Thursday, 15 August 2013

Assignment Three Feedback

:o) I was really pleased with my feedback, lots of positives, and any suggestions were put forward politely and spot on. Being new to each other there were some useful reminders; especially helpful as I had such a long gap between thought processes and actually doing any projects!

General overview was a demonstration of "clear, methodical and professional approach...prepared well and did research prior to arrival...consideration to equipment required...good that I re-visited to take outside layout worked well...a wide selection of shots"

Was reminded that I should reference my work, yes I should, Thomas Struth and Candida Hofer were photographers who I had in mind before shooting but me being me and in a rush to get things underway forgot to mention this ;oD Both hoot architectural history, large interiors and use different vantage points, Hofer especially used upper levels to great effect when shooting her library series.

Born in 1954, Struth initially studied painting at the Düsseldorf academy under the German artist Gerhard Richter, before turning to photography. His "mastery of formal composition, colour and detail have made him one of the pre-eminent European art photographers of our time" Struth is best known for his large-scale cityscapes and his series of family portraits. He does shoot some work on digital, preferring to use 8x10mm plate cameras on tripods.

Thomas Struth Pantheon

Thomas Struth San Zaccaria
I liked the approach of Struth showing the large spaces, including people for scale and the columns of the buildings interiors.

Hofer’s also takes large-format photographs, with deeply saturated color and extraordinary detail. Born in 1944, she photographs buildings without people, often without any visible signs of human presence at all. For more than 30 years she has been compiling her deadpan inventory of public spaces, a social catalogue of architectural history.

From the website

Candida Höfer's photographs of libraries are sober and restrained – the atmosphere is disturbed by neither visitors nor users, especially as she forgoes any staging of the locations. The emptiness is imbued with substance by a subtle attention to colour, and the prevailing silence instilled with a metaphysical quality that gives voice to the objects, over and above the eloquence of the furnishings or the pathos of the architecture.

Candida Hofer Beautiful Libraries - Napoli
Candida Hofer Queluz Palace Portugal

Great to see how she researches, books, internet, people who live there. Once there she walks around to take in the place first until she decides which perspective to shoot from. She likes using digital due to the versatility. Hofer thinks using a tripod makes the image look more static...interesting thought to ponder over..her last thought was be persistent!

A query as to why I had used a monochrome image and nowhere did I justify this, again true; there were a few reasons why I chose the monochrome version, firstly I thought an awful lot of my images looked "brown/rusty" in tone and wanted to have a contrast within the series. Also the bust of Bazalgette is very monochrome and was trying to tie the images together in that respect. Finally there was the association of the historical context but as the original image is actually very sepia-ish in its own right I possibly didn't need to do this? I'll create the spread again with the original and see what difference it makes. I had also been looking at some magazine spreads from Kew Gardens and they had a few mixed spreads so thought I would experiment.

Image below not monochrome.

Suggested reading/viewing

Londei, J.2007 Shutting Up Shop: The Decline of The Traditional Small Shop

I’m really pleased this was recommended.The publication reveals the scope of his project photographing “traditional small shops” for a seventeen year period starting in 1972. His project was not based on a specific community with the many shops featured  scattered across the county. The premises are shown devoid of people bar the owners.

With every shot there is an explanation about the history of the shop and  the people who ran them. Frequently he was capturing scenes that would soon be gone,with many of the shopkeepers being elderly; the last of their family keeping the business going. In some ways this reminded me of the Non-Conformists by Martin Parr, looking at a disappearing part of our heritage. Although Londei took the images in the 70s and 80s, the book was not published until 2007, by which time he returned to see what had happened in the ensuing years. Sadly, as to be expected, the majority are no longer trading with only seven of the original sixty shops featured remaining in business.

Interesting and useful project to review, a long term project and how to approach looking at something that will provide historical interest later on, finding out personal details that add to the images and how to hang each image together as a narrative.

Germain, J.2005 For Every Minute You Are Angry You Lose Sixty Seconds of Happiness

I must admit to only looking at this online and not getting hold of the book but it again looks to be a fascinating documentary project following the day to day happenings of an elderly man. It's a simple portrait of an elderly man's life.

Germain became friends with Charles Snelling in the early nineties, was interested in his life, and began photographing him. With visits instigated by companionship rather than than the idea of taking photographs Germain said "Photography was undoubtedly part of it because I always took my camera, but it was a relatively small part with no end product in mind, no deadline and no pressure to 'succeed'." Nevertheless, Germain produced a series of quality photos, enough to fill roughly two thirds of the book.

The remainder is filled with Snelling's own scrapbook albums, woven seamlessly into the material with Germain's own photographs. The albums are presented as true facsimiles with yellowed pages, dog-eared covers.Through these we gets a sense of Snelling's life before he met Germain. We are introduced to his deceased wife Betty,via a series of holiday photos and everyday snapshots.

The experience of thumbing Snelling's old scrapbooks has been described as "rich and cinematic, and the photos have an authenticity that no outside photographer can match. Indeed, this is one of the project's central paradoxes. Germain's photographs of Snelling -- artfully composed with shallow depth of field -- are wonderful. But they look like, well, fine art photographs."  He not only throws scrapbooks into the mix, but gives them the same respect as his own photos. This echoed for me the work of John Stezaker and Joachim Schmid's use of found photographs.

To summarise another brilliant technique to show a social documentary using a mix of older and current images and putting them together to tell a pertinent story.

Wood, T.1998.All Zones Off Peak

All Zones Off Peak is an epic fifteen-year bus journey through the streets of Irish-born Tom Wood’s adopted home, Liverpool. A body of work that documents a photographer’s (and a city’s) daily transit, All Zones Off Peak is a celebration of the ‘ordinary’ and an affectionate ode to Merseyside, narrated by its own inhabitants.
Those who share Tom Wood’s passage through the city are mostly unaware of the camera’s presence– often commuters lost in a pensive trance, as the monotony of the daily commute unfolds. Those who acknowledge their fellow traveler and his lens stare, blankly cocooned in their own private isolation. The pained reality of a city blighted by political neglect, poverty, and social disenchantment is depicted as the bus passes the littered and graffiti strewn urban streets. But in the passing of time and the turning of the page – a more confident city emerges and a more complex, layered portrait of a place and its people is depicted.
All Zones Off Peak begins as a gritty monochrome journey, but within the two decades and three thousand rolls of film, a city saturated in color emerges through the bus’ windows. In his accompanying essay, Mark Holborn describes the work: “On this repetitious route through the Liverpool streets the focus dissolves as the journey unwinds. The pictures move gradually through the sequence toward abstraction. The window becomes a screen, not a barrier, and the window frames form skeletons for the images in correspondence to the frames of the film itself.”
Affectionately named by locals the “Photie Man”, Tom Wood is a photographer anchored to place, a documentarian of home. Through his lens the anonymous, mundane, and everyday becomes strangely engaging and the rhythm of his Liverpool intimately compelling.
Its really great that you can review books online sometimes brief notes - a mix of black and white and colour images, spreads different sizes, framing not always square on. if the main subject is in shot he does not worry about cropping out others, with arms legs and feet dangling into view.

These last few books are a sage reminder than it is not always good to have to rush a project....these have taken years to compile...if I want to do something interesting I ought to start now!!
Soth, A.2008. Sleeping By The Mississippi

snipped on photography

"I went to school to be a painter, but I soon realized I wasn’t very good... attended a lecture by the photographer, Joel Sternfeld...realized that was what I wanted to do...fell in love with the process of taking pictures, with wandering around finding things....a kind of performance.  The picture is a document of that performance. What really frustrates is that photography is not very good at telling stories.  Stories are so satisfying.  Novels and movies satisfy, but photographs often leave me feel like something is missing."

on fragments

"...photographs can succeed in telling stories when they are collectively put into a narrative sequence... it seems to me that, in Sleeping by the Mississippi, you are trying to get away from overt sequencing, away from a clear provide the viewer with a scattered assortment of fragments, which they can try to make sense of afterwards...question...would you prefer that the viewer regarded each image in Sleeping by the Mississippi individually, like a book of collected poems, or would you prefer that the entire body of work were considered a single unified whole, as in a film, a novel, or even a lengthy dream?"

answer " Definitely the unified whole..lesson learned that great pictures are all about luck...anyone can take a great picture...very few people can put together a great collection of pictures.  It is incredibly difficult to put these fragments together in a meaningful way...this is my goal."

on why photography Minnesota?
"This is a terrific question.  The obvious reason that I’ve photographed the Midwest is that I live there; in Minnesota.  So I have a feeling for the place..  The Midwest isn’t exotic.  And photographers (myself included) are attracted to the exotic.  Middle sometimes means bland. Of course, when you get involved in the Midwest, there are a lot of interesting nuances.  But it isn’t obvious. The Midwest doesn’t have the grandeur of the West or the exoticism of the South.  This was one of my favorite things about working along the Mississippi."

on social documentary..
" I understand that you never intended Sleeping by the Mississippi to be a social document. But grouped together, these images inevitably comment on the people, communities, and environments that you photographed.... Also, could you possibly discuss your reaction to being nominated to Magnum; how do you feel that you fit in with the agency’s history and its current output, and has this changed your work in any way?"

answer "I’m not entirely comfortable with this project being described as a social document.  This is why it is titled “Sleeping by…”... trying to suggest that this was more internal and dream-like.  Of course, as you say, the pictures do indeed comment on the people and places I photographed.  And thus it is a kind of document.  But there are just so many gaps.  I was shaping my own river.  This is what photographers usually do, right?  They create their own vision."
fascinating interview...I liked his comment on it NOT being social documentary..but it kind of is....

So...amendments to make, tasks to do and the next assignment...

*update re-working Here

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