The Art of Photography:Mike Mudd's Learning Log

The Art of Photography:Mike Mudd's Learning Log

Chew your food of course - but NOT THAT MUCH!! ruminations over assignment 5 - Narrative in TAOP

Thoughts and ReflectionsPosted by Mike Mon, July 01, 2013 19:13:11
Now, lesson learned here, whenever you believe something will be a walk in the park.... it WON'T be!!!

For assignment 5 I had a range of different ideas as a narrative project; in my mind therefore I thought I would have it in the bag fairly early. However, there are a plethora of issues with this easy attitude.

1. Too many ideas - all too briefly interrogated.

2. Time is never your ally - ensure you dedicate good time, with time to think about your photography when your at/in the shoot.

3. Addressing a story is one thing, to address it and reflect upon the skills/ learning acquired during The Art of Photography is quite another.

4. Self belief - always lacking and always breeding doubt - conviction and self belief are in my top 5 of things I'm poor at.

5. Editing..... such a slow and arduous process - especially when you lack belief!

6. When shooting, you will have pre-conceived ideas of the result, however when things don't meet your expectations be dynamic - change your idea set and get the best that you can - it may be better that your original idea anyway!

Now I have E-mithered my tutor a couple of times, and indeed have ducked out of a phone conversation with him today, however my issues of deliberation and self doubt are mine and not his, and are an element that I must overcome if I am to be successful as a photographer, photo editor and archivist of my own content.

After having essentially four primary ideas to focus on, the running is now down to two themes. However, at the moment I feel that the content I have from both projects does no reflect well upon the elements I have studied within the chapters of TAOP - i.e. shape and composition, balance/inbalance of shape and colour, contrast and light - while of course narrating and illustrating a story at the same time.

I've been re-editing an arrangement of each of these potential ideas for the assignment all day - I'm stopping now - time for a clear head!

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David Holmes - I heard wonders....

Thoughts and ReflectionsPosted by Mike Tue, March 26, 2013 20:51:11

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Photo bombing...

Thoughts and ReflectionsPosted by Mike Fri, February 08, 2013 22:13:00
While playing with my new Sony SLT....Bob thought he'd be funny!

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Snowy photographs

Thoughts and ReflectionsPosted by Mike Mon, January 21, 2013 21:59:31
A graduate local photographer I know recently commented on Facebook that he hasn't taken any snow photographs this year, the implication is that it is cliched and is covered well enough by the masses. I kind of see his point, however, I am living by the premise that I always have my camera with me... seeking the opportunity. Now, my normal staple would be some wintery semi abstraction, however this year, in a lull I opted for a spot of street work... For me the satisfaction of releasing the shutter and knowing you have 'a shot' is unbeatable....

I include two examples that pleased me...

For both I will admit to a good degree of judicious cropping, but the effect in my book was achieved, the right subject, aided by tight composition, with narrative/context added by the blurred snow in frame.

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Just enjoying being out wiith the camera

Thoughts and ReflectionsPosted by Mike Sat, December 08, 2012 20:08:18
A recent trip to Birmingham for the annual German market and craft fayre gave a pleasant release from more directed OCA activities.

I must admit, though on a subconscious level I can see the effect of my reading for TAOP within the images. The framing has changed, I seek more activity, and I quest for shapes to make the images, a judicious cropping process has evolved into my post production too!

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Colour and Moriyama is in town!

Thoughts and ReflectionsPosted by Mike Tue, October 16, 2012 21:51:43
Last year I visited the Taylor Wessing portrait exhibition finalists at the national portrait gallery,, this new habit I intend to keep - with a London visit each November. I like the challenge of portrait, and the consideration when viewing each image of how much the image truly reflects the sitter versus the impression and intention created by the photograph taker. It's an interesting question which is nigh on impossible to really grasp as a viewer.

This year however, there is even more reason to visit London in November, with the William Klein + Daido Moriyama exhibition,

Although the two artists are often quoted together, it is the work of Moriyama I find the most inspirational! If ever a photographer wore his heart on his sleeve, his intention and mood being plainly obvious in each image, the stark black and white chiaroscuro images offer insight into an intense and destructive mindset. If ever I had to quote an inspiration into my own images - it is the work of Moriyama I would quote first; A painterly style of photography that I adored before I had heard of Daido Moriyama.

Perversely when compared to the question of portrait photography - the enigma of what you see as the viewer versus what the photographer and the sitter all felt and intended you the viewer to gather, there is no doubt with the work of Moriyama,

Moriyama's Stray Dog Image observed at (

his view is bleak, his eye on society is dark, his sense of self is seperate - the photographer looking in - isolated from the action as related to by Sontag (1977). his high contrast black and white images present his unerring dialogue with you the viewer.

Currently studying for the third assignment of TAOP, I struggle to find joy in colour, and Moriyama's work reminds me of self in so many ways...

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Chris Killip, Crabs, Skinningrove, 1981

Thoughts and ReflectionsPosted by Mike Wed, September 19, 2012 22:20:46

Although documentary in stance, this image, as Gerry Badger states in his chapter ‘On the Road’ in his superbly titled ‘The Genius of Photography’ , has a great sense of the poetic, an element of drama and narrative mystery.

Personally however, the image resonates with a more direct message, and presents a reminder of why I left the North East, the area I was brought up in, the subject matter presenting a picture of Thatcherite born economic depression and a full reminder of the widening north south divide and the current economic downturn.

My brother, who lived less than a couple of miles away from where this scene was recorded, recently died of cancer. His funeral providing me with a personal journey to return, albeit short term, to the area I escaped from. In reflection of Killips recording, the area has not changed much in the thirty one years since. In the current climate, the area is still economically ravaged, even more so in the current decline with the demise of the major employers who bolstered the area during the 1980’s downturn i.e. British Steel and ICI.

As Badger puts it, the people of the area – and specifically these small north east coast villages south of the Tees conurbation are resolutely non gentrified, and from my memory pursue local lives enduring local hardships and blight, only now the hardships and blight are slightly globalised with the ever increasing affects of drugs, de skilled youth and forced consumerism. In essence the scene ramifies these personal opinions, and presents a raft of memories from a dislocated personal past. This area, even in times of boom, still to me feels bust.

In terms of a post modernist picture from which the viewer draws conclusive statements from scene (as above (though my perspective of the image is aided by personal experience)), and also interprets the mindset and conclusions of the photograph taker, the picture perfectly exemplifies Killips project, and the projects of others (e.g. Friedlander, Robert Adams), utilising photography as a means to provide a statement which requires a degree of study to interpret. At a stage where my personal projects are lacking, such works both inspire and intimidate.

Additionally from a photographer’s perspective, Killips landscape documentary, melancholic and perversely socially romantic view, particularly in the light of recent personal mindset, presents a further question about my own photography. I have a continuing tendency to present the melancholic scene, almost as though I’m trapped in the mind of a moody Goth teenager. To a point I like this, after all I do repeat the pattern; lots of black and white, high contrast, overly low key, noir images in my flickr set (, turning even the most positive of ‘days out’ into a gothic darkened mass of pictures. The question to self however, at a time when I’m not taking as many photographs as I should be, is one of whether my own photographic tastes overpower what should be a more expansive desire to create photographs – utilising a broader take of techniques and desired outcomes.

Compounding this question mark over my own photography, at a time when, again as is alluded to by Badger, Cotton and others, there is a real modern existentialist focus in photography, that is more often wrapped up in a Hipster melancholy in the urban scene (surrounded by people yet all alone), am I questioning myself so strongly because that’s the modern take we are all as latter day photographers subconsciously trained to do so, or do I genuinely need to break the mould?

It is the melancholy of Killips scene which presents itself more strongly to me than the mystery of the figures, their anonymity and the narrative of their story. The choice of black and white over colour by Killip also aids this melancholy with the stronger graphical presentation of the figures and landscape. Whether or not I could or should look to present my own works with a more documentary focus is a question I cannot answer as yet, however whether I can or should change tack and explore a more positive and humanistic tone is something I do think I need to explore now, after all how many more photographs of empty buildings from a monumental perspective or strangers on the street can I possibly photograph?...

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Death of the internet!

Thoughts and ReflectionsPosted by Mike Mon, September 17, 2012 13:55:28

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