Marian Goodman Gallery: Jeff Wall

The photographs above are from the Marian Goodman Galleries website.

On the weekend I went to visit Jeff Wall’s exhibition at the Marian Goodman Gallery, the work shown is new work by the photograph that has been created over the past eighteen months. The photographs are in support of Wall’s work of photographing everyday life which also resembles documentary photography.

When walking into the exhibition I was struck by the size of the prints, the photographs of the exhibition space do not give them justice. My favourite image from the series was the deserted photograph with the bright blue sky. By having the photograph printed so big you get a sense of the isolation within the image, as you walk closer and closer to it you notice the men in the photograph rather than focussing on the blue sky.

All of the images were very vibrant in colour and seemed to represent specific moments in the individuals lives, some of them seem to have no relation to each other at all and so as you walk around the room you’re getting snippets of several peoples lives.

I would definitely recommend going to see the exhibition for yourself to be able to see the detail and size of the images for yourself, and even though there aren’t many in the exhibition it is still really interesting to see the work in the flesh rather than on a computer screen.

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Urban Landscape: second shoot

On the 25th November I went back to Harrow-on-the-Hill to take pictures at twilight rather than midday to see which gave me the best lighting. Compared to my first shoot these images are very dark and have more of a blue tone to them due to the colour temperature of the images. I shot the images with my white balance on daylight. I didn’t correct the colour temperature as I think that this blue tone creates a moody atmosphere within the photographs.

With the images I think that I preferred midday light when I first shot ‘the view from the church’ because the sunlight that came through the clouds created spotlights on the buildings highlighting the greenness of the grass and also the line of cars that you can see. However, I thought that perhaps that even though I prefer my first picked image from the view from the church I think that these moody, lightly more eerie atmospheric photographs go more with my theme of the two perspectives you see in the particular location I have chosen.

I also carried on photographing trash around the graveyard, within these photographs I prefer ‘Trash #1’ as it shows the surroundings as well, whereas ‘Trash #2’ is solely focussed on the rubbish on the ground and does not work as well. Another image that I do not think works within my current images is the image of the centre of town, as in my previous landscapes they are of lots of buildings and greenery, whereas the centre you only see a very small section of the area, however they may work better together if I spend more time working on how I want to photograph the centre as I did that area last on my trip and the sun was going down very quickly. This made me rush what I was doing and could have affected my photographs.

On my next shoot I think that I will spend more time in the centre of the town to try and find areas I want to photograph. I also think that I will go and twilight again, as I think this lighting works the best.

Image & Text assignment: Weegee

Weegee

For my image and text assignment I have decided to use the shown image by Weegee titled ‘Dead on Arrival’ taken in 1941 which was found and scanned from the book ‘Weegee‘ by Kerry William Purcell and was published by Phaidon Press Limited in 2004.

Weegee (originally named Usher Fellig) got his nickname after the ouija board due to his ability to arrive at a crime scene before the police did and so his photography is mainly documentations of murder, fires and automobile accidents, although has also captured pleasurable moments of city life. Weegee uses a flash gun to illuminate his work and subjects, I would assume that most crime happened during the night and so without a flash they would be quite hard to capture (Purcell, 2004).

I have chosen Weegee’s image for my assignment as when looking at his work I thought about the detachment felt when looking at it, I especially feel that with how graphic the media has gotten it has become harder to shock and audience. I found it difficult to believe that in the image ‘Dead on Arrival’ I am actually looking at someone who has been murdered and left for dead. Within Purcell’s caption for the image she wrote about The Simple Art of Murder written by Raymond Chandler which is an essay about mystery novels and how they try and present a realistic writing of murder but it is always far from the truth. This accompanies Weegee’s work perfectly as his is an actual documentation of murder and mystery and so this will be my main text for the assignment.

Urban Landscape: William Eggleston

Another photographer that I have been interested in when doing my research for the Urban Landscape project is William Eggleston. What I think is most distinctive about his work is his use of colour as he uses transparency film which is very rare now and expensive to process as not many places develop it anymore, but I feel that it has a very different quality and vibrancy that normal colour film doesn’t have. I also think that his compositions are always well thought out and the horizons are always perfectly straight, allowing not too much foreground or background, they are well balanced images.

The images above are from the book William Eggleston’s Guide which was published by The Museum of Modern Art, New York in 1976 and includes an essay by John Szarkowski.

Within his essay John Szarkowski discusses the way we look at photography and its relation to life; how we differ which part is art and which is just a documentation of the everyday, how colour photography was looked at in the beginning and also Eggleston’s series of images that are within the book.
Szarkowski wrote that the images are about Eggleston’s home, his place and hold part of his identity (1976, pg.6) and the photographs are from a 375 essay which Eggleston completed in 1971 which he thought were just as isolated as a family album as Eggleston photographed family in his images (1976, pg.10). Szarkowski thought in fact that Eggleston’s images and subjects were no more interesting than our own family albums “…and don’t identify themselves as representatives of a general human condition.” but are simply present within the photographs (1976, pg.11).
It is also stated that Eggleston’s photographs within the series of images are based compositionally on the Confederate flag (1976, pg.11).

To conclude Szarkowski believed that Eggleston’s images were simply concerned with describing every day life, and did not have any higher meaning than this as his photographs were taken where he grew up and in neighbouring towns.

Urban Landscape: Paul Graham

As part of my research for my urban landscape project I have began looking at Paul Grahams work, the images above are from the book Paul Graham 1981 & 2011 Hasselblad Award 2012′ and are specifically from his series A1 – The Great North Road. What I found intriguing about his images was the use of the weather to create very dull, faded images, the colour is not very vibrant but has detailed quality to it which I like. I think that by photographing on a somewhat miserable day it has created images with depth and a moody vibe, one of which we tend to have whilst driving on a miserable day just trying to get to our destination.

The images from the series definitely have a wandering feel to them, and unsettled traveler capturing life on the go. It is important to not just capture the bright and sunny days, but also the ones that make us want to stay inside.

In relation to my own photography I would like to apply the use of a dull day to my photographs of the worst parts of Harrow, I think that by adding this bleakness to the images they will have more meaning to them, especially if the images of the view everyone see’s and the bits they don’t see on the exterior have different colour tones the meaning behind the images will become clearer.

The Barbican Centre and National Portrait Gallery

Today we went on a trip to the Barbican Centre and also the National Portrait Gallery where we went to see the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize.

At the Barbican Centre we were mainly focussing on composition and different ways it can be achieved such as framing, rule of thirds and line of sight. I had never been to the Barbican so it was interesting to explore the area, I do not think that the photographs I took or the location relates to either of my project ideas so I do not think that I will use it for my project, although I am glad to have experienced it as it may come in handy to know the area for future projects where it might be relevant.

Our visit to the National Portrait Gallery was also very intriguing, I have always had an interest in Portrait photography so the exhibition was very much something that I am interested in. All of the work included was fascinating in it’s own way, some of my favourite images were by photographers Pieter Hugo, Adrian Samson and Tom Oldman, their images were very detailed, I really like the use of coloured backgrounds in Adrian Samson’s work as he seemed to match the colour to the clothing or tone of the figure in the image perfectly making them vibrant but not ‘in your face’ vibrant, a subtle mixture of colours.
Tom Oldman’s photograph that was shown in the exhibition was of two men with there backs to the camera with a black backdrop making only them and their suit jackets visible, and the detail in the texture of the suit jackets was incredible, I felt as though I could touch the image and feel the fabric with my fingers.
Pieter Hugo’s work was printed much larger than the rest of the portraits shown in the exhibition, which showed the detail in them, the two images shown were from his current series 1994 where he photographed children born after 1994 in Rwanda and South Africa. The quality of the colour within the images was very good, they were very subtle and mixed well together, especially by photographing the children in front of greenery they stood out with complimenting props and clothing on them.

Overall the day was very interesting and I think that both activities will help me with future projects and also have given me inspiration of things that I can explore within my own work when dealing with colour.

HT1 Essential reading: Carol Squires ‘Looking at Life’ 1981

Carol Squires reflects on the popular magazine Life which was launched in 1938 and was one of the first picture paper magazines in America. Within her introduction she speaks about how different Life magazine was to its European counterparts ‘British liberalism, anti-fascism of France, German photojournalism’ (1981, p140) whereas Life was conservative.

She also expresses how the way magazines use their images within articles concludes the meaning of the photograph and so when images that were used in Life magazine are taken out and reproduced in books and exhibitions they have a completely different meaning to the viewer as the original text that came with the photograph is not always shown, at the most they will display the caption or title. As photographs have many ‘meanings’ they are very complex and can be interpreted in many ways, and so Squires brings up the issue of taking the image away from the text.

The works of Henri Cartier-Bresson ‘The Decisive Moment’ and also Ropert Capa specifically his image ‘Loyalist soldier falling dead during Spanish Civil War’ are considered  as they both have specific texts that go with the images and so by taking away these texts Squire proposed they were then ‘fiction’ as they could be interpreted in many different ways.

Henry Luce was the main man behind the idea of Life magazine with business partner Briton Hadden and made it ‘a virtual textbook for American political opinion, mass culture and sex-role instruction.’ (Squires, 1981, p143) Luce’s main aims for the magazine were:

To see life; to see the world, to eyewitness great events; to watch the faces of the poor and the gestures of the proud; to see strange things – machines, armies, multitudes, shadows in the gangland on the moon… to see things thousands of miles away, things hidden behind walls…
Things dangerous to come to; the women that men love and many children; to see and to take pleasure in seeing; to see and be amazed; to see and be instructed.
Thus to see and to be shown, is now the will and the new expectancy of half mankind.
To see, and to show, is the mission now undertaken by LIFE.
(Squires, 1981, p143)

Carol Squires then goes on to talk about specific issues of Life magazine explicitly the October 25, 1954 and September 16, 1957 which both had significant articles about events within them. The 1954 issue which is discussed Squires mainly looks at the ‘Hanoi’s Red Masters Take Over’ section of the magazine which presents the event of ‘the final departure of the French from Hanoi after 68 years of occupation, and the Communists ‘winning’ finally bringing repression with them.'(1981, p144). The 1957 section of the issue Squires focussed on was regarding interrogation in schools and how America overcome this in a humane way, which is followed by pictures of women competing for Miss America, by the way these two are set next to each other Squires suggests that Life are presenting how someday black women would be able to compete as well.

Overall Carol Squires talks about Life and shows how it came to be and how important image and text can be in relation to how the images are accepted by the viewer.

Urban Landscape: Harrow-on-the-Hill

Today I went to Harrow-on-the-Hill to take photographs for my urban landscape project, I specifically went to the church at the top of a hill as shown previously due to the view it provides and also took pictures in the surrounding area of the church such as the graveyard.

Shown above are my favourite images from the shoot, the photographs were taken at midday when the sun was at its brightest, especially as it has been raining a lot recently the sky has been very dull, however in the ‘Litter’ image the sky looks a lot sunnier than the one of the view, it even kind of looks like they were taken on completely different days.
The bottle in the ‘Litter’ photograph looks as though it was placed there purposefully, but it wasn’t by me, when I saw it, I felt as though it was done of purpose by the way it’s standing upright next to a bin; it doesn’t look like it was just thrown down carelessly and this intrigued me.
The last image ‘Bin Laeden was he’ also seemed very strange as I am not quite sure whether it was meant to say ‘Bin Laden was here’ or whether it is something else or someone else, it also would seem that they got cut off from doing it as instead of ‘here’ they have ‘he’ and then a blob next to it as though they were about to carry on.

I am happy with these images, however I do not think that they express the contrast that I wanted them to, I think that in order to evoke the atmosphere I want to I will have to photograph more of the centre of Harrow-on-the-Hill rather than the view of the outskirts as this is where it looks the most grand.

Urban Landscape 2nd idea

Another idea that I have thought about doing for my urban landscape project is photographing cinemas, similar in style to Bernd and Hilla Becher’s ‘water towers’ series. As cinemas look so different depending on if they’re independent or not I think that I might have to choose between the two, but I am going to photograph both and see which works the best.

I have also looked at the work of Sam Nightingale who did a series of images of Islington’s lost cinemas where he photographed where cinemas used to be using a large format camera. I very much like how his images for the series are composed and the idea of looking not for cinemas that are already there but looking for where they used to be.

René Maltête: Street photography

IMG_0008 IMG_0009 IMG_0013

René Maltête (1930-2000) was a French photographer who took to taking unusual images of everyday life. Some of his images were happy accidents that he came across when wandering the streets but some were staged situations that he created.
The images above are some of my favourite images by the photographer, they are very humorous and show the wonderful things that the photographer noticed. The top image shows a family all wearing strips at the beach, the second image shows a couple on a horse but the woman’s skirt is covering up the back making it look as though the horses legs are her own and finally the bottom one shows an advertisement on the wall in juxtaposition to the nuns walking by it. There are many amusing images in his series of images but these are definitely my favourite, the timing and the composition of the photographs are very visually interesting.