A5: Photography Is Simple: Reworked

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.

In my initial assignment I mentioned that I didn’t have any work the showed the people in the community, this was also noted by my tutor so I returned to try and capture this and I managed to get some shots this time which, given I am hugely out of my comfort zone asking strangers for their photos, was even more rewarding because of this, and I really do think it improves the work greatly.

Lots of time is taken to decide what approach I will take for my assignment and I find a mind map that combines with a list of ideas works well for me.
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

After feedback from my tutor I realised that although my images were linked by the area they originated from, visually they didn’t link and their narrative wasn’t strong, the written narrative that explained the work was strong but this didn’t match the work. My tutor pointed out that Hussein’s work was linked by the time of day and the rich golden tones in his work, Sally Mann worked in Black and white and work was around a single subject such as her children, the link in mine could perhaps be bright colours, my tutor suggested taking my best shots and building a series linked to these, so these two are my starting point for my re work:

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.

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 months. I am hoping that the next module “Context And Narrative” will help me further with this part of my work. Feedback from my tutor on this aspect is always helpful and reassuring, I have already mentioned that my editing process will start with two colourful images and will develop from there and this was based on a suggestion from my tutor. She also reassured me that putting together a series of work often takes years with lots of people helping with it, so my work in this context I am pleased with now I have reworked it.

I produced this work with an exhibition in mind, perhaps in Cheltenham to showcase a specific part of the town, there is an art gallery in the area that holds photography exhibitions, or perhaps as part of one of the many festivals the town holds every year, this could be exhibited in a local café in the area it was shot in. Alternatively it could be reproduced as a story in a local “Cotswold” magazine as the area photographed has an interesting historical tale about the people and also the evolution and repurposing of old buildings into something new and vibrant so it is still relevant and thriving today.

Self Assessment

This assignment has been yet another very valuable learning experience where my technical skills have been good, creatively I tried to take on feedback on previous assignments where creativity was too complex, this time creativity wasn’t coming through in a connected way and so I had to revisit this area of my work. So the phrase “Photography Is Simple” the title of this assignment is again shown to be not the case in my experience so far, there are so many elements to think about when making work and they all need to work well together.

Future Work

In my initial assignment I said I would like to include portraits, take shots at night and also another shot of street art in the car park when it was empty. The interesting point here is the photo I wanted to take when the car park was empty would have been another shot of street art and my strongest image included already is a good shot of street art already so this would just be replication of a similar image. The shot I initially didn’t use that I wanted to retake I have now used in my series since it ties in with nature and the colour theme I have chosen to link the series visually.

This image was taken in this way because there were cars parked next to the art and I couldn’t take the entire artwork so used creativity to make an interesting image with the constraints I had, I like the colours in this and it works with the series

Final Image Selection

No. 0593
No 9897
No 0487
No 0550

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].

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