Week 1 – The Global Image
Whilst combatting nerves, excitement and a very hectic schedule this week I threw myself in to the topic of the global image.
I have always been drawn to the work of Lee Miller and whilst watching this weeks presentations I found myself once again thinking of her images from World War Two and her documentation of the downfall of the Nazi party.
An incredible photographer of her time she made a significant impact documenting the stark realities of war, life and death. Although her work is considered by many as photojournalistic, she provided a more artistic portrayal of events and the aftermath of war.
The image I chose for this weeks task ‘re-making the global image’ was Millers documentation of a Nazi suicide. An incredibly poignant image I feel it really captures the aftermath and collapse of war. With such incredible soft lighting and the delicate tones it is hard not to see beauty in this image. It is very interesting that the lighting and the position of the woman and her porcelain skin leads to connotations of peaceful sleep or a dream state, yet the context of the story behind the image and the knowledge of the family cyanide suicide pact concludes to quite a painful and distressing end.
Miller was passionate about breaking boundaries and the fight for peace and equality. She was particularly passionate about the demolition of Nazi ideologies and the power they possessed at this time.
So how does this connect to my work?
The main body of my photographic work is music orientated. I have documented live music shows since the age of sixteen. Although this is not something I have been working on much over the last eighteen months or so it is something I would like to revisit and explore further but in a more documentary style.
My work is primarily based within the punk rock music scene. I instantly connected with the passion and energy projected at punk shows and the positivity and unity within the ethical beliefs of the punk rock community. Although now over forty years on from its inception, punk has transformed from its angst fuelled anti-establishment roots. Modern punk rock is about freedom of expression, acceptance, compassion with an inclusion of rebellious ideologies.
Punk can be expressed through a range of mediums. Independent businesses, promoters and record labels are a huge part of the scene and all are elements I wish to explore alongside my assignments. I would like to document the bigger picture so to speak, to portray the external elements to the live show to document what goes into organising and facilitating an event. Another interesting avenue to explore could also be just how small DIY promoters survive in the current climate and how the digital age has effected the attendance of shows.
Week 2 – Interdisciplinary Practice
Another hectic week and another challenge, trying to fit everything in. We had our huge end of year show this week and subsequently I had to work almost double my normal weekly hours. I was feeling the panic as I have been thinking of nothing but starting my oral presentation and getting to grips with all the online requirements of the course. So far so good but I still have a lot to learn so I am hoping this next week I can get to grips fully with WordPress and get my site looking more visually exciting.
Once again this weeks presentations really inspired me and I feel they triggered my previous passions for media and the moving image, yet reaffirmed my place within the medium of photography.
“If you think back, and if you try to bring images back in your mind, it’s the still image that comes up, not the film … Eddie Adams, General Loan killing the Viet Cong; Nick Ut’s picture of the little girl burned by Vietnam; Iwo Jima, Rosenthal’s picture; John Filo’s picture from Kent State. You can bring those up in your mind, you see them. That image forms the basis of knowledge.”
Bill Eppiridge – Photojournalist (Peta Pixel. (2013). Photojournalist Bill Eppridge Discusses the Importance of the Still Image. Available: https://petapixel.com/2013/06/16/photojournalist-bill-eppridge-discusses-the-importance-of-the-still-image/. Last accessed 12 June 2018.)
As mentioned in this weeks presentations the benefit of the still image is that it holds the viewers gaze as long as they desire. You can view a still image as long or as little as you feel comfortable and take the time to absorb its contents, the connotations and its message. In my mind everything starts with a still. Even videographers use story boards or a selection of still images to map out or plan a successful shoot. I feel Eppiridge here explains just the importance and the power that one still can have and its ability to stay ingrained on ones memory.
As a traditionalist at heart I refuse to move away from the power and beauty of print. Be it digital or darkroom I think print completes an image. After much experience running commercial photographic labs I currently run a digital printing workshop as well as a darkroom at work. I have great passion for the presentation of photographic images and feel the materials we use can have just as much power or effect over the interpretation of an image as the piece itself.
For me it is all about photographing the still image. My experience is predominantly in music photography. I hope to explore more of a documentary style as I develop through the course but my main goal has been to capture the energy and passion of live music. Most bands I have photographed are within the punk/hardcore genre. They perform material mostly discussing political, ethical and social issues preaching individuality, inclusivity and acceptance. I feel this kind of material gives the live performances a raw edge. You quite literally don’t know what to expect with some bands and that can be part of the challenge of capturing the action and visually trying to project their message.
From an interdisciplinary perspective I have to say that one of favourite artists has to be Floria Sigismondi. Her work covers art installations, painting, photography, music videos and film. She has an incredibly unique and macabre style. Her photographic works in her book “Redemption” (Die Gestalten Verlag; First Edition edition – 1 Jun. 1999) were my inspiration to start my photographic education after leaving school. Her images are immutable. I often find myself going back to them for inspiration, each time viewing them with intense fascination.
Sigismondi used her still images and concept art to create a whole image for the artist Marilyn Manson and his band for their album ‘Antichrist Superstar’ (Manson, Marilyn (1996). Antichrist Superstar. USA: Nothing Records) in the mid-nineties. She has progressed with photography into the art of the music video and then on to feature film, her most recent being the ‘Runaways’ (2010).
“I come up with ideas in photography the same way as I would video. The difference is that you need a lot more ideas to fill a video. With a photograph, people will look as long as they like, but with moving picture, you demand someone’s time in order to properly view it in its entirety.” Floria Sigismondi
(IMDb. Personal quotes. Available:https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0797455/bio?ref_=nm_ov_bio_sm#quotes. Last accessed 12 June 2018.)
Although I am passionate about capturing the intensity of live music and the energy of live performances this week has led me to think outside of the box a little and consider other options for music photography. I would really like to explore documentary photography and try spending time with bands behind the scenes. After a discussion with my module tutor Paul Clements we agreed that it could be interesting to document a view on band life unseen by many, to perhaps look at family or home life or even backstage or recording. I have a few shoots this weekend to experiment with these ideas and hope this will be a start of my portfolio for this module. Currently I am battling over what resources to use. As the majority of my experience is with film I would like to also explore outside of my comfort zone with digital, however I also have a new Lomography Polariod kit which could benefit the retro vibe of the band I will be documenting so at the moment I am spoilt for choice.
Week 3 summary – Citizen journalism and amateur aesthetics
In this week’s seminars we discussed the rise of citizen journalism and the use of smart phone technology within the media and how this has effected professional photographers.
I have never personally considered using my iPhone as a tool to create art or what I would submit as a photographic print. It is something I have recently had to think about though during the curation of our end of year show. I was surprised by the number of learners submitting pieces taken with smart phones. I think what intrigued me the most was the fact that they didn’t use them because they could hide behind filters or creative effects, they too used them to capture moments they would have found too intrusive displaying a DSLR kit.
I can totally relate to this approach as one thing I have noticed whilst photographing bands in particular is the intimidation they seem to feel when presented with an SLR and flash gun. Their demeanour changes and subsequently so does the shoot, one of the reasons some prime moments have been missed myself is because they always happen when my SLR has been put away. This leads me to question, would the results improve if I made use of smart phone technology in my documentation?
I personally do not believe anyone takes an image these days and doesn’t edit, filter or play with it in some fashion. The only exception is when the result is dictated by the medium such as Polaroid film. I can totally relate to what Damon Winter is saying in the article about his choice of medium being no different to converting our colour images to black and white in Photoshop. At the end of the day any device with the ability to capture still or moving image is a photographic tool and should be used as such.
During this week’s presentations we were asked the following questions;
- How do you think digital filters affect the way we read images?
- Do you see the rise of UGC as a challenge for you or does it present opportunities?
- In your own practice, have you exploited any opportunities that have arisen due to user generated content?
In terms of filter usage, I honestly find myself looking at most images online and questioning if a filter has been used, particularly with portraits as it seems so common place now that it is harder to find content, particularly on social media that doesn’t have a filter or some kind of aesthetic manipulation. I personally do like the use of filters, I feel this reflects my love for creative analogue processes and traditional photography. As a user of Lomography cameras I love the impact aesthetic manipulation can have. I use colour filters and effects to enhance the mood or emotional tone of an image, to enhance its message so I can appreciate the contribution such techniques can make to our personal images.
The rise of user generated content does affect me as a music photographer. I find that now more people than ever are taking images at shows. One bug bares are people at shows who watch the show recording through their phone screen rather than watching the show itself. Live content videos saturate the market thanks to platforms such as YouTube and Vimeo. I also find that people expect you to work cross platform and ask of you are recording rather than shooting stills. It can be incredibly frustrating when you present your images to a band and they are appreciative but more impressed by what the drummers girlfriend managed to shoot on her iPhone 7 in low light!
I often feel the art of live music photography is becoming lost. One thing however I do not think will be hugely impacted by user generated content is album art or studio shoots as they are the platform which requires a professional touch. Luckily these are also aspects I enjoy doing so I can cover whatever a bands requirements are but as digital art continues to progress it could be something which changes in the future.
As of yet I have not exploited any UGC opportunities but reflecting on this week I can see how they could present some great opportunities to get my images on the public forum. Musicians sometimes put out on social media requests for live show images or UGC to be a part of documentaries or video releases. I think this is something I should look out for and deeply consider now as with the market being as saturated as it is it can be difficult to stand out from other photographers. I know I haven’t really taken advantage of digital technologies and the power of the internet to promote myself or my work and this is something I need to do in order to survive and thrive in the modern photographic world.
Week 4 – Collaboration
I am not going to lie. I saw the titles of this week’s task as a collaboration project and my heart sank a little. My experience with group work and collaboration on my degree was not a pleasant once. It seemed to be a mix of people not turning up, not submitting and generally extra stress and hard work.
Putting this experience to the back of my mind I tried to go in with a fresh perspective and a positive outlook. I am pleased to say this experience was completely different to any I have had before.
After looking at this week’s presentations I jumped straight into the car with my camera to get to work. The image I submitted on to the forum was taken in Grimsby town centre where a significant historical event is taking place. The famous Freeman Street high-rise flats (after some considerable time dormant) are currently being demolished. It was quite clear to see during my time down there that local opinion on this move is quite mixed. There is certainly a lot of hostility around the subject. I chose to take some images as run down or abandoned architecture is a subject I am also passionate about. My ideas from this were to possibly find a group who could work together on documenting the decline in local towns or cities and work within a theme of urban decay.
Upon returning home I prepared to upload my image and saw some of the images others had submitted and I was instantly drawn to one of two hospital chairs. I found the image very intriguing. I loved the lighting and tones and I couldn’t help but try and figure out the scenario behind it. Who sat there? Why were the chairs empty? Who is the viewer? I saw a conversation unfold between Craig and Tobias as Craig responded with another image of an empty chair and the song empty chairs by Don McLean. I instantly connected with the subject matter and responded with a link to the music video ‘Frames’ by the band Gameface.
Caudill Jeff. (2015). Frames. Equal Vision Records
I really wanted to be a part of this project and voiced this on the forum. I was very pleased when I was then added to an empty chairs group on canvas. I conveyed my thoughts on the empty chair concept to the group. It seemed that we had all lost people very close to us and each had our own experiences on death. We all agreed that we were comfortable discussing our experiences and portraying them within our images.
We began discussing the ideas on Sunday and Monday, what our intentions were and when we were to shoot. We agreed on 4 images each and that we would stick with the Don McLean song rather than separately finding lyrics for each image. I thought this would help with continuity and keep the images as one piece. Acoustic music isn’t something I am familiar with so I had to research the artist, the song and its lyrics. The song is essentially about losing someone you love dearly. Although I don’t believe it is a reference to bereavement I believe it is more about losing a partner and the breakdown of a relationship. I do find the words quite beautiful and endearing. It is a very simple song but the delicate language lends to the acoustic tones. The tune itself to me signifies loneliness and isolation. His comment on empty chairs however sat with my vision, that an empty chair can be symbolic of the loss of one we love. It can convey absence, loss and longing of those left behind to feel that persons’ presence once again. These are all things I hoped to convey within my images.
In terms of my own images I had two ideas straight away. The image of my late Fathers arm-chair and my Uncles shed. I knew I wanted to portray a different person in each image. Unfortunately, I have experienced a lot of death, both within my family and with close friends over the last few years. The concept of empty chairs really resonated with me because of my late Father. I grew up in a very traditional household were Dad was boss. No one could sit in his chair, if you did, as soon as he entered the room you had to move. Despite losing him almost five years ago now his presence is still felt and his chair still has dominance over the room. I really wanted to try to capture this. As the chair is right next to the window I already knew my intentions were to light using nothing but natural light during a bright sunny afternoon. As can be seen in the image my Mother has a permanent display on top of the radiogram of images of family who have passed with artifacts and items of personal relevance. I knew this would add to the narrative of the image and convey the longing and the immense loss she feels. Despite an exceptionally bright sunny day I knew the image would appear dark and moody as the room is quite shaded.
I wasn’t overly sure on the image for my Uncle but I knew the shed would be the prime location as like a lot of things since his and my Father’s death it has remained untouched and now is in some state of disrepair. Again I knew I would only use natural light in the mid afternoon sun. Using just his fishing chair and his cardigan I thought that again it captured the somber mood nicely with no need for effects or processing to enhance. I think the wood on the shed gives the image texture and depth. The net curtain on the window gives it a homelier and quite personal feel. I did try a set up inside the shed to see if I could give the impression that he had just left with everything set up but sadly it just didn’t work in terms of composition and looked too messy and distracting. In all I feel this image worked much better and that less was definitely more.
Having shot these images on Tuesday I uploaded straight to the group for feedback to ensure that they fit with the theme. I was exceptionally pleased with their response; all be it a little concerned they were being very polite. I was conscious that we may struggle with feedback with all the images being so personal I know how I felt when it came to the critique side of things. We had discussed the possibility of us all including a bench shot within our set but I was struggling as I could not think of anything I could do with a bench that would be following my theme. With a few more ideas in hand I decided to shoot again on Wednesday afternoon so that I could get my images edited and uploaded that evening so we could put everything together.
After viewing Craig’s images, particularly his beach scene I decided to move away from the beach shot I considered. Because the story behind his image was so personal to him I did not want to do anything too similar or offend in any way with my interpretation as the theme for my shot was to be based around suicide. I had the vision of a chair, partly in the water with a flat cap draped on the back and an acoustic guitar resting alongside.
I decided to change the location of this shot and try to make it work in the boat bench instead. One reason for this was because the person I was trying to portray loved nature and was part of a folk band, hence the props I chose. I think the ivy works well and the buildup of growth created depth, although when viewing during the webinar I was a little disappointed as the props on the bench (the tweed cap and feather) look lost and become hard to notice. I was relatively happy with how it came out although would still be happy to reshoot and try again with this at another location, somewhere were the bench is more prevalent.
My final image of the chair and balloon in the corn field was the hardest to shoot, and the image I am most critical of. I felt rushed to get everything finished but excited to be loading my car full of props and heading off to the farm. I was given strict instructions it was possible to shoot in the fields providing I did not get too close or touch the crops. This made getting the balloon in place exceptionally difficult. Throw in the high wind and probably the wrong chair for the job it became quite the task. I am very happy with the colours and the sky, I think the biggest issue for me was having to have the balloon too close to the chair. It looks a little disproportionate. The balloon would have been fine in that location had it been a little smaller but definitely something to consider if I ever shoot something similar in the future. Normally I would really take my time over such a shoot so it seemed a shame to rush it. For me the essence of the image is still there. Sadly, the young lady the image represents died whilst she was pregnant. The chair (with a woman’s shirt similar to hers draped over) to me represents her absence, the balloon represents her baby, the string tying them together. Another reason for the balloon as a signifier is the families annual balloon release in the local park. It seemed somewhat poetic to use the same symbol, including the coloured ribbons as a signification of femininity and beauty. I used the farm field location to represent space, air and spiritual presence.
Keeping editing to a strict minimum (I do not like to process my images much more than a crop and a slight tweak with colour) I got my images finished and uploaded so we could review all of our images together. Kindly Craig had started putting together a little presentation for us to display at the webinar on Thursday night so we agreed with the format and who would present when.
I was impressed with the images both parties submitted. We had discussed earlier in the week about the use of people or figures in the images as Craig had originally included a double exposure of his wife in the beach shot. I thought we would be better producing the images with suggestion of human presence but no characters in the images to synchronise the images as a set. I think this was the right move as I found his beach image more profound and moving without the character. I think my favorite image of Tobias’s has to be the wooden chair by the table. It was great hearing him discuss the story about this on the webinar and as he had photographed such a personal piece of family history as I had with my Fathers chair I feel it reinforced we were all on the same page with the project.
All in all, this was an exceptionally easy project to put together. I feel I was definitely in the right group, with like-minded individuals. It was great getting to know people better and to discuss different experiences and ideas. We have all agreed to keep in touch and to add to the project as we continue in the course. It would be great to have a body of work over the next year or so to share together again so we can compare to our initial task format.
I learnt a lot from this experience and it has definitely changed my opinion on collaborative practice. Please check out the PDF of our final piece through the link below.
Week 5 – Power and Responsibilities
This week we delved into the subject of ethical practice and our responsibilities as photographers. I found this subject very thought provoking. I suppose I have always considered the appropriateness of my image content when shooting, but more subconsciously than anything. As I work in education and having covered risk assessments and model release forms during my degree studies I have continued these processes in the majority of my work. I have never taken images of a controversial or offensive nature (that I am aware of) but I am aware of this type of content, particularly in tabloid press and publication.
After viewing Jeff Mitchell’s image of refugees crossing into Slovenia (2015 (c) Jeff Mitchell/Getty Images https://goo.gl/gtrmU6) and reading the attached article I began to think more about the digital age and how it has effected the distribution and the use of photographers images.
In using a company such as Getty for the sale of his images Mitchells has handed over the responsibilities and effectively distanced himself from the ethical and moral issues from its use. I believe his original intentions behind the image were to document the migrant crisis and show the world what is really happening. I admire his ability to detach himself from the issue of the incorrect use of his image as I personally could not and would certainly struggle if one of my images was used for an unethical purpose.
In terms of UKIP’s use of the image, people are certainly becoming more clued up when it comes to modern media. I believe people now are more inclined to question the reliability of an image, its intent and the way in which it is edited so it is of no surprise to me that their campaign failed.
I would definitely question the ethics of the individual using such an image for this purpose but it is hard not to question the ethics of the photographer who is making money from images of this type. I do believe Mitchell was photographing a sad reality and perhaps didn’t expect a party such as UKIP to use the image with their rhetoric and propaganda stylings to try and gain votes out of the E.U. That being said he did sell to Getty. The image has to be sellable in order for both partied to make money so he must have considered the possibilities of its use.
I personally have a difficult time with ethics of the mainstream media in this respect. One story which comes to mind is that of the death of Princess Diana and the horrifying actions of the press.
“She’d had a quite severe head injury, but she was very much still alive in the backseat and those people that, that caused the accident, instead of helping, were taking photographs of her dying in the backseat, and those photographs may have made their way back to news desks in this country.” Prince Harry in an interview regarding the death of his Mother in 1997
Durand Carolyn. (2017). Prince William, Prince Harry open up about how they learned of their mother’s death. Available: https://abcnews.go.com/Entertainment/prince-william-prince-harry-open-learned-mothers-death/story?id=49362641. (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. (Last accessed 2nd July 2018)
The ability to disconnect from the inhumanity in this sort of given situation is beyond me. I struggle with ideal of the paparazzi and their questionable conduct and ethics. It is sad that such a tragedy had to happen in order for regulations and the code of practice to change.
From the forum discussions I then looked at other articles around this subject and the case which developed after Diana’s death. Reading the facts about how she was chased and continually hounded in the weeks prior to her death due to her new romance appalls me and the fact that in the end no one was really held accountable for her death (please see the press pack article link below) is frightening. To invade an individual’s personal life for their own financial gain is truly unethical. When considering images such as Mitchells I would like to believe that they were taken to highlight such an important issue to the public in an attempt for change, however the sale of the images to sites such as Getty make me question whether this is a social statement or just simply working to a brief for pay, without any ethical or moral consideration for the people in the images with their lives at risk.
- Griffiths Josie. (2017). Painting a Picture.Available: https://www.thesun.co.uk/living/3201491/famous-image-used-on-ukips-breaking-point-migrant-poster-showing-terrible-plight-of-refugees-fleeing-war-torn-countries-helps-jeff-mitchell-win-photographer-of- (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.. (Last accessed 2nd July 2018).
- Dudok De Wit Alex. (2017). UKIP Leave EU poster reported to police: what you need to know.Available: https://inews.co.uk/news/politics/ukips-racist-poster-need-know/. (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. (Last accessed 2nd July 2018).
- Samuelson Kate. (2017). The Princess and the Paparazzi: How Diana’s Death Changed the British Media.Available: http://time.com/4914324/princess-diana-anniversary-paparazzi-tabloid-media/. (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. (Last accessed 2nd July 2018).
- Balakrishnan Angela. (2008). The Press Pack That Chased Diana. Available: https://www.theguardian.com/uk/2008/apr/07/paparazzi (Last accessed 2nd July 2018).
During the presentations this week the images of the three-year-old migrant child Aylan Kurdi who was washed up on the coast in Bodrum when his family tried to flee from the Turkish coast to the Greek island of Kos were shown.
These are extremely powerful images for a number of reasons. The shock of the death of such a small innocent boy. The story of his mother and brother also drowning. The visual impact of his tiny lifeless body. The fact the images made the front page of newspapers in the UK. Also the fact that this was taken much closer to home and that so many people had already died in a seemingly little reported war.
I remember seeing the images on television and my initial reaction was shock and I was quite emotional at the thought of the poor little boy lost in the sea. As a parent of a very young boy myself I had that initial reaction of, how would I feel if that were my son? In the days following I saw the image everywhere, especially social media. I remember thinking that if this doesn’t get a reaction from people to try and stop the war and this terrible life for families in places such as this and Syria I don’t know what will. I believe anything involving children, particularly this young impacts far greater.
I found it very difficult to summarize how I felt about the image and its appropriateness at the time. On the one hand I completely understand the need for this story to be seen world-wide as if it was not transmitted no one would be aware of the issues surrounding Alans death and therefore change would never happen. That being said the other side makes me feel like this is somewhat invasive for the poor boy and his surviving family. More often than not peoples identities are protected now more than ever after an accident or death as social media and the internet could cause information to be leaked to families before they have been officially informed about the death or incident involving a family member. This raises a whole host of issues of its own and ties in to censorship and the citizen journalism culture. I know I personally would not want an image of my deceased relative to be splashed over the news and papers, let alone my son.
It is a highly emotive subject and genuinely gets you thinking more about how you would react should you be in that situation personally as a friend or relative. It is one thing for these images to be created and then used publically but having seen some of the artwork and the imagery created online from this photograph, I personally questioned the appropriateness of its reuse and the sometimes distasteful approach some artists have used.
- Withnall Adam. (2015). Aylan Kurdi’s story: How a small Syrian child came to be washed up on a beach in Turkey.Available: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/aylan-kurdi-s-story-how-a-small-syrian-child-came-to-be-washed-up-on-a-beach-in-turkey-10484588.html. (Last accessed 7th July 2018).
- Goldberger Ben, Moakley Paul, Pollack Kira. (2018). Time 100 Photos – Alan Kurdi.Available: http://100photos.time.com/photos/nilufer-demir-alan-kurdi (Last accessed 7th July 2018).
- Parkhill Chad. (2015). On The Memefication Of Aylan Kurdi, And The Power And Ethics Of Sharing Photos.Available: http://junkee.com/on-the-memefication-of-aylan-kurdi-and-the-power-and-ethics-of-sharing-photos/65078. (Last accessed 7th July 2018).
Week 7 – Micro Task
This week we had to work in groups of two and assign each other micro tasks after viewing presentations and readings about creative strategic choices in photography.
Unfortunately due to illness I was a little late to the mark getting online and getting a group sorted. That being said Craig also didn’t have a partner so we decided to team up and chatted online about ideas. He was well on the ball and assigned my task straight away. Boxes. His request was exactly as follows;
Boxes. We see them everywhere, but pay no attention to them. So, nine square images of different boxes for you, indoor and outdoor..?!
After some thought I realised I would have to approach this subject after giving it some real thought. It would be very simple to just photograph boxes in various scenarios, however it would be nice to give it some time and go with a more creative approach.
Due to being poorly I was housebound for the first few days of the week so I started to shoot some bits at home in the hope of being inspired. I had left my camera at work so it was just me and my iPhone. My first image was the Gooey Louie box my son had left strewn across the floor. It is certainly bright enough to catch your attention and made me realise how obsessive I am about packaging. I love to keep things neat and everything in its original packaging if possible. It made me realise that despite all the packaging design efforts children are not concerned by this, merely the contents and the gross nature of the game.
The next shot was a total fluke opportunity. On a run to the pharmacy I noticed this window display in the local Superdrug store. I found it quite bizarre and a little random to say the least. Like the game box, bright, colourful and attracts attention but no real purpose.
Back at home the connection with boxes and photography suddenly clicked when I realised my box brownie camera is on display, conveniently framed in a box of my shelving unit. It made me think more about the function and form of boxes and more interested in some which served a role and a purpose than ones we take for granted as storage or advertising.
I knew there would be plenty of material upon my return to work. My days are usually spent opening new boxes, moving boxes, dumping boxes or getting mad at computer boxes. The soft box storage wall was a given shot. Another great tool which serves purpose and meaning. The fire extinguisher box and the red storage tank being the same. Not only do they add colour to the set of images but they indicate the health and safety role they play and the serious nature of their content. The black PC box stack for me portrays the summer role ahead. Hot days on hot rooms imaging over 500 machines ready for the new student intake in September. At this time of year we go more from offices into a factory floor.
The attic shot I added at the end is the visual representation of the culmination of waste over the years from technological advancements. We have been tasked to clear an old attic space with twenty something years of Apple machines and junk stored in boxes which has been thrown into the land of the forgotten. As a waste conscious individual images such as this make me quite sad. I thought it made quite a statement for the final image, with all the earlier images incorporating the kind of boxes and technology seen in the dumping ground in a far less fancy presentation. Although it could have been shot much better I think it displays modern attitudes to our disposable technology in the modern age quite well.
This definitely isn’t a set of images I am particularly proud of. I feel it was rushed and unfortunately couldn’t dedicate the time I wished to the task. That being said I think the subject Craig picked and the task he set was very interesting. It really got me thinking about a subject I would never have considered without prompt. I certainly realised the value of the box as a shape and a tool in photography and how prevalent its use is. It would certainly be a topic I would investigate further given the time.
I am not really a fan of shooting on my iPhone either which I don’t think helped. In low light such as the attic and the studio it did not perform well. Again if given the time I could certainly reshoot the images to give them more visual appeal.
Here is the PDF document of my shoot. Please feel free to give feedback 🙂
Week 8 – Exploring Contexts
So, slightly late in my summary of week eight due to the start of the summer holidays. It has been an interesting week, my son begged for some time away with Mummy because he doesn’t get to spend much time with me and addressed our working so much. How could I say no?
Having spent a week off the grid with only intermittent 3G signal from our caravan I would like to say I am refreshed but I am more exhausted, stressed for being behind and definitely happy to be back in the land of technology and my coffee machine. That being said from a personal perspective I fell blessed to have spent some family time with my son and my partner. I have realised how quickly he is growing and as he enters the last year of primary school before moving to the juniors site I fear it will not be long at all before we are registering interest at secondary school and entering the fearful realms of teenage anarchy.
This weeks material really made me consider just how I am going to present my images for the work in progress portfolio assignment. Having set up an account on Portfoliobox I have started to experiment with layouts and style using the images I have so far.
Here you can see my draft version of the portfolio.
I wanted to experiment a little with the backdrop on the site. When I initially uploaded my images they looked a little lost on the white canvas and due to the tones of polaroid shots it looked all over the place. I decided to download some punk rock art montage pages to try and experiment with as the background. My idea being if this style works then I would create a template relevant to the bands imagery and upload something of a familiar style but my own creation.
Although I personally love this style I certainly feel that it may not work for this assignment submission. I already had my doubts about it making things too cluttered visually, that it may distract from the images and that it makes the text to messy and hard to read. Upon further discussion with my peers during the webinar we confirmed that although it fits with the music styling and the idea is within the boundaries of the subject matter it would be better for the end result if I perhaps used a tonal background of grey or off white so the images stand out for themselves. As I am going to be adding handwritten lyrics to the pieces I feel it would start to look to messy, cluttered and detract from the images if I were to continue with this style.
I will develop further with this idea at a later stage I believe as I think it can certainly add to some material further down the line. I feel it reaffirmed the punk rock context I am trying to place my images in. My visit to the Hairy Dog in Derby for my latest photo shoot confirmed this when every room and toilet cubicle was covered in stickers, posters, graffiti and daubing of various natures.
- How do I base my creative decisions on the final outcome of a body of work?
- How can we stop pre-conceived ideas about the presentation context from dampening our open mindedness?
I base my decisions on my final outcomes mainly around consideration of my audience and their possible perceptions of my images. For example one of the reasons I have chosen not to go ahead with the added visuals on my portfolio is because I do not want to alter the subject matter or how the images will be perceived by the use of extra text or the inclusion of imagery which may alter the original context of my images. Simplifying the site will also leave my pieces to speak for themselves and hopefully make it easier for the audience, regardless of musical knowledge or cultural background to absorb. I want my images to speak for themselves.
I think it is important to experiment with different styles and visual materials in order to remain open minded in regards to presentation techniques and context. It is so easy to slip into basic and clinical exhibition style practices because we feel we have to, or that is what is expected. However, it is possible through continued development to use creative presentation techniques to enhance a body of work and to retain the context in which we are trying to depict.
Week 9 – Introducing Critical Theory
Wow, so much to consider and reflect on after this weeks presentations. Thinking more critically about the work of other photographers is somewhat standard but thinking deeper about critical approaches towards my own practice is certainly something I will need to put into practice.
Music photography for me is a multi-sensory experience. It is not just about the sounds but the visual, the energy, the smells, the heat, the passion. It is three dimensional and can be tricky to portray in a still two dimensional image. Images can be an emotional response to the music, the cognitive response being the photographers choice of medium, framing, lighting or technique used before pressing the shutter.
The range of emotions felt and and the message contained or experienced can be different to each viewer, which for me is the joy of music photography. The deconstruction and the analysis/reading of the image can be different depending on ones experiences, social conventions or values or their approach to the arts.
Thinking about the amount of images you can see in one day alone makes you realise we subconsciously make choices each day over those we view and those we scroll past. Instagram is a prime example of photography in the media age. Many have the app for the convenience of filters for self improvement or to give them the ability to take better images. It has become infiltrated with advertisements and celebrity culture as has Facebook. Although you can have more control by choosing what or who to follow it made me realise that despite following subjects of personal interest why do we still find ourselves scrolling past?
For me an image initially has to be aesthetically pleasing or intriguing in order to capture my attention. It has to be saying something more than this is what we are eating for lunch! I certainly agree with Kessel’s opinion that we do not take time with images anymore. Viewing and appreciation seems to be limited to a few seconds and enough time to double tap and like. As a photographer this saddens me deeply as there seems to be a distinct lack of print and appreciation for displaying images and photographs in the modern digital age.
The Works of Sally Mann and Tierney Gearon
Having been already familiar with the works of Sally Mann I already possessed an opinion on her works. That being said I tried to assess and view her work from a new perspective and read the article “Sally Mann’s Exposure” with great interest as to her justification for the nudity contained within her images.
Alongside this I also read the article ” Tierney Gearon Where is the Sex?” and researched some of her work.
I have to say I found the interview with Gearon much easier to read. I felt that Mann was creating a story and fighting to justify the reasonings for her pieces far harder than Gearon. Everything Gearon said made sense to me and I can respect her as an artist and as a mother. Protecting her children’s identities with masks was a layer of protection for them and one I can appreciate. She seemed quite conscious of never capturing her children in a sexual manner or in any sexual poses or sexual context. I personally do not feel that the images are sexual as there are no poses that I saw of a sexual nature and the children do not appear to be sexualised. That being said I do feel that shots containing nudity of children are better placed in the home rather than in books or on gallery walls. In the digital age you cannot guarantee the images could not be used or distributed for ill purpose.
I certainly feel she has a reasonable justification for her images and the content of nudity within. As a mother of a young son (who likes to remain unclothed as much as possible I might add) I can see how the shots were not staged and just part of his normal daily activities with his family.
Tiener Gearon – I am Camera – 2001
My opinion on the works of Mann however are very different. I am unsure of the subject matters place an what she is trying to say with her images of her children. She took her family from a life of solitude into the public domain and not in a positive way. Unlike Gearon there was no attempt at protecting or concealing their identities. Releasing images of this nature is certainly not protecting your children or keeping their safety at best interest and I certainly do not think it appropriate. I believe as Woodland mentions in the article that her actions out her children’s lives at risk. I certainly do not see her images a family snapshots and I do not find the nudity, poses, expressions or context appropriate.
I find it very interesting that she consulted her children on the creative decisions for her book. Being so young and innocent they would surely not be considering the effects their nudity would have on a public forum and how they would be interpreted in a different context. I am all for challenging convention but is it worth risking your children’s safety?
Shiva, From the Immediate Family series, 1991
I find some of her images, as the one above uncomfortable viewing. It feels somewhat like voyeurism for people to be looking at such content. The sexual and erotic connotations of poses and suggestive looks in some images are distasteful to me an extremely inappropriate. I find the attention she and her family received following the release of her work unsavoury however not surprising. I do not feel like these images explore or convey the innocence of childhood, I feel they resemble the speed at which children seem to grow up these days and the effect the sexual material they are exposed to has on their innocent and impressionable state of mind.
I believe my responses are predominantly on an emotional basis as a mother of a young son. As an individual I have a great issue with the sexualisation of popular culture and elements young people are exposed to at such a young age. It is hard to put these feelings aside when critically analysing photographic material of this nature as this is my emotional, cultural and cognitive response.
Week 10 – Theory in Practice.
This week was all about effective means of communication and how to contextualise your work as a contemporary photographer.
We were asked to pick a quote, poem, theory or video piece which was a good example of theory in practice. I chose the quote below form one of my favourite artists.
I think that art, and great ideas come from a non-judgemental space.”
Sigismondi, Floria – 2016
Here is a quote from Floria Sigismondi taken from an interview she did for Magazine Archive.
I love reading interviews but I feel watching them and hearing my favourite artist speak makes the communication more personal. Through the short interview she discusses her inspiration and critiques the work of her role models Deborah Turbeville and Sarah Moon. Hearing her discuss their work and her influences as an artist is inspirational and I feel it really communicates the power of art and photography.
The quote to me reaffirms the importance of acceptance and open minded approaches in photography. It is important to feel the confident and comfortable within your workspace and medium in order to effectively contribute as an artist.
Here is the interview: Pass It On #3: Floria Sigismondi (Links to an external site.)
Magazine Archive. (2016). Pass It On #3: Floria Sigismondi. (Online) Available: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NyAUT7wgP1U. (Accessed 5th August 2018).
I personally find books, journals, articles, interviews and documentaries the best means of communication to contextualise ones practice. I definitely find hearing artists speak in interviews more compelling and emotive as you know it is their own true words.
As I have never really marketed my own work or contextualised its place in industry these methods are all new to me. At this moment in time I am unsure quite which methods would be the best platform.
We were also asked to write a short statement communicating a theoretical position on our current practice. Mine was as follows:
After a recent hiatus with my photographic practice I am currently rediscovering and exploring my passion as a photographer. My main ambition is to find my own style and explore interdisciplinary ways of working to enhance and develop my photographic skills further.
Through the critical analysis of subcultures and theories on counterculture I aim to explore the medium of punk rock, its ethics and political motivations and the visual culture and style historically associated with the medium. I will be investigating its progression from youth subculture into a rooted identity and lifestyle for its older fans.
Moving away from the technically perfect images required for weddings and commercial shoots I am exploring different film mediums and embracing a more technically imperfect approach to my photography. I am using many artistic techniques and approaches in my current practice to aesthetically reinforce the passion, energy, positivity and unity of these underground scenes.
Week 11 – Researching Good Practice
Week 12 – Audience and Proposal in Practice
What a fortnight!
So, with the submission deadline looming for the work in progress portfolio and the research project proposal the last two weeks have been reading, research, a few wobbles and a lot of writing!
I am happy to say all work was handed in on time and now I feel better, but nervous.
As there has been less content on Canvas due to our assignments I have been working independently but keeping in touch with a few members of my cohort just to see how everyone is getting on and it has been great. Everyone has been really supportive and we have each been feeding back where we can despite our busy schedules. I have to say I will miss our Thursday night webinars with our module leader Paul.
Notes, notes, notes. The research and development stages.
Overall I have really enjoyed this module. Time has gone so fast I am actually quite shocked that it is already over! The first week was very intimidating for me as I felt incredibly out of my depth having to get to grips with online systems, tasks, reading and returning to education after a lengthy break. However, once I found my feet I became much more relaxed and things started to flow.
I found the weekly topics very engaging and thought provoking. All the material was relevant and it was great to delve into areas with which I have little or no experience. I think time management is the only aspect I have found incredibly challenging. There have been certain stages were work has been full on and I haven’t had any space to fit in any reading or work at all. I was perhaps a little foolish in thinking that the school holidays would be a good time to get stuck in as with my son being so young studying has been harder to fit in some weeks between time out and days trips etc.
As I mentioned previously I have never really considered my place as a photographic practitioner and as such this is probably the part which has made the biggest impact. I am certainly taking my practice more seriously and considering the longevity of my project and the work which I produce as an artist. I am certainly excited and looking forward to progressing as a practitioner and developing further in due course.