Reflecting on nature and places which offer a solace, the locations which I am considering photographing within have to be of importance, in order to reach my full photographic potential I feel it is paramount to photograph in a place which has significance would be more beneficial in evoking emotion or thoughts than going somewhere which I have no connection to.
I have drawn up a list of locations which might be beneficial in visiting:
Central Forest Park
Monument Walk, Trentham
On reflection, the locations which would be most appropriate and are readily accessible to visit are:
Jem Southam (1950) is an English photographer, he is recognised for his colour landscape images which are concerned with the idea of a balance between nature and human intervention.
Southam utilises a large format camera which provides him with the ability of capturing his landscape images with an extraordinary amount of detail, he contact prints his 8×10 inch negatives to create the level of detail which these images possess.
What attracted my attention towards Southam’s photographic work is the complexity of the large format camera, in relation to the logistics of a photoshoot – e.g. travel, setting the shot, long exposure times, developing and processing the film. This style/process of photography is arguably more rewarding than that of digital, as you have to be more observant and as each slide/negative costs money, it is a slower method which ensures you as the photographer pay attention towards what you are photographing and how you achieve the end result.
Furthermore Southam’s photographs have a wonderful colour palette and the subject matters recorded and the way it has been achieved, particularly through the use of a low, neutral viewpoint/composition both invites viewers to observe the location and the continuity and repetition of vantage point further implies a documentative style…perhaps the idea of self-exploration?
As noted by Jem Southam (2013) taking photographs which do not motivate and/or push you as a photographer makes the overall experience unenjoyable; personally it is of intrinsic importance to ensure that when creating photographs, you try to excel and develop to reach your full potential.
‘If it is too easy to make pictures it is I think less enjoyable. Surely this is the same with all endeavours – as humans we want to be challenged and to work through problems, and the tougher they get the more they demand of us and when we work though them the greater the reward. If it was easy to make great pictures how many of us would bother?’ (Jem Southam, 2013)
The idea or motivation for looking and considering self-exploration is based upon family experiences, as well as simply wanting to learn more about how it is I am actually feeling, an area which I do not explore and is extremely difficult to express.
Ensuring the assignment and deelopment as a professional, was as motivating as possible, exploring a picture-making which is not easy, shall allow me to undertake a journey, a challenge and if the results are as rewarding as I envisage them to be, it might be a long-term project also which I can continue to pursue.
Self exploration is long overdue and actually in my opinion is an area in which every practitioner should undertake to uncover and understand themselves better; also having the potential to support and inform their work further.
What regularly attracts me to the creation of photography is the escapism it provides, where the daily burdens and strains are temporarily forgotten, the decision to focus upon the genre or area of landscape photography is predominantly due to the strong connections to landscape – the one environment where you can reflect and relax…
Furthermore the difficulties of trying to understand other people and their intentions, resonated with me and I felt a strong desire to try and understand myself better as an individual – which I haven’t previously paid much thought or directed a lot of attention towards. Whilst trying to uncover and learn more about myself through the action of photographing, I hope and aim for the work to reflect this though process. The idea and process of image creation serves as a photo therapy. I felt it beneficial to try and better understand the purpose of photo therapy, its aims and how it can be applied to my professional practice.
As noted by Phototherapy (2008) the principle of photo therapy is regularly employed as a form of psychological technique and often utilises an individual’s : family album, snapshots, or online images as a focal point for conversation and dicussions which have memories and emotions attached. (Phototherapy, 2008) A photograph can be of great importance in allowing an individual to explore their feelings and emotions without the difficulties and restrictions that wordsand spoken language can create.
Jo Spence (1934-1992) a British photographer recognised for her commercial photography, and during the 1970s Spence tailored her work to suit the documentary genre. Spence is arguably most recognised for her photographic representations of her fight with cancer. Spence collaborated with the photographer and pyschological therapist Rosy Martin (1984) and together they developed ‘photo-therapy’ which as noted by Jo Spence (2017) photo-therapy aims to reverse the roles of the photographer and subject; allowing for the model or individual being photographed to have authority over their own representations and furthermore borrows ideas and techniques from co-counselling. (Spence, 2017)
As noted by Jo Spence (2017) The Final Project‘s (1991-1992) intention was formed as a response to a diagnosis of Leukemia and this body of work was purposefully created as her retirementand final series. (Spence, 2017) There are strong references to death and mortality in these images, it is extremely difficult to illustrate emotions, feelings and fears easily through photography, however I would argue that Spence symbolised the hidden or internal thoughts, feelings and concepts successfully. Personally one of the most poignant images from the series is highlighted below.
Although there is not the intention of including the idea of figure in my imagery, Jo Spence’s battle with cancer is a subject which I can personally relate to. With the diagnosis of my mother in recent months, it has brought to light the fears, hopes and dreams of someone who has been diagnosed; it has further strengthened the persistant, most commonly subconscious thought of mortality; and the ideas of trying to achieve your goals and aspirations whilst we exist as humans. Spence’s documentation through her journey resonated with me; even through her illness she continued to be creative, I truly find this inspirational and in a similar manner my mother has continued to show incredible strength despite the frightening experience…so I would suggest that exploring landscape and the idea of phototherapy, allows me to try to come to terms with this, alongside my difficulties with autism.
It is wonderful to have the opportunity to visit new, different envionments and locations to capture imagery.
I decided to capture an array of on-the-go shots in the car as well as stopping at various parts of the journey to gain an alternative perspective from that of ones in the car. What I have learnt from this experience is that although you select a fast shutter speed, e.g. 1/125th of a second, and a high ISO, due to the nature and speed of which the car is travelling, the imagery can still suffer from motion blur, which produces a panning effect.
On reflection of these images, these photographs are aesthetically interesting, however due to the lack of control that you as a photographer have over a landscape environment for example – you cannot move buildings accordingly to your preference, and you are limited by structures such as pathways and roads, I unfortunately photographically felt constrained and unable to successfully or effectively express anything of value.
Perhaps, this is not the correct approach to undertake for this project, the idea of photographing whilst on-the-go, it could be argued that my photographic practice requires a much more regimented, careful approach where I can have more control over what the resulting photograph will look like.
According to TATE (2017), J.M.W Turner otherwise recognised as Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775-1851), an English painter specialising in the area of romanticism landscapes. Frequent visits to see Turner’s father in London enlightened him to the financial benefits that sketching possesses. Turner regularly exhibited in the Royal Academy where he was a student from 1790-1796 and the paintings were primarily watercolour and as noted by Joseph Mallord William Turner Biography (2017)
‘Turner showed a keen interest in architecture but was encouraged to keep painting by the architect Thomas Hardwick’. (Joseph Mallord William Turner Biography, 2017)
Turner later progressed onto utilising oil paints and his subject matters would explore myth and literature, consequently challenging ideas and approaches undertaken by that of classical painters.
As noted by The National Gallery (2017), John Constable (1776-1837) was another English painter also recognised for his romantic landscapes. Constable regularly made sketches within the landscape and these sketches became the foundations for many of Constable’s large-scale paintings. Similar to Turner, Constable also frequently exhibited his masterpieces in galleries such as the Royal Academy in London and Paris salon. However Constable’s work was better received and more successful when exhibited in Paris.
According to TATE (2017) William Blake (1757-1827) was an English poet, printmaker and painter who was mostly unrecognised for his art during his lifetime; Blake is considered to be a prominent practitioner and key figure within the romanticism movement. In what appears to be a tradition, Blake studied at the Royal Academy of Arts and today, is recognised for his creativity and the use of diversity and symbolism within his paintings which openly welcome the notion of the imagination as ‘the body of God’ and ‘human existence itself’ (Tate, 2017).
Henry Fuseli (1741-1825) the Swiss painter and writer who was based in Britain and is another of the most iconic figures from the romanticism movement. Fuseli’s most recognised painting is titled ‘The Nightmare’ which first exhibited in 1782 at the Royal Academy; the main purpose of this painting was to intrigue and shock.
This piece of artwork references themes of folklore, science and classical art. The painting evokes associations with imagination and suggests ideas relating to the ‘dream‘. In this example by Fuseli, the idea of the ideal dream is represented through the woman who is asleep. In a similar manner, the idea of the nightmareis depicted through the demon/mythical-type creature that is represented upon the woman’s chest. This is supported by Psychology Today (2015) as nightmares relate to feelings associated with fear and anxiety. (Psychology Today, 2015)
As noted by Encyclopaedia Britanica (2016) James Barry (1741-1806) an Irish artist recognised for his paintings of both historical and metaphorical subjects. Barry was primarily a self-taught artist, who studied with the support of Jacob Ennis at the drawing school of The Royal Dublin Society (Encyclopaedia Britanica, 2016). During this period, he attracted the attention of Edmund Burke(1729-1797) in 1764 who would later introduce Barry to Joshua Reynolds president of the Royal Academy in London. As Barry progressed he became both a member and become more involved in the Royal Academy (1773) in London.
John Butts (1728-1764), the Irish landscape artist recognised for his woodland and river scenes; was a prominent figure in providing James Barry with the necessary and fundamentals required to succeed as an artist.
Do any of these practitioners influence you? If so, why?
As photography, amongst other artistic mediums are frequently changing, it is intrinsic for me to have an awareness of historic and current artistic movements, ideas and practitioners who are making key developments. Furthermore it is important to not limit my inspiration and research to only photography, having a broad knowledge of information relating to art and painting for example will develop my thinking further.
Whilst reflecting upon the romanticism movement, and some of the practitioners highlighted above, it is extremely interesting to witness how the methods of painting and art have transgressed into photography. For example John Constable and his romantic landscape painting, titled ‘Stratford Mill’, 1820 the exploration of beauty with natural scences, rolling hills and blue skies and the concept of the sublime is seen in photographers such as Jem Southam (who shall be explored in a seperate blog post).