Unanswered Questions by Stephen Turnock

Unanswered Questions:
Do people see me, do I see myself, for my weaknesses?
Do people see me, do I see myself, for my strengths?

Fire and Ice represent these two polar opposites.
And I’m presenting you with Tepid Water.

Tepid water may not be be super strong, nor super resilient.
But it sure can extinguish the flames and melt the ice to bring a balance and love to our lives.

We can embrace and expose those beings of which we want to be.
But it’s all our flaws, and all our strengths, that make us who we are.

– Stephen Turnock
Stephen at The Photograph Collective

FIRE2ICE2Tepid Water

Stephen’s entry for the ‘Self Portrait’ changes style completely. Keep up to date with all submissions to this project here


Aaron: Really cool execution on this concept – I like the way you took one asymmetrical, “imperfect” image and sliced it down the middle to create two “perfect” opposites. There’s a lot going on here conceptually and I really think you pulled it off well! The only thing I think could be improved is the background image for Fire and Tepid Water, I think they aren’t as strong as the one you’ve used for the Ice image.

Amanda: Stephen, I found your self-portrait to be extremely interesting and unexpected! From a visual standpoint it’s extremely bizarre & thought provoking, but I consider that to be a sign of successful images. It was interesting to see you recreate your body through a series of shots, yet still be able to capture the power and intensity of the individual photographs- your eyes & gaze in particular are extremely powerful which suits your “fire” photo well. One thing that I particularly liked was how you the original photos were taken in different settings – the lighting contrasts on different parts of your body helped add complexity to the image. It would have been less successful had you just taken pictures of yourself in different poses at the same location. In terms of (constructive!) criticism, I think the Tepid Water photograph was the weakest- I didn’t understand how it was meant to be different than the Fire & Ice photographs. The Fire photo captures your eyes & a sense of power, while the Ice photo excludes your face and feels like the image is almost “caving in” – however the tepid water photograph didn’t communicate a strength to it in the same way.

Jacquelyn:  I love how you chose to represent yourself as the way you see yourself: not fire, not ice, but a mix of both. Your collage of different photos truly reminded me of an abstract expressionist’s piece. Like Picasso, you managed to piece together various block shapes to reveal a concept larger than a single photo could illustrate. Unlike many of the other self-portraits from our group, you combined both black & white and color photography; I thought that this was really clever and helped your portraits to come together with their red, earthy, and blue backgrounds.

Khatiti: I love these pieces, and the honesty that you presented them to us with. The explanation in your artist’s statement brings a lot of clarity to the image, though a lot of meaning can be derived from them without the explanation. This was visually very interesting and surprising and each time I look back at it I feel like I discover and understand even more of the meaning behind it.

Mary: Collage feels like a natural answer to a project like this which can easily come off as an “About Me” type of piece like we’ve all done for some class in school when you’re getting to know everyone. I think that the technique you chose was a really excellent way to use collage but in a more sophisticated manner. I think the idea of how are you are seen is composed by the many parts of you, or many perceptions of you, is very understandable from your images. I wonder if you need all three images. The lighting and feeling of the first two images is different enough that when combined in the third, it’s understood that they are opposing or conflicting perceptions of you or parts of who you are. As a series, it feels a little unbalanced. The third image feels more important–as if it is the conclusion to the first two, and I don’t want to spend as much time with them as I do the third. It might be nice to be able to focus on that third image and dissect it a little more, if you made us work for the meaning a little more.

Have your own point of view? Comment below and share.

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