http://www.tate.org.uk/context-comment/audio/richard-long-curators-talk-accessed 14th May 2017
I have been quite astounded at times throughout this fourth part at how little I know and how much I had forgotten about photography. There are a lot of photographers and artists I had completely forgotten about and also ones I had never come across before. I was convinced that I would do OK throughout this part but I found out quite soon that I knew not as half as much as I thought.
As I have worked through each project I know I have been down at times at having to read and then re-read what was asked but then once I had started to research more I felt I got a better grasp of things. I liked the holiday photo project as it made me revisit lots of images I had buried away and it was a nice feeling to look at them and answer the question ‘How do they make you feel?’
I found by researching the origins of The Photobus by Daniel Meadows, it brought me into a whole new realm of photographers I had never heard of and whose work I now truly love just from researching further, such as Richard Billingham and John Davies.
I really like my learning log now and I like to use it to show things I wouldn’t normally. Even just a few pictures from a day out that I like or have felt were interesting to me. I find I want to post them as it is part of the whole learning and documenting process. I recently visited the Catholic Cathedral in Liverpool and I spent most of the time looking for the public art pieces. I was so excited to look at the John Piper glass that is throughout it, that when I got home I had taken over 100 pictures of it. It is things like this that make me like my camera again and although I won’t keep them all, sometimes it is just good to take yourself out for the day and find something you like, photograph it and find out about its history.
I think I have gained a lot from this part and it has been quite cathartic at times but it has also made me look and research further to find more about things that have sparked my interest. I found that just one photographers image on an internet search has led me to find so much more. I think this is what is so good about photography, there is always something to see, even if you think it has all been done or you have already seen it, you are only ever scratching the surface.
I am looking forward to Part 5 Textiles very much as it is something I am interested in for further courses and I am curious to find out more and how the initial processes make it all work together.
Derek Trillo, The Cheshire Plain from Beeston Castle, 2008.
The viewpoint of the Cheshire Plain shows you elements of the land that you wouldn’t normally see. The split in the field and the colours of the earth, the small hollows of trees together that you can see more clearly, the shape and the height is present from a higher view. At ground level you wouldn’t know how big things are, the square of trees wouldn’t be as pronounced, neither would the line in the ground showing the different colours of the earth. You would see it from a ground point but you wouldn’t see the scale of it or its differences.
City View – OCA Student – Peter Mansell
The city view gives the height of the tower blocks and the scale of the areas surrounding it. You can see a main road and a tiny bus on it so wherever this was taken is quite high up. It gives you a feeling of space and how much the city and its buildings are sprawled around. If the picture was taken from a ground level then I suppose you would be looking up at things. The streets would be in lines and the buildings would be closer together and a feeling of being closed in may happen. You would see and hear and feel things, more colour and a mixture of different shops, business and housing.
John Davies, Agecroft Power Station, Salford, 1983.
I love power stations and cooling towers. I think they are wonderful concrete marvels and as this picture was taken when I was one and it has since been demolished I feel an affinity with the towers as they aren’t that far from where I live and I will have to imagine them through pictures.
By taking the picture of the cooling towers from a distance you can see the surrounding land and the scale of how big the power station was. It looks gritty and industrial but with life carrying on all around it. The cars, the football match, what looks like the river beside it.
The outlying countryside that surrounds it looks peaceful and full of nature and life. Everything just carries on with the towers in view.
I looked further into the cooling towers and there is a bit about them here- http://openbuildings.com/buildings/agecroft-power-station-profile-29614
all websites accessed 22nd May 2017.
The motivation for me to take photographs these days is sadly lacking unless it is something I really want to see or remember or that catches my eye. For this exercise I have chosen a few images from holidays and places I have been that remind me of a certain time and place and how I felt when I was there.
I used to take a lot of photographs all the time, on film and then digital and with the advent of an iPhone I constantly for a long time took pictures everyday of everything I liked and saw. It was too easy. Then of course you get tired, you see the same things and you don’t necessarily want to be documenting everything all the time. I do get motivated more if I have been on a day trip somewhere and it is somewhere I haven’t been before. The days of taking 1000’s of photographs sadly got spoilt by being a wedding photographer for years so the overload was real. Having looked for images for this exercise I found some lovely ones that reminded me of why I was there, why I took them and I am glad that I have them.
This first image is from The Forbidden City in Beijing. It was the first time I had been to China and it was so alien and exciting. This picture was taken on the 2nd day I was there and it was all still sinking in, the enormity of the place, where I was and how grown up I suddenly felt. This was around closing time and suddenly it became really busy and I had to stop as I wanted to look at things rather than get carried by the crowds. It was October and very warm, the light was perfect and hazy and even though autumn was arriving it gave it a glow and a feeling of something special. I liked the many different tour groups as they were so busy and excited and they were probably seeing it for the first time like I was. It really was a lovely memorable day. I never thought much about this photograph at the time which is nearly ten years ago, but looking back over them I know I was enjoying taking pictures of things that were happening and what I was seeing without any real reason for it.
This is a picture taken inside a cake shop in Fontainebleau, France. It was a weekend trip I took with my mum to see Monet’s garden and Fontainebleau was one of the stops. Again it was early autumn and the light was beautiful all around the garden and it got better as the day went on. There was a big flea market in the square with everything I liked being sold and I had zero pennies and one suitcase. However I had enough pennies for two of these cakes and they were wonderful. It was a beautiful cake shop all gilt and mirrors and everybody was so swish, drinking coffee out of tiny cups. I look at this picture and I can smell the sugar and the coffee and hear the conversations happening. I don’t think it is a print worthy picture but one I have kept as part of the day and the trip as a whole.
I have a sweet tooth obviously and this was taken on the quiet at the Christmas markets in Berlin. I was walking past and it was raining and very cold. I saw the light on the chocolates and the colours and just took a quick ‘through my coat’ picture and I think it turned out well really. I was going to buy one but at the time I had braces so I couldn’t. I like the lighting on this image as it’s quite harsh and bright, the colours are contrasting against it and I like the customer pointing out which one they would like.
As I do not have a telephoto/zoom lens due to selling it, my old 50mm 1.8 would have to do. As you have to move with your feet with a 50mm it is sort of like a zoom but your walking to your subjects. That is what I tell myself anyway.
I have chosen two pictures I took in Portsmouth about a two months ago of the news building in Hillsea. I have mentioned it HERE as part of my blog visits.
In the photograph above, taken with my 50mm standing in front of the building you can see the words NEWS spelled out in the mosaic, the concrete and the windows of the old office blocks. The viewer gets a sense of what it is, its size and the area surrounding it.
In the photograph above I walked nearer to the mosaic. I have focused on the middle part of it and here you can see the gold and red tiles more clearly than you could before. You don’t necessarily know what it is but you can see lettering and as a viewer to it you can make this out I think. You can also see where bits of it have fallen off over time and where the concrete is more pronounced. I would think if you didn’t have an interest in mosaics or anything like this you would find it very boring but to me it is lovely. As a viewer who hasn’t seen the first image you might think that it is a lot bigger than it looks, there isn’t really any references to what it is or where it is and I like this about it.
“Landscape photography is the supreme test of the photographer;
and often the supreme disappointment.”
(Adams, 1970, p.43)
By looking at the photographs of Whitby by Ian Berry, you can see immediately the sense of place within the images.
How would the images differ without any people in the images? How would this affect your sense of Whitby as a place?
If there weren’t any people in the above image the scene would be just of a boat floating out to sea with a bit of beach attached. It may look like an abandoned beach with nobody on it. The people make it have a sense of place, the lady playing cricket, the people in the boat and the dad watching his daughter paddle. It looks like a holiday destination, people are living their lives and having fun.
In the image below there is a lot going on. There is a view of the hill looking down to the harbour, the houses rising up and off into the distance. Then there are a lot of people all sat on the hill, lying down, walking and just being around. They seem to match the picture from one side to the other. I think without anybody in the picture it would still be good and there would be a lot to see and look at but the people, their expressions and language make it more interesting. I have walked up here where these people are sat and I would recommend better shoes than I had on.
This is another-it would be OK without people in the picture. The main thing that you focus on is the couple who are paddling and talking. The next part is the pier at the right that is out of focus due to the couple being in focus. Without them it is fine as it would just be a picture of the beach and pier at Whitby. With them it creates a story and a narrative as to why they are there, what are they talking about? Do they even know each other?
http://www.richardlong.org/Sculptures/2011sculptures/wind.html– accessed 16th May 2017.
“The only true voyage of discovery… …would be not to visit strange
lands, but to possess other eyes, to behold the universe through the
eyes of another.”
Creative Arts today p162.
I suppose if you look through past images either in an album or things you have made yourself, you are documenting journeys, whether they be of a theme of otherwise.
The bodies of work I have looked at and research about time and space are Paul Graham’s A1 project, Stephen Shore’s American Surfaces, Alec Soth’s Sleeping by the Mississippi and Robert Frank’s The Americans.
Paul Graham-A1 project.
I was fascinated by these photographs and I had never seen them before or heard of the photographer which is becoming a regular thing that I am not proud of.
Paul Graham (born 1956) is an English fine-art and documentary photographer whose work has been exhibited, published and collected internationally.
In 1981, Paul Graham began travelling up the Al North, photographing the areas and people along the way. I really love things like this and the colours are beautiful, they are stills of a time that could well still be there if you travelled back up the road and to where they are. His collection went on to be published in 1983 as the, ‘A1: The Great North Road’.
To me this is perfect, not much is going on but there is so much, the colour, the sauce bottles, patterns, queues. How many people have sat at these tables? Whats gone on in there? Is it still there?
This is a view that you can still see as being quite present, going up the M62 to Hull you are met with three power stations and then onto the M1, A1. It is a funny world up there but it is beautiful and as if time has stood still in some places. As I have no knowledge of his work I started to research him and found this article on The FT– accessed 10th May 2017.
‘Paul Graham changed my attitude to colour. An excerpt from a gallery text on his website says that he “belongs to a rare group of photographers that were the final generation to enter photography before it became part of the broader contemporary art world”. That’s true, and it has nothing much to do with exact dates. Along with Philip-Lorca diCorcia and even Nan Goldin, Graham remains a photographer, not an “artist-working-with-photography”. Graham won the Hasselblad Award last year, the first Briton to do so. He’s an international player. Yet, in our very British way, in the UK he’s hardly known outside photographic circles.’
By Francis Hodgson
These first lines made me like him even more and I understood about him not being known but that he had made such a big body of work that is important and shows a lost time. Road side cafes, petrol stations that aren’t corporate, lorry parks and the people who all work, live and have an affinity to the road.
Graham’s website is here with all the details about his work on http://www.paulgrahamarchive.com/a1.html– accessed 10th May 2017
More searching brought up a video on Vimeo. It is a video showing the pages of the A1 book being turned and it has made me determined to find a copy.
More work by Graham that I will research is called ‘Beyond Caring’
Stephen Shore- American Surfaces
Again a photographer and body of work I have never seen or heard of. On first sight of the book cover alone I wanted to know more. From the Phaidon site about the photographer;
‘In 1972, Stephen Shore left New York City and set out with a friend to Amarillo, Texas. He didn’t drive, so his first view of America was framed by the passenger’s window frame. He was taken aback by the fact that his experience of life as a New Yorker had very little in common with the character and aspirations of Middle America. Later that year he set out again, this time on his own, with just a driver’s licence and a Rollei 35 – a point-and-shoot camera – to explore the country through the eyes of an everyday tourist.’
I think the images are so rich in nostalgia and they show a complete lost time, he says,
‘’In American Surfaces, I was photographing almost every meal I ate, every person I met, every waiter or waitress who served me, every bed I slept in, every toilet I used. But also, I was photographing streets I was driving through, buildings I would see. I would just pull over and say, ‘Okay, this is a picture I want.”
http://www.americansuburbx.com/2010/12/stephen-shore-uncommon-places-2004.html-accessed 11th May 2017
New York City, New York, March – April 1973- Stephen Shore– accessed 10th May 2017.
Shores other work Uncommon Places is similar to American Surfaces but from researching it I found this text – http://www.americansuburbx.com/2010/12/stephen-shore-uncommon-places-2004.html– accessed 10th May 2017
‘From 1973 to 1981, Shore frequently returned to the roads of North America, initially with a 4’x5′ press camera, and eventually with an 8’x10′ view camera. At first, his intention was to simply recapture ‘American Surfaces’-again, in full colour-but this time, using better equipment. Yet almost immediately, Shore discovered that this new equipment forced him to photograph in an altogether different way. Because of the bulk of the large-format camera, the time that it took to set up, the expense of the sheet film, and the fact that it required a tripod, Shore found that he could not shoot as casually as he had in ‘American Surfaces’.
I guess you can do the same thing but better and start to see things you hadn’t seen the first time, If it’s not broken then don’t fix it.
Alec Soth’s-Sleeping by the Mississippi.
I know of Alec Soth’s work from Little Brown Mushroom years back.
‘Alec Soth (born 1969, Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States) is an American photographer, based in Minneapolis, who makes “large-scale American projects” featuring the Midwestern United States. His photography has a cinematic feel with elements of folklore that hint at a story behind the image.’
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alec_Soth– accessed 11th May 2017
I like his work as it is ghostly and gives an air of ‘what will these people do next’ and a feeling of not quite getting to know the subjects but knowing everything at the same time. It is as if you can place yourself there in the photograph.
Cemetery, Fountain City, Wisconsin 2002
The images are part of a series of road trips that took place along the Mississippi river. From the Magnum photographers site is a section about Soths work https://www.magnumphotos.com/arts-culture/alec-soth-sleeping-by-the-mississippi/-accessed 13th May 2017.
One feeling that I have about the images is that they look quite sad, the people involved in them are all doing something different but also very ordinary. The scenes are of towns and places that people frequent and carry on with their lives along the river. One picture I really liked was of a man called Lenny, he is sat in his kitchen with his dog. Nothing much is going on but his face and his expression make me want to talk to him, ask him about his life, what is he up to? I think the compassionate element in his photographs are apparent and they make you want to know more. The sense of time and place is with Lenny, this is where he lives, these are his things, his dog and This is Lenny.
If you scroll through the pictures using this link you can see him https://www.magnumphotos.com/arts-culture/alec-soth-sleeping-by-the-mississippi/– accessed 13th May 2017.
Robert Frank- The Americans
‘Robert Frank (born November 9, 1924) is an American photographer and documentary filmmaker. His most notable work, the 1958 book titled The Americans, earned Frank comparisons to a modern-day de Tocqueville for his fresh and nuanced outsider’s view of American society. Critic Sean O’Hagan, writing in The Guardian in 2014, said The Americans “changed the nature of photography, what it could say and how it could say it. [ . . . ] it remains perhaps the most influential photography book of the 20th century.” Frank later expanded into film and video and experimented with manipulating photographs and photo-montage.’
I wasn’t able to get a copy of The Americans to look at fully so I researched mainly from Google. I have always found his work very truthful and very gritty, showing things as they are and how he saw them.
A lot of his pictures are underexposed and that dreadful way of describing something ‘shot from the hip’ comes into it with some of his images being high up, half a person, only a bit of a scene. Frank was Swiss by birth so maybe he shared no affinity to the people or general project, like sometimes when your on holiday you take pictures of everything to remember and see things, but miss out the changes and differences in your home town and where you live completely.
There’s more about his work here http://www.atgetphotography.com/The-Photographers/Robert-Frank.html– accessed 13th May 2017
and here http://www.npr.org/2009/02/13/100688154/americans-the-book-that-changed-photography– accessed 13th May 2017.