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Photographing Conceptual Transformations

Updated on September 21, 2013
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Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0 | Source
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Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-ND 2.0) | Source

OK so this title may seem a bit strange if one is not familiar with what a transformation is or what the term conceptual means. First a little definition;

"Transformation is nothing but changing the image into different forms by:

1)scaling 2)translation 3)rotation.scaling:increasing the size of the actual image
translation:moving image from one position to another position,rotation:changing the angle of image and yaw" Wiki answers.

As you see a transformation is simply changing from one thing into another at least in simple terms and conceptual is something done from an idea or thought. So this photographic project involves changing one thing into something else through photography, or at least making it seems as such. The theme involves a degree of creativity and artistry and some props.

Take for example a large wooden clothespin which you might find at an art center or arts & crafts shop and several smaller regular size clothespins, now lets take an old fashion hand powered meat grinder. You place the large clothespin as if it were being processed by the meat grinder and from the other end you would set various smaller clothespins, thus the image suggest that a larger one can be transformed into many smaller ones. With some imagination and selective props almost anything can be represented in a conceptual transformational theme.

Another good example would be an image of a blender unto which various electronic parts and smaller computer components and some numbers are being thrown with a second image being the blender empty an a brand new calculator next to it, although one single image can work too.

This works for people too. Lets suppose that you dress a child in adult clothes, the bigger the clothes the better, and the child is seen entering an elevator or a revolving door with another image showcasing a fully dressed adult who is now wearing the same clothes that the child was. Obviously the same scene can be reversed with the first image being of an adult dressed in adult clothing and the following image being that of the child in the adult clothes.

Almost any appliance that is used to perform a function such as a microwave, a toaster, an oven and so on can be adapted. One just has to be selective with the props and try to present them in a way that will make sense or transfer a message to an audience.

Food is also a good subject for this theme. Take a food processor, grinder or any kitchen appliance which is normally used to process foods, place a large potato as if were about to be processed and at the other end a bunch of tater tots or french fries. Reverse the order of ingredients to create a different effect.

I once did a similar project in which I had a friend who was a better artist than I will ever be, draw and paint a large cardboard box much as the ones used to pack refrigerators, to make it appear as a futuristic "time" machine. I then had some wooden planks placed at both ends and painted to look like those used in assembly lines, had a large man appearing to be rolling and entering the front of the "machine" and on the other end a group of toddlers were set to appears as if they were rolling out of the "machine".

The toddlers were boys and girls and different races, black & white. The concept was to present the idea that we are all the same; male/female, black & white we are all human, we come from the same place and are "made" the same way too. We all share an inheritance or heritage from others somewhere along time and history.

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This theme is often sought after by not only photographic stock houses but by greeting card publishers and general magazines since its message and appeal is broad and can be applied to many themes.

However, the props must be as realistic as possible and the message or theme clear. One good way to see if the project will work is to do a sketch and show it to some of your friends, family and acquaintances and ask them to give an interpretation of what the scene means to them.

The more time and effort that goes into creating such a project the likelihood that the images will be good at representing the concept behind its creation.

It also goes without saying that if your intention is to have your work published, then the photographs must also be of high technically value as pleasing to the eye.

Digital editing software programs are very useful in tweaking and adding features to this theme and they should be used when it proves too difficult to combine images or arrange a scene properly for the desired effect.

There are really creative minds that can also apply this project to more radical and poignant messages and their photo scenes can often be thought off as repulsive or quite controversial, a method sometimes preferred by organizations wanting to bring "home" a point and give people something to talk about.

P.E.T.A; an animal rights organization has used this technique quite well in many of their animal abuse campaigns.

One such scene would involve a live chicken appearing to enter a chicken processing plant by being dragged by a man wearing "blood" stained clothes and holding a "bloodied" club entering through one door with a following photo of a bucket of fried chicken from KFC and others coming out the other door.

Consider for a moment the ideal that people can become something completely radical or evolve even shed their personalities, attitudes and so on which goes to the core of what many religious groups and organizations firmly believe.

One typical image could be a woman or man appearing to be coming out or shedding the skin much like a snake does. Such a project could be accomplished by laying what appears to be an image of the person laying on the ground while the actual person is seen rising from withing much like one of the photos used for demonstration. There are many costumes, rubber suits which can be made to resemble almost anyone.

© 2011 Luis E Gonzalez


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    • LuisEGonzalez profile image

      Luis E Gonzalez 6 years ago from Miami, Florida

      Cardisa: thank you, it's not that hard with the right concept and good props.

    • Cardisa profile image

      Carolee Samuda 6 years ago from Jamaica

      Cool concept. I like it but it seems hard!