The blog of photographer Kim Ayres

Inspiration from failed photos - and Episode 47 of Understanding Photography with Kim Ayres

Podcast at the end of the post - this image is so the right one shows up when linked from other pages or sites

It's not uncommon to take a photo where something didn't work in the way you wanted it to, but you end up with something better than you planned.

In fact I dedicated a chunk of Episode 12 of Understanding Photography with Kim Ayres, and it's accompanying blog post, to the idea of the "Happy Accident".

Sometimes, however, you take a photo that doesn't work in the way you wanted it to and you end up with something quite different, but while it remains unusable there is some quality to it that inspires you to want to create a better version.

This week I was inspired by someone else's photo that didn't work out the way they planned.

Mandy had submitted a photo of her niece to the Facebook group for critique where the flash had failed to go off, but when editing the photo what she was able to recover from the shadows felt like it had a bit of potential.

Although the quality wasn't there to really develop that particular image in the editing, quite a few people left comments saying how painterly it seemed.

I discuss why it had that effect in the podcast below – you can skip to 1 hour, 13 minutes and 25 seconds in if you want to just see that part.

Much like the Still Life photo I did a few weeks back to demonstrate to the viewers the lighting and composition styles of the Old Masters, I decided I would respond to the point by creating my own image.

And in this case I decided to do my daughter, Meg, in a similarly painterly style – in fact using pretty much the same set up as I did for the Still Life.

Of course I'm not the first person to photograph their daughter in the style of painters from a few centuries ago. For those with long memories, you might recall the interview I did with the amazing Bill Gekas and the incredible photos he does with his daughter, Athena.

And for those that never read it, pour yourself a coffee, click on the following link, and be prepared to be absorbed for the next 20 minutes or so.
Chasing Shadows: The Photographer Interviews – Bill Gekas

While perhaps not at his level, I am still pleased with the way it came out.

Something that struck me with this painting-style photo, though, was there are very few paintings in history of people with Down's Syndrome.

Perhaps it was to do with survival rates, or maybe how people with DS were viewed or treated – I really don't know, and to be honest I'm not entirely sure I want to, just in case I discover something that will leave me heartbroken...

But does it lend a slightly different quality to the image?

It's way too difficult for me to know – I am of course too close to Meg.

I suspect that anyone who knows Meg well will just see a picture of Meg, and it will only be those who don't know her who will see a young woman with Down's Syndrome.

Last night in the podcast I didn't even mention the DS – it didn't occur to me until afterwards when I realised that, unlike regular followers of this blog, many of the viewers wouldn't have known I have a daughter who has DS.

No one said anything, but then chances are they wouldn't have known quite what to say, or how to say it, even if something had occurred to them.

Let me know if you have any thoughts on the matter.

Meanwhile, here's the full podcast from last night.



0:00 - Welcome, what's coming up, greetings and comments
4:10 - The story behind the photo shoot I did for keycutter and cobbler, JD Keys in Castle Douglas, Scotland.
14:50 - Introduction to the Critique Section
16:40 - Critique of images submitted to the Facebook Group, "Understanding Photography with Kim Ayres"
1:13:25 - Using a photo that's gone wrong as inspiration
1:29:55 - Coming up next week
1:32:50 - End

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And, or course, if you would like to submit a photo for feedback, or just ask a photography related question, then do join my Understanding Photography with Kim Ayres  Facebook group and I will put it into the following podcast:


FotoPhantasia/Jacqui said...

I simply know about Meg from whst you have told us.but one can not tell that she has a condition from the image at all-

Kim Ayres said...

Jacqui - it's not easy for me to tell. When you see someone everyday, you just see them, not the aspects of them someone else might notice.
Much like accents - you will hear it the first time you meet someone, but overtime you just recognise their voice without consciously noticing the accent.
I remember being very surprised when Meg was about 10 - I was in a different room and I could hear her talking, but couldn't make out the actual words - and I became very aware of just how Scottish her accent was.
Unsurprising, given her mother, siblings and friends are all Scottish, and we live in Scotland.
But still, it was the first time I'd ever noticed :)

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