Informing Contexts PHO702 Week 3 Activity: False Indexes

Sam Taylor Wood 1998,Soliloquy
 

When taking a photograph at present my intention is to display and communicate the subjective, all of my current imagery is based around me showcasing things that are of importance to me. I want to use photography as a platform to communicate my views on subjects, although I have some control over how I present each of the people I photograph to the camera, the subject has a huge amount of impact on the appearance of the final image and this is something that I need to retain in my imagery in order them to be authentic.

fig 1 Arnold Newman image of Alfred Krupp

Arnold Newman’s infamous image of Alfred Krupp is an example of how the photographer has control over how each subject is shown to an audience, The above image was taken by Jewish Photographer Arnold Newman of Nazi war criminal Alfred Krupp. “Armanents manufacturer Alfred Krupp who allegedly used slave labour to make weapons for the Nazis, contacted the famous Newman for a portrait in 1963. Upon finding out that Newman was a Jew, Krupp refused to let him make the photograph. Newman insisted to have Krupp look at his portfolio before making a final decision and after seeing Newman’s portfolio Krupp accepted.” Once commissioned to take images of Krupp, Newman decided to take an image, that showed Krupp in a negative light.

Listening to Newman’s description of how he captured the original photo highlights just how much control he had over the appearance of this image and so in reference to Linda Hutcheon’s assertion that contemporary photography ‘exploits and challenges both the objective and the subjective, the technological and the creative’  I’d have to agree. The above image uses a combination of negative semiotics and creative lighting to create a very sinister atmosphere; the sitter has lent forward at the time of the shutter depression and everything in the picture combines effectively to present his subject in a very negative light.

The photographer in this instance has embedded his feelings towards the subject into the image, However when capturing a subject for which Newman may have held positive thoughts towards the tone and overall presentation of the final image differs dramatically as evidenced in this image taken Newman captured of Erhard Weyhe. Newman has managed to embed a positive feeling within the image by using positive semiotics and lighting the image in a more balanced manner. The scene in which the photo was captured also communicates something about the sitter who appears comfortable and relaxed.

Image result for arnold newman

Fig 2. Arnold Newman photo of Erhard Weyhe

The subjective and the objective are a grey area in documentary photography, in any instance where the photographer dictates to the subject where to sit and how to present themselves to the camera and then decides how to compose and frame the image is not truly objective. The photographer has embedded some subjectivity it would be very difficult for any photographer to not be influenced by their views when taking an exposure.

Authenticity is very important in my images, for every photo shoot, I usually bring a very minimal amount of equipment, I do not dictate the the events or bring backing and props to create a scene. On each occasion The subject will sit in a location in which they are comfortable and I will attempt to capture each image without informing the subject of where I’d like them to sit. On many of these occasions the person I am photographing will decide to change when I arrive or rearrange things in their house so they have some element of control over how they are presented to the camera.

When I am taking a street photograph the process involved is dramatically different, I’ll ensure that I have no contact or conversation with the people in my image and whenever possible I try not to alert the people within the frame that I am taking a picture.  Robert Doisneau said “The marvels of daily life are exciting; no movie director can arrange the unexpected that you find in the street,” the limits of my creative control in this situation is my ability to determine exposure and composition everything else is beyond my control.

Street photo

Fig 3. Photo by Richard Hamilton, The Balloon Seller

This is dependant on a number of variables but in order for my images to be a true representation of the subject it is an essential that the images I capture are authentic in how they are presented.

Is my photographic practice a dichotomy? My viewpoint, that I have limited control over my subject, but complete control over my composition conflict with one another the contrast between the two stances is somewhat difficult to communicate. whilst I may be able to have an input unless I control every aspect of all elements within a photograph then my initial statement is in contrast to the actuality of the photographic exposure.One can never have complete control over all aspects of a photograph. an aspect of the image, a variable no matter how small or large will beyond the control of the photographer.

    • How does viewing context influence this relationship?

The context in which an image is viewed and the stance of the person viewing it has a major impact on interpretation and sentiment towards an image. The photographs that I am taking for my current project are influenced by my positive feelings towards the Caribbean diaspora my fond memories of interactions with people from the Wind-rush generation perhaps nostalgia plays a huge part in my current feelings towards this generation.

When capturing each of my subjects I have attempted to ensure that the colours are as vibrant as Caribbean culture is, the memories I have of cluttered living rooms have turned out to be a true reflection of many people from this generation, perhaps due to displacement? and so I attempt to ensure that this is also captured in my imagery (Many subjects want to tidy around or ask me to not use images with clutter. All of this when combined evokes positive memories for me and my hope is that the viewer will feel the same way when looking at the image.

However I know that the stance of the person looking at the image will be a determining factor on how it is interpreted, many people with whom I’ve discussed this project with have very little understanding of the background behind the Wind-rush movement and the impact that this has had  so all though colour can be used as a conveyor of mood, my supporting text can be a means of communicating a narrative each persons individual biases and viewpoints before looking at each of the images will be the determining factor in how each of my images is received.

How each of my images is received is important to me, I capture my subjects with the intention of communicating a message to an audience and to highlight an opinion on this message. However I understand that this is not something that I can control entirely I can only influence and present my views the individual will then complete their interpretation of the image.

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ENCYCLOPAEDIA OF PHOTOGRAPHY

 The marvels of daily life are exciting; no movie director can arrange the unexpected that you find in the street. – Robert Doisneau

Encyclopaedia of photography. (1984). 6th ed. New York: Crown.

YouTube. (2019). Arnold Newman talks about taking Alfred Krupp portrait. [online] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4WoJOAj9r6w [Accessed 12 Mar. 2019].

 Armanents manufacturer Alfred Krupp who allegedly used slave labour to make weapons for the Nazis, contacted the famous Newman for a portrait in 1963. Upon finding out that Newman was a Jew, Krupp refused to let him make the photograph. Newman insisted to have Krupp look at his portfolio before making a final decision and after seeing Newman’s portfolio Krupp accepted.

In-text: (Iconic Photos, 2019)

Your Bibliography: Iconic Photos. (2019). Alfred Krupp. [online] Available at: https://iconicphotos.wordpress.com/2009/05/05/Alfred-Krupp/ [Accessed 12 Mar. 2019].