The first two modules, Positions and Practice….and Surfaces and Strategies, have moved me a long way forward in understanding what my photography is about. Going in to the MA I enjoyed taking landscapes and telling visual stories about places I went to. I was enthusiastically engaged in a satisfying hobby. As I enter in to Sustainable Prospects it is timely to ask what is my INTENT as a PHOTOGRAPHER?
As ever it is easier to say what I do not want to be than what I do want to be. I don’t want to be an enthusiastic hobbyist. I do want my image making to have meaning and to have an impact. Let’s consider where I am.
My project THE TRUTH & BEAUTY OF ME started with the question ‘is there any pain in my life?’ I started with the deep emotional pain I suffer living with my wife who is chronically ill with Multiple Sclerosis. In terms of taking photographs I have used instants of pain as a trigger to pick up my camera and take photographs. I have also given a lot of thought to how I can represent my experience. An example below captures the thought that we all die one day and how impossible it is for us ever to completely understand ourselves.
I also followed my own emotional reaction to a visit to an abandoned village in Cyprus this year (Susuz). I was moved in a way I did not understand and set about trying to capture in images a sense of what I felt inside. This became my exhibition FORLORN in Landings and a physical exhibition at La Sella in Spain.
Both of these projects have had an impact on me and those around me. THE TRUTH & BEAUTY OF ME has been therapeutic as taking images of myself has made me step outside of myself and see that thoughts are my problem and give me pain. The physical being of me looks in fine shape and this has been thought provoking. This project has also revealed something of me to my related audience of friends and people I know. It has taken them deeper than the surface image of smile and appearing to cope and showed a troubled soul falling in to extreme and close to fatal difficulty at times.
FORLORN has moved a lot of people who have seen it. It is an example of work I have done that has meaning for people. Many people used words ‘beautiful’ and ‘tragic’ together to describe their experience of the work. Everybody seemed to get the point that one day in the past people lived here and looked through these windows. People shiver if I suggest they imagine that these could be their own window.
This line of thinking suggests to me that I have achieved some meaning and impact with the work to date. However, both meaning and impact are very localised and very limited. So how can I ramp up?
In THE TRUTH & BEAUTY OF ME I need to get deeper in to the narrative of what it is like to live with someone who is so chronically ill. It feels like in addition to taking images I need to do some writing and possibly some videos to explore further what is going on. Images can inform words and moving images and vice versa.
In FORLORN I can go further. A big ambition would be to take this story to Cyprus and for it to make a contribution to the debate about how Cyprus is returned to a state all of its islanders would prefer. This could start with getting a story and the images published in the Cyprus Times. Similarly an exhibition of the work in a strategic and significant gallery in Cyprus would be a way to make a conversation happen.
I feel forward movement and a raised heartbeat suggests some big ambition to pursue here. So here is where I have got to today.
The meaning of my work THE TRUTH & BEAUTY OF ME is the pain of living with someone I love deeply who is chronically ill. The impact the work can have is to raise awareness of the difficulties the partners of ill people face and get them to understand such pain is normal but also to get more support to them.
The meaning of my work FORLORN is the tragic impact on human beings of a fractured country. The impact the work can have is to initiate a conversation for action to put Cyprus back together again. That is BIG. It will upset some people and stir up some emotions. This seems like a good example of what Professional Photography can do.
During this module I can develop these ideas further. Appropriate to the module Sustainable Prospects I will add the further constraint of getting the work funded. If my work has genuine meaning and can have an impact then someone should be willing to fund it.
I realise both projects are ambitious and I will have to make choices about how I proceed in to 2020.
So the intent of my photography is to create visual narratives that through the meaning they offer lead to action to improve significantly the situation of those in my chosen narrative.
This means a lot to do!
Let’s do it.