The Pain Of Making Self Portraits

Firstly – I know have a working title for my assignment… “The Emotional States Of Anorexia”. The emotions that I’m photographing all relate to different emotions that I have experienced that relate to my anorexia.

Defiance (fuck you! I won’t eat and you can’t make me)

Pride (Yes – another target weight hit)

Rage (I fucking hate my self)

Joy (I can wear those new skinny jeans now I’ve hit that weight)

Fear (I’m so fucking scared of eating, l will have to kill myself if I do)

Grief (I hurt so much I can’t cope anymore)

Now I know that you know that I hate my photo being taken. I hate seeing photos of myself. It’s taken me sometime to build up the willingness to photograph myself. Tomorrow and Thursday I have the pain of seeing my face when I develop them. Fuck sake. Why am I doing this. I could have used someone else as the model.

Thing is I can’t. I know that these emotions are extreme and trying to work with a model and talking them into these states is gonna be challenging and time-consuming. I know these emotions and the thoughts that go with them. They’ve been a second skin that I’ve lived in. Consequently it’s taken me an hour to make these photos.

I’ve not liked doing it at all, but, I’ve got the photos that I need. I’ve captured the emotions. Am I putting them up on here? Not bloody likely. Once I’ve embroidered over them then I will publish them, but they, of themselves, are not the final piece of work. They are just part of a still life audio, visual installation that will be juxtaposed with the Laura Letinsky photography.

If I put my displeasure about the photos of myself to the side, I feel excited. This is coming together. My creative vision is clear, I can see the outcome.

Will I exhibit the six pieces I am creating? Damn right if I can get the right curator and the right space. It’s weird how I can feel so confident of that when I can’t stand seeing my photo. Perhaps it’s because my portrait is just a part of a larger piece of work, that my face will be sewn over? Perhaps it’s just a dichotomy of the human experience.

Developing My Own Critical Eye

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?Critical-Eye

 

Reference

Enoch, R; 2014; Foundations in Photography; Barnsley; OCA

I Can’t Breathe – (Co-dependancy)

This is a short poem that I wrote about 20 years ago (I’m excluding the other person’s name) .

You take my bed

You take my mind

But one day xxxxxxx

You will find

The real me

Because its there

And then you’ll realise

I don’t care.

I cant breathe

 

 

Thank god for therapy, and learning how to practice emotional integrity!

Waiting to Die

Death becomes him

Death is me

This waking death of misery.

Please come death

Please swallow me

End this life and swallow me.

 

The usual reminder:- I am OK. In fact I’m very good right now. Writing is recovery.

Assignment One – Square Mile – Initial Thoughts and Ideas

“However you choose to approach this assignment, it should communicate something about you: your interests, motivations, and your ambitions for your photography. Think of it as a way to introduce yourself to your tutor. There’s no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to respond to this brief, as long as you try to push yourself out of your comfort zone in terms of subject matter; try out new approaches rather than sticking to what you think you’re most successful at.”  (Enoch; 2017)

My Interests

Sociology, People, Inequality, Diversity, Events, Macro, Transcendence, Buddhism, Colour, Sweets, Flowers, Birds, Digital Developing, Films, Meditation, Routine

Out of Comfort Zone/Dislikes

Landscape, Tourism, Being out at night, Conflict, Talking to people, Black and white/Monochrome photography, Carrying a tripod, Exercise, Enclosed Spaces, Crowds, Anxiety

Ideas

1) Taking photos in a city that is familiar to me and looking for things I havent seen before. Leaving envelopes where I take photos with a request “I am a photography student and am exploring the idea of ‘things we overlook’. Would you be so kind as to have a look around and taking a photo, right where you are standing, of something that you havent noticed before. You can email it to me at…. My only requirements, for reasons of ethics and consent are that you must be over 18, if you are not then please ask an adult to take the photo and send it to me. The photo cannot be of an individual or a group of individuals with them as the main focus, but a general street photo with people in it is acceptable. Many thanks”

This idea is one of collaboratively exploring a familiar place with different perspectives. What do we overlook because of familiarity? Do my ideas of a place prevent me from seeing what is there?

2) Exploring the use of text and captions to add narrative. I follow other OCA students blogs, and a recent entry from Emma Pocock’s Landscape Blog. Emma is studying Landscape as a module of the BA (Hons) Photography with the Open College of the Arts. Exercise 2.5 is an exploration fo text in Art. After completing the exercise she says:-

“Although this isn’t a form of art I think I am cut out to make in its pure form, I am definitely going to try harder to jot down words which convey my thoughts and feelings when I start my walks for my assignment. The tiny glimmers of something interesting in the work above is enough to show me that there is merit in trying this out, either with a view to using the words alongside the images or just to trigger new ideas about how to visually represent the way I experience the journey.” (Pockock; 2017)

Along with the inspiration from Pocock’s blog, I have recently reviewed photography by Chloe Dewe-Matthews and an image by Walker Evans. The introduction to Dewe-Matthews “Shot at Dawn” and the title and date of Evans “Graveyard and Steel Mill in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania have helped me to see the importance of text, captions and introductions, and the consideration of what style of text is best with a series or narrative. However I like the idea that Pocock used of writing notes as she walked around, and I could explore this technique as a way of exploring myself and my thoughts and feelings whilst I am photographically exploring the Square Mile. Present the idea as a photo book series with the photo on one page and text on the other.

3) Going to tourist attractions and taking photos in the style of John Hinde, following my recent review of his photography. I don’t find myself attracted to the photography that he made and neither do I enjoy tourist photography. However I found myself to be impressed with his development of his images and, what at the time was, pushing the boundaries with colour photography. Residents in tourist towns often have a negative view of tourists. I could go to popular tourist attractions and take postcard style photos of them and develop them in the style of Hinde, either through digital manipulation or over painting in the style of Gerhard Richter. If I were then to speak with tourists and locals and ask their opinion of the town or attraction and its tourists, I could use these with the images. It would be good to produce these a postcards with the tourists comment on the back, as if they were sending a postcard home, but with the quote from the person who lives near the attraction on the front.

I believe that conceptually idea 3 is the strongest from a conceptual viewpoint. I like the juxtaposition of a tourist postcard and a locals view of tourists. I remember someone from Filey referring to the tourists as “Comforts” meaning “Come for T’ day” as a derogatory statement. Tourism is a great source of local income and also disruption. This idea would also push me with regard to technical ability with regard to landscape photography, how to use space, or control space to tell a story, and with developing photographs. There is an emotional challenge as well. Being in busy, populous and confined spaces with people is something that provokes anxiety within me.

Any feedback on the strengths of the above ideas would be appreciated.

References

Enoch, R; 2017; Foundations in Photography; Barnsley; Open College of the Arts

Pocock, E; 2017; Exercise 2.5: Text in Art; Online at https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/63756241/posts/1538253432 (accessed on 01/08/2017)

Keys, R; 2017; Review of “Shot at Dawn” Chloe Dewe-Matthews; Online at https://photosociology.wordpress.com/2017/07/26/review-of-shot-at-dawn-chloe-dewe-matthews/ (accessed on 01/08/2017)

Keys, R; 2017; Review of “A Graceyard and Steel Mill in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania” by Walker Evans; Online at https://photosociology.wordpress.com/2017/07/23/review-of-a-graveyard-and-steel-mill-in-bethlehem-pennsylvania-by-walker-evans/ (accessed on 01/08/2017)

Keys, R; 2017; Review – John Wilfred Hinde; Online at https://photosociology.wordpress.com/2017/07/30/review-john-wilfred-hinde/ (accessed on 01/08/2017)

Richter, G; 2016; Gerhard Richter (online gallery); Online at https://www.gerhard-richter.com/en/ (accessed on 01/08/2017)