I found this a productive session and frankly altogether too short to really discuss all I might have liked to discuss. Nevertheless, Michelle provided a lot of encouragement and offered some insights and opinions about some of the work I showed. I was a bit surprised by some and would at some point like to delve further into the “whys” behind the comments.
I can take a technically good photograph, but my usual subject matter is one in which it is somewhat difficult to distinguish one’s self from the other many fine professional and amateur natural history photographers in the world without resorting to gimmicks or excessive manipulations, both of which strike me as antithetical to whole point of natural history photography. So we return to the question of what makes my work unique and identifiable? I do not yet have the definitive answer to that question. My work is becoming more focused on outcomes; that is to say I take fewer photos just to take a photo of something that catches my eye or interests me and consider what will I do with the photo and how does it fit or support an output in some form. I am much more aware of the need to tell a story with my work. In some of my projects I begin with with a clear idea of the story line and am able to capture images to support that narrative. In my research project though, it is impossible to determine how the story will end at this time, and it may be many years in fact before we know the true outcome. So while there are clear elements to the plot, it is somewhat of a mystery story: who is the villain and who is the hero, do either exist, can nature and man work together in harmony in this instance?
Michelle suggested I look at the work of Stephen Gill and Susan Derges. I found Gill’s work unappealing, uninspiring and largely uninteresting, both in subject matter and technique. He is an experimental photographer and he does unconventional things to make his art, for which he is to be commended, and he obviously has attracted an audience, but his art does not resonate with me.
On the other hand, I was fascinated by the work of Susan Derges. I didn’t realize at first that she specializes in cameraless photography and I found myself wondering how she managed the perspective in many of her photos. Her work dances along the border between realism and abstraction, and contains just enough of each to capture and hold my attention. When I then learned that much of her work is constructed in a darkroom I was completely gobsmacked. Michelle has urged me to consider whether there is a place in my project for something along the lines of the photograms I did in last week’s activity. Derges work is far more sophisticated than my simple cyanotypes, but it has shown me there are perhaps possibilities of which I was not aware and had therefore not considered.
So the search for Ashley Rose’s unique perspective continues. Under every rock and leaf there seems another possibility. Perhaps this is another journey with no final destination, but rather one of exploration, discovery, experimentation and reflection. Yet another story with an uncertain ending. Stay tuned for future episodes.
Derges, S. (n.d.). Susan Derges. Retrieved July 6, 2018, from http://susanderges.co.uk/
Gill, S. (n.d.). Stephen Gill Portfolio. Retrieved July 6, 2018, from https://www.stephengill.co.uk/portfolio/portfolio