24 Oct: Thoughts on the assignment


I have been thinking about investigating a new technique to use in my work but one that will still enable me to show my own voice.  I looked at the work of the following photographers which I felt had produced some very interesting results.

TRENT PARKE (b.1971)

‘In Street Photography Now’ Parke is quoted as saying, “My photographs are more questions than answers.  I use photography in a way to help me understand why I am here.  The camera helps me to see.”   He is interested in exploring the urban space and particularly the influence of light on a scene.  He says that, “Light turns the ordinary into the magical.” (pp.138-143)

Trent Parke Summer rain in Sydney

This image very much puts him in the scene and yet also as a spectator. He appears to be dry yet everyone else is wet, so there is an element of conflict which raises questions for the viewer.  The capture of the light emphasises the main elements in the scene.


He uses long exposures in his work making his figures appear ghostly and ephemeral.  ‘Street Photography Now’  (p.199)  explains that his style was influenced by ‘the technical constraints of nineteenth century French photography.’  His work adds an element of timelessness and personally I find most interesting and possibly something to experiment with.

Alexey Titarenko Havannah 2003

Havanah, 2003

With the forthcoming assignment in mind, I have initially been thinking about further portraiture work and possibly trying to depict a new aspect or use a new process to achieve my aims.  The more I look at the work of other photographers, it seems to be an impossible task to make anything new and original, but is it merely the fact that my doing it makes it original in its own right?

I have been looking at the work of previous photographers who have produced portrait work.  Does this work give us any clues about the people themselves?  It has in turn made me question why people take self-portraits?  Are they as an anchor point, a way of establishing that person as an identity?  Self-portraits nowadays are everywhere, on book covers, blogs etc. and it leads to the question of why the ‘selfie’ image has emerged or this is merely a passing craze?  In this fast-moving world, we are almost being swept along and the self-image is a way of almost re-establishing our position.  I am here, do not ignore me, I have something to say.

There is also the painterly tradition of the self-portrait as demonstrated by artists such as Rembrandt and Van Gogh. They felt the need to show the public what they were personally like visually.  Perhaps by doing so people feel more of a connection with the artist and hopefully are sympathetic and interested in the work they are producing.


On 16 October, the photographer Rankin produced a TV  programme to coincide with the opening of a large exhibition of the work of Rembrandt at the National Gallery, London.  In the programme he worked with several well know people such as Una Stubbs as shown below, and recreated a painting into a photograph using the celebrity as the subject. However I was not able to access the resulting ‘Rembrandt’ image at this time.

Rankin with Una Stubbs

The programme was interesting from a photography viewpoint as the viewer sees how Rankin works.  We feel part of the exercise and as if we have helped in the creation of the end result.  It was also interesting to see his interaction with all the people involved in the shoot.

So if I wish to further continue my portraiture work, I need to look at the work of other photographers to see what particularly is of inspiration for me.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *