The project by AJ Heath I have shown images above is Bhutan – In Pursuit of Happiness. This is based between the economic powerhouses of India and China, the small Buddhist kingdom of Bhutan. He chose this area as it shows aspects of globalization but also a self-conscious resistance to this same global change. The Kingdom was once a closed of Buddhist Kingdom but turned to a constitutional democracy which is now admired worldwide for its pursuit of Gross National Happiness. Through this, however, Bhutan development accelerates, its government has tried to preserve its culture and keep its unique identity alive. The traditional ways of living and cultural practices are slowly disappearing making way for a new lifestyle and job opportunities made because of modern influences. In the title In Pursuit of Happiness is because Bhutan is preferred as this, but this is not reality as they actually live under strict rules such as dress codes, and the first country to totally ban smoking and the sale of alcohol is forbidden. Rules and regulations control everything from building style to the availability of meat.
AJ Heath in 2015 spent 11 months documenting Bhutan and it’s ever-changing culture which was most noticeable in the younger generation. In his images, you can see this struggle between modernity and the traditional Buddhist way of life. I found it interesting to see how the images were composed in the different locations. I also liked that he included a little bit about them to explain the images and a little about the people in them.
Shown above are photographs from Carly Clarke’s project Remember Me: Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. Much like my own project Clarke is investigating someone local to where she previously lived. The downtown eastside of Vancouver is known for its crime, addiction, poverty, prostitution and homeless people and it’s an area which most people in the area avoid which made Clarke even more determined to shine some light on the residents to show them in a different way. The project is not just a series of portraits but a social documentary on the people but decided to photograph them on the streets to gain some freedom, but wanted to give them a voice and see what an outsider would not.
Her approach to the project was to show compassion and positivity when finding individuals to photograph. The relationships built allowed the sitters to open up about their personal lives when they’re comfortable you can really create an honest portrayal of their everyday environment. The photographs were a way for her to create change for the residents and for each of them to be seen as they are, so rather than stating in the title of the images what their occupation is or age, but just their name. Clarke found that all the people no matter how threatening always listened to what she had to say as everyone wanted to be shown in a positive way. She has gathered many stories over the time she created her project, getting to know the community.
I think the way she created the project was very effective, and the portraits being outside in areas where they would actually hang out shows them in a very truthful way. I’ve really enjoyed looking at the photographs and reading about her time making it, which has been very inspirational for my own.
I thought I would re-visit the book by the Long Sutton & District Civic Society to see which areas of the town have been of the most interest and photographed the most over the years. The first two images are taken from volume one which focuses on a more general overview of the town but mainly focuses on the centre of the town, mainly the Market Place which is where all the main shops are. The earliest photograph of the Market Place was taken before 1885. This is probably the most noteworthy thing about Long Sutton is how old the town actually is.
The next two images were taken from volume two which focussed on the inns and pubs found in the town, some of which are no longer pubs but some have been refurbished many times over. The Turpins has changed a lot over the years and is one of the places which changed in my lifetime as I remember it being Turpins before it was recently changed to Palmers and now is decorated pink rather than white, so it stands out more than most of part of the Market Place. There is, however, another pub which has changed even more than this after having an extension it looks completely different to what it did before.
This is perhaps one of the main points of interest for the town and the people living in it, as well as people who no longer do, is to see how it has changed over time. It is a strange feeling to go back to a place you once grew up to have completely changed. Everywhere is always changing and it’s something we cannot stop. It’s very interesting to look back at the town I grew up in and see for myself how it was before I was even born, with how long it has been here it makes me feel somewhat of a stranger to it. By looking back at its past it makes me feel more connected to the town, and through this project, I probably will as well.
Collard, D. (n/a). Ages of us, Name: Donnie Kemp Age: Unknown.
Collard, D. (n/a). Ages Of Us, Name: Eddie , Age : Unknown
Collard, D. (n/a). Ages Of Us, Name: Dennis, Age : Unknown
The project I want to discuss by Dylan Collard is Ages of Us. This explores the process of ageing and how we change as we grow older, and how our aspirations change. The constant in the series is the bench you can see all the sitters on in the pictures above, but all in different locations and each on a different part of the bench. “The bench is the constant staying the same distance, angle and height to the camera at all times. In the left seat (to camera) I will sit persons 0 – 25 years, the middle seat 25 – 50 years and the right seat 50 + years.” – Dylan Collard. There isn’t just the picture however but questions as well, which really intrigued me as this is an aspect I have been thinking of adding to mine.
“Where possible and when willing, participants will be asked the following three questions about their Past, Present and Future.
PAST: When you were a child what did you want to be when you grew up? What was important to you when you were young?
PRESENT: What do you do now? What sort of things does your life involve now? What kind of work do you do, family, relationships? Whats important to you now?
FUTURE: What would you like to do in the future, whats left, what plans do you have for the future? ” – Dylan Collard.
Unlike any of the projects I’ve looked at so far, this is the first one which I’ve found has a website dedicated solely to it. This has the about page explaining the project, the locations with all the photographs, a film on the project, the exhibitions it has been in and sound bytes and transcripts. This makes the project really accessible for the audience to see and listen to peoples answers, it’s very personal and allows us to be apart of it. I think this is a very interesting idea and perhaps something to consider when producing my own as I’m planning on doing recordings of my conversations.
The project by Brianka Schumann in which I want to discuss is Arhai. This project is all about the transition from childhood to adulthood, and the fragility of it. We can never go back to the past and adolescence is the “no man’s land” never to be touched. She has chosen to explore this by photographing her younger brother and his best friend, all of the images show them out in nature, a small part of their secret lives, showing an extraordinary but ordinary part of it.
What I liked about this work was the composition of the images and the use of the surroundings they’re in which is very effective.
Michenaud, G. (n/a). A former Jewish cemetery discovered by farmers in the early 1990’s. This cemetery is located in the “recovered territories” (former German territories).
Michenaud, G. (n/a). Slovak minority in Poland.
Michenaud, G. (n/a). Archive from Jewish minority family.
Gregory Michenaud specialises in documentary and storytelling and is a member of the Association of Polish Art Photographers. The project I have looked at and of which is shown above is Minorities. “For all the years of politically forced amnesia, that have passed since the WWII atrocities gravely wounded the social body of Central Europe, the holders of the broken heritage of multicultural Poland were that mere one per cent of its citizens, who belong to thirteen different national and ethnic minorities. Just a shadow of what it used to be.” (Michenaud). Michenaud was looking into their lost past, which has partly been passed down through sons and daughters, learning about their cultures and identities in the process. As he began his search for images of people, he came across pictures of the past, which people he met showed him. He selected some of these photographs to show the different generations, confronting them with today’s environment. His aim is the show how strong but also fragile trans-generational communication shapes not only minorities in Poland but around the world too.
I thought his work was a great example of how different aspects of photography can come together with the create a story or tell about peoples pasts as well as their present. Above I picked three images I thought showed this, a landscape, a portrait and a photograph from the past.
Laura Pannack is a London based photographer who focuses on social documentary and portraiture and explores the relationship between subject and photographer. Her projects are led by research and are initiated by herself which explore her interests in psychology and photography combined together. One of the most important things to her and what she thinks she creates the best work is time, trust and understanding, which is why many of her projects are created over many years. To also aid this for her personal projects she uses film rather than digital to make it more organic.
The project which interested me the much and actually saw at the Saatchi gallery when some of the images were shown there is Digital Self Esteem. I thought the idea behind it was fascinating and focuses on, put simply on the trend of selfies and online popularity equalling self-worth. The average millennial is expected to take 25,700 selfies in their lifetime, which is insane. For the project, she used a two-way mirror and asked her subjects which ages ranged from 7 to 17 to really see themselves and focus on a certain part of their appearance. What you see in the image shown is someone looking at themselves and experiencing it without any technology present. They are left to confront and accept their appearance. As shown in the image above the setting for the portraits is the same in all. By taking them outside away from technology and into nature it allows them to see truly see what’s in front of them and also adds an aesthetic and coherence to the images.
I’ve found Pannack’s work really interesting, especially with the way she works, and has great advice on how to make portraiture truthful and creatively inspiring.
Katya Rezvaya is a Russian photographer interested in social issues and phenomenon, and her projects usually focus on intimate stories of personalities, their identities and occupations. This is clear from the sort of work she has already done that can be found on her website, but this project Oh my Rabbits interested me the most.
The project is based on the American Rabbit Breeder Association (ARBA) which is a national club for domestic rabbit breeders and cavy breeders which have a history of 104 years. What started small has now got around 22,000 members worldwide. Each year they have an annual convention and show in a different US city. Rezvaya has taken portraits of the members with their rabbits using a dark grey/black backdrop and even soft lighting. All of the photographs from the series are composed in the same way which adds coherence to the project, but also just creates some great projects which focus on the owner and their rabbit. Even though the way they are taken in quite traditional it’s the subject which makes them so interesting.
I was also interested in the kind of information Rezvaya added to the portrait of each person. This consists of their name, age, where they are from, the bunnies name and age and lastly has also added how long they have been breeding for, and how many rabbits they have currently. I think this definitely adds a bit of individuality between each subject other than just what they look like on the outside. This gave me inspiration that as well as their name and age in my own project I could also put how long they’ve lived in Long Sutton for, to give the audience an extra glimpse into their life.
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 and 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. The town itself is very interested in its own history and has but released a third A Pictorial Journey Through Long Sutton Past in 2014, 2016 and most recently in 2017. They were all made by the Long Sutton and District Civic Society and show the abundance of photographs there have been of Long Sutton over the years showing how it has changed from over 130 years ago. It’s definitely true that the people in the town seem to love its history and want to see how it has changed over the years so I’m really interested to see what people say and to also capture the town as it is now.
Ben Burfitt is an alumnus of the University of Westminster, I really like his work and how minimalistic his style is. This is definitely the kind of photographs in which I want to create for my own work. I chose one image from each of his different projects found on his website to show the different kind of work he has done. The first image for I Thank the Lord I’m Alive (2014) shows the inspiration for the title, it’s very interesting what you can find when working on a project. I also found inspiration on how to photograph different areas, especially buildings in a different way.