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.

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Part four – Reading Photographs

My selection of images taken from my Holocaust Project for critique. There is the original image and the 2 further images composed of 200 pixels, firstly in colour and then desaturated. I will make my choice of final for my assignment, as I progress on this part. All 5 images have a relationship to the Holocaust, which is a project and topic I have ongoing at the moment. The images are my own from my work in 2017. These images will occur from time to time in this part as I add my thoughts and feeling.

Primo Levi – Survival In Auschwitz

This book is not related to photography, however it is a great example of literature relating to one project that is dearth my heart. That being the KL’s of the Nazis in the second world war.

I bought this book in Auschwitz for 55 Polish Zloty, which is approximately £11.

Unlike many of the books I have read on the subject, it is a relatively short book, consisting of 185 pages.

Primo Levi is an Italian Jew, he is a chemist by trade and he is a survivor by nature.

He spent approximately 12  months in Auschwitz and the book describes, by way of prose, the dehumanizing effect that the camps had on the inmates and their daily struggles and rituals which were all at the whim of the cowardly Nazis.

His description of the Kapos and other block leaders was particularly interesting and sad and it shows what levels we as a species can stoop to.

The book is really well written, as he intended, in simple English and is a testament to the courage of the inmates and how man can endure what is thrown at him/her.

The original title of the book was “If this is a man” and was changed to its current title  by the American publishers. For me the original title is better.

I have read so many books on the KLs but this is one that I have enjoyed more than others, if that is intact the right way to describe this. There are no images to accompany the book, but the words conjure a myriad of images and will give me inspiration for my life and for my future studies.

You should read this book if you want to know what life was really like. Passion and intensity abound in the book and there is never any form of self-pity from him.

What an amazing book and what a gent. I have kept the review short as everyone should read such a book and make up their own mind.

God bless him and all who were imprisoned and to all those who are in captivity today.

 

Project 2 Childhood memory

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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.

Assignment two’s images and write up

Auschwitz – Birkenau. Unseen and un-photograpahble?

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Image 1
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Image 2
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Image 3
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Image 4
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Image 5
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Image 6
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Image 7
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Image 8
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Image 9
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Image 10

This context for this assignment is unseen and un-photographable. Every image also contains reference to numbers. The numbers of people who were unseen, literally and figuratively, for many years during and after the second world war in the extermination camps at Auschwitz. I feel the narrative is self-explanatory and I feel that the images do not need a caption or a title. A picture paints a thousand words for me with this set.

Image 1 represents a place that was one seen and for thousands, never experienced again. This is the place of selection, of Life or Death. Photography was banned here in the second world war, although there are a number of images that have survived.

Image 2 shows a suitcase left behind, after selection. The name of the victim, their date of birth and their status as an orphan are clearly written in white. This was one of many such cases that were packed when the Jews were deported. It would be contain Heinz’s possessions which would be stolen after selection and his death. Judging by his age, he would have been murdered almost on arrival.

Image 3 illustrates 9 bunk beds. Each bunk held up to seven inmates. There was no heating and the temperature swing experienced at Auschwitz, was from -30 degrees Celsius to +40 degrees Celsius. Note the brick work floor. These bunks are where hundreds of thousands of people lived and died and the majority of photographs taken of this area of the camp are mainly after the camp was liberated.

Image 4 places some further context into the human loss that occurred there. Over 800,000 pairs of spectacles were discovered after liberation. The Nazis exported many more back to the Third Reich, for use by the German population and army. This image shows only my selection, of what is an unimaginably huge pile of glasses, which survived, in spite of the Nazi efforts to destroy what was left prior to the camp liberation.

Image 5 continues the narrative of the human element, with hundreds of thousands of shoes which were stolen from the inmates. I was drawn by the colour of the two main shoes in the image, although the other shoes tell their own story, by the drabness

Image 6 is of some portable gallows that was not visible with the naked eye at the time I took the shot. I was drawn by the light of widow and the leading lines in the image. It was only afterwards when viewing this image on my laptop that I noticed the gallows. Maybe death was light at the end of the tunnel for some of the inmates who were tortured so much.

Image 7 shows a number of the Zyclon B gas canisters. This poison was the tried and proven main method of killing in Auschwitz. There are thousands of these stacked up. I was drawn to this image due to the light, colour and the skull and cross and bone symbol. The word GIFT drew my attention in an ironic sort of way.

Image 8 is a small crematorium (comparatively to Auschwitz II) that was used to dispose of the bodies of the inmates. The place had an unforgettable heavy and odious atmosphere and I remember tears rolling down my face whilst photographing this.

Image 9 shows the effects of the Nazi cruelty and how this affected whole swathes of families. I came across this image in a Jewish cemetery. No more words needed.

Image 10 is one that I believe shines some light and some hope on such a tragedy. The image is of a memorial to the victims of Auschwitz and the Ghetto in Krakow. The light illuminated one of the figures really well for me and I feel this image is balanced by the photographs of inmates in the background and the apparent face on the right-hand side of the images. Is there hope that man will never do this again?

These 10 images are but a small fraction of the ones I have taken in Auschwitz and I believe they show the narrative of photographing the unseen/un-photographable. The project was set up over a long period of time and I am grateful to the curator (Wanda) of the Auschwitz-Birkenau museum for allowing me to photograph the un-photographable. I am going back in the next year, to complete further work.

The images have been taken with a variety of settings and cameras, with ISO cranked up to 3200 at some times and as low as 100 and having to shoot through glass, barbed wire, prison bars, and a barrage of tears.

I have never had such a project before. This was amazing and I cannot remember having felt under such stress when photographing. It was the most emotional day of my life.

I am sure you will agree the narrative is strong within the context of the Nazi’s final solution.

I dedicate these images to the gentleman who accompanied me and my wife on this journey. He was a prisoner in Auschwitz when he was four years of age. His mother was there too. They were in separate barracks! It is amazing that we found the hut where is mother was incarcerated. Hut 17C. This gentleman was an Austrian-Jew. It is incredible that he survived, as over 90% of children were murdered within two hours of arriving in Auschwitz.

“MAY THEIR SOULS BE ETERNALLY BLESSED”

This quote was taken from image 8 above.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Assignment Two Planning part 2

What kinds of subjects can be classed as unseen?

  • drug addicts/alcoholics/drop-outs
  • socially deprived people
  • food banks
  • the poor
  • the sick
  • the disabled
  • police brutality
  • minorities
  • abuse
  • mental health
  • Christianity
  • the truth
  • unbiased photographs
  • concentration camps e.g where some of this is off-limits to the public
  • faith
  • the past
  • my mother

How do you go about photographing the unseen.

  • research the subject
  • see how it has been done before, it is has and think how you will do it in your style
  • apply for permission, be honest, be open and be prepared to accept rejection
  • believe in what you want to do, so others will have your conviction
  • pursue your dream with vigour
  • highlight the benefit of your project to the owner/person responsible
  • be confident in what you want
  • have an understandable goal that others can see and understand

What I have been doing.

Photographically, this is where I have been for the last few weeks, which has moved my concentration off my degree for a short spell. Varied and interesting is how I would describe it.

I have also been sorting out my website and setting up my Facebook business page.

Please have a look around both.

http://www.ikonickimages.co.uk/gallery.html

https://www.facebook.com/IkonickImages.co.uk/

My work is also now on a number of websites and Facebook pages a few of which are below.

http://www.thornberryanimalsanctuary.org

https://www.facebook.com/M.silouan.oner

http://www.antiochian-orthodox.co.uk/events/archdiocesan-conference-2017/