Journeys involve a physical movement from A to B but also the potential of a visual shift. When we move into new territory we may see things in new ways, encounter new experiences and feel differently about our relationship to the world. The idea of this project is to take photographs whilst on a journey. These journeys can be small in scale - a walk through the area where you live - to a longer journey involving various forms of transport. There can be a clear destination (e.g. the River Thames) or the walk could be more a wander or drift through a particular location. In each case, the photographs represent the way the journey has helped to shape a particular way of seeing. In each example, I have tried to keep the theme of 'Contrast' uppermost in my mind. Sometimes, this is obvious (in the way the images have been made). At other times, the contrasts are more subtle and ambiguous.
Research: Henry Wessel
There is the world and then there is the photograph. The photograph is not the world.
I'm interested in the way Henry Wessel responds to the world in his photographs. His practice involves walking and noticing. His photographs are a way of saying "yes" to the world by clicking the shutter. His images are a recognition of what he finds interesting to look at. He describes the experience of seeing the exhibition of his images at Tate Modern as being like a friend taking you on a walk.
Photo Shoot #1: Lost Parrot
These images were taken on 35mm film all within 15 minutes walk of my house. I was interested in looking at my local area in a new way, taking account of the small details and trying to see the marvellous in the everyday. Using film forced me to slow down and consider the composition of every shot.
Photo shoot #2: Walk to the river
The idea for this project was to walk from my house to the River Thames (approximately 2 miles due North), passing through Blackheath and Greenwich Park before ending up at the Royal Naval Hospital waterfront. I decided to photograph with my iPhone, using the Hipstamatic app. I planned to take pictures of incidental details, things left by the side of the road, views through fences, scenes encountered by surprise, rather than conventionally beautiful subjects. Here are all the images I made on my journey.
I was pleased with most of the images I took on the journey to The Thames. The light was great, throwing even the most mundane subjects into sharp relief. The trip took most of the afternoon - I stopped in Blackheath for a while - so, by the time I reached Greenwich, the sun was setting. I like the way the journey begins in strong sunshine and ends at dusk. I have explored several types of contrast in these images, using what I have learned about the Formal Elements and being inspired by the photographers I have studied on the course so far. For example, there are obvious contrasts of light and dark and complimentary colours (e.g. red and green). I have used dramatic diagonals in some images whereas others are more ordered and balanced. Some images are packed with information with tight cropping of the image whereas others contain a great deal of negative space. Most images are one-off shots, since I was on the move and chose not to linger for additional images of the same subject (influenced by William Eggleston's notion of Democratic photography) but I have also photographed the river repeatedly, attempting to capture the movement of the water and the fading light.
I decided to use InDesign to create a photo book of my images. You can see below the spreads of the whole book. I've also created a digital version using Calameo.
Research: Peter Fraser
Peter Fraser is a British pioneer of colour photography. He has worked with William Eggleston and created a series of exhibitions and publications which demonstrate his interest in sequences of poetic images that explore the potential of colour photography and the power of the unconscious mind as a stimulus for image making with a camera.
I was inspired by his practice of taking journeys to various places, or wandering aimlessly through the city, waiting for just the right moment to take an image. He talks about the urge to photograph rising from his subconscious, "it's almost like there's a smell is in the air and I'm being forewarned that a moment is approaching so I need to have the camera ready... In a sense I never set out to do anything."
Research: Richard Wentworth
I recently discovered a series of images by British sculptor Richard Wentworth entitled 'Making do and getting by'. They document his observations of the various ways in which people interact with objects and their local environment, often to solve problems but also to articulate the physical qualities of a particular place. They suggest that everyone has an instinct for sculpture - which might derive from a sensitivity to gravity, scale, weight, size and materials - and photography is a great way of noticing this instinct in others since these traces are left in the landscape. This is especially true in cities it seems.
On my various journeys (mostly in my local environment) I have noticed that people tend to objects in unusual places. They may have ceased to work properly or are in the process of being thrown away. What interests me though is the often artful way in which these objects are abandoned. I will continue to look out for evidence of this kind of behaviour on my future walks.
I decided to adopt Fraser's technique of walking and waiting, clicking my shutter only when I had an overwhelming sense that I was looking at something significant. I was also sensitive to abandoned objects, inspired by Richard Wentworth. Here are the images that resulted from that experiment. I have attempted to curate selections of images from this group below the original set.
Photo Shoot #3: Lewisham Beauty
These images also reference the photographs of Harry Callahan, especially his colour studies of architecture. I was interested in the patterns created by the surface features of the closed shop windows and doorways but also the combination of other street furniture, road signs and shadows. I tried to see the whole as if it was an abstract arrangement so cropped the images quite tightly to remove unnecessary context.
I like the contrast here between shiny plate glass window and the smears of window cleaner that have been applied by hand to disguise the shop's contents. Each pane becomes a kind of gestural abstraction.
This phrase is taken from a series of pictures by Brassai. The objects in these photographs are obviously not deliberate sculptures but I like the idea that they could be considered sculptural when photographed. Each object has a presence, a form and appears as if it might have been placed in a particular spot to attract attention. I like the way that photographs can help to change perceptions about the world around us, raise the status of ordinary objects and transform the everyday into the marvellous.
Research: John Baldessari
I'm really interested in John Baldessari's approach to photography and colour. He uses photographs to document visual phenomena that he observes in his everyday life. The car doors series is interesting for two reasons:
Baldessari's interest in typologies can be seen in the trucks series. The inclusion of the car bonnet, seen from inside the vehicle, is interesting since it locates the precise position of the photographer. I like the way this series represents a journey. The compositional grid of images suggests both similarity and contrast. We make a visual comparison of the trucks, their shapes and colours, whilst acknowledging that they are all also particular types of vehicle with a shared function.
I am interested in creating my own typological series like this. I aim to experiment with different lengths of journey from the street where I live to a trip across the city by car or public transport.
Photo Shoot #5: Journey to Tate (and back)
I recently visited Tate Britain, driving to the gallery by car. Ad a passenger I was able to photograph through the side window. I decided to use the Andigraf app which simulates plastic toy Lomo cameras with multiple lenses. I chose the 4 lens option arranged horizontally and experimented with three different 'film' settings - red scale, black and white and colour. I have displayed them here as if they were one long sequence of images capturing fleeting glimpses of the city as the journey unfolded.
Time Lapse experiment
On the journey back from the gallery I decided to experiment with creating a time lapse film using my iPhone. I placed the phone against the passenger window and kept it in the same place for the entire journey (about 1 hour). The resulting film is 23 seconds long. I was then interested in editing this film using iMovie, rotating, cropping and reflecting the footage in order to create an abstract, kaleidoscopic version of the journey.
The screen shot on the right shows the editing environment in iMovie that enables you to overlay and select side by side playback. It's also possible to flip and rotate footage.
I decided to slow down the original footage to 25% since I felt that the time lapse was too rapid. I also reversed the footage so tha the video runs backwards. The resulting video (Version 2) is now 1:31.
For the third version of the video I decided to duplicate Version 2, overlaying the footage and creating another side by side playback.
I also chose to make the video black and white, altering the contrast slightly. Changing these settings is really easy in iMovie.
I have shared all versions of the video on Vimeo