Stockport County V Chorley

The first visit to Edgeley Park with a camera, the approach for this shoot was to encompass further landscape/wide shots in addition to the documentary approach which has been used at other shoots within the early stages of this project.

Although a less ambitious approach to the shoot it was useful to engage with the style of Van der Meer and apply the techniques which he utilises.

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.

Reflecting on my Work

As I in the process of warming to the subject of photography and deepening my understanding of how to read an image I am drawn to the idea of the work of Barthez with particular reference to the idea of a ‘Punctum’ and a ‘Studium’.

Summer 2018 I attended a gig at Edgeley Park, Stockport to watch local band The Blossoms. This event was quite important for the town as it was the first large scale music gig to take place certainly in my lifetime. It was an event where the town took centre stage in conjunction with the bands.

To provide context, the headline act (The Blossoms) often encompass the town and various landmarks in their music videos and their signature greeting at their gigs is ‘We’re the Blossoms from Stockport’.

The night the town celebrated the band and the band celebrated the town.

The collection of images above are a combination of polite interest some of which contain the presence of a punctum, how powerful I feel needs further scrutiny.

The idea of Cartier Bresson who advocated the idea that if your photos aren’t good enough then you are not close enough I feel have some relevance also as I made a conscious effort to get close to subjects although there was an element of fortune about how I found myself in position to compose such images.

Tuesday Night Football

Whilst considering my research project and potential ideas I find myself having lots of elaborate ideas which imitate a broad range of photographers however the burden of appropriateness in relation to a particular context is proving difficult to pin down.

As a response and having reflected on my interests I felt that following a football theme would be an interesting direction however the obvious idea of sports photography doesn’t really appeal and I don’t really see it as a sustainable project.

Going forward I intend to pursue the football theme and I am motivated to do this by exploring the motivations of people who surround the game outside the commodified and commercial sphere.

Throughout this project I will speak to invested participants such as volunteers, parents, fans and players and ask them about their motivations and the impact football has on their life.

I expect to be confronted by themes such as community, mental health and friendship amongst others. I will initially occupy spaces such as community football clubs and non league football grounds in addition to following persons who emerge as interesting with regards to the expected themes highlighted above.

This is the first shoot within this project where I attended a football match between Trafford and Stockport County. I felt that this would be a good starting point as I have represented both clubs and have very fond memories of both.

Trafford FC is particularly interesting as it is one of the closest football clubs to Manchester United. This may be interesting in exploring ideas of community as opposed commercialisation although at this stage I understand this is a vague statement.

A Mild Tuesday Evening at Trafford FC.

Collaboration Micro Project: Falmouth MA Photography

When asked to contribute to a small collaboration project I agreed to work with co student/work colleague and friend James. We are roughly the same age, both have a Daughter and work side by side in the same digital department of the same FE college. When James turned up for his first day as an employee of the college I quickly noticed that we had the same winter coat.

When presented with this task I had an idea for a metaphorical approach which was to shoot an environmental portrait using a courtyard surrounded by buildings owned by the college where we are employed. I felt that the symmetry of the buildings worked to create an enclosed space rendering the subject trapped. I felt that this encompassed a Nordic Noir element to the image which coupled with the light and dark shades of Grey encoded meanings of the mundane monotony of a white collar profession for which we are both employed.

In terms of image 1 (which is me) the image I chose to present encompasses a closed and guarded body language with my feet quite wide apart. I feel this represents current insecurities about my weight in addition to my refusal to want to conform to this type of functional banal world world which I feel is becoming less focussed on development and inspiration and more about human resources. The wide feet may offer some explanation of the confidence I have in myself to endure the monotony in a somewhat defiant tone no doubt learned as a teenager in the 90s growing up in South Manchester.

Image 2 is a similar composition and represents James in a similar position to myself, however I felt that his body language is that of someone with a more comfortable outlook. I understand James to be an individual who succeeds with process and order and I feel that this is reflected in his portrait. I see someone who is comfortable within this world with his hands in his pockets and the absence of a direct mode of address create connotations of someone who is relaxed and able to function effectively in a world of process.

Although there obvious similarities within both images I feel that image 1 carries elements of insecurity and identity crisis of being someone who finds process and a knowledge based economy extremely difficult and is acutely aware of deficiences as opposed to image 2 which represents someone who is further at ease with their profession and better placed to have a move up to the higher floors of the building.

Image 1
Image 2

Finding My Voice

Finding My Voice

At this stage in my development as a photographer I am currently trying to find my voice by exploring and engaging with the work of others in addition to heightening my understanding of the photograph making process through the reading of academic texts. At this stage the works of Barthez and Sontag are enlightening in terms of understanding the broader context of why photographs matter and their continued relevance in the world which we inhabit.

The relationship with film has been of particular interest in exploring their relationship with a visceral world and understanding their fundamental differences has illustrated the power that the photograph has in terms of holding our attention and having potential to change the way that we see the world. Understanding the idea of ‘stillness’ and reflecting on the power of stillness is something that especially resonates. The photograph of the Hindenburg disaster taken by Sam Shere has had a particular impact in terms of exemplifying a horrifying but spectacular nature of the still image.

The story of the Bang Bang Club has also served to heighten my understanding, Kevin Carter especially has assisted in generating a respect of photojournalism and the potential pitfalls of such work in addition to McCullin’s omission of becoming a ‘War Junkie’. These areas have provoked thought surrounding the human impact on such persons seeking out war and suffering, connecting them to intrinsic thoughts about human mortality. The relationship between the photographer and the story behind a photograph and its historical context is an area that may provide the basis of a research project however isn’t what was intended.

My Current Practice

When considering my role as a wedding photographer, stereotypical, awkward thoughts come to mind about a smartly dressed over enthusiastic middle aged person. They may be bossy, possibly arrogant and unapproachable. Another perspective may be that the modern wedding photographer is a cool creative retro hipster. In truth, my insecurities with the wedding photographer label serve to make me work harder, be nicer and dress as smart as I can whilst maintaining my sense of self.

At this point in my wedding photography practice I just about have the confidence to wear the footwear of my own choosing and the price is the price. These are the two most important lessons I have learned from my journey so far and I will revisit these issues later in this post whilst hoping to justify why they are relevant.

The Couple who chose me to Photograph their Wedding…

In terms of my relationship with a wedding couple I see it as a journey from initial enquiry through to delivery of their wedding photographs. Assuming a couple have made the initial enquiry and agreed the details the next stage is a face to face meeting. At this stage I am usually met with an element of warmth in addition to the scepticism of:

What I am like in a personal sense?

Am I worth the money that they are going to pay?

Will they be comfortable around me?

The next stage in the journey is the pre wedding shoot and usually the pivotal moment where the nerves of a couple reveal themselves. At this point a couple have seen my work and decided they like it. Now it is their turn in front of the camera. At this stage a couple have made themselves vulnerable towards me and their self confidence and perceptions of themselves are shortly going to be contained in the back of my camera.

In response to their anxiety I make a really simple photograph such as a holding hands/walking shot. It is shortly after this point I am able to change their perception of me. Immediately after that first short bust of the shutter I quickly go through the shots, identify the deliverable image and show the couple the best shot. As a result of that very first image I have earned their trust, the initial battle is won and more photographs can be made.

Winning the trust of a couple in a pre wedding shoot is important in managing their perception of me as the pre wedding photographs take placed in a non pressurised environment (as opposed to a wedding day) and I have managed to win the trust of the couple quickly.

The pre wedding shoot is an effective way to relieve the nerves relating to the prospect of being photographed hundreds of times. By the end of the shoot my aim is to turn their anxiety into excitement.

The Walking Advert

From the moment I arrive at a wedding venue I am initially judged on many levels by the diverse community of ‘The Wedding Guests’. The guests who are already married and of a similar age I feel are secretly comparing me to their own wedding photographer. The unmarried couples weighing me up as potential photographer for their own wedding and the seniors who one of which has usually settled the balance. All of which have expectations of the photographer.

In response to this I understand that I have few opportunities where I have a large captive audience where I can communicate directly and create a lasting impression. The first opportunity is usually the wedding party group shot which usually entails the photographer in an elevated position having to organise the guests quickly and with confidence.

Being able to arrange the formal groups quickly is a further element where I will be observed in terms of my organisation and my ability to arrange the relevant people.

Throughout a wedding day experience I prepare to be judged on many levels by the wedding party in terms of my appearance, my attitude and finally my photographs.

So at this stage I have developed the confidence to break the rules with my footwear and to charge what i’m worth. These may be considered small insignificant observations and obvious to many however I am confident enough to do this as I am confident in my wedding photographs. The work that I currently produce and my outlook is perhaps a metaphor for my own sense of self.