Niki South Student number: 514516
Create at least two sets of photographs telling different versions of the same story. The aim of the assignment is to help you explore the convincing nature of documentary, even though what the viewer thinks they see may not in fact be true. Try to make both sets equally convincing so that it’s impossible to tell which version of the images is ‘true’.
Choose a theme and aim for 5–7 images for each set, depending on your idea. Discuss this with your tutor.
However you choose to interpret the brief, ensure the images are candid and ‘taken from real life’. Be experimental and take some risks. Perhaps you could make a list of ideas and choose the most challenging or absurd option to stretch yourself.
Include an introduction of 300 words outlining what you set out to do and how you went about it. Also send to your tutor the relevant pages of your learning log or your blog url.
Two sides to the story – “How can I see what I see, until I know what I know?” (Martins, 2009)
My story is of a coastal market town both in revival and in decline. Historically it was a Norman stronghold, an important Port and market town, its main industry now is tourism. Both sides of the story can be seen around the town. Although the town in revival is the most visible story to the uninformed, the truth is that the town is in a deep decline and in welfare terms “deprived”. The visiting tourist without knowledge of the facts and statistics could miss the signs of deprivation. After my research I expected to find more visible signs of poverty than I did. I did not find housing outwardly in bad condition, signs of the homeless or unemployed on the streets.
Finding subject matter for the town in revival story was easy, however visible signs of human poverty were not so evident. Consequently I concentrated on developing shots of decaying and neglected buildings and businesses to show the local deprivation; the one exception being a busy charity shop, another sign of local poverty. I researched Urban decay photographers and street photographers (see research: https://nkssite2.wordpress.com/category/a1-research/) and ultimately took some direction from Stephen Shore and Walker Evans on shooting the commonplace and documentary respectively. I felt I could only see what I saw, because I knew the local context, so I was conscious of framing to convey the correct narrative for the viewer and then added captions (usually present in documentary photography) to accentuate the truth I wanted to present. I would have liked to shoot in a more stylised way, such as art documentary, but wanted the images to have a clear narrative, whilst the reviving town shots would not have suited this style.
When editing I sought to give a coherent visual style to each series and chose images which had either good lines or angles, heightened attention on one object, straight on or an interesting perspective and that framed the narrative correctly. I have struggled to find artistic satisfaction in the images but I believe that they do document two stories that could be true.
M, J. (2009) Edgar Martins: How can I see what I see, until I know what I know? Available at: http://jmcolberg.com/weblog/2009/07/edgar_martins_how_can_i_see_what_i_see_until_i_know_what_i_know/ (Accessed: 24 October 2016).
Cosgrove, B. (2012) “American photographs” by Walker Evans. Available at: http://time.com/50857/walker-evans-american-photographs/ (Accessed: 30 October 2016).
Golden, R. (2013) Masters of photography. 3rd edn. London: Sterling Pub Co.
Information and maps of walks in the cardigan area and beyond (no date) Available at: http://www.visitcardigan.com/cardigan-tourist-information/walking-in-the-cardigan-area (Accessed: 25 October 2016).
Mathew Merrett (no date) Available at: http://thephotomat.smallfolio.com/#galleries/decay/urban-decay (Accessed: 26 October 2016).
O’Hagan, S. (2015b) Shady character: How Stephen Shore taught America to see in living colour. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2015/jul/09/stephen-shore-america-colour-photography-1970s (Accessed: 31 October 2016).
Robinson, H. (2015) “Concern” as tenth charity shop opens in cardigan. Available at: http://www.tivysideadvertiser.co.uk/news/13624531._Concern__as_tenth_charity_shop_opens_in_Cardigan/?ref=mr&lp=3 (Accessed: 25 October 2016).
Rossington, B. and Miller, C. (2016)The most deprived places have been revealed – how does your area compare? Available at: http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/10-worst-deprived-places-england-6548105 (Accessed: 25 October 2016).
Shore, S. (1984) Uncommon places. New York: Aperture,N.Y.
Shore, S. (2010)The nature of photographs: A primer. 2nd edn. New York: Phaidon Press.
Walker Evans (1903–1975) | essay | Heilbrunn Timeline of art history | the metropolitan museum of art (2000) Available at: http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/evan/hd_evan.htm (Accessed: 30 October 2016).