Thursday 10 March 2011: Stairway to Heaven?
Well, obviously not, as I don't believe such a place exists. More a stairway to the sky then. Except it's more mundane, of course. The stairs to the top of one of the two big cranes above the building site for the extension to the EICC. Took it on the way home from the Filmhouse having been to see the documentary film Waste Land, about Brazilian artist Vik Muniz's photographic project with the garbage pickers of Jardim Gramacho, one of the world's largest landfill sites that takes much of the waste from Rio de Janeiro. Or, as one of the people featured in the film says, not "garbage pickers" but "recyclable material pickers". Great stories as Vik met people working on the landfill site and then worked with them to take photographs to use as the basis for large scale collages, made from recyclable materials collected on the site, which were then photographed and sold as large scale artworks, changing the lives of the participants along the way.
Which in some way harked back to the tutorial discussion in college this morning, with tutor M and fellow student P. P talked about finding a slightly new direction and a new enthusiasm for his photographic portraiture. I talked about a bit of a mismatch I seem to find at times between the sort of pictures I take for college and what they seem to want (and what many other people seem much more able to provide). I said I felt that taking pictures of already occurring 'events' - mostly theatre and sport - I felt much less in control than the fashion photographers in the class who create carefully crafted and often hugely elaborate images. They do all that work, and I 'just point the camera'.
And the pictures I take frequently don't seem well suited to standing alone, as we are frequently told our images need to be able to do. I strive for a narrative that is rarely possible in a single image - I need more images. Although I seem to work okay here on blip. In fact I cited blip as the photography that gives me most pleasure at the moment - the pressure to take something EVERY day, that leads to interesting angles and images out of the most ordinary locations. But also seems to remove the pressure to be perfect. Which means that sometimes I just take a picture. That turns out to be something more.
But there are always words here. Even just a title to give an image some sort of context. Which is some of what M, and P, had to say in the tutorial. And M also helped with some insight on the way a creative idea can develop, and a need I seem to have for authenticity. Both of which seemed to help revitalise my enthusiasm for my project and my college work in general.
One last point M made was that for all the 'control' I imagine the fashion shoots, in studio or on location, seem to display, a lot of it is 'stage management'. A skill in itself no doubt, but not the same as photographic skill. The camera often stays fixed in such shoots, whereas out in the street, taking a picture for blip, I use many more of Szarkowski?s five characteristics of photography. Okay, the "Thing Itself" and "The Detail" are brought into the studio, although like a painting if the "stage manager/photographer" didn't put it there it won't be there "by accident" to provide an unplanned but appropriate additional feature. And "Time" comes into pictures wherever they are taken. However "The Frame" and "Vantage Point" are much more in my control and my responsibility when I choose to take an image, or select an image from a set of images. I know it's not a simple as that, but it helped to think that maybe I don't always just press the shutter.
Backblipped yesterday's snow.