There have been two exercises that I have recently completed in which I have disagreed with the brief from the Foundations in Photography manual. My view on Sophie Calle was so far removed from what Enoch had written, I even felt anger at his comments, which I felt were so far removed from the truth that I considered his words to be airy fairy artistic bullshit (see here).
I have just written a review of Ray’s A Laugh by Richard Billingham (see here), and again I disagree with the brief from the manual. Billingham’s photo’s were not taken as a visual document for research purposes. They were taken as a record to explore his thoughts and feelings about his family, in order that he could make a painting that had an emotional impact, and make a statement.
The above are my opinions, they aren’t fact and I accept that I could be way off of the mark. This means that I am either getting something wildly wrong and missing the point, or that I am developing a critical eye in how I view the photography and writing of others. Whether I am right or wrong with my opinions is irrelevant, we all view photography differently, so differently in fact that I will say that if Ray’s A Laugh was really worthy of a Turner Award then the Turner Awards are a meaningless waste of space, that have no value in a genuinely creative community.
What is relevent is that I am learning how to critique photography, and with the acknowledgement that my reading is based upon the sum of my own personal experiences, which is naturally a biased view. This doesn’t mean that my interpretation is any less or more relevent that the Turner Award judges, or that of Enoch.
I am really grateful that the Foundations in Photography manual asks us to review many photographers and photos because I am gaining a deeper insight into the creativity, technicality and interpretation of photography, and this develops my purpose and vision with the photography that I create. No matter how I make photos, and consider the impact, questions or narrative that I want to express, others, just like me, will form their own opinions, and these may be far removed than my intent.
This tells me that I should make photos for me, but considered photos in which I slow down and explore the impact of the subject upon myself. What detracts from my intended meaning? What enriches and enhances my expression?
Enoch, R; 2014; Foundations in Photography; Barnsley; OCA