Test post

•June 27, 2009 • Leave a Comment



Off I go…

•April 1, 2009 • Leave a Comment

The day has arrived for my depature to South Africa with Balls to Poverty. This will be my second trip with them. Previously I had worked in and around Cape Town. This time the trip also includes time in the Mbashe in the Transkei on the other side of the country.

SA made a very strong impression on me last time and I will admit to being mildly excited to return. I had a great time, and the opportunities for documentary photography and portrait photography were many and varied.

Nyanga Township, Balls to Poverty 2008

Nyanga Township, Balls to Poverty 2008

reflecting part two

•March 26, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Part two in my occasional musings on the exhibition;-). Interestingly I have found myself reflecting on the nature of the work more than on the process of exhibiting since this exercise started, and more especially since the end of the exhibition. This could be a way digesting and understanding responses to the work.

One obvious point about the photographs, which I so far have failed to mention, and that is an area of interest to me is the relationship of the subject to the camera and to the photographer. This is becoming of increasing interest to me, I think triggered by images of Walker Evans, such as City Lunch Counter or any of the Many Are Called Series. In the first the diners must have been aware of the Evans taking the photograph, yet Many Are Called was shot with a concealed camera. Taking photographs feels such an unnatural act yet individual response are varied, people have any easy relationship and others not, and how does that change when the act is concealed? I have no answers on this, but increasingly more questions.

Walker Evans – City Lunch Counter
Walker Evans - City Lunch Counter

Walker Evans – Many Are Called
Walker Evans - Many Are Called

Clearly the relationship between the camera, subject and photographer is more complicated than it appears on the surface.

Even before you take a picture, the camera has already made an impression on the subject. Surveying the surroundings or studio, things that appeal to the photographers interests are exerting their influence.

The general view of photography is that it is a sequential process, you point, you shoot and you print.

But my first thoughts are that are a number of issues at play when taking photographs. Consider the relationships that exist when taking the photograph.

The photographer and the camera
You control the camera and what pictures you take. At the same time, your camera controls your image. It tells people you are observing, constructing and recording. And the camera controls the photographers experiences.

The photographer and the subject
The photographer chooses their subject and what they want to take pictures of, and yet your subjects may choose you.

The camera and the subject
Photographers can feel that taking images offers a connection to their subject.
But the camera is big mechanical instrument between the photographer and the subject. Does it not serve as a barrier, could it not, threaten, offend, and make the subject nervous.

Overall this is an area of thought and practice that I need to develop more and offers huge scope for development.

Lighting for the final shoots

•March 20, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Details to followFirst Shoot Diagram
Diagram of set up for first series of portraits at POW. I Used the Metz on a stand about 18″ to the left of the camera with the head pointed at the ceiling. I balanced the light at 1 stop above the incident light reading from the Window, chosing to leave the blinds partially open.
“Trish” image from first set of portraits.
Second Shoot Diagram
For the second set of portraits, I opted for 2 Bowens lights. THere where a number of reasons that I did this, primarily for greater control and better quality of light. A fuller critique will follow in my next post.
“Martin” from the second set of images.

Organising, preparing and opening..

•March 19, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Tom Matthew gives a pretty good account of the process leading up to the exhibition on his blog here and here, so I’m not going to repeat the details he has already covered.

With the use of the market as the venue, the printing of the flyers and the use of the free web services, I think we were all grateful to keep the costs to a minimum. This approach did not have a big impact on the quality of the exhibition as a whole, but there were compromises.

This in part was as much to do with the lack of time and the different levels of availability for people to be involved. Not knowing any of the group prior to the start of this term I made an effort to not push certain issues that I felt strongly about and allow others to come to their own conclusions. All though I am a generally relaxed individual and happy to discuss ideas and approaches, I often want to do things my way and this is not conducive for group working.

Come the official opening of the exhibition, I was very pleased that all exhibitors had made a good fist of producing work and overall it was a much stronger and coherent event than I thought it would be.

As a group we had generally worked well as a group and supportive of the others, and that whilst they may have been some moments of tension, there were no real fall outs. Looking back however, it is surprising how little we talked about what the content of the show would be and concentrated as a group almost exclusively on process.

The Sheriff rode in…..

•March 17, 2009 • Leave a Comment

P H O T O M A R K T officially opened on Friday 13th March, with the Sheriff of Nottingham presiding over the action. There was a healthy number of guests and some snap was provide by the neighbouring Market Café. After the tensions of the days preceding it was a relaxed and enjoyable afternoon, with the Sheriff spending a lot of time talking to the exhibitors and discussing their work.

reflecting part one

•March 16, 2009 • Leave a Comment

My thoughts about the project as a whole are incomplete and certainly inconclusive at the moment, so I ‘m going to post small segments as my thoughts coalesce.

I have found myself thinking more about the objectives and content of the project after it’s conclusion, that I did before. This may be because I had already locked on to the idea of this project regardless of need to complete work for this module, but I think it is more indicative of the way I work and learn. This is a point I need to come back to shortly.

I need to get to grips with the broader issues of this project first. In ” The Photograph” Clarke quotes Moeller “’To speak of documentary either as a discreet form of photographic practice or, alternatively, as an identifiable corpus of work is to run headlong into a morass of contradiction, confusion and ambiguity’, a position made more problematic by the way in which the increasing, sophistication of visual technology makes it difficult to know what is ‘real’ and what has been ‘faked’.”(Pge 163). Although speaking  most directly about war and the experience of it through photography, this argument clearly spells out the problems that all documentary photography has, and for me the ambiguity is the difficutly.
My objective with my photographs was to create a narrative of the subjects (individually and as a group) that was distinct from the mainstream perceptions and clichés. These views constructed and imbedded in the social and institutional consciousness. Yet through the process of discussion, negotiation and shooting there was a willingness on both sides to present images that address the narrative we wanted.

Clearly this is a process of manipulation as stark as that which I outlined in my statement, and the conclusion can only be that the idea that documentary photography is the truth is wrong and that documentary is at best a truth. And that maybe that is only a rhetorical device for dealing with confusion.

Possibly the only redeeming factor in this project is that it used a  process that enjoys the consent of it’s subjects.