Assignment 1: Expanding on the Task

I have now done all my initial research and have begun work on my project. As you can see from my previous post I have concentrated on the idea of how people conform to society and how they let figures of authority control how they live their lives. To do this I began taking photographs of figures of authority, such as the police and I luckily stumbled across a large group of police that were responding to some kind of emergency at one of the university buildings. These images are shown below:

For this task we are told that the images have to have been produced in the darkroom, and so have to be on film. Because we don’t have access to the correct equipment to print in colour, these would then have to be in black and white. This means that when I was composing these images I had to concentrate a lot more on the tones of the images, as I usually worked with the colours within an image and have often been inspired by the work of Stephen Shore and William Eggleston, who’s mundane topographical style images have a heavy influence on bold colours to highlight certain aspects of the image. Previous to this task, we were set a task to research a group of photographers and create a presentation about them. One of the photographers I researched was Donald McCullin and I was impressed greatly by his work on black and white film, as it used the tones of the subject very well. Here’s an example:

Shell-shocked US marine, Hue, Vietnam, February 1968. Photograph: Don McCullin

This is an image of a US Marine during the Vietnam War. The tonal range in this photograph is quite large, and the high contrast highlights the dirt and the grime on the soldiers face and clothing. It also allows the barrel of the soldiers gun to be highlighted and emphasises the theme behind the image. This is a good example of the kind of tone I’d like to achieve in my images, or at least something similar, as this will help to enhance my images and add more drama and emotion to them.

Another photographer that I’ve looked at is Walker Evans. I read through his books “Signs” and a Photofile by Thames & Hudson, and I picked out this quote “Evans was quick to grasp the documentary value of photography, it’s ability to serve as a mirror for reality” Gilles Mora (2007: Introduction/1). This is something I picked up on, because I feel similar about photography and the pictures that I take. I believe that a photograph of a subject can make it seem like something else, or isolates it to allow the viewer to see it in a different way. For example in this image from the Walker Evans book “Signs”:

(American, 1903–1975)
Gelatin silver print

In this image the scaffolding and part of the sign have been isolated to draw attention to them. The viewer begins to look at the details of the subject in a way that they wouldn’t normally when passing this on their way to work for example. This is something I plan to achieve when taking my images. Another photographer I have used as inspiration is William Eggleston. While his images from “William Eggleston’s Guide” are in black and white, they can still relate to this project because of the way they too isolate the details of mundane subjects.  In the introduction, the photographer and curator John Szarkowski said “The simplicity of these pictures is (as the reader will have guessed) not so simple” Szarkowski (2008: 11), which is a good representation of what I’m trying to achieve from this project. I plan to create images that on the face of it, look very simple and possibly mundane, but then when examined for a longer amount of time, the viewer can notice things about the image that chances their attitude towards it.

I will now create a plan and spider diagram to expand on this idea, using my previous research and topic ideas.


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