There has been a big move forward I think this past two months or so. My knowledge of some of the works of important photographers is increasing and I am building up the ‘canon’ that I thought that I would never do. I have collected many books now and have a small library to turn to for learning and research purposes though most of my research is still done on line.
This course is a little less practical than last year and this is still worrying me. I really need to find time to practice, beyond the requirements of the course, so that I become more intuitive. I feel that this is letting me down right now. However, I am engaging more with the theory and research and enjoy this immensely. I also feel that I am thinking more creatively and am prepared to take more risks.
I also have ‘favourite’ photographers that seem to be more on my wavelength than others. I have enjoyed Jeff Wall’s staged images (Invisible Man, Insomnia) and Tom Hunter’s reimagining of old classic paintings with a contemporary message (Living in Hell and Other Stories) and have come across Dulcie Wagstaff (Familiar Gardens) who I have enjoyed researching and using as the basis for my 1000 word essay for assignment 4.
I have also started to think about presentation now, as a result of the ‘diary’ exercise. I previously thought no further than just printing the images and submitting them for assessment. Now though, I want to pursue a book presentation for the self absented portrait assignment that I completed and will explore this further prior to assessment.
My photography has changed. It has been a while since I updated my ‘reflection’ section and I feel that I have moved forward. Buoyed along by my assignment 2 ‘results’ on ‘photographing the unseen’ and how my tutor commented that he ‘liked the way I had lots of ideas and thought through them’, I have formalised my approach for future. I now consider and document more options before making my final choice of assignment subject. I prepare ‘project proposal’ forms to help me to focus my thinking and keep a record of my ideas. I also find that I have things to ‘say’ and I consider more and more how to say them.
A big leap forward. In my ‘Square Mile’ days, the thought of photographing people was unthinkable, and the thought of photographing myself even more so. However, I now think ‘bring it on’ and to be honest …. I. do. not. care. I don’t care whether I am in the picture or not, I don’t care if I take images in a public space, and I don’t care if people wonder what I am doing or if I arouse curiosity.
I am also more inclined to reveal personal things about myself. Inspired particularly by Elina Brotherus and her honest portrayals of herself, I now know that it is ok to be honest. To prove my point; for many years I suffered with Emetophobia (a real fear of being sick and of other people being sick). I kept it hidden for decades (apart from my nearest and dearest) but now I feel that, through photography, I want to highlight a very distressing condition. I have been thinking of ways to share this experience through photography and it may become the basis for assignment 3. I am cured now thankfully but I remember those days very well.
Another thing. When researching particular practitioners I am able to forge links and notice similarities or differences between previous artists studied and am building up a knowledge of the photography canon.
I have slowed down when taking images. I admit I used to rush a bit when I first started this course, or rather I went straight to taking the photographs rather than thinking it out before hand. Now, I pre- plan what I want my images to convey and how I want them to do it.
When my husband and I decorate a room together, I always want to get the colour on the wall, straight away. He always wants to fill the tiniest cracks, gather all the best tools for the job, buy samples of this and that, lay the dust sheets, etc . I feel that I am like that now with photography. I need to set the foundations and get the plan in my head before I approach the final selection.
During assignment one (Dark Arches), instead of going straight out to take what I could find, I felt increasingly that I wasn’t at the ‘ready’ stage to just go and shoot. I needed time to think. I needed to plan my shoot, think about it and think how I would compose and expose each image and think about what I wanted to say. I approached the assignment by taking snapshots of my intended location, rather like a kitchen designer will produce a CAD image to give an idea of what the finished room will look like. I liked this approach and found it worthwhile.
This part of the course has widened my knowledge of practitioners and their different approaches and voice and I am pleased to be expanding my knowledge of the photography canon as I did with the literature canon a few years ago.
I have recently been out for the afternoon taking images for the exercise on colour and black & white see here . The exercise was to take thirty images in colour and thirty in black & white and comment on the difference between the two formats.
Aside from having a great afternoon in the sunshine, I think this exercise has opened my eyes. Together with the course work, which considered how street photography started to embrace colour, and independent research, I have learned about colour as a subject in itself and how it can set the mood of a scene.
After returning home with my images I opened them in Photoshop and looked at my colour images in black & white and vice versa. The most striking one for me was the deckchairs. The green and blue are striking and the contrast is what makes the image interesting but compare it with the monochrome and the ‘colours’ are the same.
I think these two images have made me ‘see’ differently and I will consider tone, colour and contrast more easily now in my future projects.
There has been a lot of learning in part one of the course. So far, I have studied:
- Documentary photography and its intention to give ‘voice’ to (or exploit) the human elements of global events; whether successful or not (an example being ‘Migrant Mother)
- Photojournalism (news imagery), and its relationship with the ‘truth’ along with viewpoints regarding problems associated with it.
- Aftermath photography and the works of Paul Seawright (aftermath of the war in Afghanistan) and Edgar Martins (aftermath of the USA housing market collapse).
Here are a few things that I have been thinking about:
- How far I have come. I admit I was disappointed with my 2.2 EYV results but when my tutor, Derek Trillo pointed out that I had gone from not even having a camera to gaining 57% in my assessment, all in twelve months, then I felt much better and gave myself credit for what I had achieved.
- At the beginning of EYV when I went out to do my Square Mile assignment I just wanted to take images that showed the place where I used to live, albeit with a linking theme of mining. However, I never thought about creativity or a message or concept. I was thinking more of composition at that stage. Now, I don’t even want to take an image (except for technical practice) if it hasn’t anything to say.
- I have friends who volunteer what may be a ‘good’ photograph and, although I am polite, I usually think ‘why’? Why would that be a good photograph? I know I have changed in my thinking around photography because now I don’t think a ‘good’ photograph is necessarily one that just has a ‘nice’ subject.
- Again and again, I find myself drawn to topics such as the ‘women’s issue’, injustice and social concerns and find myself wondering how I could articulate these through photography.
- Weeks after researching Erik Kessels I still come back to the ‘why do we all take the same photo’ question and while watching Mo Farah, during and after his silver medal win in the 5,000 metres, I noticed that some members of the audience were far more interested in taking his photograph than in actually watching the race. Why is this?
This is my second module of BA (Hons) photography and I admit that I have not been quite so enthusiastic over these last few weeks, as I was with Expressing your vision. I, and many of my fellow students, have commented that this course is increasingly academic rather than practical. Personally, I enjoy both sides equally and am very at home in front of the computer researching and learning, actually more so than behind the camera, so it’s not that. I enjoy the learning and the academic side but it is the practical side that worries me. I am still clumsy … though I can see definite improvements.
However, I am feeling at the moment that my priorities are ‘computer based’ rather than ‘camera based’ and as a result my camera skills are not having chance to improve. I am worried that if I don’t engage in some practical work I will forget how to use my camera. So, I have been practicing on non-course related projects just to keep my practical work ticking over.