Techniques and Processes – Proposal Update – Research and Consultation with Client


Relates to Outcomes: 1 and 2

Conceptual Introduction/Update:

Following on from the proposal I have found a model and client to identify and reconceptualise Mary Magdalene in both a personal and individual manner, conceptualising and interpreting that Mary is both underrepresented and misunderstood in society today and in the Bible as a negative religious and patriarchal construct.

Our challenge is to reconceptualise her relevance by explaining her narrative as a ‘rite of passage’, (conceptualised in a series of six images). Thus allowing women to understand that ‘there is something of Mary in every women’ and that this is not a negative comparison, as we are all in need of ‘’pure transforming love.’’ – see conversation transcript for more information.

Considering the religious significance and feminist theoretical approach to this brief, I will strive to solely meet the needs of my client from a personal feminist perspective and will endeavour to focus on the technical aspects; therefore supporting, directing and establishing conceptual meaning for my client so that I may embody how she wishes to be creatively represented through the consultation process. (See research folder 1 for further details).


Through examining Scripture and direct references to Mary Magdalene, both my client and I have been able to identify that while Mary Magdalen(e) has an extended presence in Jesus’ life (i.e. she is present during his ministry (Luke 8:1-3), that she anointed him with oils (Mark 16:1) and she was in attendance at his crucifixion and subsequent resurrection (Matthew 28:1, Mark 16:9 and John 20:18), she is represented in a positive light and in part a sensual one. – ”The teacher loved her more than all the disciples and often kissed her on the mouth.” (Bourgeault: 2010, 37) – see research folder for more details.

Mary Magdalene was ‘’the most important woman disciple in the movement of Jesus’’ (belief net and date accessed 10.10.2014). Tradition has her labelled as a prostitute but there is nothing in the Bible to support this view and much to dispute it.

The Bible gives us clues about her importance, after Jesus’ resurrection, he appeared to her first and not to Peter, according to the Gospel of John. (and again cited in the ‘Meaning of Mary Magdalene: Discovering the Woman at the Heart of Christianity’, Bourgeault, 2010). I have therefore looked to scriptures also and to the original painting of De La Tour for reference and inspiration and additionally referred to the paintings of Marc Chagall who began illustrating the Bible in 1931, where it subsequently became his lifelong passion. He depicts the narrative of the Song of Solmon and in the painting has a black woman (Magdalen) floating in abstract form clearly showing eroticism and perhaps the representation of God’s love in the form of a dove. ”Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth for thy love is better than wine’‘ and ”I am black, but comely, look not upon me, because I am black, because the sun hath looked upon me:…my own vineyard have I not kept..” (The Song of Solomon).

Davison (2005, 129) adds ‘’Some scholars think that the fact that women are given prominence in the Gospels may be because their place within the Jesus movement had indeed become controversial by the time the Gospels were written – both in society at large, where it raised issues of credibility in the minds of men, and within the Christian community itself, where some men, especially from Jewish backgrounds, had come to resent the degree of freedom exercised by some women.’’

Bourgeault writes ”The treasure trove of writings emerging out of Nag Hammadi and other recent finds yields us up three very important new source materials for the study of Magdalene: The Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of Philip and the Gospel of Mary herself,” which makes clear that gender identification for Jesus is of little or no concern to him. (see research folder for more information).

The overall point being that that in limiting the rights and opportunities of women, influences would fall into subsequent generations, the effects of which is still prevalent today.

The next research on this proposal will be based around taking test shots for the client brief and looking at photographers who work in a similar genre.

Technical Method and Presentation:

In order to understand the conceptual side of photography and the technical aspects of photography as an almost combined entity, one has to lead the other. As concept comes before the technical, I have led with concept. However, the technical aspect of photographing in a low light situation is well documented and the test shots I have carried out are a testament to that. I therefore envisage that this proposal’s series of photographs will be taken in the studio, depicting a street scene, using Brassai as influence and de la Tour as historic reference. and thus following the tradition of using an ISO of 100, an aperture of f/2-2.8-f/5.6 with an exposure of 1/100th of a second to 1/125th depending on the light sources being reflected and the softness/distance of the light from the subject. A low lighting technique will be used to create ‘mood’ lighting. Clothing and lighting apart from hair and make-up will be the only props used. Additionally, I will be refering to the work of Mandle who conceptualises and using techniques to establish the existence of ‘faith’ in confined spaces, relating them to the confessional (Billie Mandle: Our Lady of Perpetual Help, 2008 from the series ‘Reconciliation’ Aperture Magazine, 50 – see the research folder for more information).

Subsequently, photography historian Robin Kelsey (2008: 51) discusses Mandle’s approach in that ‘space’ shows us as being inseparable from one another in a mindset that we cannot see and that the compartment of the pentitent is bound to the unseen of the priest, bearing in mind that the Magdalen was in so called pentitence for her sins. H

Kelsey further states that there exists therein a discourse between the spaces and that the spaces are restricted by tradition. Individuals enter each space bodily but interact as disembodied voices passing through a screen. How this relates to the Magdalen is that we see the space of the sinner who seeks forgiveness, yet the space that has authority (from which absolution can occur, is that which remains hidden). This in turn, has a commonality with the way in which photography is structured (divisionally, through exchange, materiality, trace, community and ritual where revelation and absence is constructed in the form of an image and it is that which is a reflection of those concerns aforementioned.

If one (see featured image) can identify space as theological or conceptual thinking in photography (and if one posseses the technical know how to capture it) and if the Magdalen is present through her absence or God in present through his absence (thinking conceptually of the trinity as the holy spirit) then the light itself could be depicted as a representation of the holy spirit within the composition. Then, conceptually, I agree with Kelsey that something fundamental regarding his outlining of key ideas can animate research today if the presence of God can be seen as being present within an image. (see research folder for more ideas on documenting this type of research). Thus proving transcendent action. And if the technical knowledge is acquired then it is possible to animate your ideas and give spiritual (in this case the Magdalen) presence and therefore meaning.


What were my aims and have I achieved them?

My aims for this part of the project was to visually conceptualise where I was going with my project. I achieved my aims because I decided to shoot my no daylight project predominantly within a studio environment.

What have I done?

I have identified a model for my proposal who is to be considered as a client brief. She wishes to portray the Magdalen describing her own narrative. My conceptualisation as photographer is to direct her approach so that it resonates with mine to enable a series of portrait photographs that has yet to be fully realised.

What have I got from it?

Theological thinking and conceptual ideology has combined to establish a connection to my model client. This exercise and meeting the needs of us both has enabled me to grow as a photographer and to better understand what is required working in a professional capacity translating and trandescending needs of the person hiring me to do a professional portrait shoot.

What is next?

To work more in this genre of photography so that I can translate a clients needs quickly and effectively.


As previously stated.

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