Week 1 – Research Methods
Research methods are vast and alter depending on the topic/subject. My initial way to research is to read and then explore. I find books the best way to gather my research as they always include quotations which lead onto another artist, writer, photographer, poet. Exhibitions are the next way I research; I find going to an exhibition and seeing the physical pieces of artwork really inspiring and I always see things I may miss on the internet or inside a book. The internet is great place to find short articles and I often look at and gather images off the internet to create mood boards for photo shoots.
All the methods above are what I intend to use for my current project. I will also be interviewing people to gather thoughts, feelings, and ideas. This week I have come to a halt in terms of my research as I have a lot of avenues I want to explore and sometimes feel overwhelmed with the research I am undertaking. I hope to begin to interview other creatives to see how they work, how research influences them and how they use it to extend or enhance their ideas.
John Sexton’s work is on-going research not only in the topics he explores but how to technically and artistically create images. Sexton was an assistant of Ansel Adams for many years and his work shows the expertise you would associate with a photographer like Adams. Sexton’s work is recognisable and follows a similar style to his mentor. Sexton created a book called ‘Listen to the trees’ which shows extensive research into not only trees, but what they mean to the earth and how extraordinary they are. The work Sexton produces shows research in a variety of ways, this includes poetry and literature as well as researching and developing technical skills.
Glowing Aspens, Castle Creek Valley – 1991
Tim Walkers work has been a constant inspiration, I have planned to go and see his exhibition ‘Wonderful things’ at the V&A during October half term. I have been researching into Walkers work for a long period of time and got excited by the new way he was creating work for this exhibition. Walker has been lucky enough to go into the archives at the V&A and use the objects, prints, garments as a starting point. This way of working is similar to how I intend to research. I enjoy looking at what already exists such as poetry, songs, paintings, find the pieces which trigger my imagination, research into the elements or meanings within these pieces and create my images.
Walker did just that with the archives at the V&A, the piece below in particular I am excited to see. Walker looked at an embroidered casket from the 17th century, it is a box in which a 15-year-old girl created in 1675 with a secret compartment. Walker took elements of the box such as the inside where there is garden and incorporated this into his photographs, but also created his own story about a man and his private world.
Left: Tim Walker, Box of Delights, James Spencer. London, 2018. © Tim Walker Studio
Right: Embroidered Casket, About 1675, England. The V&A collection © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Week 2 - Other Careers in Photography
In terms of the photography industry I have always found it difficult to place myself. I started off a fine artist and started to use photography a medium. I would produce screen prints from my photographs and they were mainly a starting point.
I got a job at a photography studio as a student, shooting family portraits. I found enjoyment in this and decided to start up my own business in commercial photography. Part of the reason for starting the MA was to try and find the fine artist within myself again. I felt through using photography as a business to make money, I had lost some of my creativity.
Now I would like to create work linking to my style and be commissioned to produce images, similar to Ellen Rogers for example. Ideally I would like to be able to have an income from my images as an artist, rather than a commercial photographer.
I do a lot of collaborative work, not just within my photography but also my teaching. I have worked alongside a community project for example called 'The Seedling'. The Seeding brought together the community in lots of different ways, dancers, musicians, writers as well as children, schools, and other groups. I feel it is important to collaborate with other creatives as they can bring new inspiring ideas and concepts. For example a shoot I produced in the past was based on a singer called 'Forest'. I looked at her as an individual, listened to her music and created images relating to it all as a result.
This week I have struggled with my projects. Finding links and making sure I stay on track. I have documented what I have been doing in my project development. I have felt a little lost, but I feel there is a transition happening, where one projects comes to an end, and the other begins.
Week 3 - Art and Commerce
Part of the reason I started the MA was to find my own visual style and language.
I feel I do have particular ways I like my images to look, but sometimes due to experimentation and lack of focus for my personal projects it gets lost.
I have become more influenced by nature over the past two years and it has become more obvious in my work. Previously there had been hints but not directly linked to topics exploring nature and our existence.
I have worked as a commercial photographer for 7 years and lost my creativity and style. It became more about what would sell, and what the client wanted rather than artistically what I would like to produce.
I would describe my style as developing, I haven't quite found it and I am enjoying experimenting with it during this course. I do know however that I have very much become a film photographer, although I stick with digital as a back up option.
A photographer who has always inspired my work, and the way she can make a living from her photography is Ellen Rogers.
'Ellen Rogers creates all-analogue, emotional and accessible photography that is both careful and skilled, the work is hand-printed, hand-painted and speaks of myth, folklore, literature and politics.
Previous clients and editorials include, British Journal of Photography, The Guardian, Vogue, Vice, i-D, Alice Temperley and institutions such as the Ashmolean Museum and The Smithsonian. Her time is separated between making personal work and lecturing on the subject of photography.'
Ellen Rogers has a distinct style and not only makes a living from her photography through commissions but also sells her prints, postcards, books, on her website. I am regularly buying artists prints, books, etc and I would like to be able to become an artist where people purchase the work for their love on the photographs or the artist themselves. I would like to produce prints in a Pre-Raphaelite style where viewers would like that print for their home, just like I have 'The Lady of Shallot' in mine.
Images sourced from www.ellenjanerogers.com
Week 4 - The Current Commercial Environment
Before starting the MA I was working full time teaching art and photography and running a photography business, mainly weddings, newborns and portraits for actors, dancers, bloggers, etc. I have put the business on hold to have time to complete my MA alongside teaching.
Originally I studied a Fine Art degree and since I have been teaching for 6 years and running the photography business I felt I lost the Fine Art element to my photography and my creativity. I started the business originally whilst I completed my degree and it was helping to bring in some money, as much as I enjoy photographing people it wasn't always in the way I wanted.
I would like to be able to create Fine Art photography relating to personal projects in my own style for clients. I'm not entirely sure how I will get to that point, but I am hoping the work I produce during the MA will help me to get there. I'd also like to be able to sell art work like any artist would.
I was feeling really split as though I had two sides, my creative artist side which had been lost, and my commercial side. Ideally I want to bring the two together but creating work in my own style, relating to concepts I want to explore, rather than family portraits/weddings just to bring in a wage.
Week 5 - Who Buys Photography? Part 1
Tell a story...
This week during my 1-2-1, my tutor and I discussed creating a video and book to create an 'end' to my project based on John - What's left behind? John created moving images, which involved lots of texture, colour and sound. Using all of the photographs I want to merge them to create a video with overlapping imagery. I will also look into adding sound depending on the outcome of the images. I am very aware the sound will give the video a very different feel. At the moment I would like it to be a reflective video, not only reflective of the emotions but create a reflection period for the audience. I also wanted to experiment with creating a book of the images, linking poetry alongside the images.
We discussed an exhibition of my images so far to gain feedback. I had already emailed local exhibition spaces before discussing this with my tutor and I am currently waiting on replies.
My other action points discussed were to catch up with my CRJ, try to update my blog weekly. Also to plan the next 4 weeks in terms of photo shoots.
We discussed my project so far, and I showed some new images relating to the Hawstead Panels. My tutor seemed to recognise the link between my previous project and where my current one is heading. This was reassuring as I was unsure if it jumped too suddenly from one theme, to another.
Week 6 - Oral Presentations
This week we had the chance to upload our Oral Presentations so far and discuss them in a webinar.
I felt I wasn't ready to present my presentation partly because the new shoots I want to create are happening in the coming weeks. After having my 1-2-1 last week I felt the feedback was positive and I have spend this week trying to organise my time before really getting stuck into the presentation.
Week 7 - Who Buys Photography? Part 2
Tell a story...
As I am still doing the odd bit of commercial photography alongside my MA and teaching, I thought for this week it makes sense to upload a wedding I have done which clearly tells a story. We have been looking at 'who buys photography' I thought it would be appropriate to show some of my images which are more commercial and the clients who I am in contact with.
For the peer review I linked up with one other from the course. We both have similar approach to the MA and come from a Fine Art background. The review did get cut short as we lost connection we couldn't get back again but are planning another review in a weeks time. I commented on the work of my peer in terms of the process and concept. I was really interested in the sequential process of creating the images as well as the thought provoking journey.
Showing my work allowed me to talk openly about my aims and have a clear understanding of where my project is heading. It was a really positive experience and although we may not have come up with any new ideas, it was great to talk to someone openly about my work.
Week 8 - Photography and it's Fine Art Markets
Listening to Andy Hughes live lecture, I found it really inspiring how enthusiastic he is about his work, and also trying to get across the point that it isn't just about climate change but bigger than that.
The images I liked the most and gained inspiration from were his earlier images where he juxtaposed two images. One image was a portrait and the other was plastic. He also used wax over the top of his images, resources found at the beach, to add to the image. I think it is very clear I am interested in layers, and have in the past before the MA put to images together in a similar style to Andy Hughes. I may revisit this to combine my double exposures of trees with my hawstead panel images if it works. I haven't so far been able to push my images as far as I'd like in terms of experimentation as I have tried to get a good amount of shoots completed, and once the images are edited and films developed, I am only able to find time at the moment along with the CRJ and OP to create 1 or 2 experiments from each shoot. However during the next module I hope to be able to push these further. This links back to what Andy Hughes was discussing in that he doesn't just take a photograph, print it and hang it for exhibition, he likes to return back to the images and add to them. I particularly liked his circular mixed media pieces, and the piece glued back together which was a similar style to Paul Nash, who he discovered after creating the image. I find this happens a lot, I create images and whilst researching feel often excited and relieved to find someone who has done it before. It makes me feel as though my ideas are worthy.
Week 9 - Peer Review
This week we were set the task to review each others work. I linked up with another person on the coursework who has a similar style and we've been following each others work since the first module so it is easy to understand without having to explain it all from the beginning.
My peers work has come along way, she has had a hard time recently and it is beginning to come through her work. I have read her CRJ so have a clear background and shared a couple of artists with her I felt would be appropriate, one of which was Chrystel Lebas who I researched at the beginning of the module. Looking at my peers CRJ it was clear and appropriate to the topic she is exploring. The layout was professional and easy to use.
She looked at my work and felt it was really starting to come together in terms of the topics I want to explore. My peer also looked at my CRJ and made a suggestion to have the dates visable on the contextual research page so that it shows progression. I had chosen not to use the built in blog but rather set my site out as a website as I have never been able to navigate a blog, and personally I don't like the layouts. I also find it easier to adapt my pages this way. This results in the date and time not appearing so I took on her advice and added it to the contextual page.
I always find it really positive and beneficial to share my work with peers as well as online and with other creatives I am surrounded by. It gives me confidence but also allows me to discuss the work rather than being stuck inside my mind.
Week 10 - The Digital - New Possibilities
At the moment I use Instagram predominantly for my photography. I did have just a commercial account which has done a lot better than my current artistic account although I have had that account for longer.
I find it varies depending on the times I upload the posts depending on how many people engage. I find the mornings and evenings are the best time to upload for people to view the content. Obviously this is because of most people working, or doing other things during the day.
I have found it harder to receive engagement with my artistic account but obviously the images I am creating are more subjective. This week on Instagram I started a poll to see if people would be interested in purchasing one of my prints. I was pleasantly surprised with the results with 89% answering yes which felt amazing.
Before starting the MA I did already have a website, but I feel this needs updating now because of the changes that have occurred whilst doing the MA. I will then link my Instagram account with the website, hopefully with the option to sell prints. I have also thought about starting a Facebook page purely for my work, again I have one for my commercial work which has a lot of engagement. I'm not sure the younger generation overly use Facebook but I do feel some of my audience may be on this social media platform.
In terms of digital photography, I do find it incredible how much we can do but I have very much become a fan of analogue photography. I prefer it in such a digital age, although I always end up turning it back into digital to upload online. I always shoot in digital as well as film purely for safety of losing the images. I usually prefer the film images and find myself trying to make the digital look like analogue photographs. The digital world has opened up so many opportunities and possibilities, in particular for smaller businesses and it has so many positives but I also feel there is a danger of us being over saturated and moving too fast that the impacts go unnoticed.
Week 11 - Show and Tell
I feel my visual language is still developing, however over the last couple of weeks where I have completed shoots, it is starting to become clearer.
In terms of the visual elements the composition varies depending on what I want to achieve. The colours are mainly slightly muted in areas, particularly when incorporating a person. I am trying to create a Pre-Raphaelite style in my images but adding my own stamp on them too. The camera angles again vary but I do find myself shooting up wards and from a distant as though it is a viewer looking into a story. In terms of lighting most of my recent shoots have used natural lighting, however I try not to rely on this as it can be unpredictable. I often take a reflector to manipulate the light or a flash gun if I needed. I am a big fan of black and white imagery but I have wanted to capture the warm dark tones in the images again to create a Pre-Raphaelite style.
In terms of the subject I am focusing on myth and subconscious elements as well as reflection. I want my images to speak to the viewer in terms of how they can relate their feelings and emotions. Most of my work is about understanding the human experience and within my work I want to create an experience within itself, an imaginary world like you experience as a child when reading a story.
I feel my style isn't unique, but is becoming more personalised to me. I have looked at the photographer Ellen Rogers for example and taken elements of her work to inspire my own, but her images are all film and mostly black and white, with a few hand tinted.
I also really like the work of Mariam Sitchinava, her images are slightly softer and more pastel colours but the feel to them are very similar to my own. Both of these photographers I really look up to but the main person I aspire to be like is Tim Walker. I went to see his exhibition at the beginning of this module and I feel the way in which he works is similar to my own. He creates very ethereal images, mostly linked to fashion in some way. He recent work at the V&A is all about exploring the stories an object can bring through the use of your imagination. The style of his work varies again depending on the narrative he wants to tell, however it is sometimes quite clear that it is his piece of work due to the style, props, lighting and camera angles.
My visual language is becoming clearer, especially since I last posted about it, but I do feel it is still developing and will continue to develop throughout my projects. I do have particular ways I shoot, but the subject and experiments may change and emerge and as a result my visual language may alter. I do want to try and achieve a consistent style so that viewers are able to see that the piece of work is recognisable as my own.
Fig.1 - https://www.worbz.com/mariam-sitchinava-4/
Fig.2 - https://twitter.com/ellenjrogers