Once again I am grateful to tutor Joe Fox for drawing my attention to a fabulous student image. ‘Soft’ by Donghai Yan comes from his first assignment in the Art of Photography course, and I asked him how he came to take the shot.
“On the day of photo shoot, I bought a new pack of sweets from the supermarket and decided to use it as a subject to take a series of photos, and then my niece became my model. Actually my niece was not really co-operating with me, especially after eating a lemon and a lolly pop. At the beginning, I tried to use only one “sweet mice” but it didn’t give much of the feeling of softness. And then, I pressed down the mice but it went back to its normal size very quickly, so it gave me only a very short time to take the photo. So, I took a second mouse on the top of the first one.
Another problem was that my niece was not strong enough to squash the mice, so I helped by squeezing them before taking each of the photos while her mum was holding her and her hands, and I put her hand down with my left hand on the two mice. I then pressed the shutter release very quickly while removing my left hand. My Canon camera was on a tripod and used the Canon 100mm 2,8 IS Macro lens. I set the focus manually, as the auto focus is too slow. Later on, I thought it would have been easier if I used my cable shutter release.
Using a baby and a soft sweet fits the ‘soft’ topic but to make it clearer I decided to take a close up photo of her hand only and using a soft sweet. The pink colour of the sweet is also fits in the topic. To me, the word ‘soft’ is somehow relates to the word ‘caress’. I decided to to take the picture on the the dining table to show some reflection from the glass instead of an empty background. This emphasises the contrast between the soft subject and hard table”
I think what Donghai is describing here is how he thought around the challenge – babies are soft, and the sweets are soft – but that is knowledge you bring to the photo, the challenge is to convey softness and I think Donghai’s careful problem solving approach led him there.