As I mentioned in a previous post I was asked if I could provide a copy of the images I took for the charity to use themselves for their new website. To ensure that they had a good variety of images to choose from I photographed all the activities taking place that day.
They were really pleased with the images and Ruth said they would put them on the large board in the cafe that is used to display and sell work from their art group. I assumed that this would be a set of 6 x 4 prints but have since been advised that they have had some A4 prints done (which look lovely apparently) and the “exhibition” will be on show for two weeks at the end of March !
Ok so it’s not the same as having a gallery exhibition but I rarely even print my images so I’m quite excited at seeing them printed and displayed to the public.
I’m very happy to have received very positive feedback from my tutor on this assignment, both on the images themselves and on my approach to both the assignment and the people involved.
The only slight negative surrounds the use of two images without people, with my tutor saying that she is a little less sure about the use of these since the aim of the assignment is to document people.
Whilst I would be the first to acknowledge that these are definitely the two weakest images within the set I do think that they have a valid place in the set and were included as a response to the point raised in the assignment test “Is there a potential here to vary pace and maintain interest”. These are included as “scene setting” shots and I believe have enough evidence of human action to warrant a place even without people being included. The first image was the opening shot and is intended to convey the start of the day with food laid out alongside utensils ready for someone to return and start work. The second image depicts the mid-point of the day with a cake baked and a slice or two already eaten, the missing slices I feel are enough of a suggestion of activity that the lack of people isn’t such an issue.
This was not raised as a major criticism but I did feel it was a point worth responding to and explaining my reasoning for the inclusion of these shots.
I’ve been reading this book on and off over the last few weeks and have now finally finished. The on and off isn’t a reflection of the book in any way it’s just the way I seem to read photography books, I get through several fiction books whilst I’m reading just one photography book. I have to say this is a really well written and informative book, its written in a conversational sort of style that makes for easy reading and it’s another book that’s ended up with coloured highlighter stickers poking out all over it.
One of the opening sentences is “The subject of this book is the expression of vision or intent” and it goes on to say “Intent…is what you mean to say”, now this is something I have long struggled with, the idea that my images need to be saying something. It’s also something that the reading of this book has suddenly made much, much clearer – an image does not need to be saying something deep and meaningful, it can simply be expressing your own response to something and the way that you see it. So you could, for instance, photograph a sunrise and that image could simply be an expression of something that you found beautiful and it’s still saying something without a need for a deeper and more complex meaning. It may not be to everyone’s taste and it may not be well done (and the book is really about learning to express yourself) but it still says something. This is probably really obvious to everyone else but its been a little slow to dawn on me !!
Another interesting theme that arose for me (although it’s really just a variation of the above) is that an image be a representation how something felt rather than how something actually looked – another bit of a lightbulb moment for me that helps me understand what draws me to soft focus photography such as this image which I took at Blackpool last week when I was shooting for my portfolio:
There’s not a great deal of detail in the image, it’s certainly not an attempt to tell anyone what Blackpool beach looked like that day but it’s very much an attempt to say how it felt to me. Other people will view it in their own way and no doubt project their own feelings on to the image but to me it was cold and empty but held a certain sort of beauty.
So all in all it’s a book I benefitted very much from reading and its yet another that I will certainly re-visit at some point.
Its taken a long time to reach this point, much longer than with my other courses for some reason that I’m not quite sure of, although there is a lot of work involved in this first section. Anyway my assignment has now been sent of to my tutor and the full set of images can be seen here on Flickr, some of the images have been uploaded with a privacy setting so that they can only be seen by members of the OCA group so apologies to anyone who can’t see the full set of eleven.
The day was challenging in many ways, I had put myself into a situation where I needed to be constantly explaining what I was doing and asking people if they were OK with me taking their picture. It’s not a situation I’ve been in before and since most people either had or were recovering from some form of mental health issue I had absolutely no idea how I would be received but it turned out that I needn’t have worried. I explained what I was doing and then tried to stay quietly in the background just asking whenever I wanted to photograph someone in particular. Everyone agreed, some seemed pleased to be asked and I was approached a few times by people who wanted to be photographed.
All in all it was a very enjoyable and fulfilling day, fingers crossed for the feedback !
Just a brief update on progress since my previous post…..
I decided to pursue the idea of working with a charity and wrote a post on my own blog which can be seen here and shared the post on Twitter. Within minutes I had a response suggesting Bolton Steps may be happy to be involved and within the half hour I had a meeting set up to go and have a look around and see if it was suitable. The power of social media !!
The visit went well, Bolton Steps is a wonderful charity providing support and encouragement to local people with mental health problems and I realised there was plenty of photographic opportunities. The charity is currently redeveloping its website and would like to use some of my images which I am more than happy with.
I’ll be adding a post with some more details and images shortly.