It didn’t take me long to think of an idea for this assignment. I want to focus on the concept of ‘faith’. I was brought up in a Christian family, went to church and was an active practitioner of my faith for years. However, I noticed that I found it increasingly difficult to adhere to the beliefs and practices that come along with being a Christian. Especially the claims of truth and my role in the community were more and more difficult to deal with. A few years back, we decided not to go to church anymore. Since then I have felt liberated and much more at ease with myself and others.
I’m not sure what I believe anymore and am absolutely fine with that. However, now that I’ve stepped out of my Christian paradigm, I realize that a lot of elements of which I thought were dominantly part of my faith, are universal in all religions and traditions and have been throughout history. Especially now that I have lived in countries with a different dominant faith, I am more and more aware of the similarities of how communities of faith function; the power struggles, superstitions, sense of community and personal dedication.
These are the elements I want to focus on in my assignment. Below is a little mind map that I drew before I went out to take photographs:
I’m still struggling with how to plan assignments. On one hand, I want to be very conceptual, draw out images before I shoot them, etc. On the other hand, my tutor mentioned in his report that the images should not be staged and this is a documentary course after all. In this case, do I deliberately go out and photograph in temples and churches, or do I focus more on street photography, waiting for the narratives to take place before me? How do I keep the concepts abstract and not make the images too literal?
I have looked at the work of Max Pinckers, a Belgium photographer who has made a stunning serie of photographs on relationships, marriage and honor. I am very impressed with the way he is able to tell stories about complicated issues in a clear, almost dreamlike form. In an interview Pinckers mentions that he works within the tension of reality and fiction and wants to tell a story in that space. Since objectivity is hard to define, let alone claim in a photograph, he prefers to set up a scene, stage a photo that tells a story. His use of other media, paper snippets, found photographs and still lives, all fortify the narrative he is telling. The images work very well together, some are related to each other, others seem out of context, but when seen in the series, turn out to be an essential detail in the overarching story.
This way of working, using different visual techniques, form of media and approaches really appeals to me. I still need to find a way to bring it all together. I wonder where and how Pinckers gets his ideas and how much preparation he has for each photograph. Some are staged and planned, while others more decided on the spot, or given a narrative through the use of specific photographic techniques.