Work in Progress Portfolio

My work in progress portfolio took quite a lot of editing and went through several incarnations before it came to its final version.  I began working to compile the portfolio several weeks ago reviewing the hundreds of photos I took during the module; both those that were direct project work and those that were not.  I undertook several side projects that included field trips to other places for wildlife photography, a commissioned project for a breeder of dressage horse, projects that were prompted by the curriculum, and projects related to organisations I support.  I undertook experimentation particularly in macro and super macro work as a way of capturing the smaller inhabitants of Coul Links.  I also began trying to become more comfortable photographing people as I have come to realise that my project work will ultimately require it.

The first iterations were organised around a conceptual framework that included looking at the land from a bird’s eye perspective, a human’s eye perspective and then a bug’s eye perspective.  The idea was using a very broad views from above, flatter views from the ground and then very close up views of the world beneath my feet.  I also tested a Powers of Ten type concept where I had photographed the same view with increasingly longer lenses and narrowing perspective intending again to ultimately get to the world beneath my feet since I had spent a fair amount of effort on the macro work during the term.

I had also continued my repeat photographic work at Coul Links throughout the term and there were discernible changes in the landscape, however, I was struggling with a way to condense a sizable amount of work over 4 months into something meaningful in 18 or fewer photos.  So the second iterations attempted to show some of the landscape work intermixed with some of the normal wildlife and macro work.  When I showed those compilations to tutors and peers, there was almost universal agreement in one form or another that the breadth of perspectives was not communicating a clear story or a consistent visual aesthetic.

Along the way late in the term, I tested a concept showing a golfer “playing” the proposed routing of the new course as it is today.  I had the idea that I would desaturate those images to give a historical feel to them.  That concept got both good and bad reviews and, in the end, I decided the desaturation was too heavy handed and essentially a trope that wasn’t setting the groundwork for my ultimate story.  Tutorial comments and some additional research into social landscape photography that led me again to Dorothea Lange’s work revealed to me though that my project needed something more than just the natural history approach I had been taking.  I realised that what was being argued and what was at stake for the future of Coul Links is about how people have and will interact with this land.  That caused me to pour back through my aggregated work again and find those few photos where I had managed to incidentally capture people on the links.  At this point I still had some wildlife photos in the mix.

My project is complex with a number of different elements that in the end could potentially comprise distinct independent stories, or could be combined in different ways to create one or several stories.  However, all that complexity and diversity in the type of images I am capturing makes creating an interim portfolio that stands on its own thematically and aesthetically a challenge.  I had to overcome the inclination to try to show it all, because I was ending up showing nothing.  I had to let go of emotional attachments to my work and any pre-conceived notions about what type of genre(s) I fit in as a photographer.  I had to begin looking at my work in a completely different way than I ever had prior to this course.  Fortunately, the critical theory readings that seemed in many ways beyond my understanding during Positions and Practice when augmented by the many additional readings during this term had somehow begun to coalesce into something comprehensible and even useful. I was moving in the correct direction, but I still wasn’t there as I learned when reviewing drafts of my portfolio with tutors.  While I had come closer on selection of work there was still a sense that it was not yet organised and displayed in a way that communicated effectively.  My last one-to-one with Michelle left me utterly confused at first and feeling lost as to how to proceed.  I was limited by the structure of my SquareSpace website that wouldn’t allow me to organise my photos in grids or groupings and I didn’t know at first how I was going to overcome that limitation.  Ultimately, I found my way back to Abobe Spark as it allowed me the flexibility to create a layout that would allow me to communicate more effectively.

The final iteration integrated elements of the repeat photography with a twist, and was also intended to introduce the exploration of how people are interacting with the land.  The twist was packaging work that looked at the same areas of the landscape but from different perspectives rather than the traditional repeat photography approach of identical perspectives, and which included photos made in different months.  I did do the classic repeat photography work taking all the identical perspectives at different times, but chose not to show them that way.  I also made a conscious decision to not include wildlife in this portfolio.  I have shown the quality of that work in past submissions and was able to show examples of what I had done in the Oral Presentation.  It was time to do something different.  I hoped that approaching the portfolio this way would begin to show how the landscape changes in subtle ways throughout the year, would illustrate my various methods of image production while at the same time carrying an aesthetic that was cohesive and introduce ideas about how I might move forward in showing how various people use this land now and might use it in the future.

My portfolio can be found at the following link:

S&S WIP_Coul Links Perspectives

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