Personal Photography Briefs decoded

When coming up with photographic ideas a personal photography brief is always a good starting point. It helps you describe your ideas/how you want your images to look before you have taken them. It can serve as a reminder for what you are doing, how you want to do it and sometimes, why. Once the shoot is over, you can reflect on this document to see what you followed or didn’t follow and why. It helps in your evaluation, and you find yourself growing a lot faster a photographer. Once you move forward from the previous project you become more intentional with how you work.

Sections to break your photography brief into:

  1. Aims & Objectives – what are you doing/going to do and why?
  2. Location – where are you shooting, why? Include sample images here.
  3. Equipment – list here
  4. Influence – who are your key influences and why, what are you taking from their work and injecting into yours? Include every element and use visual language. Include key images here to demonstrate what you wish to achieve.
  5. Light – how should it look in your images, mood and atmosphere you wish to create? How will you achieve it?
  6. Lighting diagram – use it to show your setup and consider your subject and location. Include any good test shots you have here.
  7. Look and feel – how would you describe your images in words – use descriptive vocabulary.
  8. Genre – what genre are you working in – how will this affect the way your work looks visually?
  9. Audience – where do you want your work to end up? Who will view it and how will you make money from this work? Will this affect how you complete your project and the decisions you make?

You don’t have to write paragraphs for any of these sections. aim to answer in bullet points. This will help you absorb what you are doing faster and make planning the consequent shoots/projects easier. I’ve included my example brief in another post.

Final Year of Photography Degree!

So, the end of the final road begins. These past 2 years have been interesting as a Photography student. When you are completing placements, juggling freelancing and studying it can be hard to juggle all the information that is given to you and process it into something you can actually follow.

There are 3 things that I have learnt that have helped me a lot, they’ve been said over and over again but I don’t think the light fully switched on until final year so I will share them briefly below.

  1. Write down EVERY idea you have. As trivial as this sounds, there will be stages of growth in your development as a photographer. I now look back at ideas I had from the first year that I was not ready to shoot – I didn’t have the technical skills, the creative eye and quite frankly enough industry experience to attempt such a project. Writing it down tells your brain this is something important – not something I will be wasting time by doing and you’ll be surprised how much inspiration you can get after revisiting old ideas.
  2. READ like it’s going out of style! (I will elaborate this one further on in my blog) but when you are not making work, spend time looking at other creative work, journals, photographic magazines that explain how the successful live and think, books, films, paintings even music. You will find that when your reference these creatives in your work, your interpretation of it changes as you add your own flavour to what has been done before you. Saturate yourself in creativity, it helps you become more original.
  3. NEVER be afraid of failure. I cannot stress this last one enough. There will be some projects you try and you take some absolute sh*t pictures (at least I have) but this is all a part of the process. My editing in my early stages of learning  Photoshop was poor, and I had to submit some of this work for graded assignments. The feedback I got – though uncomfortable at the time, forced me to improve and to learn from what had gone wrong. It has been quite crazy how quickly the past 2 years have flown by, and I am glad that I attempted and failed the things I did at a time where it was less critical and I had a safe space to ‘fail in’. I can assure you that I’ve not made the same mistakes twice!

This year as I write my blog, I will be including more pictures, personal reflections and sharing tips for those creatives who wish to bridge the gap between student and professional and are unsure of how to go about it.

Welcome to my blog and please, don’t be afraid to leave a comment – I will reply.

Research & Development – Jeff Wall

Jeff Wall is an artist renowned for large-format photographs with diverse subject matter. It encompasses urban environments and tableaux vivant that mimics the complexity and size of nineteenth-century paintings. This aspect of his practise lends itself to his training in art history at London’s Courtauld Institute.

Wall started producing large, backlit photographs after seeing an illuminated advertisement from a bus window. He had recently visited the Prado, Madrid, and combined his knowledge of the Western pictorial tradition with his interest in contemporary media to create one of most influential visions in contemporary art.

Jeffwall070305_560
A Sudden Gust of Wind (after Hokusai), 1993

Wall calls his photographs, after Charles Baudelaire, ‘prose poems’. This description emphasises how each picture should be experienced as opposed to illustrate a pre-determined idea or a specific narrative. His pictures may depict an instant and a scenario, but the before and after that moment are left completely unknown. This allows the viewer to become involved in the deciphering of the photographs meaning. Naturally, it follows that diverse interpretations would emerge upon different audiences responding to his work.

The prose poem format allows any truth claims of the photograph – the facts we expect from journalistic photography – to remain suspended, and Wall believes that in that suspension the viewer experiences pleasure. In addition to the light-boxes, Wall has made, since 1996, black-and-white prints, and has recently begun to print large-scale colour inkjet photographs.

Below are the 5 images of his that I find the most interesting/relevant to my intended body of work. Following that are evaluations and influences for my practice to consider.

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Each image is uniquely composed and loaded with societal issues. What is most interesting is that the majority – if not all of these images, were composed by Jeff Wall to convey a particular issue. Yet, without being told that they were ‘directed’ they are assigned a meaning. For example: ‘racism/racial slurs’, ‘apartheid within the USA where segregation of black individuals was prevalent’, the importance of unpaid workers etc. Each of these images, if put on posterd/ads and ran as campaigns would be successful visually for the clear theme they seem to stand for.

My next concern would be of how ethical it is to direct an image that may stand for a prevalent societal issue. The end result would be similar if not identical to street photography however, a lot more instruction and ‘bias’ was involved in the directed photograph.

For my personal practice I wish to envisage the size and scale of the images I take and not wait until ‘printing/post-production’ to consider those factors. In addition, I would like to pay as much detail as possible to what is inside of my frames when shooting – what adds detail, what enhances and what detracts? This is particularly hard when doing fast paced street photography but, it is not impossible.


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Research & Development – Alec Soth

USA. Vasa, Minnesota. 2002. Charles
USA. Vasa, Minnesota. 2002. Charles
I fell in love with the process of taking pictures, with wandering around finding things. To me it feels like a kind of performance. The picture is a document of that performance. ”

 

Alec Soth b.1969 is a Magnum Photographer whose distinct style is documenting performance photography. When I first saw his images I felt like I was ‘waiting for the next scene’ almost like watching a movie. When I did some research into his photographic style the reason became clearer.

He photographs large geographical territories (Mid-West USA) with various subgenres – nature, people etc but has a way of making the process seem like an adventure and the photograph becomes the document. His photograph reminds me of childhood movies like Huckleberry Finn and bear a feel reminiscent of that story. He currently has a brilliant exhibition at the New Media Space, Science Museum – Gathered Leaves (review soon to follow) and was featured in the British Journal of Photography October 2015.

Below are some of his images I found interesting as well as a personal reflection.

Reflection:

I will be considering his technique of capturing a still and making it appear ‘as a scene/living picture’ in my personal practice. Sometimes a photographer is unable to translate a sense of movement without obvious tools such as shutter speed simply because one frame does not always tell the whole story. Instead of using this point of view I will consider how my ‘one shot’/series can tell the most exciting part of the story.

Another iconic thing that Soth has done is find the most ironic juxtapositions/locations for the relevant portraits [see above the Palm Sunday photography]. Whilst street photography should not be directed as such – locations and subjects will be carefully considered in my framing.

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Exhibition Review 2 

Fine Art Society, 148 New Bond St, The Decisive Moment

Planning for 2 exhibitions in the morning…

Map, address and writeup by TimeOut

As advertised in the TimeOut magazine

Photography was NOT permitted, however there was a free postcard witch an iconic Henri Cartier-Bresson (HCB) image on the front which has been collected for the sketchbook.

Review:

This exhibition was enlightening regarding presentation, printing and fine art valuation. Also, there were a few HCB images I had not yet encountered. See below for these (sourced from books/online).