Recently I sought to construct a photograph, meaning that I controlled every aspect of the scene. Diorama – A Constructed Photograph was the goal. Alabamian’s say you MAKE pictures, ie, “I’m going to have my pictures made”. I laughed when I first heard that; to me you TAKE pictures. Honestly, call it whatever you like, I won’t judge but this project brought some understanding to what it means to make a picture.
This assignment required us to construct the photograph and we were told to create a diorama to be able to truly control every aspect and be able to best manipulate light and share our concept through our final images. Now this is all starting to sound a little more artsy fartsy than I am meaning. I’ll admit I’ve really enjoyed pushing myself and how I approach my photography.
I got in my head this idea that I wanted to do something about social media. We each perfect and construct our online world. People share what they want us to see . Most rarely share our exact story online or even in person. Comparing our whole selves to someone’s edited version, can really take a toll on us and our self-esteem. I’m not blaming anyone and I don’t think that people should stop sharing pretty things or perfect images. Those are super inspiring and can bring a lot of joy. I just think it is really important that we keep in mind, behind every perfect photo is a real life, a real person who is probably a lot more like you than you think when you compare yourself to them.
My approach to this was to showcase a “hero shot”. That’s an image you’d like scrolling through instagram or pin on Pinterest, to make or not but something that catches your eye and looks really pretty. That’s the cheesecake above. You pull back and begin to see how there is so much more to the story. It’s not always perfect. I strive to share some of these myself so I decided to set the scene as my own kitchen.
I learned a lot about Barbies and doll house scale and created a true 1:6 scale replica of my very own kitchen. Not perfect but really close to the real thing. I took picture of the walls and wall papered (mod podged) them to the cardboard walls I constructed. Pictures of the textures and material, like our backsplash, counter tops, floors, etc. were also attached to the surfaces and I used the exact paint color we have on our kitchen cabinets. A Chelsea Barbie doll was the perfect size for the scale and made her some clothes with a nicer shirt somewhat like a piece I own and then sweatpants with paint stains and messy hair – as you might normally find me in my own home.
My teacher wanted me to continue this project into our next assignment and suggested that I change the doll to a more real looking person because that felt like it didn’t fit. However, after playing with that idea, I came to realize that I intentionally picked the doll because it is a reference to the “fake” inside the realness of my own home and I just couldn’t do it.
I spent SO. MANY. HOURS. on this thing. I can’t even calculate the hours. This was something that got stuck in my head and wouldn’t let me move on until it came out. Does that ever happen to you? I took this a lot further than I needed to for the project and questioned my reasoning for taking this on. But I persevered and I truly enjoyed most of this process. It got me out from behind the computer and even the camera for a while. I used my hands and real material to create this and it wasn’t a wood project like I normally do. It pushed me outside of my comfort zone and really allowed me some much needed creativity time.
My kids want to play with the diorama and part of me wants to burn it to the ground. For now though, I’ll just enjoy the images I submitted for the project and have hanging in my study. I hope you enjoy seeing them and please, please remember, life online is not all it seems. Don’t compare yourself to the version of someone you see online. I promise you, no one’s life is perfect. Every person (yes, even celebrities) you see with “perfect” bodies or jobs or houses, have struggles of their own. Their struggles may look different than yours but we’re all human and it’s not fair to yourself to compare in that way.
You are enough, just the way you are.