Week 3 Reflection | collaboration

I have found the theme of working with others very useful but quite difficult to engage with as my approach to this course is very much an individual journey. When considering the ideas of Azouulay (2016) who states “The photographic event’s degree zero”. In relation to collaboration. I disagreed to some extent as I felt that the practicioner’s intent wasn’t recognised within this sense. I understand that intent usually isnt a collaborative process however in preparing for a project or a study, one is required to to build a framework for collaboration to happen. It is my argument that this stage of pre collaboration needs to be recognised and highlighted. 

In terms of collaboration on the weekly forums, I had a useful discussion with a fellow student. It was interesting to share our methodologies. As reslt I felt that my work project work was quite basic and provoked further reflection of the non league football project I am undertaking as I am currently colaborating with a local junior football club. I have used this space to apply knowledge of feedback I received from Michelle regarding my approach to portrait photography. I feel the I am improving in this area but at present I am struggling to find the connection between the work I am creating at the moment with the work I have created in the previous modules. I feel further research is required in this area. I previously researched Julian Germain ’Football in Wonderland’ which has a disjointed narrative contained within the broader context of football. I will look closer at this text in order to develop the philosophical reasons for my project. Lockdown has ensured the fandom element of my work to come to a standstill. At the same time it has provided an opportunity to consider different perspectives of the broader theme of football and the noncommercial part of the game. 

My current reading is in the direction of philosophical approaches that oppose progressive technology and the idea of technology replacing the idea of ‘being there’. The lived experience and interaction with people, places and objects. This I am finding is useful with regard to my previous justification of the project as a piece of activism. I always felt that the subjects encompassed within my work are reacting against the modern cmmercialised game. The people who choose to consume the lived experience as opposed to the digital experience of TV, social media and the attention economy of opinions based on other opinions without ever being there. 

All things considered at this time. I feel that I need to cultivate the philosophical reasoning for my project with a positive message in mind. Most football fans consume the game in digital format in one shape or another. Attacking this as a form of activism through my project would be cynical and counterproductive. Therefore I feel it is important to have a positive message of which I feel the idea of ‘being there’ will encompass the celebration of physical experience and humanity. Further research needed to cultivate.

Shoot | Portraits Using Flash

The intent with this shoot was experiment with portrait photography at a junior football club in Manchester. With the issue of spectators at football still being phorbidden. The impact on my project has been significant and severely limited the ability to make work which encompasses a human presence. Having recently watched the lecture with Michelle Sank, I wanted to experiment with using an on camera flash as a fill light. On this occation I felt that some of the results were adequate however the flash alone wasn’t enough to overpower the the hard light subsequently failing to eliminate shadows on the face. I tried to encounter this by experimenting with shooting with and against the light.

Figure 1 Andrew Findlay

Figure 1 is an example of an image where I used I utilised the on camera flash. The hard light is illustrated by shadows and is coming from right to left. The primary subject is placed in the middle of the frame with the secondary subject to the left. The secondary image provides a form of conflict due to the red shirt he is wearing. I think this is effective as the child is set against the blue container which I felt was an interesting contrast. In using he flash I was able to level the light on the skin tones to some extent without eliminating them all. the flash was also effective in creating some separation between the head of the central subject and the tree in the background. In conclusion, I am quite pleased with the left side of the image and feel that the range of objects provide multiple layers of interest. The right side of the image I felt is disappointing and I would have liked to encompass a third human presence.

The football kit and the the presence of alternative footwear may allude to a reading of an activity due to be taking place. The clothes he is wearing may connote a Father finishing work in order to take his Son to football training.

Culler, J (1982) Suggests ‘Reading a poem is a quest for unity, and unity is achieved or perceived only when the reader abandons the apparent referential or representational meaning of the discourse and grasps the unifying feature of factor that the various signs of the poem express by indirection’.

In relation to the Culler statement I feel that there are unifying factors such as the work clothes of the central figure, unified with the replacement footwear and the football kit worn by the young boy. However the idea that these signs are expressed by indirection is a source contention. I feel that this is a more complex image than my previous work but with complexity comes further opportunity to fail. I consider this image neither a failure or a victory. The image encompasses elements that I am drawn, there are elements I’m not overly impressed with.

Having addressed the composition of the photograph the next relevant element is the colour of the image. The first relevant observation is the vibrancy of the blue and greens present. They are distributed relatively evenly however they are dominated by the red in the image. I understand that red is a colour that often has the power to dominate an image and requires careful consideration. In this case I feel that it does compete with the white shirt worn by the central figure however I feel that the illumination from the sunlight on the white shirt enhances the power of the central figure. The muted, rich blue of the container provides an interesting frame for the secondary human figure and may serve to enhance the vibrance of the red. A colour I often encounter within my football project is the colour green. As Szarkowski comments in Eggleston regarding the difference of the colour blue and the sky. I feel that I often struggle to work with the colour green and grass.

Figure 2: Andrew Findlay

Figure 2 is an image I am unsure of the success. Shot at a wide focal length of around 24mm. The context of the image is present and layered quite nicely, the full length of the shadow is present which I am pleased and the social housing in the background suggest an area of regeneration. Regarding the subject ‘Danny’. He was doing some extra training alone while while he was waiting for his Father to pick him up from the adjacent car park. He doesn’t look like he’s dressed to play football, his lack of equipment may suggest cultural differences as the location of the football club covers an area of a predominantly white working class community (Reddish). With the neighbouring area (Gorton) Manchester being very diverse with a large community of African heritage.

Figure 3: Andrew Findlay

In addressing figure 3. I felt that for many reasons which I won’t explain, this was my strongest photograph within this collection. In short, I am pleased with the effect of the flash and the luminosity created. However I feel compelled to address the major weakness within this photograph which is the vantage point. The vantage point includes serves to ensure that a pair of street cones around the head of the subject cause a major distraction within the image. The result, is the breaking of one of the central rules of portrait photography. I am inclined to be disappointed with this flaw as it is very much rule one of this type of work. However, in defence of this to myself, I felt that I was concentrating on other aspects such as the flash and bouncing it off the perspex material above that I neglected the main focal point of the image.

Webb, A and Norris Webb, R (2014) cite Arbus ‘It’s important to take bad pictures. It’s the bad ones that have to do with what you’ve never done before. They can make you recognise something you hadn’t seen in a way that you will make you recognise it when you see it again’

Comments such as Arbus perfectly illustrate my reflection regarding figure 3. I will attend this venue again and look to re photograph a similar scene with the due considerations noted in this reflection. As I have good access to this venue I will use this space as to experiment further when working with a human presence. I am known within this community therefore suspicion of me will not be as bad and allow further practice. The possibility of the production of a zine may be an opportunity in this sense.

Figure 4: Andrew Findlay
Figure 5: Andrew Findlay
Figure 6: Andrew Findlay
Figure 7 | Andrew Findlay
Figure 8 | Andrew Findlay
Figure 9 | Andrew Findlay

In relation to figure 9. Webb, A and Webb, R (2014, p67) make a relevant observation when they state regarding the edge of a photograph ‘Where the frame cuts often creates much of the tension in an image-especially in small format photography.’ I am drawn to the figure of a red football boot, partly illuminated by the natural light. This serves to provide anchorage to the image by placing it within a community football context. The logo on the subject on the left, further illustrates this anchorage however a little more obvious. These two elements in their symbiotic relationship I feel may have potential of a poetic nature.

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

Eggleston, W. (2002) William Eggleston’s Guide. New York, The Museum of Modern Art.

Webb, A and Webb, R (2014) On Street Photography and the Poetic Image. Aperture, New York

Shoot | Beswick Manchester

For this shoot my intention was to explore an area of East Manchester which houses the Manchester City football stadium. An area of contradiction.  The modern structures of Sport City as it is known, newly built roads, shopping centres and three stadiums, one for the mens football team, another for the women’s team and an athletics track. 

The area really is impressive. However these structures sit amongst some of the poorest residential areas within the city of Manchester. The motivation for this shoot was to hightlght the inequality and difference within the visual landscape. The old and the new, the future and the past. Whenever I visit this area I feel a sense of emptiness, yet I enjoy the expeience of visiting the surrounding area. Eating chips and having a beer before a concert or a football match. 

However when I enter the shiny complex where the stadium sits, the sense of enjoyment wains. Surrounded by mass commercialism, capitolism at its finest. Yet 100 yards away the story is very different. I have no doubt that the people of Beswick have benefitted hugely from this development but the poor social housing still exists in a type of symbiotic relationship. By inclinanation is to feel that the residents of the area deserve better. 

Webinar Week 2 | Reflection

On reflection of the first webinar of this module with Cemre I had prepared images from the weeks tasks, the feedback I recieved was that they don’t really reflect my theme of non commercial football. The images were reflective of the places  in and around a football stadium. My intention was to reflect the broader context of where my project is based. My images do include archetecture associated with the stadium, turnstiles, floodlights etc but I feel the understanding of that wasn’t made clear by myself as I only included work made in the last two weeks. I appreciate that this didn’t really provide Cemre with much of a chance to understand my work on this occasion. 

In response, I emailed Cemre with a link to my last portfolio submission to hopfully provide a clearer indication of my theme. Going forward I feel that a major weakness I have is the selection of work that I choose to present in webinars. In the next webinar I will give a lot more consideration to the sequencing and presentation of my work ensuring that my attendance encompasses work which makes the intent clear. 

Going forward I do feel that I need to consider the intent of my project in further depth. As previously stated I felt that my project was a piece of quiet activism against the modern commercialised game at the higher levels. I feel that a relevant way to illistrate this would be to begin shooting some of my work on film as a reaction to the plethora of modern technologies used to disseminate the game to a non attending mass audience. 

Going back to the webinar, I expressed an idea around exploring male mental health and the connection with community based football as an outlet for people to talk. I feel that this may be an interesting direction and one worth exploring further however I feel there may be a danger of the project becoming too broad and losing impact as a consequence. 

In terms of further research, I have recently been drawn to the work of Alec Soth especially his book Niagara. The combination of people, place and written love letters really works as a narrative with a symbiotic relationship between elenents. Adding some type of written content to my project in order to support the message of my project may be a good idea to provide anchorage and I will cultivate this idea further. 

Edgeley Park Shoot | Gallery

In response to the re-photography task in week 1 of the Surfaces and Strategies module I decided to revisit Edgeley Park, Stockport. I timed my shoot to coincide with golden hour in order to experiment with a different type of light. I also felt that it was a good opportunity to make some work which isn’t driven by human presence. Eggleston comments that when shooting he looks to separate colour from composition. Therefore I wanted to make this a theme within these photographs. I further intended to try to layer images and find alternative and peculiar vantage points as a result of the weeks reading. Another current influence is the work of Alex Webb who comments on his intention to create complex images which stop short of chaos.

I was also mindful of recent feedback from my tutors who suggest that to include more of a context, one would benefit from stepping back in order to include more of the environment. In using this approach I hope to learn more about the creation of a poetic image which alludes to a narrative or metaphor. I am conscious that some of my previous work is one-dimensional and although I feel that there is a place for this type of work, throughout this unit I intend to be ambitious in the hope of strengthening my voice.

In the days/weeks to come I will visit new locations however the current lockdown measures will hinder my ability to make work which has a human presence and fulfil my intentions. Therefore I will continue my research into photographers who shoot colour such as William Christenberry and Stephen Shore.