Week 3 Reflection

Another week has now flown by and it started with that now familiar feeling of not really knowing where i’m going and hoping for some guidance in the webinar. 

The week started by taking my camera to the local barbers with the idea to get a haircut, eat some biscuits and make a portrait which was clean, considered and in the style I was hoping for. 

I also took the opportunity to look at some of the work I made at the early stages of the MA in order to see if I had any work that represents interest. Most of which was relevant but the overriding emotion was disappointment that my previous work is riddled with indescrepencies, most notably the framing of the people I photograph. On so many occasions I see basic errors especially with portraits specifically the bottom areas of the frame. Often cropping feet at strange angles or not thinking about this area when deciding to fire the shutter. Therefore, my considerations of this are currently at the forefront of my mind when taking portraits now. 

Other considerations include avoiding distractions around the area of the head and finally the vantage point as I often pontificate whether I should position myself at a lower angle. In some cases I believe I should but in other cases I feel the vantage point is well chosen. As I would like to pursue this field of work I will use this module to continue development within this area. To conclude such considerations I feel that my work is improving in this area and this improvement is reinvigorating to make future shoots feel like an exciting prospect. 

Felicity McCabe

Watching the lecture with Felicity McCabe was insightful and listening to the confident way she speaks about the work was something that I feel that I needed to hear as I am aware that feedback from tutors is extremely relevant but at the same time is largely worthless if the individual is lacking in their own autonomy. An issue that I feel that I am guilty of. As a result of this my approach will shift towards creating that I believe in, and making it in such a way that when the opportunity to receive feedback arrives, it will be a case of advice and guidance on a minor level as opposed to looking for some type of emotional support. Essentially, if I don’t believe in my own work then nobody else will, especially an established professional. 

A a result of watching the lecture, I conducted further research into her project ‘Dryland’ and I was intrigued by the way she places two images side by side. In doing this I felt the photographs entered into a symbiotic relationship, creating metaphor and a broadening of a perspective looking both inwards and outwards with the high key lighting demonstrating a confidence in her work by opening up the detail of the whole frame. The overarching personal message being to let go of my insecurities and trust the research I have done.

In order to address issues I am currently reflecting on my initial motivations and the starting point of my non league football project. Having played non league football for many years throughout my teens and 20s, I have already visited many of the places I photograph. This leads to the consideration of why I make the decision to revisit these places? In many instances I have thought about this question and tried to provide some overly clever and academic response, photography as activism, exploring a type of grief for the passing of my father, both of which may substance to an extent although probably not the core of my concerns. Read (2017) cites O’keeffe ‘As a curator I am looking for what is at the core of the work. Powered by authentic concerns of the photographer.’ Throughout my playing experience one of the most exciting elements was travelling to different locations, simply being in different environments, walking through the gates and into a different changing rooms, kit bag over my shoulder and wearing my club tracksuit. Warming up before the game, as a goalkeeper I used to like looking at the style of nets, intrigued by the dilapidated advertising boards that probably haven’t been changed in years.

When playing a home match I enjoyed speaking to the volunteers such as ground keepers and the kit man, the bar staff and the ladies who made the tea and coffee. Having light hearted conversations and listening to their stories of past glory. Some of the happiest moments of my life were spent in these places. Being part of a community, being young and free and full of excitement about the future. Romero in Christenberry (2013: p9) writes about his work ‘Christonberry constructs an account of the South of the United States from within that South’. A comment that resonates personally as I feel that by visiting these places and photographing them, I feel that I am visually representing my own feelings about these places by making portraits and directing my attention towards the strange objects and places I used to enjoy engaging with visually and in conversation. Scott, G (2015, P94) comments ‘The emotional project is often multilayered and although it may begin on a micro personal level it can both grow and embrace a multitude of elements, people and environments.’ such comments may hold relevance however in a personal sense I disagree that my project was born out of a micro element, rather a sea of micro elements which I was unable to decipher in my own thoughts. And to get to this stage and a type of simplified idea, I have been through a process of elimination, challenging my project in a plethora of different routes. Reaffirming the multilayered nature as highlighted by Scott.

When thinking about whether or not my project is one of an emotional nature I feel that there is definitely an emotional element however I also argue that my project has features of an intellectual project because of the desire to seek and explore the places. In many cases I have no idea what I will find or who I will meet, the places where I once played have long since changed and many of the people I know have long since moved on or are no longer around. Therefore I am both an insider similar to Christonberry in the deep South of the USA whilst being an outsider, not knowing many of the people who frequent the spaces I now visit. Recording them them in portraits is a small celebration of an active space.

Christenberry, W (2013) William Christenberry. New York, Foundation Mapfre.

McCabe, F (2015) Dryland [Online} Available at: https://www.felicitymccabe.com/album/d-r-y-l-a-n-d.html?p=1 (Accessed) 7th Oct 2020.

Read and Simmons (2017)  Photographers and Research, The Role of Research in Contemporary Photographic Practice. Taylor and Francis, New York.

Scott, G (2015) Professional Photography, The New Global Landscape Explained. London, Focal Press.

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