We Make the Path by Walking by Paul Gaffney

We Make the Path by Walking by Paul Gaffney is the photographer’s debut photo book and was self-published, making 1000 copies and 50 special editions. The photographs were taken in rural Spain, Portugal and France as he walked around 3,500 kilometres on foot. The book is beautifully made, in the first image I have shown how the book comes, it has a case which has one of his photographs on it, a postcard slotted inside and then the book itself is plain grey with the title printed on the top left corner. Interestingly, shown in image three you can see that the book has not be attached to the spine of the cover so you can even see the glue holding it together. It makes it look very raw and handmade, a very rustic feel to the book.

The book has been nominated for the Photobook Award at Kassel Photobook Festival 2013, shortlisted for the European Publishers Award for Photography and included in the Photo-Eye ‘Best Books of 2013’ list. The prints themselves are beautiful, they were printed using offset on Munken Lynx paper. It’s very tactile and matte, a lot of books I’ve looked at have either been glossy or semi-glossy but I think matte has worked well with his prints. Most of the images have been printed on one page of the double spread, and again as a recurring theme, he has also printed some of them so that they go partly across to the other page without any gaps in the image. This is still something I am not keen on in photo books, as I have said before I would prefer to be able to see the whole image rather than there being a disturbance making some of it unclear. This is the only part of the design I have not liked, it is a lot different to the previous books I have looked at style wise, but is definitely one of my favourites.

As last time I went home I just walked the route I would go to walk the dogs to take pictures I definitely see the appeal of presenting walking as a kind of meditation, I find it very relaxing and calming, especially walking somewhere scenic it can feel very magical.

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The Christmas Tree Bucket by Trent Parke

“The Christmas Tree Bucket is a modern-day Christmas story with a dark edge. A wordless narrative, Parke’s story is an ironic take on the typical Australian suburban Christmas. He photographs friends and family, and casts them in a twisted tale that merges fact and fiction. The viewer is left to make imaginative sense of images of barbeques, screaming children, a burning gingerbread house, and even the photographer himself vomiting into the infamous Christmas Tree Bucket. “It was there, while staring into that bright red bucket, vomiting every hour on the hour for fifteen hours straight that I started to think how strange families, suburbia, life, vomit and in particular, Christmas really was… Merry Christmas!” – Trent Parke.

The design of Trent Parke’s book in fantastic, I loved the front cover and the use of wrapping paper, which is also in the middle of the book as well. The front cover makes it look like a very traditional Christmas album with gold foiled writing and red as the cover colour. The images themselves show a very usual Christmas, but it’s the way the photographs are taken and the way they’re edited that makes it seem so satirical and sinister. I also found the title to be very interesting when first hearing it, it sounds like a children’s story about a magical Christmas bucket but turned out to have chosen because the photographer threw up in a bucket. I didn’t take a picture of that page because it’s gross but the bucket is shown in the last photo, being used to hold the (now dead) Christmas tree up.

I think this book is a great example of how you can have some fun with a project and really make it your own. To explore family life and put a twist on a holiday associated with wonder, food and Santa. The wonder is turned into horror, food into vomit and Santa into someone coming to murder you rather than give you presents. It’s an example of some great editing and design, and also that the title for a project can come from anywhere, which is why I’m waiting for my Chrismas Bucket to show itself before deciding anything.

Carry me Ohio by Matt Eich

Carry Me Ohio by Matt Eich is volume 1 of for as part of ‘The Invisible Yoke”. It was created when Eich moved to a rural area in Ohio. He began to photograph the communities he found there and found it to convey a story which plays out around our country and the world. He calls photography the ‘antidote’ to the collective forgetfulness of our history and the damage we course ourselves. The photographs shown are his ‘love song to Ohio’ (Eich, 2016).

The book is beautiful which he has created, the images and the way they are laid out flow very well. I have shown above in the sequence of images some of my favourite images from the book and also to show the different ways they have been presented. There are both landscape and portrait layouts, but always the same on the adjoining pages. There are also some images which flood onto the next page, shown in the second, fifth and eighth image. This seems to be a popular way to present images in books and online at the moment, and I’m not sure I like it. It seems a little unnecessary and rather being able to see the whole image clearly, it is cut off. Otherwise, I think the sequencing works well and I found it very interesting as it’s a good example of taking photographs in a certain area, a journey of discovery, finding the communities around where you live and getting to know them.

I think Eich used a mixture of different media for the project, perhaps both 35mm and medium format when looking at the pictures, but I have not found anywhere where this is stated. They’re all in colour, however, which recently I have been enjoying more than black and white images. I think colour shows more when photographing areas and communities, it gives the audience more of a sense of what it looks like, and what kind of a vibe you would get from it from the images. Black and white would say something completely different.

Overall it was a great to be able to see the photobook in real life as it is sold out now and the price is going up for it as it’s very popular. More recent publication show what is popular at the moment when it comes to photo books, to give me a better idea of what is going on in photography now.

 

Presenting Ideas

Gallery Mock up LS

Now I have a view initial images to work with I’ve started looking at different presenting ideas based on the exhibitions I’ve been to so far. The one above was inspired by the large sizing of most of Thomas Ruff’s projects I saw at the Whitechapel Gallery. If I were to print this large I think I would stick to two main images rather than doing many. This is mostly because I’m aware of space for each student at the degree shows and money wise when I’m thinking of my budget for the project. Doing large format will be costly as also printing this large will be as well.

Gallery Mock up LS 2

My next idea was based on the size of Gregory Crewdson’s work at the Photographers Gallery. His were not printed as large, but by having them smaller would mean I would perhaps display more images, but still probably my three strongest. I have not put borders on the images in my mockups, but if I went for frames they would be black, the large without a border, but the smaller ones might have text underneath them.

I do also like having them flush, and have always been intrigued by light boxes, but would have to look at the prices before considering displaying in this way, and also whether it would suit the imagery, as with the ones I’m testing with I do not think these would work as well with a light box, but I do still like having them flush. I will continue to experiment with different displaying ideas as the project develops.

First Book Design

Long Sutton book design Cover

Long Sutton book design

Linked above are the book designs I made in Lightroom, the programme made it so that the cover and the main contents of the book were saved separately. I used the photographs I took in Kensington to see how I would edit the photographs together, and I wanted there to be a border as like Martin Parr’s books I think I might add text underneath the ones where I include people talking about Long Sutton.

Long Sutton Second Book Design Cover

Long Sutton Second Book Design

For the second design instead, I decided to use previous photographs I took in Long Sutton as I took some of the residents on market day, this gave me a better idea of how I could combine the images of the residents and the landscape shots of the town. The tones are a little different as I took them on different days and also with different cameras. It was summer time when I took the pictures of the market so there’s more direct sunlight and I didn’t warm up the tones as much as I did in my most recent shoot. However, it shows that they work quite well together, especially being able to have the theme of red going through most of the photographs.

Overall, I think that a book could perhaps work quite well with this project, and as I’m going to practice with friends here in their homes I should be able to make another mock-up which would be more accurate to the actual outcome but will have to see how the project develops over time.

Research and initial​ ideas and thoughts

Why Long Sutton?

During my project Why Long Sutton? I want to explore why people choose to live there. When growing up I found that there wasn’t much to do and I questioned why people would choose to live there. Now after living part of my life in London for University, I have seen the appeal of it. It’s so quiet and peaceful, the town center has pretty much all the essential shops in it, and with cars, you can drive to the next bigger town with ease, or with online shopping, you don’t even have to do that. However, more and more I am being asked the question of where I want to live after University and Long Sutton isn’t coming up as one of those places.

Long Sutton is a small market town located in South Holland, on the south-eastern outskirts of Lincolnshire which makes it close to both counties Norfolk and Cambridgeshire. In 2011, it was recorded that the population of the town was 4,821. Every Friday the town has a Market which can be dated back to the 13th Century and is still alive a thriving today. Especially in the 1950s around eleven trains (when there was a train station) would come and go with transporting people and produce. The town still has Georgian architecture, St Mary’s Church is known for its 13th Century timber spire, which is now the highest and best-preserved in England. This year the town is celebrating 25 years of Long Sutton in Bloom, where a group of volunteers come together to plant flowers for the East Midlands in Bloom competition. Through this, it has frequently been named one of the ‘Best Kept Villages’ in Lincolnshire.

This series is very much based on the people who live in Long Sutton and is a documentary of me asking them why they live there, what they like most about it and most importantly why they never left. It’s something many of us have in common, why do people go back to little towns? Why are people attracted to them? The conclusion for this project will come after I have talked to residents and people who have previously lived in the town to answer the question of why people live there.

Some of my influences for the series are Martin Parr, particularly his series Think of England (both book and documentary film) and Signs of the Times. Mark Neville and his book project The Port Glasgow. Iain Mckell with series The New Gypsies, Michal Solarski and his series The Airmen. Lastly, Eri Morita and her series In This Beautiful Bubble.

Second Shoot

Whilst I was home I decided I wanted to take some shots of the town as I want them to be a part of the project, not for it to just be portraits. I couldn’t get a large format camera back to the town so I just used my Nikon D750. Above are the contact sheets from the shoot, but just of my favourites. The areas that I took pictures of are actually mostly part of the route I take with my mum and nana when I go with them to take the dogs for a walk. The day before I was just looking around and decided that I wanted to come back and take pictures of some of the things I saw as we were walking. That meant that I mostly took pictures of green areas rather than the buildings. I’ll definitely also need to take pictures of the actual town and the buildings, but I thought it would be interesting to explore areas that are specific to me as well.

I definitely liked the tones of the images, very warm and bright is probably something that I have wanted because of the time of year as the leaves are on the ground. As the seasons change the way I edit images changed as well because it looks so different. I think this was helpful as part of my project to see what kind of images I wanted to take of the town, what I am naturally drawn too. I didn’t necessarily have a theme in mind but I did seem to take a lot of images of similar things and in similar ways. This means though that the images do flow nicely together I think and I like the style I took them in. It will definitely have a different feel if I took them using a film camera, especially large format as instead of just taking snapshots I would have taken a lot longer to pick where I wanted to take a picture because of the cost of film and the time it takes to actually take the picture.

Overall I am happy with the images I took, and I think that the project is going in the right direction. I found it interesting to take the pictures with others who have not been there in mind. In some ways I was thinking about how I would be presenting the town, and what people would think of it from just seeing the pictures I took.

Martin Parr – Think of Scotland

Think of Scotland is work by Martin Parr which has been gathered for around 25 years. Travelling back to it for holidays taking photographs of whatever interested him. This is the third ‘Think of…’ book Parr has done and I think each has been very interesting. Parr uses a digital camera now, rather than a 35mm, a Canon 5D Mark 4. Over the summer I only really used my digital camera as I got a new one, I do enjoy using film but with how accessible and quick it is to use digital I can understand why Parr made the switch. I want to experiment with different mediums for my final project to find what would work best, especially as I might want to print them quite big, and I’m also thinking of making a book as well.

I have found Parr’s work alongside others very inspiring, I’m soon going to be able to spend time photographing Long Sutton to explore the areas that I want to focus on, unfortunatley we don’t have any events happening that I could photograph but will have to see. I have taken some pictures of the town centre but I think I’m going to focus on landscapes and details rather than people to see how they could be put together.

 

Martin Parr – Oxford

Here shown above is a selection of images from some of Parr’s more recent work which is a book, made from around 100 images showing and documenting an academic year at the university in Oxford. The work has been exhibited at Blackwell Hall from 8th September to 22nd of October, so it finished recently.

Oxford is one of the most highly rated Universities and from what I’ve seen you don’t really see what goes on there during the academic year, it’s an interesting insight into it. I haven’t found any of the exhibition shots to see how it was presented but I found the image found on Martin Parr’s website very interesting, they show several different sides of the university from the formal events to the students letting loose and enjoying themselves.  The images are far from what I picture when thinking of the prestigious University, you think of it as a very posh establishment, which on the outside it very much is with the traditions they have. Parr has very often been accused of mocking his subject matter, but from what I have seen of the images for this project I don’t sense that this is something he was doing. It’s fascinating to just see little snippets of what life is like there, as I think it is anywhere that you haven’t been an experienced yourself, and also for places you’ve been because you can see how others experience the same place.

Most of the images are not posed which I think makes them feel quite real, they’re not always noticing and looking at the camera, it’s just life as it happens. I think it’ll be interesting in my own work to do a bit of both to experiment with capturing the town as it is, but also have posed images of some residents as we chat about their thoughts on the town.

Illuminating India

Illuminating India is an exhibition currently on at the Science Museum, it showcases photography work and paintings from 1857 to the present day. The images shown above are a couple of exhibition shots, the one on the left is more recent work and on the right is more of the historical photography work.

My main interest for going to this exhibition was to see more of the recent work shown, I was interested in the historical photography as it’s always interesting to see how the medium was used, especially in different countries. As I have been looking at how different photographers represent specific places and people it was interesting to see the different current work that is being made that I wouldn’t necessarily be aware of otherwise. The work shown in the left image is by Vasantha Yogananthan, titled A Myth of Two Souls (2013-present) which was inspired by the tale of The Ramayana. The text and image have been presented together by having parts of the story shown on title cards that stick out underneath the photographs. The images have been printed at different sizes and also at different levels so you follow the story up and down, with both large and small photographs to look at. Although I liked the photography and the subject matter, I wasn’t sure about how the text was presented, I didn’t like that they stuck out, I don’t think they work well with how the rest of the work has been placed. It just looks a little messy to me and could have been blended in with the rest better.

Overall I found it interesting to go to the exhibition to see all the different kinds of work presented from India, a side that you don’t always see.