Self reflection

Throughout this course you’ve been introduced to the work of different photographers to
help give you an understanding of the creative potential of photography. Now it’s time to
question your own work and identify anything you think is lacking. You don’t have to be
over-critical, just honest.

Write down any areas in photography you need to develop. (Your tutor reports should
give you some clues here.)

Research – online research about artists and different styles of photography, reading books about different aspect of photography as well as biographies, writing up the results of my research on my learning log.

Technical skills e.g. use of flash, lighting

Photo editing

Experimenting creatively

Write what sort of photographs you want to take. Just note down keywords.

Candid, Street

Now look through a book like Hacking, J. (2012) Photography: The Whole Story, or Cotton, C. (2014) The Photograph as Contemporary Art (3rd edition) (both London: Thames & Hudson) and try to identify some photographers who have exactly the key elements that you want to attain or just things that interest you. It doesn’t matter if the photographer is contemporary or historic.

Make a note of these key elements.

Now research these photographers online and choose one key photograph to use in the
next exercise.

Researched Photographers

Addario, Hicks and Mieth are all photojournalists. Addario and Hicks, like Robert Capa, have spent time photographing in areas affected by war and conflict. Mieth documented life in the Depression and post-Depression era United States of America. All of these photographers show in their work, things that I aspire to achieve in my own work one day.

Lynsey Addario

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lynsey_Addario

http://www.lynseyaddario.com/

Tyler Hicks

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tyler_Hicks

https://www.worldpressphoto.org/person/detail/2633/tyler-hicks

Robert Capa

Capa is famous for his war photographs. The links below tell more about Capa the person and also highlight some of his work.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Capa

https://pro.magnumphotos.com/C.aspx?VP3=CMS3&VF=MAGO31_10_VForm&ERID=24KL535353

https://www.icp.org/browse/archive/constituents/robert-capa?all/all/all/all/0

http://www.artnet.com/artists/robert-capa/

While researching Capa Ilearned about Gerda Taro, his lesser known partner and collaborator. As a result of this I’ve started to read up about her and the work that she achieved in a short life, including inventing the person that would become known as Robert Capa.

Hansel Mieth

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hansel_Mieth

https://www.icp.org/browse/archive/constituents/hansel-mieth?all/all/all/all/0

https://ccp.arizona.edu/artists/hansel-mieth

http://www.artnet.com/artists/hansel-mieth/

https://www.loc.gov/rr/print/coll/womphotoj/miethessay.html

Don McCullin

McCullin is someone who has photographed a wide range of things. He is most well known as a war photographer. Since starting the Foundations in Photography course I’ve been building up my library and it now contains a number of books about Don McCullin and his work.

I’ve read Unreasonable Behaviour his autobiography, as well as well as the books Don McCullin and Don McCullin In England.

Selected Photographer

In the end the photographer I selected was none of the above. I decided that I was going to look at someone whose work would force me to experiment in order to achieve what I was aimging for. I chose Irving Penn. The research I did about Penn can be found in Exercise 4.11 along with the results of my experimenting.

Research Point – Sequence

The purpose of this research point was to go online and look at the work of Eadweard Muybridge, Duane Michals, Keith Arnatt Self Burial (1909), John Hilliard and Ed Ruscha’s Every Building on Sunset Strip.

For each of the artists the task was to identify how each was using sequence differently and try and find inspiration within their work.

Eadweard Muybridge

Wikipedia (2018) indicates that Eadweard Muybridge was born on the 9th April 1830 and died 8th May 1904. Throughout his life he changed his name a number of times. His birth name was Edward James Muggeridge.

Although he was initially a bookseller, it was following a stagecoach crash in 1860 that he took up photography.

In 1874, Muybridge shot and killed his wife’s lover Major Harry Larkyns. His subsequent trial led to him being acquitted.

Muybridge is best known for his work on animal motion.

Hacking (2014 pp 144-145) contains an analysis of a collodion positive on glass called “Leland Stanford, Jr on his pony ‘Gypsy'” that was taken at Palo Alto Stock Farm, the site of the modern day Stanford University.

The image shows the son of Leland Stanford, a Californian governor, the horse Gypsy and the horse’s trainer and was captured using up to 12 camera’s which were triggered by wires connected to them by the horse as it moved through the area covered by the cameras. A technique that most photographers now would not be able to replicate easily.

Muybridge used the same technique to capture greyhounds running.

Time 100 Photos “The Horse in Motion” shows the piece of work that Muybridge is probably best known for. The project was undertaken at the request of Stanford in order to answer the question, when galloping did all four of a horses hoofs leave the ground at the same time. The resulting 12 images proved that while galloping, a horse is completely off the ground for a brief moment. These individual images when played shown rapidly one after the other are an example of the earliest form of stop motion animation.

The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica in their entry for Eadweard Muybridge provide another example of his motion work, which shows that his interest wasn’t just limited to the movement of animals but also that of people.

The images captured by Muybridge using this technique can be replicated a lot easily using the technology availalbe to us in the 21st century. Modern, digital cameras are capable of capturing multiple images in fractions of a second.

Muybridge’s work uses sequences of images in order to better understand how a person or animal moves. Something that is of use to scientists and artists.

Duane Michals

Born in Pennsylvania in 1932, Duane Michals is a self-taugh photographer who defines himself as a narrator.

Hacking (2014 pp 340-341) provides an analysis of Michals’ work Things Are Queer from 1973. This sequence of 9 images starts and ends with the same image, a depiction of a bathroom suite. From the second image in the sequence onwards the camera pulls back further and further, revealing more of the scene. As it does we find ourselves questioning what we are looking at. Is it a miniature bathroom with a normal sized person stood in it, or is it a photograph in a book. Where is the person standing reading the book. Is that person themselves part of something else, like a framed photograph or a mirror. Image by image we find ourselves faced with an infinite regression but Michals stops that regression by ending the sequence without the original image. Or has he, are we just about to start over?

Fundación MAPFRE (2017) shows a second work by Michals “Dr Heisenberg’s Magic Mirror of Uncertainty”. This sequence has a woman looking at her image in a mirror while Michals captures photographs her. In our modern day world where people take selfies, this is almost the equivalent of someone taking a selfie of themselves taking a selfie of themselves taking a …

Keith Arnatt Self Burial

Keith Arnatt was born in 1930 and died in 2008, he was a conceptial artist. The course text dates “Self Burial” as 1909, in fact it is 1969.

Tate (2009) contains a copy of the 9 images that make up “Self Burial”. The sequence of images, which was shown on German television over the course of 9 nights with no explaination, show a landscape with a patch of ground into which a figure, because of the title Arnatt themself, disappears image by image into the ground, leaving just a patch of bare earth.

Arnatt is quoted as writing “The continual reference to the disappearance of the art object suggested to me the eventual disappearance of the artist himself” and this sequence reflects that.

John Hilliard

John Hilliard is a photographer from Lancaster in England. He was born in 1945.

Hacking (2014 pp 414-415) shows provides an analysis of Hilliard’s “Cause of Death?”. This sequence of images provides different views of what appears to be a shrouded body.  In each image the body is presented subtly differently. The image having been cropped in ways that allow the viewer to interpret it differently. Each image is also captioned in a way that influences that interpretation; crushed, drowned, burned and fell.

“Cause of Death?” shows that it is possible by framing an image in different ways to affect how it is seen, and so highlighting that photography can be used to tell the story you want rather than the actual situation depending on how you frame things.

Tate (2016) is another example of a sequence by Hlliard. Here we have a camera taking photographs, via mirrors, of itself. The images within the sequence change as aperture and speed change but the central image, the camera, remains the same. From this sequence we can see that even if we don’t change how we frame a subject, by changing how we capture it, we affect what is seen.

Ed Ruscha’s Every Building on Sunset Strip

This work by Ruscha presents “Every Building on Sunset Strip” as a sequence of images in a 25 foot long, accordion fold book; with one sequence of images at the top of the pages and a second set, upside down, at the bottom. Although, without a doubt, every building within the sequence would have been photographed at some point, it is the presentation format that makes this different.

Including all of the buildings must have made the project easier to some degree. The decision as to which buildings to include and which to leave out, had already been made; include all of them.

That decision, however, must also have made the project more difficult as there would have been a need to capture images of each building that Ruscha felt were suitable for inclusion in the end result.

Hacking (2014 pp 408-409) describes how Ruscha achieved this.

“To photograph Every Building on the Sunset Strip Ed Ruscha loaded a continous strip of black-and-white 35mm film into his morotr-driven Nikon F2 mounted on a tripod in the bed of a pick-up truck. He then snapped photographs at regular intervals as he drove down Sunset Strip”.

Hacking doesn’t say whether this drive was a one off or whether Ruscha had to repeat the activity a number of times.

With the technology available to us today, whether a project like this would be done has to be considered. When phones, cameras and camcorders provide the capability to drive down a street and record what you see, then replay the recording, why go to the effort of capturing something and then presenting it in a book format?

If you wanted to present a series of images in a book format then modern video editing software provides the ability to capture stills from a recording, reduces a project like this one to a technical exercise.

Summary

Muybridge’s work relates to photography as a source of documentary or fact. Michals’ work is more to do with the metaphysical aspects of life. The specific piece of Arnatt’s work highlighted here shows art as metaphor for something else. Hilliard’s work highlights how we can influence what people see by the way as a result of how we capture it. Rucscha’s work demonstrates how when capturing a sequence of images, we also have to think outside the box sometimes when it comes to presenting them.

There are many ways that we can make use of a sequences of images. How we do that will be influenced by lots of different factors. What are we trying to achieve? Do we want the person viewing them to think in any particular way when they see them? Is there a particular format that we want to use to display the end result? Are we reflecting fact or some more nebulous idea?

References

  1. Wikipedia, 2018. Eadweard Muybridge. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eadweard_Muybridge [Accessed 19th February 2018]
  2. The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica. Eadweard Muybridge. Available at: https://www.britannica.com/biography/Eadweard-Muybridge [Accessed: 19th February 2018]
  3. Time 100 Photos. The Horse in Motion. Available at: http://100photos.time.com/photos/eadweard-muybridge-horse-in-motion [Accessed 19th February 2018]
  4. Hacking J. (2014) Photography: The Whole Story. 2nd edition pp 144-145, 340-341, 414-415 and 408-409. London: Thames and Hudson.
  5. Fundación MAPFRE, 2017. Duane Michals. Available at: https://www.fundacionmapfre.org/fundacion/en/exhibitions/historical/2017/photography-duane-michals/ [Accessed 19th February 2018]
  6. Tate (2009) Self-Burial (Television Interference Project). Available at: http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/arnatt-self-burial-television-interference-project-t01747 [Accessed: 19th February 2018]
  7. Tate (2016) Camera Recording its Own Condition (7 Apertures, 10 Speeds, 2 Mirrors)  Available at: http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/hilliard-camera-recording-its-own-condition-7-apertures-10-speeds-2-mirrors-t03116 [Accessed 19th February 2018]

Research Point – Typologies

This research point asked that we take a look at Gerhard Richter’s Atlas and to note how he has placed together multiple images of a similar subject. These may be building, trees, portraits or even the colour of the sky. This is called a typology.

Richter’s Atlas “is a collection of photographs, newspaper cuttings and sketches that the artist has been assembling since the mid 1960s” and which are arranged on loose pieces of paper (Richter, 2018).

Atlas provides an insight into how the artist creates imagery.

To examine very single piece of paper with the photos and clippings attached to them would take a while, there are over 800 sheets of paper. However, skimming the images on the website shows the wide variety of ways the material is presented.

There are sheets with dozens of photos arrayed on them, almost like a collage, others have maybe a half dozen images. Some have small groups of two or three items but with multiple groups on the sheet, and then there are sheets with just a single photo on them.

Images vary from black and white, through sepia to colour.

What each sheet has in common is that the content follows a theme. For instance “48 Portraits”, “Magazine Cuttings”, “Newspaper Cuttings”, “Cities”, “Hitler”, “Mountain Ranges”, “Trees” or “Forest”.

A lot of the sheets have the same theme which would lend to the tendency if displayed together for the viewer to gloss over individual ones. Which makes it all the more powerful when one of them doesn’t fit, and especially when the theme for that one leaps out at you. Did any of the list above leap out at you?

Looking at the range of themes in Richter’s Atlas it is obvious that it is possible to make a series from anything and that as artists, and not just photographers, we can use other sources as well as our own photographs to make our own artistic works that little bit more interesting.

References

  1. Richter, Gerhard, 2018. Atlas. Available at: https://www.gerhard-richter.com/en/art/atlas [Accessed: 4th February 2018]

 

Karl Blossfeldt

Karl Blossfeldt was a German photographer, sculptor artist and teacher. He was was born in June 1865 and died in December 1932 [Reference 1].

Blossfeldt is best known for his close-up photographs of plants and other living things.

Not trained as a photographer he made use of a home made camera that created images of his subject that were magnified about 30 times.

His work highlights the repetition that occurs in nature and examples of this can be seen at the Michael Hoppen Gallery website [Reference 2].

Looking at his work you can see that a lot of it consists of a background against which the subject is seen. In these images the subject is in the foreground and there is no mid-ground because of the angles and proximity of the camera.

References

  1. Wikipedia. Karl Blossfeldt. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karl_Blossfeldt  Accessed: 16th October 2017.
  2. Michael Hoppen Gallery . Karl Blossfeldt. Available at: https://www.michaelhoppengallery.com/artists/58-karl-blossfeldt/overview/. Accessed: 16th Ocober 2017.

Gabriele Basilico

Gabriele Basilico was born in Milan, Italy in August 1944 and died in February 2013 [Reference 1]. His obituary can be found on The Guardian website [Referecne 2].

Basilico is best known as an architectural photographer and for his work on cityscapes.

Part 1 – Project 2: Shadows

Research Point – Diffused Light

Looking at Basilico’s cityscapes the use of repetition is apparent through the images. Whether that is windows in building, balconies on the outside of buildings or where the floors of a building are similarly styled on the outside of a building.

In some of his images the buildings appear to have been placed with a degree of planning and almost precision. In others there is a haphazardness to their placement.

The clarity and level of details in his images is incredible but this doesn’t distract the viewer but instead entices you further into the photo.

His photographs of large cityscapes show areas of space but so do even those images that are closer to the buildings he’s photographing. One image of the inside of a building shows the roof, walls and a swimming pool but there is an overwelming sense of the space within that building.

None of the building or cityscapes appear to be harshly lit and from the position of shadows within some of the photos it appears as if the images were either taken during the early or late part of the day. In other images it is harder to determine the time of day due to the lack of shadows but there are clues that the photographs may have been taken early morning, in the evening or when there was a lot of cloud cover to soften the light.

References

Wikipedia. Gabriele Basilico. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gabriele_Basilico Accessed: 20th October 2017.

Hopkinson, A. Gabriele Basilico Obituary. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2013/feb/25/gabriele-basilico. Accessed: 20th October 2017