Brief: Most visual artists learn from one another. Both historic and contemporary photographers and visual artists can teach you new things and by learning from them you can bring something new to the subject. So how do you learn from other photographers? There’s a tradition of ‘after’ painting, where an artist copies a master’s work – but in his own style rather than theirs. Pablo Picasso often did this for inspiration. Édouard Manet’s Olympia is slightly different in that it’s a critical response to Alexandre Cabanel’s The Birth of Venus and other such romantic and idealized nudes. Cubism’s visual experimentation was influenced by the work of Paul Cézanne, who had a ‘blocky’ style of painting in daubs of paint. Hannah Starkey’s photographs are clearly influenced by Jeff Wall’s tableau pictures without ever being copies. So really you take from the artist anything that interests you: the arrangement of characters in a scene, the pose of a figure, the way light and dark interact, the type of subject matter, the mixing of media, the visual strategy, etc…
Research point – Self-reflection Throughout this course you’ve been introduced to the work of different photographers to help give you an understanding of the creative potential of photography. Now it’s time to question your own work and identify anything you think is lacking. You don’t have to be over-critical, just honest. • Write down any areas of photography you need to develop. (Your tutor reports should give you some clues here.) • Write what sort of photographs you want to take. Just note down keywords. • Now look through a book like Hacking, J. (2012) Photography: The Whole Story, or Cotton, C. (2014) The Photograph as Contemporary Art (3rd edition) (both London: Thames & Hudson) and try to identify some photographers who have exactly the key elements that you want to attain or just things that interest you. It doesn’t matter if the photographer is contemporary or historic. • Make a note of these key elements. • Now research these photographers online and choose one key photograph to use in the next exercise.
Self – Reflection:
It’s kind of tough to note down points where I need improvement or more practice as there are so many areas. Having touched upon various techniques and skill sets, I think I need a lot of practice in almost every field to reach anywhere near perfection even. Having said that and realizing the vastness of the field of photography, I am aware of the tremendous possibilities that it offers. Attempting various exercises, projects and assignments have helped me develop in areas that I lacked or had limited knowledge about. These were also areas that I had severe mental blocks about. The coursework has helped me to not only get over such self-created limitations but also made me want to have a go at it.
I still find myself reluctant of taking images in the street where people are involved. Considering the fact that India still does not have the freedom of taking pictures anywhere that you would like perhaps has resulted in my mindset. Approaching people to ask for permissions still makes me nervous. Based on my tutor feedback, the other areas that I need to develop further or might want to take forward are:
- Unfinished buildings/ abandoned buildings
- Shadows and Reflections
- Light Painting
- Visual Social Stratification – Juxtaposition between the rich and the poor
- Go inside the slums – identify the dignity amongst the slum dwellers.
- Abandonment and usefulness – Cows on the street, things used and discarded, etc.
Areas for development as per tutor feedback:
- Taking the narrative a step further, away from reference, towards nuance and a new relevance.
- Try to be subtle. Challenge yourself to reduce the ‘effect’ aspect of your photographs in favour of a more subdued expression.
- I think I want to explore more on this subject as through the course I have seen it happening. After Robert pointed it out, I think consciously keep in mind to keep away from the so-called “design image.”
- A telling story
- A moving image
- An abstract
Am now looking at the “Photography – The Whole Story”
- Juxtapositions – Mammoth vs minuscule
- Street Photography
- Portraits – A staged photograph
- The Human condition
- Sociological study /narrative of society
- Social documentary
Photographers that piqued my interest:
- Carl Ferdinand Stelzner – Group Posings
- Hugh Welch Diamond – Melancholy portraits (patients)
- John Thomson
- Eadweard Muybridge
- Jacob Riis – Street Tenement – how the other half lives: Studies amongst the tenements of New York
- Edward Weston – vegetable photography
- Eugene Atget
- Man Ray
- Adam Fuss
- Henri Cartier Bresson – the decisive moment
- Dorothea Lange – migrant mother
I did a narrative sequence based on the feedback I have received but since that is a much larger project, I would like to keep it for another time. For this exercise, I think after much research, I have narrowed down to Edward Weston for various reasons:
- His work on Peppers reminded me of something that I did more than two decades back in design school, with no clue of his existence even at that time. My object of inspiration was a capsicum for a form study for jewelry design form generation.
- Having tried my hand at still photography for the first time in this coursework, I would want to explore more in this area.
- Having started the still life genre, I have been waiting to do something with the forms of the vegetables. I particularly loved the pepper and the cabbage by Edward Weston. His creative skills and focus on the abstract are what I want to experiment with.
- I also wish to combine and perhaps enhance my limited knowledge in lighting to create some abstracts using vegetables as my models.
- Certain capsicums have an uncanny resemblance to the human form and I want to bring that out in an abstract manner.