Week 7 | Amy Simmons Shoot

In response to the brief set by Amy Simmons, I decided to conduct a fashion shoot with the intention of demonstrating the intimacy between clothes and lifestyle of aspirational audiences in their twenties. 

In making environmental portraits I was able to establish a connection between people and place. Aiming for a cosmopolitan theme in addition to celebrating the heritage of the UK by photographing at a location with a range of historic buildings. 

In doing this, a European brand would be able to launch their campaign by celebrating Britishness and demonstrating an awareness of of contemporary British life within the target audience. 

The style I wanted to achieve was an echo of Rodney Smith who had an ethos of narrative and humour. Smith comments that he would make his own work when he had the shots he needed for the commission. He liked to experiment and was driven by the idea that he didn’t know what he was going to produce. The challenge for him was to respond to his surrounding in the moment. 

For this shoot I followed the ethos of Smith and treated the opportunity with a sense of total indulgence. 

Week 7 | Presentation – Commercial Commissions with Amy Simmons

I found this lecture insightful and interesting as it provided a roadmap on how to get commercial commissions. Within my current practice as a wedding photographer, I had familiarised myself with the methodologies of getting work however the commercial works outside weddings always appeared a bit of a mystery.

I was particularly interested in the section where Simmons highlights what she looks for when selecting a photographer to work with. And I was surprised when she stated that an important factor was the ‘primary subject matter’ of the photographer. I understand that when a wedding couple choose to book me for their wedding they do so on the basis that they have seen my work, I have probably photographed the venue they are getting married before and they like the work. All of which represent a total opposite from my personal project which revolves around patriarchal culture.

In previous weeks I have been looking more and more at photographers who shoot editorial features as I feel that this is where I would like to take my work. Looking at the likes of Jooney Woodward who shoots regularly for the Guardian, I am drawn to the prospect of using my skills to produce work on a variety of subject matters. Making portraits and listening people stories from different echelons of life. And throughout the MA I am now feeling that I have developed the contextual understanding which is informing my work and resulting in much stronger photographs.

I have begun to research editorial photographers en mass from news outlets such as the Guardian with the intention of providing inspiration on how I might align my own personal projects to create a diverse portfolio capable of attracting the attention of commissioning editors. My research quickly led to the discovery of Christopher Andreou who contributed to an article in the Guardian by Goodinson, E (2020) on the subject of black heritage in Ridley Road markets in Hackney. Upon further research of Andreou’s website I observed that his website was rather small but encompassing lots of high quality work. What was further interesting was the clear sense of style with his approach.

This led the reflection of my own work and the raising of major questions that I am still grappling, the most important being the style of work that I would like to pursue? The answer to this is still emerging although what I do understand is that I like to take environmental photographs of people. I am further drawn to the buzz of going somewhere without a clear idea of what it is, or who I am going to meet and photograph.

Listening to Simmons talk about the importance of having a portfolio was also useful as in my ignorance, I felt that a digital portfolio would be more useful. However, especially in the instance of having a portfolio review and understanding that editors and producers spend large proportions of their working lives at computer screens. I see how having a portfolio is important to offer an alternative experience to the reviewer. This is something I will address immediately.

Finally, the subject of usage was useful as this was an area that I have very little knowledge in this area. Understanding the different contexts of which photographs are used was important and will will become relevant when I encounter such issues. At present though, breaking through and into this world remains the number one priority.

Christopher Andreou Photography. [Online] Available at: https://www.christopherandreou.com (Accessed 8th Nov 2020)

Arnold, R (2014) The Courtauld, ‘I Spotted You There’: An Interview With Jooney Woodward. [Online] Available at: http://blog.courtauld.ac.uk/documentingfashion/2014/03/24/jooney-woodward/  (Accessed 30 Oct 2020)

Goodinson, E (2020) Do go back to Dalston: Ridley Road market’s black heritage – in pictures. The Guardian. [Online] Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/gallery/2020/nov/05/do-go-back-to-dalston-ridley-road-markets-black-heritage-in-pictures (Accessed Nov 2020)

Contextual Research | Alpha Exhibition

Due to the recent death of one of my former teammates, I begun to think about my project in a different light. Considering the DNA of my work I feel like the real story of my work lies in the people, the personalities and the overarching theme of mental health. Having struggled throughout my life with mental health and until recently, never speaking of my anxieties. I have embarked on the task of reconnecting with my football past by interviewing people I have known for many years as a result  playing football. Although discussing their experience of playing football, my overarching concern with this process has been to get participants to speak of their own struggles and anxieties. 

To date I have conducted three interviews with accompanying images, my thinking behind this is to accompany an image with a short story or quote. Although relatively short encounters, I have tried to ensure that I get at least two images in order to create a mini sequence for each person. 

In order to further my research I sat down to identify other work which challenges similar themes of patriarchy and mental health. As a result I found the Alpha exhibition which has the intention as stated on the BJP website (2015) responds to masculinity and mental health’. Reading further I learned of some interesting methodologies which underpin the work Jennifer Pattison focused on her experience of growing up in the shadow of her father’s acute depression, photographing objects he made during his time in occupational therapy.’ In making the connection between photography and objects made in occupational therapy I feel that Pattison is able to make a deep connection with her work which taking it towards the poetic with the veracity achieved by the family connection and collaboration of father and daughter. 

Pattison speaks of ‘shared authorship’ with her work due to the collaborative nature of the project. I feel this is relevant to my project as by conducting interviews I am engaging in a collaborative process with participants. The final act until recently being a photograph. With regards to the latest interview, I took the decision to make a photograph before I sat down with the participant with the intention of trying to reflect their mood in some way. On reflection I need to reflect further on whether I will do this again as Sontag (1972:14) argues that to photograph someone is to violate them. This argument may be furthered by Pattison (2015) who states…

‘I had to be extremely sensitive in my approach. I agreed with my father before we started the project that he would have power of veto over how his story was written. It proved to be helpful to have clear boundaries and I believe this protected our relationship.’ 

This leads to pontification of my philosophy when making work of this nature. I did take a photograph at an earlier stage of the encounter. And without being sure, I fear that this may have impacted on the quality of the interview as I knew the participant had been through some difficult times over the last few years. As a result I stopped the interview early and decided to not record the conclusion of the conversation as a means of restoring some sort of trust with a friend that I haven’t seen for some time until recently.

Pattison, J (2015) Exploring masculinity and mental health through the image. British Journal of Photography [Online] Available at: https://www.bjp-online.com/2015/11/alpha-jennifer-pattison/?fbclid=IwAR19oiLn4ehGZZ4h1yBzIFhgju33mfOdcn2Y0bwYeLQtftWTDWzvntSgx5s (Accessed 2nd Nov 2020)

Sontag, Susan. (1973) On Photography. New York, Dell Publishing.

Contextual Research | Jooney Woodward

In moving towards an editorial style of work, I decided to conduct some online research, looking for editorial portrait photographs. It was then that I found an interesting image on the guardian website, I saw that the the image was taken by Jooney Woodward. Curious to find out more, a quick google search and there I was. Amazed looking at the fluid and sophisticated work of Woodward. Initially I felt that her work was quite stunning and invigorating. I felt that this was a photographer who was at the top of their game. In researching the projects ‘The Riders’ and ‘Best in Show’ I felt that Woodward was able to reflect the environment, creating a union with her subjects in a quiet, powerful manner achieving a type of peace to look at. Viewing her work I felt was surmised by Laurent (2017) ‘to some by they are the ones who sort all the chaos of the world into images that bring clarity to the free-for-all of life. They are the witnesses and artists who can distill the mayhem and beauty that surrounds us.’  The way in which Woodward is able to isolate subjects against the background appears effortless in addition to utilizing natural light with a discerning ease. When speaking of her approach to making work Arnold, R (2014) cites Woodward who comments It’s all about the opening few minutes of a relationship. I want to capture how they were feeling before I came up to them’ –when something about their appearance, ‘their look’ made her choose them as subjects.When considering this approach against my own methodology of making work. I was interested to learn that Woodward takes a photograph at the early stage of an encounter with a subject in order to capture their feelings. This is something I haven’t done when conducting interviews for my latest work. My approach has been to conduct the interview before taking a photograph. My thoughts on this approach were to build a rapport before making an image. On reflection of this I am going to make an image at the early stage of an encounter before, I will still make my images after an interview, I will then compare the images and seek feedback, maybe in the week’s narrative task to seek some general feedback. 

I was interested to learn that Woodward shoots using a medium format camera, I felt this was relevant due to the richness of her work. On initial inspection I felt that her work could have come from a digital photograph, maybe using an 85mm lens. Upon learning that she uses a Mamiya RZ 67 my initial reaction was to go straight to ebay to price up the same equipment. More research is needed in this area, when the wedding money begins to come in once again I think this type of camera will be purchased for personal work.

As I continue to research Woodward I get a real feeling for her work and think I could recognise a Woodward portrait in the future. I highlight this because I feel that I am the stage where I need to be developing my own style of portraits. At present I feel that this is emerging and my knowledge is broadening however I understand that I am still at the experimentation stage. By the time I engage with the FMP module I would like to have developed an approach which is based on my own thoughts and feelings as opposed to shooting something because it look like someone else’s work, and merely aiming for something that is clean and tidy. At this stage of the MA I am really valuing the course for equipping me with the skills to understand and be so affected by such work in addition to thinking about the process of making the work in both a philosophical and technical sense. 

Arnold, R (2014) The Courtauld, ‘I Spotted You There’: An Interview With Jooney Woodward. [Online] Available at: http://blog.courtauld.ac.uk/documentingfashion/2014/03/24/jooney-woodward/  (Accessed 30 Oct 2020)

Laurent (2017) Why We Do It: Photographers and Photo Editors on the Passion That Drives Their Work [Online] Available at: https://time.com/4839246/photographers-passion/ 

Document Scotland Webinar | Colin McPherson, Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert and Kenny Farquharson

Over the course of the MA I have been following a small group of local photographers who challenge themes similar to my own project of non league football. I have previously written about Colin McPherson and been following his personal work in addition to his work for ‘When Saturday Comes’ magazine and I was pleasantly surprised when he sent me a link to a recent webinar he took part in alongside Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert and Kenny Farquharson. 

The webinar, published by the Document Scotland website, entitled Football, Bloody Hell! Took the form of an informal discussion about their respective projects in addition to highlighting what is important to them when engaging with this type of work. For me it was insightful and interesting and on a personal note it was nice to hear a Scotish accent once again as my Dad was originally from Glasgow. I note this because my own project is emotional in its nature and hearing the participants speak provided a sense of ‘home’ that I had not felt since my Dad’s passing in 2015.

Listening to Kenny Farquharson for the first time was an excellent opportunity and upon further research into his career and concerns, I was quite taken aback when I read about his experiences as a child. As my research continued, I noticed that he was a fellow of the Orwell Literary Prize which further drew my attention as my BA final project over a decade ago was to make a documentary retracing Orwell’s experiences of Wigan in the book ‘The Road to Wigan Pier’. In making the film I worked closely with the Orwell Prize and found them very helpful to the point where we attended the prize giving ceremony and interviewed a range of important contributors. 

Learning about Farquharson’s affinity with Orwell in addition to the warm Scottish accents, I felt that I was in the right place and less anxious about the concerns of my own project somehow.  

Reflecting on how the webinar was informative regarding my own approach, McPherson offered a critical insight when he asserts that his work in this area is motivated by his desire to ‘recreate his own memories’ going on to use the phrase ‘reservoir of memories’. I felt that this was poignant to my approach as I am in some way trying to reconnect with my experiences through photographing football. 

Recently I had begun to think about the term ‘groundhopping’ and felt that this was the process I was engaging with, however as I continue to scratch the surface of my concerts and cultivate my thoughts I understand that I was, and still uncomfortable with this label. The idea of groundhopping aligns with a broader theme of community which I don’t feel my work is primarily about. 

Reflecting on my memories as a player I forgot the amount of times I had to walk into the dressing room of a new team where I didn’t know anyone while fully expecting to take somebody’s shirt from the starting lineup. It’s fair to say that I had my fair share of frosty experiences. 

Read and Simmons (2017, P222) make useful remarks about understanding my own project The work may start from a few words, a feeling or question and be a process of discovery, a working towards something which feels right, true or authentic.’ My experience of this project is summariesd well in this instance,  I feel that from the outset I had the idea of reflecting the landscape of non commercialised football and felt that I had relevant experience of this subject although initially unsure about the story I wanted to tell. When McPherson makes reference to a ‘reservoir of memories’. I realise that my personal motivations are to tell my own story. It may not be a unique story, but it is a story that I have ownership of. The implications of this serve to provide confidence in my own voice which may have disjuncture and photographs that appear unconnected, but taking photographs by listening to my own instinct is the way to go. Reconnecting with my memories on my own terms in the way that I know how. 

When the topic of discussion moved towards the equipment used to make such work, the participants discussed the selection of cameras. This was useful as I often pontificate which camera to use. Without going into detail of the technicalities, the assertion was made that a smaller camera helps position the photographer as a ‘fan with a camera’ as opposed to using a larger camera which may position the photographer as a journalist. Farquharson, when making his project about Glasgow Rangers commented about the fans and their unfavorable attitude towards journalists being a challenge that he faced. Having attended Old Firm matches in the past, I couldn’t help but think that I would feel a little nervous as a journalist amongst Rangers fans in small Scottish football grounds with less regulation. However the outcome of the discussion yielded an important consideration going forward which will be the selection of camera I use for shooting. To date I tend to prefer my Cannon 5D, especially in Winter or evening matches as I am able to use a speedlight where necessary. On occasion I have used my Fuji XT20 which is a small but powerful rangefinder camera. The Fuji will essentially enable me to look like a fan with a camera as opposed to the Cannon which may allude to my differing intentions of the fans. 

As the webinar progressed the conversation turned to the type of photographs that editors look for. This was really useful and a subject that I have little knowledge of at present. Relevant advice by McPherson being the idea of encompassing ‘air’ in the shot, ‘look for the whole story in one photograph and to make work that illustrates the football match as an event and not just a game.  With Farquharson adding his approach of bright, tight and upright when referencing his portrait/documentary work.

At the end of the webinar I found that I had pages and pages of notes and guidance, much of which I had already been doing to some extent however I cannot stress enough how useful it was to listen to the advice provided. The golden rule in a personal sense was McPherson when he states that his intention is ‘to look for the photographs that other photographers don’t look for’. I feel that this is similar to the approach that I have taken from the outset of the MA, without being fully able to explain why. I feel that I have now established that my project is about reconnecting with my own experiences as a player. Only now taking the time to photograph the vernacular elements of the game that I used to stare at when the ball had been kicked out of the stadium or someone was injured. Sometimes while the game was taking place. 

Any feedback is greatly received: enquiries@drewfindlayphotography.com

Read and Simmons (2017)  Photographers and Research, The Role of Research in Contemporary Photographic Practice. Taylor and Francis, New York.

McPherson, Sutton-Hibbert and Farquharson (2020) Football, Bloody Hell! Document Scotland, 9th October. Available at: https://www.patreon.com/posts/42446486?fbclid=IwAR2dRKHR5Ep_xOVy-mD5jJtJNF5gCV2bAo3_BBFB_V8yHPN-lyMDvT0O06Q (Accessed 11th Oct 2020)

Week 3 Reflection

Another week has now flown by and it started with that now familiar feeling of not really knowing where i’m going and hoping for some guidance in the webinar. 

The week started by taking my camera to the local barbers with the idea to get a haircut, eat some biscuits and make a portrait which was clean, considered and in the style I was hoping for. 

I also took the opportunity to look at some of the work I made at the early stages of the MA in order to see if I had any work that represents interest. Most of which was relevant but the overriding emotion was disappointment that my previous work is riddled with indescrepencies, most notably the framing of the people I photograph. On so many occasions I see basic errors especially with portraits specifically the bottom areas of the frame. Often cropping feet at strange angles or not thinking about this area when deciding to fire the shutter. Therefore, my considerations of this are currently at the forefront of my mind when taking portraits now. 

Other considerations include avoiding distractions around the area of the head and finally the vantage point as I often pontificate whether I should position myself at a lower angle. In some cases I believe I should but in other cases I feel the vantage point is well chosen. As I would like to pursue this field of work I will use this module to continue development within this area. To conclude such considerations I feel that my work is improving in this area and this improvement is reinvigorating to make future shoots feel like an exciting prospect. 

Felicity McCabe

Watching the lecture with Felicity McCabe was insightful and listening to the confident way she speaks about the work was something that I feel that I needed to hear as I am aware that feedback from tutors is extremely relevant but at the same time is largely worthless if the individual is lacking in their own autonomy. An issue that I feel that I am guilty of. As a result of this my approach will shift towards creating that I believe in, and making it in such a way that when the opportunity to receive feedback arrives, it will be a case of advice and guidance on a minor level as opposed to looking for some type of emotional support. Essentially, if I don’t believe in my own work then nobody else will, especially an established professional. 

A a result of watching the lecture, I conducted further research into her project ‘Dryland’ and I was intrigued by the way she places two images side by side. In doing this I felt the photographs entered into a symbiotic relationship, creating metaphor and a broadening of a perspective looking both inwards and outwards with the high key lighting demonstrating a confidence in her work by opening up the detail of the whole frame. The overarching personal message being to let go of my insecurities and trust the research I have done.

In order to address issues I am currently reflecting on my initial motivations and the starting point of my non league football project. Having played non league football for many years throughout my teens and 20s, I have already visited many of the places I photograph. This leads to the consideration of why I make the decision to revisit these places? In many instances I have thought about this question and tried to provide some overly clever and academic response, photography as activism, exploring a type of grief for the passing of my father, both of which may substance to an extent although probably not the core of my concerns. Read (2017) cites O’keeffe ‘As a curator I am looking for what is at the core of the work. Powered by authentic concerns of the photographer.’ Throughout my playing experience one of the most exciting elements was travelling to different locations, simply being in different environments, walking through the gates and into a different changing rooms, kit bag over my shoulder and wearing my club tracksuit. Warming up before the game, as a goalkeeper I used to like looking at the style of nets, intrigued by the dilapidated advertising boards that probably haven’t been changed in years.

When playing a home match I enjoyed speaking to the volunteers such as ground keepers and the kit man, the bar staff and the ladies who made the tea and coffee. Having light hearted conversations and listening to their stories of past glory. Some of the happiest moments of my life were spent in these places. Being part of a community, being young and free and full of excitement about the future. Romero in Christenberry (2013: p9) writes about his work ‘Christonberry constructs an account of the South of the United States from within that South’. A comment that resonates personally as I feel that by visiting these places and photographing them, I feel that I am visually representing my own feelings about these places by making portraits and directing my attention towards the strange objects and places I used to enjoy engaging with visually and in conversation. Scott, G (2015, P94) comments ‘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 may hold relevance however in a personal sense I disagree that my project was born out of a micro element, rather a sea of micro elements which I was unable to decipher in my own thoughts. And to get to this stage and a type of simplified idea, I have been through a process of elimination, challenging my project in a plethora of different routes. Reaffirming the multilayered nature as highlighted by Scott.

When thinking about whether or not my project is one of an emotional nature I feel that there is definitely an emotional element however I also argue that my project has features of an intellectual project because of the desire to seek and explore the places. In many cases I have no idea what I will find or who I will meet, the places where I once played have long since changed and many of the people I know have long since moved on or are no longer around. Therefore I am both an insider similar to Christonberry in the deep South of the USA whilst being an outsider, not knowing many of the people who frequent the spaces I now visit. Recording them them in portraits is a small celebration of an active space.

Christenberry, W (2013) William Christenberry. New York, Foundation Mapfre.

McCabe, F (2015) Dryland [Online} Available at: https://www.felicitymccabe.com/album/d-r-y-l-a-n-d.html?p=1 (Accessed) 7th 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.

Contextual Research | Felicity McCabe

Today i watched the lecture with Felicity McCabe and on reflection I am really pleased that I was able to find the time as the last couple of days have been hectic to say the least. Monday 5th Oct I tested positive for COVID which meant great upheaval as I needed to quickly prepare remote learning for some 70 A level and vocation FE students, get feedback so that they could move their projects forward and face minimal disruption to their already affected education. The home life wasn’t much better as I have three step children all of which were abruptly pulled out of school in addition to my three year old Daughter who was in Nursery. As a result my family is back to self isolating, everyone is pissed off as they see others going about their normal lives. 

I found the lecture to be incredibly informative and it was interesting to listen to McCabe discuss her work in addition to getting an insight on her journey through photography and it was heartening to hear such a success story. At this stage of the MA I am used to listening to other professionals speak about their work and the understanding that the photographers concerns and motivations are equally as important as the work itself. I find this quite amazing as I discover work, then in researching the intentions of the author the work is transformed into something powerful and moving. 

My initial research draws me to the project ‘Dryland’ as I am currently working on a project for Oxfam. It was interesting to see how other photographers have interpreted a brief working with a charity. There are a number of elements that I like about this work, the starting point being the high key aesthetic McCabe utilises. Whenever I see work of this nature I engage with the detail of the work and I respect a photographer such as McCabe as she has the confidence to light the whole frame opening up the photograph to close scrutiny by the viewer. It takes a confident photographer to do this especially within the context of documentary or environmental portraits. 

McCabe, F (2015)

Secondly, listening about the philosophy in terms of sequencing was really useful as this is something I really struggle with in my own work. McCabe was quite up front when discussing how she takes advice from others and probably something I need to take on board further. I find the image below a quite amazing sequence of photographs, the union between the tree stumps and the legs of the young boy illustrates the talent and intricacy of McCabe’s work. The posing of the legs to mirror the tree stumps makes for an image to be looked at and looked at again and at this stage, the more I look the more I enjoy it. Coupled with the high key tones serve to contextualise the image and place it as a photograph with a powerful message about inequality. The introduction of colour would usually dominate such a sequence but in this case McCabe uses the vibrant tones as a supporting act to the legs and tree stumps. 

In conclusion, I feel that this is a supremely confident image and representative of a confident photographer who has a firm command of their craft in both a technical and philosophical sense. The outcome of bringing together multiple elements to convey both tension and peace. 

When listening to McCabe discuss her work, I took many important pieces of advice however what the advice that i find most pertinent is the idea the photography is one big concern or vision and each project is a chapter within that vision. Read (2017) confirms such ideas ‘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.’ Having listened to McCabe in the lecture I take her concerns about time memory and fragility to be the most important motivations behind her work and more importantly I see and feel these concerns throughout her photographs.

McCabe, F (2015) Dryland [Online} Available at: https://www.felicitymccabe.com/album/d-r-y-l-a-n-d.html?p=1 (Accessed) 7th Oct 2020.

Read and Simmons (2017)  Photographers and Research, The Role of Research in Contemporary Photographic Practice. Taylor and Francis, New York.

Contextual Research | Project Development

At this stage of my football themed project I am used to feeling at odds with the concerns I had when embarking on the MA. Mainly due to lockdown and the impact of COVID, the disruption has been enormous in terms of exploring the theme non league football as the whole game grind to a holt. 

I have struggled to identify a unifying theme which unites mt project as to date I have covered a plethora of football related culture from visualising the game at grassroots level, exploring the motivations of non league spectators and back to football in the sphere of the home. Finally, moving away from the sport to examine my own grief about the loss of my father in 2015 which is where much of my involvement in the game stems from. 

At present, the task going into this module is to understand how I can use the work I have produced in order to plot my route forward and generate a new set of objectives based on what I have previously explored. Therefore my future direction must be representative of my initial motivations whilst continuing to shift and evolve, Read (2017) supports this approach when citing Clarke states  ‘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.’ Read’s comments encapsulate the context of the decisions I am currently facing perfectly whilst offering some comfort that a cohesive, powerful project is still attainable. 

In terms of a rethink, my starting point is Germain (1994) and his book Soccer in Wonderland. I have been aware of this book for some time and used it in my contextual research previously. The back of the book this time being my starting point so that i could fully understand his intentions with this work and states: 

In Soccer Wonderland, a fan’s vision of football. This is a book about football’s winners and losers,heroes and legends, the trophies and the terraces. It is about the heroes and dreams of the supporters, the memories, mub and miseries, the fantasy and the glory, the rain and relegation, In Soccer Wonderland shows how football exists in the hearts and minds of the fans.

Deconstructing the blurb on the back of the book this first line offers the major interest, particularly the phrase ‘a fans vision of football’ which at present sounds amazingly simple as throughout the MA I have probably been over enthusiastic in theorising the intent of my project. In response, I will spend the coming days thinking about my project, specifically what the blurb on the back of my own book will say. This will form the basis of my project in addition to a contextual road map which encapsulates what it is I am trying to achieve in addition to serving as an overarching question to ask myself when creating work.

Socially Engaged Approach 

Upon further research of Soccer in Wonderland, figure1 appears to be illustrative of a socially engaged approach by encompassing a simple question ‘The worst thing about football is?’  Followed by a collection of short qualitative responses. This may have been collected by a questionnaire or focus group and offers an interesting dimension to the book, this approach may also may be applied to my own project. Collecting responses by participants, possibly asking open questions using social media or  a workshop which could provide a deeper engagement with the project. Adding a socially engaged element is an approach that really appeals to me, having previously researched Emma Case and her project ‘Red’ which is a useful example encompassing the objective of creating an archive, although that would be far too extensive for my own project. Helguera (2011) cites Emilia ‘to participate is not to create homogeneity; to participate is to generate vitality’. In encompassing a collection of quotes/thoughts of others I suspect would yield some interesting results and add a nostalgic dimension to the project whilst taking the work away from my own person vision but at the same time provide anchorage to my work. When observing the pages in figure 1 my personal engagement is positive and enables the audience to identify with the work on a universal level. Inroads will be made into this approach and I will look to exploit further.

Going forward I will experiment and develop ideas relating to an achievable dimension of a socially engaged nature. 

Figure 1 | Germain, J (1994) Soccer in Wonderland P62-63

Germain, J (1994) Soccer in Wonderland Booth-Clibborn Editions, London.

Helguera, P (2011) Education for Socially Engaged Art, A Materials and Techniques Handbook. Jorge Pinto Books, Mexico City.

Read and Simmons (2017)  Photographers and Research, The Role of Research in Contemporary Photographic Practice. Taylor and Francis, New York.

Week 2 Reflection

Week 2 Reflection 

This week has been quite strange and varied. In contemplating the copyright case between Prince and Cariou, I always find it difficult to make judgements about such disagreements as I feel that both parties were able to present credible arguments with justified reasoning. Therefore I often feel that I run out of brain cells some way before I am able to make a decision which encompasses the accuracy and understanding of the case. 

When considering the DNA of my photographic practice, I could consider my one work as being positioned in what Scott (2014, p5) describes as a domestic professional. Primerillaly, the practice that I yields the highest rewards is wedding photography, with occasional work in other ares of the commercial sector. I do have some prestigious clients and my work can be seen on the BBC through shooting stills for production companies in addition to clients  looking for web content. However I don’t market myself in these sectors with work often coming from my personal network which is broad and varied. 

I am also employed in an FE college as a lecturer where I teach mainly  media and photography teaching A level and vocational courses. Having been employed in the same establishment for over eight years I do have a degree of security and sustainable employment, whether that could be considered a creative job is a question I often think about and still not sure of the answer. In one respect my job in the college i’m governed by line managers and results but in other avenues, I get to run workshops and help young people curate their work and encourage them to think about their creative concerns and presentation of work. 

In summarising the context of my work, it is varied and extremely busy. I teach twenty four hours a week, shoot between fifteen and twenty weddings a year in addition to taking on other work when I can. Add an MA into the mix and that renders me an extremely busy person. Having said that, weddings have been cancelled since March therefore the wedding business has taken on different challenges which is dealing with rearrangements, maintaining the website and marketing. 

Studying the MA has been like entering into a new world personally. As my creative journey started in the TV industry eventually moving towards photography I initially felt out of my depth on the MA with very little contextual knowledge, I spent my time working hard to learn what I needed to learn before making decisions about the type of professional I would like to be. 

As I continue to acclimate myself I am reevaluating the direction I would like to pursue. In an ideal world I would like to move away from photographing weddings and teaching and going towards photojournalism. As my research continues I actively follow and engage with publications such as the football magazine ‘When Saturday Comes’. Ech edition has a photo feature with a small pool of photographers such as Colin McPherson and Paul Thompson both of whom are photojournalists who have appeared to have had sustained careers working on repeat commissions on a regular basis in addition to featuring in numerous exhibitions around the world. Having spoken to McPherson on a number of occasions it is also interesting that he has diversified his work into writing which currently feels like a difficult task for me as I would suspect that I lack the mental agility to make such a shift although I suspect I will try in the future. 

Looking for inroads into the building a network into the photographic world, I have been following organisations such as the Open Eye Gallery for some time, looking for opportunities and avenues to engage with the gallery, I am in the process of applying for a program entitled ‘Crossing Sectors’ which is an ongoing mentorship with a focus on socially engaged photography. I see this as an opportunity to develop a network and continue to work in the sector beyond the MA. Having only recently identified the opportunity, I am in the early stages of the application and will seek advice from my tutors when I have composed my application. 

Moving onto the weekly webinar, It was good to meet my new tutor and receive feedback from Colin Pantall. From the presentation of my progress in the webinar it was clear that he was aware of the influences I cited and the type of work was engaging with, his advice was to simplify my project and he suspected that i was overcomplicating my approach to the work, this was a contrast to Cemre my tutor for the last module. In making these comments I don’t mean to detract the advice given by my previous tutor as Cemre was excellent in encouraging me to challenge the approach to my project, exploring different perspectives, solving problems relating to the photographic literacy I was pursuing with the result being personal growth and a quiet confidence in the emergence of my voice. 

Having a tutor that may identify with my work in a different sense will, I hope, enable the going back to the original concerns of my project but with a much more informed and confident outlook. Moving onto the major questions about my own approach to making work, the idea of the ground hopping narrative is now open again as football is taking place with spectators in the ground. However this narrative would exclude lots of my previous work surrounding the grass roots game. Therefore the task is identify a unifying theme that pulls the work together. As I have previously, the work of Julian Germain becomes relevant with his book ‘Soccer in Wonderland’ which is a celebration of football culture exploring themes including grassroots, collectors of programs and childhood games such as subbuteo.

Drew Findlay (2017) [Online] Available at: https://drewfindlayphotography.com [Accessed 3rd Oct 2020]

Germain, J (1994) Booth-Clibborn Editions, London.

Grant, Scott (2014)  Professional Photography: The New Global Landscape Explained (2014), CRC Press.

Open Eye Gallery [Online] Available at: https://openeye.org.uk/opportunities/?fbclid=IwAR3OrvCrCBRp8mCtpEuv5uztTFKu2BgYFSt4OHbMcO8e5Y_EUQ92ot9VT6Q [Accessed 3rd Oct 2020]