Context, reflective thinking, critical thinking, analysis. Be good to see more relevant and related research/photographers linked to your project – perhaps share this on your learning log – sharing key images by photographers that inspire you with text on why you like their images + what the photographers intention was – how it makes you feel?
I can’t say that any one or two photographers in particular have inspired me directly in the making of this assignment but my research has most certainly fed into my efforts and continues to do so ever more meaningfully as I look closer at the work of other photographers. I’ve been following roughly three lines of enquiry: historical and contemporary landscape photography, in all its diversity (I’ve just finished J.A.P Alexander’s Perspectives on Place, an excellent book that has given me ideas for fresh investigations); photographers who work on very personal projects, in whatever genre; photographers who deal with the everyday in their work, be it gathering images by (apparently) simply walking or hanging around, by engaging with a single location, by attending to a restricted set of themes and topics. Whatever the style, I’ve become drawn to photographers whose work becomes very recognisable as theirs and theirs alone, perhaps because of a few quite distinctive features, colour palette, choices of lighting or techniques of developing/processing their pictures. Fundamentally I’ve chosen to look at artists who make the kind of work that I’d be able to make within my means. I’m not suggesting that I have the skills to make pictures like those I’ve been researching, but simply that, because of where I live, I have easy access to landscape – not just pretty views but the full range of critical problems and topics inherent in the genre – as well as the simple things of everyday life. Finally, like everyone else I have access to my own body and to its movements in time and space.
There are so many excellent landscape photographers to choose from. From the canon of 20th century American artists I’m interested in the work of Lewis Baltz and Robert Adams, primarily for their compositional skills and the consistency of their projects. Form more recent times I’ve taken time to study the work of Ron Jude, whose work at first might appear somewhat bland but on closer inspection reveals an interesting subdued tonal palette and a concern with liminal spaces, the edge rather than the centre. These spaces and places take me back to a childhood fondness for playing in dusty old out-of-the-way sites or yards or railway sidings in the summer months. For example:-
For an ‘everyday’ photographer I should mention Rinko Kawauchi (I bought two of her photobooks) whose work covers so much ground but always looks fresh, spontaneous and seemingly grabbed out of everyday events. There’s a wonderful sense of light going on in all her work as well as a kind of bleached out quality to her prints that appeals to me and makes me wonder whether digital cameras can ever achieve such a palette. Even though her sequences hang by slender threads in terms of a logical narrative, the colours and the treatment of light in particular bind everything together. For example:-
Finally I’ve been following up on the work of photographers who make work around themselves, their body, close circles of friends and so forth. Here I’ll go back to my long standing interest in photography/performing art hybrids – the work of Ana Mendieta and Francesca Woodman are excellent examples. Another is J.P Engstrom who, in working with all manner of cameras, techniques and subjects gives the impression of spontaneity experimentation and adventure largely base around his own experiences in life. For example:-
You have referenced Rodchenko and his influence is reflected in the work, but be interesting to see more playful angles / perspectives which are in line to his practice.
This is excellent advice and I took this on board as best I could in my final amendments by incorporating image 6 which has a more playful perspective.
You have referenced photography theory and writing, but it’s also important to look at contemporary photographers – which photographers explore modes of representation, challenge truth and how?
This is something I intend to address more constantly in the forthcoming assignments.
Try to imagine a stranger looking at your images and then reading a paragraph about the work – keep it simple and straightforward – you want most of their reading and analysing to be when they look at your images.
My statement on the pictures from Assignment 2:-
‘This series explores the domestic environment, often ignored or taken for granted as we go about our daily business. But, as if for the first time, we look with fresh eyes, shed fresh light upon these commonplace things, we can learn to be fascinated again, to experience the pleasures of childhood where everything is full of promise.’
Consider simple and straightforward concepts, research artists/theorists that explore themes you’re interested in and write about what excites you about their work / writing and how you will draw/explore from that in your project.
Try to experiment more with genres, potentially mixing approaches but still considering how to keep the images connected – ie. By colour, theme or symbolism.
I’m realising that the most important skill lies in sizing up individual images, then keeping the salient features of theses in mind as you shoot the rest of a series, made all the more challenging by the fact that a series might be spread out across considerable distances in terms of space and time.
The ideas I have are fairly interesting though I need to improve on how these are presented in photographic imagery. Because I read a lot I’m confident that if I keep reading and studying photographers I’ll absorb some good practice and find something of my own.
Areas for development
I believe that I need to plan and research my assignments prior to any involvement with the camera. That’s not to say that I stop taking pictures but that I focus my reading and research around the assignment, take notes and come up with original ideas and concepts, then start taking photographs with what should be more consistency and focus.
On a recent overseas trip I took hundreds of photos, many with specific ideas in mind and having briefly looked through I can say that the efforts I made to frame and compose my shots is paying off. I still made several photos in a more free flowing spontaneous mindset but where I take time to look around a subject I’m coming up with some presentable images.
Writing and Research
Following the feedback for Assignment 2 I’ll be continuing my reading but spending much more time looking at individual photographers. I usually begin my making lists of photographers that I find interesting as I read, then read interviews and statements about their work. This results in smaller shortlists of artists whose work I go into in some depth, making notes and cross-referencing as I go.
I don’t know if the next assignment is the right one, but at some point soon I’ll be working with a medium format film camera that I bought used, and reading exposure settings from a light meter. I’ll also be seeking advice and tips from friends at the local camera club on working in low light and indoors. After that I’d like to do some work, indoors and in the landscape, around self-portraiture.
My overseas project is based around ‘The Fundamentals of Architecture’ where I took photos of platforms, canopies, pits, boundaries, markers and so forth – these being the fundamentals. Many of the pictures were taken in Greece which is quite appropriate, not only because of the ancient history of the country with respect to architecture, but also because of the fact that many buildings are only half-completed as a result of the economic crash.
I’m always learning new skills and will use Assignment 3 to get a firm handle on working in shutter priority. Because it’s summer there are many sporting and outdoors events where I can get creative with fast shutter speeds or long exposures. The light is also good early morning and late evening for low light work and I’d like to explore new creative possibilities in this area.
I’ve learned so much about how to think conceptually (in the wider sense of the word as opposed to thinking only as a conceptual artists) by studying the photos and writing of established photographers. My aim is to be able to form as clear and tight conceptual frameworks as possible prior to a new assignment. To somehow think the photographs before taking them.
I write and take notes as I read. Over time I want to get round to writing clearly and concisely about my various projects as they come to fruition. The feedback point on keeping things simple should guide me in this area.