One of the most important learning points I have come across during this course is to reflect upon my work and also to reflect upon the work of other artists. I have completed a number of other photography courses including some with the OCA and the Open University. However, I can say that this course has stimulated a wonderful thirst to pursue the work of other artists and to explore how they use their skill, craft, power imagination, ethics, feelings, emotions in their pursuit of their photographic goals. A good photographer can never read too much. I don’t profess to be Sally Mann, Elliott Erwitt or David Bailey, but I have read until I have dropped to sleep with bleeding eyes and my work, when my eyes have recovered, is showing signs of developing a voice and improving.
My collective reference list is extensive and includes a number of books that I have bought and have that been read with passion and sometimes with confusion, with ideas and understanding developing through the fog, to reveal wonderfully crafted learning and points of view I have never considered. These books will now stay with me for life and I am convinced they will not be dust gathers on shelves, but will be points of references, learning and lifelong relationships that will build my own photographic voice.
I have added my first and my final assignment below as a side by side comparison. I can now see how I have evolved. They were both black and white assignments. The first assignment was a black and white set because I simply liked black and white images, at the outset, with no apparent reasoning behind this. I still love black and white images, but I do now understand more about this way to display the images I make and the meaning and context for this colour scheme.
My first assignment was aimed at working as a series and was a political statement from me. The images were both landscape and portrait in nature and there was no real uniformity. There was some seriality, but this was not too evident. They were also captioned, not leaving the image to stimulate the viewer and potentially closing down on interpretation. There was also a lack of people in there. This was intentional, but the piece would have benefit from the human touch.
My final assignment is also black and white, but is full of people, with studiums and punctums interspersed in each image. My two assignments are similar, in so much as they are a series on one topic, yet they are miles away in terms of what they instil and inspire in the viewer.
My current work has definitely been inspired by Sally Mann. Not so much as copying her beautiful Southern lighting, her techniques, but using her thoughts on photographing her family. The final assignment is based around my wider family (not too dissimilar to her book cited in my reference list called, My Family) and I feel have captured the love that is the centre piece of any happy family.
I have benefited greatly from the tutorials with Les. He has made me think about myself as an artist (and as a person too) and what I want to get out of the course and how to progress on to being a successful degree student. His suggested reading and the pointers to other students’ work has been cleverly thought through and taken on board. There has been invaluable guidance on how I work and what other artists to look at. It has been very interesting, eye-opening and has helped me grow.
I feel the two comparative sets below, demonstrate the strides I have made and that this insight will be a building block for me.