Own Research – Magnum Talk – The Journey with Matt Black and Antoine d’Agata Barbican October 2 2017

A great journey has long been regarded as an access point to creativity, to new experiences, places and people, and often to introspection and self-learning.

I was looking forward to hearing David Campney in this talk, but at the last minute he was replaced by Aaron Schuman, and to be honest I was a little disappointed in his interview technique. He did not seem to bring the best out of either men. However, that could just have been their personalities….

Matt Black and Antoine d’Agata were in conversation, ‘exploring the concept of the journey as a structure for visually responding to the world.’ They discussed their personal take on the photographic road trip and how the journey can be used as a framework for making photographs.

Matt Black

Matt Black is from California’s Central Valley, an agricultural region in the heart of the state. His work has explored the connections between migration, poverty, agriculture, and the environment in his native rural California and in southern Mexico.

For over 20 years, photographer Matt Black explored the issues of poverty, migration and farming in California’s Central Valley, examining the extreme economic hardship in one of the country’s richest states and is highly critical of the contrast in the richest nation in the world also having these pockets of huge deprivation. He photographed people living at or below the poverty line. According to MSNBC, fully 45 million people living in the US ‘meet the official guidelines for poverty’ many are undocumented immigrants from Mexico. Apparently there are 250K more Mexicans in California than in Mexico, leaving ghost towns behind. Mexico has lost 80% of its population, which is a staggering figure.

Black was inspired by the work of the FSA but he believed they should have documented the black Africans more than they did, he followed one family, tracking down Hayley Jones, the daughter of the original migrants, and three generations later she is still working in the fields. There is a distinct lack of opportunity and mobility.

In 2014 he took to Instagram for his latest project, Geography of Poverty, using the social app’s mapping feature to pinpoint California’s poorest communities. In the December he was named TIME’s Instagram Photographer of the Year.

California always seemed special and unique in terms of how it symbolised promise and progress, so it seemed somehow symbolic to begin there and travel east, but what has surprised me is the similarities I have encountered as I travelled from one community to another. All these diverse communities are connected, not least in their powerlessness. In the mainstream media, poverty is often looked at in isolation, but it is an American problem. It seems to me that it goes unreported because it does not fit the way America sees itself.

After two decades of concentrating on California’s Central Valley, Black expanded his project to the rest of the country.

His on-going project The Geography of Poverty, saw him travelling 48,000 miles across 44 States to photograph designated ‘poverty areas’ and highlight the growing gap between rich and poor and Matt Black was awarded the W. Eugene Smith Memorial Prize for this project. He also received the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award in 2016 and was named Senior Fellow at the Emerson Collective. With his high contrast black and white being described as ‘stark and impressionistic.’ I thought they were highly atmospheric, maybe a little too romantic despite the subject matter, and had a grainy retrospective feel about them which reminded me very much of the early work of Sebastião Salgado, Other Americas, plus his Kuwait body of work.

Going back to the theme of ‘the journey’ for Black, the goal was to use it as a storytelling mechanism.

Every stop along the way has a level of poverty above 20%, I wanted to find a continuous route that linked all of these towns, which are no more than a couple of hundred miles from each other. And the fact that you can link all of these communities from coast to coast and back again is telling.

What I took away from Matt Black was:

The idea of always beginning from home and comparing photographic experiences to what you know of yourself, it ‘contextualizes what I am seeing.’

Taking a journey away from home and then returning.

Looking for similar motifs in the unfamiliar

Exploring similarities within different communities

Seeing a lot very fast

Inclusion of captions/text/interviews with people

Thinking about different platforms for the results

Antoine d’Agata

Born in Marseilles, Antoine d’Agata left France in 1983 and remained overseas for the next ten years. Finding himself in New York in 1990, he pursued an interest in photography by taking courses at the International Centre of Photography, where his teachers included Larry Clark and Nan Goldin.

Antoine d’Agata was totally different from Matt Black. He spoke very little, put on a PowerPoint presentation set to a throbbing beat to display his images, and let the work speak for itself. Growing up as a punk in Marseilles had a very strong influence on his life and subsequent photography. His images were firmly within the realms of Daidō Moriyama; they were black and white, grainy, out of focus and looked at the seedier side of life. For his first books published in 1998, De Mala Muerte and Male Noche, d’Agata ‘travelled the world to document characters of the night’s further edges: for sex workers, addicts, war-torn communities and homeless.’ d’Agata informed us that he looked for fragility.

In 2001, he published Hometown and won the Niépce Prize for young photographers. ‘Compiling intimate and provocative images, the book focused on his travels in France and personal journey.’

Unlike Black he undertook no preparation prior to setting out, other than ‘mental preparation’. d’Agata travels the world, documenting his personal experiences and encounters, and oddly more often than not hands his camera over to others to take the photographs. His intention is to be part of the action, not outside it…he did not wish to be a tourist or a consumer…and a lot of the images I suspected him to be the subject of, or part of,  were very dubious in nature, and I suspect he had consumed many things… When asked how he knew his work was finished , or know that the journey was over he replied ‘when the darkness became ‘normal’ and it becomes comfortable…’

He believes in going as far as he can as a human being, but always considers the responsible way in which to represent something. Having said that he thinks he challenges Magnum’s comfort zone, but thinks his work has documentary value. D’Agata has lived as he stated a very murky and nomadic life. Immersing himself in his subjects,  ‘prostitutes and other marginalised misfits,’ and never shies away from dangerous, drug-addled and sex-fuelled situations.

Most of my photographic strategies are aimed at reaching the highest levels of pleasure or unconsciousness and, in this sense, sex and drugs are highly enjoyable working methods. Part of my recent work could be easily described as some chaotic and biased sociology of ecstasy. I live my life with people who use pleasure as a way to impose their existence and identity in a world that denies them every right. But pleasure can’t be separated from pain and alienation. Pleasure is still a dark territory to me and I am exhausted exploring its limits. It’s just a route. Satisfaction isn’t the aim. Feeling might be the point. I’m hooked on adrenaline.

Because he get so involved in the lives of his subjects he does not think his work is voyeuristic nor exploitative. Since 2005 Antoine d’Agata has had no settled place of residence but has worked around the world, he has a passion for his work that does not always fit a commercial niche and runs many workshops to make ends meet.

What did I take away from Antoine?

Don’t do drugs!

Don’t be scared of looking at the uncomfortable things in life

To not always consume but to try to sometimes be part of the action

Challenge reality and the understanding of the world through the eyes of others

Photographs don’t always have to be about aethetics

Research

https://www.magnumphotos.com/photographer/matt-black/

https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2016/may/29/matt-black-photography-poverty-geography-california-us-sean-ohagan

http://www.galleryintell.com/matt-black-geography-of-poverty/

https://www.magnumphotos.com/?s=Antoine+d%27Agata

https://www.vice.com/en_au/article/ppzp78/fear-desire-drugs-fucking-608-v17n11

 

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Own Research Magnum Photos Now: Storytelling Telling Stories: the Single Image vs. the Series – Matt Stuart and Patrick Zachmann @ The Barbican July 17 2017

This year Magnum and the Barbican Centre have been cultivating a relationship where they have been organising both talks and exhibitions featuring Magnum photographers. The talk which I recently attended  was concerned with the art of story-telling and the debate as to whether or not this can be achieved with a single image.

The audience was given a brief history of the founding of Magnum and the diversity of its membership and more contemporary approaches to the different genres: Henri Cartier-Bresson, ‘the artistically inclined street photographer’; Robert Capa the archetypal photojournalist; George Rodger the tireless traveller; and David ‘Chim’ Seymour  the concerned humanitarian.’

The discussion was chaired by Geoff Dyer; the invited photographers were Patrick Zachmann and Magnum nominee Matt Stuart, and they argued their different viewpoints with regards to the use of a single image or series of images as a tool for storytelling.

Matt Stuart

Matt Stuart explained that his approach is based upon the ideals of Cartier-Bresson: ‘Sometimes there’s a unique picture whose composition possesses such vigour and richness and whose content so radiates outward from it that the single picture is a whole story in itself.’ Despite being interested in stories he believes that the single image is the ‘holy grail.’

Stuart acknowledged that this isn’t always easy, having spent the last 20 years or so ‘walking the streets of London hunting the single image and the only thing that links these single images together is the place.’ The first book he published contained 10 years of work. Stuart went onto explain how his single images ‘contain a depth of narrative’:

There’s often one picture that I find that you can pull from something if you absolutely have to, and my daily grind is to try and get one picture from the day of what actually happened.

An interview for Lensculture gave more background details on his approach and 2016 Magnum nomination. Recently he has been trying to vary his approach and tried to take images just for one week, then just one day followed by just one hour to sharpen his observation skills and trying to tell a story with a minimum/one image.

As he explained, he flicked through a PowerPoint presentation., highlighting the importance of spotting body language and background information that provides juxtaposition, or cohesion:

Sometimes, especially with street photography, stories can be implied, and in this particular picture I think there’s an interesting collision between these two people. There’s a man who is pretty evidently lost in the foreground, and you can tell he’s lost due to the fact he has a map, he’s on the telephone and he’s covering his mouth. Body language is something that I’m quite interested in and something that I look at a lot when I’m out on the street, so I realize when people appear to be lost. The two young men behind him know exactly where they’re going, or at least that’s the implication because one of them is pointing confidently. The difference between the two has made this strange swirl of gestures of two men who know where they’re going and one man doesn’t.

GB. England. London. 2006. Oxford Street.

Stuart continued the talk by telling us how he now has tried to change what he occasionally photographs, previously his images were about capturing humour and odd situations but more recently he has been drawn to the more serious reportage side of documenting image that, within them, narrate an entire story. Examples he cites and images he showed included the recent tragedy of The Grenfell Tower fire and the London Bridge terror attacks. Both of these events had to be handled with respect and dignity as they were both complex  and emotional. He told us of people who wanted to tell him their story, of people staring open mouthed as events unfolded.

After the terror attacks on June 3rd, 2017, Stuart walked with intent, hoping to capture a photograph that summed up the mood of the day. He showed us a series of images he took of a woman crossing London Bridge with a Union Flag hanging from her handbag, discussing why he went with one over the other, the discrete semiotics that helped convey the mood.

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I decided to get up very early in the morning and go to London Bridge. I was there at 5 o’clock in the morning; I was looking at people walking along the bridge and coming to work, and at about 8 o’clock, which I know is a busy time on London bridge, I saw a woman walking with a Union Jack in her bag. It was just the stick poking out, and I thought, ‘That’s strange that she is walking with a Union Jack in her bag,’ so I followed her, which is something you do a lot as a street photographer, and took two frames that I find interesting. I found her very relevant to the day. In another moment she pulled out the flag and just walked across this bridge with it, so there’s two images with different moods – one potentially positive and one more sorrowful.

He asked us to consider which is weirder? The man who carries things or the man who photographs the man who carries things?

Brexit came up as a typical and topical subject…something that I will think about with my assignment 5.

Patrick Zachmann

Patrick Zachmann’s approach to photography is the exact opposite of Matt Stuart’s, preferring a ‘long-term approach to building a story.’

He feels his commitment is to tell stories about the outside world and himself, he believes by doing this he understands himself better through looking at ‘others’.

Some of his images, whilst looking like straight documentary, occasionally are not quite what they would seem. The example that sticks most in my mind was a Chinese drama student demonstrating against the then current regime. Zachmann captured her performance piece as she writhed on the floor in agony, without the captioning on the image you would have thought she had just been struck down. Although his image was a truthful documentation of an event, by not revealing the entire picture the narrative was open to interpretation, maybe even misrepresentation. This is why he strongly believes that captions are an important tool for his style of documentary photography. He also keeps a diary to ensure that when he edits and uses his images at a later date he always knows the context and backstory, photography is not enough in his opinion it can go further.

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His work as been described ‘incorporating cinematic ploys…interwoven with narrative strands of fiction.’ Zachmann gets to know his subject matter over a long time, approaching it from many different angles and perspectives, which enables him to have a multi-layered narrative. Again a relief to hear was his confession that there will be images that are weaker than others, ‘like music there is a rhythm.’ The images that really make no sense he does not include. NB to self to edit ruthlessly.

At first he did not identify with Magnum and even now he does not allow the organisation to pressure him into doing things he does not want to do. He advises anyone ‘keep going your way.’

Zachmann and Stuart, despite having totally different photographic voices were appreciative of each other’s work. Zachmann commented:

I’m not like Matt Stuart but I really like his work as a street photographer. I have never identified with street photographers. From the beginning, my commitment to photography is to tell stories – about the world, about others, and about myself and my own family, often through that work.

I am very often asked if I consider myself more a photojournalist or an artist and I have never been very clear on my answer, and I’ve recently come to think that I am both.

This was quite reassuring when you are struggling to pigeon-hole your own take on the ‘art’ of photography, finding your own voice.

Zachmann is fascinated by diaspora – a scattered population whose origin lies within a smaller geographic locale. Diaspora can also refer to the movement of the population from its original homeland – he considered his own family history and wondered how much of this influenced his approach.

His projects are many and varied and focus on groups in society from a range  of different countries. He gains inspiration from many sources, both film and newspapers. For example one of the earliest projects that brought him acclaim – his body of regarding the police and mafia in Naples – was inspired by a small newspaper story.  This developed into ‘a collection of cinematographic photographs’ which culminated in his first book, Madonna! in 1982. This was eventually accompanied by a fictional novel inspired by the experience illustrated with the images, published a year later. Note to self on how you can further develop an idea and sustain your practice.

As mentioned earlier Zachmann spent much time in China, his first trip being in 1982, and returning on several occasions over the following decades, taking inspiration from the Shanghai film noirs of the 1930s.  Once more this investigation into another lifestyle led him to a smaller group within that society as he examined ‘the underbelly of the city.’

I really found a love for these movies, which were dealing with the underworld of the Triads – the Chinese mafia, secret societies, prostitution and illegal gambling; all these things interested me as a photographer, visually. Then, when I started my work on Chinese diaspora and then I continued working in China, I realized that, consciously or unconsciously…that’s also what I think makes the difference between a journalist and an artist. When you’re a journalist you cannot be led by your unconscious or by interesting light or faces, but you have to look for information.

Being patient and forging relationships also helped him capture hard to document images. Zachmann photographed the now long-gone “Forbidden” or “Walled City, a ‘lawless area in Hong Kong that belonged to mainland, communist China.’ Gaining access through a nervous guide, referred to as “W” enabled him to photograph the dark world of the Walled City. He thinks that the quality of light is the most effective tool when telling a story, shooting in black and white with a Leica. The atmospheric images reminded me of Bladerunner.

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Zachmann was photographing Beijing youth in 1988 to 89, he captured images of the Tiananmen Square protests at their beginnings, while there was more of a festival feeling, describing it as a “Chinese Woodstock.”

Having spent a great deal of time understanding Chinese culture from various entry points, Zachmann’s images could be said to be ‘more nuanced, than the foreign press. A fact that I have discovered to be true – it is easier to photograph what you know or have researched.

Research

http://www.mattstuart.com/

https://www.magnumphotos.com/photographer/patrick-zachmann/

 

 

Suggested Research – in response to Assignment Four

As assignment 4 was an essay there were no images to re-work, but Russell included several links and interesting points within his feedback. I decided to research the ideas and to see if they would form any alterations to my essay.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/nikon-sexist-men-32-photographers-asia-no-woman-new-camera-promote-fx-format-d850-a7946111.html

Nikon labelled sexist after asking 32 male photographers to promote its new camera – but no women
‘We had not put enough of a focus on this area,’ admits camera giant

In September 2017 Nikon in Asia was severely criticised on Social Media after selecting 32 “creative individuals” to test and promote its new camera, the D850,  without including a single woman. In a statement they said this was more accident than design as some of the females invited to take part were unavailable but admitted that they should have in effect tried harder.

At a global level, Nikon has invited four photographers to act as ambassadors for the launch of the D850, one of which is Italian photographer Rosita Lipari.

We take pride in celebrating female talent and include many brilliant female photographers in our Ambassador line-ups globally and will continue to do so.

Rosita Lipari is a wedding photographer who takes very different shots compared to ‘traditional’ work.

https://mywed.com/en/photographer/lipari/

In the fashion industry there will always be some kind of divide until society throughout the world stops seeing one, or emphasising it. Different cultures have different laws/rules governing how men/women can act. Photography is just a reflection of this wider world.

Most recently John Lewis thought they would partially address this imbalance by getting rid of gender labels, but this seems to have backfired with some as much as it has been praised by others.

http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/john-lewis-boys-girls-clothing-labels-gender-neutral-unisex-children-a7925336.html

Reading the article drew my attention to this as well.

http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/national-trust-sexist-hats-girls-selling-children-future-footballers-wife-charity-a7919601.html

Fashion is a minefield for larger stores it would seem.

Gap, for example, came under fire for referring to girls as “social butterflies” and boys as “little scholars” in an advert promoting its new clothing range.

Asda was criticised for the gender disparity in its clothing, with girls’ clothes featuring slogans such as “Hey Cutie” and “Ponies Rock” in contrast with “Future Scientist” and “Bows Will Be Boys” on boys’ clothing.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-4860060/pretending-sexes-ludicrous.html

Being a parent to now grown-up children I never forced them to wear ‘gender’ specific clothing. As a toddler my daughter wore hand-me-downs from both sexes, I hated anything pink but sometimes she would choose the most girly fluffy tops to wear, the next day she would be happy grubbing about in shorts and t-shirts that were ‘male’ in design. Likewise when my son came along he would dress-up in bride’s outfits and push a pink buggy, he also insisted on playing with my daughter’s Barbie dolls, so much so I eventually bought him one, to go along with an Action Man!

I don’t think it is the labels that desperately need to alter, at the end of the day at a certain point the male and female body shape does start to alter, but the inclusion of different designs, colours and slogans on the clothing would be a better way forward.

To look at how Instagram may be helping the ‘female gaze’ or influencing photography in general Russell pointed me towards an article on the recent Instagram selfies of Cindy Sherman.

https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2017/aug/09/cindy-sherman-instagram-selfies-filtering-life

“Cindy prefers not to comment on her Instagram posts.”

This was the reply from Cindy Sherman’s New York gallery, Metro Pictures…

A private Instagram account run by Sherman featuring a new series of selfies was recently made public, creating an art world sensation overnight. Sherman has a long history of dramatically staged self-portraiture, and in a sense pioneered the idea of the “selfie” decades before social media began.

That area between real life and the theatre of the selfie is what Sherman is already so adept at presenting, but in the context of an era where Donald Trump has repeatedly criticized women for their physical appearance, her images of distorted female faces take on a much more defiant tone.

The article also linked ideas of what the future holds for presenting/exhibiting work:

What does our digital landscape mean for the changing nature of exhibiting one’s work? Is it better or worse than showing in a real gallery space? “The difference between exhibiting online over exhibiting in a real space is ‘depth’ in every possible sense,” said New York writer and curator Jeffrey Grunthaner. “You can’t really take a point of view on an image; there’s no genuine scale to it. It’s simply there, floating in digitality. There’s a certain potential for dictating exactly how viewers look at an artwork that is quite appealing. As I see it, the difficulty in accepting the ascendancy of exhibiting online relates to the proscribed corporate identity most online venues have.”

A section that resonated with me, which may help the flow of my essay was a comment on narcissism:

In many cases, Instagram is not art but a digital dumping ground – a playground for society’s worst narcissists. For an artist like Sherman to be using it as an exhibition space raises the bar for users seeking attention or claiming to be artists.

Russell also directed me to look at work by the late Francesca Woodman

https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2014/aug/31/searching-for-the-real-francesca-woodman

The first solo shows of her work opened in 1986, and drew a great deal of attention. More crucially, she was championed by American critic Rosalind Krauss, who saw her photographs – perhaps somewhat predictably – as an attempt to resist the male gaze (Krauss has written that Woodman exhibits a tendency to “camouflage” herself, attempting to “hide” even as she stands in front of the camera). Although some continued to see the work as adolescent and excessively narcissistic, others began to regard Woodman as the last of the great Modernist photographers, a line that may be traced back to Man Ray and the other surrealists. Later, Cindy Sherman, a contemporary of Woodman’s, became a fan – and perhaps Woodman’s influence can also be seen in the work of Nan Goldin and David Armstrong.

From the Victoria Miro website:

Woodman is often situated alongside her contemporaries of the late 1970s such as Ana Mendieta and Hannah Wilke, yet her work also foreshadows artists such as Cindy Sherman, Sarah Lucas, Nan Goldin and Karen Finley in their subsequent dialogues with the self and reinterpretations of the female body.

It was also suggested that I look further into Annie Leibovitz and Sally Mann, both are so prolific but I liked this article on Annie Leibovitz:

…and I found these whilst diving about the web:

http://unframed.lacma.org/2013/11/18/see-the-light-through-the-female-gaze
https://www.thedailybeast.com/the-female-gaze-1
https://i-d.vice.com/en_us/article/evxgwp/4-young-female-photographers-sound-off-on-social-media-gender-bias-and-girlgaze

The inspiring exhibition #girlgaze: a frame of mind collects photographs captured by a diverse crew of international young female-identifying artists. Primarily sourced from social media, these visionaries are given the authority and significance they deserve in an IRL framework at the Annenberg Space for Photography in Los Angeles. Each of the 150-plus images broaches the complex topic of selfhood and all that encompasses, from body image to beauty to race. We spoke to four participating young women — with sharply differentiated aesthetics and philosophies — and discussed the photographers they admire, the way gender shapes their vision, and what they wish to change in both the photography industry and the world at large.

https://www.annenbergphotospace.org/exhibits/girlgaze

#girlgaze: a frame of mind is an interactive, digitally driven exhibit for all ages that maps the imaginative landscape of young, female and trans-identifying photographers from around the world. Largely sourced through social media, the curated images’ raw vitality is their only constant – female, WOC, and trans-identifying perspectives are presented on everything from identity and standards of beauty to relationships, mental health and creativity. While viewing these stunning, never-before-exhibited images, visitors will have the opportunity to create and share their own photos on social media.

The exhibit curators are Girlgaze, a collective founded by the famed British-born television host, women’s advocate and photographer Amanda de Cadenet. Girlgaze began as a social media movement with over 450,000 submissions on Instagram and has grown into the first multimedia platform to support girls behind the camera. In addition to its digital showcase for images, Girlgaze provides a larger ecosystem supporting the work and careers of fledgling female and gender-nonconforming photographers, artists and creatives, from providing grants to securing jobs.

https://hazlitt.net/blog/female-gaze-sally-mann-and-kim-kardashian-west

When I found Sally Mann’s work—its arrestingly private views of family, of bodies, of something too subjective to name—my understanding of the way a photograph bore through the eye, inward, proved useless. Here were photographs so technically familiar, yet completely alien in terms of how and what they showed: the bracing intimacy of a mother’s connection to her child. A wife’s perspective of her husband’s ailing body. She was the photographer who made me realize I’d only ever looked at pictures taken by men.

On the topic of self-image, anxiety, insecurity and confidence…This was just plain scary…to think a lot Western women undergo surgery to a prescriptive ideal of beauty and now Chinese women are doing the same!

http://shanghaiist.com/2014/11/10/20-women-before-after-plastic-surgery.php

…and another link provided by Russell

https://www.whatsonweibo.com/chinese-celebrities-weibo-followers-top-10-2017/

Another fascinating cultural difference on gender came to light when I found several articles about Muxes.

https://www.vix.com/en/identity/526920/meet-muxes-mexican-indigenous-individuals-identifying-as-a-third-gender

https://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/Meet-the-Gender-Smashing-Muxes-of-Mexico–Not-Man-Woman-Trans-or-Gay-20170515-0020.html

I haven’t made any real in-depth observations or comments on this page as there is so much to look up and think about. This is more a page for reference and further contemplation!

 

The Documentary project – crowd funding

Research was directed towards several links…but as with some of the other links in the coursework some are now defunct : the 2011 BJP link in the course notes comes up page not found  and following the link to Emphas.is, the specialist photojournalism crowd-funding platform covered in the OCA article, takes me to a different site called Crowd Angels?

Find a Crowd Angel to guide your project. You‘ll need other stuff then just money to execute your idea. Maybe someone to cover your back. Maybe expert advice. Certainly exposure. You know what? There’s still good folks out there. You just have to find them. Our Crowd Angels will cover your back.

Kickerstarter still seem to be alive and kicking however ….

From the OCA article written by Jose:

 

Launched in 2009 as a web platform for funding personal creative projects, Kickstarter is the original crowd-funding concept. Thanks to Kickstarter photographer Pete Brook has been able to raise nearly $8,000 for his Prison Photography project. A worthwhile cause of universal social appeal, coupled with an intelligent marketing strategy, will allow Brook to develop his project and… put pressure through public opinion and raise awareness of the social issues he is concerned with…

Kickstarter projects are only funded if the fundraising target is met. Amazon manages donations but no money exchanges hands until the deadline for raising funds is over. It is only then that Kickstarter and Amazon get their commission – 5% and 3-5% respectively.

There are many benefits to crowd funding, not at least the fact that a photographer, completing a project others would ‘like to see’,  not only no longer has to bear the financial brunt, but they can also gauge the level of interest in the suggest idea. New forums for documentary photography are opened and work can reach many different audiences. A photographer backed by ‘the few’ could retain more editorial control than one backed by a major publisher. There are also potential rewards for sponsors, so on the surface it’s a win win situation.

Are there pitfalls?  Well further research has revealed that Emphas.is went bust with all the inherent difficulties:

While all photographers who successfully raised funds on the platform received the money they were owed before the company’s liquidation, a group of photographers have seen their work become hostage to Emphas.is’ internal divisions.

As Jose pointed out would all the projects that are worthy be overshadowed by ‘that which is comparatively trivial and self-indulgent … [or] be dangerously blurred in crowd-funding.’

His main concern was that once funded the successful documentary bidders would decide to publicise their work on a pro-bono basis resulting in a ‘surplus of quality and free documentary work.’ This indeed would be manna from heaven for editors and a kick in the teeth for professional paid photographers. As noted the quality of crowd funded work and even straight forward amateur work that you can find on the web can be outstanding.

Another pitfall I guess is being able to promote and market yourself as a commodity!

The comments on the article also threw out some other valuable links:

http://www.david-campbell.org/2011/04/19/crowd-funding-photojournalism-review/
http://www.david-campbell.org/2011/04/08/the-back-catalogue-photojournalism-in-the-new-media-economy/
https://crowdbooks.com/

Personally I think crowd funding can be the way forward for many valid projects that would otherwise get overlooked.

Research

Crowdfunding http://www.weareoca.com/photography/crowd-funding/ [Accessed  07 Oct 2017]

Prison Photography https://prisonphotography.org [Accessed  07 Oct 2017]

Emphas.is story http://www.bjp-online.com/2013/10/crowdfunding-platform-emphas-is-goes-insolvent-amid-internal-conflicts/ [Accessed  07 Oct 2017]

New forums for documentary – Post Documentary Art

The main issue between documentary and art is how a gallery positions i.e. defines the work itself.

Ignatieff (2003) stated ‘ Photography which loses sight of documentation risks becoming mannerism, while photography which loses the ambition or art loses the possibility of becoming forgettable.’

What he was possibly trying to say was that certain bodies of work put forward in a way as to be considered an art practice ‘fuses expression and information’ and has a legitimate forum within a gallery as it disseminates and articulates. A prime example given is Jim Goldberg’s Open See project which I was lucky to see in 2011. I am sure I wrote a huge review about it at the time but currently can’t find it! I know I really enjoyed the use of ephemera, different ways to display the work and how he allowed and encouraged his subjects to personalise their images by writing over the Polaroid photographs.

The title, Open See, comes from one such quote ‘in the open see [sic] there is no border.’

Exercise

Listen to Jim Goldberg talking about Open See and his exhibition at the Photographers’ Gallery.

Visit Goldberg’s website and reflect on how or if it works as a documentary project within the gallery space.

Open See, which was a book and an accompanying exhibition, were both part of a project about what Goldberg calls the ‘new Europeans’ – illegal immigrants, refugees, displaced people and asylum seekers from Africa, the Middle East and eastern Europe.

Goldberg was commissioned by the Magnum photographic and began this body of work in 2003 in Greece, which at the time had an estimated two million immigrants, most of whom lived a ‘clandestine life, unable to work legally or avail themselves of even the most basic rights.’ This project won him the Henri Cartier-Bresson prize, which helped fund his subsequent travels to the various countries of origin of his subjects: Ukraine, Bangladesh, Liberia and many others.

Described as ‘documentary story telling’ he uses many formats – Polaroids, photographs, video stills, found images and hand-written texts –  all which go towards creating ‘a fragmented narrative that fractures the received conventions of reportage or straight documentary.’

Goldberg explains

Since 1970, I’ve been using text and ephemera as well as photographs in order to tell stories of one kind or another,There’s a thread that runs through all the work that is to do with bearing witness. The photographs are about asking questions, though, not answering them. I’m not a politically radical person. In fact, I’m much more interested in being radical aesthetically.

So does this project work in a gallery setting? Is it documentary or is it art? Is it appropriate to consider documentary photography as art?

Open See does not come across as documentary in the traditional sense, although I strongly believe it is a documentary project; it highlights global issues that need to still be resolved and gave voice to usually invisible individuals. It could be considered to be overly artistic in the way it was created and presented, but the original intent was to inform and make people question rather than to be pieces of art to be hung on the wall, and be admired for aesthetic reasons alone.

Photography and photography as art has become more accessible. No matter how much we dislike the ‘commodification’  of documentary photography it does generate much needed funds for new projects and allows photographers to self- fund if necessary.  This I feel does make the gallery a valid setting for documentary work and Open See, in my opinion, works brilliantly as both Documentary and Art.

Research

Open See at TPG http://vimeo.com/22120588 [Accessed 29/09/2017]

Open See http://www.opensee.org [Accessed 29/09/2017]

https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2009/nov/01/jim-goldberg-open-see-review   [Accessed 29/09/2017]

New forums for documentary – Post documentary Photography, Art and Ethics

Exercise

Read the article ‘Images that Demand Consummation: Postdocumentary Photography, Art and Ethics’ by Ine Gevers (Documentary Now! 2005).

Summarise in your learning log the key points made by the author.

The article was broken into different sub-headings so I will respond likewise.

Preamble

Main points –

  • Documentary photography is a tradition with its own history and reflection.
  • Since the Seventies there has been such a blurring of boundaries
  • In today’s post-media age,  should there be a new label of ‘post-documentary photography. ‘
  • What is the ethical stance of the photographers?

Introduction

Main points –

  • Aesthetics is a complicated concept, and needs much clarification and examination.
  • Looked at etymologically, aesthetics has an ethical foundation.
  • Aesthetics and ethics are intertwined. Aesthetics growing from ‘ethics of perception’ into ‘a concept that appeared to be more and more autonomous and was no longer accountable to anything or anybody.’
  • Ethics and aesthetics is a contentious issue with ‘The media merely see ethics and aesthetics as antitheses.’ ‘Thoughts about beauty and truth seem to have ended in stalemate.’
  • ‘Faded aesthetics’ (a new sub-label?) can be ‘presumptuous, elitist, arrogant, undemocratic and even fascistic at times.’ it ‘judges, censures, discriminates, stereotypes and restricts.’
  • Aesthetics has become dogmatic and can cause more harm than good.
  • Postdocumentary photographers, filmmakers and artists question if their work can be defined on an ethical instead of purely an aesthetic perspective
  • Oscar van Alphen is cited as being influenced by Barthes, Foucault and Bataille, and  turning away from aesthetics.

Photography: objective, aesthetic, colonial

  • Photography opens up our world, enlarges our awareness, creates knowledge and makes everyone share in experiences
  • Photographic images, whether they are documents, snapshots or works of art, can turn people into objects. Introducing cliche and the ‘numbing of our conscience’ – Susan Sontag
  • Documentary rather than being a mirror to reality too often is used as a tool for propaganda and indoctrination.
  • Documentary photography  too often supports the ‘status quo of oppressive institutions and practices.’
  • Documentary film and photography are being harshly viewed in light of  post-colonialism.
  • ‘Representation in its totality is in a crisis’ – possibly a little over dramatic in tone?

Examples

  • Gevers links photography to scientific disciplines, archiving and research
  • Postulates that American artist, writer and activist Martha Rosler is not a documentary photographer herself but uses documentary photography in her work. Subverting ‘qualities as factuality, veracity and objectivity in relation to both the photographic image and the word.’
  • Rosler introduces the idea that photographs alone are incomplete, inconsistent and inadequate ‘descriptive documents’ embrace different disciplines and media, also collaborative projects with people.
  • Gevers discusses Allan Sekula, who has ‘appropriated documentary photography as his domain’ yet ‘opts more consciously for a recognisable aesthetic approach,’ focusing on ‘social, cultural and political-economic developments in today’s (post)capitalist society. The photographic work never stands by itself.’

 

Representation – interpretation – counter-presentation

  • Photographic documents can be turned into commodities which can be distasteful given some of the subject matter, being ‘distorted’ by presentation e.g. The Killing Fields
  • ‘In 1997 the Museum of Modern Art in New York exhibited a selection of the S-21 portraits, oblivious to their problematic role in the politics of representation. Elaborating on an existing tradition, the photographs were selected and presented on humanitarian grounds. The public, however, regarded the photographs as art, an aesthetic appreciation that was nurtured with no shame whatsoever.’
  • A more recent example would be images from Abu Ghraib prison, ‘which were sent out into the world like trophies.’

Alienation as strategy

  • The reaction of the art world to the attack on the Twin Towers was a mix of shock but impotence
  • The awareness of the aesthetic impacted on what to show and how to show it
  • More and more filmmakers are turning to deliberately not showing images, a tactic that goes back to Guy Debord’s 1952 film without images, Howls for Sad.
  • Alfredo Jaar (1994) travelled Rwanda and took thousands of photographs following the mass slaughters – later, he made an installation Real Pictures. The installation contained many photographs from Rwanda, but only one could actually be seen. The rest lay in piles of closed black boxes.

‘The artist’ in aesthetic terms

  • More philosophy from Alain Badiou, ‘the artist’ is someone ‘who feels the necessity to pursue a personal truth and to remain faithful to it in spite of considerable opposition. According to this argument, being an artist and ethics are inextricably bound up with each other.’
  • Truth is not something that can be communicated

Personal is political

  • Gevers returns to Rosler and an argument that ‘photographers and artists have shifted their attention to ‘the small’, the personal. Their goal, it seems, is no longer to change the world but to know it.’
  • The Atlas Group’s pictures show how, on the basis of personal experience, truths can be formed and put into context in such a way that the viewer can supplement them with his/her own experiences and observations.
  • Photographs themselves have no weight. Only those images acquire meaning that have it in themselves to unleash such a truth-process
  • It is up to the viewer as co-author to give weight to the image – Barthes punctum

 

Wow…ok…lots of insights and having to pick between examples to get to the main points which seem to be that ethics and aesthetics collide a lot in documentary photography, that don’t believe everything you see, everyone has an agenda…messages can be put across in many ways. The interpretation of the image is the responsibility of the viewer and when this is realised ‘only then can an image, a documentary photograph, a written intervention, a staged situation, give the other the opportunity to become involved and engrossed.’

Research

Gevers, I. (2005) ‘Images that Demand Consummation: Postdocumentary Photography, Art and Ethics’ in Documentary Now!

http://inegevers.net/site/?s=publications&id=244

New forums for documentary – The Documentary Project

Research Point

Research the current activities of Photovoice and some of their archived projects.

PhotoVoice’s vision is for a world in which everybody has the opportunity to represent themselves and tell their own story

If you want to know why Photography in particular they also give the answer to this.

Photography is a highly flexible tool that crosses cultural and linguistic barriers, and can be adapted to all abilities. Its power lies in its dual role as both art form and way to record facts.

It provides an accessible way to describe realities, communicate perspectives, and raise awareness of social and global issues.

Its low cost and ease of dissemination encourages sharing and increases the potential to generate dialogue and discussion.

The aim of this research is to look at the ‘the documentary value and visual qualities’ of the images produced, but it was also interesting to look deeply into the charitable organisation, especially at their aims, ensuring that they:

  • Design and develop projects specific to communities, issues and needs, and based on engagement with them
  • Promote the imagery produced from the projects utilising media, events and exhibitions
  • Provide consultancy, training, materials and resources to organisations wishing to use participatory photography in their work

They also have a statement of ethical  practice.

Every project they have participated in is visible via their projects link. Whilst not every image undertaken for that specific project may not be available on their site you can research further and discover more at individual links.

Without diving too much into the ethics or consequence of the projects I found this article which summed up or mentioned many of the issues previously covered within the course e.g representing a different culture without being stereotypical, ethics and possible exploitation, making the ugly look beautiful, environmental issues and wanting to campaign to change something,  using ‘people, landscape and still life to convey the true and often unheard story,’ the use of social media and different mediums to convey a message, although as yet I don’t think the images were taken by the indigenous population.

https://photovoice.org/cairo-to-cape-town-africas-plastic-footprint/

 

Continue reading “New forums for documentary – The Documentary Project”

New forums for documentary – Contemplating documentary

Reading this section I had to consider the ’emergence of the art gallery as a valid forum for showing documentary photographs.’ Does displaying them in such a manner give them a ‘quality of an art object’ which in some instances would be wrong eg famine, war, disasters…

The issue of ethics and aesthetics comes to the fore.

Exercise The judgement Seat of Photography (in Bolton, 1992, pp.15-48)

Read the article ‘The Judgment Seat of Photography’ (Christopher Phillips 1982)

Add to your learning log the key research materials referenced in the text.

A long and fairly complex essay on the topic of photography as art looking at MoMA, Walter Benjamin The Work of Art in the age of Mechanical Reproduction, John Szarkowski, “Photography and the Private Collector,” Aperture, vol. 15, no. 2 (Summer
1970), n.p. , to reference the first 2 key research points.

Phillips opens his discussion with the ways of looking at art; cult value and exhibition value leading onto the value of a piece due to its perceived authenticity. Photography altered the availability and accessibility of many of these objects. Apparently a Theodor Adorno did not share all of Benjamin’s ideas on the subject.

We then are introduced more to the role of MoMA in photographic history.

From the time of MoMA’s opening in 1929, photography received the
museum’s nodding recognition as one branch of modernist practice, doubtless
spurred by MoMA director Alfred H. Barr, Jr.’s awareness of the photographic
activity of the European avant-garde. The first showings of photography at the
museum resulted, however, from the intermittent enthusiasms of Lincoln
Kirstein, then one of the most active members of the MoMA Junior Advisory
Committee. It was Kirstein who, with Julian Levy, in 1932, arranged the first
exhibition to feature photographs (in this case giant photomurals by Steichen
and Berenice Abbott, among others) in “Murals by American Painters and
Photographers.” The next year, Kirstein sponsored the showing of photographs
of American Victorian houses by his friend Walker Evans -a project Kirstein
had conceived and personally financed. Until 1935, however, the date of
Beaumont Newhall’s arrival as librarian (replacing Iris Barry, who now headed
the new Film Department), no MoMA staff member spoke with authority for
photography’s interests.6

Newhall’s exhibition, “Photography 1839-1937,” is usually cited as a crucial step in the acceptance of photography as a full-fledged museum art. Art museums had been set apart from history or science museums and supposedly provided ‘joy not knowledge.’ Which could explain an ingrained mistrust of taking photography as a ‘serious’ medium when displayed in such venues.

Phillips informs us that: ‘Newhall’s exhibition is frankly uninterested in the old question of photography’s status among the fine arts; rather, it signaled MoMA’s recognition that implicit in photography’s adoption by the European avant-garde was a new outlook on the whole spectrum of photographic applications.’  Despite his obvious interest in photography he refused to acknowledge ‘photography’s place among the fine arts.’  Lewis Mumford is cited as stating:

Perhaps it is a little ungrateful for me to suggest that the Museum of Modern Art has begun to overreach itself in the matter of documentation.. . . What is lacking in the present exhibition is a weighing and an assessment of photography in terms of pure aesthetic merit – such an evaluation as should distinguish a show in an art museum
from one that might be held, say, in the Museum of Science and Industry.
In shifting this function onto the spectator, the Museum seems to me to be adding unfairly to his burden. . . .

Later when it was announced that Edward Steichen was to be appointed as Director of Photography Newhall said:

I just didn’t see that we could be colleagues. It was as simple as that. My interests were increasingly in the art of photography; his were increasingly in the illustrative use of photography, particularly in the swaying of great masses of people.

This was indeed the case as Steichen really didn’t care ‘ for photography conceived as an autonomous fine art.’

It could be argued that Steichen and the exhibitions he curated, for example Family of Man, elevated the role of the curator above that of the photographer, something that John Szarkowski is often accused of.  Steichen’s installations were also novel, drawing comparisons with magazine layouts rather than art galleries and accused of ‘sheer manipulation.’ Allan Sekula, ‘The Traffic in Photographs,’ Art Journal, vol. 41, no. 1 (Spring 1981), supposedly had quite a bit to say on the subject.

This changing role of the photographer from ‘autonomous artist to that of illustrator of (another’s) ideas marked the entire range of Steichen’s exhibitions at MoMA’  Up and coming photographers, at this time focused mainly on magazines for their livelihood, even the most renowned artist-photographers were selling their work for no more than fifteen to twenty-five dollars per print. At the 1950 MoMA symposium, ‘What Is Modern Photography?’ Irving Penn stated: ‘for the modern photographer the end product of his efforts is the printed page, not the photographic print. . . The modern photographer does not think of photography as an art or of his photograph as an art object.’ Showing that not all were happy to have their work adorn the walls of a museum.

John Szarkowski followed Steichen taking a different approach to his predecessor, returning to the ‘cult value’ of photography, ‘he represented an aestheticising reaction against Steichen’s identification of photography with mass media.’

His seminal work The Photographer’s Eye (1964) is frequently referred to and he had no fear in introducing controversial photographers such as Arbus, Winogrand, Friedlander and Eggleston, to the art critics.

It was also noted that:

Szarkowski’s ambitious program for establishing photography in its own
aesthetic realm has been set forth explicitly in no single work, but arrived at
piecemeal in a series of slender essays over the last twenty years. His project
has followed, I think, three main lines. These include: (1) the introduction of a
formalist vocabulary theoretically capable of comprehending the visual structure
(the “carpentry”) of any existing photograph; (2) the isolation of a modernist
visual “poetics” supposedly inherent to the photographic image; and (3) the
routing of photography’s “main tradition” away from the (exhausted) Stieglitz/
Weston line of high modernism and toward sources formerly seen as peripheral
to art photography.

 

The role of curator is highly emphasised throughout the essay and the question must be asked with regards to the final display and  authorial decisions on inclusion/exclusion. On attending talks and study days where photographers have been present it has been interesting to note how many wanted to be hands on, were allowed to be hands on and those who just sent photographs along, am thinking of the Female Avant Garde compared to Edmund Clarke.

In any event any photograph within the walls of a gallery, online or in a publication can be taken out of context. Szarkowski himself stated:’To quote out of context is the essence of the photographer’s craft.’ (1964: 70).

Comparing curators to editors the power of choice lands firmly with the editor and a major difference between editor and curator has to be their objectives; illustrating a news piece versus the attempt to convey a larger visual communication through ‘art’. Never the less no matter the role, both become an ‘orchestrator of meaning’ (Phillips 1982).

This essay raises as many questions as it answers, but does give a lot of reasons as to why and how photography ended up in galleries and is often presented the way it is, especially when considering Documentary photography. Raising the ethics issue again and is there a difference between they portrayal of these images between a gallery or museum. I think there is, museums, on the whole, exhibit work to educate whereas work in a gallery is purely there to be bought and sold. Having said that the number ofmuseums that now host photographic exhibitions is on the increase and they sell a lot of merchandise if not the actual photographs! Gallery’s also encourage people to browse, often allow photographs to be taken of the work on the walls and you can get in for free! I have looked around more gallery shows than museum exhibitions…

Many photographers encourage the tag of fine art, Steve McCurry and Edward Burtynsky come to mind, as does Luc Delahaye. Much of the money raised does go onto the next project and the raising of awareness of certain issues but not all. Who am I in some ways to judge a person earning a living, if people are prepared to pay the money that is down to them. As covered in other posts I do feel uneasy to think of the profits made off the back of others’ suffering.

In conclusion the movement of photography from publications and galleries to museums is valid and does have exhibition value.

In response to making note of key research materials, there were 81 footnotes many seemed to be brief acknowledgments to minor points made. I have commented on notable people, events and essays in my response to the essay but others missed could include:

Jean Baudrillard, L’Echange symbolique et la mort, Paris, Editions Gallimard, 1976, pp. 85-88.

The Adorno-Benjamin correspondence has been published in Aesthetics and Politics, London,New Left Books, 1977

Walter Benjamin, “A Short History of Photography,” trans. Stanley Mitchell, Screen, vol.13, no. 1 (Spring 1972), 6.

America in Modern Times, New York, Reynal and Hitchcock, 1934

Benjamin Ives Gilman, Museum Ideals, Cambridge,Mass., 1918.

R. Child Bayley’s remarkably brief “Photography Before Stieglitz,” in America and Alfred Stieglitz, New York, The Literary Guild, 1934, pp. 89-104.

Lewis Mumford, “The Art Galleries,” The New Yorker, April 3, 1937, p. 40.

Herbert Bayer, “Fundamentals of Exhibition Design,” PM, December/January 1939/40

Edward Steichen, “Photography and the Art Museum,” in Museum Service (Bulletin of the
Rochester Museum of Arts and Sciences), June 1948, p. 69.

Allan Sekula, “The Traffic in Photographs,” Art Journal, vol. 41, no. 1 (Spring 1981)

John Szarkowski, “Photography and Mass Media,” Aperture, vol. 13, no. 3 (1967), n.p.

Hilton Kramer “Anxiety about the Museumization of Photography,” New York Times,July 4, 1976

Abigail Solomon-Godeau “Tunnel Vision,” in Print Collectors’ Newsletter, vol.
12, no. 6 (January-February 1982)

Peter Galassi, Before Photography, New York, MoMA, 1981, p. 17

Research

Phillips, C. (1982) ‘The Judgement Seat of Photography’ in October, Vol 22 (Autumn 1982) pp 27–63

Benjamin, W. (1969) ‘The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction,’ trans. Harry Zohn,in Illuminations, New York: Schocken Books.

New Forums for Documentary

Exercise Cruel + Tender

The first major exhibition at the Tate dedicated exclusively to photography, giving a ‘stamp of approval’ to documentary photography as a ‘legitimate medium’ with a rightful place within a gallery.

Read the brochure and watch the videos below

https://www.oca-student.com/sites/default/files/oca-content/key-resources/res-files/crueltender.pdf

Interviews with Rineke Dijkstra and Fazel Sheikh

http://www.tate.org.uk/context-comment/video/rineke-dijkstra-cruel-and-tender
http://www.tate.org.uk/context-comment/video/fazal-sheikh-cruel-and-tender

The brochure is a teachers and leaders kit with information re group visits, but it is very good at reminding us of documentary photography basics with historical and critical context, including photography’s impact on modern art. The suggested book list is one that could come in very handy.

It also serves to remind us how photography gained more attention through the wide use of exhibitions and mentions William Eggleston, Lee Friedlander and Diane Arbus who exhibited together.

The teaching kit brochure and exhibition covered several themes:

  • Portraiture and the representation of people through photography
  • The difficulty in sustaining/producing documentary truth
  • The role of the audience, what baggage do we bring?
  • The use of a series of photographs and how they are read

A quote I found relevant to many of the topics already discussed in the earlier coursework was from Charles Caffin (1901):

“There are two distinct roads in photography – the utilitarian and the aesthetic: the goal of the one being a record of facts, and the other an expression of beauty.”

The text goes on to inform us:

A third, more conceptual approach was introduced by the avant-garde of the early twentieth century (for example ManRay with his invented rayograms, Moholy Nagy, Hannah Hoch with her photo montage work, again not represented in this show). These artists tried to disrupt ideas of representing figurative ‘reality’.

It would appear that the exhibition title comes from a description of Walker Evans’ work, by Lincoln Kirstein in 1933, as possessing a ‘tender cruelty’. Apparently he was ‘referring to the way Evans’ images were spare and factual, and yet also suggested Evans’ strong interest, even passion for his subject matter.’

The exhibition was very successful in bringing photography to the fore and legitimising the genre of Documentary once more as an important genre of visual communication.

Rineke Dijkstra

Rineke Dijkstra is a photographer I have been aware of for some time.

Dijkstra concentrates on single portraits, and usually works in series, looking at groups such as adolescents, clubbers, and soldiers. Her subjects are shown standing, facing the camera, against a minimal background. The raw immediacy of these images captures something of the contradictions inherent in this common and yet most singular of human experiences. The women appear at once vulnerable and invincible, traumatised and self-composed. Dijkstra draws a parallel between the two groups of photographs. Both bullfighters and mothers are pictured after an exhausting and potentially life-threatening experience, relating to society’s deepest-held ideas of masculinity and femininity.

Here she explains how both sets of images came about and her decision of why they were displayed together, and her ‘lack of control’ at the moment of capturing the images, The difference between male/female protectors/fighters. Why she isolates her subjects and not wanting to reveal too much detail. The reactions of others to how she was portraying men as shaken and not macho heroes, and the women looking unsettled and in a ‘just given birth’ state – links a bit to my essay!

There were some similarities in the shots, for example the aesthetics and images were of people in the aftermath of scary, life-threatening situations.

All reminders of the importance of photographing thing that make you feel emotion, are slightly different from the norm and having a distinctive photographic style.

Fazal Sheikh

Is a new photographer to me.

Sheikh’s interest in photographing refugee communities began after he visited Kenya in the early 1990s and documented the refugee camps near the border with Somalia. He treats his subjects as individuals, identifying them by name, and writing texts that explain the political circumstances that forced them to leave their home. Before taking photographs, he spends weeks living in the camps, giving his work a genuine depth and engagement.

His video interview was interesting to me as he also highlighted some of the ethical questions raised previously with regard to how Western media portray certain countries or situations. He described being angered at the way Somali refugees were being portrayed in America. His personal, firsthand knowledge of the areas being covered gave him the insight that there was more of a story to be told than what was being represented in the press.

He also revealed the aspect of following up on a project several years later can produce another body of work that is equally as valid. Similar in some respects to the project by Dana Lixenberg of Imperial Courts, although her project was over 22 years not a period of 8!

Sheikh had a different approach as well, he used a Polaroid camera and had discussions with the people on who should be photographed and how.  I liked how he felt that text was important as well as the imagery and that in certain circumstances the images cannot tell the whole story.

Research

Cruel + Tender https://www.oca-student.com/sites/default/files/CruelTender.pdf [accessed 28/09/2017]

Rineke Dijkstra http://www.tate.org.uk/context-comment/video/rineke-dijkstra-cruel-and-tender [accessed 28/09/2017]

Fazal Sheikh http://www.tate.org.uk/context-comment/video/fazal-sheikh-cruel-and-tender [accessed 28/09/2017]

Suggested Research – Tsunami Streetwalk

For assignment three I have to produce a photo essay around a local issue. I was advised in assignment two feedback to look at documentary work that was slightly different and the example given in particular, was Chris Steele Perkins Tsunami Streetwalk 1. and Tsunami Streetwalk 2

It was a body of work in a very different vein, it is based around the Japanese earthquake and tsunami of 2011.

Chris visited two different places and photographed them twice. Once 20 days after the disaster and then again 7 months later. The images were shot all along the same street 20 paces between each other and then presented in a continuous panoramic style, one date line above the other. The changes in the scenery were subtle but obvious. The ruination still visible even if tidier.

The images were set to music and moved along in a film like sequence. The black space in between the panoramas had minimal captions which helped tell the narrative yet still allowed the audience to imaging and visualise the events of that day. I found it very effective and moving.

The images for one sequence was all landscape, whilst the others were all portrait. There was a similar visual style in the use of diffused lighting so that there was a coherence to the work.

These are elements that I will consider for my assignment three, visual coherence and subtle use of captions.