STUDIO PRACTICE 2A Worksheet 3 Conceptualising Words: ‘Faith’: the Quiet before the Storm’


Worksheet 3

Conceptualising Words: ‘Faith & the Quiet before the Storm’

Relates to Outcomes: 1, 2, 3 and 4

See 3e for contact sheets and featured work on Ingmar Bergman

ingmar bergman 2 ingmar bergman 3 ingmar bergman 5 ingmar bergman 6 ingmar bergman 8


Following on from a lecture based on the idea of conceptualising words, we were asked to individually interpret the above words in a visual/photographic context.

In order to achieve this and create a series of images, I broke the words down into separate categories so that I could build up the subject matters in a visual context when carrying out the required research. I then played around with some ideas allowing my creativity to flow so that I could discover which idea would work the best aesthetically, visually and practically speaking.


When I think of the word, all manner of images spring to mind. Faith is a general term that can mean many things to many people. Theologically speaking, faith to me personally is easily understood. It is literally my faith and belief in God. However, faith from a general perspective can be a personal thing which would fall into a different context entirely; it could for example,  be your faith and belief in your friends or loved ones. My conceptual thinking processes had to decide which of the two (and there are of course many more varieties) to use in my interpretation of the text.

‘’Quiet before the Storm’’:

The phrase conjures up images of a place of refuge where a storm is raging all around but there is a focal point in this image which embodies peace and calm, as if unaffected by the chaos around the subject.

Method and Presentation:

Given that there are restrictions to the creative process (budget, time, availability of props, location etc), I have envisaged that I could interpret this in several ways.

The Close Profile Concept:

The close profile concept is a simple and uncomplicated concept. Using depth of field, I would create a photograph with low key lighting with an overhead and side effect as the face would be in profile. Make up and messy hair could portray the chaos the person felt, a side profile would reveal lips making a silent ‘sshh’ in order to convey quiet and calmness and a symbol of a cross could simply hang from the person’s hand.

Ingmar Bergman Trilogy of Faith:

Taking inspiration from a film still of an Ingmar Bergman Movie ‘’A Trilogy of Faith’’ there are two ideas that could be conceptualised. A woman looks to the camera with praying hands while a man’s head looking fraught with worries and is resting on her shoulder.

The interpretation here would be that the woman is in control of the situation, she is the one who has the faith and the belief in their relationship and because of her faith (in God) as she knows that their relationship will survive. The man’s head resting on her shoulder indicates that the man is conflicted and subsequently this image instantly has a duality to it. The man, I envisage, wants to believe in her, their relationship, in God and have faith but he is unable to come to terms with his own doubts. He also struggles with his faith and the belief that everything will be alright for them. An argument therefore looks like it is about to ensue risking everything and revealing the quiet before the storm.

The second inspiration is again reconceptualised and inspired by Bergman’s style and his affinity with his subjects. If I can convey that in my photography I know I will have achieved my aims. The subject matter for this conceptual idea is leaving. The man, dressed in uniform is facing away from the camera. His shoulder and head are the only things revealed about him. He is clearly going away to war. The girl looks at the camera (subsequently placed over his shoulder in close detail) and her faith and belief that he will return is clearly etched in her face.

A ripple of water, a leaf and a pool of light:

Whereas the other ideas are more literal in conceptual thinking terms, this idea will be ultimately more difficult to interpret from the narrative/words used but I believe will be equally effective in an abstract less obvious way. The imagery relies on symbolism of the trilogy (God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit) to convey meaning. The light is equal to God’s presence, the ripple of water is a representation of the presence of the Holy Spirit and the leaf is Christ’s promise that he will return again. The theological thinking behind this concept is based on scriptures (and I will therefore be additionally looking to colour the water with drops of oil to indicate a rainbow, which is God’s promise not to flood the earth again). Genesis 9:11


What were my aims and have I achieved them?

My aims were to create a series of portrait images examining the influences of Ingmar Bergman and reconceptualising his cinematic approach through the visual image. I achieved my aims in terms of conceptualisation where lighting plays an important part in conveying emotion. I have since revisited this exercise and have established that I enjoy working with portrait subjects to create a mood or feeling using film noir as influence as they create an interesting aesthetic. Therefore, my overall aim in portraiture is to create a feeling/or a narrative rather than just taking a portrait.

What have I got from it?

Shooting on location at college I was able to find a suitable location to take the first set of photo(s). Following the influences of Ingmar Bergman, I decided to base my conceptual photography around the idea of a trilogy of faith in order to create a portrait of two people who are faith conflicted in terms of keeping their relationship alive. Placing them in front of a window and shooting at a 45 degree angle allowed for a low depth of field and with an ISO of 100 and an aperture of f/2-2.8 placing the camera on a tripod to enable stability. To illuminate the faces a little from the side I used a manfrotto LED light which cast a glow of light to the face of the subjects (especially the eyes). Additionally; using a light meter reader, enabled an accurate exposure, which left the original test image a little overexposed, therefore I subsequently reduced the depth of field and increased the shutter speed from the recommended 4 to 30-40’s.

What is next?

The results were very satisfactory however I will endeavour to capture these images at another location as the lighting could have been better and the window wasn’t framed completely to my satisfaction. Due to time restrictions on the delivery of this project/conceptual idea I may not be in a position to carry out all of the ideas. However, I will come back to these as I believe that they will work positively for me in the future, where I believe this conceptualisation and thinking on my feet will enable me to become a better photographer. As the photography has been inspired by such a classic film maker, I will look at ways in how I could better produce this feeling of ‘being in a movie’, so I will be looking at developing my technical ability to enable this.

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