Stockport County V Chorley

The first visit to Edgeley Park with a camera, the approach for this shoot was to encompass further landscape/wide shots in addition to the documentary approach which has been used at other shoots within the early stages of this project.

Although a less ambitious approach to the shoot it was useful to engage with the style of Van der Meer and apply the techniques which he utilises.

Reddish North End | Training Night

As a mechanism for developing my project based around the non commercial spaces where football takes place I decided to turn my camera towards the under 15s football team that I coach.

To say that they are an interesting group is an understatement however they all turn up often in freezing conditions to train for an hour a week.

The dedication of these boys is commendable and at a time where opportunities for young people to acces youth services is limited, these boys are the living embodiment of positive energy.

They are from a range of backgrounds and all have different reasons for contributing. They all have insecurities and don’t always win the games they play, yet they still attend and invest their time and energy.

The American Dream

When faced with the challenge of thinking about my own research proposal and the task of thinking about the audience for my work and my motivations and objectives. I found this documentary useful in developing my understanding of the task of writing a proposal.

Watching the documentary I was interested in the idea that Lauren created clothes that were aspirational to him and his influences of classic hollywood cinema served to create versions of the ‘American Dream’ . The culmination of the film divulges the motivations of the corporation that ‘anyone can access the American dream’ . I found this interesting when considering my own project which is currently loosely based around the people of football. At this stage I haven’t fully identified how my work will go beyond the context of football but in realising my project is primarily about people, I now recognise that the football sphere may represent the starting point to my work. Football will always be within the DNA of my work and I will continue to revisit and occupy these spaces however when making connections of a personal nature I started to think about my project in a different way.

For a number of reasons the origins of my interest in football themed project is significant, as a child I would probably describe my upbringing as unstable, Mum and Dad were not together and both worked long hours which resulted in spending large amounts of time alone, I remember walking home from primary school on days when I had forgotten my keys contemplating how long it would take to break back into my house and the worry of doing so before my Dad arrived to pick me up for training. I would get in trouble if I was locked out as I wouldn’t be able to change into my football kit. I would usually succeed in my breaking and entering and that would be objective achieved, disaster averted and bollocking from my Dad averted.

This set the tone for the rest of my life as football and all the people that I have met along the way served to create a safe and stable place whether it be the pitch, the changing room or the car park where we would meet to travel to away matches. In a world which is becoming more aware of mental health and the importance of sharing and talking I begun to recognise that the football sphere was a place where people talk and offload their problems and I suspect that this is the greatest achievement of the game.

As Berger talks of being envied and publicity the manufacturer of glamour. Football at the highest level is now glamourised by 24 hour coverage, the real benefit of the game or sport in general isn’t the latest boots worn by Ronaldo or the hair cut of David Beckham. But the spaces both old and new which allow people to socialise, be together and listen to each other.

Whilst an impressionable teenager of around 17 I found myself in a semi professional team being one of the youngest players in the squad. I was initially there for the experience until I earned the respect of this close unit of adults who quickly accepted me and indoctrinated me into the group. It was at this stage I met a man who was probably 9-10 years my senior and possibly the coolest person I had ever met. His name was Rowan, he had bleach blonde hair like David Beckham and I think he drove a Porsche. I was amazed by this person and on reflection, he represented the aspirational version of myself. In my world he had everything and was everything that I thought that I wanted to be. However, as I got to know Rowan I quickly begun to care less that he worked for Ted Baker and that he drove a fast car. This man became my friend for the time we played in the same team. I was able to listen to him, watch how he conducted himself and observed his version of masculinity, at the time he was a mentor and a guiding light in the journey of my coming of age.

In one respect, football was a form of social mobility where I managed to see what was beyond my my own modest one dimensional vision. There are many other stories of people that I have met along the football journey that have changed and shaped my view of the world.

The Ralph Lauren documentary invoked these memories due to the promotion of the aspirational DNA encompassed within the Ralph Lauren brand as reflected within the documentary. Priya Elan in his article for The Guardian criticises the film “Very Ralph has taken amazing access to Lauren’s inner circle and pumped out nothing more than a series of approved images of the man, all–American snapshots that would not be out of place in a Ralph Lauren moodboard.” This is a very relevant argument as the film doesn’t really challenge or sensationalise anything or work as an agent to promote change within the fashion industry. I saw the film as a piece of promotional material for the brand however I couldn’t help but buy into the aspirational nature of the film as a celebration of the ‘American Dream’. What type of American dream or the existence of an American dream may be ambiguous and difficult to define however I couldn’t help but recount my own encounter of the successful man that I met all those years ago.

Going forward with my project in addition to considering the objectives of my proposal I will explore the non commercialised realm of football as a social space where people communicate, solve problems and find safety.

Melancholy Objects

Reflecting on the reading of Sontag, On Photography, I was inspired by the assessment of the relevance of Lewis Hine and his documentary work on the slums and working conditions of children. Around a decade ago I visited Montreal in Canada to meet the Scottish/Canadian branch of my family. It was a monumental trip especially for my Dad who had reconnected with his brother after who he had seen once in around 30 years, and on that occasion was to attend the funeral of their brother Kenny in Glasgow.

As we arrived in Canada I was struck by my Fathers interest in the reservations where the Native American communities lived and I was intrigued by his interest. It seemed that as we were being driven around the area the reservations were often highlighted by small cigarette huts. When I asked my uncle he gave a brief lowdown on the communities and the conflict and distrust between them.

As Sontag recites the work of Hine with regard to idea of an ‘alien reality’. My reflection of the time I spent in Canada, those tobacco huts served to signify the gateway to that alien reality. As tourists I was aware of my fathers lust to visit these areas and find out for himself who these people were and what they were like. This was due to his infatuation with films from the Western genre which he often used to watch as a child.

As a result of my experience I often appropriate those types of Marlboro tobacco huts with the Native American communities I drove past. And for me that evokes memories of my Father and his excitement of the trip we had. My Father was in no doubt the excited tourist ready to invade these Native American reservations although not with a camera but armed with a million question for whoever would listen and contemplate answering them.

With reference to my own work I am intrigued with the idea of spaces that are alien to the middle classes whether rich or poor. In terms of further development I will continue to cultivate my thoughts and look deeper into the idea of alien spaces. The impact of his work serves to reinforce the photograph as a tool to invoke social change in addition to the unglamorous idea of appropriation.

In order to further my ideas I will research further the work of Nick Hedges who documented the oppressive abject living conditions in Scotland. This may be relevant and again points to my Father who would have spent his early years growing up in similar conditions in Scotland.

With my current project in mind which is based on the people who surround uncommercialisegd football, I am interested in the potential of exploring the idea of spectatorship and the dedicated individuals who are committed to following their team around the country to frequent these spaces that would otherwise be alien to them. I suspect that there isn’t much in the way of manufactured glamour or envy in what they do, my question is. Why do they do it? What motivates them to occupy these spaces?