Take a series of 10 photographs of any subject of your own choosing. Each photograph must be a unique view of the same subject; in other words, it must contain some ‘new information’ rather than repeat the information of the previous image. Pay attention to the order of the series; if you’re submitting prints, number them on the back. There should be a clear sense of development through the sequence.
Following recommendations from my tutor (feedback here), this is a rewrite of assignment 5 (original here) to demonstrate greater engagement with the theoretical context of the project and the relationship to the work of other photographers. The photos are the same as in the original submission. Here I more clearly reference the research done in preparation for my original submission and include the additional research areas recommended by my tutor.
I considered a number of options for this assignment (see planning here), all of which were to be shot during a visit to Greece. I decided to develop a subject relating to a swimming pool. The pure bright quality of the light in Greece was something I wanted to show, along with a lightness of being I find when my time is my own and the sun is on my back. Susan Dergres’ work on the moon captured the refraction of light in water but using a process without a camera and beyond me. Nonetheless, I wanted something of the shimmering light. Outdoor pools are often associated with Californian climate and I looked at a number of photographers working there: from Slim Aaron’s photos of 1950s socialites to the more recent work exhibited in the Backyard Oasis exhibition, curated by Michael Childers. I was particularly inspired by the work of David Hockney (including his painting) with its simplicity and clarity of the compositions, echoing the clarity of the light around the pool.
I decided to use a staged approach to the photo-shoot. This was something new to me, with my hobby-background in street photography, where staging photos is mostly considered outside genre. As Wells mentions, staging of photographs dates back to William Henry Fox Talbot in the mid to late 19th century – in fact it was then necessary with slow cumbersome equipment. While the historic work was pictorialist, contemporary photographers like Jeff Wall and Duane Michals (for separate research see here) used staging to express their own vision, rather than mimic paintings. I used my family to in the staging to create my vision of pure light and lightness of being around the pool. They kindly agreed to act under my direction. My tutor pointed out to me that some of the images could be considered absurdist – I wasn’t previously aware of this movement and after researching the work of Erwin Wurm and Isabel Wenzel (see here), I see that the work could be considered absurdist (particularly the submerged chair). This adds to the sense of fun and lightness in the images.
The equipment I used was a Panasonic LX100 with a fixed zoom lens f/1.7-2.8 (27mm-84mm efl zoom). I set the camera to shoot in a square format to allow simple composition of patterns. I also used an iPhone app to remotely view and trigger low-angle shots with the camera on a Gorilla-pod. Shooting RAW, plus JPEG, an iPad app was used to view the photos in camera as the shoot progressed (over 3 days) to help with decisions about further shots while in situ.
The final selects were processed as RAW files in Lightroom on my return from Greece. I used high contrast, vivid processing to reflect the subject matter, with minimal LR brushwork to lighten the shadow areas in some photos.
Click on images to launch in gallery view
The brief said that you should like the images. I like these images. More research, preparation and experimentation went into these than my previous assignments and I think this has benefited the outcome. Many of the images are staged but I don’t feel that they look contrived – this will encourage me to work more with created, rather than found subjects.
Reflecting on assessment criteria: a) visual – the use of the square format to emphasis pattern and form within the photos, b) quality of outcome – my use of the blog to document preparation continues to improve (despite the blog crash during the assignment!), c) Creativity – some of the shots were experimental and I also tried making pictures from within the pool (none selected) d) Context – during this part of the course, I’ve explored a number books and photographers and invested in books on photographic history and photography now, which I’m working through.
Getty Images [website]. Slim Aarons archive. Available from: http://www.gettyimagesgallery.com/collections/archive/slim- aarons.aspx [accessed 4.9.15]
Marieke van der Velden [website] http://www.mariekevandervelden.com/#/swimming-pools- worldwide/ [accessed 4.9.15]
Palm Springs Museum. Backyard oasis exhibition. http://www.psmuseum.org/palm- springs/exhibition/backyard-oasis-swimming-pool-southern- california-photography/ [accessed 4.9.15]
Palm Springs Gallery [Youtube]. Michael Childers –Backyard Oasis Exhibition. http://youtu.be/RsIVWc9TfFI [accessed 4.9.15]
Dergres S [website]. Susan Dergres/Moons [online gallery]. Available from: http://www.susanderges.com. [Accessed 21.8.15]
The Telegraph (nd) [website]. David Hockney and the Californian Swimming Pool. Available from: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/photography/9022598/David- Hockney-and-the-Californian-swimming-pool-in-
photography.html [accessed 4.9.15]
Tate Gallery [website]. A bigger splash by David Hockney. Available from: http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/hockney-a- bigger-splash-t03254 [accessed 4.9.15]
Wells L (2015 ) Photography: a critical introduction. Fifth edition (on Kindle), Routledge, London and New York.
V&A. Shadow Catchers: Camera-less Photography – Susan Derges. Available from: https://vimeo.com/13149808 [accessed 4.9.15]