CONTEXTUAL RESEARCH WEEK 4
In June 2019 I started my MA with Falmouth university as part of an accredited education programme.
26th October 2019
This week I spent lots of time going over both the books that I read in the break after the last module, and some new books as well, making notes, and looking for inspiration for some of the photoshoots I have coming up soon. As well as researching what work other photographers have produced that are creating projects in the same kinds of areas of interest that I am.
Clare Richardsons’ Harlemville was produced after she spent time with a Rudolph Steiner community in the states between 2000 & 2003. The images depict the daily lives of the children living within the community. When I first looked at this book in module one I was just looking at whether I liked the images or not. On reflection again this module, after coming back to it, I have instead been looking at the editing choices Richardson made, in the images she chose to depict the community she was photographing. Something I have been struggling with is how I am going to end up with an enormous amount of images from this project, and how I will be able to select a cohesive set of images, that do the families that I am photographing justice. I think the enormity of the project I have chosen hit me, and so this has helped with trying to process that, and being able to see how other photographers navigated these issues.
Richardsons book is bound with a natural linen cover, that flows beautifully into the initial set of images, that are all muted tones and earthy colours, making you instantly think of the nature that the community is absorbed in, and living within. Setting the tone for the book, and the story.
The first images show groups of boys exploring and playing in the woods reminiscient of a scene from the lord of the flies . They are all images taken from a distance, above, or from behind, showing Richardson’s almost invisible barrier into these children’s lives and experiences.
As the book progresses we see more images with direct eye contact, and more intimate moments, like one of the boys covered in mud from playing in the river, that make you understand subconciouslyl that the children would of had to of been really comfortable with Richardson for her to of captured these images, that she was allowed into their lives.
Something else I was also looking at was the choice of Richardsons use of colour in her images. As I have commented on before, last module I had many conversations and back and forth with tutors about my choice of using black and white over colour for my images, it was thought that this choice was over aestheticising, and too nostalgic. I found this really hard, as well , we see what we see, and I see in black and white most of the time. I shoot a lot in black and white in my commissioned work, as I love how it makes the emotions the focus of the image, and not the clothes, the landscape, the chaos.
However, to try and grow, and learn, (it is why I am here after all!) I’ve been experimenting a lot more with using colour this module, and 90% of my images I have shot I have shot with the idea of them being in colour, and keeping them in colour for the final edit .
There is no denying, that this transition was made SO much easier by the beautiful low light we have here in the Autumn. In a way it almost creates a variant of black and white , the colours look muted, and I can keep the emotion, the education, the connection the focus of the image. In a way I have cheated a little in this respect, but it has helped me be able to make that transition much more easily. Interestingly, I actually see this way of shooting, a lot more “over aestheticising’ than the use of black and white, something I hadn’t considered before I started shooting in colour.
I am, however, really enjoying shooting in colour, and the freedom and rawness that comes from it, I also have to try a lot harder for my images from different photoshoots to sit well with each other, and flow together this way, so I am thinking a lot more I am finding .
Like Richardsons images, I am finding (maybe somewhat due to the autumnal colours & I have been spending time in the woods a lot recently) that I am gravitating more to earthy tones and colour pallets naturally, and I am conscious that this in itself is an aesthicising choice as well , but I am ok with that, because to me this life we have chosen and created for ourselves, and what I am trying to depict IS beautiful, it is aesthetic, and I don’t think there is anything wrong with showing that.
I want my images to be real, and truthful, and show the realities of this life, but I want to do it is in a beautiful way, because I find this path beautiful, and that is a choice I am comfortable with having made as an artist.
I picked up this magazine style photobook on the way back from Les rencontres d’Arles around, the corner from a publishing house I visited in Paris. The book is published by the independent publisher Ofr. and tells the photographic stories of families , motherhood and nature , through Helsinki, Paris and Cape Town.
Interestingly, the book combines colour and black and white images, and in this instance I am much more drawn to the colour images as they feel much more real, like snapshots of the families within the stories, rather than stylised images, something that I plan on keeping in mind as I go forward, as although I was drawn to black and white initially, as mentioned above, now we are in the light of autumn, I have a much stronger preference for the colour images, but I need to bare in mind how they will eventually all flow together in the FMP.