Julian Germain - For Every Minute You Are Angry You Lose Sixty Seconds of Happiness
Wolfgang Muller - Karat: Sky Over St Petersburgh
Stephen King - Lewis's Fifth Floor: A Department Story
In short, I found that the Germain book had a strong and moving narrative. This is an element of photography that I really enjoy and would like to try and emulate in my own work. The Muller book was gritty and hard hitting. The King book had strong elements of design and composition in keeping with photographing the iconic interiors. My reflections on the books has made me aware of the different approaches that can be used when faced with a project and that some are more suited than others.
I spent a lot of time reflecting on these different elements and felt a bit flummoxed when I came to deciding what to photograph. My tutor had suggested finding some derelict buildings and I did look at this. I also toyed with the idea of photographing the interior of closed retail units. What brought me up short in all of these ideas was the course requirement to photograph between four and five different buildings. I really wanted a strong narrative theme to link my images and I couldn't see a way of doing this that would also be possible within a two month time frame that I had set myself to complete this assignment. The retail units in particular would need time consuming access to be requested and granted. The typological approach could be used like the Bechers but that was an approach that I didn't want to explore at this particular moment.
I finally settled on a concept that is stretching the brief somewhat but does fit within the style and methodology shown in the three photobooks listed above. I wanted to follow my sister around from building to building as she leaves home, goes shopping and finally arrives at my mother's house. I am at the planning stage and have started a notebook of ideas to help me plan a shooting script. I will scan and post pages from this at a later stage. My shoot will take place over the course of one day and is planned for this Friday. Hopefully my planning will allow me to achieve everything that I need to capture for the assignment. In preparation for the shoot I will also be researching the buildings during the course of this week.
Shooting script: Don't laugh at my matchstick men drawing style. Hey, it suits my needs...
Finally, after some bumps along the way and changes to my concept that have been documented in my written assignment I've finished. My new concept involved a change of building but I think it has worked out to be a stronger idea creatively than my original. My only worry is that I may have stretched the brief a bit too far. My final building has been demolished so I'm not sure how well it will be received. This was the hardest one yet and it is posted and I await feedback. The images are listed below along with accompanying text for the sequence:
My tutor was very positive about this assignment. That was a huge relief as this is the first time that I have ever strayed from the brief and adapted an assignment to suit my own personal interests. This approach was commented on and commended. He also mentioned that it was the first time he had seen this particular assignment use a linking narrative to bring the images together. I was pleased that my ideas worked. I really didn't want to just photograph a different set of buildings to show their uses. On reflection I would say that my liking for the narrative element of photography really helped me here and worked in my favour - In effect it spurred me on to change the brief to suit my own creative needs.
My tutor felt that the last set of images (my former home, now demolished) was inspired. I am glad that he felt this way. I was concerned I had pushed it too far by trying to photograph a building that no longer existed. He said that these images were some of the strongest in the set and the inclusion of text helped to enrich them. The last few were quite simple images and as I mentioned at the planning stage the decision to use a richer text for these was intentional. I was given some interesting leads about the process of memory, meme theory, and how photographs are interpreted through time. I found the ideas intriguing and will follow up on my reading with a view to pursue further. [edit: I have since reflected further on my tutor comments for these particular images and my thoughts have been posted here.]
I've also experimented with layouts with assessment in mind. The accompanying text for these images was presented to my tutor on separate facing sheets between the photographs. I toyed with the idea of incorporating the text onto the same page and underneath the image (as shown above.) In practise, when printed up, the text dominates and the eye is drawn to it over and over. My personal opinion is that the simpler images need time to be absorbed and I will keep all the text on a separate facing page for assessment.