Week One - w/c 29th January 2018
Week One – The Global Image
Having reflected on the content discussed in this week’s presentations, ‘re-make’ an image of your choice. You may wish to re-make an image from one of the presentations, or a completely different image of your choice.
You are free to be pessimistic or poetic; playful or profound… however, your re-make should relate in some way to the theme of the global image.
Post your pair of images to the forum below (you will need to post before you can see any of the work of your peers) along with a few lines explaining your thinking here, in terms of your choice of image and how you feel it relates to theme.
Although the medium of photography rapidly became a worldwide medium, the dissemination of its product and practice has not been an even one; it has not been a linear progression in its adoption nor its effect and interpretation.
Does the image need to be seen widely to become global? Images can reach a far wider audience now than they used to, and at a far faster rate. Some of the early and very influential photographs are seen by less people than view a cat playing a piano on Twitter; are they less global? Certainly not in their influence. So does global mean global, or does it mean potentially global, of global influence and relevance?
The mirror and window debate is a very detailed one and will continue to be discussed as long at the medium of photography continues to develop and mutate as each new method and technology arrives.
My initial involvement with photography was, as far as I was aware or concerned at the time, as a mirror. I wanted to photograph people and things around me because I wanted to record them; I was too young and not aware enough to realise that I had an influence over the content and that my photographs were not just records. I was happy in my ignorance accepting that they were just mirroring what I saw, but now as I look back they tell me so much more than I was aware of at the time and they have given me a window into my life then. There is more to be seen that just what I pictured at the time.
So mirror or window, global or local?
Activity One – Re-making the Global Image
To start trying to answer these, for the ‘Re-making the Global Image’ I have used one image that I took, an image that was in fact my first photograph and until very recently had only been seen by a small handful of people, and one that has come from the Internet with the potential to reach a far wider audience.
I am aware that this is somewhat in reverse to the original premise of this task but I feel that the points that they raise are pertinent to the discussion.
Here we have an image taken form the top of a Lichfield fire station practice tower in 1963’ish; I would have been about 8 years old at the time
This next image is a modern shot showing the area now but from the reverse perspective. The same church can be seen in the middle ground.
My black and white shot taken on my father’s Yashica twin lens camera was just my reaction to being up the tower on an open day and to what I saw. I just wanted to show people where I had been; as far as I remember anyway.
So it mirrored what I saw but it now has a much greater significance. In the foreground the sign tells of the impending demolition of the local buildings and the building of a new shopping centre. That shopping centre can now be seen in the background of the second shot.
But are they, as a pair or individually, global images?
I would hazed a guess that yes they are. Globally they have parallels with habitats all around the world. Habitats that are changing as populations grow with demands that require satiating.
Week Two - w/c 5th February 2018
Week Two – Multiple Media and Interdisciplinary Practices
Having considered the photograph in relation to some other disciplines and subjects, post a short explanation to the forum below of what discipline you feel photography of any kind has a particularly interesting or relevant relationship to.
This does not necessarily need to relate to your own practice. You might choose to talk about photography in relation to another expressive medium or critical context, or an entirely different subject or ‘thing’ altogether. If you aren’t sure whether this ‘thing’ constitutes a discipline, then don’t be afraid to say so, the question itself might be a useful point of discussion.
Only the second week in and I find that I have just started on the ‘journey’ that will become my final project and hopefully my future direction.
Activity Two – Photography and…
To date I have always, much like Pierre has stated in a reply on this activity, liked beauty in my imagery I look at and to this end I have built up a small business selling my possibly beautiful landscape images to anyone who will part with cash for them. Having said this, I am now at the stage where I am no longer satisfied with taking ‘attractive’ images, as a result I have begun to look beyond my current discipline.
My other main interest is similar to part of Alison’s area of interest, recent social history, the period that is covered by photography. This interest was sparked by images taken by my farther and grand father, for example, the following image taken by my father at the festival of Britain in 1951.
It is only recently that I have discovered these images and they one of the contributors to me finding my new ‘discipline’ (in week one, I used an old image that I had taken and compared it to one taken very recently and this is also part of the new me).
I must thank Rob Jones for his entry in this activity, for explaining far better that I the area that I want to go into, one that I have made very tentative steps into already, conservation photography.
I am very aware that I have a customer base that expects a certain type of image from me, a type of image that I have been happy to provide over the last few years, but a type of image that is now constricting my practice and demotivating me; how many photos of grit stone edges at sunset/sunrise does anyone really need?
So I have started to look at including the human influence on the landscape, albeit is a substantially subtle way, with one eye on still producing images that might be attractive and hence saleable; I do have to earn a living.
Two images taken on the same morning – a temperature inversion at sunrise in Early September at Winnatt’s Pass in the Peak District.
The left hand one my traditional approach of producing attractive heart warming images, the right hand one including the human disruption (cars light trails).
What’s different you ask?…
What a minor step I here you say…
Well yes I do have a long way to go and quite honestly, I have moved forward so much in the last week alone simply because the time pressures and need to complete work for the MA has forced me to do so. Justification alone, if it were needed, for me undertaking the course. Had I not taken the plunge then I might not have voiced this step and made any headway at all.
Another image that illustrates my new approach. I would have before excluded cars and such dateable content, not now. The pleasant thing here is that this image is causing discussion with my customers and I have sold a number of copies of it!
Week Three - w/c 12th February 2018
Week Three – Rethinking Photographers
Read the following short articles that deal with citizen journalism, combat photography and smartphone images.
Damon Winter talking about his series A Grunt’s Life on Poynter.org: http://www.poynter.org/2011/damon-winter-explains-process-philosophy-behind-award-winning-hipstamatic-photos/119117/ (Links to an external site.)
Stephen Bull ‘Digital Photography never looked so Analogue’ in Photoworks (Spring/Summer 2012) Available at: http://frameandreference.com/digital-photography-never-looked-so-analogue-retro-camera-apps-nostalgia-and-the-hauntological-photograph/ (Links to an external site.) (Links to an external site.)
Write a short response to these articles in the forum below (200 – 500 words). Identify one or two questions or challenges that citizen journalism and its related aesthetics raise, and critically articulate your own conclusions.
The statement at the top seems to limit the discussion to two terms and also seems to cast those two term as opposites, but are they?
Are Non-Photographers the opposite of Professional Photographers?
Surely this is too simplistic a differentiation, and reading other posts here, there seems to be a great deal of discussion and varying opinion about which terms apply.
Are non-photographers those who do not take photographs at all?
First define what a photographer is.
A person who takes photographs, especially as a job. ‘a freelance press photographer‘
Cambridge English Dictionary
photographer noun [ C ] uk /fəˈtɒɡ.rə.fər/ us /fəˈtɑː.ɡrə.fɚ/ A2 a person who takes photographs, either as a job or hobby: a fashion / press / amateur photographer.
Term often misused to describe a “Camera Owner.” Photographer should define to individuals using cameras who are dedicated, show some level of skill, talent, or expertise, and usually persist in taking pictures for extended periods of their life. Buy a piano you aren’t automatically a pianist. Buy a plane and you aren’t …
Clearly, the copies from three dictionaries that came up on a search have different ideas. What is clear is that generally they seem to think that a photographer is someone who takes photographs, not who owns a camera. Danny has put that one to bed with his car ownership analogy
So using the dictionary definitions above, if a photographer is someone who in some capacity takes photographs, then a non-photographer is some who does not. I don’t fully agree as I believe that many people use cameras in the point and shoot way, with almost a fear of what they are doing with grab shots and are quite relieved if something ‘comes out’.
I think that there is a state of mind entering the discussion here. I have often heard people make statements similar to ‘I’m no photographer’ or ‘I’m not a photographer”. Often I believe that they are distancing themselves from the act in case nothing does ‘come out’. Not everyone wants to be a photographer, so I propose that there is an element of choice between being a photographer and electing not to be one, whether they occasionally do take photos or not.
So if the non-photographer is someone who chooses not to be a photographer, professional or otherwise, there seems to be an acceptance that they couldn’t take photo like the ‘photographer’, and in fact that they are happy not to because they don’t want the bother or frustration of trying and possibly failing.
Moving on to professional photographers, who in my simple mind are those who intentionally attempt to make a living from the act of photography, are these any different from just photographers? No.
I have worked with many professional and amateur photographers over the years and in quality terms there can be no difference in the standards produced. The misconception here is that somehow professional photographers must be better and more capable, may well have studied to reach their standard and this is simply not the case.
I had the concept of becoming a professional landscape photographer and my view was that I will be earning a living from it. When a customer is perusing my work with a view to buying, the comments similar to ones already made by others in this blog along the lines of owning a good camera etc., abound. I often feel rather guilty about my offering that is it not ‘special’ enough because I know that I was just there are the right time and I have a good printer.
There are many misconceptions on both sides of the argument.
Activity Three – The Filters of Citizen Journalism
Although the above articles seem to be a little out of date, they are outlining issues or current perceptions about the use of very simple cameras such as those in phones, along with associated apps in these everyday devices that reproduce ersatz analogue images. The fear from some is that this simple process somehow degrades the resultant image, and that this also devalues photography itself; the devices are popular and the results are too.
My daughter for Christmas asked for ‘vinyls’, a new name for an old product.
Photography is no different.
In some circles there is value, or a status in being seen to understand what the best technology is, and from what ever era it comes. There is kudos in selecting something thats not necessarily the latests and newest, or what is perceived to be from a better or more interesting time.
Retro images are no different.
When I studied photography in college in the late 1970’s I was tutored in the art of black and White printing. I was shown how to mix chemicals and how long to keep prints in their different baths of chemicals along their route towards completion, but I was also shown how to alter or cheat the system. This could take the form of burning and dodging at the enlarger stage, I could use a Leitz Focomat enlarger that with its over sized neg carrier would produce an artistic and rough border around a full frame 35 mm print. I could change the temperature of the developing bath to over or under develop. I could also be found breathing heavily of the prints to change the speed and extent of processing in one part of the print…etc.
Having completed the print I could then tone it, selenium, sepia… etc.
After all this I would end up with an interpretation on an image and I would often be asked to reproduce a particular style or tell others how I had achieved it so that they could do the same.
Here is the set of tools that I frequently use on my phone to do the current equivalent, the sequence of actions that I took to get to a point can easily replicated, or more correctly, simulated by apps.
I don’t feel that the articles are about the replication of stylised images, they are more about the normal refusal to accept change and relinquish control and position.
There seems to no be problem with reproducing the techniques outlined above, or a Fuji camera coming with pre-sets to emulate film types, but from some quarters there is always a reticence to accept change.
The positive to be found here is that since these article were published there is much more of an acceptance of simple portable devices and with the improvement in quality, the agreement that they offer good quality too. I have been undertaking workshops to teach people how to use their cameras and understand their settings and more and more now I get asked to show people how to use their phones. I was recently engaged by a local promotions agency to teach their new recruits the basics of photography, their preferred device? The smart phone.
In group workshops it is now common and regular that someone will suggest using a smart phone and I have now built this into my workshop program.
My problem is now, that for the everyday camera user it is difficult to argue against the smart phone replacing the pocket camera, and very soon I don’t think that I will be able to defend it for most people.
I have digressed a little but generally speaking the citizen photographer now has a stunning range of tools easily available to them in their pockets. We should celebrate this and encourage it. The strange thing for me is that the retro styles adopted are often less polished and more distressed than images taken during the time that these styles seem to want to emulate.
Nostalgia isn’t what it used to be.
Week Four - w/c 19th February 2018
Week 4 Activity: Micro Project
Having formed a group of 2-4 individuals, you should agree on a theme or strategy for a collaborative micro project. You are completely free in terms of the content and creative direction of the project but you should aim to create a small body of work in its own right, which has been formed in collaboration.
The outcome should be in a digital or digitised form that you can share with your peers, ahead of the webinar towards the end of the week, where you will present and discuss your project and the process of its making.
Complete presentation for the Webinar, below.
The completed video can be found here
Week Five/Six - 26th February 2018
Weeks 5/6 Activity: Oral Presentation
Week Seven - w/c 5th March 2018
Week 7 Activity: Micro Project
This week, Corin set me the following task:
In a local town of you choice (time frame 2 hours) –
From a central point, on foot, follow the pattern below:
-Include a route map with your final images.
-Keep track of your creative thought processes.
second right, second right, first left – repeat
(or as close to the pattern as is practicable, the point being to take an unplanned path)
Due to the random nature of the trip around the town I decided to start at a random point of the town by setting my Sat Nav to go to the town without being specific about an actual location. Wherever the Sat Nav took me I would stop in the nearest car park and start there. I chose Belper as the town, about 15 miles away from home.
Secondly, I decided to add a further random element by using an old camera that I had never used before and one that was possibly one hundred years old – would it work, what would it produce?
The camera did work, after a fashion, although it was almost impossible to see through the view finders so I resorted to pointing it in the right direction and hoping for the best. The map below shows the route and the numbers are where the images were captured and they also show the direction of travel.
After Field Lane and Green Lane I should have turned left but this coincided with changing the film and I accidentally turned right and did another second right.
I realised the error when I reached photo 14 and decided to take the next left and restart at the next junction.
Bridge Street and Joseph Street followed, and due to rapidly dwindling film stock I made the decision to follow the rail track (image 28) through town back to where I should have turned left in the first instance.
Image 32,32 show the junction where I restarted the first ‘lap’ and this continued until I ran out of film.
The journey was not a full 2 hours; it started at 11.27 as shown on
my car clock…
…and finished at 13.04 as shown by my phone screen shot. This is when my six rolls of 120 were all used up.
Apart from the road through the town and one shopping street, the town seemed deserted and I tried to reflect this in the images that I took (hover over the images to see their numbers and click on the images to see them thr0ugh the viewer)
Image 9 is an accidental double exposure.
Image 18 refuses to rotate?
Images21/22 and 34/35 are taken as 180s (directly opposite images from the same location).
Week Nine - 26th February 2018
Weeks 9 Oral Presentation Submission
Weeks 9 Introducing Critical Thinking
Conduct your own research into one (or more) critical perspectives on your own practice.
Don’t be afraid to be creative in terms of what these could be, thinking beyond the fields of visual and cultural studies.
Briefly, write up your research notes and reflection in your CRJ and be prepared to discuss your findings during the webinar this week.
Throughout my working and personal photographic life I have been interested in, and have tried to produce, aesthetically pleasing and technical well crafted images that are suitable for purpose, indeed I have by default then judged others work by the same limited parameters.
My current work as a landscape photographer more often that not demands what the viewer perceives to be a literal representation of a scene or location; it is not surprising then that I make similar judgements when viewing the work of others.
So my practice is strongly linked to what I perceive to be the cognitive understanding that my viewers posses. This can be a familiarity with location, or a general a knowledge of the Peak District, or whatever location, that stirs a memory from the viewer. This though is too simple a definition as an emotional response in inextricably linked to the these memories, in as much as the viewer would not be putting an image on their wall if the memory was somehow painful or uncomfortable. The assumption then is that a cognitive recognition of a location is attached via the style of the image to an emotion or emotional memory making that image resonate with that viewer.
In a recent article written about my in the ‘Reflection’ magazine, the title, not chosen by me, was ‘Photographs that are works of art’. The article included terms such as ‘spectacular’, ’delightful’, ‘lovely’ and ‘simply stunning’ when describing the illustrations that accompanied the text. All the sort of terms that I assume need to be associated with my work if it is to be fit for purpose.
Ironically the magazine is firmly focussed on the middle classes who can afford bespoke kitchens and landscaped gardens and dare I say, my photographs on their walls, yet I am in too low a council tax band to receive the magazine for myself; my photography does not allow me to be in the same income bracket as my customers.
So I am in the practice of peddling perceived emotional memories to those who are familiar with the locations that I have been to and captured on my sensor or on film.
I am acutely aware that many in the more academic artistically informed world consider my type of work to be largely trivial, derivative and unimaginative, with little value or artistic credit. This I believe is due to the perception that my work can be easily replicated by anyone with walking boots and a digital camera who happens upon an attractive location at sunset.
This also occurs when I am face to face with my intended target market as I regularly come across the term ‘Photoshopped’, used in a pejorative way when referring to my images, I also come across the name Joe Cornish, used in exactly the same pejorative way to describe the style of landscape image that I peddle.
So my disquiet with my practice is immense, yet I firmly still want to defend it and continue with it.
In my search to develop myself I have found interest in many quarters. The work of Chris Friel with ICM, Intentional Camera Movement has led to me admiring and attempting to replicate his techniques. His work is not unlike some of the images by
Ori Gersht or Valda Bailey. In some cases this style of work requires explanation and the image itself is not sufficient.
Am I being too simplistic in requiring my images to be self explanatory?
In practice I have never attempted to fully replicate the work of my my early influences, those from my college days such a Henri C-B, Robert Doisneau, and these or image were self explanatory and they demand repeated viewing to get from them what they represent, what they are about and to understand the response that they demand.
Where I am struggling, and always have struggled, is with the not inconsiderable amount of well respected photographers work where the ‘additional’ information or context required to understand the image needs to be provided or explained and does not come from the image itself. Where image quality almost seems to be unnecessary, and at times actively ignored; the problem here is perhaps, who judges quality?
It is often not sufficient to place these images into a context or under a title and expect them to be understood. They often demand explanations to be provided, with a result for me, that the images seem simplistic and the resultant meaning or theme is represented by images that appear to be basic indeed, almost just snap shots.
Meyerwitz observed, snapshots ‘accept the accidental conjunctions and chance incident occurring in the frame’, but it is the ability to see these conjunctions that I have a problem with. It is often easy to re-interpret images and apply significance to content that was not necessarily seen at the time. Meyerwitz’s ‘insistent vision’.
Is my practice producing images or is it providing a story using images. Is the image the goal, or are the images just part of the story?
I understand some – and I continue to view and understand them more, but within my own frame of reference or requirements
Others I fail to understand, despite repeated viewing