Photographic Futures: Work experience – Day 6 (and a half)

 23/05/2017

Pre-visit research:

Shorne woods country park is one of the most popular country parks in Kent. It plays host to ancient woodlands, fishing lakes, heathland meadows, a sensory garden, picnic and play areas, an eco visitor centre (including a cafe), a number of trails (ranging from 1 to 6.2 miles in length), a space and meeting room (for events and workshops) and finally, educational programs and a ‘Forest school’ programme.

Pre-existing imagery (www.visitgravesend.co.uk):

(Shouldn’t be too difficult to top those…)

Post-visit summary:

I decided to travel to the park via bus (had I known the price of the service beforehand…) which departed at around 13:50. I was rather nervous going in, as I feared that it would be another case of, this-could-be-anywhere – and unfortunately, it mostly was. If you have yet to have noticed yourself, most woods look rather similar, Shorne country park (which is largely comprised of woodland) is no exception and thus, it was rather difficult. Being one of the most popular country parks in Kent, even early afternoon on a weekday, the visitor centre/cafe/picnic area was very busy – this meant I wasn’t able to get any images of these areas. I’m not confident enough to ask strangers whether or not they’d like to be in a picture, which is something I need to get over, but adding further awkwardness to the situation, I hadn’t proof on me who I was shooting for and the employee at the employer is also currently on a week’s holiday. So, I had to pass on these locations. I instead focused on the woods and its trails, which are very popular amongst walkers, families, cyclists and runners. I managed to get some images of the… uhm… exercise equipment? I’m not too sure what these contraptions were, but I photographed them nonetheless. I also managed to stumble upon the faerie garden and what I believe was the picnic area, both of which I was able to capture. Overall, I feel it was a mildly successful trip. It’s a shame I wasn’t able to photograph the aforementioned areas, but I did spend a lot of time (4 hours) capturing what I could. I left at around 6pm. Below are some of the images I captured. Oh and all the bluebells were either dead or withering.

Images:

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Again, not my general aesthetic style, but I tried to achieve an aesthetic I felt was applicable for their use.

Photographic Futures: Work experience – Day 5 (and a half)

 22/05/2017

Today’s shoot location was, Higham. Unfortunately, as with all past locations, Higham is essentially comprised of the same kinds of subjects; with churches and pubs making up the bulk of what I can photograph. This sort of photography is very restrictive, much more so than I had previously envisioned. I cannot capture people within the images I take, at least not so they are identifiable, car license plates are also a problem and as is the fact that on a fundamental level, a village is a village is a village. Sure, to the local or the familiarised, they’ll likely be able to discern that a nondescript residential street is one from (enter example here), but for the audience these images will be targeted at, said street could be situated in any of the locations I have shot so far. Other than churches and pubs and perhaps the occasional unique point of interest, there isn’t much else to photograph that would be of interest to the audience (tourists)… And thus I have found myself photographing a lot of churches and a lot of pubs, but little else. Nobody, after all, wants to travel to a village to see its minimart, no matter how splendid of a minimart it may be. Also, it was very hot and I was out for a good 4 hours in the sun, I then recovered in my room, editing and sorting the images for a further 2-3 hours, some of which can be seen below.

Images:

Processed with VSCO with a6 presetSt Mary's - Higham 2 compressedSt. John's - Higham interiorHigham - Gardener's arms pubHigham - Country laneHigham - St. John'sHigham - St. Mary's interior

Photographic Futures: Work experience – Subjects by location

A list of locations within Gravesham and their respective subjects of interest.

Higham

Gad’s hill place – Former home of Charles Dickens

St. Mary’s church – Several hundred year old grade 1 listed church that sits upon the marshes

St. John’s parish church

Train station

Marshes – Landscape, trails.

The Gardener’s arms pub

The Larkin Memorial – *Need to research exact location*

Canal

Chalk

Charles Dicken’s – Honeymoon location, wrote early instalments of the Pickwick Papers here, Old forge featured in his works, Great expectations, still stands.

Church – St. Mary the virgin

Meopham

Windmill

Village green

Pubs – Many

Churches – St. John the baptist, St. Mildred’s, Mount Zion bapist, South street baptist, St. Pauls

Owl’s castle

Train station

Vigo

Trosley country park – Trails, landscape

Village hall

Vigo inn

 

Photographic Futures: Work experience – Day 4 (and a half)

15/05/2017

Travelled to Shorne (45 minutes there and back) and took images of the village, church and one of the two pubs (2.5 hours). Unfortunately, the weather turned and so I was forced to leave sooner than I had intended and wish to. The village is rather larger than I had been aware of and another trip would be necessary to capture it all. Sorted and edited the images (2 hours), some of which can be found below.

Images:

Shorne - Rose and crownShorne - Village sign

Photographic Futures: Work experience – Day three (and a half)

11/05/2017

Contacted employer, asking for some form of hierarchy to the locations and shots. Spent 2 hours researching all remaining locations (existing shots, history, areas of interest etc.). Travelled to Gravesend and spent 1 hour taking images, but had to leave due to poor health. Spent a further hour sorting and editing images. Particularly didn’t enjoy photographing the Pocahontas stature, really not my thing, but I gave it a go (I hate photographing art, it just feels… wrong). I will be returning to Gravesend at a later point, to capture some of the town. It is a lot more voluminous than any of the other locations, so some planning shall be required to ensure an efficient and successful trip. For the Pocahontas I used a lower angle to try and block out as much of the rather unsightly St. George’s centre as I could, luckily, the sun had just fallen behind the tree that was situated behind the statue, which gave the image an extra boost.

For the images of St. George’s church, I focused on the spire and unique compositions (as per request from the employer). The church is very large, but the grounds not so much, the surrounding area is also very built up and thus the church is quite tightly enclosed. This meant it was simply impossible for me to take a full portrait of the church, hence my decision to focus on the spire, which is easily the most iconic part of the building and is visible for miles around. Images follow below.

Images:

Photographic Futures: Major project proposal

Whilst undertaking contextual and/or conceptual research for many, if not all, of my past projects, I would oftentimes happen upon quotes that greatly resonated with my work. Of course, this would be expected in ones research and so I’m not drawing attention to their mere discovery, that isn’t of interest. What is of interest, was the frequency in which one particular individual was accredited to these quotes – the late Anthropologist, Ernest Becker.

My work’s themes; typically associated with existentialism, anxiety, angst, depression, mortality and a jolly few not-so-jolly others, frequently exposed me to the work’s of Becker, particularly that of his 1974 Pulitzer Prize winning book, ‘The Denial of death’. A culmination of Becker’s life’s work that, and I quote from the blurb of the book that currently sits upon my lap, ‘Ernest Becker passionately seeks to understand the basis of human existence. Addressing the fundamental fact of existence as man’s refusal to acknowledge his own mortality… Becker views human civilisation as an attempt to transcend a sense of mortality as mankind seeks heroic acts (a sense of heroism is the central fact of human nature) to become part of something eternal’.

Now, I have only just taken receipt of the book itself, so shan’t pretend to be familiar with it’s innards – but upon flicking through, I stumbled upon a comment on man’s (and woman’s) dualism that particularly interested me, ‘Man has a symbolic identity that brings him sharply out of nature. He is a symbolic self, a creature with a name, a life history. He is a creator with a mind that soars out to speculate about atoms and infinity, who can place himself imaginatively at a point in space and contemplate bemusedly his own planet. This immense expansion, this dexterity, this ethereality, this self-consciousness gives to man literally the status of a small god in nature… Yet, at the same time… man is a worm and food for worms. This is the paradox; he is out of nature and hopelessly in it; he is dual, up in the stars and yet housed in a heart-pumping, breath-gasping body that once belonged to a fish and stills carries the gill marks to prove it’. To quote Becker one last time, ‘Man is literally split into two; he has an awareness of his own splendid uniqueness in that he sticks out of nature with a towering majesty, and yet he goes back into the ground a few feet in order blindly and dumbly to rot and disappear forever’.

I have a point to make here somewhere, so I will try. As I have spoken about in many past project evaluations and as is visibly evident, my work has steadily become more and more cinematic. This is of stark contrast to the work I produced pre-studies and can be wholly sourced and, still largely but not quite wholly, accredited to the works of Gregory Crewdson (example of his work below). Crewdson’s work resonated with me immediately, as for why eluded me for nearly two years, but I think I have finally worked it out, through drawing affinity with Becker’s words and Crewdson’s visuals. Crewdson’s work for me then, illustrates the tensions of man; tensions between beauty and despair, love and anguish, hope and hopelessness, but ultimately between the ‘symbolic self’ and the ‘heart pumping, breath-gasping body’ – life then as an agitated flux in which we are forever trying to suppress, sugar-coat and ultimately transcend the reality of our absurd situation.

CREWD 2007.Untitled (The Father)

Untitled (The father) – Beneath the roses by Gregory Crewdson

It is precisely this agitation, these tensions, that I look to explore in my major project. The project’s main theme of investigation will be the duality of man, man as at once being the ‘symbolic self’, the small god, and the ‘heart-pumping, breath-gasping’ worm. I must note that Crewdson has repeatedly stated in interview that he does not know what his images mean and that in creating them, he is searching for that meaning. His work is open to conjecture and therefore, the meaning for which I have extracted and that shall subsequently form the basis of my project, is one that I have concluded myself and not merely copied.

I intend for the project to be a combination of self-portraiture and portraiture, but can envision the inclusion of landscape, still life and perhaps even documentary photography, too. I am very interested in the psychological nature and subsequent effect of my images, and so hope for my images to evoke a sense of the aforementioned tensions and the longing to transcend – to be part of something eternal. I guess in summary, the project is a meditation on the human experience; one of dualism, longing, escapism and denial.

My contextual research for the project will focus on man’s dualism, the human condition, psychology, escapism, the mythologised everyday (patterns, repetitions, distractions, denial), heroism, the insatiability of humankind, mysticism etc. Visually I will look to artists such as Gregory Crewdson, Philip Lorca DiCorcia, Sophie Calle, Edward Hopper etc. I feel my research for past projects, particularly its scope into other mediums (poetry, painting, sculpture, installation, literature, music, religion and mythology etc.), has been very limited. I find the sheer quantity of it all rather intimidating, but have long regret not probing and sourcing different areas and mediums of research. This is something I really want to change in my approach to research for my final, major project – but something I undeniably need help in getting started with, in finding a structure, routine and method that works for me.

Library literary search:

Rough plan and time-frame for my major project:

September – November

Extensive research into the project’s themes and interests, namely:
  • Existentialism
  • The Human Experience
  • Escapism
  • Neurosis

November – December

Refining concept and begin visual research:
  • Decide final key areas of interest for the project and work
  • Visual research – Artists, aesthetic style, mood, symbolism, meaning etc.

December – January

Begin planning images:
  • Location scout – Check sites for viability
  • Brainstorm
  • Sketch out ideas
  • Clothing, lighting, equipment etc.
  • Test shots

January – May

Long production stage:
  • Consider final outcome (Publication, large/small prints, installation etc.)
  • Shooting
  • Editing
  • Sorting
  • Critiquing (personal and peer)
  • Allow time for the images to develop organically and for adjustment and amendments
  • Mounting

Image source:

http://www.americanphotomag.com/interview-gregory-crewdson-mystery-everyday-life

Photographic Futures: Work experience – Day two (and a half)

07/05/2017

Travelled to Luddesdown, spent around 3-4 hours taking images and travelling. Very rural and small location, largely known for its landscapes and thus I focused on that. It’s quite the task, trying to think and see like a non-photographer (who seem to love garish over processing and funny angles). I spent a further 2-3 hours editing the images.

Holly Luddesdown - Compressed

Update (29/05/2017):

As part of a rather long bike ride, I passed through Luddesdown and managed to get a shot of the village sign I missed previously. Unfortunately, I only had my phone and it seems it was a little fogged up from the heat, regardless, here’s the image:Processed with VSCO with a6 preset