Assignment 2 Submission

Create a series of between six and ten photographs from one of the following options: Crowds, Views or Heads. Or a subject of your own choosing.

For this assignment you’ll make a collection of photographs using a combination of lens techniques that you’ll decide for yourself. Your tutor will evaluate the series in terms of its technical skill but also on how well the assignment works as a whole.

REFLECTIONS

All images were captured on a Canon EOS 750D camera with an 18mm – 55mm lens and in AV mode.

I must confess at this point that I have proceeded to take my self-reflection photographs in a state of slight confusion. Confused as to whether the most important issue in this Assignment is to demonstrate a range of lens techniques learned, or whether I should be using the same lens techniques throughout to make the series stick together as a cohesive set. I shall await feedback from my tutor with interest.

In the meantime, I hope I have demonstrated that I have learned my lessons from Assignment One, where one of the main criticisms was that my images were a little too ‘stock’. I have enjoyed capturing moments as they really are, without feeling the need to rearrange the backgrounds as I may have been inclined to do in the past. I have found this to be very liberating!

 

Assignment 2 Research

Create a series of between six and ten photographs from one of the following options: Crowds, Views or Heads. Or a subject of your own choosing.

I started off by researching a variety of portrait photographers and their different approaches.

I was fascinated by the Heads of Philip-Lorca diCorcia. These people were photographed from afar and were unaware that their image was being captured. This meant their expressions were completely genuine and unposed.

I also loved the idea of taking a series of photographs all from the same viewpoint, possibly all of the same person, only changing some detail about them each time as in Lorna Simpson’s Stereo Styles:

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and Bettina von Zwehl’s miniatures:

However, my understanding of this exercise was that it should demonstrate a range of lens techniques, so I felt this approach might be too restrictive.

Owing to a busy schedule and the frustration of the people whose heads I wanted to photograph never being available when I needed them to be, I decided that I would photograph myself instead.

I really love the work of Elina Brotherus and was inspired by her work Les Femmes de la Maison Carré. This series involved her taking portraits of herself in different rooms of a house.

I decided to base my project loosely on this, with me photographing myself going about my daily tasks around the home. For one thing it meant I would be able to reshoot time and time again until I was satisfied with my pictures.  The logistics of the self-portrait though, were a nightmare. I spent countless hours setting up my scenes, the tripod, the lights, the remote timer and carefully getting myself into position for the shot. However, time and time again, the images just didn’t work.  The focus was wrong, my position was wrong, it was all extremely frustrating. And so I decided to make a series of Self-Reflections instead. This meant I had the freedom to move around with my camera either in my hand, or within reach on a tripod, meaning I was able to capture moments more spontaneously. Elina Brotherus and Vivian Maier have both used this technique to great effect.

Elina Brotherus

Vivian Maier

I really like the shallow depth of field used by Mona Kuhn in her Evidence Series shown below, and also the mainly neutral colour palette she employed. I felt I would like to incorporate some elements of this in my series of photographs too.

Mona Kuhn

 

 

 

 

Assignment 1 Feedback and Re-work

The biggest problem with Assignment 1 is that I just didn’t do enough groundwork.  I was so excited at the prospect of taking the actual images that I almost entirely bypassed the incredibly important business of research. I had briefly looked at a couple of the practitioners on the suggested list, but had in no way familiarised myself enough with contemporary photographers and their approaches.

I also did not experiment with my ideas prior to settling for my theme. Once I had decided what I wanted to do, I stuck rigidly with it and didn’t allow the project to emerge organically.

I agree with my tutor’s comments that many of my shots do indeed, look like stock pictures. Whilst they are acceptable enough images in their own right, there is nothing in most of them to hold the viewer’s eye for more than a couple of seconds. The first glimpse tells the whole story and then there is nothing more to be taken from them.

I am trying not to be too hard on myself though.  I am, after all, a complete beginner at the start of a long journey. And having submitted my first piece of work and received feedback, I actually feel so much more confident now. I know what is required of me, and I am excited, inspired and keen to get on.

Research

I still find the work of Venetia Dearden incredibly compelling. Her images in ‘SomersetStories, Fivepenny Dreams’ remind me so much of the landscape around me and I love the quietness and muted colours in her work.

I also found myself drawn to the work of Keith Arnatt. In his AONB series he photographs beautiful landscapes but includes in them the ugliness of items left behind by man. I like the honesty of this approach and it makes for a far more interesting and thought provoking experience than just looking at a beautiful scene.

I like the humour with which Richard Wentworth in his ‘Making Do and Getting By’ series, captures images of mundane items in unexpected  places.

Also on the suggested list of practitioners, I found Tina Barney’s work very engaging,  particularly the slight chaos and disorganisation depicted in of her Theater of Manners. Although there were only a couple of images in her Small Town series that I felt were particularly relevant to this assignment, I will definitely be revisiting her for inspiration on future projects.

I think Jodi Taylor is incredibly successful in encapsulating the feeling of childhood nostalgia in her images. And reading about her led me on to Martin Parr’s work which combines reality and humour so successfully.

So, finally, to the reworking of this assignment.  Only two of the original images remain. A couple are now included that previously I felt were ‘too messy’ but now I see are way more interesting than the images they replace.  For the remaining pictures I have revisited the places I went to the first time round and photographed them in their dormant, winter state. And so the project has moved on to a different, less obvious, but hopefully more interesting phase and also encompasses more than just one season.

 

Assignment 1

Square Mile

Make a series of six to twelve photographs in response to the concept of ‘The Square Mile’.  Use this to take a fresh and experimental look at your surroundings. You should try to make your final set of photographs ‘sit’ together as a series that complement one another and collectively communicate your idea.

However you choose to approach this assignment, it should communicate something about you: your interests, motivations, and your ambitions for your photography.  Try to push yourself out of your comfort zone in terms of subject matter.  Try out new approaches rather than sticking to what you think you’re most successful at.

Commentary

I knew immediately that the area I would photograph would be that surrounding my home in rural Kent, where I have lived for nearly twenty years and where all four of my children were born and have grown up. My heart lies here and I truly love this place.

Here we are deep in The Garden of England. We are surrounded by farms, by cows and sheep, by woods, orchards and vineyards, by roadside stalls selling home-grown produce. What I am attempting to convey in this series of pictures is the land and its bounteousness in our little corner of Kent.

One of my main sources of inspiration was the work of Venetia Dearden.  I love the way she captures rural life in Somerset Stories Fivepenny Dreams. I find her use of a limited colour palate really appealing and have tried to replicate that in my own set of images. I feel that this helps the pictures sit together as a series. With this in mind I also decided to take them all in a portrait orientation for consistency.

Something I really need to overcome is my fear of being ‘caught’ taking photographs in public.  In the process of doing this assignment I forced myself to go uninvited to places like the local allotment where there was the potential for others to come and challenge me about what I was doing there.  Much to my relief, far from being hostile, people seemed to be genuinely interested in what I was doing.  This has greatly boosted my confidence and whilst never wishing to break the law, I hope I can be more bold in future!

The camera I used was a Canon 5D Mark IV. In order to get me out of my comfort zone I decided to shoot all the images in its Manual setting.  This is not something I have a great deal of experience with and led to varying levels of success. However, I believe it was a useful exercise and will continue practising to get more consistent results in the future.

I’m not sure I have the expertise to state how good or otherwise my shots for this assignment are.  I took hundreds of pictures in multiple locations and simply chose the ones that instinctively I liked best and felt fitted the brief.

Going forward, I think it would be interesting to continue shooting images for this series over the course of an entire year, thus incorporating all four seasons and the changes that occur over that period of time.