Amazing Grace

PhotographerRebecca Forster
Prize2nd Place in Deeper Perspective / Deeper Perspective
CompanyKyprisAthina Pictures
City/CountrySaarbrücken, Germany
Photo DateAugust 15, 2013
Technical InfoNikon D3x, Nikkor, ext. Flash
Story

In 2013 I wanted to realize a photo series inspired by Hitchcock’s movies with Grace Kelly (“Dial M for Murder”, “to Catch a Thief” and “Rear Window”, four image names play with the movies’ titles), focusing on a dark and dangerous atmosphere full of tension. The model, who first came to my mind as the perfect cast, was Rabea. I only hesitated one moment, wondering if a dark-skinned “Grace Kelly” would confuse my audience, but immediately realized that this was exactly what I wanted to do, especially as the subjects most prominent in my work have always been prejudices and role expectations. I wanted to challenge people’s expectations, so they would ask themselves at the end: “Does it really matter?” I strongly believe that change often starts with little things. To create the dark and dangerous night atmosphere, low-key-techniques (strong flash lights, minimal exposure times, low ISO) and strong shadows have been used, created by an external flash system and special light formers attached to them (honeycomb filters and spotlight tubes). High lens aperture values should create a strong depth, so the audience would be possibly able to see any approaching danger first, before its victim. The danger depicted in this story does not come from imminent crime through murder though, but from the violence which words and looks can commit, even if not intended. This is also why my model is kind of exposed by strong lights: People who could possibly become a danger might not appear inside the photo, but in front of it, inside the audience. The first picture, “Dial M”, focuses, helped by the light working as a guide, on the imminent danger expected in the background following the phone call. Then (2), the cheerful atmosphere of “to Catch a thief” (dress and especially jewels as references) experiences a reversal into sadness on the following photo, probably because of a waiting woman’s deceived expectations – or, incomprehensibly, judging from beauty and intelligence (books), because of not meeting expectations? The photo of this dark-skinned woman (3), kind of caught between a white wall and within the strongly cut frame (symbols for restricting role expectations), shows by its claustrophobic narrowness the difficulty to escape from whatever might happen. Again (4), she is waiting, dangerously exposed, and her sad eyes compete for attention with her beauty. On the final picture (5) it is hard to judge between fiction and reality: Being forced to look in a voyeuristic way inside the window (“Rear Window”), the victim, the object of observation, seems to be expecting us already. The reflections in the window glass make it hard to see what is behind and what in front of it. Moving slightly we could probably even see our own reflection: Who is actually threatening her? This photo shoot was the beginning of a project, still going on, focusing on dark-skinned models in typical white people’s roles, so this might hopefully become normality one day, even if it was only for my audience at least.

Entry Description

The subjects most prominent in my work have always been prejudices and role expectations. That’s why in 2013 this photo shoot became the beginning of a project: I wanted to realize a photo series inspired by Hitchcock’s movies with Grace Kelly, using low-key-techniques to create a dark and dangerous atmosphere full of tension. The model, who first came to my mind as the perfect cast, was Rabea. I only hesitated one moment, wondering if a dark-skinned “Grace Kelly” would confuse my audience, but immediately realized that this was exactly what I wanted to do: Change often starts with little things. The danger depicted in this story does not come from imminent crime through murder, but from the violence which words and looks can commit, even if not intended. In the following years I would often photograph dark-skinned models in typical white people’s roles, because, after all: Does it really matter?

Story

In 2013 I wanted to realize a photo series inspired by Hitchcock’s movies with Grace Kelly (“Dial M for Murder”, “to Catch a Thief” and “Rear Window”, four image names play with the movies’ titles), focusing on a dark and dangerous atmosphere full of tension. The model, who first came to my mind as the perfect cast, was Rabea. I only hesitated one moment, wondering if a dark-skinned “Grace Kelly” would confuse my audience, but immediately realized that this was exactly what I wanted to do, especially as the subjects most prominent in my work have always been prejudices and role expectations. I wanted to challenge people’s expectations, so they would ask themselves at the end: “Does it really matter?” I strongly believe that change often starts with little things. To create the dark and dangerous night atmosphere, low-key-techniques (strong flash lights, minimal exposure times, low ISO) and strong shadows have been used, created by an external flash system and special light formers attached to them (honeycomb filters and spotlight tubes). High lens aperture values should create a strong depth, so the audience would be possibly able to see any approaching danger first, before its victim. The danger depicted in this story does not come from imminent crime through murder though, but from the violence which words and looks can commit, even if not intended. This is also why my model is kind of exposed by strong lights: People who could possibly become a danger might not appear inside the photo, but in front of it, inside the audience. The first picture, “Dial M”, focuses, helped by the light working as a guide, on the imminent danger expected in the background following the phone call. Then (2), the cheerful atmosphere of “to Catch a thief” (dress and especially jewels as references) experiences a reversal into sadness on the following photo, probably because of a waiting woman’s deceived expectations – or, incomprehensibly, judging from beauty and intelligence (books), because of not meeting expectations? The photo of this dark-skinned woman (3), kind of caught between a white wall and within the strongly cut frame (symbols for restricting role expectations), shows by its claustrophobic narrowness the difficulty to escape from whatever might happen. Again (4), she is waiting, dangerously exposed, and her sad eyes compete for attention with her beauty. On the final picture (5) it is hard to judge between fiction and reality: Being forced to look in a voyeuristic way inside the window (“Rear Window”), the victim, the object of observation, seems to be expecting us already. The reflections in the window glass make it hard to see what is behind and what in front of it. Moving slightly we could probably even see our own reflection: Who is actually threatening her? This photo shoot was the beginning of a project, still going on, focusing on dark-skinned models in typical white people’s roles, so this might hopefully become normality one day, even if it was only for my audience at least.

About Photographer

Rebecca Forster, born 1986, is an autodidactic freelance photographer, focused on fine art, storytelling and conceptual work. One of her key motifs is identity under the shadow of prejudice and role expectation. Inspiration she finds through personal experiences, travelling, paintings, mythology, literature, movies and her studies in philosophy and classical languages.