Wednesday, October 12, 2011

chat over the phone with my tutor about assignment 5 and more !!

My tutor had suggested I might call him if I liked before embarking on the final assignment of the People and Place module. Have more or less decided to call my next assignment The Taj Mahal Today and to make it into a book proposal. Although RE thinks this is a brilliant idea, he correctly notes that that this project looks as though it is becoming a bit of a burden to me. He is finding my assignments difficult to review because they are becoming thin (not quite sure what RE means here) and that I have reached a point beyond which I am not yet ready to go. There is a need to try something different with a different subject matter (have done 10 assignments relating to the Taj Mahal).

I had just downloaded a book about photographing at the Taj Mahal by Bruce Perry. It is full of his insights about photographing a particular location and while it is an impressive read, I can not help noting that there are errors .. he refers to the the early morning mist that sometimes comes off the river as smog (not really the case since a lot has ben done to keep industry at a safe distance from the monument) ... while a lot of what he is saying is pretty obvious and while it may sound like his unique experience, it is in fact quite ordinary.

Do I need to distance myself from the Taj Mahal project? It does feel as though I am a bit stuck on it.

RE mentions that I might try something with a more landscaped view. He suggests Ville Lenkkeri a photographer he knows whose work might mean something to me ...

One of his images that catches my eye is called Airport; it consists of 2 toy aeroplanes placed on some paving stones! Grass and earth in the background help to bring it into perspective. Its' number 4 from the following link ...

further work at ...

If I do go for a totally new assignment then what might I do?
My suggestion is to photograph a number of shopkeepers in my local town of Wellington standing outside their shops. If I did proceed with this project, what end might the photographs serve?

What about using Large Format cameras !? A new one is expensive to buy. Looking at various places that hire out cameras, it appears that none do Large Format. There is probably somewhere!

Do I need large format? A tripod mounted higher end DSLR can produce wonderful results.
Large Format can be excellent for portraits in the environment.

Need to develop my own way of seeing "place".

Might the "Kingfishers of Goa" work as an assignment? Too specialised. Needs to be about people rather than animals.

Photographing the relationship between tourists and places. The kind of work Martin Parr does requires great dedication ... also possibly luck and time!

Confrontational experiences sometimes result; need to get permissions where appropriate though this is no safeguard since one can be aggressively challenged when permission is not needed.

RE's own work has a conceptual approach. For instance, he has taken the word FREE and also LOVE and photographed instances where this word occurs in public places.

Am planning another meditation book (its' already written) and shall be illustrating this; however, this does not really fit the OCA brief.

ER thinks that I have an eye for landscape and that this would be a good option to follow.

Photographing people is not easy ... it involves relationship.

If I think in terms of doing books (photography with a commercial end in mind) then it is not going to help my photography to develop.

One thing one can do, is to put one's own photographs up on the walls around one's study. This can help  one's vision. Let the work resonate ... see what one really wants.

I don't seem to be a desire lead person. Someone who enjoys study days.

Neitsche "Only so much you can edit!"

ER did not do a photography degree but did Fine Art. He also learnt how to make good photographs.

As an artist, he makes his own definitions.

Photography can be a way to search for meaning in life !

ER again recommends the book by Charlotte Cotton The Photograph As Contemporary Art which I have read; might the new edition be worth reading!?

Personally, I have a more documentary approach. Spend 2 weeks living in a hedge to photograph a bird? It might be necessary but am more likely to put a hide up nearby! Missing the experience of what it is like to live in a hedge!!

Cotton's book says in the introduction, "To identify "art" as the preferred territory for their images is now the aspiration of many photographers." I do not think I am one of those photographers yet I do think that photography can be intelligent rather than merely representative and this is what makes me engage with the medium.

Photographers are continually searching for subject matter .. like miners seeking gold!

Another photographer to look out for is Geerte Goires (Belgian)

I find his work strangely moving, touching. Would like to know more about the mysterious places he has photographed.

As I wrote in my blog, street photography is not really what I like to do.

Most photographic magazines are not worth reading; removed from the real photographic world ... Portfolio is one however one might look at.

Do I want to be a professional photographer? I have a small private income and probably don't have the stamina!? Presently caring for my mother.

Documenting the relationship between my mother and her dog .. or just the dog!

Tigers look sad in a zoo. The horde of jeeps outside a nature camp waiting to go and see tigers is another strange image.

need to realise one's artistic ideas; photographs are stepping stones

photographing people meditating?

ER practices a form of Christian meditation known as electio-designa !!?

If I need to extend my time as a student to complete the assignment then he can do that for me.

What about photographing man looking at nature, the man/tourist and nature.

photographing a paddock with tigers and their keepers

drop the notion that the photograph is a commercial object

notify people you are a student and so gain access to a zoo

official T shirt!? e.g. Somerset Wildlife Trust T shirt would be good for photographing on a SWT nature reserve

OK to photograph and publish pictures of people in public unless those people are conspicuous in the image and help to make it worthwhile

Abhishiktananada who lives/d in a cave on top of Mount Arunachal

publishing photos in a book cheaper than presenting an exhibition

photographing to communicate with nature; photographs about one's experience; communicating this to others!

snobbery around art? artists themselves are humble!?

I am a lonely photographer .. no one to share experience with !?

Our conversation ends when I bring up the final quote from Barthes in Camera Lucida about photography being a free spirit that art tries to control; ER does not think this can happen owing to the nature of photography! Photography is too mobile to be formalised, a "people's art". Will resist attempts to restrict it, to be merely an aesthetic.

need to take photos of what means something to one; making a photograph is part of one's development

let the Taj Mahal project go for awhile; can come back to it!

try landscape! would be worth my looking into it. In some of my Taj Mahal photographs, I illustrate a feel for landscape (particularly the long shot I made with a 20mm lens of the Great Gate from the Mausoleum)

Is my apparent aptitude for landscape a result of having studied landscape photography with some quite eminent people such as Fay Godwin or something inherited from my father who painted landscapes?


The suggestion that I am thinking too commercially about my work, trying to create something that would sell rather than something that means something to me, might be true yet as Cotton says in her book, "photographers consider the art gallery or book the natural home for their work."

I remember a Magnum photographer who said that I was only taking a series of photographs because they were to promote an event; while it was true that they were being used to promote such an event, the series actually started before the event, a photo-workshop in Delhi, was conceived.

I find myself trying to create work that other people can relate to otherwise it may become too self-indulgent.

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