Week 6 | Reflection

Week Six Reflection 

It has been a tough couple of weeks with regards to the module, as the COVID once again takes hold I decided to move quickly to make as much work as I could. Therefore I covered two football matches with the intent of reconnecting with my football past, taking photographs in a way I had done previously with the development of making more work with a fucus on the match itself. This was never my intent at the early stages of the course and I am still unsure if it is the correct route to in the future. Making work at these matches I realise has been my default choice for making work but as the course progressed the relevance of this work I feel hask has declined. Admittedly, COVID restrictions has been a constant threat to my project and at this stage I have evelved my idea several times. As a result, I have been at odds with my project, unable to make a decision but at the same time scared of moving too far away from my initial intent. Read (2017) cites Clarke who makes some useful comments about developing projects,‘Looking back at the concerns that form the backbone of the work and the interests which fuel it, with or without input from others, will serve to provide evidence of where they have been and point the direction for the future.’ In my current state, I agree with Reads ideas and as my project develops and shifts I have learned a number of things about myself. This first being that when it comes to change and development I often lose confidence in myself due to the fear of failure. This made me reflect further into other realms of my life such as my employment. 

Having been employed as a teacher of media and photography in the same institution for over eight years in addition to owning a wedding photography business. I have been at a crossroads between teaching, and going full time shooting weddings. COVID aside, I have built the wedding business to a stage where the product is good enough to book enough weddings and a price point I am happy with. So why am I still teaching? The honest answer is that I fear the change in circumstances, leaving the relative security of the teaching salary and the pension. Not leaving my job may be considered smart in the current climate however I also understand that I have aspirations beyond teaching and I am never going to realise my ambition whilst in my current role. 

Going back to my project I can’t help but have an eye on the final major project which is the next module and probably the make or break task for the whole MA. At the same time thinking short term and the direction I will take for this module. I am guilty of overthinking which is hindering my progress by making me resist too much change. However as a I continue to understand the philosophy of personal and emotional projects the idea of Scott who states  (2015, P86) ‘The emotional genre of personal projects includes all of the stories that are close to your life experiences.’ With this in mind I began to think away from the football environment, understanding that football as a sport is not my primary concern. When I reflect on my experiences of the game the most pertinent memories are not the matches, rather the people I met and the bonds that I created that have remained in tact over twenty years. 

In response to a developing understanding of personal projects, in addition to feedback from tutor I decided to contact former teammates who I shared a pitch with, with the intention of finding out about the anxieties that surrounded playing football at a high level then making an environmental portrait. In preparation for doing this I needed to consider how i was going to record these interviews as I didn’t want to take notes as i felt that this would be too impersonal. Therefore I decided to record the interviews using my iphone so that I could concentrate on the conversations I was having. This approach was useful and allowed me to engage in conversations with full attention to what was being said. 

At the conclusion of the interviews I felt that I was able to gain an excellent insight into the people I talked to. This was in no doubt due to my existing relationships with these people. Because I had their trust, the interviewees provided a unique insight into their own thoughts and feelings which ultimately served to shift my broader project forward while encompassing broader themes such as mental health, community and identity. What was unexpected was the appreciation I received for taking the time to contact these individuals. When i was initially trying to organise the interviews, I felt that I may have been asking too much of them or at least disrupting peoples lifestyles. Which I did but both interviewees found time for me and both clearly had other responsibilities at the time. Furthermore, they were both happy having their photograph taken which I felt was a big ask as I know both individuals are self conscious for different reasons. In conclusion, Scott, G (2015, P94) 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 serve to describe the current state of my work in so far as my short term goals are a significant shift away from my previous concerts which centred around the football environment. Current motivations surround themes such as patriarchy, community and mental health. 

In considering these themes my thoughts are led towards the lockdown period where I learned of three suicides of people I knew within the first two weeks of lockdown. All male, and all in their forties. A sobering thought as I find myself in my late thirties. The Guardian (2020) reports that male suicide rates are at their highest levels for two decades. Currently without understanding exactly why, I do understand that within this period of my life I am saying goodbye to youthhood and embarking on another stage of my life. A stage which is about pressure and responsibility to provide a life for a family possibly. This is also the stage where one may reflect on their past mistakes and be reflective about them. This was the feelings i had when conducting the interviews, and the people I interviewed appeared to value the opportunity to talk about these past mistakes. 

As a result of the weekly webinar, I am going to continue to create these micro narrative editorials, as we are well into the module. Making such a big shift in focus is a risk, however it is the correct direction to pursue at this time. 

Butler, P (2020) Male suicide rate hits two-decade high in England and Wales. The Guardian. [Online] Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2020/sep/01/male-suicide-rate-england-wales-covid-19 (Accessed 30th 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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