Ragne Kristine Sigmond
I was lucky to grow up in a very creative household, and was encouraged to paint, draw, mould and create decorations, furthermore to study dancing, theatre and music. Today these interests directly influence my photographic style. I like my pictures to be creative, mystical and adventurous. I develop my ideas from people, places and objects that inspire me in my everyday life.
In the "Faces" series I have strived to evoque a timeless atmosphere that I complement with my choices of background, make-up, styling and props. I started on this series in 2003, and every year since then I have made additions of new work. In the pictures with necklaces as the main prop, the main building block was materials (like clothes pegs), and the next step was finding distinctive models suitable for these props. When looking for potential materials, I am interested in shape, colour and their versatility in how they can be shaped. In general I challenge myself to bring materials out of their everyday use, transforming them into something beautiful or interesting on a model. Some of the materials transformed into necklaces to be found in the exhibited work are: furniture felt pads, bronze coloured pot scrub, clothes pegs, rubber bands, old rusty keys and silver metal look-a-like party garland.
By keeping the models' pose constant throughout the series, I guide the viewer to focus on few differences. First, of course, the props turned into necklaces. Another is the models' gaze; are some looking at you as if she or he is looking through you and out to infinity? Others have a more direct, piercing glance. As a spectator you might feel stared at by these models. Other models have closed eyes, which give a more introvert mood, giving the spectator more space to calmly view the work.
I always try to work spontaneously during this kind of photo sessions, allowing circumstances to reshape the idea into something fresh and new. The first picture in the bald-headed series was made in September 2009, as a consequence of playing with some decorative needles I once had bought. Since then I have found other materials that have inspired me to extend the series. The clean, beautiful shape of the head is what unites the models/ pictures, with a focus on the alternatives for "hair" that lollipops, branches, or needles provide.
One interesting aspect of the choice of materials is the tactile or gutural feelings that the pictures may arouse in the spectator (like when they empathize with the "feeling" of needles stuck in the model's head). I enjoy the play between potential contradictions like beautiful and tormented, contrasts or echoes of shapes, and the interplay between the model's expression and the props.
One of the interesting memories from this project is the models' reactions to their baldness; because hair is something which distinguishes us as individuals and even offers a window into our personality, it´s an alien feeling to suddenly watch yourself being baldheaded. I did the makeup and worked on Photoshop so the models did not have to shave their heads for the photo session. Their hair pride stayed intact.
Some words about technique: Until 3 years ago, I shot half of my work with a digital camera and the rest I processed using analogue technique. Now the whole process is digital. Concerning my lighting technique, the choice of "tools" is never completely predetermined. Flash or tungssten light, natural light, light painting with a torch, or a video lamp. Combinations of these may also lead to an interesting result. In the case of my bald-series I have played with a combination of daylight and flash. I actually shot these next to a larger window in my living room on an overcast day hence the soft light pouring in. The rest of the series Faces I shot in a studio with flashes. A few of these were also made with a combination of flash and the flash's modelling light, requiring a longer exposure time. The final lighting choice is a result of exploration, inspiration, and improvisation during the session. Improvising with light in my spare time feeds back into my teaching of lighting in the classroom, one of my favorite subjects.