I can’t believe how much I have shifted my understanding of photography as a discipline since the start of this module. I entered the Masters enjoying photography but being unclear about why and where I wished to take it in the future. I already have a much clearer understanding of both. At first it hurt realising that much of my work to date could be considered trivial in the sense it is derivative of what has been done before. I make beautiful photographs following long established methods of the past but have given little thought to the truth I am conveying and the meaning of my photographs. I now see this insight as a significant breakthrough.
The journey began looking at the global image and considering how fast the spread of photographs has been over the last century and a half. Photographs are now an essential part of our everyday life from taking, sharing, looking at and being photographed. As Hefferlein says Photography Changes Everything.
Interdisciplinary practice showed us the many uses of photography from scientific, through government, through social media and propaganda and news.
Rethinking photographers made us think about the citizen photographer, photojournalism and the amateur photographer. Everyone can now be a live reporter at an event as it happens. Similarly it all comes and goes in an instant as the world rapidly moves on to the next story.
Collaboration had a big impact on me realising the level taking place even if you act as an individual. Already we are using what has been decided for us by camera manufacturers. I am excited now about the possibilities of wider collaboration. For some projects a number of heads is very likely to produce something much more interesting than just my head alone.
Power and responsibility really made me think. There is a moral responsibility in what I photograph. It also became clear that it is almost impossible to control how an image I have taken will be used by others. Thinking through whether it was a good or bad thing for the Alan Kurdi image to be taken was painful and instructive.
The oral presentation in methods and strategies seems so long ago. What a painful process it was. I put together an oral presentation which now looks incoherent and poor. I have struggled through the module to work out what I wanted to do with my camera and I can now see that at this stage I was very unclear and confused. I am still confused but getting a clearer image of what might work.
There is no meaning without context was a powerful lesson. Peer review of my own work and peer reviewing others was very instructive. It has changed the way I look at my own work and helped me look with more interest at the work of others.
Criticality has further informed my ability to look at images. I realised I had a very naive capability to analyse photographs. Reading and reviewing with others is building a language for me. Gaining understanding of what is in a photograph before going in to critical analysis. 9 stages of understanding followed by 6 approaches to analysis really gives weight to an opinion on a photograph rather than the easy personal opinion I would have used before.
So here we are at the end. I have a proposal in draft. Cemre has been a star pushing me out of my comfort zone and letting me know when I am being unclear and confused. I have realised that a good photograph starts with me feeling something about what I am photographing. My previous work will continue and I will make beautiful pictures but I will also seek to understand what truth I am presenting and what my work is supposed to mean.
It feels like the next two years is going to fly by. Can’t wait for the next module and to go to Madrid, Arles and Paris to see what is going on in the world.
Categories: Positions and Practice