Brief:- You probably own many significant objects, from a wedding ring to old clothes, trophies of achievement to mementos that recall special events or times of your life, like toys or records. Choose one of these to photograph. This mustn’t be a general thing like ‘flowers’ but something entirely specific to you. Respect the fact that this object matters to you. Photograph it carefully, thinking about how this object ought to be viewed through the camera. Consider the framing, viewpoint, background, placement, light and composition. Does the photograph (the representation) have the same meaning as the object itself ? Is there a difference? Now develop this exercise into a series of three photographs of similar objects. For example, if you chose to photograph your wedding ring, ask friends if you can photograph their wedding rings. If you photographed your home, photograph other people’s homes. Use exactly the same viewpoint, framing, lighting (as far as possible), background, etc., for each. This will help the three final photos fit together as a conclusive series. Look online at the work of Bernd and Hilla Becher. Note how the composition, framing and lighting is almost identical in each photograph and how this ‘gels’ the series together.
This does not work for me at all. It is a series that I need to re shoot, or change to an alternate significant object, one in which I can recreate a significant object alongside similar objects. All three photos represent spirituality and an altar, but the backgrounds, positioning within the frame and composition are too far apart for this to work. With the Becher’s photos, the neutrality made their subjects stand out, but with my triptych there is no neutrality to give the object/subject definition.
It may work better if all of the alters were composed in an identical manner, and hight within the frame, but the third photo would need to have a similar coloured background. If I could arrange this then maybe the backgrounds with their own busyness would not matter as much. To be honest I think that I would prefer that to the bland neutrality of Becher. Although I do understand the point of the exercise. Similar objects which are framed and composed in a similar manner, enhances the definition of the subjects.
I would like to re-shoot this exercise, but right now I am not going to. I would like to complete this part of the course work, and I am six weeks beyond the agreed deadline. I have one more exercise to shoot, and then to evaluate and select my stage photo for assignment three.
The comment below by Jenna has been incredibly helpful for me. Not seeing where the second photo, my significant object, fitted in with the other two – has given me the opportunity to consider why.
My significant object is my altar. I don’t see it as being a fireplace, because it’s not, it’s my altar, the spiritual centre of my home. This includes the crystals at the base, next to gohonzon, and the pictures either side and above. They all have spiritual significance to me. A Nichiren Buddhist would recognize the gohonzon and know this is my altar, but nobody else would.
Because I only see this as my altar then I didn’t even consider that others would not recognise it as being so, and there is some very useful learning here. If I am going to display something of importance to me, then I need to consider whether a non involved/non knowing person would see what I do. What will they see? If I think they couldn’t have the same ‘knowing’ of my significant object that I do, then how can I present it in a context that makes this more accessible.
I’m no longer feeling dejected. Nothing had changed with the series, it still doesn’t work, but learning is remarkably empowering.
The third photo in the triptych is by Raina from the moon, of which she retains the copyright. Thankyou Raina.