Final Major Project Reflection 3

This week I have done some work on my third idea of ‘Faith in Photographs’. The idea came after reading about Frederick Douglass’ faith in photography which led him to became one of the most photographed men in America.

I liked the title Faith in Photographs and began to think about how I might be able to photograph other people’s faith, perhaps challenging the stereotypes people have of people of all kinds of religious faith. I chatted it through with one or two of my classmates and have begun to do some research but would really like to chat it through with my tutor before I go any further.

Final Major Project Reflection 2

Yesterday I sent my proposal to my lecturer. He is away for a couple of weeks but promises to get back to me while he is off so that I can start to get on with it.

I have three ideas that I would like feedback on. The first is some kind of documentary project that I think I probably won’t do, the second is a landscape project based on the works of the artist Constable and the third is a an idea that I only came up with this week called Faith in Photographs. I need to do some further work on that one though!

This is the project proposal that I think I will be going with.

Project proposal: Constable Then and Now (Plan A)

I plan to document the modern day scenery of where John Constable (1776-1837) painted and sketched in and around Flatford in Essex.

I will create a set of photographs, linked to GPS coordinates, for a guide that shows what the specific scenery painted and sketched by John Constable looks like today.

Having grown up in the area, and spent a lot of time in Dedham Vale I have heard a lot about Constable and have been familiar with his paintings since I was very young. I have more recently learned about the many sketches he used to inform his paintings and was pleasantly surprised that many of the trees included in these sketches are still standing today.

There are seven paintings and almost 100 sketches that Constable has made in Flatford alone. I will attempt to research and locate the exact spot where Constable sat to produce each piece of artwork and to reproduce that scene as closely as possible.

There are books and Internet resources that show the paintings and sketches but three of the paintings are hanging in galleries in London and another is in Anglesey. I will make a point of visiting those in London. One painting is in private ownership.

I think I would like to use digital to recreate Constable’s sketches but for the major paintings I think I would like to take more time and use film. I have a medium format camera that I would like to learn how to use and propose to use that for the main photos.
I may also choose to experiment and present the final images in different styles and on different surfaces.

Most of Constable’s paintings are of the scene in the height of summer but I plan to recreate the scenes in winter when you are still able to see buildings and details through the trees. I am quite interested to compare the scene in two seasons but given the timings I don’t think that will be possible until after this course ends. I plan to research the different locations over Christmas and return to take photographs in January and February – weather permitting.

This has not been done before for Constable’s paintings and at this stage I am not sure if it has been done for many other landscape photographers. It could be the start of a much wider project with similar guides created for Dedham, Stratford St Mary and East or West Bergholt in the future and a potential to exhibit the photos in the Flatford visitor centre.

I shall need to contact the National Trust in Essex to gain access to some of the locations.
I shall also need to set aside time and travel expenses in order to ensure that I take the photographs that are needed.

This whole project could be delayed due to unsuitable weather.

This is my rich picture showing some of my thinking around the project proposal.

Rich Picture FMP

Final Major Project Reflection 1

We have begun to think about our final major projects and while the rest of the class seem to be fairly focussed on what they want to do I am still very unsure.

I have two or three options that I have been researching this week. One option that I think I am going to discount, but of the other two I just don’t know. At the moment I think I may begin to explore them both and then discount whichever I think is not going to work out in a few weeks.

I’m still to write up the research I have done this week and send it on to my tutor. Perhaps his feedback will help me decide.

Sustenance

This week we have been talking about photo-elicitation and how photographs help us to remember events, places, feelings and more. Auto-elicitation is when one event, place, feeling etc. prompts us to remember another, each one enabling us to tell another story.

Photo-elicitation was first used by American anthropologist John Collier Jr. (1913-1992) who worked for the Farm Securities Administration in the early 1940s. He was influenced by the likes of Dorothea Lange and Paul Strand. I also find it interesting that he suffered accidents that left him with hearing loss and learning disabilities. I wonder if he purposely used photography and photo-elicitation helped him to remember stories himself.

A flickr page has been created with a comprehensive collection of Collier’s photographs.

Our task this week is to create some images that will help us elicit stories on the theme of ‘sustenance.’

The dictionary describes sustenance as ‘the means of sustaining life or nourishment.’

I thought about this and what sustains or nourishes me personally. I could have got quite deep and meaningful and taken photos that talked about God, relationships, family, a sense of purpose, or even love but I chose to go with something much more basic. What can be more basic for our sustenance than bread. It has nourished millions of humans for the past 30,000 years and the range of types of bread found not only in the UK and around the world is vast.

I began by making a couple of loaves of bread myself. I chose to make a honey glazed walnut loaf, one of Mary Berry’s recipes. It is a favourite of both my mum and me and I often make it when I go to stay with her or when she comes to stay with me.

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I think the first time I made this bread was on Boxing Day at my parent’s house where we ate it sliced and filled with prawns as sandwiches. I remember one of my brothers being typically derogatory about the look of it until he went back for seconds or event thirds! Then my niece was telling everyone to wash their hands and not to go near her brother because he is allergic to nuts.

Bread-15

I took my loaves of bread to an event we had at church this weekend. We inducted a new pastor, had a conference and celebrated the church’s anniversary. After all that we shared lunch together as a church family. This photograph is of the ladies that cooked, served and cleared away the food for over 100 people.

These ladies are an amazing team that go into action whenever there is a need for event catering. This reminded me of the wedding that we did in the same hall last summer. I was doing the wedding photographs while this team were decorating the hall, laying tables and creating a very luxurious buffet for around 80 people.

At the same event, some of the young people in the youth group that I run were serving the food and drinks and doing a great job to ensure that everyone had everything they needed. I was very proud of them.

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These are two of my very good friends having a taste of the bread. Both are great fun and have already been with me through many ups and downs. I have an endless supply of stories and recollections about them both individually and together.

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Bread-26

I was pleased to see that my bread was very popular and didn’t last very long at all. However I had only had a small piece of the walnut bread by this time and was getting very hungry.

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Although, this isn’t the bread I made, it is meant to highlight the bigger picture of many of my friends chatting and sharing Sunday lunch together. Bread may be what sustains me physically but my friends and family sustain me socially and emotionally.

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Edgelands

I’ve been given a short assignment to take some photographs on the theme of ‘Edgelands.’ It is a theme that is appearing in many contemporary landscape photographers work. Edgelands being forgotten or abandoned places and particularly those that are along the edge between urban and rural spaces.

Paul Farely and Michael Symmonds Roberts on their book Edgelands, describe these areas like this:

“The wilderness is much closer than you think. Passed through, negotiated, unnamed, unacknowledged: the edgelands – those familiar yet ignored spaces which are neither city nor countryside – have become the great wild places on our doorsteps.

In the same way the Romantic writers taught us to look at hills, lakes and rivers, poets Paul Farley and Michael Symmons Roberts write about mobile masts and gravel pits, business parks and landfill sites, taking the reader on a journey to marvel at these richly mysterious, forgotten regions in our midst.

Edgelands forms a critique of what we value as ‘wild’, and allows our allotments, railways, motorways, wasteland and water a presence in the world, and a strange beauty all of their own.”

Paul Harrison and Nick Dunmer, for their project describe Edgelands as, “a photographic exploration of neglected and largely forgotten landscapes where nature and people have left indelible marks on each other. Unusable, marginalised and unattractive, these wastelands are however embedded with personal and historic resonance.”

Artist George Shaw is well-known for his paintings of the Tile Hill Estate in coventry which identify with this theme. These are two of my favourites from his series ‘Scenes from the Passion’.

Contemporary Australian photographer, Mark Kimber has taken a series of photographs on the theme of Edgelands. They are all taken during the evening or at night and I like the deep blue and orange colours in them.

South African photographer Dewald Botha has taken photographs of Suzhou, in China in a collection called Edge of the city. I think these are the most beautiful pictures that I’ve found on the theme of Edgelands. The foreground is less wilderness and more parkland and the tower blocks give the illusion of a forest in the background.

For my own Edgelands landscapes I took a stroll along the edge of town to places that are signposted as being left to wilderness before development at a later date. On my way I also took a couple of photographs of places that have been neglected.

Although this photograph doesn’t fit with the series above. I’ve included it here because I think it does fit with the theme. It was taken last winter of some stairs going from a public footpath through some woods to the housing estate lower down the hill.

Stairs
Stairs

While I had a nice walk, I’m not sure that these are the type of landscapes that I would normally enjoy taking. Politically I’m sure the council has a plan for most of these areas and they will be converted to housing or industrial land. The land where the cinema used to be is for sale but it has been for several years now and there is no public strategy for the plot that I am aware of.