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.

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