Research point – Self reflection

22nd April 2020

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.

OCA Foundations in Photography course folder pg 141

Areas for development

I thoroughly agree with my tutor that my technical skills need to be developed further. These areas are connected with the camera and with the external hardware that I am beginning to use. Hardware such as lenses, flash, and my Wacom Intuos Pro which I have bought to work on my images within software applications such as Lightroom, Photoshop and other photography and design apps that I use.

In camera: This includes camera skills such as being confident to set the F-stops and shutter speeds both individually and within the exposure triangle to gain specific image outcomes. I also need to check my images as I work, and if I know how to manipulate the exposure triangle confidently it would speed up my working practice.

I also need to work my way through the camera’s menu to get to know all the settings that are capable of being altered within the sub menus and to learn what they are capable of doing. There is so much I do not know about my camera and I only seem to learn as things crop up in my research.

External camera hardware: I still need to practice with on camera flash and off camera flash techniques. I also need to read up on studio flash techniques and setting up of lights within a studio setting.

The newest member to my hardware is the Wacom Intuos Pro which I have purchased to help me work on my iMac. After using an Apple Pencil on my iPad for a considerable amount of time, I am finding using a mouse in photoshop on my iMac very awkward and harder to gain very tight work.

Applications: This is a big area for me to get to grips with. I have yet to work within Lightroom and my workflow is very poor. I have decided to learn Lightroom once I have completed this course. I am unable to implement using Lightroom as yet due to time and memory problems. Having dissociative amnesia and depression I easily forget things that I learn and I can only learn a very small amount of new things at a time. I am at present getting to grips with my cameras and the manual settings and Photoshop and I am attending two sets of counselling which leaves me exhausted for a couple of days therefore when coupled with the amount of research that I am doing means that I am operating on full capacity.

Taking the above into consideration and with the fact that at the moment my spare time is being taken up with finding all of my photographs over the last four years and placing them into external hard drives, I am just overwhelmed with the amount of information that I am trying to process. The problem with my photographs and storage has arisen because so much of my work has been split into different clouds depending on what applications I was working in and which storage I had free at specific times over the last five years. This included the iCloud, BT cloud, KnowHow Cloud, Google photos in three different accounts. Then there are the three laptop hard drives, iMac, iPad and iPhone… Phew what a ridiculous mess which is going very slowly and is an awful stress.

Therefore Lightroom and my workflow practice will get my full attention for a month once this course is completed and before I begin studies on my degree.

Photographic preferences

One of the areas we are asked to think about is what sort of photographs we want to take and to jot down key words. My list is below:

  • Factual
  • Conceptual
  • Portraits – True life portraits/ conceptual
  • Street photography but not the usual shots – focusing in on the forgotten, the abandoned parts of life and things we take for granted and walk past EG door knobs and handles, text in the street and using different perspectives. My favourite perspectives are laying at floor level where I may be on my back looking upwards or on my front looking forwards. Another perspective that I like to work from is a toddlers eye-view of the world in which we live.
  • Designing books with my writings, my poetry with photographs all displayed dynamically so the book becomes a piece of art: sculptural or two dimensional books.
  • Cross-app photography – manipulation and adjustment of images but my own styles and techniques with or without text.
  • Using different types of cameras including home made pin-hole cameras and experimenting with processing and printing techniques.

Photographers and their styles that inspire me

We are asked to identify some photographers who have exactly the key elements that we want to attain or just things that interest us. We are given two books as examples to look through, (1) Hacking, J. (2012) Photography: The Whole Story or Cotton, C (2014) The Photograph as Contemporary Art (3rd edition) both London: Thames & Hudson. I have both of these books, however I collect books on both art and artists and photography and photographers. Here are some photographs of my photography books that I own:

Naming specific photographers is a difficult thing to do, for instance there might be that one photograph that a photographer has taken that has inspired me but the rest of their work I may not be at all keen on. Also some photographers may have more than one style of work like myself and I might like one style of their work but not the remaining.

Below are photographers and their work that inspire me and entice me into wanting to further my knowledge and skills in photography and creative photography.

Conceptual photography

  • Jo Spence – Recording truth – ‘The one bright spot in this depression was the arrival of the pictures I had taken of my hospital experience… I was absolutely staggered at what I’d photographed. I couldn’t believe that I had seen so much and already forgotten it. I had already disavowed what had happened to me. But here were the photographs that my guardian self had taken—so much detail. This points up one of the advantages of photographing one’s traumas—before they become sealed over.’
  • Nan Goldin – Recording truth – ‘I think the wrong things are kept private.’
  • Helena Almeida – Combining multi-disciplines: drawing, painting and photography – ‘My work is my body, my body is my work.’
  • Shirin Neshat – Explore the relationship between women and the religious and cultural value systems and the use of text within photography – ‘Art is no crime. It’s every artist’s responsibility to make art that is meaningful.’

Fine art photography

  • Duane Michals – Use of text
  • Bieke Depoorter – Use of text which includes the subjects thoughts and opinions. This enables each image to become personal and similar to a diary so that the subject ‘relates’ to the photograph in a way that the photographer and viewer cannot.
  • Martin Parr – Style of street photography but particularly seaside views

Polaroid photography

  • Andy Warhol – Polaroid portraits
  • Attila Lukacs – Polaroid portraits
  • Dawoud Bey – Polaroid portraits
  • Lucas Samaras – Polaroid manipulation
  • David Hockney – Polaroid grids
  • Maurice Galimberti – Polaroid mosaics

My list could go on and on. There are so many photographers that I have knowledge of and those I have researched for this blog have also given me little sparks of inspiration and the question ‘What if…’ when relating their work methods, techniques and themes to possible new outcomes in my own practice. So choosing one key photograph to use for my next exercise is a decision I literally can not make lightly. In fact it is damn right confusing for me!

However, exploring conceptual photography further and the theme of self-portraiture I will probably use one of Jo Spences nude self-portraits to comment on the topic of being fat as women. I have body issues amongst my complexed mental health problems which were made worse by a 9 stone increase in weight in my first pregnancy which l eft me with an awful overhang, horrific stretch marks and since loosing 5 stone I have also some horrendous sagging, cellulite skin. Under my clothes I have hidden my deformities, that make me a ‘monster.’

Jo Spence Narratives of Dis-ease: Exiled, 1990
image from Richard Saltoun richardsaltoun.com

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