The purpose of this exercise is to shoot a series of photographs based on a specific subject.
Once the subject has been decide upon then a suitable visual strategy needs to be chosen and the series of photographs taken using this same strategy.
Once the final selection of images have been made they should be printed in a grid or linear series and then people should be asked to comment on them and their responses noted down.
My Favourite Things
As part of the research this exercise we were asked to look at Michael Wolf’s My Favourite Things.
In his project My Favourite Things Michael Wolf has captured a number of photographic series that each revolve around a single item. For instance mops, chairs, people, cats, plants, rubber gloves and many more.
Wolf’s work shows that if you just open your eyes to the world around you it is possible to find things to photograph. When you begin to look around, you soon begin to notice things. It’s like when you buy a car, you soon begin to spot other cars like it on the road as you drive about.
The series of images that Wolf groups together also highlights that when you do look at the world around you, it becomes obvious that people put things in the most unusual of places.
Having looked at Michael Wolf’s My Favourite Things (Wolf) I decided that I would combine this exercise with another interest of mine. Something I’ve not done for a few years, geocaching. However, before I could set about doing that, and also in keeping with the idea that I have to shoot a variety of options, I had the opportunity to take some photos at a workshop I was doing. I’ve therefore ended up with two series – Geocaching and Fire, the latter you can find after the contact sheets for Geocaching.
One of the country parks near where I live set up a ring of geocaches several years ago for people to try and find as a summer activity. The caches were there about 5 years ago when my son and I got into geocaching. We explored the area and found several of the caches but never finished searching for them.
Finding and photographing the entire series of caches seems like an ideal subject for this exercise.
There are two approaches that could be taken with regards to the visual strategy. The first would be to photograph the location of the cache from a distance. This has the advantage that you wouldn’t be giving away the location of the cache to anyone that happened to be passing by and would be able to find the cache and ensure it was hidden again discretely.
However, the end result would be a series of image of landscape images which would not have an obvious theme.
The second approach would be to photograph the cache up close. This runs the risk of people noticing what you are doing and something happening to the cache after you’d moved on. Also by using a close up approach there is the danger that you don’t have any background to lend any additional context.
The best solution would be to take a variety of photographs (close up and more distant) and then select the best visual strategy when deciding on the final selection.
Below are both the close-up and distance versions of the geocache series.
As caches are, by their nature, designed to be difficult to see. The idea is to make them easy enought to find if you know where to look but difficult enough that they are not going to be found by someone passing by, who may then decided to move the cache or even throw it away completely. As a result some of the distant shots need to be looked at carefully in order to spot the cache, one I don’t think you can actually see the cache, but hey, that’s what I saw when looking for the cache; hint – it’s the one of the ivy covered tree stump. The actual cache is in the close up series.
The cache in the fence post lying on the ground used to be easier; relatively, to find as the post has fallen down since I visited it last. Back then the cache was a piece of paper hidden in a crack in the wood. Now you have to turn to post over to discover it.
Most of the caches here are just big enough to hold a piece of paper for you to write the date and some form of identification on; name, initials, geocaching ID. Others are big enough to contain small items; sharpeners, rubbers, small badges. If you find one of these caches then protocol dictates that if you take something from it, then you replace it with something else.
Cache Up Close
I recently had the opportunity to do a fire eating workshop run by Ryan Darling. At the start of the workshop I felt a bit nervous, even when it came to just running the lit fire stick up along the palm of my hand and up and down the length of my forearm. The heat from the stick was too uncomfortable and so I moved it down the arm, a few millimetres above it.
Once we were happy with that, we moved on to fire eating. Starting off with unlit fire sticks we practiced getting the stick into our moves and even “teething”, which is where you bite on the wick of the on the stick. Confident we could do that, the sticks were again lit and we repeated the activity, this time trying to avoid burning our mouths, nose hairs, and anything else that got in the way of the flames.
Since I was taking photos, I couldn’t take any of me, but I do have some taken by someone else that prove that I did the same as everyone else.
After we’d finished that, we had a go at fire transfers, which is where you have two fire sticks, one lit, the other not. You grab the wick of the lit stick in order to get some of the lit fuel on your hand or fingers and quickly grab the unlit stick. If you are quick enough then the stick lights.
The workshop ended with us having a go with a variety of items, fire staffs, fire pois and, my favourite, fire fans.
- Wolf, M My Favourite Things. Available at: http://photomichaelwolf.com/#my-favourite-thing-groups-2/1 [Accessed 19th February 2018]