Oral Presentation

 

URL (if needed): https://vimeo.com/229911307

Password: Falmouth1

References:

•BARILOTTI, Steve, HEIMANN, Jim. 2013. Leroy Grannis Surf Photography of the 1960s and 1970s. Koln: Taschen GmbH

•HURN, David, JAY, Bill. 2008. On Being a Photographer. 3rd edn. Anacortes WA: LensWork Publishing

•MARINCOLA, Paula. 2015. What Makes a Great Exhibition? Chicago & London: Reaktion Books Ltd.

•STERNBACH, Joni. 2015. Surf Site Tin Type. Bologna: Damiani

•STEYCK, Craig, CARSON, David. 2002.Surf Culture: The Art History of Surfing. Berkeley: Gingko Press Inc.

•TREFZ, Patrick. 2012. Surfers’ Blood. Brooklyn NY: Powerhouse Books

•WELLS, Liz. 2015. Photography: A Critical Introduction. 5th edn. Abingdon & New York: Routledge

Week 12 - Exhibition

 

Setting up my images for the exhibition was nerve-wracking; not knowing how people would react or what they would think of them. However overall the response has been positive and a lot of people were quite pleasantly surprised at the images, one person even said they thought they were professional photographs, and not mine….which is a nice confidence booster!

As previously outlined, I held the exhibition in the office staff kitchen. Something I want to show through the photographs is how surfing and being in the ocean can be an escape and can help to re-balance inland surfers that can feel trapped by working in offices and being surrounded by man-made environments. So showing the photographs to office-based workers I thought would not only be appropriate to that aim of the project, but would also hopefully help me gauge whether the images were having that effect.

So along with the images I also put up a text explanation of what the exhibition was about and the aim of showing the works-in-progress, and also asked for feedback via a questionnaire left with the exhibition. I asked for participants age and gender, to help identify whether there were any trends in different age groups or between men and women, and I also asked the following questions:

·        Do you surf or regularly take part in any water sports/activities?

·        Do you like the overall exhibition?

·        How do the black & white photographs make you feel?

·        How do the colour photographs make you feel?

·        Do you have a preference between the black & white images, or the colour images? If you do, could you tell me which ones you prefer and why?

·        Do you have a preference between the photographs displayed as pairs or the individual images, or do you like the mix? If you do, could you tell me what you prefer and why?

 

I wanted to know whether participants were surfers or water-sportsmen in case that had an impact on the way they reacted to the photographs, how they felt about the exhibition generally, and then I wanted to get some more specific feedback about the black & white versus the colour photographs, and as I had also decided to include non-paired images I wanted to see what the viewers thought about the paired versus single images as well.

Out of the 17 questionnaire responses received only one person said they regularly surf or take part in any water sports/activities, so most of the responses are from people that aren’t regularly in the sea. More women completed the questionnaires than men, and ages ranged from 23-42, however none of the responses had a trend correlating to age or gender.

All viewers like the overall exhibition, so a good start there! Across the board it seems that the black & white and colour images had the desired effect of communicating negative and positive emotions respectively. Regarding the black & white some responses included feeling “sad”, “gloomy”, “stuck in the real world”, “burnt out”, “melancholic”, and “cold”. Responses to the colour images included “relaxed”, “I want to go to the beach”, “longing for the weekend”, “enlightened”, “calm”, and “free”. So it would seem that they are generating the intended feelings in the viewers.

Most viewers preferred the colour images, which makes sense as the black & white ones made them feel sad! One person preferred the black & whites as they “show the struggle” – again this is something I was hoping to convey so that is great! Quite a few didn’t have a preference of one over the other, but liked the contrast of seeing both together. Regarding the pairings versus individuals, again it was fairly evenly split between preferring the pairings, preferring the individuals, and preferring/liking the mix of the two, and having the variety of the different ways of displaying the images.

So although this was useful to know that the images/message communication does seem be going in the right direction, because there were no clear leanings towards either black & white vs colour, or pairings vs individuals vs mix, it is hard to know whether to continue with what I’ve been doing or to go back to just individual images or bring them back in and have the mix. My overall takeaway is that more work is needed, and more feedback as well perhaps. I think I want to maintain the pairings, and bring back the individual images as personally I do like the mix of the two, and I think together they present a wider perspective of surfing in the UK, which is also something I want to show. I need to decide what areas within surfing I want the project to look at in the future. I.e. whether to continue with just inland/coast images, or to have multiple subsections of the project - in which this is one of them. 

Week 11 - Exhibition Preparation

 
One of the individual images I am adding into the exhibition

One of the individual images I am adding into the exhibition

I have decided to display a selection of photographs for my exhibition, rather than the entirety of my WIP portfolio. This is partly a practical reason as the cost of printing all the images would be too much, and partly because I don’t want the viewers to be overwhelmed by the number of photographs that would be displayed if I did show everything, especially as the space I am showing in is not expansive. I want the viewers to leave the exhibition “energized rather than exhausted”[i]. Something I personally dislike about large exhibitions is that when they are so full of things to look at, all of which are very similar, one reaches a point of ‘exhibition saturation’ (as my husband and I call it), where you can’t take in any more information and the displays all merge into one.

Through this exhibition I am looking for feedback on the images as well as the overall feel of the collection, and I want the viewers to be able to really look at and consider the works rather than be focussing on the number of images presented. I have developed a short questionnaire about the photographs/exhibition, that I am going to ask the viewers to complete so I can try to understand and hopefully improve the project going forwards.

Something I wrote about previously is my concern that if the project comprises solely of image pairings the impact of them might be diffused, and from a more introspective place there are some individual images that aren’t part of a pairing that I would like to keep in the project as they show other views of who UK surfers are. So I have also decided for the exhibition to include some of these individual images as an experiment to see how they affect the exhibition when displayed alongside the pairings. I am also asking the viewers to comment on the individual vs. pairings in the questionnaire.  

[i] MARINCOLA, Paula. 2015. What Makes a Great Exhibition? Chicago & London: Reaktion Books Ltd.

Week 10 - WIP

 

My focus this week on has been finalising the images for the work-in-progress portfolio, and combining more of my photographs into image pairings.

I have enjoyed re-visiting some photographs that I haven’t looked at for a few weeks, and being able to see the effect of all the images together.

Whilst I am fairly pleased with the pairings and how they look together, I do wonder whether the repetition of the pairings decreases their impact. Going forwards I wonder whether the project would feel more balanced if it included some non-paired images. The pairings do show surfing in the UK from the inland-surfer’s world, and going forwards I think it could be interesting to also show other aspects of surfing in the UK, as it is not a one dimensional culture; something I would like to explore in the coming modules.

It has also struck me, how much my project has changed from the original ideas I had. I feel like this module has been so focused on methods of making work and I’ve been pushed into, and perhaps distracted by, these different methods that I’m not sure what my project is anymore or what I’m trying to say with it. I think going forwards I need to find a stronger voice and more focussed ideas at the outset to be able to keep it on track. Now, as well as going forwards, I feel I need to think more about, and decide in a more definitive way, in the words of David Hurn, “Why am I doing this? What interests me? Where, and how, will it be used?”[i]

 

[i] HURN, David, JAY, Bill. 2008. On Being a Photographer. 3rd edn. Anacortes WA: LensWork Publishing

 

Week 9 - Presentation

 

This week I’ve been focusing on my oral presentation. It has been difficult to try to consolidate everything about my project and methodologies into 10 minutes but I hope I’m getting there!

It has been quite interesting actually, putting down all my thoughts about my project that I haven’t yet written about into words. It has made me start to think a bit more about the project going forwards. For example the in-water photography. Not all the images turned out exactly as I would have liked but I do feel they are relevant to the project as they add a different perspective to it. They show what it is like to be in the ocean, and parallel the more “standard” tropical water images with coral etc. by instead showing the colder waters of the UK and what it is like to be a surfer in the UK in these modern times.

Liz Wells writes that “Photography has always been caught up in new technologies and played a central part in the making of the modern world”[i]. This is true for in-water photography and in particular the conception and development of GoPro cameras. GoPro was developed by a surfer in order to easily take in-water photographs and video whilst surfing using high quality affordable equipment. This new technology had a huge impact on documenting surfing and modern surf photography and is one of the reasons I want to include not just in-water images, but specifically images taken using a GoPro, in my project.

This is a part of the project I want to continue and with more practice and experience will hopefully generate some more successful results.

 

[i] WELLS, Liz. 2015. Photography: A Critical Introduction. 5th edn. Abingdon & New York: Routledge

Week 8 - Workshop

 

Looking at this week’s forum posts and readings I feel that neither I nor my project are at a stage where I can put on a workshop.

I have thought about a couple of workshop ideas that I could do in the future. I could look at holding workshops on in-water or surf photography. These could help me see my work in new ways or look at new methodologies of working, as well as teaching others a new skill. Or perhaps workshops on balancing office work life with getting outdoors, and going or trying out surfing as a way to de-stress and recharge – particularly how to do this when the sea isn’t geographically that close to the area I live and work in. This could help me to see other points of views on this subject matter, and could inform new work and ways of capturing the emotions relating to getting away from the urban environment. However I do feel that I am not quite ready to run a workshop on either yet. I feel I need some more personal experience and for my photographic practice to be at a higher level before I’m ready to try and teach anything to anyone else.

I’ve been experimenting with using photos taken on a GoPro to include in my project, in order to include some in-water photos in my project. Partly as a way to be able to show some of what it is like to be in the water, and from the surfers perspective. But also because GoPros have become a fairly ubiquitous piece of equipment for surfers (as well as other action/extreme sports practitioners). It feels appropriate to include images taken on a GoPro in a photo project about surfing. I think it also provides a commentary on the way photography/GoPro photography have become such an integral part of surfing. It’s used by both professional photographers and non-photographers who use GoPros to be able to take photos and video of themselves surfing to share on social media and to look back on later to analyse and improve on technique. I have so far been taking these images by holding the GoPro mounted to a stick with a trigger release. However, recently another student suggested I could also include GoPro-taken pictures of myself. I had been hesitant to do this before as I wanted the project to not be autobiographical. But as the project has developed into looking at inland based surfers, and the ways in which they continue to surf as a way to escape desk-bound urban life, it has become somewhat an autobiographical subject. So when in Devon this weekend I fixed the camera to my board, facing me, and set it to time-lapse mode so it would capture a photo every 0.5 seconds. This aspect has given an additional perspective of being in the water and the extreme difference to being in an office. Including images of me, such as the one below, addresses the autobiographical nature of the subject.

Week 7 - Publication

 
Photobook mockup

Photobook mockup

The publication of photographs in the form of a photobook could help to spread one’s work to a larger or more widespread audience. Whereas an exhibition can really only be attended by those physically able to visit it, a photobook or other publication can be viewed by anybody anywhere. If an aim of a photographers work is to spread a message or try to bring about some sort of social change, for example, then a mass publication photobook could assist. I don’t feel my project necessarily fits into this category of photobook.

Martin Parr and Gerry Badger write about “two photobook markets: a small deluxe market catering to the fine-book collector, and the regular market, catering to the photo-enthusiast”[i]. I wonder whether my project is leaning more towards the former, and whether if I were to publish my work whether a small batch would suit the tone of the project more aptly.

From this week’s forum task in which we were asked to share photos of our books/bookshelves it is clear that books and photobooks are still relevant and desired by many of us. None of our collections were particularly small and from the comments on my post I know I’m not the only one who loves the feel of books. The tactile nature of books and being able to physically touch something that is really only visual really heightens the meaning of the work and, for me at least, intensifies the experience of the images. My project is about escaping the urban environment and desk bound lives by being in the ocean and surfing as a means of rebalancing and reconnecting. In thinking about that I feel that a small publication could suit the work. Something that implies that the book and the images within are to really be thought about and considered. Perhaps even treasured – in the same way family photo albums (early forms of photobooks) allow people to hold a photograph and experience the emotions connected to holding that photograph. I personally love a photobook with a tactile cover, something cloth based for example, and I think this also would really suit my work.

In a second forum this week we were asked to share sketches of ideas for how our publications would look. I’ve had this idea to have the smaller black & white images on the left hand page, and on the right larger colour images that would be folded over so that they have to be unfolded to be seen – photo of the sketch below (unknown before a 1:1 a few weeks ago, but this would be in the style of Nicolo Degiorgis’ photobook “Hidden Islam”[ii]).

 

The feedback seemed positive, and that curiosity would encourage viewers to open each of the folded images. So I have mocked up a couple of pages in a notebook to see how this would look/feel – photo below & at top. Having done this mock up I do think this is a style of publication I want to pursue. It would be interesting, I think, to have a mixture of fold-out images and some pages with non-folded images, otherwise I think the novelty/formula may get quite tiresome.

I feel like this week I’ve been looking at the photobooks in my collection in a new way. In particular Patrick Trefz’s “Surfers’ Blood” photobook[iii]. This is a gorgeous photobook, with a lovely tactile matt hardcover, Ruscha-style text on the front, and full of a huge variety of images – colour and black & white. The variety of images is something that has really stuck with me. The photographs are not solely portraits, there’s also in-water action shots, still life images, documentary style images, landscapes…..combined they really give an idea of the breadth of surfing culture/lifestyle. It has made me reconsider slightly the images I’ve taken so far and that they do seem quite limited in terms of subject matter. I want to work on expanding the subject matter of my images going forwards.

Something else that has stuck with me, is that there’s hardly any images of women in the book – and the images of women that are there, are not photographs of female surfers surfing. Considering that this isn’t an historical publication I do find that quite surprising. I was in Devon this past weekend and saw a local surf photobook/magazine/publication by a locally based photographer in one of the surf shops. Now there’s quite a lot I could say about it in terms of production and content, but my biggest takeaway and the aspect that really stuck with me, was that in the whole 111 pages there is precisely 2 photos of women; one a portrait of someone, unclear whether she’s a surfer or not, and the second is on the last page, which seems like a bit of an afterthought, in a “tribute” to “Surfer’s Wives”. The definition of that being a “a lady who doesn’t moan at you whenever you want to go for a surf”[iv]. The implication being that only men are surfers and their devoted wives just stay at home. In 2017. Wow.

Anyway, back to my project. Overall this week I feel I don’t yet have the amount or variety of photographs to put together a publication. I can see how in the future a publication/photobook could fit into my project and help the viewer to think about the photographs and the idea of escaping to the ocean and surfing, by being able to physically hold and feel the work. But for now I feel I need to focus more on creating the work than publishing it. 

References:

[i] PARR, Martin. BADGER, Gerry. 2006. The Photobook; A History. London: Phaidon

[ii] DEGIORGIS, Nicolo. 2014. Hidden Islam. Itay: Rorhof

[iii] TREFZ, Patrick. 2012. Surfers’ Blood. Brooklyn NY: Powerhouse Books

[iv] KING, Mark. 2017. The Point – Issue 5

Week 6 - Exhibition

 
Alcatraz Island - photography exhibition of photos by Leigh Wiener. Above photo taken by me - March 2017

Alcatraz Island - photography exhibition of photos by Leigh Wiener. Above photo taken by me - March 2017

Following on from last week I have been considering how best to exhibit my work, if I do move forward with holding it in the office at work. It is not only a practical option, but also one that would provide an interesting physical and visual comparison between the corporate office world and the natural surf environment. Through my work I am hoping to show the ways in which surfing and being in the ocean can help mental health, and the way in which it provides relief and respite to landlocked surfers that spend much of their days in offices. Being able to show this work in an office could help to emphasise these points as well as display the work to this targeted audience. I think many people have preconceived notions that artwork displayed in galleries is perhaps inaccessible or not relatable to their lives. Brian O’Doherty likens the gallery to “the sanctity of the church, the formality of the courtroom”[i]. By not using a formal gallery space and instead exhibiting my work in a more “normal” environment, I hope to make my images more accessible to these viewers, and by doing so hope they connect with the work rather than just seeing the photographs as something to look at and then leave.

Choosing an exhibition space that contrasts against or resonates with the images being displayed can add to overall experience of the exhibition. Earlier this year in San Francisco I visited Alcatraz Island, and the toured the now closed, infamous, prison. Among the tourist-oriented areas there is also a room displaying photographs taken by Leigh Weiner[ii] during the last day of Alcatraz, when the remaining inmates were transferred to other facilities and the prison closed. Seeing those images displayed in the same location that they were taken really added to the experience of viewing them. It felt easier to imaging being there in that time, in that space, and I felt like I could connect more to those images than if they had been displayed in a white walled gallery in the city, or a gallery even further afield.

In addition to the space, the images of the last day of Alcatraz were also displayed on large canvases suspended from the ceiling rather than in a more standard 10x12 dimension behind glass and in frames (photo above). I again feel like this really helped with connecting to the works and the history they captured as you could get close to the photographs and feel as though the character of the photographs was a part of the space and not just in the space.

In order to emphasize the way a landlocked environment can feel stifling in comparison to freedom of surfing/being in the sea, I initially wanted to frame the smaller black and white images and leave the larger colour photographs unframed. However I suspect the space I will be using will not allow for nailing frames on the walls so I will need to find an alternate method for displaying the photographs. In this week’s webinar a few people commented that the images I was showing as an example of recent work (below) complimented each other due to the opposing bisecting points of focus. This gave the photos a different edge to viewing them separately, it prompted a questioning of the images and thinking about their meaning rather than just looking at surf images. This has made me reconsider the display for my photographs. Instead of having the inland images smaller and the surf images larger, I may experiment with having them the same size, as well as printing and displaying them in the same format. Pairing them or grouping them together like the pairing below I hope will give the images greater effect and impact on the viewers.  

[1] O’DOHERTY, Brian. 1999. Inside the white cube: the ideology of the gallery space. Berkeley, CA, London: University of California Press

[1] WIENER, Leigh. 2012. Alcatraz The Last Day. San Francisco, CA: Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy

Week 5 - Three Surfaces

 
Calming sea ripples

Calming sea ripples

In thinking about and starting to prepare for the upcoming exhibition I have been thinking about my audience in a different way, as well as thinking more deeply about the subjects of my photographs. In discussions about my project with a friend he commented as to whether it was about “depressed landlocked surfers”, this got me thinking about how one of the reasons I wanted to look at landlocked surfers is because that is how I see myself, and that it is depressing being so far away from the sea and surrounded by a manmade environment. Being in the sea and surfing is so calming for me. I wondered whether besides myself and this particular friend, whether any other landlocked surfers felt the same and whether the mental health benefits I get from surfing are also felt by other surfers, particularly those who aren’t able to surf everyday. I felt it could be fascinating to look into this, not only for my interest and to show to other surfers, but also to display to people that don’t surf. This could be of interest to other people who live in towns and cities away from the coast. It could show them how beneficial being in the sea is; in a natural environment away from the 9-5 of office days. As well as how surfing could benefit them mentally and physically.

One possible idea for the exhibition is to hold it in the office I work in. This would provide a strong contrast between the urban and natural environments. It would also be a good opportunity to encourage people that may not otherwise see this kind of exhibition to visit it and consider how being in the sea and away from the constant manmade workspace could benefit them.

It would be necessary to ensure the work displayed would be relevant to this target audience, and the pieces chosen would strongly convey the target message and fit the overall feel of the exhibition. For these reasons it could be useful to involve a curator to advise on the work being exhibited/how it is exhibited. I think it is quite hard to curate one’s own work as there are emotional connections between the photographer and the work that make it hard to separate what is good/effective/fits within the exhibition with what you as the photographer like. Although I would be wary of a curator taking the exhibition in a direction that I had not intended or wanted. It would be a new experience working with a curator and one that could help to refine my work for a specific exhibition.

Week 4 - Strategies of Freedom

 
Surfboards packed, ready to go.....again

Surfboards packed, ready to go.....again

Like many photographers I use a normal (in today’s context) DSLR, lenses, and laptop for post processing/reviewing/editing. I have always wanted to make images that focused primarily on the subject rather than the practice of photography.  Whilst the two are intertwined, when contemporary photographers create photographs in a non-digital, non-DSLR, way I feel this puts the emphasis and the commentary on the production of the photograph and not what the photograph is of. Of course this is not a problem if that is the aim of the photographer, but if it isn’t then it seems perhaps less of a statement to make work using a more currant socially normal method. For example Joni Sternbach’s work “Surf Site Tin Type”[i] is a series of tin type photographers of surfers. The photographs were made between 2006-2014 but due to the production method look as though they could have been taken decades ago. It is only when you look more closely at the fashion/surf-wear and surfboard design that you see the clues of a more modern era. There are various things to be said about this effect and production method in relation to the subject; the old fashioned effect combined with the subject matter lend a very romantic feel to the images, and therefore romanticize the sport. However, it also connects the past to the present, a link between the origins of surfing and current times.

I feel like the technology is the focal point of my work at the moment but not because I am trying to make a statement by my choice of technology. When I started photography there was no active choice in the technology I chose – it was very much an acceptance of the norm at the time. In some ways I feel constrained by the camera as I feel pressured to make work in a certain way due to the camera and technology I use. However, in other ways I feel free to focus on the subject of my work and choices of subject and composure without needing to worry about the technology or choice thereof.

I did always want my work to be about the subject, not the photo as an object, and I feel a responsibility to the subjects of my photographs as a result. Using a modern method I feel they expect to see modern, “instragrammable”, photos – and perhaps as a result of this my work has become, for me at least, more about the photo as object and not the subject.

Perhaps because of this acceptance of technology I often feel that anyone can do what I do. I don’t see my work as fundamentally unique or different from many other photographers taking photos of surfers. Unlike Sternbach’s tin type work which sets her apart from the masses by electing to use an uncommon technology, my (lack of?) choice regarding camera equipment automatically places me in the same cohort of most contemporary photographers.

I am hoping that by focussing my project on to inland-based surfers this may set it apart from the usual ‘surf’ photography genre. It isn’t common to see “surf photography” as anything other than amazing surfers on beautiful waves. So looking at this sub-group in surf culture may show something different to the norm and even though I will be using “standard” technology, the choice of subject will be non-standard. This will hopefully make me re-focus on the subject of the photographs, and not put the emphasis on the technology used to make them.

[i] STERNBACH, Joni. 2015. Surf Site Tin Type. Bologna: Damiani

Week 3 - Strategies of Sharing

 
Solitary work.......solitary surfer

Solitary work.......solitary surfer

I’ve always thought about my photography practice as quite solitary, and non-collaborative. I don’t work with other photographers to create work, and the subjects of my photographs don’t participate in the creative decision making process. To date this is how I have preferred to work. I only ask for their participation to be in the photo, rather than collaborate in making it from a production perspective. I suspect that the further my project progresses this may well change. An idea I am toying with is to collaborate with a group of surfers to create work that shows what it is like to be a UK surfer; to work with them to find ways to document/record their experiences and life surfing in the UK. If so then working with them would involve collaboration to decide on what images to make and how to make them. This could lead to a perhaps really interesting project. I would be concerned over the issue of authorship and I would be concerned that decisions over what is a “good” photo or which ones to include in the project or not, could end up being a hindrance to the final piece.

However, if I want my project to reflect what it is really like to be a UK surfer then perhaps I should look to others to help direct what should look like, rather than just creating the work from my own perspective and experiences of surfing in the UK. Projecting my own expectations or biases may result in a project that shows a one dimensional perspective. Although being a photographer and a surfer may help to create less surface-level work by already being aware of certain stereotypes etc. within the culture.

Having said that, another option I am exploring for the project is to show a very directed perspective of UK surfing; that of inland based surfers. Not all surfers in the UK live on the coast, myself included. So I think a really interesting direction for the project could be to show this aspect of surf culture in the UK. I could do this by focusing on a small group or an individual which would still lead to some collaboration in the project, but perhaps less diluted.

I feel that I need to think about (and decide on) the audience and how that will affect the project. Am I making it for surfers? If so then the more focused inland based surfers may be of more interest to them. Am I making it for non-surfers? One of the comments in the forum this week was from someone who had only been to the UK twice and didn’t think of it as having a surf community or surfing being a big sport here. If this is the case then perhaps a wider project encompassing more aspects of UK surf may be of more interest in that situation. Or perhaps my project could comprise of two series of works – one reflecting the inland surfers and one reflecting the coast-based surfers……

Week 2 - Strategies of Mediation

 
Thinking about Umbrico with a sun photo. North Devon April-2017 

Thinking about Umbrico with a sun photo. North Devon April-2017 

I am planning to make my project using only my own images, so I hadn’t thought that I would need to reference any particular inspirations in the final piece. Even now I’m not sure I would need to, if it is merely an inspiration and not a direct reproduction or appropriation of someone else’s work. In any case to reference all inspirations that influence a piece of work would be nigh on impossible – considering not only the inspiration that may come directly from other artists and their work, but also from books, movies, friends, relatives, strangers, events from one’s life etc.

As to whether others might use or reappropriate my images….well honestly it hadn’t crossed my mind until recently that anyone would want to, that my work would ever be good enough for anyone to want to use it. Thinking about that now, I am more aware of the ways that work is reappropriated and used by artists. It is not only the work of professionals that can be used but also the work of amateur photographers, or non-photographers; e.g. Penelope Umbrico’s ‘Suns from Sunsets from Flickr’ work[i], or by using the work of unknown people; e.g. the work of found photography by Joachim Schmid[ii]. So how easy or possible it is to control how my work could be used, especially in this digital age, I just don’t know. It is of course possible to copywrite one’s work, but even so with the way images are now shared and can be found online that would not necessarily stop them from used in the way Umbrico compiled the images of suns. These cropped suns are not recognisable from any individual image and so it would not seem a concern that she doesn’t reference who’s original pictures they came from. It terms of Schmid’s work it would seem that his found photographs are because others disposed of them, and by relinquishing ownership of those images it would seem that they were not concerned with what might happen to them afterwards – after they were gone.

Although my work doesn’t appropriate or use work by other people, and my images are all taken by me, I do not think any of my work is particularly original. I think that all my images are influenced in some way or another by other photographers and other artists – whether I am directly aware of it or not. I don’t feel the need to change the methodology of my project because of this, although truth be told I don’t have a fixed idea of how it will be completed yet anyway. I would think that most work these days is influenced and/or inspired by other people, and nothing is truly original and unrelated in any way to anything done before. These feelings do sometimes make me wonder what the point is of creating more work, more images. But I try to remember that I’m not trying to make truly original work, I’m trying to find ways to create work just to communicate something, or express myself, using a medium that I love. And there is nothing wrong with that.

 

References

[i] UMBRICO, Penelope. 2006. ‘Suns from Sunsets from Flickr’                                         Available at http://www.penelopeumbrico.net/index.php/project/suns/                        [Accessed 11/06/2017]

[ii] CASPER, Jim. ‘Celebrating Photographic Garbage’                                                     Available at https://www.lensculture.com/articles/joachim-schmid-celebrating-photographic-garbage                                                                                                                             [Accessed 11/06/2017]

Week 1 - Rephotography and Repeat Photography

Repeat photography and rephotography is such an exciting area of work and not something I’ve really known much about or explored before. I’ve really enjoyed looking at the different ways practitioners have used the techniques to show areas in different ways (e.g. Klett & Wolfe’s Grand Canyon work[i]), and to provide commentary on different views/aspects of a subject (e.g. Martin Hughes’ “Souvenirs” work[ii]). By re-placing and re-contextualising work one can create something quite thought provoking and something that could, perhaps, really ‘speak’ about a message.

As an exercise in different strategies in making work and to explore rephotography this week, I printed out a photo I took in Devon of two surfers walking into the sea – a picture that shows so much nature, and placed it into the urban built up town I live in, in Berkshire, because I wanted to show a contrast between the natural environment versus man made - resulting image is below. I wanted to have my hand in the picture; physically in one place and holding a photo of another – because both are very different places but both are quite personal to me and I wanted a physical literal representation of my connection to the two.

Sophie Bradley - May 2017

Sophie Bradley - May 2017

I wanted to provide a distinction and a comparison between nature and man-made, to perhaps give a feel on what once was in the urban environment by showing what still exists in the beach photo.

I unexpectedly love this resulting image; the contrast of the almost monotone beach photo against the many colours of the urban area, and the contrast between the calm beach scene against the vibrant town (also I don’t often print my photos and I really enjoyed physically holding a piece of work for a change!).

When I posted this to the topic forum and discussed it in a webinar this week, some people read the image in ways I hadn’t even thought of yet; the way the breaking waves line up with the change in paving stones, (a happy accident), the differences in what the people in the two photos are wearing and doing, and the types of surfaces/materials in each photo (water, sand, stone, brick, wood), the difference in weather in the images and how that subverts what would normally be associated with each location – a sunny day at the beach vs. a grey day inland. As well as the connections between the two images and the commentary that provides on people who live in towns and cities but journey to the coast to surf. Interestingly the two surfers are both non-coast based surfers, who both live in Reading but were in Devon to surf – so the fact that I had taken that photo of them and then re-photographed it in Reading gives another layer to the image.

These discussions around city based surfers has made me wonder about incorporating this into my project – looking at the surfers who live inland but travel to the coast to surf, as this is another example of the passion for surfing that UK surfers have. As this is something I currently do myself I am in a position to document this.

I am also interested in the ways rephotography could be used to assist in documenting this – using other images of the beach/surfers taken in Devon and re-photographing them in Reading, and also vice versa – images in/of Reading re-photographed in Devon.  

I am going to do a mini-project / mini-experiment with some more rephotography this week and see where that takes me.

Something I haven’t tried out yet but might also consider looking into for my project is repeat photography.

Repeating a photo of a surf scene/beach scene from say, 50 years ago, may give some insight into the changes that have occurred in surf culture and in surfers/who surfers are, from then to now. There have been many obvious changes over the last several decades, from board design and the manufacturing process, to clothing fashions and hairstyles. I believe there has also been a marked change in who surfers are, more women now surf than in the past, for example. Something else that would be interesting to see is the ages of surfers. The 1950’s – 1960’s, post-war era saw a take-off in all things surfing and surf related, and encouraged many young people to surf and adopt the surfer lifestyle. As a result there are today many older people surfing which again keeps the idea of who a surfer is changing and evolving. When I was in Hawaii a few years ago my husband and I stayed with a couple who were probably in their 60’s or 70’s. They took us out surfing with them and it was the first time I’d ever surfed with, or known, surfers who weren’t of my generation (give or take a decade!). I wonder now about other female surfers of an older generation, and the changes in surfing and female surfers over the last few years. It could be interesting to look into this and would give a different angle to my project.

In the same way that it would be interesting to look at older surfers now, it would also be interesting to follow a younger surfer over a period of time to observe the changes from now moving forwards. To create a record of the changes, or lack thereof, in surfing/female surfers over the next, say few years.

I had been considering my project as something that would include surfers of all ages, but I don’t think I’d really though in depth about what that means, and the messages that could say. I do have an agenda with my project; to show a more realistic view of who UK female surfers are, to show that media stereotypes of female surfers are not accurate, and to show what it is like being a female surfer in the UK. I hope that this is viewed in a positive way and maybe by thinking about including elements of repeat photography or looking to record the subject over time, this will help to contextualise my work within a larger or more global framework. 

[i] KLETT, M. WOLFE, B. 'Grand Canyon'                                                                           Available at http://byronwolfe.typepad.com/klettwolfe/grand-canyon/                        [Accessed 03/06/2017]

[ii] HUGHES, M. 'Souvenirs'                                                                                                   Available at http://www.hughes-photography.eu/portfolio/souvenirs-gallery/?v=79cba1185463 [Accessed 03/06/2017]