photographic index

ba digital photography london south bank university

Jasmine Blatt


Title: …
Artist: Jasmine Blatt
Type: Inkjet photographic print
Date: 2007
Description: …, London. Completed May 2007. Made in response to Anita Corbin’s photographic series ‘Visible Girls’, Girls Subcultures box held at the London South Bank University, London. A series of … images.
Subject: …, subcultures
Measurements: …x…
Location: London South Bank University Digital Photography Dept
ID Number: PI-RGSB-JB0001-JB00..
Licensing: Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 2.0 UK: England & Wales, Jasmine Blatt c/o London South Bank University, Digital Photography Course, UK

This project is based on Anita Corbin’s exhibition entitled “Visible Girls”. In this collection of photographs she represented teenage girls belonging to different subcultures, whether it be mod, punk, Rastafarian, etc…All the photos are shot as double portraits and reveal their environment, clothes and attitudes.

The theme of youth and subcultures being so broad and popular in today’s photography, I began by researching works of photographers and artists who have developed projects on this subject. These included Mario Testino portraits of young aspiring musicians, Weegee’s early photos of the violent New York nightlife, La Chapelle’s project on Brazilian dancers, Donna Rerrato’s work on sexual practices in “Love and Lust” and Corinne Day.

Her series of pictures influenced the initial direction of my project. It depicted her life and that of her friends as young destitute models. This striked me as a particularly obscure subculture that people wouldn’t necessarily associate with the term ‘subculture’. The life of these young people was definitely subordinate, living in rat infested hostels by night and starring in extravagant fashion shows by day. Most people do not see what happens behind the glamour, making it a subculture that the general public knows nothing about.

From this, I wanted to create my own subculture. Representing the life of a group of young people sharing a common interest. Generally, when thinking of subcultures the main communal focal point is usually a particular type of music or fashion. In this case I wanted it to be words, and in particular word association. Members of this community would be obsessed with the meaning of words and would each associate their character and personality with one a particular one and more so a particular image of that word. Unfortunately this trail of thought strayed away from the original subject and was therefore unusable. After executing the photos, I realised that the final product had excessively strayed away from the original theme. So after a revaluation of the work I decided to start all over again and go in a completely different direction. This resulted in the final product.

The new theme would be ‘shoes’. Many different styles and therefore subcultures can be represented in the image that a particular pair of shoes embodies. Whether it is a pair of well-worn Converse or ornate sandals, each style of shoe can easily make a statement about whatever lifestyle one person claims to represent. From then on I decided to take photos of these different genres of footwear in the studio, capturing as one would capture a portrait. I’ve tried to photograph them as if they were people, not just objects. Each frame is calculated in a certain manner, to convey a certain personality. Each pair of shoes is like a portrait of their owner, whether it be by different angles, flattering lighting or simple positioning. Another theme that I wanted to re-use from Anita Corbin’s work was that of double portraits. Whilst photographing I took many shots of single shoes, but going through the photos I decided I wanted to keep them as pairs as this would mirror the double portraits in Corbin’s own photographs.

In conjunction with his idea I then had to select a collection of shoes. These were all picked from my personal wardrobe. Having been through many different teenage identities I had quite an extensive collection of styles. I felt this would be an asset to the thought behind these themes. Having experienced most of them first hand, and partaking in the lifestyle, I felt that I could translate them in an honest way, not just from a subjective point of view. For a teenage girl clothes and accessorise are a crucial way of expressing yourself, and affirming your individuality. I chose shoes in particular because they are a symbol of femininity and easily embody an entire style into a single object. So we have seven different types of shoes and therefore subcultures.

These pictures have all been shot in a single studio session. If the shoes were people, these pictures would probably be glamour portraits. They were taken with flattering light, positioned in a certain way, and have then been aesthetically retouched before printing.

On one hand we have a pair of Converse. This represents the very trendy punk/romantic style that is ever so popular nowadays. It’s very much about image more than anything else and the clothes are almost more important than the lifestyle. Modern interpretation of rock and roll and excessive lifestyle, abundant in love, sex and overindulgence as most of the involved would have us believe.

Then there is a portrait of Indian style sandals. This would represent “hippy” culture. That laid-back vision of humanity, where all that matters is what one finds beautiful, and the only important perception of the world is that of truth and naturalism.

Another portrait is that of skater trainers. The culture here is very clear, skating shoes to go with that particular activity, and lifestyle that is involved with the activity in hand.
We also have a pair of jelly shoes. These are very reminiscent of past styles that have come and gone. This particular brand of shoes was the ‘must have’ item for the ever so fashionable eighties youth. It’s interesting to observe how old statements such as these shoes wind their way back into contemporary culture and are interpreted in a whole new way. Wearing these shoes nowadays is considered a powerful statement of eccentricity and individualism, as back in their day sporting this footwear you would just be part of the crowd and fade into the background.

In addition are a pair of very nineties, over-the-top, flowery heels. These embody the bubbly, colourful post-rave subculture turned mainstream. Everything is very bright colours, plastic and fluorescent.
There also is a pair of pink vintage heels, which relates to a particular style of dress and general appearance that has been around for many years, but truly exploded at the turn of the twenty first century. The key aspect here, is just to adhere to your individual taste, wearing only what you like without worrying about the brand or if it’s still in fashion.

Finally lies a photo of red patent leather shoes. This could easily be associated with ‘sloany’, rich little madams that in some sense could be considered as a subculture. They are different to the majority of their age group and are resented by others for their privileges. This is not really what I was trying to convey. These shoes aren’t directly reminiscent of a particular subculture. You cannot automatically associate this image with a particular group, like in the case of skate shoes for example. This picture is rather more accurately the accumulation of all these different identities that one adopts throughout their teenage years. After feeling obliged to conform aesthetically to the social group you think you ‘belong’ to, you gradually find your own identity and can dress as you desire, without fearing people’s gaze.


*Testino, Mario “Alive”, Little, Brown and Company, 2001

*Bright, Susan “Faces of Fashion”, National Portrait Gallery Publications, 2007

*Ferrato, Donna “Love and Lust”, Aperture, 2004

*Photo Magazine (various issues from 2001 to 2006)

*Segal, Magda “London at Home” (forward by Alan Bennett), Cornerhouse Publications, 1993

*Arbus, Diane “Magazine Work”, Bloomsbury, 1992

53 Responses

  1. Jasdeep Bhabra says:

    I really like the idea behind these sets of images. Using shoes instead of people, i believe, adds more impact to the theme of sub-cultures as it shows we define who we are by what we choose to wear, and by choosing to wear certain things, we project an impression upon other people simple on appearance. Portraits are not even needed as a visual image of what the person may look like immediately enters my head just by looking at images of their shoes. Amazing!

  2. Michael Due says:

    It is very interesting to think about how we express ourselves through clothes and shoes and how we use these items to express our personality and lifestyle.Doing the project without using actual people is a very interesting way to go, it forces you think about the type of person wearing the shoes and their background. I really like the way that you have photographed the shoes, I think the lighting and the composition is really good. You have succeeded really well in portraying clearly the different subcultures through your images.

  3. Emily Sieler says:

    The photos you have taken here are really different from the others in this group. They show an unusual way of portraying youth and sub-cultures. The images are simple, but very effective. They have good a good composition and are colourful.

  4. Anna says:

    where can i get the third picture? the sandals that are red and vintage. i love them.

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