David Lynch is best known as a film maker/director (Blue Velvet; 1986) and (Mulholland Drive; 2001). He has written TV shows and he’s a photographer.
My tutor suggested that I read his book, Catching The Big Fish because he discusses how he uses meditation as part of his creativity. The “big fish” are those big creative ideas, which then refine themselves as he is producing film. He practices transcendental meditation.
It was a wonderful read for me because I use meditation as part of my idea creation and development. That’s not technically accurate, I meditate because I enjoy it, but I know my creativity will develop as a result. Sometimes ideas come up during the meditation, but mostly they develop because my mind is clearer. As a result of reading Catching The Big Fish, I am going to learn transcendental meditation this weekend.
One of the things that I have found most disturbing since I have moved to London has been the disparity between extreme wealth and extreme poverty. Worst still is to witness members of the public abusing homeless people. On Tuesday I witnessed a woman shouting at a homeless person and I shouted at the woman. Not something I usually do, it was an automatic reaction.
It’s not possible for me to speak to or donate to every homeless person, however, as a photographer I am forming an idea for a future piece of work exploring wealth and poverty.
My recovery from my overdose and consequent surgery is going well, which is good for my photography and art.
I’m so grateful that I have the energy and desire to continue with my final assignment. I’ve managed a few hours of embroidery over the past few days. By making use of the research I conducted, and adapting the input from others, I now have a very good technique for embroidering on top of photography. Result!
I have several pressure sores. Some of these were acquired whilst unconscious following my overdose, and one which I acquired in hospital whilst under sedation. A good friend suggested that I photograph the one on my arm, the one acquired in hospital, and create some documentary photography.
I liked the idea but felt it was not particularly practical. So instead I decided to photograph the consequences of a failed suicide attempt. During my stay at the Heart hospital (they saved my life) I was in a single room, which gave me the freedom to make Photography of my experience. The Heart hospital is where I had surgery to remove a septic abcess and part of my right lung, and where I had a cardiac arrest.
The critical care unit at the Whittington Hospital was the first ward that I was on. They somehow managed to bring me around from my overdose. It wasn’t expected. They informed friends and family that I wasn’t expected to pull through. However, I survived. I was in no fit state to take photos in the Whittington until just before I left, so I have very few photos from there.
During my recuperation with friends and my cousin I’ve taken some photos of my recovery. I shall evaluate and collate all of these and put together a documentary series.
Of note:- during my coursework I reviewed a documentary series called “Ray’s a Laugh” by Richard Billingham, (see here). I feel that documenting my failed suicide attempt is similar to the str of Billingham, and has opened my mind to the value of documenting the everyday. Many people try to commit suicide, and considerably more survive than die (over 15 successful suicide attempts per day in the UK). This is why I use the term “everyday”, I’m not dismissing the tragedy of suicide or attempted suicide. There is good work being done to prevent suicide and I hope more will be done in the future.
Documentary photography in the style of Billingham, and my own series, creates a space for reflection and discourse, and this can create connection and change.
Here are a couple of photos from my series. Not quite sure when I will get the time to put my series together as I have so many medical appointments.
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.
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
Update assignment to include the image quality, colours and mask concept re over-sewn photo.
Collaborating with others – OCA collaboration group and TL
Continue to use thoughts and feelings as drive for my photography
Consider using prose and verse more frequently to enrich photography
Build up mixed media skills
Be photographed by AK – journal my reactions to the shoot and the photos, use the journal to create prose and verse of the experience
Mexican Votive painting
Continue emulating Laura Letinsky to develop this technique further
Read about lighting and ask JK when neccessary
OCA London regional group
Reading and viewing
Diane Arbus: A Chronology – I relate to Arbus’ character and motives of fascination with self and other.
Stick close to Arbus over the next year, dip into her photography and also those critiques of her, especially Sontag.
Gregory Crewdson: Beneath the Roses – Look for the message of yearning to be, or for, something other than the mundane/seeking escape. Also view Twilight to explore effective use of lighting and colour temperature.
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.
Recently I have been very kindly and generously given a speedlight, for which I am most grateful. I’m waiting until the gels and remote trigger which I have ordered for it to arrive, and then I will begin exercise 4.2.
Exercise 4.2 requires us to make use of any space with which we have access to for a few days, to add flat surfaces, and then objects, to create a space which only exists within the boundaries of the photo.
My space is going to be my lounge ceiling. I have paper, material and objects, which can pin too and hang from the ceiling. It’s a space which I intend to make more use of as the still life coursework proceeds. Seeing the photography of Laura Letinsky has been the trigger that my imagination has required to find some enthusiasm for this section.
We’ve also been asked to consider visual effect by exploring photographic effect, by making photos of things that have meaning for us. Well, as I’m slowly making these photos I’m realising that meaning and effect are personal and subjective. Yes, there are photographic techniques (composition, lighting, placement, colour, distraction), which positively or negatively impact upon presentation and reading of a photo, but photography, as with all art, is a subjective experience.
I am going to be working a little out of order at the moment. My health has been poor and rather than lag behind I will work on what I feel able when I feel able.
Here’s are some pigs. Pigs are a the spirit animal for abundance, the universe always provides what I need, and the many pigs around my house are a reminder.
Having been unable to find appropriate accommodation in the locale of Farnham I have deferred university until next year. A lot can happen in a year, so I am open-minded. I’m going to keep looking for a home swap, but I’m also happy to finish Foundations in Photography and then make a decision as to whether to take the photography degree with the Open College of the Arts, which is distant learning, or go to the University for the Creative Arts. There are advantages to both, but with my mental health as it is, then taking the degree with OCA has become my preferred option. Distant learning suits me, I can study part-time, have less pressure with deadlines, and not have the stress of moving. These are all protective factors for my mental health.
Is this still life?
I am shortly going to begin part four of Foundations in Photography, which is a section based upon still life. With the new medication that I am on and how it is affecting my energy, I decided not to begin part four until I return from London. However, I have been exploring thoughts, and making photos for my digital sketch book, which I hope to upload before I travel. We’ll wait and see. My aim is to read part four in the FiP manual, so that I can make the most of being in a new, dynamic environment, and begin to make photos, or at least test photos for the coursework whilst I am away.
Is this still life?
London, here I come. I am very excited about visiting London. My initial plan was for it to be for a few days. But I haven’t been too London as an adult. Yeah I have passed through it, and been to two football matches there, but I have never explored. I have activities planned, a few people to meet and an OCA study visit/field trip.
Is this still life?
Lots of wonderful opportunities for photography in different environments and with several genres, as well as museum and gallery visits, West End shows, football match, and nature. Lots and lots of nature, animals, birds, flowers, macro. I have Lightroom on my laptop now, so I may upload some photos as I go along, although my lap top is incredibly slow compared to my PC with its huge RAM.
Is this still life?
Consequently I am not going to be able to keep up with everyone’s blogs anywhere near as much as I would like to, but normal service will be resumed upon my return.
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.
As many of you are aware, I struggle with self-image. However, I wanted to produce some self portraits get used to me being in front of the lens. So I have been making some self portraits over the past week, which I have overpainted using the edit and graffiti tools built into the Huawei P 10. Here are some of the photos that I’ve recently made. Some of these I have posted before and others are new photos, I’m enjoying this so much that I’m going to continue making self portraits in this style.
On Monday I started some new medication to reduce the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. The side effects are making me quite sleepy, and this is impacting upon my motivation and ability to complete the tasks that I wish to. I am aware that these side effects will pass within a week or two, so I’m just doing little bits and pieces as and when I can for now.
My two recent trips to the Farnborough airshow and RSPB Bempton Cliffs have been a wonderful opportunity for me to get to know my new Olympus OMD EM1 MKii. One of my favourite features is the built-in image stabilisation. Although the EM1 has five axis stabilisation you can alter the settings for this.
Photographing aeroplanes means that I needed to plan along the horizontal plane. The EM1 has the ability to alter the image stabilisation from five axis to either vertical stabilisation or horizontal stabilisation. Because I was panning along the horizontal plane I altered the image stabilisation to vertical. Why is this necessary? If you have the settings for five axis the cameras inbuilt artificial intelligence will try to stabilise the image which interferes with auto focus when planning. Setting the image stabilisation on the vertical plane stops the AI from trying to correct stabilisation when on the horizontal.
The continuous autofocus was wonderful for shooting both fast-moving aeroplanes and slower moving propeller driven aircraft. I was photographing using burst mode and it took time to get used to releasing the shutter and then pressing half down again to refocus.
The continuous autofocus is very quick to respond and this is incredibly useful when photographing moving subjects. Combining this with burst mode and far shutter speed made it possible to make some wonderful photos. When photographing small and fast-moving subjects, such as the birds at RSPB Bempton Cliffs, using the burst rate of 15 frames per second is ideal although, it was too fast for me to control the shutter and take a single photo. Photographing larger subjects which are also fast-moving, such as the aircraft at Farnborough airshow, 10 frames per second is more than adequate, and even whilst in burst mode I had enough control to take a single photo.
The OMD EM1 MKii has some wonderful features such as being able to set up all of the cameras buttons for different purposes, which makes the process of changing settings very quick and very easy.
When I attended Armed Forces Day in Scarborough, I shot the flying displays in shutter priority and trusted the cameras AI to make the rest of the judgements to set the exposure. I didn’t check the exposure as I was shooting, and underexposed many photos, so much so that when trying to develop them in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom, increasing the exposure created an image which had so much noise that it was unusable. So whilst photographing the aircraft at Farnborough airshow I shot in manual mode and exposed for the underside of the aircraft where the shadow is more intense. This has meant that the sky is overexposed, which is very easy to correct in Lightroom, and the aircraft correctly exposed.
Photographing a RSPB Bempton Cliffs and Farnborough airshow has been a lot of fun for me, and I have really enjoyed myself. I am in the process of evaluating the photos from Farnborough airshow. I took way too many photos over the three days of the air displasy but I have got many great photos. I have no idea how long it will take me to evaluate and develop these, I will post some as soon as I can.
My knowledge of the OMD EM1 MK ii will develop over time, there are so many more features that I look forward to getting to learn. So far I am very impressed with the camera’s capabilities and very happy that I converted all of my cameras over to the Olympus micro 4/3 set up.
My plan was to attend Sunderland airshow this weekend, but adjusting to this new medication means that the kindest thing that I can do for myself is to stay at home and relax.
Have a wonderful weekend and I hope you enjoy my self portraits.