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Shutterbug

By Madalyn Howitt

Shutter bug

For my creative piece I chose to construct an illustrated magazine of my own photography called Shutterbug. I specifically modelled my piece on two Victorian-era texts we have looked at in the course, the first being the periodical format ofThe Yellow Book and the second being the pictorial spreads of Dore's London. What struck me about The Yellow Book was its emphasis on the images as the highlights of the magazine — the text is lengthy but split up by the images, with each illustration setting up the next written piece and standing out against the backdrop of the printed words. I chose to run with that idea of the images carrying the text and included many more photographs than textual elements. As well, I tried to express a sense of ambiguity and androgyny, using only photos of human subjects where their appearance is partially obscured. This fragmentation was a defining feature of so many of The Yellow Book’s illustrations and one that I feel reflects the playfulness of the artist-reader relationship.

I also responded to Dore's detailed and thoughtful depiction of cityscapes and his decision to often focus on the hidden, tucked-away areas of the city. Each photo in my collection was taken in the heart of a city, whether it was in more conventional places such as next to the Eiffel Tower in Paris or in the London Eye above the Palace of Westminster, or in less obvious urban areas like a city park in Cardiff or a side street in Bruges. I chose photos that I felt depicted multiple and sometimes conflicting aspects of modern urban life. The streets can be chaotic, but every city has pockets of tranquility. Sometimes all it takes is to step away from the crowd for a moment and look at something from a new angle to discover a new impression of city life.

While each photo is one that I've shot myself, there is not a single photograph included in my collection that has not been edited in some way, whether it was cropped, shaded, the contrast enhanced, the colour muted, the size lengthened, and so on. Instead of merely reprinting the photo exactly how I had taken it and representing the conditions of the time and place it was created, I chose to manipulate my images in order to reflect a certain tone, and to fit the format in which they were printed, much like Aubrey Beardsley for example chose specific sizes and shadings for his illustrations to stand out in The Yellow Book. I also allowed certain imperfections in the images brought on by my means of production (my printer) to remain, to illuminate just how dependent the final product is on the technology being used to disseminate it. Shutterbug is just as much the result of the quality of printing and materials as it is my photography and design.