Caption Artist Research

Tracey Moffatt- Scarred for Life

Tracey Moffatt was born in Brisbane, Australian in 1960. She is an artist who uses a lot of photography and video but has previously done art. She holds a degree in visual communications from the Queensland College of Art, graduating in 1982.

‘Scarred for life’ is a very deep and dramatic series of work, but is set in very mundane ways of life that happens every day around the world. Majority of the viewers recognise some of the events within the images as they’ve been through similar things or have witnessed and not understood. The words in her captions may grab the viewers’ attention but they don’t explain the images themselves, they do add some detail not enough to tell the full story. This may be a bit strange to some people as you’d think to look at the caption to get more context of what’s in the image and get a better understanding. This does allow the viewer to think more about the image and almost come up with their own story, based on the little information from the caption with the image itself. Moffatt has said that this series may be a continuing project as ‘everyone has a tragic tale to tell’.

I really like how basic the captions are and really reflect sourly on the image. It gives us a quick view into this person’s life without revealing their whole life, leaving the viewer wanting more. It’s a way of showing the little or big struggles everyone goes through. I may experiment with using basic captions for my images maybe stating a bit about them or what is happening. I want my viewers to see that we may all feel different but we all go through the same things, good or bad.

Jeffery Wolin- Pigeon Hill Portraits: Then and Now

Wolin now is a Professor of Photography at Indiana University but was born in New York, 1951. His photographs are in the permanent collections of numerous museums including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; New York Public Library; Bibliotèque Nationale de France, Paris; Museum of Modern Art, New York and more.

Pigeon Hill Portraits: Then and Now was photographed from 1987-1991, and included the people of Bloomington’s housing, in an area on the west side of Indiana known as “Pigeon Hill”. At this time there was a lot of discussion about politics, the problems with rising crime, drug abuse and also the enduring poverty. He had spent some years working as a police photographer and the experience inspired him to go to Bloomington and photograph some of the residents of Pigeon Hill, who had not seen the best walks of light. 20 years on he wanted to find out were those people had ended up and comparing the images.

During school Wolin had come across artists like Frida Kahlo and Sister Gertrude Morgan who had written directly onto their projects. He took inspiration and applied the same technique to his images, it was a way to connect the memories to the images. He says “Speaking about our memories is a creative process that changes and morphs all the time. That isn’t to say they aren’t truthful. Sometimes your memory becomes clearer after some time as well.”

I’m mainly looking at the captions he has created and I think it’s such a unique way of incorporating text. In a way it literally puts the story in the image. It really fits with his theme as he’s telling a story/ memory and the caption really helps bring context to the image, giving the viewer a deeper look into the models lives. If I were to add text I know this is something I would experiment with, trying different lengths of text, sizes and what I what the text to actually say. I haven’t really seen any other photographers who have used a technique like this when adding captions to their images. I think the way the text fits perfectly around the subject doesn’t distract from the image itself and in fact enhances it.

Duane Michals – Sequences & Talking Pictures

Duane Michals was born in 1932, Pennsylvania. He is known all over the world for his photographic inventions, especially his series working with multiple exposures and text. In the 1960s Michals made great creative progress within his photography career, which was heavily influenced by photojournalism. His handwritten text that he has one some of his images adds another dimension to the meaning, instead of being basic and normal. The past five decades, Michals’s work has been exhibited in the United States and abroad. He received a BA from the University of Denver in 1953 and worked as a graphic designer, until fell in love with photography during the late 1950s. He currently lives and works in New York City.

Michals has played many parts in many short film doing the roles of writing, directing and acting. This past experience inspired him deeply when creating new ideas within photography, basing the images on short films and creating a movie poster, in his style. He advertises each movie/ photograph with titles, credits and lists of actors, written in Michals’ handwriting to add a personal touch. To add to the over dramatic fiction movie theme he uses techniques like multiple exposure to convey the deep, emotional complexity of what he’s showing his audience. In ‘Are You Still A Faggot’ Michals plays a grandfather struggling to understand his grandson’s sexual identity. The images capture the conflicting emotions towards one another and having the texts adds to the harsh tone to the image and reflects the character discomfort.

First looking at the images you wouldn’t be able to really tell they were movie poster, but once looking at the text you can quickly tell. This style is unique to Michals which I good as if anyone saw a piece of his work without a name they would be able to tell it was his. I really like how the text is placed, also including the title within the image and smaller text. Giving a glimpse into the movie gives the viewer more of an in site to the images itself, allow the tile to do most of the talking. As Michals writes all of the text on the images it instantly makes them more personal, even if the story within is all fiction.

I’m going to take inspiration from Michals work when experimenting with different ways of using captions, also referring to his use of titles. His work shows that even if the text is handwritten it doesn’t have to be perfect and in line.


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