Expressing your vision
Assignment 1 – Square Mile
I initially wanted to tell a story about the ordinary people of my village and highlight the importance of the personal within everyday communities.
I ultimately rejected this approach for its failure to show the physical community. My final choice is intended to show how people live with continual change, how the past is lost, and how communities move on.
I was inspired by the artist Jenny Saville and the photographer Jen Davis and by films like ‘Kes’ and ‘Saturday Night and Sunday Morning’, which show the lives of ordinary people. I also took a lot from Martin Parr’s exhibition: The Last Resort depicting the stoicism of working class people on holiday, and Les Monaghan’s: The Desire Project which shows the shared basic desires of individuals within a community.
My final submission was influenced by the concept of taking photographs deliberately for the camera. This assignment enabled me to consider taking photographs of subjects that I would never have previously considered, and for a specific purpose. I enjoyed thinking in advance of the final outcome rather than simply attempting to take a technically accurate shot of something I liked the look of.
The work of Jodie Taylor (WeareOCA.com) also inspired me to take pictures of the ordinary. Her work in respect of the place where she grew up depicts ordinary streets and buildings, to show an intimacy with the area.
I used my 55–210 mm lens. I know that I use this lens a lot and have a tendency to zoom in. I feel that I should have taken the opportunity to experiment and a wider angle may have helped to contextualise my story.
I think my images work together as a whole: four each of past, present and future, but individually, they lack creativity. They are mostly taken at eye level and directly facing the subject. The image of the empty school yard, with its narrow depth of field is an exception but consequently incongruous. I considered re-taking this image but was deterred by the passer-by who shouted to me as I took the original image. I like the photograph of the part-demolished club yard set against the colour of the washing line. This picture tells a significant story on its own and, though not elaborately staged, I can relate this to my new awareness of storytelling through photography (Cotton, 2014: 49-80)
To develop this project further, I would consider wider creative options. Vitor Schietti takes photographs of his neighbourhood at night. I became acutely aware that, although this may not have been right for my assignment, the learning was that I never even considered it.
Cotton, Charlotte (2014) The Photograph as Contemporary Art. London: Thames and Hudson
Schietti, V. Enjoy the Silence. In: Digital Camera (Spring 2016) – I have included an example of his work in my ‘Sketch Book’