Week 9 | Reflection

This week has been a time for reflection regarding my project and progress. With the impending presentation deadline getting closer, I am currently at the stage of reviewing my experience of the module, reflecting on what I have learned,how my project has developed and what this may look like in the form of a presentation. 

I feel that I have worked with greater independence in this module, almost designing my own route based on the weekly tasks but moving slightly away at times to broaden my photographic vocabulary. I was conscious that I needed to build my contextual knowledge and have set about doing this which I feel has prepared me for the presentation assessment adequately, I am still nervous about this task as I am aware that I sometimes don’t fully reflect my thoughts and can sometimes become bogged down in detail. I am also currently lacking confidence in my own ability which is a cause of anxiety in addition to a fuel to drive forwards. 

The themes I have challenged within my project have shifted significantly on a number of occasions. This has been in some ways, an enlightening experience and has enriched my emotional well being whilst at the same time, consuming and setting me back in terms of linear progress. It seemed that everyone else was experimenting with interesting techniques whilst my development was emotional and philosophical.  In short, the start of the module, I didn’t really see how my project goes beyond a straight documentary approach. However, as my understanding grew, so did the potential to open up my project. 

Researching the work of Emma Case and the socially engaged project ‘Red’. I felt that I could engage with this approach with the football club I’d already been working with. Stockport County regularly has match attendances of over five thousand and having built links with a range of voluntary organisations associated with the club in addition to a number of older supporters being aware of my association with the club I felt and still feel that a socially engaged project is achievable on a large scale. Whether that is in conjunction with the MA or post MA, I am currently unsure, however, as a result of my research, opportunities similar to the exposure project supported by the Open Eye Gallery may represent a potential further avenue for my work. 

Due to the current situation and having become interested in a socially engaged approach, my previous idea surrounding Stockport County felt too ambitious at this time. I did revisit the club to complete the rephotography task which produced interesting results. I decided to concentrate my efforts on a local grassroots football club that I am already familiar with. This was useful as I was granted full access and essentially a free reign to produce work. I didn’t really have much of a philosophy to start with. However it soon emerged that building on my portrait work would be a relevant direction. Only this time, adjusting my approach by introducing a flash to fill in shadows on the face, shooting at sunset to make use of a richer light source in addition to encompassing the full body from a vantage point which is further back. 

As a result of this approach I received positive feedback and felt personally that my work was becoming stronger. I have continued this approach with varying degrees of success. The work that isn’t as successful now producing examples to reflect on with a deeper level of contemplation. The work of Michelle Sank has been useful within this process and although improvements have been made. I feel that I need to spend more time with subjects in order to connect with my intentions in more depth. 

In addition to my work at the football club I begun to start making work in the community. Initially to practice having researched the work of Alex Webb and Stephen Shore. My intentions were to fill frames, encompassing multiple viewpoints whilst considering the symbiotic relationship between composition and colour. Separating them in my thoughts then bringing them together to make a photograph. As the module progressed I found that I was enjoying this more than making work at the football club. With only a broad vision of how this might fit in with my project idea. I continued to shoot as much as I could with a quiet confidence the my voice and more specific intention would emerge.

Back to the football club, my tutor Cemre suggested that I introduce movement into my work and suggested looking at the work of Lartigue. This was another useful direction and one that I practiced at the football club. As a result I did produce some interesting work, attempting to encompass busy frames in the style of Alex Webb whilst encompassing the movement used in the approach associated with Lartigue. Although relevant, I felt the aesthetic of green football pitches and blue sky was becoming very boring. Upon getting feedback on this issue, my tutor agreed and suggested that I get closer to my project in an emotional sense. It was at this point where the project really came to light. Already having experienced shifts in my intentions this was in one sense unhelpful, but in another sense, was what my project has possibly been about from day 1. The subject being the relationship I had with Dad, using football as a metaphor. Having never lived with my Dad, the main arena for our relationship was discussing life in a car travelling to a match or in the local cafe after a match. These places were central for over 30 years, therefore the emphasis of my project became about visualising this relationship through a photographic means. The real emotional side of the project occurred as I confronted the idea of my own grief about his passing in 2015. In getting closer to my project in this way, I came to the conclusion that the grief of losing my Father is something I haven’t confronted in over 5 years. At this stage, the major development in my project and self, became about contemplating the flood of emotions which occurred at this point. Processing and accepting the loss, and the lifting of the clouds of numbness that I have experienced since his passing. 

Currently, I am at the stage of revisiting the places we used to go, photographing them which isn’t rephotography but rather a revisiting of the life I once shared with my dad. 

In preparation for the Landings exhibition, I had printed around 100 photographs with the intention of sequencing them for the exhibition. I did this with a loose metaphor of the relationship with my dad in mind although it was a long way from being finished. My attentions however, needed to focus on the exhibition. In support of this I had organised a space at the football club to create an exhibition which presented the difficulty of fusing my current progress which is of a personal nature, with the expectations of an audience at the football club who were anticipating seeing work of a more objective nature. Therefore my exhibition encompassed work mainly focussing on the football club and portraits and documentary work I had produced. At present, the feedback on the exhibition has been good and resulted in an open budget to fill the space with my work. All expenses being met by the club with further interest from the local council in addition to the county football association wanting to speak to me regarding the project. 

Shifting back to the personal metaphor, thinking how i could present such work in the form of a book. I begun to research the range of styles and form work of this nature should take. In the immediacy, previous research of Alec Soth came to mind but this time, rather than considering the narrative of the work. I begun to consider the type of book I might produce. Having purchased some large A3 landscape coffee table books such as Stephen Shore Uncommon Places and Hans Van Der Meer European Fields I was drawn to the romance of producing something of a similar nature. However, these books being of a catalogue nature I understood that my personal narrative should take the form of a monograph. Therefore, a big emphasis at present is the importance of sequencing. Understanding what work I have, identifying the gaps and filling them with work reflective of my intention. As research into books continues, most recently I identified a series of smaller texts produced by Nazraeli Press entitled One Picture Books.The website states The series consists of uniformly designed, modestly-sized hardcover books, comprising 16 pages that serve as a “canvas” for the artist to display one cohesive body of work. ‘ At this stage of my photography career I feel that producing a book of this nature would fit my intentions of producing a book of modest means which encompasses the power of my personal and cohesive body of work. I understand that as an unknown photographer it is difficult to attract the attention of publishers. This route and the modest nature of the production may be useful in creating a book that has the sense of modesty whilst the small scale of the production may enable the retention of the sense of preciousness which this project is to me. I understand that I am not the audience for this book but it is felt that the sense of personal preciousness to the producer is degree zero within this task. 

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