Wednesday, 16 April 2014

A Selection of My Most Salient Thoughts Leading Up to Assignment 5: Personal Project for DPP

I have gathered here my thoughts in preparation for my last assignment for Digital Photographic Practice. I have deliberated a long time over which theme I would start with as the concept behind my personal project. I have been juggling two most notable ideas; trying to decide which project was best to undertake. This reasoning consisted of feasibility and potential for creativity.

   The first idea revolved around the capturing of the vibrancy of the river Thames from evening to night. My methodology behind this would be to portray a sense of journey down or up the Thames during these 'twilight hours'. I would move further and further down or up the Thames, from bridge to bridge and as I moved further along the Thames, the time of day would apparently get later and later in unison. I say 'apparently' because I would take the photographs over a period of days, maybe targeting one bridge a day. The photographs would then be displayed sequentially offering a sense of progression through both time and space.

   The second idea was more loosely formed and basically consisted of a picture within a picture. This was primarily rooted from a previous Assignment I had undertaken: Assignment 3: Monochrome (the culmination of which could be found here ). Similar to Assignment 3: Monochrome, I would include people within at least the main photograph but I was unsure how these people would relate to the picture within the picture this time around.

   I eventually decided the second idea was more desirable for me, mostly because of the creative aspect this project would be more probable to provide. I felt this project would also be a more natural progression in relation to what I had been discovering during Digital Photographic Practice. However, the lack of 'concrete' ideas for essentially a rather basic concept based around a picture in a picture prevailed in my consciousness.

   As I began to question deeper the semantics and implications of this 'picture in a picture' idea though, I found certain qualities started to crop up. One of these was depth. By including a secondary picture within the frame (a picture within a picture) it could effectively cancel out the moment of looking at the photograph in a skeptical/reserved way because it adds depth to the image and so, at least for a moment, the photograph takes on a reality.

   The content of both pictures however, was a recurring problem because there would have to be a link between the two pictures (including the person in the primary picture) for the whole image to make sense. I could have just produced a set of photographs with the same argument as Assignment 3: Monochrome but I was quite adamant I wanted to do something (at least slightly) different.

   It was obvious to me that the principle of an environmental portrait was what I wanted to base my project on but I couldn't justify the picture within the picture being included only to add extra 'depth' to the final photographs.

   I had been reading Bate's book: 'Photography: The Key Concepts' and found an interesting passage; typified by a statement in the book: 'the graphic marks on a flat piece of paper come to signify a reality' - Bate (2009). From this I garnered: if a (flat) surface in the scene of a photograph was covered by a portal into another world (a picture within a picture), then the reaction by a typical viewer to the photograph would be interesting as it would challenge their perception of reality as they attempt to justify its inclusion in a ‘normal’ scene.

   My breakthrough idea dawned on me unexpectedly by simply reading about the definition of environmental portraiture, while I was quite stuck for inspiration. After some time researching other environmental photographers, most notably Arnold Newman, I found that although technically these type of portraits were to be of the person in their natural environment, more often than not this was in their place of work. I started to imagine some of the appropriate settings Arnold Newman decided to use for the relevant subjects, replaced by similar settings but with people who I knew well personally - at work. For the several shots I picked out from Newman's archive there were large flat surfaces, which were ideal, in my eyes, to be replaced by the picture in the picture. This notion of replacing these flat surfaces, especially since I had just read what an environmental portrait consists of made me think about what the sitter would replace them with, if at work.

   The answer to this for me was that often, they might be daydreaming about something they would like to be doing, rather than what they were actually supposed to be doing. This ideal could be depicted by me in the form of a picture within each of these persons' workplaces; as a picture within a picture.

   I thought not only was this a very strong theme, which would be visibly evident; tying the final photographs together but a theme that had a strong, sound rhetoric. This rhetoric posed a potentially pertinent question to the eventual viewer - how do people function on a day-to-day basis in their respective workplaces and what would they typically be daydreaming of while they are working (or not working)? 

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