Podcast Production | Nathan

Having produced and edited new work I was conscious that I needed to engage with the task of editing the recorded interviews that I conducted. I was reluctant to do this immediately as it is an emotional task to listen to the struggles of others and needs to be done when I am alone which isn’t very often in my household.

When reviewing the audio I felt at odds regarding the appropriate production values I should be applying to this work. In order to make this work I have been using the voice recording function using my phone. I did consider using a zoom microphone but I felt that would be an unnecessary barrier between myself and the interviewees.

A mobile phone is an everyday item which most carry around with them, therefore I felt this was a good option as this project is about emotion as opposed to aesthetics. And in using a mobile phone I feel that in using an everyday item, It was one less barrier in addition to the camera. I made this choice because it felt like the correct thing to do. The camera is already an object which carries aggressive connotation, as Sontag refers to its ability to violate someone. Having already conducted some interviews, I feel that the more I act like I am making a production, the more guarded a collaborator would be. In this instance, the person I am collaborating with, I care about greatly.

In this instance Chalfen (2011) reminds that ‘a project initiated by a caring individual within a context may be an act of responsibility or personal interest’. Sentiments that very much apply this this project. Although, with a technical mid frame taken from a background working in factual TV. I felt that to enable Nathan to tell his story with maximum authenticity, he needed to collaborate with a trusted friend and not a documentary maker. Barthes (1981) suggests that  “authentication exceeds the power of representation”. and I agree in case, the content of the interview being far more important than the production values. I also feel that the strength of the collaboration is rooted in the power of the content which moves the project beyond the aesthetic.

When editing the audio, I started by removing as much of my voice as possible. I didn’t want the presentation to encompass any manipulation on my part. This is a further contested territory but an approach which reminds of the advice provided by Colin Pantall in recent webinars who continually encourages to think about the work in relation to being able to frame a broader story and in the case of the story I am trying to tell, my input regarding the words of others I feel needs to be minimal. However I am aware that I am very much a collaborator within this process by enabling participants to express their thoughts and views. My approach to this is informed by (Helguera 2011) who suggests that ‘participation creates vitality‘. Which aligns with my views on the process of conducting interviews as I feel that my role is to facilitate an open dialogue. In my last meeting with Laura I asked her about how she creates a sense of intimacy within her own work and she simply responded by suggesting ‘I’m an open book’. Which may seem an ambiguous statement but I totally understand this comment as a result of the interview experiences.

Having performed an initial cull of the audio, my thoughts were that I still had too much information therefore, having had a break, I went back to the edit and cut the interview further, in doing this, my objective begun to emerge in a clearer sense. At this stage I had begun to establish some specific micro narratives which were insightful in the area of the mental health theme I was challenging. As a result, I felt the relevant areas of this interview were:

Early years and childhood

Time in prison

Experiences of poor mental health

Having established these themes I then needed to consider the quandary of how to frame, or present the story. At this stage the technical versus the emotional required mediation. In response, the passages I have included within this post, encompass what I would describe as semi structured or open narratives. This felt like the correct direction as it is my intention to provide context to the aesthetics of the photographs whilst still requiring the audience to still engage with a level of interpretation. Hall (1999, p. 514) highlights ‘By the word reading we mean not only the capacity to identify and decode a certain number of signs, but also the subjective capacity to put them into a creative relation between themselves and with other signs’ And in discussing the act of interpretation, I am now at a stage where I am interested in how an audience would read the audio an image in order to produce interpretations. I will need to seek feedback on this issue and it will be necessary to take on board critical feedback attentively. Read (2017) Comments ‘feedback from others may necessitate feeling one’s way through the process of making work’. And offers a tangible way of negating the process of conducting interviews. At this stage I feel that my edits are short, engaging and have a type of narrative which offers a resolution. However feedback on this issue will be as important as my own thoughts in this area.

Helguera (2011:P11) Comments that ‘socially engaged art is often characterised by the activation of members of the public in roles that go beyond passive receptor…. in the spirit of these practices, often expands expand the depth of the social relationship promoting empowerment, criticality and sustainability’.

In collaborating with Nathan I feel that the impact on him was a positive one, he commented that he had told me that having spoken about his personal experiences made him good in addition to receiving a positive message from his partner on the evening after the collaboration with her suggesting that the impact on him was positive.

Going forward I will be editing my second interview in order to extrapolate the richest information in addition to being economical in producing micro narratives which are able to hold audience attention.

The coming week will not be prioritised with making work, rather the emphasis will be to focus on presenting the work I already have in order to amplify its meaning/impact on the audience.

Barthes, Roland (1981) Camera Lucida, London, Vintage.

Chalfen, R. ‘Differentiating Practices of Participatory Visual Media Production’ in Pauwels, L. & Margolis, E. (2011) The SAGE handbook of visual research methods. Los Angeles: Sage.

Hall, Stuart (1999) ‘Encoding, Decoding’ in The Cultural Studies Reader. London, Routledge.

Helguera (2011) Education for Socially Engaged Art: A Materials and Techniques Handbook. New York, Jorge Pinto Books.

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

Portfolio Review | Colin Pantall

The opportunity for a review with was a good opportunity to receive further feedback from Colin. Having him as a tutor for the last module was a good experience and resulted in my most successful WIPP submission. I wanted to attend his review session as I find his observations insightful and challenging. Colin won’t spell anything out or be instructional but he does promote scrutiny in within the storytelling process.

In terms of his observations, Colin challenged me to establish the story of my work in further depth, making a distinction between mental health or football culture. He also provided direct feedback on what he felt were the stronger images which was useful as I ensured that the work included in my portfolio was new to him.

Summary of Progress

My research project is about the realm of non-commercialised football based around the North West region of England.

I have attended football matches with the intention of photographing the people, places and objects that surround the game.  

The volunteers and the environments that allow the game to take place.

I see my project as a type of activism, however in search of a more powerful element to my work I am cultivating an idea around former players with a theme of mental health.

People who chased the dream to be a football player, but what happens when the dream is gone? This may not emerge as a central theme to my work however it may provide an interesting direction going forward while social distancing measures are in place.

Radcliffe on a Tuesday Night

FC United V Radcliffe Boro

Whilst cultivating my project idea around football, capitalism and the non commercialised game. I decided to go and take photographs at a match between Radcliffe Borough and FC United of Manchester. It was a crisp Tuesday evening and an opportunity to create work in an environment where I had no affiliation with anyone which was strange because I’ve been to thousands of football matches but very few have I attended where my only intention was to take photographs.

My intention was to shoot faces and emotion whilst getting as close as I could however I initially found this difficult because I was sharing the same space as the spectators and their attention was at the pitch. As a result I decided to wait for conversations to happen in addition to choosing my position wisely.

I was also conscious that I was shooting at night therefore I was aware that I needed to look for areas where the night fell from the pitch. I also used an on camera flash which I chose to shoot upwards. I wasn’t sure how useful this would be but I felt that I was better with the option to use it.

I approached some of the spectators and asked them if I could take their photograph with varying levels of success. What I found interesting about this was listening to the stories people had and their reasons for attending the match, the best reason being ‘a cheap date’ having spent a fortune having a meal a night earlier.

I found it difficult to get as close as I usually would when shooting an event such as a wedding and I adjusted my approach accordingly. At points it occurred to me that I was cheating and not working hard enough, in response I decided to approach more people rather than shooting documentary/candid.

I also decided to shoot a 70-200 in addition to a 24-70 lens which allowed me to shoot from further away, this was interesting as I already felt that my task was lacking depth by not shooting close enough however I felt the results were effective especially when altercations occurred between the players and managers.

When shooting the 70-200 I felt like more of a sports photographer as opposed to a documentary photographer. I quite enjoyed this especially as I found myself ideally positioned to document the tension between the management teams and spectators.

At present my observations have taken me in the direction of Stuart Roy Clarke which has served as motivation to engage further with the football theme. The ideas of Berger in relation to publicity photographs and their relevance in an ideological sense.

Reddish North End

Following on from my previous post surrounding a football and community theme I visited a local grass roots football club called Reddish North End. The club has many volunteers and serves Reddish and surrounding areas including the Manchester suburb of gorton which is home to a diverse community with high levels of poverty.

Upon speaking to some of the volunteers I explained my project and secured access at later dates to explore the motivations of the people who occupy this space. Upon speaking to John Hargreaves who is the club CEO and chairman I was surprised to learn that he doesn’t actually like football.

Away from making photographs I have found the work of Roy Clarke interesting, his depictions of groups of people engaged in the social ritual of watching football are interesting in terms of repetition, colour and identity. His work enables him to turn spectators into subjects within environments that are often interesting and of their period.

I am certain that within my project I will travel a similar route in exploring spectatorship in further depth within my work although I intend to explore personal motivations for their investment of time.