Problem Set 1: Ryan McGinley


I’ve started my first week at the University of Melbourne’s Victorian College of Arts and I’m majoring in Fine Art Photography.
Every week, one of our assignments is to create or recreate a work in the style of a famous photographer.
It’s an ingenious way of learning about photographic styles because firstly you have to research the style of the featured photographer, then analyse it, break it down and distill the essence of that photographer’s style into 5 elements, and then try to emulate it technically.

This week, we got to choose between Nan Goldin and Ryan McGinley. I choose Ryan because I was less familiar with his work.

So Ryan McGinley. He’s the brat of the photography world. With no formal experience in photography, he started shooting with crappy cameras, documenting his life which seemed to comprise a neverending smorgasbord of high-as-a-kite 20-somethings cavorting in his apartment and au naturel in various outdoor settings. At 24, he sent out 50 copies of a photo book he created to various magazine editors and achieved instant fame and glory, and became the youngest artist to have a solo exhibition at the Whitney.

His earlier work had an exuberant, ethereal and naive quality to it.



Ryan McGinley -tree

Later on, his work starts looking a lot more composed. He was hired to shoot oscar nominees in 2007 and the Olympic atheletes in the 2010 Olympics.

I decided to recreate the vibe of these McGinley works. Shooting in nature, through branches, twigs etc., playing with perspective and natural filtered light.

Ryan McGinley – Jennifer_Jason_Leigh_1

Ryan McGinley – Jennifer_Jason_Leigh_2

Ryan McGinley- Jim_Sturgess_2

So I asked the dear Irishman if he would strip off and run around in the forest. He was more than happy to get his kit off, until he realised just how cold it was outside, and how many creepy crawlies we had in the forest.

This is him, perched on a tree, very grumpily letting me test the light.

This shot was ok, but not spectacular. The light wasn’t as dreamy as I had hoped for.

I could put some more interesting shots up but I think the hubby would object!
Anyway I was a bit disappointed with the first shoot as I didn’t think the photos had that dreamy quality to them.

So we went out to the bush at the bottom of our garden again today. It was about to rain and the light was very moody.
I also used much wider apertures to make the depth of field narrower.

Poor Mark, he ended up being bitten by a host of ants and spiders!

Stop biting my bits!

This gardening work is hell on the cuticles…

Shite, I think it’s about to rain….

I’m happier with these shots. Thanks to my wonderful hubby for being such a sport. The photo shoot also scared him into getting a day job so that he wouldn’t be at my beck and call every time the light shifted, and now he’s taken some sort of consultancy gig on. Oh well, there’s always Sean, who told me that his going rate would be 10 bucks an hour!

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