Informing Contexts PHO702 Week 1 Forum: Where Am I Now?
After having completed PH701 positions and practice I am still in the process of understanding what I want from photography, I still find it difficult to categorise myself as a photographer. My photographic practice was initially driven primarily from commercial perspective the majority of my content was based around portraiture and wedding photography, with time I have fallen out of love with these areas of photography.
More and more I realise that I use my camera as an instrument and by nature I am a voyeuristic person, my photographic interests are extremely diverse. I usually have a camera with me wherever I am and the subject in front this camera has varied from landscapes to people and events. With time street photography became something that I was hugely enamoured with.
Is all photography somewhat voyeuristic? Susan Sontag wrote, “Photography is a privileged moment” in her seminal work On Photography. Photographs are intimate – they momentarily erase distance and time, or appear to. My thought process in relation to photography has and continues to change.
Recently Documentary photography is something that I have begun to feel very passionate about, whether street photography , or pre-planned social commentary on an event, person or some other contemporary topic.
The image I capture does not always require a narrative that I am aware of, each images has its own genesis and in some instances this is obvious and I am aware of it but on other occasions it’s a mystery.
People have used imagery to communicate narratives since the beginning of time photography continues that tradition and also allows the photographer to educate the viewer on their on how they see things. And as previously mentioned although I may not be aware of the story and how we came to arrive at that opportune moment.
“The ideal way to represent a complex event, it was argued by 18th century German dramatist and critic, Gotthold Lessing is to show the “pregnant moment”, where the past, present and future of an image can be summed up in one moment.” [Bate, D. (2009). Photography: The Key Concepts (The key concepts). 2nd ed. Berg Publishers, p.68.]
Interestingly whenever the shutter is depressed and the image is captured that is the ‘pregnant moment’; there exists in my opinion no perfect moment to capture an image only the moment at which it is taken and this is always the culmination of all events leading up to this point.
My process whilst out taking street photographs changes regularly and is impacted by the camera that I have access to, with street photography I prefer to be as discreetly as possible so as not to impact the dynamic of the environment the reaction that people have to being caught on camera is something that I typically want to avoid.
Discretion allows me to capture the moment as I see it without my presence changing how the event unfolds, a Panasonic Lumix GX85 is my primary digital camera when taking street photographs as this allows me to capture the image using WIFI from my phone the image quality and benefits when using this are numerous. In addition to this I have begun to shoot using a Canon Eos 3000 (35mm) and a Mamiya C220 (120) and process my own film this has allowed me to become more confident as a photographer.
The process involved with shooting film requires me to be more patient before each exposure, at the moment for comfort and security I bring a Digital camera on all shoots with me alongside my film camera this is to ensure that I am able to take an exposure using both sets of camera ensuring that the image is always captured.
My current project focusses on “The Windrush generation” a generation of people that immigrated to the UK between 1948 and 1971 (Some argue 1973) this generation of people were invited to move to the UK to work and to help repair the nation after the damage caused by years of war.
This differs from street photography dramatically although both are documentary photography the composition is entirely determined by the photographer and the subject, the ‘pregnant moment’ is a designed one as opposed to a chance happening.
I am a big fan of Democratic vision, the capability of people to present themselves as they want to be presented to an audience, documentary photography has been used in many instances as a tool of change it allows the photography to creatively inform an audience about a subject or in this instance group of people. It allows the photographer to humanise the subject and potentially encourages empathy from the audience in addition to creating an awareness.
My practice as a photographer is something that has changed dramatically as of late, the camera has become a means to an end and documenting the event communicating the narrative has become the primary motivation behind my practice. Documentary photography allows me to tackle modernities such as the current Wind-rush scandal and communicate to audiences from a variety of backgrounds that may otherwise not be unaware of the details of some of this contemporary issue.