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……