We met as a group at The Old Lookout down at Broadstairs Harbour, having previously been asked to consider a photographer within the art genre, whose individualism and independence is reflected in their work.
I had originally chosen Chris Steele-Perkins. Being part of the Magnum Agency the work of the photographers is largely documentary and humanitarian. Steele-Perkins began working as a freelance photographer in 1971 and joined Magnum in 1979. Many of his books reflect his interest and connection with people, and document his extensive travel. Ingledew (2005, p.82) in his book Photography, states that “documentary photographers often focus on subjects that are not the stuff of headlines.” Steele-Perkins spent three years documenting the English ‘Teddy Boy’ scene for his first book, The Teds,1976. In 2012 he produced his book Fading Light which consists of photographs and interviews with centenarians in the UK. His last large exhibition was at The Tate, London in 2013.
I found this interesting as my own work has seemed to develop towards taking images of things that are not readily accessible to the general public, and in a way that treats the subject with respect and dignity, which Steele-Perkins also does. His work is clear and unambiguous without any special effects or treatment to the image.
We were given the brief to consider the photographer which we had researched, and then to go out and take three images from amongst a list of 10, one of which must include a human. My results were as follows:
This was my image of ‘a sadness’, reflects by the man sitting on a backpack outside of a shop. He was not begging but looked sad and dejected. The public nearby merely ignored him, and carried on about their business. I had to take this image quickly and unobtrusively, so that he was not aware of what I was doing. It was suggested that looking directly at him to take the shot would have made it more powerful, but I felt he would not have agreed to this.
This lady caught my eye as she was colour coordinated with hat, top and shoes all red. It is my image of ‘a joy’, as the precious thing in her life was her dog. She was happy for me to take her picture and seemed to enjoy the experience, and was confident in looking directly at the camera.
One of the things on the list was ‘an umbrella’, so as it was a sunny day not many were about. So after purchasing one in a local tourist shop, this lady agreed to sit while I took her picture with the umbrella. I felt it was bright and cheerful and almost in the style of Martin Parr.
This shot was my image of ‘a stranger drinking a cup of tea’. I had gone into a cafe for one myself, and saw the couple sitting there. So by changing my seat I was able to take a quick picture whilst they were unaware. Although I would generally ask permission before taking a shot, in this instance I felt that the man would perhaps not have agreed.
We also were asked to:
1. Take a photograph of the beach which signifies my independence as an artist.
In this image I attempted to depict the fact that once on this beach I had the freedom to do whatever I wanted to do. So I had a ‘Reginald Perrin’ moment and attempted to depict the fact that I had abandoned everything and walked into the sea. As we had a limited amount of time to complete the tasks, if there had been more time then I would have spent longer over this image. I need perhaps to show a trail of clothing and perhaps some footprints going into the water beyond where I had left the boots. However that is something I can try again at a later date.
2. To imagine that I was a dog and within that persona to take an images which signifies my response to the beach.
For this image I was an imaginary small terrier, so the shot was taken low down with me looking towards the people walking along the beach. The other terrier was obviously interested in what I was doing.
We were also told to return with only five images and I found this hard to delete images off the card which is not something I generally ever do in camera, but it did at least encourage me to be highly selective.