A5: Photography Is Simple

Brief

The final assignment is an open brief. Take a series of 10 photographs of any subject exploring the theme ‘Photography is Simple’. Each photograph should be a unique view; in other words, it should contain some new information, rather than repeat the information of the previous image.

First Impressions, Initial Response

A wide open brief like this at the start of this module six months ago, I would have been at a loss, but through extensive thought, reflection, research, making mistakes and reworking my images and figuring out an effective process to produce work has all helped to get me to quickly decide what work I will make, and most importantly, why. The “why” is about self reflection and knowing my passions and interests in life and then expressing these through my work so it becomes personal and true to me, in this way it tells a compelling story. The statement “Photography is Simple” is one I have to disagree with. There are so many aspects to photography that makes is far from simple, from

Planning

Through trial and error and learning from my tutor feedback over the last four assignments I now have a process that works for me so I can complete all the necessary work to meet the submission deadline. The outline process is in my learning log here

Research / Inspiration

I revisited the module and focused on the photographers that stood out for me and there was one that my tutor recommended I researched further in the first Assignment, he was Mahtab Hussein’s and his book of work called “Going Back To Where I Came From”. This work has different techniques within it and also each image is new and tells something different but tied together (which is what this brief has asked for). Examples of this in his work are wide angle landscapes, buildings that show great composition and also close up detailed shots of corn or flowers or a wooden ladder leaning against a building, also portraits.

Sally Mann’s use of light in her work “Immediate Family” has taught me about the use of light and I have tried to bring this into my work. Henri Cartier Bresson’s decisive moment technique has also influenced my work, I now see street scenes differently and I think about composition and the right moment before each shot a bit more now. Gianluca Cosci’s work with shallow depth of field and shooting mundane objects in an urban landscape but in an unusual way is something I am also inspired by for his creativity

Ideas

My ideas are easier to formulate now, again because I have spent time understanding what makes me tick, what I love to shoot and why. I really love my morning walk to work and I identified five reasons why this is and these stem back to the self examination over the last six months working on this module, they are:

1) “The Old And The New” – how old buildings sit alongside new ones or how old ones are repurposed for new uses.

2) Architecture, I love beautiful buildings and I am interested in the different styles through history.

3) Street Art is another love of mine and I have started to build quite a collection of great pieces of work as I travel or just in my own neighbourhood.

4) Human/Social History – I love to know how communities interact with eachother, the history of an area and how they lived in a time gone by.

5) Nature. Being raised in Africa I have a very strong affiliation with nature and the outdoors and notice small details like flowers or in my work for this assignment a small ladybird on a flower whilst on my walk to work while others are walking along looking at their phones instead.

I have chosen to make a series of images about my walk to and from work in Cheltenham, UK and the interest and beauty I have noticed and appreciate every day, twice a day, based on my five main interests above.

Some ideas I had for making work about my journey to work didn’t materialise, they are for example, there are people I sometimes say hello to in the morning, this takes time to be able to find them and ask if they don’t mind having their photograph taken, probably several more sessions than I undertook where I return to the same area so I have the opportunity to come across them again.

I like to use mind maps and note down ideas in analogue and add these to my photography sketchbook when I am brainstorming ideas for an assignment
My five areas of interest relating to this assignment are clear because I have spent a lot of time over the last six months understanding this. I jotted down ideas of images I wanted to capture against each area but when I revisit the list, eg. the lady with the hair in the street art section, this image wasn’t as visually appealing as another image I chose instead in the end when editing the final selection.

Creative Approach

Inspired by Gianluca Cosci’s approach to making the mundane interesting, I used this technique with two shots in this series. I have tried to be creative in compositional techniques by using nature to frame architecture and using the “incidental technique” when photographing the tall spire of the church, there are people I tried to capture using the decisive moment technique in the foreground, along with other more modern buildings to add more interest to the image and show how much taller and how different this structure is from it’s surroundings.

Technical Approach

Shallow depth of field I still find a challenge to get the subject suitably in focus, I love the creative result of such images so I will continue to work on this. I used an F9 in most streetscape shots and in some instances where I was taking architectural shots I slightly overexposed to show more detail in the shadows. It was an overcast day so ISO400 was used. I did attempt some night time shots of street art in a car park because at this time of day it was empty but soon realised I needed a tripod because of the slow shutter speed needed.

Selection of Final Images (Final Outcome)

I started off with just over 150 images and then edited this down to 15 images in the “finalised” contact sheet below. I find this part the most challenging of my work, choosing one image over another and the reason why. The brief is to ensure each image is different and tells a different story and this and the editing is a skill I have had to develop over the last six month. I am hoping that the next module “Context And Narrative” will help me further with this part of my work.

This shows my logic around why I have chosen the images I have for my final selection, I have tried to select different images that don’t repeat, there is a mixture of landscape and portrait, this is necessary in some of the images such as No. 9897 and also 0487 below where the shape of the objects photographed lend themselves to this format.

I can see my work in an exhibition in Cheltenham to showcase a specific part of Cheltenham, there is an art gallery in the area that holds photography exhibitions. Alternatively it could be reproduced as a story in a local “Cotswold” magazine as it has an interesting historical tale about the people in the area and also the evolution and repurposing of old buildings into something new and vibrant today.

No. 9895 Architecture that stands the test of time has always interested me, this elaborate statue that is part of a large fountain is an example of Cheltenham as an affluent spa town, I see this each time I step off the bus and start my walk to work.
No 0562 Regency Architecture with it’s beautiful ornate ironwork is evident in several homes on my walk to work, I love to admire the different patterns and how it adds a touch of elegance to the urban landscape
No 9913 The Old And The New St Gregory’s Roman Catholic church spire can be seen from almost every vantage point as I walk to work, it contrasts in an interesting way with the newer buildings which have sprung up all around it. I tried to time this street scene to capture everyday morning routines by others in the area that I witness on my walk to work.
No 0574 The Old And The New The modern yellow framed glass doors of this Scandinavian Coffee Pod I find really appealing, I love how this old shed has been repurposed and the contrasting colour of the green moss on the roof and the yellow square front of the coffee shop.
No 9897 The Collaboration Of people in this street is evident here. I am interested in the social aspects of an area and I thought this is an example of this. With further time it would be good to understand how this came about.
No 0526 The Beauty Of Everyday Objects Often Go Unnoticed. This tired neglected barrier post is in Synagogue Lane, in the 1960’s the Jews who worshipped at a Synagogue nearby had to use this lane because they were not allowed to walk on other public walkways. How Many Jews, and other people since then have passed this pole and didn’t notice it? The social history and the people in an area are of great interest to me so I was really pleased when a man stopped me and told me the history of this lane and what it was used for.
No 0487 Street Art : I love How The Gutter Of The Middle House Is Part Of the Art My journey to work is filled with several street art scenes which is another interest of mine, this one has transformed an ordinary car parking space into something spectacular
No 0551 I Love The Way Nature Softens Hard Landscape and coming from Africa where I spent most of my leisure time outdoors in natural environments I am tuned in to the changing of the seasons and the beauty of flowers and plants such as this street scene outside a boutique florist near my office.
No 0589 The Often Unnoticed, Collections Of Moss, Leaves and Grass Become “Miniature Gardens” On the Pavements, Nature Softens The Hard Landscape Once Again.
No 0612 Nature For Me Is Soothing To The Soul, This Ladybird Has Found Solace On This White Flower, with the changing of the seasons this plant will transform over 12 months and I am looking forward to watching this each day on my walk to work.
Nature Has softened The Modern Glass Office Building Behind

Self Assessment

I have tried to use different technical skills to ensure the images are different and interesting. From tutor feedback I have kept it creatively simple and focused more on the narrative and selecting a series that works together well. I would have liked to include some portrait shots of people in the area and also capture the street art in the car park when it was empty to get a better shot of the art I really liked.

Future Work

The portrait shots would be nice to capture of people I talk to on the way to work, also the street art at night and some low light images would add to the series. It would be good to research the area more and get to know key people in the area who have untold stories of past and present day as this would enrich this work further.

Bibliography

Beautiful Bizarre Magazine. (2019). The Magic of Sally Mann. [online] Available at: https://beautifulbizarre.net/2017/06/29/the-magic-of-sally-mann/ [Accessed 4 Sep. 2019].

Team, T. (2019). An Exclusive Interview with Sally Mann – “The Touch of an Angel” (2010). [online] AMERICAN SUBURB X. Available at: http://www.americansuburbx.com/2013/01/interview-sally-mann-the-touch-of-an-angel-2010.html [Accessed 4 Sep. 2019].

Dell’Antonia, K. (2019). In Debate Around Sally Mann’s Photography, Too Much Is Exposed. [online] Motherlode Blog. Available at: https://parenting.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/04/16/in-debate-around-sally-manns-photography-too-much-is-exposed/ [Accessed 4 Sep. 2019].

Davies, L. (2019). Hold Still by Sally Mann, review: ‘breathtaking’. [online] Telegraph.co.uk. Available at: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/books/bookreviews/11649534/Hold-Still-by-Sally-Mann-review-breathtaking.html [Accessed 4 Sep. 2019].

http://mastersofphotography.blogspot.com/2011/02/eugene-atget.html (accessed 12 Sep 19)

Huck Magazine. (2019). A photographer’s journey through his Kashmiri roots. [online] Available at: https://www.huckmag.com/art-and-culture/photography-2/mahtab-hussain-kashmir-photography/ [Accessed 18 Dec. 2019].

Gianluca-cosci.com. (2019). [online] Available at: https://www.gianluca-cosci.com/panem-et-circenses [Accessed 02 Dec. 2019].

ERIC KIM. (2019). 10 Things Henri Cartier-Bresson Can Teach You About Street Photography. [online] Available at: https://erickimphotography.com/blog/2011/08/22/10-things-henri-cartier-bresson-can-teach-you-about-street-photography/ ( [Accessed 3 Sep. 2019].

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s