The Art of Starting Over


A Photobook by Álvaro Rodríguez, Lucía Castro, Lydia González and Manuel Montes. Link to the work

Our first idea from the beginning of this task was to represent the different stages of a mourning: denial, anger, negotiation, depression and acceptance; after the loss of a loved one. The idea was clear in our minds, but it was not organized, and it also did not have any structure which allowed us to prepare the necessary tools we were going to need. After a brainstorming, the idea of mourning was becoming more developed, so we decided that the best way to clear up our minds was to draw a simple scheme and sketch of the photos we were going to take, and how they were going to be taken:

Colour as the main aesthetic and narrative tool. We thought that the most visual and clear way we could use to represent one by one the different stages of the mourning was colour. Because of that, we made some research and discovered that every stage is usually associated with a particular colour. Yellow is the colour of denial. It represents optimism and serenity, the way that humans try to afront the first part of the mourning, but which quickly turns into despair and anger (second stage). Anger is represented by the colour red, the colour of strength, fire, action and impulses, in which all the pain that was tried to be hidden on the denial stage, is suddenly released. The third stage of the mourning is negotiation and we associated it with the purple colour. Purple is sensitivity, delicacy; and that is what characterizes a negotiation process, in which the hurt one tries to get over the pain and tries to accept that the loved one has gone. Then goes depression, in which the hurt one starts to accept that the missed person has passed away forever. Here is where sadness comes, and where it becomes more difficult to move forward. That is why we represent this stage with the cold blue colour, the colour of sadness. Finally, the last stage is acceptance, and to show it we have used the white colour, whose main meaning is peace. Which means, the hurt person has accepted the loss of the loved one, and although it hurts; he/she has also realised that life continues, and that he/she should go on with it. That is why this colour is also associated with new beginnings.

Shot composition, staging, costumes, locations and other visual elements. As much as colour, the composition of our photos and the environment in which they were going to be taken, and also the costumes that our model (did not matter if male or female) was going to wear; were also some key and essential points of our brainstorming and later sketch.

Locations, shot composition and staging. We decided that our locations were going to be fundamentally two: the protagonist’s house and an open field. We have used the locations as a way to express the psychological state of our main character’s mind. That is why in the first stages of the mourning, in which she feels locked somewhere, with no energy and desolate or angry because of what has happened to her; she is at home not wanting to leave it (and locked in her own cage). Then, when she is able to make the step and get out of her house (which is literally shown in our photobook, but which also includes a psychological meaning because we were trying to express that she is liberating of her pain and that she is beginning to feel free) or what means the same, get out of her cave; we show her in an open field, to represent the new state of her mind and soul: free and open to a new beginning; with an uncertain end, because the horizon is infinite. The shots’ composition, without being especially complex, tries to follow a very clear narrative and aesthetical structure. The best example are the photos in which our main character is seated drinking some coffee. Although the camera is not moved and shows us the same scene, the pictures and their meanings are completely opposite (even without taking into account the different colour and costume). The first one (negation stage) shows the protagonist with to cups although see is the only one there (she has not accepted the loss of her loved one and she acts as he or she was still with her); while the second one shows us the protagonist smiling and having some coffee on her own, with only one cup: that is the acceptance stage. Then we can conclude that our use of similar shot composition is not used in a repetitive way, but as a way to link the different stages of the story, making small and subtle changes to make the photobook’s narrative visually clear.

Costumes. More than a predominant colour palette, we thought that a predominant colour costume was going to be visually clearer to associate the different stages with their correspondent colour. It is clear in the photobook that the protagonist’s outfit goes in consonance with her mood and the mourning stage she is going through. This is the clearest example why colour is the main element of our photobook.

Other visual, aesthetic and narrative elements. There are some aesthetic and visually powerful elements that have helped us to develop our story and to link the different parts of it. The three main ones were the rose flower, the necklace and the sky.

Narrative song lyrics. To narrate our story by putting some words in the album we decided that it would be interesting to choose different lyrics from emotional songs of some pop artists. In the first phase, denial, we find lyrics from Lady Gaga (I’ll Never Love Again [“A Star Is Born” OST] & Joanne) and Lea Michele (If You Say So). The last one appears again in the anger phase beside This is me trying by Taylor Swift, which is another song that repeats and is also featured with Male Fantasy (Billie Eilish), OK not to be OK (Marshmello & Demi Lovato), Mr. Perfectly Fine (Taylor Swift) in bargaining. On the other hand, in the depression ones, we find lyrics from Red, Soon You’ll Get Better and for the last time This is me trying (Taylor Swift), as well as Before You Go (Lewis Capaldi). Finally, Visiting Hours by Ed Sheeran appears in the acceptance phase as well as in the intro besides the song Always Remember Us This Way from the “A Star Is Born” OST. The Art of Starting Over by Demi Lovato also appears in acceptance and even shares its title with our project. Another Demi Lovato’s song is featured in the final phase: Good Place.

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