Archive for March, 2013


I struggled at first to think of a theme for Assignment 1, partly because, after studying the texts we had to link our work to, I became set on one specific work (Lister M.’ ‘Photography, a critical introduction’). I could not, no matter how hard I tried, link it to any of the themes in a way that seemed plausible.

After discussing this problem with tutors, I decided to pick a theme and then figure out which text would link to the what I chose. I was still struggling, however, during our class trip to Ireland, I was introduced to the work of Lucas Foglia and became fascinated with the question: Does a photographer represent a culture differently depending on whether or not they are a part of that culture.

This question led me to choose the theme, ‘Representing another Culture’ and, after looking back over the texts, I decided to link it with the work of Levi Strauss.

I decided to focus my project on the Societies within Coventry University, as I feel they all have there own little cultures. And with this decision, I was able to quickly develop my research.

What I discovered, with the completion of my final piece(s), was that even with myself meticulously trying to photograph the two societies in the same way, there was still a difference, but it wasn’t on my end.

The people themselves acted differently around the camera. The society I knew where comfortable and even made silly faces, while the society I didn’t know avoided eye contact.

To me, this shows that there is a significant difference between how a society is photographed depending on the how involved the photographer is, as if the society is not comfortable, they will not act naturally around the camera, so it will not necessarily be an accurate representation of them as a culture/society.

One thing I really enjoyed about this project was the chance to see what it was like to photograph people I did not know before. While being relevant to my idea, it was also an invaluable experience for me, as I am sure this will not be the last time I have to contact people I don’t know for the sake of my work.

I am also happy with how my final pieces have turned out, and enjoyed the process of designing them.

As for what improvements I could make to my project, I feel I could of done more in depth research, and during the folding process of my final books one is a little uneven, so I wish I had practiced more beforehand. I feel I struggled through this project. I lost time because of my own anxieties, my thought processes and organisation was no-where near as neat and precise as with previous tasks, and it was not until the last few of weeks of the project that I rediscovered my proper stride. This is something I need to work on.

In conclusion, this project caused me a lot of worry. But I feel that I have created a solid piece of work that links with the original theme and text I chose and answers my questions. I have points to work on, but overall I am proud of what I have created.

 

 

 

Fencing Society Book

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Gaming Society Book

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Fencing Society Photographs

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Gaming Society Photographs

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Robbie Cooper Research 

I looked at artist Robbie Cooper, who photographed people who had online ‘Avatars’. I looked at how, even though he wasn’t a part of this ‘Culture’ of online gamers, he was still able to represent them in a positive manner.

This, to me, contradicted with what Strauss was saying in his writing about Salgados work. To me, Strauss was suggesting that because Salgado had a better knowledge of the varying factors about the lives of the people he was photographing, and came from a background more similar to theirs, he was able to photograph then in a far superior manner to those who did not.

‘What sets Salgado’s images apart from most social documentary work is his relation to the other. Because of his background in Brazil and his understanding as an economist, of the social and political background of the people and situations he photographs, his relation to his subjects is substantially different, and he had found a way to register this difference photographically’

How this has affected my work: This made me consider that there is not necessarily a straight answer as to whether or not being a part of and/ or properly understanding a culture can have an impact on how you photograph/ represent a culture/ society. Strauss believes that Salgado was different because of his understanding and relationship with the cultures, but Robbie Cooper was more or less an outsider who travelled from place to place photographing different people, yet I believe his work is positive and truthful. Could it be more down to just the photographer and their personal style/ thought processes that affect it rather than what they are photographing?

Lucas Foglia Research 

Lucas Foglia photographed people who had separated themselves from society to go back to simpler, nomadic way of life.

He was criticized for his work looking too ‘cinematic’, like he had staged the events. It hasn’t been considered ‘true’ documentary photography by critics.

This fits with Strauss’ criticisms of documentary photography. He suggests that photographers are to focused on making everything look beautiful, even the pain of others. I believe Strauss is saying that documentary photography is no longer truthful or viable because it is over dramatised and photographed in a way that is can be sold, not in a way to show the truth or facilitate change.

How this has affected my work: As I am looking at whether or not being a part of/ knowing a culture affects how you photograph it, I don’t want my photographs to be considered ‘too cinematic’ and untruthful.
I need to photograph the two societies in as much the same way as possible, and make the photos as simple and truthful as possible. So no strange angles, and if I stay out of the way in one society, I can’t then go super close up to the people in the other.
I am going to try and conduct this as a scientific experiment. Try to keep as much the same as possible and hope that, this way, any true differences that appear in the photographs are down to whether or not I am a part of the society, and not down to me photographing the societies in completely different manners.

Paul Gaffney Research

During our class trip to Ireland, we had a talk by Paul Gaffney about his photography work. He backpacked across many different places, photographing the landscapes.
Though this may seem far away from what my work is about, I am more focusing on what Gaffney said to all of us during his talk.

He said he would never of done this project if he didn’t love walking. So even though he didn’t consider himself a landscape photographer, he jumped into it because he had a stepping stone.

How this has affected my work: This got me considering whether we ever truly don’t know something. I knew the Fencing society existed, and I know that Fencing involves rapier swords and white clothing and masks. I know a very basic amount about Fencing, but I still know something. So am I truly an outsider?

The realisation here is that what is important is the people, not the actually society itself. I have to make it clear that the society itself is not what I am looking at, but the people within it, as they are what make the difference. I may know a basic amount about Fencing, so I will not be a complete outsider in that respect, but I don’t know the people and they don’t know me. How they react is an important factor in my work. I am a part of the gaming society not because I play games but because I know the people and are accepted into the group.

My decision to make a video about Personal Hobbies, ‘the need for a balanced work life balance’ (this is what the actual theme was called, I think it might of been a typo) was a fairly easy one for me, as it was either this or ‘personal obsession’, and I feel that choosing something more lighthearted was a much smarter choice for myself. I sometimes have the tendency to go too serious, even with lighthearted topics, so this was a good exercise for me.

 

My theme developed a little bit from the original set, to mainly focus on whether hobbies have a positive affect on peoples lives, and how they balance them with life overall, instead of just work. I feel this was a sound progression that meant I could make a more solid project and video.
I chose the hobby L.A.R.P, as a focus, as it meant I had a large number of people at my disposal and, when I sent out emails, I got a great number of replies from people willing to be interviewed. It’s also considered an unusual subject, so I could capture interesting, original footage with the knowledge that what I was creating wasn’t something regularly seen.

 

I learnt a lot through this Assignment. I now know how to use two new pieces of equipment (Edirol Sound Recorders and the Canon 5D Mark II) and a new piece of software ( Adobe Premier Pro).
I struggled with getting to grips with some of the aspects of Premier Pro. I kept forgetting little pieces of information and had to get help from some people more familiar with it so I could learn useful tips and hints.
This was quite a frustrating process but I am happy to have gone through it as it was incredibly useful for my project and I now have a new skill I will undoubtedly use in the future.

 

For my research, I looked at Robbie Cooper and his work ‘Alter Egos’. He is a good example of somebody looking at a hobby and showing the reality of life next to the fantasy of the game in a positive fashion.
This was one of the major inspirations to be having video and photos of the L.A.R.P events with interviews from the people who attend over the top.
I enjoy the juxta pose of the hobby with their relaxed voices talking about it and their everyday lives.

 

I also researched into online articles and studies on how hobbies can affect your everyday life, which helped shape how I eventually ended the video.

I used all of my own footage and photographs, and it was a great experience considering order and timing.
If I could change anything, I would have made the footage a little warmer with the camera functions. And  my desire for it to progress from videos of people talking into fighting may of made the beginning a little boring.

 

In conclusion, I am incredibly happy with my video. I may have chosen my idea a little to quickly, but I think it is well rounded, with lots of varying footage and photos. I feel like I did a good amount of research (though perhaps could of looked at it in a little more depth), experimented and worked hard.

 

Please view in HD on Vimeo ->http://vimeo.com/61115899

 

 

<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/61115899″>151MC Assignment 2 – Final Cut</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/user16406443″>Emma Shea</a> on <a href=”http://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

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