Gerry Badger, in his book accompanying the 2007 BBC series The Genius of Photography (I think – of course, I can’t find the exact quote now, when I need it – I need to work much harder on making notes) defines three constant strands of photographic subject matter: people, objects and places. In earlier modules, I have systematically dealt with photographing the first two. I have turned my camera on people (Identity and Place in particular) while much of my work for Digital Image and Culture was concerned with picturing objects (stuff) and using the resulting images to depict a version of myself as I moved through the world.
However, I have always seen myself a primarily a photographer concerned with place. This is the course I’ve felt I have been working towards during the first two levels of study at the Open College of Art. So what do I want to get out of it?
- I want to up my game technically: apart from too many of the photographs I’ve taken recently have been a bit snatched, with the real work taking place later. I’d like to get a bit more exact here, a bit more considered. I should get into the way of putting a camera on a tripod and taking my time. I’d like to get a bit better at printing (even if there will still be no physical element to the assessment, when I get to that point); I’d also like to put a lot more thought into digital display – many more people will see my work online than will ever be able to see nice large prints, even if the assessors can…
- I found the experience of working on a single, body during the second half of DIaC extremely satisfying. One of the most attractive things about Landscape, Space and Environment was the sixth assignment, worked on and developed throughout the course; I signed up for the module a day or so to late to have this formally enshrined in the course, but – as my tutor pointed out at our initial (virtual) meeting – there’s no reason why this cannot be incorporated into the idea of a self-directed project (assignment 5).
- Over the past six years, I have developed a fondness for working in a more conceptual way; there is usually an element of self-referentiality lurking within my work now. This is no bad thing, and providing the work is personal, something people can identify with, rather than drily cerebral; people should want to look at the pictures and to take pleasure from them, rather than simply do work on an exercise of decoding them. I don’t want to lose this aspect of my practice.
- I’m hugely aware that making a picture that even comes close to capturing the experience of standing in front of a view (and I’m becoming aware of the difference between a view and a landscape) is a very hard thing to do. I want to increase the likelihood that a photograph I take in a location manages to catch some of the charge of whatever it was that made me stop and take the picture in the first place. Of course, this does not mean that I want to return to taking single good, pictures, but I would like to make each part of a series work a little harder, a little better.
In earlier modules, I have based at least one assignment (and a fair bit of coursework) per module, around places; these projects have been among my most successful work. So, to bring this post to a close, here are some starting points for this journey through Landscape, Space and Environment:
- elements of design from The Art of Photography.
- the diary section from Context and Narrative;
- my ‘late photography/Martha Rossler’ response to the brief for assignment four of Identity and Place;
- the first assignment from Digital Image and Culture which – while ostensibly all about collage – grew out of my experience of places and of travelling through them.