This series of work examines man’s relationship with natural elements within landscapes. All the images for this project are shot from the point of view of a bench, using the same camera angle and often not even looking through the viewfinder, to build up cohesive collections of views. By photographing these views I want to raise questions of the manmade decisions that primarily affect these landscapes, the most obvious being why put a bench here?
By presenting the viewer with these enforced landscapes, I aim to evoke questions of space and control within what might at first appear like a banal image. Playing upon a deadpan aesthetic I aim to subvert trends in contemporary landscape photography and painting by creating similarly composed images through a randomised process. This juxtaposition between artistic intent and process is a recurring theme in my documentary work, leaving elements of the final piece up to the subject or completely up to chance.
With most of the views taken in suburban parks and gardens there is evidence of human influence within each picture, whether his be a building I the background or the fact that there is a bench there in the first place. Pursuing this project made me question the logic behind some of these benches placement, some places had a bench every 20 feet others had benches that seemingly looked out at nothing. This duality of aesthetic purpose and function was the main reason I initiated this project and influenced how I choose to approach my subject.
I think these are some of my strongest images and I now have a much better understanding of what lighting is suitable while trying to do this kind of landscape work.
Water seems to be a recurring theme through alot of this project, I seem to find these images more appealing and I think if people are attracted to it visually the idea behind the project will have more impact.
Again light conditions held me back abit when trying to shoot these images, but compositionally (particularly the image above) they are exactly what i want to do for my final series.
Went to Kielder water only to find one decent picnic bench (above)…..
Nothing amazing really, I don’t like the images with restricted views from trees, I think the more open landscape create much more effective photographs.
Now i knew what direction I wanted to take the project I could go out and shoot for it alot more effectively. The next week weeks basically involved gathering as many shots as I could when the light and weather conditions were right. This turned out to be extremely frustrating as the Blackpool weather proceeded to be bright and sunny for 2 weeks straight making shooting for the brief very difficult.
I found that if the light was too bright it was very difficult to expose both the sky and the foreground correctly. I could have got around this by shooting several exposures and merging them in photoshop but I felt that this would undermine the credibility of the work. Instead I decided to persevere to just make the most of the light when it was favourable.
Having struggled so far to create a comprehensive body of work or this brief, I have decided to take it in a new direction.
Wandering around various parks and gardens I noticed the distinct lack of planning in regards to where benches were put within that environment. This made me think that I could imply manmade intervention without necessarily showing it within the frame by taking the photograph from the bench. This in turn could raise questions of space and control within these environments and give me the direction I need to be able to create a more cohesive body of work.
I think I need to rethink this project to give it a clearer sense of direction and subject matter rather than a vague theme.
These two images (above and below) to me feel the most effective from this shoot, I think this is because of the flat light and compositional strong subject matter. I think if I’m going to continue shooting this project I need to use similar lighting conditions and compositions to tie the images together.
I decided to start exploring parks and gardens to try find more man vs nature relationships, but again without a clear sense of artistic direction I found it difficult to create images that worked well together in a series.
The image above is probably my favourite from my shoots so far, and it took me a good 3 trips to get the lighting conditions and exposure right. I think working with natural light on landscape images is going to be quite technically challenging. I’m not really sure why this image appeals to me so much, I guess there’s some hidden element of punctum within it.
I quite like the image below also, as it reflects the suburbs relationship with the natural spaces that surround it.
Again for this shoot I just grabbed a camera and wandered round the suburbs, photographing anything that jumped out at me. I started to think about recurring elements that I could use to tie images together, a recurring element in each image. Although I think this could have worked a whole series/ book of this could end up being abit ‘Wheres Wally?’.
I was thinking these no cold calling stickers could be a recurring element??