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Attended oca study day (work in progress)
Study day Derby Photographic Festival
The study started off at the Quad where we all met. It was so good actually meeting other students and tutors, in the flesh so to speak. As this was the first study day I have attended, I went with an open mind, not really knowing what to expect. The exhibit was called; Beyond Evidence: An Incomplete Narratology of Photographic Truths.
We met at the Quad at 11.00hrs and introduced ourselves. There was a nice mixture of students, all taking photography courses, so the input for the day was varied. The two tutors Andy and Derek, were very welcoming and soon had everyone at their ease.
We started off with walking around the ground floor, where a number of photographers had their exhibits. I found that there was not much in the way of explanation about the photographers exhibiting or the name of their panels/images. I was handed and sheet which did have this information on by one of the other students.
The first set of photographs were by Larry Sultan and Mike Mandel. I looked at them and looked again. Some I found interesting, but quite a few I found didn’t make sense. There were some that made me smile and some that just went over my head. I kept questioning some on the images, asking myself, why? Why take this photograph? What’s the meaning behind it? Where is the story? Why doesn’t it make sense? Shall I walk away and find something that will keep my interest longer than a few seconds…. Then I stopped. If I can ask so many questions about an exhibit, then there must be more to it! So, I started again at the beginning. Looked at each one in turn. In the main the photographs were taken around the 1960’s
Further reading on Larry Sultan and Mike Mandel and their images, proved to be an eye opener. David Levi Strauss sums it up in his description in The Books of 101 Books. “The concept for this book is clear-select photographs intended to be used as objective evidence and show that it is never that simple…” and this was not going to be simple, because we come into the realms of postmodernism in photography.
Quote Larry Sultan, “Like a ventriloquist who laughs at his dummy’s jokes, I keep trying to make photographs that seduce me into believing in the image – all the time knowing better, but believing anyway.”
Postmodernism in photography came about in about the second half of the 20th Century. Postmodernism, in my opinion, after viewing this exhibit, means that there are no rules, there is no story. It’s a wysywig, what you see is what you get. The images are what you see on the surface, no depth and having to make your own assumptions on the meaning and story behind the surface. Perhaps for these photographers the concept/idea of the image is more important than the actual print. The fact that there were no rules, does this mean that the abstract or surreal images in front of me, have now ceased to become the image that was in front of the lens, when the shutter was pressed, and are now classed as ‘art’. Modernist would question this. Modernists would say that that these images were unconventional and absurd, but isn’t this what the postmodernist was trying to achieve? To make the viewer question the image. In photography, many a time its said that to be successful you have to be different. You have to produce something that no one else has. Lets take a landscape, portrait, city view or a sunset. How many of these have you seen? Countless I expect, but how often do you see a something like the image like this one above? To the everyday person this untitled piece of work from Larry Sultan in 1977, means nothing.
But taking a look at it for the second time, you see the shadow of the photographer, holding a camera with a large flash attached, the bush that is slowly dying of thirst, the parched ground and grass that has turned to straw for lack of water. The light and shadow emphasising the unseen sun. The pulverised piece of equipment. There is a story there….. my story, what I perceive.
Even in the midday sun, death and decay comes to us all, we make are way towards the light, and then are gone forever.
Shadows/sun drenched ground tells my mind its the “midday sun’, the parched ground and plants wreak of death to me, the light comes from the large flash-light which is seen in shadow, and gone forever is that moment in time as the shutter is pressed.
So while to some modernism is a farce, absurd and uninteresting, to others its a way to make up their own story about that they perceive to be true.
Visited the museum with Jenny, another OCA student who lives a few miles from me. (write up work in progress)
Fantastic day at the NEC photography show. I attended a talk by Adrian Dennis a sports photographer… All I can say is, his work is brilliant and one of his shots is too good for words. He gave some very sound advice and some good tips. The other photographers talks I attended was Don Mccullin and Simeon Dennis. Dons talk was eye opening, such a honest account of his work in areas of conflict. Some very thought provoking work. Simeon put a different perspective on taking photographs, using them to really tell a story and use client experiences to take shots that are not recognised to be the norm. Brilliant but tiring day…. Didn’t get around all the stands as my husband was at day care today and i had to get back in time for him coming home. (work in progress -will add link to write up when its done)
One day Lighting Workshop with a company called fstop10, had a great day in a studio environment. After attending a studio lighting workshop with 10stop last week, I can recommend it to anyone, especially if like me, you have never done studio work before. I found the tutor patient and put me at ease. Help was at hand on every corner.
I wanted to produce a specific image and didn’t now how to go about it, but was soon reassured and pointed in the right direction by the tutor. The size of the class was 8, which gave more than enough time for each one of us to spend time with the models and get the shots we wanted. 1 to 1 tuition during the practical session was a bonus, and questions were encouraged