Being one of the only photographers that is part of the HudMotion society means I allow myself to be involved in a lot of events for the Student Union. This week I helped alongside some of the other members, in filming and photographing some of the Coffee House Sessions. Photographing in situations such as this, is something that I am completely out of my depth with, however, something I also believe will help me huge amounts with my confidence and professional work.
I have previously photographed this event, however I believe my images were not at a very good standard, so I redefined my skills when shooting in this condition, and these images are slightly better, for the societies sake, however still not at an excellent standard.
Apart from shooting imagery for the society and the Student Union, I sat in on an interview with the artist, and did some small social media advertising, for HudMotion, Coffee House Sessions and also the artist himself. The interview sessions get filmed and posted online: Coffee House Sessions :: Desmond John
Danny Treacy is a professional photographer, creating imagery that witnesses and records the use of space, doing this in a very conceptual way. When visiting the university he explains that, similarly to many other photographers he had problems through the beginning of his projects, as he lost touch both conceptually and physically. ‘Them’ gave the legs for Danny as a photographer to find what his projects were investigating, where he started out in abandoned flats, finding clothes and photographing himself in these clothes. Showing a large development to his most successful aspects to an intriguing and mysterious project.
In hearing that he, also like us, has to go through a process of elimination when shooting and editing his imagery, gives a sense of stability and confidence when creating my own future work. However it shows the amount of work and consistency he has put himself through to find something as surreal and interestingly compositional as the work he has created. In both these practices (Them and Those) his aim is to look at spaces, however shows that he is the researcher as well as the photographer, and also, us as the audience that he has much more personal contact with his subject, one of the reasons being that he is the person underneath the layering of clothes.
During the past week I have broadened my knowledge with yet, MORE art galleries and photographic practices. Joel Meyerowits’ ‘Why Colour’ exhibited in C/O Berlin, gave me insight into another stunning body of work. This body of work looks at the concept that imagery would almost certainly be impossible to discern the intense contrasts, the nuances, and the tiny details that make the images he produces, as much of the photographic practice throughout uses such a detailed and trance use of colour, that there would be a lack of distraction for your eyes without. This use of colour to then contrast them with the composition of the gallery walls, producing aesthetic for the viewers own pleasure.
During a short break in Hamburg I visited the Kunsthalle Gallery, Germany. This included works from the likes of Anita Ree with her exhibit ‘The Retrospective’, with some beautiful paintings to look back at her own image of herself and how she felt she was viewed. This all reflected on the idea that she was not impressed with her own identity, creating and reflecting upon this idea that these are issues which very much still exist throughout today’s social ‘norms’.
This gallery not only opened my eyes to look at the way imagery was presented and viewed, from the scale in which they were printed, to the framing, but it also made me aware of the effect that the aesthetics of a building can change how you view the imagery. The inside of this beautiful, ancient building had belongings of old-fashioned sculptures and structural design of the interior, creating an enjoyable and aesthetical viewing. During the day I viewed a range of books, which I was able to envision in thought with my ideas for the final photo book to my project. Despite the fact, I am not yet near the end of a project, I have found it has been influential to the making of my imagery when viewing other photographers practices. This was an amazing experience that I will credit towards the final thoughts in designing my final pieces, for an exhibition.
This weekend I entered a whole new world of observing behind the scenes of filming, towards a hopefully successful short film. Throughout the two days I acted as directing photographer, where I completely left my comfort zone and previous ideas of how to photograph your subject. This was both a learning curve, however a confidence boost for me, because I have not been in a situation like this before. I had to get in and among actors, and sometimes try to guide them if I wanted a certain image, although not stepping on the toes of the work that we were there to produce. The confidence came from the thrill of the actors and crew praising the imagery that I had created, and this idea of photographing imagery that presents the production team to be in action of creating their biggest piece of work so far.
The time I spent with the production team taught me more about what goes in to the imagery of a film. Where I am used to shooting a still, they have to think about all the small details for several frames per second, and in regards to this, it made me think more technically about the imagery I was creating for them. Due to the time of year that we are presented with at the moment, the cast had a lot of struggle trying to get lighting right, during the shift from daylight to dusk. This is when I noticed that my experience in the studio, however something I try to avoid, can be easily applied to this situation, so I often took control of what lighting works to create the soft natural look that we had when it was daylight. I am the sort of person who persuades myself that I can not do something, because it has previously gone wrong, however on this occasion I have proven myself wrong.
As an end to our Creative Exchange week, we had the opportunities to sit in presentations from previous students of the University including: Dan Ainsworth the creator of PupilSphere, a very successful submissions website for students to showcase their own professional practices, Tom Duffield, Tim Brown, Laura Bird and many other previous students. It was a very influential experience, in witnessing the progressions that several other students have made since finishing their degrees, whether it was to go on to a masters or to begin a successful career in freelancing. They gave me the confidence to understand that as long as you have persistence and carry on working to your best ability you will be able to succeed.
In having this opportunity we were also incredibly lucky to receive portfolio reviews of our own work. This is very fortunate, as they were individuals who had never previously seen this work before, but had a lot of knowledge and experience in our current circumstances. It was also amazing to hear their feedback on how they feel I should progress, to get to the point where I feel happy with my work.
We had many exciting opportunities throughout Creative Exchange Week, one of them including a talk from Matt Johnson, looking at the editing and thought that goes in to the publication of a successful book. He talked us through some of his own books or publications he had made, and the whole idea behind getting a group of people together to talk about the makings of a good book. This is how he’s created a group called ‘The Photobook Club’, it is group that is widely successful, even nationally, where they talk about photobooks in an open and professional manner. I found that, similarly to what I’ve already experienced, high amount of thought goes in to the feel, look and even (strangely enough) the smell, can effect how you view a book. This is an aspect of my final major project that I need to consider, especially as I am interested in creating a book for my final publications.
“When we put two images together, we create a new one” – this quote looks at the sequencing of a professional practice, so this is where we were given a task of creating a sequence or narrative to a group or images we were given by Matt. I found this interesting to do as a group, solely due to the fact we all have different creative ideas, so to start we were suggesting oppositional ideas to group the imagery in to. However, we did create an interesting narrative of imagery, it was easy to get an idea of the project itself.
If there is one thing I have learnt from Pablo Antoli, it is that you go through trial and error periods, where you may not enjoy what you are doing and the work you are creating. These are more than most times, periods of your life that will teach you about your abilities and techniques as an artist. He mentioned that there were few times he felt very disconnected with the work he was creating, as he just wanted to get the money he was earning and create the work he enjoyed doing. He was persistent enough to get to the stage where he felt like he was really connecting on a physical level with his body of work, teaching me that patience is the best way to get something you want to work right. There were times during his career as a Photographers Assistant that he spent observing the work of others and learning the technical values of a photographer, therefore allowing him to improve his own way of making. He explains that if you develop a specific craft, it helps feed the work in progress you currently have.
There have been moments during my academic career that I have been unsure of what I was expressing through my work, however I found that this is a normal process to go through, as he has done the same, in different aspects of his life. Despite this, theory is a big part of gaining knowledge of your subject, and also connecting yourself with the work you want to create. Antoli’s most recent body of work ‘Tectonics’ are creations of both images and pieces of art he made out of paper, using maps as his guidance to create sculptures. When doing an installation Pablo decided to reshoot some again and group them in pairs, creating a 3D model for viewing. This interested me a lot, because of the interaction you learn that he has had with his imagery, it seems then you have a lot more connection with the photography being made.
Antoli has shown me that it is difficult sometimes to know what you are saying, however when you are then on the right track it can be very rewarding and satisfying. If you carry on working you get to where you want to be.
At the beginning of Creative Exchange Week I was lucky enough to have a portfolio review with Rachel Brown, a photography director currently working for Harper’s Bazaar and also Town & Country. She has taught me that most of the time you have to work alongside your earning job, where her career and her personal art are very apposing towards each other. The freelance work she produces has a beautiful fine art feel towards it, the works has vibrance in colour and in narrative, making imagery that seems very unrealistic, however pure. This is something she will do by herself, where on the other hand she then works for two large companies, therefor working in a different environment completely.
When looking at my work she advised me that I look to Martin Parr’s work on culture that has very recently been posted to Instagram as a series of photographs, she told me that this will help develop my profession and the body of work I am currently producing. She pointed out on a specific image to me that I had shot on film, telling me that this is the image she finds appeals to her most. I questioned myself, thinking my project should take a turn and look in to a new subject, however when speaking to her and previous people, I have noticed that my project is on the right tracks however my subject is too broad and needs to be narrowed down. Feeding us with her knowledge has helped me articulate what I am doing a lot more, I feel I need to think about both what I find pleasing, but also what the viewer will find pleasing.
When faced with the conceptual idea that my work is ‘Making Strange’, I have excelled on this idea that you can create imagery that almost doesn’t make sense to the viewer. Similar to that of Paul Nash’s art-based photography, where he has created imagery that is obscuring the subject in a way that you can not understand. Simon Watney’s ‘Making Strange: The Shattered Mirror’ (Chapter 7) explains the ideas behind the choice of subject and the ‘look’ of photography that predominantly came about in 1920/1930. The choice to create imagery of a subject then appropriate this in a way you choose, interests me, as you can interpret a subject in whatever way you choose, particularly with photography. ‘Photography: A Critical Introduction’ analyses Watney’s text throughout, explaining that once you see some imagery, you almost familiarise yourself with the past, as it can be the small aspect which as a notion are no longer important in your life.
During the critical analysis with Garry Clarkson, he told me once you have stepped too far into this concept, you may find yourself mimicking the idea of Ostranenie. With this in mind I find that my imagery can have many angles to my subject, and how I feel my ideas can be put across, which as a publication (photo book) can work and flow well. When getting to this final stage of creating a zine or photo book, having more work is better, as I have noticed from previous years that you edit them down a large amount, before finding the ones that suit your way of working. I have also been faced with the thought that my work has attempts to be positive, however as a subject may be seen in a negative light. This is something I am interested in finding a little bit more about, how I can perceive something very differently to other individuals, and make this project work as a body of work. This was a task that also made me think about my peers’ work a lot more in detail, as they had the time and have advanced their abilities in analysing, and presenting their own work.