Research and personal images – (part 7)

RESEARCH – Assignment 2 & 3, Unit 2, Task 1&2,

(1.1, 1.2, 2.1, 2.2, 2.3, 2.4)

This week has been challenging personally, for lots of reasons I can’t really go into at the moment, but it will all be okay in the end.  (I hope.)  I just have to go one step at a time. This is a new skill I’m having to learn, having always been a person who likes to fix things. Well, I suppose we all do, but if you have a long term illness and you can’t overcome it, you just have to learn to accept it. One step at a time.

Continuing on my theme of Visible Invisible, I’ve done some more research into my project


I have often joked that if you cut me in two, there would be flowers on the inside, so I was thrilled to discover the work of Brazilian, Marcelo Monreal.  Monreal’s work came about as a result of working in the garden, alongside his Mother, just before her death, when she told him, “We are made of flowers.” Monreal digitally manipulates the faces of famous people and fills the ‘cracks’ with stunning floral compilations that show the characters as full of life. Just as a flower opens and blooms, he opens his subjects up with these collages, revealing inner beauty behind their chosen appearance.  Like all the artists I’m choosing to show you today, he seeks to find what we hide. I love these vibrant explosions of flowers! I think his work will continue to influence my work, and I hope that I can attempt to capture some of this beautiful work in my own processes going forward.

” …people don’t often tell us who they really are. Instead, they keep parts of their real selves hidden. ” marcelo monreal


FRIDA KAHLO (1.1, 1.2)

The more I looked into this project, the more I have made a connection with Frida Kahlo. I’ve written before about her illness, and her life and there are so many wonderful images of Frida, with her customary floral head-dress and bold colours, but there is another side to Frida. Perhaps a side she didn’t always want the world to see, but she showed it anyway. “My painting carries with it the messages of pain.”  frida kahlo.  She showed that pain in her paintings, and I feel it whenever I see her art.. that connection to a deep pain and sadness, and a desire to fight through it and carry on with life.

I loved this image of Frida taken by Diego Riviera. Is she lost in thought, sadness or pain? The background is blurred by shallow depth of field, keeping all the focus on the sitter. The flowers in her hair seem a little wilted, unlike the usual bold headresses we are used to seeing on Frida. Her hand covers her face, is she hiding something? We touch our faces as a comfort, but I feel as though she has something she wishes to say but can’t.  I think the image in black and white works, because something of the sadness would be lost by using colour film.

flower-crown (image found on Google)
Frida Flower crown


RENE MAGRITTE (1.1, 1.2)

I like this image by Rene Magritte, because once again, you see what is there but not there. The hidden face, and the public face we show.

I believe that there is a desire in photographers to see what isn’t there.. that story …that private face, that hidden depth.  We photographers take notice. We’re aware of sensitivities and flaws, maybe even secrets, in a different way to others. We see and feel what others maybe don’t see, and we want to capture that. A bit of me wonders if that’s because we’re hiding some hidden feeling, and it feels safe from our side of the camera? …Do we want to be ‘unmasked’?

“At least it hides the face partly well, so you have the apparent face, the apple, hiding the visible but hidden, the face of the person. It’s something that happens constantly. Everything we see hides another thing, we always want to see what is hidden by what we see. There is an interest in that which is hidden and which the visible does not show us. This interest can take the form of a quite intense feeling, a sort of conflict, one might say, between the visible that is hidden and the visible that is present.[2]”

Rene Magritte




IMAGES (2.1, 2.2, 2.3, 2.4)

After an upsetting few days, and trying my hardest to deal with, and to accept what is happening around me. I  found the image above, of Frida and this excellent quote.

“I used to think I was the strangest person in the world, but then I thought there are so many people in the world. there must be someone just like me who feels bizarre and flawed in the same ways I do. I would imagine her, and imagine that she must be out there thinking of me, too.  Well, I hope that if you are out there and read this and know that, yes, it’s true I’m here, and I’m just as strange as you.”  Frida Kahlo 

It gave me a little bit of hope in a sad, dark moment, and made me smile a little.  So I decided to recreate the Frida Kahlo image myself. I took the image with a natural light source in front of me, and the room behind me in darkness. I used a shallow depth of field to blur the background, and a fairly slow shutter speed of 1/25s to get the correct exposure. I set the ISO to 800 to allow for the photo being taken indoors, (in the conservatory.. I can tell you a flower crown is quite a hot thing to wear on a hot day!) I used a remote control switch to take the image. I didn’t really think the image needed much in the way of editing, so I converted it to sepia tone, and added a small vignette, although perhaps with hindsight I could remove the stray hairs from my fringe on my forehead… (maybe I’ll come back to that…)


If you’re watching over us, Frida. I’m glad you are as strange as me 🙂

Below is my own interpretation of the Rene Magritte image. My sanctuary is my garden, and I often hide there to find peace, and distraction from pain, and sometimes the blackness of depression. Even on days when I can’t cope with gardening, (really I mostly just tidy up anyway..  lots of watering, primping and deadheading, and occasionally directing Tripod Carrier where to plant and move things!) it helps me to be in the garden. I find solace, tranquility and healing in the world outside my window. There is a sense of wellbeing and continuity in the constant growth and change in the garden…It grounds me.  I love plants, if I’m feeling shy, or lost it gives me a way to connect to people, I hide behind my knowledge of plants and flowers, finding pleasure in their Latin names, and some strange safety in the knowledge of their language. Sometimes, I’m even genuinely hidden by all the foliage and flowers!! There is a parallel here, in that I find a way to hide behind my camera, viewing the world vicariously, and sometimes not living in the moment. but taking the photo’s because I want to hold onto that moment and go back to it when I want to. ‘Captured images’ moments in time.

I have done nothing in post-editing to this image. This was meant to be just a bit of fun… an exploratory image.



With inspiration from Marcelo Monreal, and a great deal of help from my lovely Tripod Carrier, I present to you my own internal floral explosions (well, it’s quite a modest one really, but you get the idea…. 😉  )


insert image here…

Flower girl DSC00174 (2)
Flower girl f3.5 1/160s 9.73mm ISO100


Finally, to create the images below, I took a shot of myself with the crystal ball, and then one without. I wanted to convey a sense that my life has been turned upside down by having a long term condition, but the use of a crystal ball also implies a vision into the future, one that is clear and bright.

To make the image where I have seemingly disappeared, I overlaid the middle of the ball from the one with me in it onto the centre image to create a composite image.


So that’s it folks… probably the last few images for the end of my assignment on Dreams and Realities. I never expected this project to be quite so personal, but I’m glad it has been. It’s been cathartic, challenging, and rewarding, and alongside the course I’m taking on living with a long term condition it is helping me finally come to terms with it, and to find a new path.  As I said, last week, there could even be further exploration into a potential exhibition, alongside fellow students at RHACC on the subject next year.

There will be a few more blog posts from Negative Thoughts in the final few weeks of term, mainly going over what we’re learning with Photoshop but also to tie up loose ends.

At this point, my plans aren’t to continue on to level3 in September – (real life is somewhat getting in the way at the moment …but perhaps I’ll look at continuing next year.) I will continue to take photo’s, and develop my skills,  I do intend though to keep my blog up and running, so you’ll still be hearing from me, if you’re happy to come along for the ride 🙂 Since I was diagnosed almost a decade ago, I’ve had a long term goal. To get back into employment in some way. Now that goal is that some time, hopefully in the not too distant future, I’ll be to be able to sell some of my craft and photography work, locally and via an Etsy shop.

Next week, I’ll present my final images to you, to Ria and my fellow classmates, and then it’s all over really….. or is it? Another new beginning awaits…….



p.s. And one last image, it’s partly tongue-in-cheek, but again, it does give some sense of how it feels to live with a long term condition..

Me and my Shadow… f7.1 1/250s 17mm ISO100

You may feel like a shadow of the person that you once were… but there’s still a way forward and a bright, fulfilling future.



Wikipedia: Rene Magritte, Son of Man.

Frida Kahlo image found on Google

http: http://www.look4ward.co.uk/art/marcelo-monreal-s-surreal-collages






  1. You are an inspiration.
    You are loved.
    Life is dealing you some crap cards but you still keep going.
    Love your work and insight to the art of photography.
    Much love to my inspiration ❤

    Liked by 1 person

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