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