Although it’s been already 5 years since I started studying with the OCA, I feel that I am not half as much connecting with other students and making use of the forums as I should do. Because every time I do, I feel very inspired and eager to study and work more. Regarding assignment 3 I had my doubts about the documentary character of the work, so I thought I’d ask the question on the forum. I had some very insightful responses:
Clive: Looking at the images on my phone in Tate Modern they don’t look out of place and of more interest to me than some of the work I’m looking at here!
An effective series with very well realised production values. Good work!
I see no problem with it being documentary. In fact we recently discussed updating the names of the Documentary and Landscape courses to less loaded names.
Leonie: Thanks Clive, that really helps. I like the idea of widening the scope of the course. I have found myself wondering a lot about the documentary value of what I’ve been working on and this frees my mind and options even more.
Stephanie: It works very well for me Leonie. Have you looked/read Larry’s Sultan “Picture From Home”? I think that you might me interested in it and his writings about it – how it balances documentary with family portraiture.
Visually, it reminds me of Cig Harvey gardening at night somehow.
Leonie: I’ll check it out. You always have such good suggestions!
Peter: I would definitely go along with Clive’s artist’s statement idea. It is something that students take quite a time to latch onto but an artist’s statement is the place, like the introduction to an essay, where you can and should reframe the question (brief) in your own terms and put your own work into a brief context.
Stefan: I had to browse a bit – and eventually found the two PDF s, initial and final. What a difference! Looking first hat the ‘rework’ and then on the initial. The initial took me off the hook – collage and juxtaposed collection, leaving me a sense of pre-edit.
Your rework is very good, a continuous flow of mood and strong sense of ‘longing’ . That sense came for me mostly through. After that senses of regret and melancholy- did sense so much pain. That would
be rather a cognitive conclusion or better interpretation for me. Strong facial expressions – at times I was’t sure about authenticity of that expression – well to consider a ‘stage set’? Don’t known how you took those images, how long and how many in sequence from same scene. Just my personal reaction to facial expression alongside posture (perhaps biased by my professional practice)
Not sure how you photography guys are ‘defining’ documentary – a term which from my painting/ drawing perspective I see differently (even looking at painting as documentation and vice versa myself)
But it is truly documentary for me: it captures sensations associated with place in a more than representional mode. Like it very much
Wondering about your reasoning to use twilight Zones and artificial lightning – context or purpose ?
good to see how this project has developed…the new images extend on the themes I found most engaging from the first set-there is an ambiguity/unsettling feeling that I find effective. For what it is worth I think you are right to include the picture sitting on the grass.
I did find the red dress images a little jarring however, the one looking back over your shoulder is my favourite in the set though. It could be argued that the way these stand out as different from the rest could be the point?
Don’t have a problem with these fitting as documentary either, although as Clive and Peter say it would be good for them to be contextualised through your artist statement.
Stefan: forgot to add: got a Hopperesque sense (ugly word) What I mean I could sense some underlying sensations of alienation in places that are somehow close to Edward Hopper. He explored mostly public places whereas you captured private places, correct? Although, I noticed some public spaces in your work
Leonie: Hi Stefan,
You are right to sense this tension. All photographs were taken on the compound where I live, which has offices and houses, so a mix of public and private. Personally I don’t feel it is really my home, which adds to the estrangement that I tried to portray. However, estranged or not, it’s a great place to live
Leonie: Thanks Andrew! I have to say that this course has really broadened my concept of documentary.
Thanks again for all your feedback. Back from vacation now, so time to add your suggestions to the assignment!
Peter: That is at least part of the point of the exercise. ️
I am really thankful for all the feedback I received and good to know I’m on the right track. I will rewrite my artist statement which explains the place of the work in the documentary genre.
Most of my reflections will remain similar to the ones written down in the previous one, but I will add a few extra remarks about the rework here.
Demonstration of technical and visual skills
In the rework I have channelled my ideas around the constructed photographs. I have explored more options to work towards a consistent narrative and feel that I have succeeded in that. I realise that I need to get a shutter release, because to take these images took a lot of running back and forth between the scene and the camera! While writing this down I have at least two more ideas of photographs that would go well in this set. Maybe I’ll add them while working on assignment 6.
Quality of outcome
The quality of the images that I have added to the new pdf are in par with the images that I had taken before. Because I photographed in the dark, some images have some noise and sharpness issues, but I have been able to get rid of most of it in post processing.
Demonstration of creativity
When challenged to take more images in a same style, I noticed that I started looking different at locations and ways to photograph. Even though I felt that I had tapped into new channels of creativity when working on the earlier version, this going deeper into a certain style triggers a more profound necessity to be creative, which was good to experience.
Only after I had made the images and looked at them as a set, I realised that they all portray a certain kind of longing and isolation. With having the same theme throughout the work, there is a deeper thematic and narrative to the set that wasn’t there in the earlier work. I find that this reword is more embedded in the reconstructed photography genre and has a more poetical feel than my earlier work.
I still doubt whether you can define this as documentary photography, but maybe it shows that the margin is very broad and there is room for creativity in documenting a certain emotion or state of being.
“The feelings that hurt most, the emotions that sting most, are those that are absurd – The longing for impossible things, precisely because they are impossible; nostalgia for what never was; the desire for what could have been; regret over not being someone else; dissatisfaction with the world’s existence. All these half-tones of the soul’s consciousness create in us a painful landscape, an eternal sunset of what we are.” – Fernando Pessoa
Regardless of how happy and content a person may be, I believe everybody has an internal personal space that stores doubts, regrets and a longing for another time and place. In my own space I mainly feel a sense of grief over friendships lost because of my nomadic life, careers that never happened and relationships that did not turn out the way I would have liked them to. There is no trauma, nor extreme pain, but a nagging discomfort.
I don’t think it is very wise to get stuck here, it is the shadowy side of ourselves, with no getting out or finding relief. Still, sometimes I like to allow myself to let my thoughts flow freely and feel all alone, thrown back to who I am.
The images in this PDF all represent the act of being in that place, excluding oneself from reality, escaping from the everyday hassles of life and people that want your attention. They may trigger feelings of recognition and maybe pain. However, shady as they may be, there are options to escape; to dive in the pool, open the gate and run away. To not stay where you are, but go back in the light and face reality.
“Fernando Pessoa Quotes (Author Of The Book Of Disquiet)”. Goodreads.com. N.p., 2017. Web. 29 Apr. 2017.
After the Google Hangout with my tutor and reading his report, I set out to work on making the changes he suggested and create a narrative in the style of the images he found most striking. Of all tutors, Russell has been most directive in what kind of changes I should make and what works and what doesn’t. I have to get used to this and find myself doubting if this is what I would have actually done myself. But I have to say I do feel really challenged to push myself, look for other possibilities and be more creative. I think this has worked in the images I have added to the narrative.
Again, it took sometime to get the tone and idea clear in the layout. I have decided on a very clean and simple layout, which has the effect I am looking for. The images are all a bit dark and reminded me of a person who is longing for something. So I looked up some quotes of which I think that they will enforce the narrative in the images and I think that it adds an extra layer of understanding to the story.
On the other hand, I might be taking away some of the personal interpretation of the viewer, but I always like to read captions and ideas that come with images, so I think this is okay.
Again, it took about three different versions before I was kind of happy with the result:
As you can see, I have changed a few photos in the process as well. This was because I think the image below adds to the variety of images and has a better quality. My tutor had suggested that I take the photo again, this time looking through the window, but I realise there actually are already quite a few where I am looking through a window, so decided to stay with this one.