LEARNING LOG: PHOTOGRAPHING THE UNSEEN

“DISAPPOINTMENT”

THE PROCESS

Planning

My initial brainstorm did probably lead me down conventional channels, which I struggled to engage with. I then toyed with the idea of using a white shirt as a prop and developed a narrative for that. About the same time I reviewed the feedback for Expressing Your Vision and it seems that the area I need to develop is showing my creativity. So I went back to the drawing board.

unseen-brainstorm-1500

It had been a difficult few months for my family for a variety of reasons and the sudden decline of my father made a sad end to the year. So I decided to use the assignment to express my current feelings and the disappointments of the previous few months which were weighing heavily on me. Hence the subject: Disappointment. With a personal focus to the assignment I suddenly found it easier to move forwards.

I did a lot of research over the development of this assignment and much less photography than normal, but this suited me as I was in a heavily reflective mode. I researched some photographers who were photographing the unseen, see: https://nkssite2.wordpress.com/2017/02/05/research-for-photographing-the-unseen-part-1/). This gave me some starting points:

  • Photograph subjects not for what they are but for what they might suggest.
  • Creating an image that causes a response in the viewer.
  • Eliminating everything unwanted in a frame.
  • Build narrative meaning by recontextualising.

I also visited the Feminist Avant Garde photographers of the 1970s exhibition:  https://nkssite2.wordpress.com/category/research-reflection/exhibitions-books/a2-exhibition/. This exposed me to the variety of ways that ideas could be shared with a viewer and inspired me to research further conceptual photographer’s focusing on expression and interpretation, (https://nkssite2.wordpress.com/category/research/a2-research/). The learning points that I took away  are:

  • The art of creation before holding the camera.
  • The use of everyday objects to represent an idea.
  • The power of combining text and visual messages.
  • Photographing as a response to a metaphor.
  • The photograph as a record of my engagement with art.

I decided to represent in my series of images subjects that had caused disappointment around me recently, (exam results, job resignation, death in the family, a home with fractious siblings), all causing me heartache. I then decided on a final image that would encompass all of these disappointments.  I wanted also to link the images and decided that water would feature metaphorically if not physically in all of them. I could immediately ascribe water metaphors to most of my subjects “flushed away”, “washed up”, “hung out to dry” “Floating off” “frozen heart”, where I couldn’t “Cracking up” I did use water physically (the nest was in a muddy puddle). Water is important to me in this work as it is symbolic of weakness and negativity, as well cleansing and the unconscious. I realised as I planned each image that documents/paperwork featured in several of them and decided to carry this across the series, therefore adding paper shreds to the nest and newspaper to the frozen heart image.

mind-map-preparation

Shooting:

Shooting this assignment was a completely different experience for me. I spent the majority of time reflecting and composing each idea and as they were all staged was able to test locations, compositions and exposure before shooting. I used a tripod (which is rare for me) and a new speed lite. My main challenges once the image was composed was the lighting and controlling the exposure. I decided in advance to present in black and white, though I prefer to work in colour I thought that monochrome would be more effective in presenting the subject of disappointment, and looked for composition which would lend themselves to black and white images.

postshooting-mind-map-1500

Editing:

Editing was easier than usual as I had evaluated in most cases as I shot, and before I moved from one subject to the next I reviewed my images. This caused me to make changes as I shot later subjects and I referred frequently to my own learning points from my research. Where I needed to make choices between similar shots I used technical criteria. These are two images that I toyed with using but settled on others eventually. lr-1809-1500-reject

Image 11: I thought the quality and composition was better in image 8

lr-2544-cp-ps-2-1500 Image 50: Although I was keen to focus on the fractured eggs in order to give a context to viewers I decided to use an image that showed the nest (Image 42).

Having settled on my images I ordered them by interspersing the more organic subjects of the nest and the family tree on the wet sand from, the toilet and sink images. I followed these causal subjects with the “frozen heart” and finished with the “Hung out to dry” image,as a  summary and commentary on all the previous images.

mind-map-editing-1500

Once I had chosen to follow a personal path with this assignment it evolved fairly organically. I learnt from my research and hope that it is a metaphorical visceral interpretation combining aesthetic images with self-exploration. I was certainly cathartic for me. What I can’t be certain about is how viewers will react to it, and I guess this is all part of conceptual art, not being in control. The images are a visual representation of disappointments in my recent life, but the question is, will viewers make any sense of the images or see the aesthetics in them?

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