Informing Contexts: Week 8. Independent Reflection W/C 16/03/2018

Following on from last weeks work where I described myself as being the storyteller/photographer I came across the following in one of our presentations.

“Photographs in themselves do not narrate, photographs preserve instant appearance” (Berger, 2013, P52)

The presentation goes on to say

“but again what happens when we do not know what the subject matter of that appearance actually is so how do we encourage narration” (Cosgrove, 2017, Speaking Photographically Presentation)

This quote from Berger and the following quote from Steph is actually really appropriate to my project work. With my style of photography this was an issue that was becoming apparent, viewers couldn’t see my viewpoint and couldn’t understand. It may still be possible that now without my narrative being explained and the viewers being talked through my work the understanding may still not be there, because the concept is not a common one maybe.

In Jeff Wall’s interview he was of the opinion that a picture cannot tell a story because it is a still. I feel a little confused by this. The saying I have always believed is a picture is worth a thousand words, so it is my belief that an image can speak to a person without telling the story that the image is meant to be putting over.

Below are the images I prepared for this weeks work, again touching upon new beginnings, death, but also vanity.

Feedback being received this week particularly through the Webinar is that my photographs are struggling to tell their story this could perhaps be that the stages of life that I am choosing or the way that I am shooting them. It’s something that I’m going to really have to think about because if viewers are still missing what I’m trying to do perhaps its time to reconsider the project as a whole.

I was pointed in the direction of two photographers this week. The still life work of Roger Ballen and also Peter Fraser, who I knew from the Two Blue Buckets image.

First of all I looked at Roger Ballen’s ( work. I looked at the still life images in the projects Shadow Chamber (2005), Boarding House (2009), Animal Abstraction (2011) along with some of the other collections. On  a purely viewer level it was not an enjoyable experience for me. However I can see elements that I can take from the images. For instance we both work in square format in black and white. Ballen’s work is far grittier than mine, to me it shows everything with a sense of darkness. For example Cat in box (2002) from the Shadow Chamber collection. I get a sense of entrapment, fear, confusion. The emotions I gain from this and others like it is what I need to have the viewers feel from my own work. So not only will I need to consider the lighting of my image but also my composition perhaps, through creating the scene for my inanimate objects and shooting them in this way. Creating a location and a scenario just for the object. This is very much something that I can take with me from Ballen’s work.

Cat In Box – Roger Ballen – 2002

In quite a contrast to the work of Ballen’s I also looked at the work of Peter Fraser ( and in particular the collections Lost For Words (2010), Nazraeli Monograph (2006) but the collections Material (2002) and Everyday Icons (1986) were the ones that resonated with me.

Whilst I work in black and white and Fraser in colour the picture of what it think is wire is the type of image compositionally that I would want to be able to produce. The interest is in the item, you can see all different types of textures from harsh metals, to moist grease like substances. This is the part that draws me in so much and something I want to appear so interesting in my own work.

Big Red Cable – Peter Fraser – 2002

The sole focus is on the insides of the product and whilst there are items in the background I don’t find them distracting, which is a problem that I have been experiencing in my own images. the composition is certainly an area that I can learn a great deal from but again also the lighting techniques used.

The research that I have completed into Ballen and Fraser this week has been really helpful in showing me techniques that I can try to put into practice to improve my images and therefore increase not only the impact of my own images but also try to get a deeper reaction to the meaning of my images.



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