Course: Expressing Your Vision
Assignment five – ‘Photography is simple’ – The Beginning
There are two fundamentals in all picture taking – where to stand and when to release the shutter … so photography is very simple.
(Jay & Hurn, 2001, p.37)
“So photography is simply viewpoint and moment… but what about subject?”
Take a series of 10 photographs of any subject of your own choosing. Each photograph must be a unique view of the same subject; in other words, it must contain some ‘new information’ rather than repeat the information of the previous image. Pay attention to the order of the series; if you’re submitting prints, number them on the back. There should be a clear sense of development through the sequence.
Format of my Blog response:
As with previous Assignments, where text from my official response to my tutor 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 contextualise my tutor’s response/critique and any rework that is/has been requested.
When you are presented with an open brief such as this your mind goes into a whirl about what you could do, what is possible, what is not possible, what would work, what wouldn’t… and before you know it you have a number of ideas and the task of having to select just one (hoping you choose the right one that your tutor feels has stretched you enough).
The brief for this assignment is to take 10 photographs of a subject each unique and providing different and new information to the one before it.
I decided to use myself as the subject for a number of reasons (and I will elaborate on the relevance of each as I go through this introduction) but in no particular order;
- it’s cliche,
- I was available,
- It felt it was the right subject given my personal situation the last couple of months,
- Recent photographic influences, and
- it takes me ‘full circle’.
When I first started Expressing Your Vision (‘EYV’) my aspiration was to complete a course module each year heading towards the degree completion in 6/7 years (in addition to continuing to work full-time in London, supporting/inspiring my two great kids and looking after a slightly needy Labrador dog, oh and trying to keep a husband happy t’boot). This aspiration still holds but so far it has not been without its challenges.
A year on, coming to the end of EYV and life for me both in an emotional and personal growth sense is different to where it was when I started the course. I think this is because of a number of factors but certainly this course, for one, has had a major impact on my perception, perspective and reality (both physically and emotionally) of today’s modern living and this has influenced the direction my life has taken and will possibly take me in the future….
I look back at the ‘me’ a year ago and I see someone who was looking for a creative outlet. To take up some interest / hobby which would allow self-expression in a safe environment, but also to escape from the complexities of life which had not all been a bed of roses (some high points and some low points but that’s life, right?!).
Venturing out with my camera and losing myself for a couple of hours in the process of taking photographs was, and still is, very therapeutic for me. Looking at things in a different way, and from a different perspective, gives us the opportunity to learn and grow as people by observing our surroundings and I do not think this is something that should be taken lightly and I feel very privileged to have the opportunity to do this.
The challenge, however, with looking at things and yourself differently is that you can never return to the same ‘you’ you were before; you are a revised you, a more experienced you, a more knowledgeable you, a changed you. These changes are linear – only moving in one direction – forwards in time. And can include a change to your views of both yourself and others but can also change people’s perceptions of you, which can be positive but can also be negative.
Because of this ‘journey’ I have been on and noting where I am at this moment in my life, essentially this assignment is about me, the ‘external’ naked me as my chosen subject.
A subject I should be well versed in by now; although I am still learning about my abilities, reassessing who I am and making decisions about where my life is going both physically and emotionally.
The decision to use myself as the subject was;
- One of practicality i.e. I can always be readily available to myself.
- I was in total control of the ‘what, when and how’ the images were shot and produced.
- It brings me full circle. My images for this assignment are influenced by the book Bill Brandt’s Nudes, the first photography book I purchased, as a precursor to taking this course (see initial research blog post – I will put a link here).
Each image shows a different view/part of my body from an angle that ‘the man on the street’ wouldn’t normally see them from. This process was far more difficult to execute than I had initially anticipated but I persevered and glad that I did.
The images have been taken with a higher ISO than I would normally use but I wanted to see grain and texture in the images and, although I’m not sure this was a flattering choice, it certainly gives a lot more character to the images which come across gritty and raw as a result.
I have never really been a black and white image fan but since being on this course and attending the many photography exhibitions, I am becoming increasingly more embracing of the black and white aesthetic and felt that this subject/assignment was suited to stripping the image bare of colour and going back to ‘naked’ black and white (like the subject). I think this approach has worked out well.
Even though I probably won’t completely admit it, I am starting to see the merits that black and white can bring to an image. Colours can be distracting at times especially if there are a lot of competing colours especially when you are concentrating more on form.
I am, therefore, laying myself bare in this assignment, literally, to explore the external me [both the original context and the internal context according to Terry Barrett’s essay titled ‘Photographs and Context’] with 10 different images which record me externally as a person in a physical sense. The internal me is captured by the words on the page, my other blog posts, and the many interactions I have with others everyday. Barthes in Camera Lucida questions whether you can get the sense of a person purely from a photograph, this is open to debate… and no doubt one that will invite further analysis later in my degree studies.
So these are my initial thoughts please follow this link for the next section: Assignment five – ‘Photography is simple’ – The Middle.
Roland Barthes, 2006. Camera Lucida: Reflections on Photography. New Ed Edition. Vintage Books.
Terry Barrett Photographs and Context, Available at: http://www.terrybarrettosu.com/images/pdfs/B_PhotAndCont_97.pdf (Accessed: February 2017).