Week 9 - Defining Work

In a 2010 interview[i] regarding their exhibition “Pretty Much Everything - photographs 1985-2010”, held at Foam Fotografiemuseum Amsterdam, Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin describe their work as always being in-between genres. Always sitting somewhere between straight portraiture, art, and fashion photography, but in each case always being about the subject of the photograph. I feel that their work is quite conceptual, planned, with the finished result in mind. Whereas Peter Fraser, in an interview with the Tate[ii] regarding an exhibition of his work at Tate St Ives, discusses a more emotional unplanned way of making photographs. He allows himself to come across something he hasn’t seen before, and when something sparks in his subconscious he makes the photograph. Fraser takes photographs of the small things in life, wanting to show that which often goes unnoticed, but nevertheless make up the bigger picture. Van Lamsweerde and Matadin appear to focus more on a bigger picture, rather then the minutiae of life. Their images are more stylised whereas Frasers are unplanned and more organic in feeling.

Joanna - Hervé Leger Campaign, 1995 © Inez van Lamsweerde & Vinoodh Matadin  Available at: http://photography-now.com/exhibition/67889

Joanna - Hervé Leger Campaign, 1995 © Inez van Lamsweerde & Vinoodh Matadin

Available at: http://photography-now.com/exhibition/67889

Bike Chain, Material 2002, Peter Fraser  Available at: http://www.peterfraser.net/projects/material-2002/

Bike Chain, Material 2002, Peter Fraser

Available at: http://www.peterfraser.net/projects/material-2002/

Looking at these photographers has made me think about where my work sits in the sphere of big picture/small details, and planned/chance photography. Truthfully I feel like it sits somewhere in the middle of all the aforementioned styles & choices. With my project I am trying to capture an overall view of who female UK surfers are, and what UK surfing is like. However rather than just including images of the women surfing I am also looking at the smaller details that make up UK surfing. For example looking at some of the equipment required for cold UK surfing; neoprene wetsuit hoods, boots, and gloves, thick towel robes to change in after surfing, warm layers to change into afterwards etc. I plan meeting up with the surfers I photograph in advance, so from that aspect I plan the photograph shoots, and sometimes I have an idea of what I’m looking to capture, but I don’t often direct the surfers to pose for the camera. I let them prepare as they would normally and I photograph what feels right at the time, akin to Frasers way of working. For some shots I may ask them to look directly at me, or away from me, but that is the limit of direction I give them.

I had previously thought that this was the best way to authentically capture and represent the women in my photographs. This week, however, has me wondering whether this approach may appear to viewers as too haphazard, and lacking in coherency. I need to be careful that the different images still form a logical narrative to convey the desired message. For me both Van Lamsweerde and Matadin’s work, and Fraser’s work, are somewhat connected but also quite disjointed between their individual images. I want my viewers to be able to look at each image individually, but also as a part of the collective. So I need to try to select the photographs that best convey this, and take this aim forward to next module as well.  

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[i] VAN LAMSWEERDE, I & MATADIN, V. 2010. Interview by Foam Fotografiemuseum Amsterdam. Available at: https://youtu.be/W-ITa3S9cMM

Last Accessed: 15Apr2018

[ii] FRASER, P. 2013. Interview with Tate.

Available at: https://youtu.be/F8glmAtCnnU

Last Accessed: 15Apr2018