The aim of this exercise, as part of "The Art of Photography" Chapter 5 - Narrative and illustration was to provide a single image, which as a singular presents a sense of story in that 'something has just happened'. Activity in itself is often described as difficult to photograph. A photograph in itself freezes a moment in time, and though by means of technical control of the camera e.g. shutter speed, the photographer can aid the implied notion of action, there is is still that sense of nil movement in the photographic still image.
Conceptually the idea presented in this exercise requirement proposed a degree of abstraction from the described activity. The image should present an evidence of action to be 'read' from the image. I believe that this image is suggestive enough - a scene of domestic violence perhaps? The point being the image presents a perhaps, but a perhaps of what? It's ambiguous enough to become momentarily interesting.
The abstraction here is presented in that the full figure of the model is not shown, and the use of black and white adds a noir sense of drama - the image fits into preconceived dark film genre.
This project required an assignment to be elected by the
student and then photographed as a story telling sequence.
This story is quite a personal one. My wife’s father
recently passed away, his passing was quite sudden and certainly a shock to the
family, especially as Terry was such a fit and healthy man despite his elder
Here is the essay of images:
Here is a link to my Google library link of the content - Last trip up the mountain which can be viewed as a slide show, and additionally I have included a embedded sequence from my flickr account which is truncated at the end.
Both Elsie and Terry were keen walkers, having navigated
many coastal paths, woodland walks and mountain passes during their life
together. His final wish was understandable; to have his ashes scattered on a mountain
top in the Lake District, one of their favourite walking locations in the UK.
Elsie, his wife, wanted this to be a family occasion, and so she set about
selecting a mountain that all the family including two children of 10 and 12
could ascend safely. For this ascent, Cat Bells (451m) viewable from the town of
Keswick was chosen.
Wikipedia describes the validity of Elsie’ selection very
“ Its distinctive shape
catches the attention of many visitors to the Lakes who feel compelled to climb
to the summit after seeing it from the viewpoint of Friars Crag on the opposite
side of Derwent Water. Renowned Lake District writer and walker Alfred Wainwright acknowledges the popularity of Catbells among fellwalkers of all ability
"It is one of the great
favourites, a family fell where grandmothers and infants can climb the heights
together, a place beloved. Its popularity is well deserved, its shapely
topknott attracts the eye offering a steep but obviously simple scramble."”
As well as photographing this project for my submission for the OCA
exercise, I also wanted to provide the family with a record, which although
maybe a little raw to view in the immediacy, it may prove to be a valid
personal record for the family in later years.
Photographically, my intention was to capture a relatively candid
picture record, as a series of snapshots – as though the family had recorded
this content themselves. From selecting this methodology I intended to provide
a comfortable set of images for the family to view and to provide the least hindrance
to their experience by not forcing any elected or formal compositions and poses
from the family, hindering their journey at such a personal time.
The final set I have produced for the family includes over 50 images,
which I have edited down to a lesser quantity (18) for this exercise; on this
point I understand that the requirement was for a set of 15, but on edit I
found I could not reduce this quantity down without affecting the fluidity of
the viewers progression through the essay. The battle in this editing process
was in the reducing of these images down to a lesser number and maintaining a readable
continuous and contiguous story. Additionally there was the issue of story
quality and flow versus the inclusion of what I subjectively deemed individual ‘good
pictures’ which illustrated either the general family dynamic, their
progression through the story and/ or a sense of time and place – fixing the
sequence into a recognisable space and time for the viewer.
The weather conditions during the ascent and descent were quite harsh – so
a single DSLR was used with a single lens selection of focal length 28-100 –
reducing the need to change lenses during the shoot in such poor weather. Additional
to the use of DSLR I used a Sony Xperia Z phone camera – this was employed for
a number of reasons; in terms of practicality firstly the camera is waterproof
and secondly it can take a submittable good record image in general light
conditions (i.e. daytime), In terms of photographic studies I added the phone
camera to aid my record of the family, especially the children and their expectation
of being photographed. The casual and ubiquitous nature of mobile phone camera photography
allowed for some relatively personal recordings with a lack of formality and forced
solemnity and thus candid and relaxed scenes of the family were recorded as
they move through and beyond this milestone in their personal shared history. Through
death there is life and I purposefully did not wish to record an overly sombre Victorian
record, but a more real reflection of the day.
. In terms of image selection and
maintaining the viewers interest I pressed to use a full range of focal lengths
of the 28-100 beer can lens in use, portrait and landscape framing was employed
and a mix of candid and more formal picturesque image selection was used.
An interesting article, with input from
Martin Parr, a man whose career has been based upon the candid moment.
I must admit, after photographing a
friend at his recent graduation, that I am a little perturbed by the lack of
knowledge of both police and security teams at various 'public' venues.
Indeed, at this particular venue I
witnessed a security guard question a passing policeman regarding this issue-
making note of my presence with two slrs. I find it bemusing that neither had
'the answer' and neither therefore dared to approach me and watched me for a
while from a distance.
Laughable though this situation is, it is frightening that the current
level of suspicion of photographer’s capturing essentially what is the daily
mundane is going to lead to a photographic blackened window on the world, where
the only record for the public will be the contrived media of perfect boy bands
and pop starlets... the real person will have slipped into obscurity.
This assignment, to date, has been the most enjoyable, and I
admit to being more than pleased with the very positive assessment from my new
The assignment gave the opportunity to really ‘get stuck in’
with the subject, and the opportunity to really ‘play’ with the core element in
photography – light.
On the back of this work, my tutor has suggested that I
follow TAOP with People and Place for my next level 1 module, I agree, and I
think the module will be a strong challenge.
Firstly, in response to tutor comments I have selected a few
elements which my tutor raised as pointers and/or welcome critique.
Shape – Image 1 – clipping of frame to remove arms.
My tutor questioned the framing of this
first image (see http://oca.mudd-photography.eu/#post78)
with the cropping of the subjects arms out of the frame. I admit that it is unusual,
and to crop the arms does not fit the criteria for assessment and somewhat disturbs
the image. However my choice - subjective at the time intrigued me as the
photographer, and I enjoyed the abrupt nature of the frame and the awkwardness
it provided. I appreciate that this framing does not fully fit a more regular
view of the subject, sometimes I think a little awkwardness is frame can draw a
viewer to look at the image more intently.
Shape – Image 2 – shadow in background.
My tutor did appreciate the cinematic feel
to this image, and I did too, the choice however is based on my previous
versions of this frame, where a more cut out version was presented to the OCA
flickr group – I prefer this less clinical version.
Form – Image 1 - Again my tutors response to the
first image employed as form is very positive in terms of satisfying the
requirement, however as a photograph – it is the reflection of the subjects eye
from the shadow side of the subjects lighting which helps create a focus point
for the image- making for a more interesting photograph.
Form – Image 2 – Again an image received positively
and I acknowledge the comments regarding the use of reflectors on the shadow
side of the subject to introduce detail. For this shoot had little means of
mounting the reflectors I had in the kit – and no glamorous assistant!
Texture and Form – Images 2 and 1 Respectively.
For image 2 in texture the only critique
was perhaps a little dodging of the eyes to render a focal point – I agree.
Finally, for image 1 in the colour set – yes the
framing is a little low, I agree. And in retrospect I think that I left the
frame uncropped in any way as at this point in editing, the element of the ‘unusual’
of the subject pervaded my choices – and this odd framing was left unadjusted
as a response/result.
Having just completed assignment 4, I came across the work of Saul Leiter in BJP, vol 60, Issue No. 7809, p.60. The delicate colour work and narrative producing framing in his street work is superb, and fits the nature of his personal story as a photographer very well. Mr Leiter is carefully yet casually presented by Tomas Leach as a much under appreciated man, who genuinely pursued his craft for the pure reason of his craft and not fame and fortune - A great standard if ever there was as to why any photographer records the scenes they do - a need to satiate the desire to record and capture frames of beauty derived from real scenes of all natures. There is a sublime nature to his images which causes a smile from the viewer and a flutter in the heart.
Finding Leiter's work at this point in TAOP - narrative is the next theme, is poignant, I admit to a yearning to create images which satisfy the narrative story.. but which have a sense of beauty - we shall see!
There is a recognisable sense of the William Eggleston's in Leiter's work - but with a lighter, less forboding view of the world.
Both artists are critical to my further use of colour, and in my words 'to use colour in a way that I enjoy black and white imagery...'