In Progress Critique: Reflection

Before I begin, I just wanted to state that I forgot to save the original copy to my device which is why I am posting my final test print before I printed my 20×16 final shot.

Additionally, I think I interpreted this project slightly differently than most. My frame of reference dealt more with the meaning behind the Painter’s Studio, than actually replicating the image itself.

When I did research on the painting, I found that what the piece was trying to accomplish was to represent the most realistic society – the best, the worst and the mediocre. I wanted to develop this idea in my own work with the character that I chose which was the cat.

Originally, I simply chose the cat because I wanted to take photos of my cat as that is some of the primary content I deal with in my work. However, I wanted to challenge myself to make my piece more than just that. What I tried to represent in this final piece was the reality of companionship between owner and cat. I included a mirror as a symbol of reflection as this was the main idea I was trying to accomplish. I (the owner) am reaching towards the mirror which I photoshopped a photo of my cat into as she clearly is not in the same room as me, but she is somehow in the reflection of the mirror – how? Why?

Well, this was my way of demonstrating the concept that in a world where millennials are increasingly deciding to replace pets instead of having a typical nuclear family, it creates a problem when you look at the lifespan of an average cat. This is because our precious companions are only around for a fraction of our lifetime, yet they leave a forever-lasting impact on our lives and our hearts. What I am attempting to say with this piece is that even though our pets are only with us for so long, they remain with us forever in our minds.

Additionally, something that relates to this and I wanted to include as both an “easter egg” but is also significant in my work is my tattoo. This tattoo is of a tiger. Coincidentally enough, this was the first tattoo I got which was to represent my first family cat that passed on. I specifically wanted to incorporate this into my piece to reinforce this idea of lasting impact. Further, when I originally decided against the idea of just taking a portrait of my cat for this project, my first idea was to take a picture of my tattoo as the tiger stood as a representation of my domesticated cat. From there, I started thinking about the literal term of “reflection” which gave me the mirror idea, and then immediately I thought about some photos I have seen in the past along the same nature as this:

In an attempt to securely portray the good, bad and average aspect of society, or in my case, a pet, I dug into my experiences with my cats and what could be considered the good, bad and average aspects. The good, having a strong bond with this animal that from the pet’s perspective, is irreplaceable. The bad being that they are not around for the entirety of our lives which results in us having to live without them, and lastly the average which is that we will always have the memory of them for the rest of our lives, despite them no longer being around.

Some additional elements that I added to try and showcase the reality of cats pertain to the placement of the cat in my photo. I photoshopped her in onto a ledge that sits above/around my head. I did this intentionally because I was trying to demonstrate the cat hierarchy which states that cats like to sit higher above the ground to show their dominance. Cats believe that us humans are just like them, and therefore they like to remind us that they are the king of the house. This is why I am sitting on the floor whereas the cat is sitting perched on a ledge above me. Additionally, this reflection of me looking into the mirror and the cat being there functions to reflect this idea that cats of us being the same.

Some experimental aspects: When I was in the studio, I was messing around with the lighting and tried different angles of where to put the light stand. For this piece, I had two “walls on wheels” for lack of a better term, which would have been seen in the background of the image inside the mirror. I placed the light between the crack of the two wall panels which allowed the light to shine through similar to the sun in the sky. After some photoshop to fix the paneling of the walls to make them unison, I kept the light shining through as I thought it aided in my idea of pets passing on, especially with the cat directing its gaze towards it.

I am not sure if I had the right idea for what I was expected to achieve with this individual project, however upon reflection of this project, I am satisfied with the thought behind it. Everything portrayed in the photo had some overarching purpose or reason behind why I included it, whether it is me wearing all-white clothing to still signify that my character was the white cat, or the black curtain behind everything which made the mirror and background fade into darkness.

For purposes of the group project, I did have some ideas of what we could do as a result:

  1. Include my final individual photo in the group shot
  2. I can dress up in all white clothing and have my tattoo of the tiger showing
  3. photoshop and photo of my cat into the piece as I also took a photo of her as a backup plan
  4. I have a pillow my friend made for me which has a photo of my cat (that I got my tattoo for)
  5. I also have a white sweater my friend made for me with one of my other cats printed onto it