Lecture: Professor Anna Fox.

On the 7th May I attended Prof Anna Fox’s lecture at UCA in Farnham.

This was a thoroughly enjoyable lecture that covered many aspects of her work.  Because I have a note taker with me I am unable to write anything comprehensive until the notes arrive in my email.

What I can say though is how refreshing Professor Fox was. She was so down to earth without a hint of pretence.  One of the wonderful things, given my assignment submission presentation in book form, was that she passed around all of her books that she had ever published that contained her commissioned work. There were lots of ideas to consider on presentation i.e. size, papers, fonts.  She does have the benefit of being able to work with designers though where as I am restricted to self publishing software such as Blurb.

One of the other things that has stuck in my mind is this. She stated that what she teaches her students isn’t necessarily the way she undertakes her planning of a commission. I might well be quoting this further down the line! Although she sets about a commission with some sort of idea of what she might produce she allows herself to also work intuitively.

Interestingly she spoke about how her choice of camera helped her to engage and converse with people in settings where children are present.  She felt that a hand held digital camera caused people to be weary of her in this understandable age of ‘child protection’. She felt that people were avoiding  her.  By choosing an old fashion 5×4 format cilm camera with a hood that people were able to identify her more readily as a professional photographer and were able to approach her as such.

I will be adding to this entry soon but it might not be here by the time my assignment has been handed in to my tutor for feed back.

 

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RPS Lecture: Photography in a connected age.

http://www.rps.org/events/2013/november/sharing-photography-and-photographs—photography-in-a-connected-age-london.

I attended this lecture in November with The Open College of the Arts and unfortunately I was very poorly throughout. Although I had a very efficient note taker I am still unable to recall enough about the lecture to be able to describe thoroughly the concepts that were being spoken about.

The first person to speak was Roger Hargreaves and, at this point, I was still fairly attentive. He gave a very interesting insight into the role of amateur photography in the narrative of the Obama election campaign in 2007/8. For the first time amateurs were actively encourage to take photographs with there phones and professionals were all but redundant. The election campaign was based on active participation on the voter and this appealed directly to the younger audience. Campaign workers and supporters were able to upload there images on to the election website.  There were 250,000 images uploaded for the Obama campaign but only 13,000 for McCain. Interestingly the website was designed but somebody who had been involved with the development of Facebook.

To my mind the Obama campaign was radical in it’s approach to using the voter to document the campaign.  Further comment was made about the ‘dying’ photojournalism industry as editors prefer to use amateur sources.  It’s certainly cheaper but is it better?  Well I think there is certainly a place for both.

 

Jason Evans.

Oh dear. His lecture was entitled ‘Enough is enough’.

Whilst I have sympathy with much of what he was saying it was all doom and gloom and the doom and gloom started with the dire shape that photography education was in. He stated that much of the course content was too similar, borrowed from film courses and didn’t keep up with the changing landscape of photography.

He went on to say that there were no grants, industries were not investing in professional photography as amateur ‘iPhone’ images were an awful lot cheaper.

He admitted he was getting lots of his chest and one of his other gripes was a recent exhibition where people were invited to engage with the art but thought it was okay to walk away with ‘bits of it’.

I began to switch off when he went on to moan about Russians….

I am sure there are many truths in what he was saying and difficulties within the art industry but what it all had to do with sharing photographs in a digital age I am still trying to work out.

I tried hard not to get irritated but struggled.  As far as I am concerned the changes in the industry and globalisation has happened. We sink or we swim or do something about it all. Whilst it is must be very difficult for those who started out life under ‘the old watch’ we all just have to get on with it and get creative. I can’t be doing with such negativity and if he wants to give up then so be it.

Alexandra Moschovi:

Alexandra spoke about the ‘post photographic age’.

Her lecture spoke about the invention of Google glassed (the concept had been invented 20 years ago by Steve Mann).  She showed a clip of google glasses being worn during a parachute jump. (To be honest is was very similar to Go Pro video).

Alexandra spoke about the transition from a ‘point and shoot fashion’ to a ‘shoot and share ‘ era.  There was also evidence about how everybody wanted to record moments in their lives and a photograph of the 2005 papal election was shown alongside the 2013 election. In the former nobody in the audience was seen to be recording events but by 2013 the heads of the audience were replaced by a sea of mobile image capturing devices at arms length above heads.

Where photography was 20 years ago, where it is now as a visual chit chat on sites such as flickr and where photography is going with the masses in the future were spoken about eloquently and gave food for thought as to how we define ourselves as photographers within this image making frenzy.

 

David Bailey – Stardust exhibition – National Portrait Gallery – London.

 

Where do I start?  What a wonderful collection of work.  It’s so wonderful to see prints displayed in the way they should be.
The first portrait to be seen is quite literally the size of a house in the foyer of the exhibition.  Michael Cane takes an overwhelming ‘God Father’ presence glaring down on the vista below him. It was like looking up at an adult when a baby but all that much more too.  The iconic image of Kate Moss was the next image within the exhibition before coming to the first room where other iconic ‘stars’ were situated.  What struck me was the simplicity of this collection and how simple posing on a simple white backdrop can be so very effective.  I couldn’t help but chuckle at the thought that a sign of a true professional is when they can make ‘it all’ look ‘so easy’.
There is nothing I can really add to the critique of his work that thousands of people haven’t already offered over the years so I will just add the impact that the collections had on me.
The iconic portraiture sets the standard for lighting genius. It’s what I will aspire to when I can bring myself to working within a studio setting. I beamed from ear to ear when I saw  portrait of Bob Dylan. One of my heroes having taken a portrait of my other hero!  Does life get any better then that?
Every portrait captured something unique and not always something I could put my finger on either until later on. I did wonder if it was a rapport between photographer and client.  They trusted him and that factor shone through.  There was a definite intimacy within iconic and Western portraiture.  The most intimate of work was that of his wife and the images were numerous and actually so many that I can’t actually remember one in particular. Many were displayed in small 4×4 formats and invited the viewer to step closer so as to feel slightly voyeristic. In my mind David Bailey’s best work is when he is most as ease with his model.  This feeling was reinforced when I viewed his more exoctic journalistic travel photography where I felt no connection to his work. Perhaps he was anxious around the tribal studies or they of him but either way the images were little more to me then snaps. The slight exception to that rule were the compelling images taken of starving children in Ethiopia during the 1980’s. These images I remember having quite an impact on me in the 1980’s but I hadn’t realised that David Bailey was the photographer. I think here the difference was the very desperate situation and Bailey’s compassion shone through in these journalistic images even though there was little connection as the subjects were incapable of connecting.
The nude images were interesting enough studies but left me cold. It seemed to be nude for nudes sake.  The still life images of a skull and roses left me equally as cold.
So what is his secret to his strongest work. It’s a mixture of three factors. Lighting skill, simplicity and connection with the model. If one of these three factors is missing then the images don’t work for me. However, in the next breath, I’d be thrilled to bits to have produced any of the images that didn’t work for me!

 

Lecture: Jeff Morgan.

Today I attended an all day camera club lecture by professional commercial photographer Jeff Morgan. I don’t belong to a Camera Club but was invited to go along by friends.

The day was another revision of old ground but it was good to look at the work of a professional commercial photographer and hear him speak about may issues surrounding the practicalities of landscape photography and I came away with some useful tips and things to consider that I won’t mention here because it isn’t relevant to this module.
There was much work I admired though and in the mix of the work spoken about there was HDR.
HDR is a method for taking multiple exposures to then merge and render a ‘good’ exposure from otherwise difficult lighting situations.
It got me thinking about HDR.  I have never dabbled with multiple exposures as I haven’t, up until fairly recently, had the software to achieve HDR work. I have learnt to work around difficult lighting in one frame through the best exposure I can achieve and some light dodge and burning in Lightroom that has often left an atmospheric image that is quite unique to me (well, within my peers) and more inspired by early film.
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This is far from a criticism of Jeff Morgans work but a recognition in the realisation of my own personal preferences.
I don’t like HDR. The need for detail in every corner of a dark room at the expense of atmosphere is just not for me.  This, to my mind, isn’t a natural solution to challenging situations. Sure it has it’s place and if a brief requires an outcome that can only be achieved by HDR then so be it and on that basis I guess it is a useful tool.
I have, however, seen some wonderful landscape images in the past that turned out to be HDR. I have come to the conclusion that there is HDR and …..HDR. I believe the unofficial terminology for HDR evident work is ‘overcooked’ and whilst it’s harsh terminology I am inclined to agree.  HDR work that looks natural to the point an image could pass as a single frame is where it is at for me.  I fully appreciate this is a mere personal opinion and an opinion that would cause heated debate on any forum. But …….
My conclusion:
I love shadow and I’ll happily lose some detail in favour of atmosphere.
SONY DSC
Kilmainham Gaol, Dublin. Taken last week.
 

John Myers exhibition in Dublin – Middle England

Flat Lighting.

I was fortunate to discover a John Myers exhibition on in Dublin last weekend.  His work is widely available to see online but it is so refreshing to see prints!

Anyway, having not had chance to pre read prior to the visit I was left to draw my own conclusions.  When I returned home I found this link where John Myers  explains the exhibition and brings something interesting to the table.  At first it is easy to dismiss the images as bland, flat and uninteresting but that is the point.

The exhibition explores images taken in the mid 1970’s (when I was born) that were never meant for exhibition and were taken for the sheer enjoyment and personal exploration while he  skills as a new  photographer.  This freedom in itself is the key to indulging and risk taking as a new photographer in my opinion.

Every image made use of flat lighting and I was curious as to why. The whole point of the exhibition was about normal people in suburbia coming to terms with living that life in amongst bland concrete and 1970’s fabrics!  (I felt it was a shame all the images were in black and white.)

I had my Mum, Aunt and younger cousin with me. It was very interesting to see their reaction to the images being that they are not photographers.  They were unsure as to why the John Myers took images of what he did but they were so glad he did.  It was a time that my mum, aunt and I remembered but my cousin didn’t. It stimulated conversations and memories of an era that seemed so modern at the time but now none of us are sure how we survived.

This was a remarkable collection of the unremarkable where you realise that every apparent snap is actually a carefully considered frame.

Getting back to lighting this exhibition was proof enough to me that flat lighting has it’s place as a creative tool.

John Myers lecture for this exhibition can be seen here.