I have been utilising the time between finishing module PHO710: Positions and Practice and starting module PHO720: Informing Contexts to continue working on my research project, Soil.Worth.Gobbling, where I am exploring our relationship with the countryside.
I have compiled the attached PDF showing my research and practical exploration undertaken over the last four weeks.
To formalise your plans for your research project and help you to effectively plan and map out the development of your research project over the next year of the course, complete an Illustrated Research Project Proposal. It should be an engaging and enthusiastic document that communicates both your passion and enthusiasm for your project, and its broader relevance and importance.
Your proposal will:
Assignment GuidelinesThe Illustrated Research Project Proposal should also include:
My illustrated proposal
Consider your practice in relation to this topic’s presentation and reading. How does truth, reality and authenticity feature in your research project?
Select a single image from your project and post it to the forum below, along with a short explanation. You may wish to mention technical choices, methods and workflows, or research may play an important role for you. Your practice may make an effort to convey a realistic narrative around a subject, or questioning reality through your practice may be a strategy for exploring notions of truth, reality and authenticity.
In my project I am looking at our relationship with the countryside and the effect our surroundings have on how we feel and behave. I want my photographs to be immersive and engage the viewer to try and give them a sense of what I am seeing, feeling, and thinking through the narrative of the image. Consequently, I want the images to be realistic and authentic to give a more genuine aesthetic to the photographs.
While exploring new Ideas I took this image using Google Street View:
So, is this 360-degree image true, real, and authentic? It is certainly immersive and does indeed represent what I was seeing around me, but it was created by an app on my phone and stitched together from 41 separate images, taking several minutes to go through this process (if you look closely, you can see where the software hasn’t quite managed to stitch together accurately!).
AFTER PHOTOGRAPHY: Reflection
Consider how your ideas around photography’s relationship with reality and truth might have changed as your practice has evolved:
· Has image manipulation ever been a significant part of your practice – professional or otherwise? Have you ever questioned this? Do you have a particular stance?
Image manipulation plays a very significant part of in my practice as I shoot everything in RAW then edit in Lightroom before saving to Jpeg. As my background was from Professional photo labs I am used to ‘manipulating’ images, as we used to add colour and density corrections to negatives when producing prints. I think of Lightroom as a ‘digital darkroom’ and am just adjusting my ‘digital negatives’ (as I think of my RAW files), to create the ‘correct’ look of my images to make the subject look the same in the finished photograph as it looked when I took the original shot. Of course, sometimes a bit of ‘artistic licence’ does come into play to ‘enhance’ an image to make a scene look more how you would have liked it to have looked, rather than the reality of what it actually was, for example, recent shots of autumn landscapes where I have increased saturation to bring out the colours more.
· Have you ever consciously constructed an image, or a sequence of images, to try to portray a persuasive, positive impression, maybe market a product or construct a reality you were not entirely at ease with? Did you learn anything through that experience?
· Have you ever, as Sontag put it, "designed events to be photographed"? Have you ever been aware that your presence, with a camera, had a direct influence on a turn of events which might otherwise not have happened?
The only example I can think where I have done this is when taking publicity shots for a singer/ songwriter friend of mine and we have staged a scene specifically for the photo shoot.
Assessing risk is a conscious and unconscious activity of a photographer and an important part of a professional, accountable practice. Failure to consider risk or take risk assessment seriously can expose third parties to hazards and endanger life.
Accompanying your Illustrated Project Proposal will be a risk assessment form to outline your processes for a typical activity for your project; the risks and the measures you will take (or are already taking) to mitigate or reduce these. These might deal with working in the field, studio, workshop / darkroom environments.
Please view the guidelines for completing a Risk Assessment, and the risk assessment form on the PhotoHub, and start working on this.
Your Proposal should also outline any ethical and/or legal risks your research project is likely to encounter (such as photographing property, children, vulnerable adults) and how you will address these.
I have looked at the guidelines given and produced a risk assessment to accompany my illustrated proposal. I will show this in a later post when completed.
PHOTOGRAPHY, POWER and OTHERS: Reflection
Reflect on the ‘triangle’ model in relation to your own practice: do you feel that there is any kind of imbalance in terms of the relationships between the three ‘corners’?
I feel the Author – Subject – Audience triangle is not as well balanced as it could be within the practice of my own photography. For my current practice my ‘subject’ is the countryside around me and as the author I am capturing a sense of place from what I see and feel around me. I would like the audience to get a sense of what I am feeling when I take the image, but I feel without further dialogue or prompting they are more likely to form their own opinion and thoughts from just what they read into the picture. I hope to address this imbalance as my project progresses.
Think about any previous experiences out shooting: have there ever been any moments when you felt that what you were doing, or had done, was unjust or inappropriate? If so, what prompted this?
I have taken numerous ‘street’ photos when travelling in Morocco on several occasions. I have always had to do this discretely as the Moroccan people have a general dislike of having their photos taken. This is due to a mixture of reasons, from superstition where they believe there is an association with witchcraft and that if someone takes a photo of you, they can use it afterwards to put a spell on you. There is also a distrust and fear of being exploited by tourists. I was using the tilt screen on my camera like a waist level finder to take photos discreetly, so people were not aware they were being taken, or by using the remote-control app on my phone. I feel this was rather an underhand way of getting the images I wanted without giving due regard for the feelings of the subject.
What did this experience teach you about your approaches, both practically and conceptually?
To get good, genuine portraits in the street you must have a dialogue with people, explain your intentions and spend time getting to know the subject and earn their trust so they will be a willing model for you.
Watch The Industry's Impact on the PhotoHub and make a start on the Impact Assessment Plan to accompany your Illustrated Project Proposal assignment.
Additionally, you should consider how much any studio / work areas consume, and think about ways to reduce these and the overall impact of your practice.
I have been working on this already for my illustrated proposal so work in progress still, but here is my initial plan:
Impact Assessment Plan
“We don’t need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly” – Anne Marie Bonneau
Photography is not environmentally friendly at all. Digital cameras consist of many electronic components, some of which are produced using toxic substances. Precious metals are mined to create the cameras, lead is used for the microchips and semiconductors are environmentally hazardous to produce. Analogue photography is no better. Most significantly, developing analogue photos requires the use of a variety of potentially dangerous chemicals, several of which are toxic to the environment.
I intend to explore how eco friendly I can make the whole photographic process from image taking to print. I am intending on using large format pinhole cameras made from sustainable wood or recycled plastics. I am going to use paper negatives rather than film-based negatives due to the environmental impact caused by film production. While exploring alternative processes I will be looking at the most eco friendly options, such as caffenol, cyanotypes and anthotypes.
For digital images I shall be using my existing cameras and any energy used for battery charging, editing etc is 100% green. Any prints produced will be produced by companies using eco-friendly printing companies.
I will be visiting locations that are within walking distance of where I live so there will be zero carbon emissions.
NATURE and CULTURE: Reflection
· What is your understanding of the word ‘nature’. How is this term problematic?
The word ‘nature’ is used to describe all of the ‘natural’ (i.e. anything not man-made) in the world, but this could be seen as a problematic term as nature would also include mankind itself.
Location and environment are the main focus of my work as I am exploring through my photography our relationship with the countryside and the effect our surroundings have on how we feel and behave.
· What is the relationship between your practice and human consumption?
I am very aware of the environmental issues associated with photography and the human consumption of the resources involved with producing imagery, both analogue and digital. Consequently I am looking at how this can be reduced through the image making process and I am looking at the most eco-friendly ways of being able to produce images through alternative picture taking methods and printing processes.
To get us thinking about tastes in photography, and perhaps visual culture more broadly, post whatever aspect of photography you can’t stand, and would like to banish to George Orwell’s ‘Room 101’ in the discussion forum.
It might be a certain technique you find grating or overused, or a clichéd subject you could gladly live without seeing an example of ever again.
Include an example and try to explain why you would like it in Room 101.
I would like to place 'The Selfie' in 'Room 101' due to the way they are used on social media to introduce perceptions of self-indulgence and attention seeking. This is often connected to narcissists who will be active on social media platforms to allow them to engage in exhibitionistic, attention-seeking, and self-promoting behaviours.
It is said the first-ever 'selfie' was taken by Robert Cornelius, an American pioneer in photography, in the year 1839. He produced a daguerreotype of himself which became up as one of the first self-portraits of a person.
One of the first images to replicate what we know today as a 'Selfie' was possibly this group of photographers - Uncle Joe Byron, Pirie MacDonald, Colonel Marceau, Pop Core, and Ben Falk. They posed together for a photograph on the roof of Marceau's Studio, while Joseph Byron holds one side of the camera with his right hand and Ben Falk holds the other side with his left hand.
The first time the term 'Selfie' was used was In September of 2002 by an Australian man named “Hopey” who posted a photo of his busted lip on an image-hosting website. He then went to a message board and wrote “Um, drunk at a mates 21st, I tripped ofer [sic] and landed lip first (with front teeth coming a very close second) on a set of steps. I had a hole about 1cm long right through my bottom lip. And sorry about the focus, it was a selfie.”
(ABC News, 2002)
Since starting her YouTube channel in 2017, Emma Chamberlain has become something of an online sensation. Despite being just 17-years-old, she now has 14.5 million followers on Instagram. This particular 'selfie', posted on July 22nd has had over 2 million likes, despite the image having no text or title to put it into context and not even being in focus.
The selfie is definitely one of the most prominent cultural phenomena of the 21st century. It has turned Emma Chamberlain into an 'Internet personality' who now makes millions of dollars through sponsor deals, partnerships and personal business ventures, but 'social influencers' such as Emma are putting pressure to live a supposedly 'perfect' lifestyle on the younger generation which in turn is leading to more young people having mental health problems as they strive to increase followers or gain 'likes' on social media.
Audiences and Institiutions: Reflection
· How has your own practice been shaped, manipulated perhaps, by the makers of the technology you employ and/or the spaces in which you share your work?
I do like to share selected images I have taken through Instagram, but due to the square format that Instagram was originally derived for I have taken to putting my own images onto a square canvas to present them so that I can easily keep them in their original landscape or portrait dimensions. I also tend to edit differently to make Instagram images ‘stand out’ more, by increasing sharpness, contrast etc and going for a slightly HDR look.
· What institutions do you wish to engage with to further your photography? How / Will your skillset and practice need to develop in order to be accepted within that institution?
I am an Associate member of the Royal Photographic Society and would be interested in producing a body of work after I have completed my MA to try and achieve a fellowship which is their highest level of distinction. This requires a distinctive and cohesive body of work or project accompanied by a written Statement of Intent. I believe the skills I am learning on my MA course will put me in a good position to be able to aim at achieving this.
· If you do not consider yourself to be a ‘professional’ photographer, what do you think you need to do or achieve for this? If that is not something you desire or aspire to, how would you like to be referred to, and how will you achieve that?
There seem to be many definitions of a ‘Professional’ photographer. Some believe it is if you make 50% of your income from photography, but others say it is if you have had work published or exhibited and are recognised by your peers as a photographer. I think photography is such a broad subject that both of these are true. You could well be making money from photography, but have never had work published or exhibited, and likewise you could be recognised as a photographer but not have made a penny from it. For me, photography is very personal, and I would like to retain my own control over what I do and am not as interested in a commercial application for my work. As such I would be happy just to refer to myself as a photographer, without the term ‘professional’ attached.
The aim of this week was to focus on our Reflective Presentation. In a webinar with CP and some of my peers I was able to receive valuable feedback which enabled me to refine my presentation (basically take out some of my own images and look at more photographers! I also needed to reduce the technical information I had added about my own work and build on the 'why' of my own ideas.
Here is the final version of my presentation:
Read Roland Barthe’s essay ‘The Photographic Message’ in Image – Music – Text
[BARTHES, R. 1977. Image – Music – Text. London: Fontana pp.15-31] This is available in the Talis Resource List.
Try to find an example that illustrates your understanding of what Barthes describes as the ‘parasitic’ relationship between word and image. This could be from any field or genre of photography:
… the text constitutes a parasitic message designed to connote the [photographic] image, to ‘quicken’ it with one or more second-order signifieds. In other words, and this is an important historical reversal, the image no longer illustrates the words; it is now the words which, structurally, are parasitic on the image.
(BARTHES, 1977: 25)
Post your example to the forum below and explain your reasoning (max. 200 words).
It is interesting to see that although Barbara Kruger has emblazoned the message ‘Your body is a battleground’ across this otherwise striking and powerful image, the title for the image itself is ‘untitled’. Could this be an example of a ‘parasitic’ relationship between word and image? This does depend on the context that the image was produced. Originally a poster for a pro-choice march in April 1989 the poster was created in response to anti-abortion laws. This was displayed on buildings and billboards to bring to light the issues of inequality. As a poster the white font on the bold red background is justified by the artist to broadcast her message.
In later years this poster as an image has been taken more as a meaning of gender inequality and is more relevant in looking at the way we view and treat women. Mirroring the positive and negative sides of the stereotypical woman’s face together produces a powerful image that would only need the accompanying title of ‘Your body is a battleground’ to help guide the viewer towards the meaning of the image, without the need for the distracting boldness of the text on the image itself.
Barbara Kruger - Untitled (Your body is a Battleground), 1989. The Broad, Los Angeles, California.
WORDS and PICTURES: Reflection
To what extent has text been part of your practice up to this point? When have you found it most effective? To date I have not used text as part of my practice. I have preferred to let images speak for themselves rather than use superfluous titles or captions. I also do not like to see a title of ‘untitled’.
Can you think of instances where your use of text – titles or captions perhaps – has ‘intimated’ too much for the viewer? Has text ever undermined your photographs?
Tell us about how and why your current practice relates to particular discipline(s). Please include some examples and reference sources.
If your work is about quite specific subject matter, then how your photography relates to other disciplines might be fairly straightforward.
If this is not the case, or you are still unsure about the direction of your research project at this stage, we would still like you to share a piece of work (in any medium other than photography) that you feel raises questions or feelings you think you might like to explore further.
Some of my current practice has drawn inspiration from the impressionism paintings of artists such as Monet and the spontaneity of their brush strokes, along with the use of lighting and shadow and a fragmented colour application. Another characterisation of this style is the small, visible brushstrokes that offer the bare impression of form. They were able to catch landscapes instinctively and with a spontaneity that had not been previously practised by other landscape artists. Pointillism grew from impressionism and artists such as Vincent Van Gogh used the technique of using small distinct dots of colour to form an image.
In photography, by using wide apertures, de-focusing the lens and using lighting effectively you can create bokeh which can create a similar aesthetic to a scene as that achieved by impressionist or pointillism artists.
INTERDISCIPLINARY PRACTICE: Reflection
Now reflect on your practice and approach to research:
This week you will form a small team within your cohort (2-6 people) and devise a simple ‘micro project’ that you can develop and complete in a few hours, over the course of a couple of days. You will present your work on a forum and in the webinar at the end of the week.
To find your creative partner(s), post a single sentence or image to the forum below that could form the starting point for a piece of collaborative work. A text could be a headline, a piece of prose or poetry, or anything you like. An image might be your own, or somebody else’s. Be sure to reference all sources.
Please do this from Friday 8th - Tuesday 11th October. When contributions start to be posted on the forum, ‘reply’ to posts, either with words or with images, to find out where your common interests are.
In your group, devise a simple strategy you can all contribute to. The project, or work, can be about anything you like. Think about creative ways of engaging with and involving all members of the group and challenging ideas around authorship.
Keith Arnatt - The Tears of Things (Objects from a Rubbish Tip), 1990-91
Four of us responded to each other work and found that we had a shared interest in discarded, lost or found items and so formed a collaboration group where we communicated through Teams chat, with a meeting between three of us to discuss our ideas. Trish was in Canada and so on a different time zone, plus was pushed for time so she started the project with some images from near where she lived which we were then able to discuss and form a plan to follow on from. Below is the resulting presentation from our collaboration which was well received in our webinar.
AUTHORSHIP and COLLABORATION: Reflection
Think about your creative practice – your photography – and also maybe aspects of your life beyond or outside of this: