Course: Expressing Your Vision
Assignment one – ‘Square Mile’ – The Beginning
“In our earliest years we know a patch of ground in a detail we will never know anywhere again – site of discovery and putting names to things – people and places – working with difference similitude – favourite places, places to avoid – neighbours and their habits, gestures and stories – textures, smells – also of play, imagination, experiment – finding the best location for doing things – creating worlds under our own control, fantasy landscapes. (Professor Mike Pearson)
Photographers and artists have always found inspiration in their immediate location. There is a concept within Welsh culture called Y Filltir Sgwar (The Square Mile), described above by Professor Mike Pearson. It is the intimate connection between people and their childhood ‘home’ surroundings. Use the theme of The Square Mile as a starting point for your first assignment.”
[OCA Photography 1, Expressing Your Vision course notes p14]”
I am far in distance and years from my childhood village ‘Square Mile’ life, having lived in my current locality now for over 20 years which I consider home more now than anywhere previous.
In my opinion home is the people you love and hold dear and the material things in life, are transient and less important to the concept of home. Saying that, to feel safe, warm and grounded to one particular place is not to be overlooked in its importance and it is the thing we normally label as ‘home’ but home could be anywhere if you are with the people you love and who love you.
More as an observation and commentary in response to the text provided, rather than directly related to the assignment, I can relate to Professor Mike Pearson’s text above in that when you are a child you; explore as a child, experience as a child, remember events and places as a child, all through the eyes of a child. When you go back years later to your childhood ‘home’ and see the same places and people through the eyes of an adult, although the childhood memories and feelings are still there, the experience is very different e.g. places seem smaller. As previously discussed in Part one, Exercise 1.1 with the concept and histogram proof that no two moments are the same; the same is true of experiences of people and places. No two experiences can be the same as the situation; circumstance and time also have an impact.
Make a series of six to twelve photographs in response to the concept of ‘The Square Mile’.
This assignment should communicate something about you: your interests, motivations, and your ambitions for your photography.
Format of my Blog response:
Before I start with my ‘Blog’ response on Assignment one I wanted to explain its content structure. I think the Learning Log is meant to capture more that the official Assignment response to the tutor, or at least this appears to be the general working assumption, so where text from my official response has been included I will highlight this to enable you (the reader) to distinguish between what is just ‘chat’ i.e. my thoughts, and what has been ‘submitted’. This will help contextualize my tutor’s response/critique and any rework that is requested.
When I read the assignment brief I did wonder what I could photograph that was new and different in my locality, my ‘Square Mile’. I’ve had my DSLR camera since August 2015, so not very long, but I have been keen to get out and use my camera at any opportunity so consequently it seems like I have photographed the area where I live almost to death.
After much thought I decided I would take a slightly less straight forward approach to this assignment brief and take photos from my dog’s perspective, at his eye level. So, my set of photos represents exactly this theme – ‘A dog’s eye view of my Square Mile’.
“My first impressions of the brief were that it was wide and there was a lot of scope for artistic interpretation. I had photographed my ‘Square Mile’ many times so wanted to do something a bit different. That’s when my idea for taking photographs from a dogs-eye view was born. I have a dog, so in preparation for this exercise I observed him on our walks. He mostly looked down the street, sniffed at the pavement/walls and, although curious about his surroundings, wasn’t especially interested in other people or dogs.”
This is currently my ‘weak’ area because I have been focussed on learning the technical aspects i.e.; taking photographs, learning about light, gathering relevant equipment etc. My focus has been on YouTube ‘How to..’s, and my subscribed photography publications such as Digital SLR photography so as to learn new processes and techniques. I use the word ‘weak’ loosely as for me you have to ensure you are not too influenced by a particular practitioner otherwise your work could become theirs. I agree it’s important to know what’s out there and the ‘hows’ and the ‘whys’, and it is one of the reasons I am taking this course for a wider understanding of where I fit in the photography world, but ultimately your work needs to represent you, your background, interests and experience ad should not be too influenced by someone else’s creativity.
Originality in a saturated field is very difficult to achieve so the only thing you can do with any passion is to; believe in your choices and understand why you have made them, take feedback on board and understand why you agree or disagree with that feedback, then move on to the next challenge without further dissection.
Photographers who have become well-known for their ‘art’ have been relentless in their pursuit of their art and ideas, and in most cases have produced a huge body of work over time and it is that body of work that is their legacy. So I will keep going, enjoying what I am doing, appreciate other practitioner’s work (famous and not) but ultimately do my own thing. I suspect at some point in the course I will be asked to submit images which mimic a particular photographer’s technique or recreate a particular image and in the spirit of the course and my further understanding I will, but I will also be looking for a unique angle in which to present my own work and hopefully create something a little bit different.
“Being new to photography and its practitioners, my knowledge is currently very limited. So, for this particular assignment the main influence was my idea/theme. I knew what I wanted to achieve and went with that. It was only after I had completed the photography part of this exercise and my subject matter reading/research was properly underway that I came across a photographer, Elliot Erwitt. Erwitt is a French advertising and documentary photographer (b. 26 July 1928), who has taken some humorous photographs at dog level. I think if I had come across Erwitt sooner, my photographs would have been influenced by him in both perspective and humour.”
Please follow this link for the next section – Assignment one – ‘Square Mile’ – The Middle