When reflecting on the ideas of authenticity and photography as a ‘peculiar’ practice I feel that the medium has a very unstable and complex relationship with the truth. Over recent weeks I have begun to understand that in one respect, photography can be seen as evidence. Evidence of a time, a place, attendance of one at that specific time and place. All of which may be useful in contexts such as crime and the medical profession. The use of sophisticated imaging technology are a great aid to such professions and i’m sure further developments will be made over the coming years.
The ability to read a photograph is where my philosophical approach has developed significantly. I do feel like somewhat of a novice at reading photographs however the recent reading and challenges set through the tasks have been difficult to interpret but provided some enlightening moments. Ritchin (2013) provided a useful starting point in furthering my understanding of photography beyond the work of Sontag, Berger and Barthez in so far that I engaged with considerations about photography as art . Ritchin’s ideas about categorisation of photographs was very useful and somewhat enlightening. Emphasising that photographs are open to interpretation and will result in common themes and stereotypes such as celebrities being flattered and the poor being victims. These readings may be obvious in many cases and I have found that I am reading photographs in the hunt for more sophisticated or different meanings than the obvious. This process has been the real success in a personal sense and has opened up a whole new world of creativity by giving licence and authority to try to reflect the world as I see it. Encode photographs with emotions as I feel them. Looking beyond the obvious has been an invigorating experience.
I have begun to hugely enjoy the journey of looking at the the work of others and, trying to read their intentions and make connections for myself. Growing up as a photographer! Discovering the work of Todd Hido is a relevant example of this by understanding the quiet nature of his project ‘House Hunting’. His intentions raise questions about the people who occupy the houses he depicts. His work duly ensured that I checked all of the curtains in my house to consider what their structure say about our family. The work of Hido ,although still discovering, has led to further inquiry into the work of photographers such as Clarissa Bonnet which I am in the infancy of my research in addition to Rut Blees Luxembourg who share some similarities and many differences, the process of exploration being the source of fulfilment in a philosophical sense. However, with my current project in mind the relevance of this direction hasn’t really emerged which isn’t of great concern at this point as I am confident it will contribute towards an exciting direction.
In terms of my project I feel that I have heightened an understanding of the portrait. The development of an ability to read a photograph in further depth as stated earlier represents a direction that I am currently engaged with. The ideas of Bate (2009) were important in cultivating an understanding of the portrait and echo Ritchin (2013) in the idea that a photograph isn’t required to provide all of the answers but raise further questions to the audience. Much in the same way that Hido takes photographs of houses raises further questions about the people who live in them. Bate (2009) emphasis the relevance of the blank expression which may also serve the viewer to raise further questions about the people they look at.
The approach considered within this reflection is representative of an understanding of the idea of peculiarity. Peculiarity is interesting and requires further inquiry, providing the stimuli to move and affect an audience as opposed to the obvious or evidential photograph which although may be in many cases authentic but at the same time the binary opposite peculiar. Banal.
Ritchin, F (2013) Bending the frame, Photojournalism, Documentary and the Citizen. New York, Aperture.
Bate, D (2009) Photography, The Key Concepts. Oxford, Berg.
Hido, T (2014) Todd Hido, on Landscape, Interiors and the Nude. New York, Aperture.