At this stage of the module I am entering the final stages and working towards the PK presentation in addition to finalising the WIPP. Having been unwell for much of last week I feel that I am slightly behind schedule and I felt that this was reflected in my one to one with Cemre who at the time of writing this post must be concerned with my lack of knowledge of sequencing. However I’ve decided not to panic but act positively as although I have things to consider regarding sequencing. I have five days to broaden my understanding in order to inform my WIPP. 

In acting positively, I took myself to the supermarket this morning to print the images I have shot since the exhibition so that I can now visualise my work on the bedroom wall. The starting point this time was to place images in pairs in order to begin to see what type of dialogue this creates on a small scale with the intention of building a broader theme throughout the book. Colberg comments on the importance of sequencing, commenting that ‘each picture exists within a context not only with the facing picture, but also the following page and every picture in the book’. I have found it useful to think about my WIPP in this way and by visualising my images in a physical sense, on the wall, i have found it easier to begin to consider photographs which share a dialogue as a pair, then considering them in a broader context. At his stage an idea I have been pondering for some time is becoming clearer. Soth in Franklin “I see poetry as the medium most similar to photography… Or at least the photography I pursue. Like poetry, photography, is rarely successful with narrative. What is essential is the ‘voice’ (or eye) and the way this voice pieces together fragments to make something tenuously whole and beautiful” (2016: pp 167). Understanding that comparing photobooks and photographic sequencing with narrative or poetry is a difficult task although both elements have merits. From sequencing my own photographs I continue pontificate Soth’s comments and Colberg offers ideas which have assisted in this task when the idea of visual clues is discussed. With reference to my own work, I am now looking in a very different fashion. Moving away from trying to produce a linear narrative in favour of sequencing images which share a visual clue in addition to considering the form of the photographs as opposed to the subject matter alone (2017). 

As a result, I am considering my photographs in a much broader sense than a linear narrative. In favor of looking for visual rhymes created by use of formal elements such as colour, shape and textures. Understanding this has served to open up the possibilities for a more sophisticated approach to sequencing. Hoping to trigger recognition in other ways than narrative alone (2017). 

The images above may exemplify a development in my approach to sequencing. Having made both images earlier in the module, until now I wouldn’t have considered putting these images together. They may carry connotations of parent and child and thus entering into a type of narrative. However in consideration of the formal elements, visual rhymes are created with reference to colour in respect of the packets of crisps in figure 1 and the red, green and blue bibs worn by the football players in figure 2. The circular shapes sharing broader similarities with the footballs whilst maintaining the the idea of a stereotypical matriarch figure. A sense of safety is created by overarching themes relating to the family. The homes in the background in figure 2 furthering the idea of a safe community.

The example I consider above is no doubt driven by the vibrant colours, and those colours form one element which drives towards a logical conclusion whilst moving away from a linear narrative. Offering further opportunities for a viewer to recognise where thy are beyond the obvious. Culler highlights the idea of Rifaterre regarding the poetic in photography as is a quest for semiotic union which furthers Soth’s ideas of photographic voice that pieces together fragments to create something beautiful.

Figure 3 | WIPP Images
Figure 4 | Pairing Images

Colberg, J (2017) Understanding Photo Books, The form and Content of the Photographic Book. London, Routledge. 

Culler, J (1982) Culler, The Persuit of Signs, Routledge, London.

Franklin, S. (2016) The Documentary Impulse, Phaidon, New York.

Preparation for WIPP

Figure 1: Journey to the Game

Figure 1 is a visualisation of the arrival of my Dad to take me to a game. Usually 5 minutes late with only a general idea of where we were going. The journey wasn’t always straight forward.

Getting in the car, I would sense my Dad checking me out to assess whether he thought I’d had enough sleep the night before. If I failed his test then the impending lecture about sleep would dominate the journey.

Figure 2: Helping out with Training

Finishing work early to get to training. Juggling workload, having a word with the boss, making sure your football boots are in the car so you can help out if needed.

Figure 3: A football Pitch can be anywhere

Growing up, a football pitch could anywhere, shooting practice would take place where we could find a square wall to use as a goal. An enclosed space was important so you could concentrate on technique. Running after the ball because you missed was boring. Facing your parents because you smashed a window was a source of constant worry.

Figure 4: The Old Football

Football politics is an important business where we lived. Having a new football was a way to guarantee being the most popular kid on the estate. Before taking the ball out to play, Mum would give the instruction not to use it on concrete.

A good idea was to use your best football on grass, the older one’s on concrete.

Figure 5: Mum is Boss

Mum is boss, not really interested in football. Organising the daily schedule. Remembering birthdays. Football training is an hour of peace.

Figure 6:
Figure 7: Training

Making sure each player has a football to practice with, touching the ball, the feel of the ball at your feet. The constant battle to make your feet do what you want them to do.

Figure 8:
Figure 9:

Scoring a goal is a great feeling, age isn’t important.

Figure 10

Watching from the sidelines, wishing you could still play.

Figure 11: Gate to the professional World
Figure 12

Portraits without a Home

Movement without a Home

Book inspiration

Shoot Gallery | The Cafe

In pursuit of getting closer to my project in an emotional sense I decided to go to the local cafe which is hugely significant in a personal sense because outside of the football realm, this is the place I spent most time with my Dad. Spending around 25 years sitting in the same small group of seats on the same side of the cafe. This is where my Dad brought me up in his own way. And I felt that I couldn’t really tell my story without including this place.

Upon arrival at the front door I was disappointed to find that the cafe was closed. However I was able to enter as the owner was clearing up. A window broken and shutters damaged. When asking what had happened I found that a local man having had an argument with his Dad had decided to try to ram raid the cafe with his car. His motivation for this was due to having an argument with his Dad. I felt this was ironic as my motivation for being there was to retrace the relationship I had with my own Dad.

I was able to photograph inside the building in addition to producing a couple of portraits but what I was able to do wasn’t what I had in mind. This didn’t mean that this work would be unusable, however it was different to what I intended.

At this late stage in the module I will soon be having to edit and sequence images for my WIPP. Therefore it may prove that these images don’t quite have a home in this stage of the project. Colberg (2017:79) offers some useful considerations when thinking about editing

‘For a photographer, good editing must start with the process of disassociating what is in the pictures from whatever background knowledge about them.’

Such comments are pertinent regarding this shoot as I very much had a vision of what I wanted to shoot and what I needed to tell a story from a subjective point of view. I didn’t consider at any point that I wouldn’t produce work that was appropriate.

Perhaps this this unsuccessful shoot was a pertinent lesson in teaching that overly relying on an element of a personal nature isn’t a particularly good idea. And it is they type of experience I probably needed to have. If I hadn’t attended this place then I would have felt as though I had net covered all bases. However, because I have attended, I have consumed the experience and learned by doing that I learned that I wasn’t in the correct place, photographically speaking. As my current reading is in the direction of Colberg, I am using many of the ideas as I’m beginning to think about editing and sequencing therefore, I suspect future critical evaluation will draw on much of his writing. At this stage, it feels like it was a very good investment.

Going forward, Colberg offers insightful advice which will become more significant in the coming weeks. When editing (2017:80)

‘Choosing the strongest photographs’.

Feels like good advice as I feel in danger of favouring some images relevant to narrative as opposed to the power of the photograph.

(2017:80) Some photographs that do not fit into a book edit might work very well in an exhibition, in much the same way, as many photographs that are needed in a book might look terrible when hanging in a frame on a wall.

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. 

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

Week 8 | Reflection

As I have continued to make work and further my project, opening up new avenues and intentions. The idea of producing a photobook at this time feels almost impossible. Technically I have the skills to produce a photobook, and I could produce a product in the style of a catalogue of images however I don’t really believe that this would represent the evolution of my work accurately.

At present, my project has evolved from a form of activism to a socially engaged project to a narrative based idea which faces outwardly and a highly personal narrative exploring the grief of losing my father, using the experiences we had to produce a series of metaphorical images. The main problem in adapting to this level of change for me has been creative thinking and research in addition to the process of confronting some raw emotions that I haven’t dealt with in the last 5 years. 

Dealing with powerful emotions, although difficult, I feel necessary to challenge, not just for the purpose of the MA but for my personal wellbeing. Engaging with this process is slowly beginning to deconstruct the feeling of numbness that I think I have experienced for the last 5 years. Sometimes taking joy from the memories, occasionally becoming overwhelmed with sadness at the realisation that my Dad is gone forever. The whole experience is very strange and I can’t help but think that I should have experienced these emotions years ago. It makes me feel a bit thick or stupid that mentally I was unable to process my thoughts and feelings earlier. 

The negative feelings that I am experiencing translate into the current module as I feel like I am getting behind with the set tasks, to suggest that opening up to my own emotions as being a reason for getting behind with my work, isn’t really a appropriate.

On several occasions I have sat down with the intention of producing a product but was unable because I simply hadn’t finished gathering my thoughts. Let alone produce a powerful narrative which this project deserves.

In the previous module I begun to explore the idea of photography as poetry in addition to looking at the work of Alec Soth, specifically his book Niagara. As a result, the impact of the power of a photographic narrative has hugely affected me and I would describe myself as currently in a hyper sensitive state. The process of transferring such emotions and attempting to translate that into a narrative is proving to be a time consuming business. I feel like I could produce 15 images of empty space in order to represent the difficulty in computing so many emotions that they render a state of uselessness.  

Going forward, I am going to continue work as hard as I possibly can in order to get to the end goal of producing a photobook. But at this time I need to reevaluate my intentions and focus on taking baby steps with my progression.

In the coming days I will assess the work I already have and attempt to forge into a narrative. That will help in the identification of what is missing from my work which will enable the creation of yet another roadmap to expressing my thoughts and feelings towards the tasks in hand. 

In my reflection last week I identified some key areas that I would like to photograph such as a cafe and the M60 motorway in some capacity. In response to this I have begun to research the work of Paul Graham and his project ‘The A1’ having attended a webinar with Colin McPherson where he selected his favourite and most meaningful photographs. The webinar was useful in unlocking my own emotions as McPherson spoke candidly about his childhood growing up in Scotland. This helped me to tap into my own childhood memories and revisit my own vernacular memories of travelling to football matches and eating getting something to eat after my Dad had picked me up from school.

Leading on to this weeks webinar, the feedback that I received was positive with Cemre emphasising that she is pleased with the progress being made and my ability to follow instructions and advice is good. However Cemre did advise that I would benefit from ‘getting closer to my project’ which at the time I took as a metaphor for exploring my own emotion towards the project.

In response to this I decided to let go of my own emotions and explain the process I have been going through with regards to my reflective/delayed grief about the passing of my Dad. I did feel little uncomfortable in doing this in the presence of my tutor and my fellow students however the experience was an empowering one that was met with empathy and support by all which I was really thankful for.

As a result, I have the ideas of where I need to go and what I need to do. With shoots such as these, I am going to be stepping out of my comfort zone and dealing with the vernacular but with a solid intention to create metaphor. My project is revealing itself with the power and emotion which certainly resonates in a personal sense. I am also led back to my previous research of Alec Soth and feel that I need to look deeper at work and intention of this nature. Looking at the photo-books that I currently own, they are all in the form of catalogues. Used to build my knowledge and understanding of photographers. As a result I am unfamiliar with photographic narrative work and feel that I really need to build on this area if I am to produce a sequence of images which encompass meaning and the emotion that I am currently experiencing.