Where does that leave the photographer? As storyteller or history writer? Do you tend towards fact or fiction? How could you blend your approach? Where is your departure from wanting/needing to depict reality. Make some notes on these questions in your learning log. A photographer can be both a storyteller and a history writer and sometimes both (at the same time), depending on the context and intent of their work. Storyteller: Photography has a unique ability to tell stories through visual imagery. It can capture moments, emotions, and narratives in a single shot, effectively conveying a story or message without the need for words. Photojournalism, documentary photography, street photography, or fine art photography, photographers use their images to narrate stories and often evoke emotions, amplifying the power of images. History Writer: Photography plays a crucial role in documenting and as a witness to historical events, cultural shifts, and societal changes. Historical photographs offer a visual representation of moments, people, and places from the past, providing valuable insights into the history of a region, a community, or the world. In some cases, a photographer may deliberately set out to document historical events or capture images that become significant historical records. […]
Your journey may not involve travelling the world or an excursion across Russia, but you might see your journey to the post office every Monday as particularly relevant – or the journey from your bed to the kitchen in the morning. Note the journeys you go on regularly and reflect upon them. Now photograph them. Remember to aim for consistency in your pictures. If you choose to photograph all the charity shops you’ve visited in a week, try to photograph them all using the same camera, lens, standing position, lighting, etc. This will help keep your project honed to the subject matter rather than you, the photographer.
I’ve used this image to practice reading and deconstructing an image. I was at a wedding during the summer and although I was taking a lot of photographs, this one appeared in front of me as I took a break. I was looking at the group for a couple of minutes when I realised it was an almost perfect unintentional tableau-I couldn’t have arranged it better if I was trying. Somehow its almost like a movie still. Taking what I learned from the course I played with its potential meanings and specifically the interplay between caption, image and viewer. If I caption it ‘Wedding group in garden’, it pretty much describes what it is and anchors its meaning. If, however I give it an ambiguous caption, say ‘Argument’, then it adds a degree of uncertainty and forces the viewer to search for the source of the argument-is it the chap second from the right standing? Is the chap sitting in the middle uncomfortable with whats being said? The lady standing second from left doesn’t seem too pleased. Or are they discussing something and don’t want any one top hear and the chap standing on the right has spotted the photographer? […]
Read and reflect upon the chapter on Diane Arbus in Singular Images: Essays on Remarkable Photographs by Sophie Howarth (2005). This is out of print but you may be able to find it in your local university library: some of the chapters are available as pdfs online. You’ll find the Arbus chapter on the student website. If you haven’t yet read any of Judith Williamson’s (2014) ‘Advertising’ articles (see Introduction to Context and Narrative), now would be a good time to do so. The first sentence of the article- ‘The fictions we make about photographs are as unreliable as they are unavoidable’ is key to understanding many of the points that follow and helps set the scene, although when I read some of the descriptions of the couple in the image I would argue that the fictions Jobey creates could well be avoided. The article starts off by making sweeping generalisations about the couple, subjective and almost gossip in tone. It is all ‘connotation’ and reveals as much about the viewer, Liz Jobey, her background, culture and even sociological positioning-middle class, educated and prejudiced- than the family in the photograph of whom we get some facts; married at sixteen, two […]
Before you read any further, can you think of any photographs that are not used as a means of expression or communication? Blog about them. Been thinking about this for a few days now and can’t think of any. At first, I thought about passport or ID photos but they are used to communicate identification and even surveillance footage from which stills can be extracted, serve to observe and be referenced if we need to track someone or some instant / event that happened. Much of this type of image capture (surveillance, officialdom) is not a means of expression but it does have a communication aspect.
Examples of relay in contemporary photographic practice include Sophie Calle’s Take Care of Yourself and Sophy Rickett’s Objects in the Field (see interview in the Appendix to this course guide) where clashes of understanding or interpretation work together to create a perhaps incomplete but nonetheless enriching dialogue between artist and viewer. Look these pieces up online. Investigate the rationale behind the pieces and see if you can find any critical responses to them. Write down your own responses in your learning log. How do these two pieces of work reflect postmodern approaches to narrative? Some definitions: Anchorage: words that help limit the meaning of an image or ‘anchor’ its meaning. Relay: alters or advances the. meaning. – Text that advances the image by supplying meanings not found in the image itself. example: film dialogue, ‘zine captions, visual pun. Image and text brings their own new bit of information to the overall message. Postmodernism: Postmodernism is a broad term used to describe movements in a wide range of disciplines, including art, philosophy, critical theory, and music. Many view it as a response to the preceding modernist movement, but where modernism simply reacts against classical concepts, particularly in the arts and […]
For assignment 2 I decided to do ‘Heads’ and conducted research into portraiture to get an understanding of the history and practice. I discovered that there is almost constant reworking of concepts behind (traditional) portraiture, challenging, and inspiring in equal measure. I found an interesting article in the New York Times There’s Less to Portraits Than Meets the Eye, and More (https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/23/magazine/theres-less-to-portraits-than-meets-the-eye-and-more.html) and it makes some very interesting points about the interpretation of portraits and the often held beliefs of people viewing them, their preconceptions and the and ambition of photographers “We tend to interpret portraits as though we were reading something inherent in the person portrayed. We talk about strength and uncertainty; we praise people for their strong jaws and pity them their weak chins. High foreheads are deemed intelligent. We easily link the people’s facial features to the content of their character. This is odd. After all, we no longer believe you can determine someone’s personality by measuring their skull with a pair of calipers. Phrenology has rightly been consigned to the dustbin of history. But physiognomy, the idea that faces carry meanings, still haunts the interpretation of portraiture…The reason for the temptation is obvious: Faces are malleable. […]
Gestalt theory in photography The human brain works in exciting ways to understand reality and perceive the world around it. Armed with a good understanding of Gestalt theories, you can improve your compositional ideas and create more powerful images that effectively intrigue your audiences and draw them into your world. Key concepts Gestalt: the idea that the whole is different than the sum of its parts. Figure-Ground: we will always tend to differentiate a form from it’s surroundings. The shape or form that serves as the focus of an image is the figure, and the surroundings or negative space is known as the ground Continuation: The law of continuity posits that the human eye will follow the smoothest path when viewing lines, regardless of how the lines were actually drawn. Proximity: Elements that are placed close to each other will often be perceived as one group. The close proximity unifies them together and will help to form a figure within an image. Similarity & Proximity Two important gestalt principles are similarity and proximity. Visual elements that are near each other will be seen as belonging and grouped; those that are similar will also be seen as belonging together. The […]