Still a work in progress, but I’m starting to get alot more of this project narrowed down to final images….
The project is almost identical to the project of a friend and fellow graduate Joe Faulkner….
The last time i looked around The Photographers’ Gallery in London there were two pieces of work by recent graduates based on exactly the same idea’s that i had joted in my scrapbook from almost a year before I saw them (namely road-side monuments and artificially built landscapes). Is this because these ideas were ‘bad’ or ‘obvious’ ideas? No, but perhaps by studying photographer so closely for so long, photography students are bound to have influences which clash and combine to create a general ‘photography consciousness’. When I had to sit through presentations by fellow photography students it always amazed me how often the same names would surface to the point where I would present the most obscure photographers i could find just to buck the trend and expose them to something other than what pops up on google image search. In fact the internet itself is testament to our massive saturation and exposure to imagery in modern life, almost everything has been photographed before.
This got me thinking if everything been photographed before and if so how can you be a truely ‘original’ photographer?
For me the simple answer is you can’t.
And its not a bad thing, being influenced by other imagery, other photographers, film, life, whatever and reacting to these influeneces is what inspires me to take photographs in the first place. I guess For the modern photographer its what generates ideas in the first place.
My point is don’t be surprised if someone else has thought of them as well.
Melanie Willhide uses found imagery to create her images. Willhide contextualizes these found images to communicate a new meaning. I find the way she presents the viewer with the back of the photograph fascinating, by making the images barely legible she adds to the inherent mystery of the found image.
The aging is all done by hand and then a layer of fine gold leaf is applied. I think her work represents the value we put into old photos and by showing us the back of these images we are offered an insight into the mind of the suggested author/ photographer.
These images are from Gillian Wearing’s series ‘album’ in which she recreates portraits from her family album using prothestic masks to transform herself into different members of her family. By disguising herself as family members in their youth she shows us the optimism and ambition that they had and was in turn passed onto her. I thought it was interesting that she calls the images self portraits despite them being made to look like someone else, I think this tells us that the images are saying alot about herself and her relationship with her family. The one constant running through all the portraits are Wearing’s eyes, undisguised by any masks, a reflection on how genetically a part of her is included in each of these people and a visual clue to the viewer of the true nature of these portraits.
Joel Peter-Witkin explores death, the strange and macabre in his photographs, he cites his main influence as a car accident he witnessed as a child where a young girl was decapitated. He often used compositions inspired by religious episodes and classical paintings. I particularly like his approach to black and white printing, he would scratch negatives and bleach the print to achieve his distorted look, to reflect on his dark subject matter. Check out more of his amazing work here.
We haven’t had any contemporary photographers in a while so i thought Id feature the work of Amy Stein. These images are from her amazing series ‘Domesticated’ which looks at the modern day relationship between man and nature. She explores the juxtaposition between mans want to embrace nature and his need to control it. The series use a mix of live and taxidermied animals and the images are based around real stories from local papers. Make sure you check out more of her work here.
Phillip Lorca Dicorcia blurs the boundaries between staged and street photography. His earlier works were deliberately staged, but he used hustlers and prostitutes (like in the above image) who he encountered on the street. His more recent work is based on a more ‘traditional’ street approach in that it uses unaware passers by but with an interesting twist; he uses staged lighting. Basically he sets up strobes hidden on the street and then triggers them as a passerby walks past to capture his images. I think its good that someone is trying to do something different with street photography, as the genre itself is starting to become somewhat stagnant with cliches and overused subjects. So street photographers, take a leaf out of Dicorcia’s book and try something different!!
There seems to be alot of interest in Gregory Crewdson recently (maybe its just because this blog comes up second on google image search!) so I thought I’d post a link to a fairly old article off The Guardian website where he explains his working methods for creating his images. I just like adding fuel to the ‘is he a ‘proper’ photographer debate! Check it out here.