Part 3 Feedback

I’ve had a chat with my tutor about assignment 3 and the work I did during the thrid part of the course. As the chat was online I’ve got the written feedback in bullet form which I’ve included below.

Assignment 3

  • Improvement in Photoshop skills, well suited to the idea you are exploring. The merge function has worked well and to good effect.
  • Overall images lack ‘punch’ this could be addressed through increasing contrast or some saturation. Consider what it it you are trying to convey – what is the relationship between the 2 figures.
  • It’s a strong idea but what is the dialogue/conversation between the 2?
  • How might you better direct the models to communicate your ideas. Were there any barriers in directing them more?
  • Both images are staged against very busy backgrounds which appear out of context/
    incongruous with the activity. Consider how you might overcome this whilst remaining true to your original vision.
  • Sequencing of images could be important in helping you develop and communicate your idea/concept.

As I’ve progressed through the course I’ve used the techniques that have been highlighted in the course notes and exercises. Some I’ve found useful, others not so much. Some techniques I use regularly, others very infrequently.

Recently I’ve been making use of other techniques to improve the quality of my images, spot removal for instance.

One of the suggestions for the next assignment is to make use of the tone curve in order to improve the tonality and contrast in my images. I’ve started doing that with some photographs I took of seals while staying in Norfolk. I also looked at adjusting the saturation and vibrance in a couple of images, which I think make them better.

With regards to the assignment I had considered a number of techniques that would allow me to overlay the images. However, being of the keep it simple school of thought, decided to go with what I felt was the easiest.

The concept behind the series of images is one that I will try and explore further, with other subjects as well as the two that I’ve already used. However, before I undertake further shoots I need to refine the brief and also come up with a bit more of a narrative.

I think the point about directing the models better is a fair one. Although there wasn’t any probems communicating what I wanted, I gave a very high level of instruction and let them do what they wanted. Having a better idea of what I want to achieve I hope will allow better direction.

In general I think I hadn’t given enough thought about what I was trying to convey and the story I wanted to get across. I had a subject for the photographs (performers) and an idea of what I wanted to do (have the same person performing and viewing themselves) but hadn’t gone beyond that. Something I need to work at in the next section of the course.

Projects/ Exercises

Part 1. Series and sequence: good attempt at maintaining the crop – not easy in a
public space. Seasonal change is a well known example to explore. Returning
to previous ideas and exploring them in projects/exercises is beneficial. Good
to shoot a range of options – good that you reflected on that advice! Images
lack contrast, add slight a curve?

Part 2. Difficult as your sitter is sensitive to appearance, what did you feel about this
exercise, might you have chosen a different sitter?

Part 3. Couldn’t be accessed.

With Part 2, using another sitter would have meant arranging a time convenient to both of us when they could have dropped in and we could have taken the photos. The brief requiring us to take photos, and then allow the person being photographed to doctor the images in whatever way they saw fit required access to a printer or some other means of producing a print. Without ready access to this, the exercise involves a lot of scheduling of time and availability of everyone involved.

Part 3 just wasn’t there. When reading through the course notes I missed the part about researching Richard Billingham’s photos. I’ve remedied that now.

Learning Log/Blog

You continue to maintain a well populated learning log that features detailed notes and
thoughts on a range of exhibitions and visits. Interesting to read your reflections on Arbus – what do you think on her approach to her ‘subjects’, to those on the outskirts of the society of which she was a part. Do you find the work voyeuristic or do you think she had empathy with them? She is a much discussed/cited photographer, often much is made of the manner of her death but how much has this shaped our discourse around her?

Consider some of these issues when looking at the work and try to get less bogged down in the detail around her wider life story (husband, children, work etc.). This is important to some degree, but it is background information. What we are discussing here is the work on its own terms – what do you understand/feel when you look at her work – what response do you have to it?

Arbus was an interesting person, reading the biography showed that. What I didn’t do was move beyond the biodgraphy and explore her work in enough detail, critiquing some of her images. I’ll look to do that in another post, and also remember to do something similar with other photographers whose biographies I read. Although understanding who they are or were is important, exploring their work is the way to develop ourselves as photographers, looking at what it is appeals or intrigues us, draws us to them.

In response to the questions posed:

I don’t feel that her work is voyeuristic. I believe that she was drawn to the people that she chose to photograph because she had a certain empathy with them. They weren’t part of mainstream society, and she herself didn’t fit how society might have dictated she should behave. By photographing “freaks” and people who were different she was highlighting how diverse society is. Although her photos could be seen as voyeuristic I don’t think that she would have been able to capture the images she did without instilling trust in the people she photographed. No matter how good a photographer you might be, without your subject trusting you, you’ll never truly personal and intimate images.

I think the manner of her death will colour any discussion of her work. If you know something about a person, how they lived and even died then it will have an influence on how you see their work. If you know the circumstances around a photograph they’ve taken, you begin to see it differently.

For instance if you were to see an image of someone in the street and they appeared angry then you’d wonder what has caused them to be angry. If that person was part of a crowd at a demonstration then that anger could be directed at the target of the demonstration, police or armed forces that were policing the demonstration, people who were protesting against the demonstration. You could not be sure but could come up with multiple reasons. However, if you were then told that moments after the photograph was taken they ripped the camera away from the photographer you see the image differently and an entirely different set of reasons for their anger opens up.

If Arbus had died of old age, illness or in an accident then her work would be seen in a different light. Arbus taking her own life, colours how we see her work because it becomes the product of someone who struggled throughout her life, who didn’t always have control over the work she produced but did have control over the way her life ended. It also lends a degree of tragedy to her work and leave the question of how successful a photographer would she have become if she’d not committed suicide.

Suggested reading/viewing

You might enjoy the film on Diane Arbus ‘Fur’
A recent show in London at The Barbican ‘Photography on the Margins, more here: https://www.barbican.org.uk/our-story/press-room/another-kind-of-life-photography-on-the-margins
Do some more research around the show, read some reviews (it has since closed)
investigate some the practitioners listed further.
For the next assignment – have a look at the work of OCA tutor, Andy Hughes here:
http://www.andyhughes.net/

I’ll be looking at ‘Fur’ when the opportunity presents itself. An initial look at the trailer and reviews show a film that is a very artistic spin on Arbus; although based in part on fact, is focussed on a short period of her life, and which doesn’t touch upon her eventual suicide in any way.

For assignment 4 I want to try and build on some of the photos I took in Cyprus that reflect man’s impact on the environment. Although the assignment relates to still life I look to take this outside the confines of a studio/home and instead capture images in situ, but in a way that leaves the subject matter isolated from the environment and so making it unclear as to whether it is natural or constructed.

The biggest challenge being finding locations and creating the still life, do I capture objects as is or build something from them.

Photography as visual research

Photography is often used as a tool to document the specificity of visual appearances. We’re all familiar with this use in passport photography, anthropological photography and crime photography. There’s no pretence at aesthetic quality: the photographer points the camera at the subject and tries to take a neutral ‘visual document’ which stands as visual evidence for what it represents.

This mode of making pictures can be useful to all photographers as a means to research their subject. Whether this results in ‘finished’ pictures or not doesn’t really matter; it’s a means to gain visual knowledge. Take a look at Richard Billingham’s Ray’s a Laugh – a collection of family portraits originally taken as visual research for a painting project

It’s important to make a distinction here between what we can know through experience
and verbal language and what is specifically visual. Thoughts aren’t visual and neither are emotions, although you can photograph the physical manifestations of these. Just look at Billingham’s telling pictures of his dad to see this at work. Political ideologies aren’t visual either but you can photograph people and events that illustrate them.

Rickard (2010) and Hodsdon (2014) show a selection of images from Richard Billingham’s “Ray’s a Laugh”. An image search using Google (other search engines are available) brings up a lot more.

At first glance the images look very much like the snapshots that we are all familiar with that our parents or grandparents might have taken in the days before digital cameras. If I was to open up any of the photo albums or go into some of the boxes of photos I have at home I’d be able to find any number of photographs that have a similar feel to them.

And I think that is an important point. Looking at the images, the decor of the home, the poses, they seem familiar, comforting in some ways but also unsettling in others.

Comforting in that they bring back memories of growing up.

Unsettling in that they are almost voyeuristic, allowing the viewer to peer into moments that are intimate, personal. While also giving a sense of being part of things.

They also provide that intimate feeling because the images are sharing events that a lot of us can relate to but also events that most people would not want to share with the world.

References

  1. Rickard, D (2010) Richard Billingham: “Ray’s a Laugh” (2000) [online] Available at: https://www.americansuburbx.com/2010/07/richard-billingham-rays-laugh.html [Accessed 3rd July 2018]
  2. Hodsdon, C (2014) “Ray’s a Laugh” [online] Available at: https://www.juxtapoz.com/news/photography/ray-s-a-laugh/ [Accessed 3rd july 2018]

Re-Photographing

The brief for this exercise was:

Portrait

  1. Take a photo of a person’s face.
  2. Make a print about life-size and ask your model to affect their portrait – the print. The purpose here is to allow the sitter’s personality to affect their appearance. They can do anything to the print from drawing the classic spectacles and missing tooth to writing on it or cutting and tearing.
  3. When they’re done, ask the model to hold the print up to their face, possibly so that the features match, and make another photograph of the model. Of course this will depend on what they’ve done with the print.
  4. Print out this photo. It’s the second remove from ‘reality’ and it represents two distinct times and two experiences. In this way, the resulting photograph contains a creative process.

Final Images

So using my readily available model, I took several shots of them which I adjusted in Lightroom, exported out to jpeg files and then printed off. These were then handed over for them to alter in whichever way they saw fit. Further photographs were then taken while they held up the photograph in front of their face, as per the brief.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Conclusion

I’ve not included contact sheets for this exercise and only included a subset of the images taken for this exercise. Just enough to demostrate that I’ve fulfilled the brief. After I’ve received feedback on assignment 3 I’ll take this post down because Tracey is very sensitive to her appearance.

 

 

Documenting Change

“Everything changes, weathers, grows or otherwise shows signs of transformation.”

The brief for this exercise was to make a sequence of photographs that shows the same subject, but in different states.

Any subject can be chosen but it needs to be clearly identified and the conditions of change that are to be shown need to be noted.

The end result of the exercise is to produce at least three images in the sequence that show the subjects different states and communicates the changes you’ve identified.


This exercise came up just a few days and weeks to late for me to make full use of some changes that were going on near where I live. There has been a lot of roadworks going on recently which has resulted in some major amounts of change.

One of the changes was the removal of a large amount of trees and grass opposite the entrance to a local superstore. By the time I reached this exercise all of the trees and grass had been removed. However, the intention is for further work to be done and so even missing the start of the changes documenting the rest of the work is entirely possible.

Another major change that was going on was the addition of traffic lights at a roundabout near to where I work. The work has caused a lot of problems because of narrowed lanes reducing the flow of traffic. Again the work had already started by the time this exercise came up but documenting the rest of the changes was again possible.

The final thing that I’m considering for this exercise is to photograph one of the trees outside the church I attend. Last year I took some photos of the tree when it was full of blossoms. Documenting the change that the tree goes through, from bare branches, through it full of blossoms until it is full of leaves would be an interesting activity.

All of the options above reflect growth and transformation.

By documenting all four I’m fulfilling one of the pieces of feedback I received for assignment 2, to shoot a range of options for each project and exercise.

One of the things that this exercise has highlighted for me, is the need to be aware of what is going on in the area you live and any changes that may be happening, because you never know when taking you camera out and photographing what is happening might be useful.

Final Images

The photos I decided upon for the final set of images were taken across the road from the church. The focus of the images is one of the trees whose branches were bare at the time I started the exercise. Over time buds appeared on the branches which were then followed by blossoms.

Exercise 3.4 - St James Church-6108Exercise 3.4 - St James Church-6842Exercise 3.4 - St James Church-7157

I’ve also included some close ups of the tree showing the changes is has undergone.

 

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Contact Sheets

 

 

Mixing Genres

The brief for this exercise was:

How could you mix genres together in one photograph?
Lets keep it simple and stick to the three easiest genres: landscape, portrait and still life (though you are free to use which ever genre you want.)
Choose a subject you’d like to photograph. It can be anything at all, a place, a person, an object or a story. Take your subject and add to it elements of the other genres.
This isn’t about chucking together random subjects – what you’re looking for is an effective, telling mix. For example, you could place a friend outside the house where she was born holding the wedding ring of her mother. Can you understand how each of theses elements resonates with each other?

Subject

The easiest genre for me to photograph is landscape. Where I live I have easy access to the countryside. The country park a few miles from Yeovil has views out over lowland areas.

To add a second genre to this I thought about still life. To achieve this I thought about adding something which obviously didn’t belong in the image. This brought me to the idea of using stuffed animals.

In addition to that I used made use of a large boulder and shot some figures from the film Aliens.

Final Images

Wolfie

Snowy and Friend

Dragon’s over Somerset

Exercise 3.6-7600

Alien Standoff

Reflection

Combining two different genres was interesting. The toy wolf is a lot more subtle, particular in the shot where it is in amongst the grass. I think it would be easy to confuse it for a real animal if you didn’t look closely. When it’s on the rock it is a lot more obvious that it isn’t real.

With the toy panda and bear I particularly liked the shot where the lcamera lens has produced a rainbow effect which draw the attention to the panda.

The dragon was just a bit of fun.

With the Ripley and Alien photos I was trying to reproduce something I’ve seen others do where they use small figures and place them amongst normal size plants, which then seem gigantic in comparison. The close up shot, made up mostly of the rock, makes the figures almost appear as if they are in an alien landscape.

Trying to merge landscape and small objects was a challenge. I think if I was to merge landscape with some form of still life in future I’d opt for much larger objects.

Contact Sheets

A Significant Place

The brief for this exercise was:

Think of a place that holds meaning for you. Note down the reasons why it matters. (For reasons of practicality, choose somewhere accessible.)
Think about how you could photograph that place in a way and in a light that reflects its meaning to you. Is there a particular viewpoint in your mind’s eye? A particular time of day? Make a photograph exactly as you have pre-visualised it and try to convey its special meaning to you in the photograph.
Does the photo reflect your memory at all? Do the colours seem right? If not, change them – and anything else that would help the photo resonate more powerfully.

A Significant Place

There are a number of places that have a significance to me. My parents’ home, where I grew up, the church we go to, the crematorium where my son’s ashes rest. Trying to decide on one place led me to consider Blenheim Palace, although it didn’t hurt that I was going to be racing a triathlon there. Unfortunately I didn’t have enough time to take as many photos as I would have liked but I did manage to capture some.

Final Images

Registration 2

Registration

Blenhim Palace 3

Blenhim Palace 2

The last two photos above don’t do the scale of the event justice. There were about 3000 triathletes of all abilities racing on the Saturday, with a similar number racing on the Sunday.

Just to show that I do occasionally get the other side of the camera here are some my partner took, before and after my race.

Blenheim Pre race (by Tracey)

Before, waiting for my swim wave to be called for the race briefing.

Blenheim post race (by Tracey)

Post race re-hydration. Honestly that is an isotonic drink (Erdinger 0.5% by volume)

A Significant Object

The brief for this exercise was as follows:

You probably own many significant objects, from a wedding ring to old clothes, trophies of achievement to mementos that recall special events or times of your life, like toys or records. Choose one of these to photograph. This mustn’t be a general thing like ‘flowers’ but something entirely specific to you.
Respect the fact that this object matters to you. Photograph it carefully, thinking about how this object ought to be viewed through the camera. Consider the framing, viewpoint, background, placement, light and composition.
Does the photograph (the representation) have the same meaning as the object itself ? Is there a difference?
Now develop this exercise into a series of three photographs of similar objects. For example, if you chose to photograph your wedding ring, ask friends if you can photograph their wedding rings. If you photographed your home, photograph other people’s homes. Use exactly the same viewpoint, framing, lighting (as far as possible), background, etc., for each. This will help the three final photos fit together as a conclusive series.
Look online at the work of Bernd and Hilla Becher. Note how the composition, framing and lighting is almost identical in each photograph and how this ‘gels’ the series together.

Research

Bernd and Hilla Becher

Bernd and Hilla Becher, are artists originally from Germany, who worked as industrial photographers. In 1966 they set of in their VW Camper Van heading with their two year old son for South Wales. The purpose of their trip was to photograph the winding towers and processing plants for the coal mines. Despite the miners being unsure about what the Becher’s were doing, they soon came to respect the determination and thoroughness with which the couple approached their photography.

Bernd passed away on the 22nd June 2007, Hilla passed away on the 10th October 2015.

Hilla’s mother and uncle were both photographers and she trained as a photographer at the Lette-Verein technical academy in Berlin.

In 1951 she apprenticed with Walter Eichgrun. One of the assignments she produced during this time documented a railway repair facility, and the work she submitted for her portfolio when formally qualifying as a photographer included an industrial landscape.

After they met, Hilla was influential in the way Bernd’s photography developed.

Bernd’s own journey started off with painting and graphic art. He turned to photography following the closing down of a mine in Siegen, as a means to document a mine in Eisern when he realised he wasn’t going to be able to document the mine quickly enough using drawings.

Looking at their work the attention to detail is amazing. Grouping similar types of structures together, and photographing them in similar ways allows the similarities and differences between them to stand out more than if the lighting and way they were captured was widely different.

From the beginnings of the Industrial Revolution the landscape across the world has changed from one that was predominantly farm based, to a much more industrial one, with towns and cities sprouting up to service the industrial complex.

As times have progressed the structures that were built, some very complicated and intricate; beautiful in their own way, have disappeared, to be replaced with ones that fit within the modern aesthetic. Look at office buildings such as the Gherkin and the Shard  for examples of how architecture can change.

With the decline of iron, steel and coal industries, especially within the UK, the buildings and structures that the Becher’s documented are disappearing daily, with the places they were once found being redeveloped or landscaped, but such places can still be found.

I grew up in the town of Merthyr Tydfil in South Wales. The town was once at the heart of the industrial revolution in Wales, with numerous iron foundries, which built fortunes for the iron masters, such as Richard Crawshay. The coal industry was an important part of the way of life as was the steel industry when I was a youngster.

Overlooking the town there was an area of slag heaps that we used to call the White Tip. About 20 years ago there was a move to remove the tip and to return the area to how it would have looked before the dawn of the iron foundries. Today the area that towered over the town is an area of rolling grassland.

O’Hagan (2014) ends their article with the following:

"But the Bechers' way of working belongs to the past now. This is a requiem for a lost world and shows that, through the passing of time, even that which was once considered purely functional and even ugly, can attain beauty when seen through the eyes of the most attentive photographers."

I don’t believe that this is true. I think that the way that the Becher’s worked is still as valid now as it was then. As we develop as cultures we should be documenting the changing world around us so that our descendants are able to see how the world that they inhabit has changed and developed, whether that is for the better or not.

Significant Object(s)

Chess Trophy and orienteering plaque.

Similar Objects

Fishing plaque belonging to Dado

Sports trophy belonging to Dad

Bowling trophies and plaques belonging to Rhys or Rhys’ Project Search award

Final Sequence

For my final sequence I went with a set of images containing plaques. Three generations with my grandfather, myself and my son. The red background was adjusted in Lightroom so that the exposure has similar exposure for the red background.

After working through the series of images I was able to produce another two sequences.

I have two plaques that belong to my grandfather. One of the plaques I just couldn’t get a photograph I was happy with and so I created the above sequence using both plaques.

For the final sequence I decided that I was going to use something other than plaques. By doing that I could keep the three generations theme and include a trophy that belonged to my Dad.

Contact Sheets

Conclusions

The nature of the objects that I decided to photograph made keeping the lighting the same for each of the shots easy.

When I started thinking about what I was going to photograph, and how, I decided that I’d invest in a lightbox and some small portable lights from Amazon. I spent a bit of time researching what was available, looking at the reviews to get an idea of people’s opinions of each different type and eventually picked a lightbox and set of lamps.

The lightbox I selected is very similar to a reflector in the way it can be collapsed down, putting it up is incredibly easy. I wish I’d thought to buy one sooner as I’m sure it would have helped with other project, for instance the photgraphing the end result of the painting with light one.

When it came time to photograph the objects I’d chosen I decided that I need to do more than simply capture some trophies. No matter how hard you try, photographing something like a plaque or a medal runs the risk of being a bit too clinical, almost like you were photographing it to sell on eBay. It can lose some of what makes it so important. The objects I decided to photograph belong, in the main, to people who have had a huge influence on my life. The objects represent something that for me defines them and is part of my memories of them.

With that in mind I decided that in addition to the trophies I would include one or two photographs of the person in question.

I did try photographing just my grandfather’s plaques, without any photographs, but I felt the result was too clinical, partly because it was shot against the white background, but I don’t believe the results would have been any better against a coloured background.

One other thing that I’ve taken away from this exercise is, that , if you are going to use a backdrop, then make sure its been ironed if possible so that there’s no creases in the shots.

I also plan to revisit this exercise at a later date and reshoot the shots with a different lighting set up, one that allows for a greater depth of field.

I did find the use of the lightbox very helpful because it allowed anything that would have been a distraction to be removed from the background.

References

  1. Collins, M. (2015) Hilla Becher obituary. [online] Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2015/oct/15/hilla-becher [Accessed 12 May 2018]
  2. Guggenheim. (2007) Bernd And Hilla Becher. [online] Available at: https://www.guggenheim.org/artwork/artist/Bernd-and-Hilla-Becher [Accessed 12 May 2018]
  3. O’Hagan, S. (2014) Lost world: Bernd and Hilla Becher’s legendary industrial photographs [online] Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2014/sep/03/bernd-and-hilla-becher-cataloguing-the-ominous-sculptural-forms-of-industrial-architecture [Accessed 12 May 2018]
  4. Blake Stimson, ‘The Photographic Comportment of Bernd and Hilla Becher’, Tate Papers, no.1, Spring 2004, http://www.tate.org.uk/research/publications/tate-papers/01/photographic-comportment-of-bernd-and-hilla-becher, accessed 12 May 2018.
  5. Tate (2018) Search Results. [online] Available at: http://www.tate.org.uk/search?type=artwork&aid=718 [Accessed 12 May 2018]
  6. Lange, S., Conrath-Sholl, G. (2007) Bernd Becher. [online] Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/news/2007/jul/20/guardianobituaries.germany [Accessed 12 May 2018]
  7. George, A. The Dowlais Great White Tip. Available at: http://www.alangeorge.co.uk/TheDowlaisGreatWhiteTip.htm [Accessed 13 May 2018]

Photographs from Text

The brief for this exercise was to choose a text that has meaning for you, anything from a poem, newspaper report, biblical passage or scene from a novel.

Once the text has been decided upon then several things need to happen:

  • Generate visual ideas that communicate the text.
  • Discuss the text with other people and find out what ideas spring to mind for them, jot the ideas down.

At this point, how to turn the text into an image or series of images can be considered.

  • Start with thinking about a literal translation of the text.
  • Next think about ways to illustrate the text metaphorically or symbolically.

As part of the activity the relationship between image and text should be researched by looking at Barbara Kruger’s montages of photography and text, plus Gillian Wearing’s Signs that say what you want them to say and not signs that say what someone else wants you to say.

Research

Gillian Wearing

Wearing’s Signs that say what you want them to say and not signs that say what someone else wants you to say is a series of 600 photographs, taken during 1992 and 1993.

For the series, Wearing approached people in the street and asked them to write what they were thinking on a piece of A3 paper. She then photographed them holding the paper up in front of them.

Looking at the series of images you are struck by the candor of some of the people. The business man holding a sign saying “I’m desperate”, the young woman leaning against some railings with a sign saying “My grip on life is rather loose!”

Viewing the images in The New Yorker article, Bonhacker (2013), each of the individuals seems to be smiling for the camera. Not obvious grins in most cases, but discrete smiles that almost suggest that the individual is glad to have been able to share with someone what they are thinking at the time.

The idea of getting people to hold up a piece of card with something written on it is a simple one. However, to actually go up to people in the street and pursuade them to allow you to photograph them holding up that card with your thought for all to see, is challenging. How many people turned her down? How many images must have been taken in order to get 600 that you are happy to use?

We are all familiar with scenes from movies, music videos, or the many Facebook videos where someone is holding up a sign or a series of signs that give a message to the viewer. Wearing’s project is the fore-runner for all of these and is an important example of how a photographers work can be influential and have far reaching effects, across more than the media they worked in.

Barbara Kruger

Kruger’s work involves overlaying a image with a slogan. The slogans usually juxtapose with the image. Text is usually written in one colour on a contrasting block background. Usually white text on a red block. A quick image search in Google reveals lots of images that have a similar feel to them, not all of which I feel are down to Barbara Kruger, but as one image states “Plagiarism is the sincerest form of imitation”.

One of Kruger’s more famous images is titled “Your body is a battleground” and has the text ovelaying a persons face, one half of which is a normal print/exposure, the other half being a negative print/exposure. Scanning the result of the image search there are several examples of people having produced similar images.

In a similar way to Gillian Wearing, Barbara Kruger has influenced a generation.

Selected Text

Don’t Stop Dad. 26.2 miles today, all smiles tomorrow

Visual Ideas

The text is from a large card that hangs on the wall above my desk at home. The word Dad is in my son’s handwriting and was done when I completed the London marathon for the second time. I’m not sure at what point he wrote it before the race but I think it was between being admitted to St Thomas Hospital, the evening before, and me seeing him stood waving it by Big Ben, after they’d allowed him out for a couple of hours.

There are two aspects to this text. The 26.2 miles and the smiles.

To me the 26.2 miles denotes effort, determination, pain, undertaking or completing a hard task.

Smiles denotes, relief, pleasure, enjoyment, achievement.

Visually I see this as a mix of images involving effort and pain, happiness and relief.

Results of discussions with other people

When it came to discussing what people thought about the text I made use of social media and posted the question my Facebook page. I find that is a useful way to start some discussions because it can give you access to more people than you might be able to reach face to face.

Some of the responses I received were:

Motivation, determination through struggle, and optimism, looking forward to success and a rest

“Hell on Earth”

and the following image. Which I find particularly powerful because of the person it came from.

Which step

And for anyone who has ever completed a marathon, the bottom step is exactly how you feel for the first few days after you’ve crossed the finish line and people ask you if you’re going to another marathon. The top  step is you a few days after that when you’ve submitted that entry for another marathon.

Literal Translation

My initial idea for this was to take a small digital camera and use it to photograph people before then start of the 2018 London Marathon, possibly during the race; including the supporters at Teenage Cancer Trust charity points around the course, at the end of the race and if possible the morning after. In the end this idea didn’t pan out due to my digital camera falling out of the pouch of my running belt, which had come unzipped, sometime early on in the race.

I did manage to capture some photos during the event using the camera on my phone, which probably should have been what I opted to do from the start, rather than take a camera. These images are the basis for the work submitted for this exercise.

Metaphorical / Symbolical Illustration

If I was to interpret this text metaphorically or symbolically then I’d either look at photographing each of the steps in the image above, with a possible sporting influence. Alternatively, I would capture images that showed people struggling and maybe feeling somewhat disheartened, people striving towards achieving something and then images of people looking satisfied that they have reached an end. Or maybe photograph people going on journeys, the start of the journey, along the way, and when they finally reach their destination.

Images

Exercise 3.5 - Photographs from Text-143747Exercise 3.5 - Photographs from Text-144006Exercise 3.5 - Photographs from Text-155825Exercise 3.5 - Photographs from Text-124226Exercise 3.5 - Photographs from Text-100131Exercise 3.5 - Photographs from Text-132929Exercise 3.5 - Photographs from Text-161739Exercise 3.5 - Photographs from Text-161940Exercise 3.5 - Photographs from Text-162222Exercise 3.5 - Photographs from Text-162604Exercise 3.5 - Photographs from Text-164026Exercise 3.5 - Photographs from Text-165610Exercise 3.5 - Photographs from Text-171519Exercise 3.5 - Photographs from Text-120202

Conclusion

The deadline for my next assignment is the 18th May and I still have a number of exercises to complete before that becomes due. As a result I’m not able to spend a lot more time on this exercise. What I’ve produced fits the brief for the exercise. I’ve taken a piece of text and produced a series of images based around that text. The resultant images aren’t my best work, and don’t reflect what I had in mind when planning what to take, with more time I’d have ended up with something different.

When I sat down to select the images I was going to use I decided that I’d use Barbara Kruger’s as an influence and add text to each of the images, apart from one, and that one didn’t really need anything else adding to it. Admittedly in some cases the text is repeating what you can already see in the image, but if you had not idea of the distance involved in a marathon then the text does have meaning.

I’d like to redo this exercise either next time I do London, or at a different marathon, perhaps one that I’m not taking part in.  In addition I’d like to explore the metaphorical/symbolical way of illustrating the text, which is something that I hopefully will be able to do in parallel with the exercises and assignments in the rest of the course.

Contact Sheets

References

  1. Bohnacker, S (2013) Picture Desk: Gillian Wearing [Accessed: 15th April 2018] Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/gallery/2012/mar/04/gillian-wearing-signs-in-pictures

Series

Brief

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.

Research

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.

Geocaching

Overview

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.

Final Series

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Distance Cache

Cache Up Close

Contact Sheets

Geocaching-1Geocaching-2Geocaching-3Geocaching-4Geocaching-5Geocaching-6

Fire

Overview

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.

Final Series

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Contact Sheets

Fire Eating Workshop-1Fire Eating Workshop-2Fire Eating Workshop-3Fire Eating Workshop-4

References

  1. Wolf, M My Favourite Things. Available at: http://photomichaelwolf.com/#my-favourite-thing-groups-2/1 [Accessed 19th February 2018]