Being Alive is made up of sensory, cognitive and emotional experiences. We sense something which then creates thoughts and emotions. Photography is an experience that plays with each of these elements. The camera is a witness to what our eyes see and produces an analogon for us of what we saw. We think about and experience emotions as we plan and take an image. Once the image exists it has cognitive and emotional resonance for us the photographer and then to any viewer that looks, touches or somehow experiences the image.
My MA Research Project proposes to explore this relationship between photography and sensory, cognitive and emotional experiences. I propose to create photographic experiences and explore the impact they have on us as photographer and audience.
I have considered my own photographic process to date to understand why I take photographs. The steps I currently take are..
- Come up with an idea about somewhere or something to photograph. For example go to Borano.
- Explore the idea and what the target subject is. Borano is an island off Venice and is famous for its colourful streets.
- Plan an approach. In this case I wanted to be minimalist and create simple images getting across the powerful colours and abundant symmetry present in this space. The plan includes timing to get the best light for the shot and the appropriate equipment that will be needed.
- Go to the place and photograph. New ideas will arise and be added to the work proposed by the plan.
- Review progress in camera.
- Review the images at home in Lightroom. Understand and create an idea of what I have. Make a selection and edit.
- If they meet my standards they go to my website, on to social media and distribute for discussion with friends.
- Ask myself what did I learn and what would I do different next time?
Borano (click to see the results of the Borano trip)
I get pleasure from this process. My happiest moments are when I am out with my camera taking my photographs. Even if the shoot is not successful I am usually in places I like to be and I enjoy the experience of being there. I also get pleasure and frustration from the editing and curating process. Recently I have been reminded of the pleasure to be had from touching different types of printed photograph. It is an experience very similar to the desirability of a beautifully published book versus its equivalent on a Kindle. A final pleasure and pride can follow from others seeing and liking what they see.
I see that in my current process much of the work is about satisfying me. In my MA project I propose to extend my process in two ways. The first is to understand and develop the critical quality of my work. What does it mean, where does it fit and what does it add to photography? I also intend to place a higher focus on meeting the needs of an audience. As with the intent of my Research Project I am interested in positively stimulating their sensory, cognitive and emotional experience. I also need to do work to discover who my audience is.
To illustrate early thinking the images of Borano naturally play in to the Gestalt principles every viewer experiences which are similarity, continuation, closure, proximity and figure ground. The strong bright colours and contrast arrangements are likely to create positive feelings in a viewer. There will be further cognitive processes going on in the viewer. Questions such as does it interest me….where have I seen this approach before….is it distinctive….that might go well in the bathroom.
I plan to produce groups of images and gain some understanding of the impact they have on a viewer. As I understand this better I intend to explore mechanisms of engaging the viewer positively as he or she experiences my work.
Categories: Positions and Practice