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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.
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.
This post exemplifies a range of cropped images as explained in my previous post. Some images are cropped to create a sense of being closer while other images have been dramatically cropped in order to create more abstract work.
Below are some of the stronger examples in my opinion.
At this stage of the module I have been reviewing images for some time looking for ways to further my work in alternative avenues whilst painstakingly trying to edit work into sequences. In my attempts to move work forward I decided to experiment with cropping images with the intention of seeking broader and more abstract messages.
Cropping was an interesting activity and something relatively new in a personal sense. I am used to making slight adjustments to work in order to straighten and make slight amendments. However although heavily cropping images is a technique which I find rather scary, some of the results were rather pleasing. I sought feedback from some of my peers on the course who commented that an energy was added to the work. An observation to which I agree however caution is needed with taking this approach further towards a possible inclusion in a portfolio.
Upon research in this area it was interesting to learn of the Cartier Bresson and Elliot Irwitt’s use of cropping. The Irwitt image is subject to a particularly heavy cropp with the effect of making a much stronger image.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Mum is boss, not really interested in football. Organising the daily schedule. Remembering birthdays. Football training is an hour of peace.
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.
Scoring a goal is a great feeling, age isn’t important.
Watching from the sidelines, wishing you could still play.
Portraits without a Home
Movement without a Home
In the search of trying to further contextualise my work and find meaning within my intent. I have conducted a broad range of contextual research, looking at the various approaches of photographers whose work resonates. An example of this, is the work of William Christonberry. For some time I have been contemplating his work amongst others with a very loose interpretation of their approach when shooting my own work.
Photographing buildings and structures has formed a large part of my intent within this module however I often overlook such work when editing as I see these types of photographs as being without romance and totally banal which I fear represents my own failings and lack of objectivity, possibly looking at the work of the likes of Shore and Christenberry I am enchanted by the American landscape. The weather, colour and landscapes transport one to a phantasm of what life would be like if I lived in a similar location. On assessment of this module, looking at the quite brilliant compositions of someone such as Alex Webb, I fear that my obsession with composition has clouded my judgement. I feel that I am able to say this as Christenberry’s focus on the vernacular of his home serves to encapsulate a sense of veracity within his work. Romero in Christenberry (2013:p9) writes ‘Christonberry constructs an account of the South of the United States from within that South’. Romero’s statement here resonates with my own approach as my current work puts me at the centre of an insular community and in my subjective viewpoint of that community. With this in mind I am drawn back to the vernacular buildings photographed by Christenberry and upon lengthy contemplation, I am led to argue that I feel the work of Christenberry as opposed to awning over it in the way I might with Alex Webb. In feeling this work, I am able to take a sense of peace from many of his photographs and am able to enjoy and recognise, not the place, but the peace I take from someone photographing their home. The vernacular of home and with total confidence that the work evokes a powerful response. Philosophically, I am now looking at my own work in order to prepare myself for the presentation. And the work of Christenberry is important to me in the sense of someone working and reflecting a place that they know and understand.
When reviewing work of this nature I am conscious that the aesthetic associated within my photographs is often very grim. In terms of colour I am often uncomfortable with presenting so many images of grey concrete, I am also rather board of the colour green in my football pictures. However, the choices I have made to date, I feel are reflective of the community that my biographical narrative is intending to create. When I consider my formative years as a child growing up within this place, I think about the sense of adventure, I was also hopeful that my future wouldn’t feature these places and a sense of getting off the estate was certainly an ambition I had from an early age. Making regular visits back to some of the places I spent my childhood, I no longer feel like an active part of the community although I certainly know this community. The act of revisiting invokes a sense of what my life was like but isn’t anymore.
Christenberry, W (2013) William Christenberry. New York, Foundation Mapfre.
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.