Assignment Five – Refining My Idea

I’ll be making my own portrait with 6 different emotional expressions relating to my eating disorder. Justaposing them with 6 different photos from Ill Form and Void Full (Laura Letinsky).

Both photos will be placed side by side on a white surface, with a white backdrop. The surface will become a space in which I will place a piece of fruit, or other food which will match that from Letinsky’s art. The photos will then be squashed, twisted, torn or altered in some way. I’ll then photograph the still life I’ve made and then stitch onto the final photo.

 

The stitching will be done in a manner that uses shape and colour to emphasise the emotional expression.

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Annie Leibovitz – Masterclass – Lesson One – Portrait

A precious gift that I recieved for Christmas, from a dear friend, was a subscription to an Annie Leibovitz Masterclass.

Masterclass is an app that provides master-classes by people who are world renowned in their field, it can be optained on Google Play Store and the Apple Store.

Lesson 1

There are a few points that I’m taking away. Which I’ll bullet point below. But the most interesting point was a question one of her students asked. It was raised in relation to to photo-journalism, but I think it applies to all genres of photography. “Where is the line?” I photographed an act of self harm for part four of my coursework and in assignment four, and it was necessary for me to question was my photography relevant, necessary and provided in context. Ultimately this is a personal question and each photographers answer is subjective. It’s of note that Leibovitz says this question is ongoing for photographers.

  • You cannot capture an individual with one photo
  • To capture different aspects of personality more than one photo is required
  • It’s beneficial to return to work with an individual in a new setting at a different time (months or years apart
  • A series created in such manner reveals more about a person than a single shoot could do
  • Take lots of photos and regularly
  • It takes years to learn how to see
  • Keep photos that you’re not initially drawn too, your perspective may change over time

Elf Portrait

btf

btfmdn

 

Assignment 5 – Why Embroider Over Photographs?

Coming to the end of Foundations In Photography with the Open College of the Arts, I find myself in a position in which I want to prepare myself to study for a BA in Photography. Assignment 4 can definitely be the basis for a further body of work, probably by using masks or embroidering on top of photographs to represent aspects of self, especially those hidden repressed aspects. Sewing over the top of my own face was successful, if painful for me to view.

I have thoroughly enjoyed Staged photography and still life, and found a means of being authentic with these genres.

I’m very keen to explore these themes further, and I believe that sewing on a photograph provides an additional means to enhance or hide emotion and mood. It also means that I can distort my images and create harmonious fine art photography or to create visual and emotional discord and discomfort.

I’m going to use assignment 5 as a stepping stone to develop a secondary skill, and so that I can use photos as the basis of mixed media art.

Concept In Photography? Not In This Example!!! But Most Definitely In This

Brief:- You may think conceptual art has to be motivated by a cerebral idea, but often it’s not. It’s more to do with hunches and entering a process where you don’t really know what the outcome will be and you take photographs that attempt to document that process. For example, what would it be like to spend a week living on a boat? What would it be like to dress differently and out of character? Such ‘ideas’ are not necessarily ‘visual’ but the clearly have visual potential. They also bring up notions that you may not have thought about when approaching a photographic project: what ‘home’ and ‘appearances’ mean.

Maria Kapejeva, One Month. Maria Kapejeva’s diptych above shows two portraits of the same person; the first was taken on the subjects arrival in India, and the second was taken a month later. What do these say about the country’s influence on this young man? Maria Kapejeva based her work on a concept about change over time. The young man appears to have been influenced by his time in india – as if he has matured. It’s very subtle, but you register the change in his clothes, facial expression and posture.

Umm – bollocks. Such a weak example of concept in photography. He may have travelled with those clothes, we all sit differently many times each day, and a suntan alters the appearance of our skin. Yes he may have been influenced by his time in India, in fact it is highly probable that he has, but this diptych is a very poor way of highlighting any possible influences. To infer that it does is misguided. I’m feeling let down by this shoddy example.

To see a great example of concept in photography I suggest seeing the recent work of OCA photography degree student Sarah Andrews (see here for the process) and (see here for the results).

Sarah has explored the concept of ageing and dying with photography from the natural world in Autumn, and her process involved exploring the photos with people who have life limiting conditions. This is how to explore conceptual ideas witb photography

 

Excited About Assignment Four – Self-Harm – Sorry (Again)

I can hardly contain myself. I’ve developed an idea for Assignment Four – Responding To A Theme. It means I get to make use of photos in a physical form. I have set the theme as self-love and self-harm. Three photos upon the theme of self-love and three on self-harm. I’m going to over stitch one photo from each theme, similar to Gerhard Richter and his over painting. I’m then going to cut each photo into 16 squares which will then be stuck into a Rubik’s cube. Self-harm and self-love are not binary concepts, they over lap and mix into each other. Playing with the cube is to explore ones own psyche and to consider how one relates to ones self (hmmm not sure of the use of the word one in this context).

This may seem “fucking mental”, my own words about what I have done. To follow my chosen theme I have self harmed. I’ve cut myself for the first time in two years. Self harm is a part of my own experience. There was a period of my life in which I self harmed every day for 8 years. Self-harming again after two years abstinence is extreme, but I’m pleased with the photos I’ve made. More than this though, I’m pleased to be exploring the concept of the relationship with self.

The concept is good, let’s see how the execution turns out.

I’m struggling to keep up with everyone’s blogs. I apologise, but I’m also aware that I must focus on my eating disorder recovery. I attend at least one self help meeting each day, and talk to others in recovery everyday. I’m recovering, I’m getting there, it’s much harder than I ever imagined. My emotions are chaotic and inconsistent. But I’m eating what I meant to, when I’m meant too.

Sending you all love and good vibes.

Project 3 – Learning From Other Photographers

Brief:- Research point – Self reflection – Requirement Most visual artists learn from one another. Both historic and contemporary photographers and visual artists can teach you new things and by learning from them you can bring something new to the subject. So how do you learn from other photographers? There’s a tradition of ‘after’ painting, where an artist copies a master’s work – but in his own style rather than theirs. Pablo Picasso often did this for inspiration. Édouard Manet’s Olympia is slightly different in that it’s a critical response to Alexandre Cabanel’s The Birth of Venus and other such romantic and idealised nudes. Cubism’s visual experimentation was influenced by the work of Paul Cézanne, who had a ‘blocky’ style of painting in daubs of paint. Hannah Starkey’s photographs are clearly influenced by Jeff Wall’s tableau pictures without ever being copies. So really you take from the artist anything that interests you: the arrangement of characters in a scene, the pose of a figure, the way light and dark interact, the type of subject matter, the mixing of media, the visual strategy, etc… Research point – Self reflection – Throughout this course you’ve been introduced to the work of different photographers to help give you an understanding of the creative potential of photography. Now it’s time to question your own work and identify anything you think is lacking. You don’t have to be over-critical, just honest. Write down any areas in photography you need to develop. (Your tutor reports should give you some clues here.) Write what sort of photographs you want to take. Just note down keywords. Now look through a book like Hacking, J. (2012) Photography: The Whole Story, or Cotton, C. (2014) The Photograph as Contemporary Art (3rd edition) (both London: Thames & Hudson) and try to identify some photographers who have exactly the key elements that you want to attain or just things that interest you. It doesn’t matter if the photographer is contemporary or historic. Make a note of these key elements. Now research these photographers online and choose one key photograph to use in the next exercise.

There’s one area which glaringly stands out for me to work on. Lighting. Making use of lights to create an atmosphere, using spots, using ambient lighting or controlling background light, I need to develop these techniques. My tutor has recommended observing light in indoor settings and then trying to recreate it at home.

Now that I have a speedlight I am making slow inroads into understanding flash photography, and that’s going to be an ongoing process.

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Mixed media art is also a growing interest. It’s something that’s been developing over the period that I’ve been studying. Exercise 3.5 Photography from text (here) was a good introduction. I’m part of an OCA collaboration group and have enjoyed collaborating with other artists. Toxic Shame (here) provided me with the opportunity to write and narrate prose as part of a collaborative project. People with Autism co-authored Autism: Out Of The Box (here) with me, a project in which I wrote the essay and encouraged the co-authors to produce accompanying photography or art for the essay.

A woman with autism is currently writing her story, and my role will be to support her to make photography which will accompany her writing. This is a role I wish to develop. The OCA collaboration group is on-going, and I have had initial contact with an artist in Australia who may wish to collaborate with me.

I’m very pleased to be studying Experimentation:- Still Life, which is part 4 of Foundations in Photography. This part of the course has opened up my creative potential. I made a sensory collage, just for fun, out of materials left over from the emulation exercise. Photomontage, collage and sensory collage all give me the opportunity to practice with lighting.

Lighting is the way forward. When I return from my travels I will look through my many books to find find photographers who inspire me, and who make creative use of lighting. I will then create some emulation based upon their work.

The piece I produced to emulate Laura Letinsky will be added next week when I return home.cof

The End Of The Pagan/Celtic Year – My Review Of The Past 12 Months And Goals For The Year Ahead

When I’m in tune spiritually at the end of the pagan year, I like to reflect upon the past year and say thanks for it. I also consider the year ahead.

The start of the new year as winter sets in makes sense. Traditionally winter would be the end of the life cycle for many people. Even now winter is a time of increased death rates for the elderly and vulnerable. The new year was a spiritual occasion in which prayers would be asked for protection over the winter months. It was also believed that the half way points of the spring and autumn (equinox), was when the barrier between the physical world and the underworld was at its weakest. A time when spirits could cross over and would take the weakest. During the middle ages and up to the Victorian era, communities would gather, light bonfires, celebrate and also cross dress . Men would dress as women and vice versa, in order to confuse the spirits and thereby preserve their life for the year ahead.

Today i took the opportunity for prayer and reflection whist I was walking between Redcar and Maske By The Sea. I have a lot to be grateful for this year. I have some wonderful friends, who have been part of my life for many years, I am developing deeper friendships with my peers, and I’m also developing friendships and a supportive community on WordPress.

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I got accepted into university – I’m glad I deferred it because I would have been to Ill to attend anyway. My tutor has given me some ideas which organisations that I can approach with a view to an exhibition of my photographic body of work about eating disorders. She values the personal integrity of my photography, and this was also stated in my interview with the University for the Creative Arts. I’m beginning to get a feel for the kind of photography that I want to make, the photography for relaxation and fun – and events. I really enjoyed the narrative of A Hermits Journey (here). Technically I’m improving as well, especially in Photoshop, although I do need to stop and consider which is the easiest approach to bring the quality that I desire. I need to read more books on photography as well. When reviewing the work of other photographers, finding a balance between books and internet resources is critical.

I’m  also enjoying the creativity of mixed media art, and I’m loving being part of the OCA collaboration group. I don’t make photographs for that. I’m using it as an opportunity to explore written and spoken word.

One of the highlights of my year was the photomontage I created using street art (here). It was wonderful to gain consent to use music by DJ’s from Mars. Approaching established artists with a view to making use of their work is new to me, and feels like a huge leap forward.oznor

It’s also a pleasure to witness the development and progress of my peers. We all have different skills, preferences and unique styles of the photography and it’s been a privilege to view. I’ve been able to try techniques that I wouldn’t have considered if I hadn’t seen their work. We all comment upon each others work, and this has been a vital part of my progression. I still find it hard to critique the work of my peers, although it is getting easier.

One particular photo produced by @andykabi on Instagram – touched that place of shame, persecution, unworthiness and vulnerability within me. It’s the most I’ve been affected by a photograph. Andy was kind enough to send me a signed copy. I get it back from the picture framers tomorrow.

As for my WordPress buddies, I’m touched by your honesty, integrity and support. You are so compassionate and have so much wisdom, which you share on your blogs and in comments.

Cork and london have presented me with opportunities to explore the unfamiliar. I love London, my holiday and time there were incredible. Sadly, I became very ill and had to return home. However, I’m trying to arrange a home-swap so that I can live in London. One of my main motivators is to become involved in a dynamic, vibrant and creative community. I was fortunate enough to meet two of my OCA friends whilst in London, but was too I’ll to meet two others as planned.

Now is the time to move, and to build a face to face community. Am I ready to start meeting up with people? Yes I am. It will be beneficial in so many ways, and one of those is in relation to my mental health.

Anorexia has taken it’s toll on my body and mind. The possibility of dying from anorexia was never going to be a motivating factor to change. However, my illness affected my photography and that was enough for me to seek and utilise supoort so that I can recover. Photography is saving my life for the second time. My passion for photography is intense. The more I make photos, watch the photography of others, and study photography – the more I fall in love with it. The more I have to give and the more I have to receive. Now that I’m in early recovery from anorexia and eating regularly, my ability to go back out with my camera has returned. The process of forming and developing creative ideas is such and pleasure, to be coming up with new idead again is wonderful. This is enough motivator for me to eat and continue with my recovery.

Occasionally I write photo essays, which have all been published in The Sociological Mail. Shaneka kindly publishes my writing, and I’d like to produce more articles over the next 12 months. Shaneka is always on the lookout for contributors, and I believe that she would appreciate the services of someone who can help with site maintenance and communicating with the feature writers.

My hopes and goals for the year ahead are :-

  • Move to London, Guildford or Farnham
  • Complete Foundations in Photography
  • Start a degree in photography with either the OCA or UCA
  • Exhibit my eating disorders body of work
  • Stay in recovery from anorexia
  • Develop the friendships I have
  • Develop new face to face friendships
  • Explore mixed media art
  • Assisted/guided photography/portraits for those who want to add photos in with their writing
  • Get involved with creatives in London
  • Travel to India
  • Write 7 photo essays
  • Write more poetry
  • Deepen my spirituality
  • Come to trust that the universe wants what’s best for me
  • Take a street photography workshop
  • Meet up with fellow students
  • Attend OCATV
  • Find some good birdwatching spots and go birdwatching monthly.
  • Find a photographer to get to know.
  • Eat no more and no less than what’s on my plan
  • Meditate every day
  • Attend yoga classes
  • Finish my model
  • Create a folder for competition stand photos
  • Read part of a photography book each morning

Formal Tutor Feedback For Assignment Three – A Staged photograph

I would like to just say thank you to my tutor Jayne Taylor for her support, guidance and encouragement. I very much appreciate your input.

I have previously reflected upon the feedback which I received during a telephone conversation with Jayne (seen here).

The written feedback that Jayne has provided is a PDF which can be seen here. I am going to reflect upon the written feedback, but with preparing for my holiday, and having two more posts that I wish to make before I set of on my adventures, then I will further reflections until I have returned home.

Motivation/Medication/Anorexia – The Authenticity Of Photography -photography As An Act Of Violence – The Ownership Of A photo

  • My motivation has dropped
  • New medication is impacting upon motivation
  • Anorexia is now affecting energy and motivation
  • Making this and the last post has taken me several days to get motivated to produce.
  • Photography was originally understood as being a means of authentically documenting reality
  • This view reinforced by Barthes in Camera Lucida – photographing “what was there”
  • Photo Journalism and documentary photography are meant to be factual and not misleading.
  • My view “as photographers we always mislead and never represent the external authentically”
  • My view “as photographers we spend more time excluding the distraction of what was there”
  • My view “our photography is shaped by our life experiences, psychology and ideology”
  • My view “our personality influences exactly what we choose to exclude from any photo we make”
  • My view has been reinforced by reading Photography A Critical Introduction by Liz Wells
  • Liz Wells highlights the photo “Migrant Mother” by Dorathea Lange
  • “Migrant Mother” is shown next to the other four photos Lange took of the mother and her children that day. It’s clear why Lange chose this as her final selection.
  • The context added by the other photos would have eliminated the emotional impact.
  • This is photographers manipulation of fact in order to present a moral viewpoint.
  • Editor’s, curators and accompanying text bastardise this “authenticity” further.
  • Ariella Azoulay adds to this by demonstrating how the Israeli National newspapers use photography unrelated to the story to reinforce an anti Palestinian Agenda.
  • In The Civil Contract of Photography Azoulay posits the idea that no one has authorship/ownership of a photo, as the subject, photographer and viewer all bring their own unique understanding and agenda to the photo
  • Kathryn Ryan (Canadian comedian) stated during her interview by John Bishop (John Bishop In Conversation With) that her daughter is a unique individual and as her mother she has no right to publish photos of her daughter.
  • She doesn’t own her daughter and has no ownership of her image
  • To do so would be an act of aggression as there is no consent.
  • This view is supported by Susan Sontag “On Photography” and Ariella Azoulay.
  • Hearing Kathryn Ryan was the first time this viewpoint made any sense to me.
  • In other contexts to commit an act upon another person without their consent would be illegal.
  • Asking permission to take a photo, even using a model release form can never be informed consent as we no longer know where a photo will be reproduced or end up.

Its been useful to solidify these ideas that have been floating around my psyche, it’s not to say that I agree with them all, and even where I do I think there has to be a loud call for balance. The views I’ve highlighted are valid, but where do we draw the line? There are legal lines of course, and I believe there are humanitarian lines. Governments often break these humanitarian lines for the purposes of propaganda (it’s happened in the UK in relation to “illegal” immigrants (no human is illegal!!!)). However, as photographers we can only do what feels right to us, and that’s different for us all.

Interestingly, as I have experimented with street photography I have become more comfortable with others taking my photo whilst out and about.

I have way to many books to read.

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Tale From De Cameron – The Conversation

During the Foundations in Photography coursework we were asked to review The Conversation by Michael Buhler Rose, which was from his theme Creating the Exotic (please excuse my lack of academic referencing, I’m tired, unmotivated, and feeling adding something to my learning log is better than nothing). Buhler Roses’ photo is below.

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I’m aware that we all draw our inspiration from the world around us, and I’m begging to think that Buhler Rose may have drawn his from John William Waterhouse. Waterhouse made several paintings which included people, in groups, conversing, wearing bright colours. The Enchanted Garden is a good example, as is Tales From Dr Cameron (below).

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I certainly have no recollection of Buhler Rose discussing his inspiration or the works of his or others that he had built upon, and I can now see why our tutors ask us to do this. Doing so helps me to become more definitive in my photographic profile and signature and becomes a cornerstone of continued professional development.

I saw the Waterhouse painting on a UK TV program called University Challenge and I instantly thought of The Conversation