Course exercise

This is great for me, Elliott Erwitt is one of my all time favourite photographers. I have his book personal best by teNeues in hard back. The image in question has a double spread in the book so is larger than in the course booklet and its’ quality is superior in respect of print and clarity. The course notes say the small dog is the main subject of focus, but I have to disagree. I feel the 2 dogs and the walker are the main subjects. is it their legs, is it their coats. The sharpest object in the frame is the walker’s coat.

The image is clearly meant to create some humour and a little confusion at first glance. It is one image that makes you want to look again. The smaller of the two dogs certainly draws your eye and makes you study the image (studium according to Barthes). But what is the punctum. What pricks the conscious into making this an image I can relate to other than one I just like. The punctum in this image is the dog’s left eye.

Why is it veering off course. What is it looking at? Does he/she feel daft dressed up that way. Is the bigger dog wearing a hat? if not why not? Is the walker wearing a hat? What is the dog’s name? The questions go on…..

The three subjects have clearly been shot from low down, and are well positioned centrally in the frame and a shallow depth of focus has helped to create the feeling of being there. The subjects are well-lit, but dark against a blown out background. The small dog’s lead adds to the almost symmetrical feel to the image, but it is the lack of complete symmetry that adds to the appeal of the image fo me. This just adds a bit of further interest.

I have looked at Erwitt’s other photographs with dogs in them, to see if there is a reoccurring theme, regarding how they are framed, but I cannot spot one. What is apparent is his timing, his love of humour, people and dogs. His timing is reminiscent of the Cartier-Bresson “decisive moment” influence .

I do not quite agree with the thirds argument posed in the course material, for me the image is more symmetrical. But what is perfectly clear, as with any photo, is that the information is all there from the outset, but the information may lead to many, many more questions, some of which will be objective ones and some will be subjective.

I love this image and I now have an understanding, maybe subconsciously, why I like Erwitt so much. I believe he also has an interest in the Holocaust. There are two images in his book, one taken in the gas chambers at Auschwitz I ( I have a similar image) and another taken at the front gates of Auschwitz – Birkenau II. I am also a keen dog lover and therefore he is an obvious choice for me. It is also due to the quality of his work and the sense of timing and being there his image install in me.

On to project 2

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The language of photography

Schindler's list
Schindler’s List. One of my own images from my Holocaust project. This was taken in Oscar Schindler’s factory.

 

Definition of expression ; –

“The conveying of feeling in a work of art” 

taken from ; – Oxford Dictionary (2018) Definition of expression in English:, Available at:  https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/expression (Accessed: 20/01/2018).

 

Definition of communication ; –

“The imparting or exchanging of information by speaking, writing, or using some other medium.”

taken from ; -Oxford Dictionary (2018) Definition of communication in English:, Available at:  https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/communication (Accessed: 20/01/2018).

The word communicate originates from French, Old English and Latin (communicate) and means to share.

Is it possible for a photograph not to communicate or to acts a means of expression?

For me to answer this question I wanted to know what the definition if information is and this is what I have found out – “What is conveyed or represented by a particular arrangement or sequence of things.” taken from ; – Oxford Dictionary (2018) Definition of information in English:, Available at: https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/information (Accessed: 20/01/2018).

As a photograph conveys an arrangement of something, whatever that may be, a photograph in its’ base level must act as a means of communication or as a means of expression, even this image was created accidentally as the frame holds the arrangement. However for this to communicate successfully there has to be something that stirs some form of interest.

I asked my daughter, who is 18, this question and her answer was “No, some photos do not speak to me at all even if I understand what they are of”.

Even complete abstraction is conveying an expression of feeling, perhaps more so than an architectural photograph.

The question is somewhat of a misnomer and is a good lead in to thinking about how to be  a successful photographic communicator.

For, me all photographs must communicate or act as a means of expression by the nature of their creation.

Project 2 Childhood memory

1
Aged, cracked, confused and blurred memories.

I have decided to make a composite image conjured up from a number of memories. My childhood on the whole was a happy one, with great parents. Yet I was abused and it is the abuse that is the driver for this image.

  • Holidays were great times
  • I always wanted a dog
  • Religion became important after the abuse
  • Aged black and white for my memories

All three of the above points are played out in the image, which is deliberately blurred and aged, like my memories. This is partly due to the time that has passed and partly due towhead happened to me when I was about 8 years old.

I’m not sure I like the image, it reminds me of what happened, but it is how I wanted to recreate my memory, which is part of my healing process. It has left me with PTSD.

Project 1. Exercise

I have been asked to reflect on the photographers I have looked at and add some notes and thoughts on their works. These are added below.

  • All the photographers I have looked at are ladies. May be this is due to self-expression being more socially accepted amongst women. They are also all white!!!
  • Is there some evidence of self exhibitionism in there?
  • Nakedness is a metaphor for vulnerability, baring your soul, being comfortable with yourself, expressing sexual frustration, exhibitionism.
  • When looking at Woodman’s and Brotherus’ work, I have asked non-photographers for their opinion, which ranges from weird to perverse and pointless. Therefore does this mean such images need to be captioned or further written context should be added?
  • I believe that Woodman is addressing her own feelings, and is also talking to others about sexuality, vulnerability and empowering women to be more bold, not only in their work, but in their lives in general. Brotherus is speaking to all people, so they can try to have empathy with being involuntarily childless and not to be afraid of who we al are.
  • Clearly all of the works have some element of self-indulgence in there, but self portraiture gives you a willing subject that is constantly accessible.

I will try to look at some male photographers as I progress through the course to gain a balance.

Course exercise

Peter Mansell, Dewald Botha and Jodie Taylor.

The above three have all produced work that is personal to them and that is the common link and theme. Yet the narrative and the context of how this unfolds is different.

Peter’s work resonates with me, as a number of years ago, I was unable to walk and was told I would never work again.

I am particularly interested in his thoughts of creating images that give an impression of claustrophobia and compression. This is something that has value to him and something that he continued to explore during his OCA course. He also encourages other students to do the same and this has struck a chord with me. At the moment there are 3 photographic interests of mine. One is Auschwitz, the second is mental health issue and the third one is the Greek Orthodox Church.  The common link to these three is me as I have a personal interets in Auschwitz, have experienced mental health issues and I am a Greek Orthodox Christian.

I will therefore try to progress my interests as I progress.