The subject I have chosen for this exercise is a charity, which is close to where I live and one I have used before in my work. It is also close to my heart and empathy comes easy. This time I have not concentrated on the animals, but have focused mainly on the human side. This is a subject that I can empathise and sympathise with and all of the volunteers do this out of their love of animals and assisting others. Two qualities that are dear to my heart.
Getting permission to photograph the people you see was not easy as most objected, although the charity were more than happy for me to be there. There were only 2 people who immediately said yes, and I will leave these 2 unnamed.
The day was over cast, wet and thoroughly miserable. The light outdoors was muted and shadows were kept to a minimum. It was also raining, which made the work of the volunteers harder and it was not nice for shooting. It was 1 degree above freezing so my hands were cold. I made a conscious decision to avoid adding any extra light and worked purely with the ambient light, as I felt this would create more mood and assist with showing empathy. My select and series are below and I will explain my reason for my select, where I will critique my photos and link back to exercise 1.4.
The above photograph is untitled but I will give this photo some context and reflection below; –
- This lady is a volunteer book seller for the charity.
- She works in a stable/barn selling hundreds of books. The stable/barn is near the proverbial barn door and 7 months of the year this is very cold work.
- She hates having photos made of her, yet she exudes warmth and kindness, yet with a muted warning that you should not mess.
- This warning is in the form of her Lonsdale Boxing hat, albeit predominantly pink to soften the blow.
- The fingerless gloves also contribute to the outfit.
- Her outfit exudes warmth and practicality.
- The purple bum bag adds to the feeling, as does the way the coat is fastened.
- The background places the lady in her rightful place. The books, although they stacked, they are not uniform and this is expected for me in such a wonderful place, where emphasis is placed on caring and not appearances.
- There is somewhat of a contrast between the coldness of the building and the warmth in the colours she wears. Maybe this is a conscious decision to look bright, warm and inviting or maybe it is a subconscious decision. Either way this adds to the feeling of wanting to get to know her and having an understanding of her, as an amazing volunteer and as a person.
- Is she hiding behind the mug?
- The bars in the background also place this as a barn/stable environment and the depth of field adds to the image by making you looking to see if you can recognise any of the books. I can spot a Harry Potter book and an Indiana Jones game. It must be a magic adventure working there.
- I think it is great when people give their time freely to such charities and other worthwhile causes and the people who do so should be celebrated.
- She is an amazing lady and I will be going back to show her the photo I made. I hope she likes it.
A similar exercise was carried out in 1.4 and I am pleased to reflect that my creativity has improved. Rather than focusing on birds, I have moved on to people, who add different challenges and more of a dynamic. Below is my contact sheet from 1.4 and I am much happier with what I am producing now, as this is not only more meaningful, but also thought-provoking. It is also harder to photograph people in such a way than simply clicking the shutter as birds fly by. I am not sure if my work even had a studium at that stage, where as I feel my select has both a studium and a punctum and means something.
As you can see from my book reviews, I have done a great deal of academic reading and this is now starting to pay dividends. This excercise is not directly influenced by any one artist or author, but by a multitude of them and I am now beginning to find my voice.