My Camera as a Surface

Throughout this module I have made work with the underlying insecurity that I should be shooting in a manual format as opposed to a digital format. Currently, my camera of choice is a Cannon 5d. I use this technology because I am familiar with its programme and have past experience in using it. Therefore I consider that in a logical sense, It will provide the most likely route to producing the best photographs of which I am capable. It is true that my Cannon 5d looks like most other cameras although bigger than most consumer pieces of apparatus, it is also heavier than most other consumer models which when one sees may take a sense of authority from it. However the main reason I use this piece of apparatus, is the technology or software contained within the body. Using a full frame camera substantiates that my knowledge of how the camera works, will assist in fulfilling the intention of the photographer. 

The relationship I have with the camera is one that continually evolves as I explore new approaches and new methods to create symbolic meaning using time and space, however I am also aware of the limitations of the object I use to create work. Flusser (2000:27) writes ‘the photographer is not a tool but a plaything, and a photographer a photographer is not a worker but a player’. In considering my role as a photographer, Flusser makes a pertinent observation in the sense that I am drawn to photography as a result of my own interest in producing symbolic photographs as a form of expression, in addition to using one’s imagination. 

Motivations may take the form of social statements to visualise the world as I see it. That is in no doubt informed by contextual research that has the power of influence future actions. My role as photographer is to use contextual research, understand the limitations and possibilities of the camera to engage in the game of producing work. Thus creating a logical sequence between the surface being the camera and the photograph which is the end product with the intention of the photographer mediating between the two. Flusser continues his argument in suggesting that the photographer and the apparatus merge into a unity to become ‘functionaries’. In applying this idea I am led back to the relationship I have with the camera. Within this module, I have furthered my photographic means by utilising the use of an on camera flash. This elaborates my role as a functionary by furthering the capabilities I possess in using the 5d. I am now able to fill in shadows on faces when I am making portraits, enabling the furthering of one’s symbolic vision and engaging within the ‘game of photography’ with an extra weapon at my disposal. Dictating the direction of my current work. In using the flashgun, I am faced with extra choices, extending the limitations of the camera although not my choices are still finite. I am able to control the amount of light that I use in addition to the direction and focus of the light. Sometimes firing the flash directly at a subject, sometimes firing the light upwards in order to soften the impact and on occasion, using a white screen to reflect light. 

In past modules, I have utilised different apparatus in the form of a mirrorless digital camera. As a result, my approach changes as I need to play by the rules set by the apparatus, most notably the use of a digital viewfinder and LCD screen on the back of the camera which tilts and moves, relevant as it allows the composing of work without having to place one’s eye behind the viewfinder. This has been useful in exploring alternative vantage points, being able to take photographs from lower down or higher up. I am able to extend my perspective and widen my gaze which offers further possibilities in addition to a new set of problems most notably, those relating to vantage point. 

Finally, the major point for consideration that has been recurrent from the outset of surfaces and strategies is the decision to move to shooting film. A move that I anticipated making as the module commenced however the nature of my project in continuing to shoot portraits with the added apparatus of flash, serves to move my project away from the analogue and to continue with the digital approach. Having researched the merits of shooting film, Zylinska (2010) provides a compelling argument stating in relation to film… ‘preservers of value and the past, as keepers, against all odds, of a certain world that (allegedly) once was.’ The idea that in using analogue photography, one is able to preserve the past or at least in my case replicate what photographs used to look like. I feel there is now a powerful alignment with my current project theme in exploring my own relationship with football and the relationship with my Father which once was, but is no more. At this stage of the module I would be nervous about submitting work as part portfolio however the time for experimentation has arrived.

Flusser, V. (2000) Towards a Philosophy of Photography. Reaktion Books, London.

Joanna Zylinska (2010) On Bad Archives, Unruly Snappers and Liquid Photographs, photographies, 3:2, 139-153, DOI: 10.1080/17540763.2010.499608

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