I was in the Cafe in Tesco pondering the first few exercises of Part 2 AoP. My main muse was how in part 1 I hadn’t really consulted any past or present great photographers. In fact, up until this time in my photographic experience I have consulted very few ‘greats’ for inspiration beyond that one might find in Amateur Photographer magazine or flicking through The National Geographic. I have been inspired by many images but shamefully never really considered the photographer behind them nor other work in their portfolio. I guess it’s because I was catapultet into photography and it has been all about how I see everything and my own exploration. 30 months of exploring my own observations behind the camera and I had started to lose my way. I have never considered myself competitive and unlikely to be satisfied with magazine competitions. I am not knocking those who do – far from it – just not for me. So what now? I probably will not ever be employable again and how many images of cows and sheep can my friends stand from me?
So, having established that I can probably manage to study (which hadn’t been clear up until now), on my 3rd slurp of Latte I decided to grasp every exercise as an opportunity to consult ‘greats’ and I guess my assessors are expecting me to and would be chastising me if I didn’t but in my mind it is a turning point and something I won’t be doing half heartedly as I hope that somewhere in all this I find my way in earnest.
So, then I was thinking about the exercise of horizontals. I was gazing across the shop floor from the cafe gallery. It dawned on me that images of 5 bar gates might be enough to complete the exercise but where do I potentially take the learning from there? In front of me was an expanse of amazing verticals and diagonals. I do notice this ‘stuff’ all the time but who else does? Who wants to see my observations of a mundane Tesco shop floor?
Well, there is only one person to consult in the first Instance. The photographer who made a packet from a canal, a path and a grass verge. GURSKY! What else has he got in his portfolio?
So the penny dropped! Three more hurried slurps and I was trotting back home to google the portfolio of Gursky and my academic research had then set sail. The power of horizontals and verticals in his work is breath taking and geometrically very pleasing. How would Gursky approach my environment of fields and farms That is the question though and one for me to muse? To be fair he might not even try but I can.
What troubles me about Gursky is why I like his work? There is no passion or emotion in his work and perhaps that is the point. I can only think that the rhythm and tension in his work appeals to my eye. His work is at the opposite end of the spectrum to mine in that I strive to, in portraiture, to capture the essence of an individual. Where humans exist in Gursky’s image they are part of a depersonalised mass. I have been playing and considering exercise 2 which asks us to position object within a frame. Every go I have had with different object I keep falling into a geometric arrangement that I have been berating myself for but, perhaps, I am discovering a new dimension to my creativity? And this is what it is all about. Hopefully there will be many other great photographers for me to consider on the journey.
I will explore Gursky and report my findings but rather thrilled to find that he does indeed have images of store aisles in a composition I’d have attempted if my camera had been with me. Perhaps people do want to see more then cows and sheep from me then.