout looked great, I was concerned about my positioning at first as I was placed across two fake walls which had a massive gap between them which couldn’t be closed because the walls didn’t line up.

My original plan had been to have the 3 images next to each other in a line, however as you can see from the image above this would mean one image would be across the split, it looked unprofessional and ruined the set up. I also couldn’t put one two images on one wall and the other on a wall by itself as this would leave a 2mm gap between images one and two. So I spoke to my classmates, Paul and curator Sadie about my concerns and the best option would be to¬†incorporate¬†my shelf as another artefact and create a square.

Essentially this was my final setup, hoever I¬†swapped¬†‘Magical Girl’ (Bottom Left) and ‘Product Placement’ (Top Right) because of the way the figurine is positioned in ‘Product Placement’ as it is above it directs the eye off the wall, whereas once¬†switched¬†it maintained the eye direction within the frame.

Thursday 30th May: Supportive text and final touches

In the morning myself and Helen picked up the supportive text which looked great and was a bargain. Along with this we got the QR codes printed with instructions.

Everyone was happy with the way they turned out we decided to get another piece of text printed, the preface Jon levy had written for the catalogue. This would act as an introduction into our show. We couldn’t pick this up until friday morning though, but I designed the text and sent it off to the same company.

Th other thing that was completed that day was the Catalogue, we also tested it on one of the universities iPads, to our pleasure it all worked great, it just needed proof reading.

I added the finishing touches to my work too, arranging my shelf. 

Friday 1st May: iPads, twitter and opening night

In the morning Helen picked up Jon Levys text, we got this printed A0 after speaking with the class and agreeing that would be the best size.

The biggest job for myself on this day was making sure the iPads were set up and secured. The tech team from uni came over and did this with no problems, all we had to do was test the final catalogue, which worked a treat. Other than cleaning up and pouring drinks no more work was needed. The opening night was upon us.

©Genea Bailey
©Daisy Ware-Jarrett
©Daisy Ware-Jarrett
©Daisy Ware-Jarrett
©Daisy Ware-Jarrett

I looked after the show for 1 afternoon of the exhibition, we saw over 30 people within 4 hours and got another chance to talk about the work. The whole event went really well and everyone worked hard to get the work up. In the end I was as excited about the catalogue as my work and feel that mine and helens catalogue and text contributions played a big part in the final show.

Getting the catalogue online

With the success of the catalogue at the exhibition, people asking for a copy and getting good feedback from an Adobe representitive I decided we need to get it online as an interactive piece rather than .jpg’s which is how it stand at the moment. I did a little bit of research and figured out how to export it as an .xml file. There isn’t much I could do with that as Ria is in charge of the website so I have sent it over to her and hopefully it will be online soon. For the mean time I will just have to share it with people on their adobe¬†accounts¬†which is not ideal but has to be done.


A lot has developed with the catalogue since I last posted. We are no longer having a flip magazine style catalogue, but an interactive document built for iPads. Myself and helen worked on this all day, including researching embedding twitter feeds and slideshow front covers, on top of getting to know Adobe Digital Publishing Suite, which is a great plug-in.

A long day of editing, researching and trial and error has lead to a strong catalogue. A few finishing touches tomorrow and it will be ready for the exhibition.


Text for shelf

The last part of my exhibition prep is the text to go along side the figurine.

I bought these foam letter because I thought they would be better than labels or cards, interactive an fun, they add the sense of informality which is needed for the audience to interact with my project.


Painting the figurine

Painting the figurine has been a 3 day proccess, it first involved getting the skin tone right and applying layer after layer of this colour. I opted for the tone ‘flesh’ and added white to it for a paler look.

Coat no.1
Coat no.4

This took a day to do including drying time, I then moved onto the face and hair, another day job. The hair was simple, I attempted to add highlights and dark tones but I don’t think it suited the robotic look of the figurine.

The facial details took 3/4 attempts. The eyes are so minute I kept on slipping and making mistakes.

With the 2 coats of Matt varnish the figurine is now finished. The varnish smoothed over the rough areas and gave it the finish I wanted.

Catalogue: Twitter and Buttons

The two main areas we had problems with was embedding twitter into the PDF and getting the buttons to work. After a lot of different attempts we found 2 methods tat worked.

For this we had to create a widget using an online twitter widget generator and save the html code in dreamweaver, we then had to insert a html overlay into inDesign and embed the html document with the supporting widget code in. It took a while to get right but it worked out in the end.

By using the internal button tool we couldn’t get the jump to page buttons to work, these are vital to our whole catalogue with the interactive map and pages we need them. A forum¬†suggested¬†we use the navto://*articlename* function instead of http://*url* which worked like a treat.

Prepping the figurine

After my past research I decided I need to get started on the figurine. I opted for more household friendly version of sandpaper and acetone with nail file and nail varnish remover.

First I filed down all the bumps and got rid of some of the extra hairs from the printing.


The next step was soaking it in Acetone, in this case 2 bottles of nail varnish remover, I made sure to do this outside in order to avoid fume intake. The videos said to soka in pure acetone for 3 seconds, I doubled this purely on the fact nail varnish remover isn’t as strong.

After soaking it I left it to dry for an hour in the sunshine, when I returned I was surprised to see how much of a difference it made, the back still isn’t as smooth as the d=front side but it is dramatically different. I moved onto the next step, primming the figurine with primmer paint. I hoped this would balance the shiny side with the rougher side. With 2 coats and 30 mins drying time between each one I was pleasantly surprised.

The next step of prepping was painting the figurine with a white primer, making the perfect base for painting with acrylics. Now it seems to me the days worth of prepping was pointless as the primer added a bumpy coat, it can be worked with but frustrating also.

Catalogue: Video embedding

The benefit of having a digital catalogue is that anyone who is producing video can have that featured in the catalogue too. So far Sean and Alex have sent their videos over for the catalogue, so I had a go at embedding them earlier. I thought it would be hard but using the Digital Publication settings in InDesign CS6 made it so much easier. A quick google and I found this…

Following these instructions I’ve added Seans and Alex’s here is what their pages look like now.

Having the video really enhances the catalogue, it’s interactive and will interest the audience to prevent them from just flipping through the pages.

The Catalogue: First Draft

Now everyone has their images and text myself and Helen could finally start work on the catalogue. The class have spoken before about having a digital one, eliminating printing costs and meaning people from all over the wold can access it.

We have been looking at existing catalogues, including National portrait Gallery, and past Coventry University ones. Here are a few of the ones we looked at.

The main different is that these are print, but we were looking more for stylising ideas, seeing what works well and what doesn’t. We weren’t keen on the past University one (top left and top right), the profile photos enforce the idea of a educational show even more, which is something the group don;t want to focus on. Yes we are a degree exhibition but this is also us as a group of photographers rather than a group of students. Also the small images seem pointless to me, the photos need to be more dominant than the text. Moving onto the NPG olympic special catalogue, (bottom left/right and middle right). The full image cover with little text is professional and eye catching, also the double page per photographer and simplicity of the pages is something we loved. We feel their map page is a bit complicated and we want to make ours simpler with interactive areas and acting as a contents page.

The University have asked us to send them a version of our catalogue for the website this weekend, they do not want the interactive version however so we have made one without…

– A slow changing front cover, so everyones work is on it.
– An interactive map of the exhibition as a contents page.
– A live twitter feed for feedback.
– A small intro piece, hopefully written by Jon Levy (waiting on a reply)

We stuck to the branding we already have, added the necessary details and kept it simple, taking styling influence from the NPG’s catalogue. Here is our first draft, still missing information and images from people who haven’t sent us theirs yet.¬†Once the first page was done it didn’t take long to slot everyones information into place. Now people can see what info we need and why I hope they will be fast at sending it over.



‘Interchangeable Icons’ is a visual comment upon popular culture icons and how their adaptable consumerist “looks” are falsely presented as a choice via¬†corporations¬†and companies.

Expanding on my symposium research on Mariko Mori, Freud, William Gibson, Ernie Cline and Cory Doctorow I continued to critically think about the culture I am a fan of. I also explored the vernacular of film and how it conveys more truth. From photo books, literature and theory I moved onto first hand research and experimentation both in Coventry and Tokyo.

Initially my proposal was directed towards self exploration, looking at my personal tension between activism and consumerism.¬†I rehashed my ideas and thought about the comment my artistic voice is making, this developed my project into ‘Interchangeable Icons’, a less intimate idea with a much broader public appeal and personal interest. My method of production adapted to when in Tokyo, through image making I realised that film did not compliment futuristic Tokyo. Analysing the situation I decided to work with the colour, vibrancy and metallic tones of Tokyo that I felt¬†digital could best portray.

The locations took influence from Mariko Mori’s public performance element in her work.¬†By shooting in Tokyo I had to put myself in new situations with language barriers and still produce high quality pieces. This helped develop my decision making skills and¬†efficiency¬†as a¬†practitioner, for the two weeks I was constantly thinking about the images, costumes, locations and lighting.

I see this work as the prologue to an ongoing project, in the future I will develop different “looks” for my character that comment on new social issues. The longer this project lasts the more substantial is becomes, showing the timeless issue of consumerism, iconography and company manipulation. I hope the project will travel back to Japan and across to other consumer giant cities.

‘Interchangeable Icons’ suits its transmedia result by commenting on consumerism and adaptable characters. I am asking the audience to get involved and physically engage with the doll and cards thus hopefully making their minds engage with the message in my work. Online audiences can access a 3D interactive image of the figurine and view the trading cards and images via my website. The reason I transformed this project into an online experience is because of the pre-existing market, ‘Otaku Sanctuaries’ showed how I can use my position as a fan to tap into this online community via forums, social media and blogs.

The production of the artefacts has been a learning curve. The electro luminescent panels I bought did not present my work in the best way due to the low quality of print. I learnt from this and reprinted the images with a reliable London based printing company, changing to Kodak Metallic paper, which adds a robotic surreal nature to the images, perfect for the issues regarding consumerism, Cities and doll-like icons. The figurine was produced with external professional help which led to it’s high quality production. The creation of the clothing and the painting was something I could get involved in, adding my own skills and personal touch to the artefact.

When I entered University I was unconfident and not taking risks this project has given me the experience and confidence in my skills that I can take forward into my professional career.

Figurine Painting

Today I¬†received¬†some bad news, the person who had agreed to paint my figurine can no longer do it, she doesn’t have the time anymore. This has left me with only one choice, I will have to paint it myself. Hopefully lots of online tutorials and taking my time will ensure I don’t ruin it. It might have ended up being a good thing, now the costumes are made I am feeling involved in the production fo the figure and would like to get more involved by painting it.

Costume completion

My aim for today was to finish all the costumes. I started with the kimono, it took 5 attempts to make but eventually I go there. I then had to make it again so that I could paint the fabric before sewing.

I started with the top half of the kimono, then added the skirt later on.

I then moved on to painting, I decided the garment is too small to paint te flower pattern so I focussed on painting the black trim using fabric paint.

After adding lace trimming and around 6 hours the kimono was complete. I then moved onto my second painting job, the cola logo on the red dress. I did a practice go before I did the real thing.

The Outfits


Prepping the figurine

Where the printer has left hairs on the figurine the bottom half of it has a rough texture whereas the top is smooth. Before I can paint I need to get rid of this, I had no idea how until I did some googling and found this helpful video.

With sandpaper and Acetone I can get a high quality finish. I will do this now as prep in order to paint the figurine.