National Portrait Gallery – William Eggleston: Portraits

William Eggleston, as ever the images are poetic and elusive, the printing and framing of the highest quality. This exhibition was quite possibly one of the most beautiful I have seen, the colors, quality and his beautiful understanding of light creates powerful and poetic images. The main stand out photography for me was this:

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I LOVE how everything is dead around her, which highlights the floral on her sofa and dress even more. I love that this image looks set up, the sofa cushions can’t possibly live there, else they would be filthy and rotting.  Not to mention his use of color in this image, his color used in his images always match up to the character in the portrait. This image was displayed very large which made it even more eye catching but also gave the chance to get up and close to the detail and quality to the image, which was a continual theme within all of Egglestons Portraits.

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National Portrait Gallery – William Eggleston: Portraits

Technical Feedback

So, this is the image for my FMP first exhibition that I decided to display. I found it so difficult to choose just one image as I have taken many pictures so far and haven’t yet had any feedback or reviews, so I still don’t really know what direction my project is going in.  However I decided on this image of Chan spinning at Bakewell show back in August. I had a few similar shots like this but chose this has I wanted to show her surrounding, but also as I knew it was being printed at A2 size I wanted to pick the more crisp image.

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The session after the exhibition we all went round and got some technical feedback on our image. After seeing my image up on the wall I already decided that I should have used a wider lense. To not have the crop so sharp near the spinning wheel but also to show more of the surrounding. Liam recommended I used a 50 mm prime lense which I will be exploring. However due to this being over summer I only had access to my Kit so I shot this on a 24-70 mm which  was not wide enough.

However I was very pleased with the image quality after Id printed it A2.

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Liam also questioned lighting techniques, and asked if i had considered using lighting, however I made the point to him that I didn’t want the images looking at all staged or ‘pre planned’ I want to keep them as straight and natural as I possibly can.  To which he agreed with.

He then showed me a photographer that used light beautifully, w eugene smith nurse midwife..

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I love the way he captures light. Despite its power, it is not the largest on the spread—all shots are subordinate to the needs of the narrative, and the relationship between the carefully planned images was crucial. Smith, who often clashed with editors by insisting on full visual control, would make layouts every night, slowly building the story. Because the cabin was small and dark, he paid a visit before the birth, and put white cards on the wall to act as light reflectors. Later, in the darkroom, he manipulated the image’s tonal balance to create the frame of darkness that encloses Callen and the other midwife. The miner’s lantern in the corner, perfectly placed between their heads, irradiates the scene with a supernal light.

Technical Feedback

Sally Mann -“Immediate Family”

I really like the images. These are taken on a large format camera which is hard to transport, hard to focus and with glass negatives even harder to print. However, that shows the commitment Sally Mann has to her project.

The images are in some cases just pure beauty and in others stomach churning. However, the images all have impact and its like a pictorial history of Arthur Ransome’s Swallows and Amazons. Different continent, same events.

Yes there is nudity of children burt as the Afterwood suggests this was a time when such was acceptable and the children were willing models. These are family photos following the life of the Manns and a real disruptive record it is.

Certainly will take pride of place in my collection of photography books.

 

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The image, Virginia at 6,  is simple and beautiful. Her arms stretch upwards, her body arched. She stands on a shore next to a river. Her wet hair sticks to her side mirroring the ripples of the water. Her head is turned towards the camera and she casually gazes into the lens. Her pose is mystical, almost mermaid like. She stands in harmony with her surroundings. In this pose Mann has captured a  moment of her daughter’s life before it is gone forever. The look in Virginia’s eyes draws in the viewer. She gazes directly at the camera and, through the lens, directly into the eyes of the viewer. Mann uses contrast to draw the viewers into the picture. Virginia’s figure is shrouded in light which highlights the curvature of her body.

Whilst some viewers might argue that the image is scattered with sexual connotations, nudity was clearly an accepted and natural part of Mann’s domestic environment. Although it is not intended to be a sexual image, the fact that the child is naked makes some viewers uncomfortable and challenges their thoughts on what is acceptable. Few artists who challenge the conventional ideals of childhood are as deliberately provocative as Mann. One perspective is that Mann’s photographs are a simple record of moments in her childrens’ lives. Children playing, eating, wounded and sleeping. They are recognisable and intimate moments that almost all mothers experience. Mann claims that ‘many of these pictures are intimate, some fictions and some fantastic, but most are ordinary things that every mother has seen’.

However, another perspective is that the taking of such intimate photographs is complicated and ambiguous as evidenced by the withdrawal of certain photographs from public display due to their perceived pornographic element. Susan Sontag states in On Photography ‘to photograph people is to violate them, by seeing them as they never see themselves, by having knowledge of them that they can never have; it turns people into objects that can be symbolically possessed. Just as a camera is a sublimation of the gun, to photograph someone is a subliminal murder – a soft murder, appropriate to a sad, frightened time’. This indicates that Sontag believes that photographs can be intrusive and that once an image is captured on film it exists in its own right. To take a photograph, Sontag writes, ‘is to appropriate the thing photographed’.The appropriation, the stealing without touching, the having a semblance of knowledge, Sontag likens to perversion. It can be seen from this that Sontag believes that everything can be photographed and that, as long as the end result is interesting, nothing else really matters. Sally Mann falls victim to this concept, seeing her children as artistic objects, encouraging them to pose in such a way as to enhance the composition and make an interesting photograph. This preference for creating aesthetically pleasing, posed, images rather than capturing the natural reality of childhood is one of the main criticisms of her work. The image of Shiva at Whistle Creek is a more natural depiction of Jessie playing in the water compared to the very posed image of Virginia at 6, holding her body in a pose for the sole purpose of creating an interesting picture. According to Sontag therefore Mann has taken possession of her childrens’ bodies to make them her own through the art of photography. The children have become objects of art possessed by Sally Mann, which many would argue is distasteful.

Perhaps Mann’s instinct to take portraits of her children is based on an effort to preserve a physical moment which after the shutter clicks has already started to fade away and change. In metaphorical terms Susan Sontag articulated that ‘to photograph is to participate in another person’s mortality, vulnerability, mutability, precisely by slicing out this moment and freezing it, all photographs testify to time’s relentless melt’. For some, photographs create memories, for others it is simply art.

Sally Mann is clearly a very influential, controversial and accomplished photographer.  She has the ability to take sensitive but provocative images. Some of her photographs in ‘Immediate Family’ portray loving images of her children. However there is  also a disturbing element to some of her other photographs, for example Popsicle Drops or Dog Scratches, which can be viewed as sexualised images. To counter this it is necessary to appreciate the context in which the photographs were taken, a mother photographing her children.  However it can be argued that Mann should be more sensitive in choosing the material which she makes available in the public domain.  The artistic techniques employed by Sally Mann are exceptionally effective. She succeeds in drawing the viewer to the focal part of the image through the use of composition, light and contrast. Whilst her subject matter can be controversial she produces stunning images.

“Few photographers of any time or place have matched Sally Mann’s steadiness of simple eyesight, her serene technical brilliance, and the clearly communicated eloquence she derives from her subjects, human and otherwise – subjects observed with an ardor that is all but indistinguishable from love.”

— Reynolds Price, TIME

Sally Mann -“Immediate Family”

The Photographers Gallery – “Joanne” Simon Fujiwara

During a trip to London photographic gallery “the photographers gallery” it focused on Feminist Avant-Garde of the 1970s displaying over 200 major works.

There were different works that caught my attention many works were showing of anger providing a reminder of the wider impact of a generation of artists. 

Simon Fujiwara’s new film Joanne is a portrait of his former art teachers. Joanne had a formative influence on Fujiwara, identifying and nurturing his talents at a crucial point of his development whilst scholarship student at the prestigious harrow school for boys. 

The result of the re-encounter between tge two fifteen years later, and the product of a creative collaboration between them, the work reflects their shard interest in the power of the image and explores the complexities involved in her representation of women.

Some years after his departure, Joanne found herself at the centre of a damaging tabloid scandal after students discovered and circulated topless photographs of her that had been taken privately.

The media campaign that followed played on stereotypes of women to support the sensational headlines, tarnishing her reputation as a teacher and public persona. Five years on, Fujiwara and Joanne embarked on the production of a short film that explores issues Salley faced in the wake of the scandal and aims to present a more complex picture of her.

Where is Fujiwara going with all this? Joanne is a persona under construction, no less a fiction than the titillating topless art teacher described in the media at the time of her resignation. She is a genuine fake, a walking projection.

These visions of Joanne all conspire to present an unassailable mock-up of a person’ … 

The Photographers Gallery – “Joanne” Simon Fujiwara

Wet Plate Collodion

This week was the first week I presented my FMP idea to the group and received some quick feedback from the group. One of the thing mentioned that I picked up on the most was someone said that Chan and Alan are ‘Still stuck in the past’ where in many ways yes, this is true, I also feel that they are not stuck in the past, there lifestyle isn’t in the past but when they do there hobbies and shows I can see why people would think that, which got me thinking about why the put a different act on when at shows? Does it add to the affect and make everything fit together, or do they want people to think they’re are old fashioned?

Personally, I feel it just so happens that they both found something they love and enjoy that they both haven’t given up on yet. So over time both hobbies have become a thing of the past. This is definitely something I want to show my photographs, I want to show both sides to them. I can see why people asked this as I only showed images of them performing, so it will be interesting the image of both of them they build up when seeing them in the everyday.

Something else that was mentioned was that I should try ‘Wet Plate Collodion’ in my project. I didn’t know what this was, so I went home and researched it.

“A portable photography studio in 19th century Ireland. The wet collodion process sometimes gave rise to portable darkrooms, as photographic images needed to be developed while the plate was still wet. The collodion process produced a negative image on a transparent support (glass). 

My first thoughts were ‘how the hell do I do this?’ so I researched studios that still did images like this and watched some tutorials on you-tube about the process. I found a photographer who specializes in this type of photography, and I found his blogs very interesting, I didn’t even know people did this type of thing still!!

Jack Lowe is currently undertaking one of the largest photographic projects ever undertaken, The Lifeboat Station Project. Jack is using his love of photography, the sea and the RNLI to produced an unprecedented body of work.

Using an early Victorian process — Wet Plate Collodion — He’s crafting unique photographs on glass at all 237 RNLI Lifeboat Stations in the British Isle.

This is a very interesting and inspiring project that is still ongoing. I’d love to take a portrait of Chan and Alan with this technique and it is something I am definitely going to research and look into further. I will also be keep updated with Jacks project as I now follow his project on Instagram. Ill maybe even ask Chan and Alan if they’ve ever heard of it before!

Wet Plate Collodion

Exhbition no.1!

Today was exhbition day no.1. The event was a great atmosphere and turn out. It was nice to chat to other people on our course but also the lectuers that we don’t see that often. 

We were only aloud to choose one image for the exhbition which was really tough so early on in the project as Im not really sure on the concept I want me images to take. So I went the one that showed what Chan does. Its not the most excitibg of photographs but felt it was relevant for the show to give an idea of where I can go.

Exhbition no.1!

Linkedin Portraits

So I have needed some professional protraits doing of myself for my online prescence such as linkedin, blog and my website. I also wanted to get back into the uni studios seen as it had been a year since going in. So me and two of my friends decided to have a little afternoon creating headshots for eachother.

I never realised how odd it would feel not using the studios after a year everything seemed to be different to what it was like at placement but we soon got back into it! I feel like this was a good exercise to get familiar with the studio and also to help create a professional online precense.

Linkedin Portraits