Thomas Ruff at The Whitechapel Gallery

Thomas Ruff is currently having an exhibition of his work made between 1979-2017 at the Whitechapel Gallery. His project Portraits has always been one of my favourites he has created, but have only ever seen them in books or on the internet. It was amazing to be able to see them as they are meant to be seen, they have been printed so big you can walk right up to it and see the detail, but because they are taller you have to be further away to see the whole thing.

Not all of his work is printed the B0 size, some of them are quite small. It’s interesting to think why he decided to do some of the projects large and others smaller. I thought the borders went well with the images and also the wooden coloured frames which were used for most of the work, but with some, they had black ones. It’s helpful to see how they have been presented in different ways and compared to different works I have seen at different exhibitions. I definitely think so far I am planning to print them quite big, but whether it will be Portraits big, or smaller, a similar size to Gregory Crewdson’s work shown at the Photographers Gallery.

Overall I found the exhibition really interesting, I always enjoy seeing the work people have made over a long period of time to see how it changes and develops, and Ruff has made many different pieces.


In This Beautiful Bubble by Eri Morita

“After my husband and I had our daughter in 2005, we decided to move from New York to Maui, then Tokyo, and later Santa Monica. We currently live in San Diego. Raising my daughter in Southern California, I’ve come to realize that her current environment is nothing like that of my own childhood. I grew up in the industrial area of Tokyo. There were many small manufacturers and houses right next to each other. Children ran through narrow alleyways and explored the neighborhood without adult supervision.

On the other hand, here I see rows and rows of beautiful homes. Nature is serene and tranquil. Children live in protected environments. They are given everything they could imagine wanting. The housing boom made it possible for everyone to have a spacious home. Parents drive SUVs to drop kids off at school. There are houses being built on land where there used to be coyotes and bobcats.

One day, another parent from my daughter’s school said, “Someday I want my kids to see the outside of this beautiful bubble.” She grew up in San Diego and is raising her children in the same neighborhood where she grew up. The title of my new series, “In This Beautiful Bubble,” came from this conversation. I am curious to observe how children grow up in this man-made utopia.” (Morita, E. (2013). In This Beautiful Bubble. Available at:

Growing up I saw my own hometown as a bubble, separated from the outside world. It’s so easy to get caught up in the small town life, with all the gossip, everyone knowing everyone and what they’re doing. I found great inspiration from this project and thought the images produced were really interesting to show this suburban life Morita’s children are growing up in. Each person has a different part of their life shown, shooting both indoors and outdoors. I think it will to be based on the person with my own project on where and how I photograph them, but it’s fascinating to see how Morita has presented hers.

The Airmen by Michal Solarski

The Airmen is a collaborative project between Michal Solarski who took the photographs and Joanna Frydel-Solarska wrote the text that goes with it. The project is all about celebrated Polish World War II pilots, both Solarski and Frydel-Solarska would enter their homes and hear the stories from the war.

I found this project very interesting as all the images as shot inside the persons home, which is perhaps what I will be doing for my project. Most of the images are portraits but they have added some pictures of photographs or parts of the persons home. They haven’t put any information on how it was shot in the article on Lenscultures website but I like the way they are composed and that each individual home has its own colour tone. This is perhaps something they couldn’t control however if they were only using the light sources provided rather than bringing their own. Mostly we are taught to make sure that all the tones are the same so that all the images work as a series, but I think in this case it works to give the audience a bit more of a feel of each individual person. I think you can sense more about the home without there being a lot of stage lighting.

It’s also interesting that they have text speaking about their visits to each home and what it was like. Especially with the subject matter it’s fascinating to hear their stories. I think that I want to include text in with my project but I’m not sure how this is going to work in the gallery space. It may mean doing a book to go alongside it.

The New Gypsies by Iain McKell

The New Gypsies is a series of image Iain McKell created during 1986 assigned by The Observer to document the New Age Travellers of the Peace Convoy. During the Summer Solstice, they were traveling to Stonehenge and this journey is what McKell was assigned to photograph. Fifteen years later McKell photographed the same event in 2001 to see how the culture had developed. What fascinated me with this project was seeing into this cultures lifestyle. As McKell was already interested in the culture before he was even assigned to photograph them you see images of someone really embracing and understanding their way of life.

The images he produced make their way of life seem mythical, people living away from urban life and the stresses that come with it. Living a simple life instead. Most of them lived in cities and as a part of a ‘normal’ society but it just didn’t suit them, and I can understand why not. There’s so much going on in cities that I always think it’s nice to get away or visit areas that are less industrialised. Especially as I write this on the fourteenth floor of my halls of residence, I can hear construction work going on, I can see train tracks and tall buildings and the further out I look there are more greenery and trees contrasting against them. It’s easy to imagine why people wouldn’t want to live as part of a city.

I think my research for my final major project is going to be based on how different photographers have photographed specific areas, people, and cultures, different ways of life. The different ways you can go about photographing it and the mediums used or how it’s presented to get inspiration.

Initial Research: Port Glasgow by Mark Neville

As part of my initial research for the Final Major Project, I looked at Martin Parr, particularly his series Think of England (both book and documentary film) and Signs of the Times (both of these I have already written about on my blog and have been re-tagged with the module code). 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 (these I will talk about in future posts).

Firstly I’m going to go to talk about Mark Neville and his project The Port Glasgow. The Port Glasgow book project was created over a couple of years, Neville spent a whole year in Port Glasgow photographing the people there. The result was a book which was solely made for the residents of Port Glasgow and the 8000 copies for them was handed out by the local football team rather than a delivery service. It is also to be noted that Neville didn’t sell the book in shops, but wanted it only to exist for the residents, and not for the middle-class coffee tables. One of the most interesting things for me about the project is the reaction of the residents to it, some of them loved and thought it represented the community in a beautiful way, however, the Protestant’s burned their copies at the back of the Catholic-Club because they thought it was pro-Catholic. This was the most extreme reaction to it, others also had a negative reaction and thought it presented them in a bad way because of how they came across in the pictures.

As my initial idea was based on my hometown Long Sutton I found this project really interesting as it would be so fascinating to see their reactions to what I came up with if I sent it back to them. Especially as it is a statement of how the work made of a specific place and their residents doesn’t usually get made solely for them but will be sold on the art market and end up on middle-class coffee tables. All the profits from the book went back into the town, and also the profits from an exhibition which showed the reaction from the town to the project which was shown in England at Modern Art Oxford and other venues. These profits were given to charities which were based in Port Glasgow.

We’re very lucky that our library has a copy of the book, here are some of my favourite images from it:

What I liked about these images is the range of different combinations and content in the images, both the use of portraiture, landscapes, and crowds really shows the different aspects of life there. This project is definitely one of my main inspirations for my own and found it really interesting to research and images that go alongside it.


Gregory Crewdson: Cathedral of the Pines

Gregory Crewdson: Cathedral of the Pines exhibited at the Photographers Gallery. As Crewdson is known for each image is so carefully produced that you can’t help but get up close and personal to see all the little details he has included. Especially with the size, they have been printed you can get up close and personal with them, and with the detail, they were shot in you are able to do this because they are so sharp. You can feel the intimacy of the images, it’s as though you are peering into people’s lives, their most private moments, but with incredible detail. Many of them also felt very eery, almost as though they are stills from a crime or mystery film. I think the sense of peering into someone’s life is most apparent when seeing the people in nude, as this is something most people only do in private, not to be displayed to the world. They just appear as ordinary people living their lives but happen to be captured by Crewdsons camera.

What I find most inspiring when seeing this work is how well they have been composed and the quality of them. I feel that composition comes naturally when I’m taking photographs in the street but when everything is staged I can become lazy and not think of everything that I’m putting in the frame and what it would mean. As I’m experimenting with ideas I think this will be something to consider in my work as the final major project will hopefully become my favourite piece and set the tone for my future work to be just as good and better. His work was a good example of how photography can tell a story without saying a word, but also that it will be interpreted in many different ways, you don’t have control over what people choose to see when they look at your work. All you can do is guide them in the right direction.

Overall I really enjoyed looking at all the images from this series by Crewdson, it was really interesting to see work that has been made over a year (2013-2014) as the final major project, as I started thinking and developing ideas over the summer will also be made over a year. It’s amazing what can be achieved in this time.


My Girl: A2 Print Test

In order to help me decide what size I’m going to print my final images I did a test of sections of each image on one sheet on A2. The paper I used was glossy, and I also tried metallic which is a new paper the University have brought in.

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Shown above, on the left is the metallic finish and on the right is the glossy paper. The images are in a different order is because I only did the glossy layout very quickly and wanted to straighten it up, but forgot to put them in the same order. The picture has only been taken on my iPhone as well. It’s very hard to see the different in this image, and also in real life, I’m not sure which paper I prefer.

The quality of the images is actually pretty good for the format they were taken on. I did however use Ektar 100 film, so I think this made a big different. I think I would be happy to print them all this big, I’m going to show the group these images at the final work review to help me decide how big I should print them. I’m a little cautious to have them really big because of the quality, but I agree that having them small and in domestic frames may take away the quality of the images in general.

Another thing to think about is how the glossy or metallic are going to look behind glass/plastic if I choose to frame them, as this can also change how they look. I’m getting there, but there are still a few more decisions to make as we get closer to the deadline. The small images which I placed in a domestic environment were printed on glossy paper and where behind plastic, which I didn’t think effected the quality too much.

Overall I may be changing my mind on how I want to present, even though testing out different sizes and paper has confused me, it is helpful to see the same work in so many different ways.

Tutorial Review

After having my tutorial and discussing my previous presenting ideas, I may print at A3 or A2 and frame them, displaying the names of the cars. With my domestic presenting idea I could have them in everyday frames on the wall and make a wallpaper, however because the images are so clean and clinical looking this may take away from them.

Instead of printing them all at A2 straight away I’m going to do a test print of all the cars I’m using as my final prints and seeing what they would look like this big. As I shot on 35mm they may look too grainy, and lose quality printed this big, which isn’t what I want. From previous prints I have decided I want them to be glossy, as this really brings out the colours.

During my tutorial I also discussed possible title names such as Anthropomorphic but perhaps having this title AND placing the images in a domestic atmosphere may be too obvious. Instead, and especially if I print them bigger and display in a more structured way, I may title the project My Girl. Due to the fact all the cars I’m using as my final images have female names, and people who name their car a feminine name will tend to call their cars “my girl”. I really like this as a title, especially by having either labels or the names under the images this could be very effective.

Next I’m going to do an A2 test print and see how they turn out, and also decide how i’m going to frame and place the names in the gallery. They could be within the frames under the image, or stuck on a label next to them, I will test out both ways in photoshop to help me decide.

Tate Modern

On another visit to the Tate Modern I focus more on the paintings, looking at the type of frames they are in. I thought it would be interesting to not just look at how photography is exhibited, but also other forms of art.

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The pieces shown above are framed in a similar way as I would expect to see photography work. I really liked the layout of this work, with the grid of twelve images with a portrait frame next to them.

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With the other work what I found interesting was the combination of different frames for each individual painting. When thinking about my own work, in a way each car has such different colours that they could have very different frames to go with each tone. Much as frames tend to compliment the tones of a painting. Even though it’s a different medium, so much photography work is influenced by painting that when it comes to being displayed they are quite similar.

During wall I have really opened my mind to different ways of displaying work, and also thought about how I want to display my own work in more depth. Asking myself why I want to display it in this way rather than just sticking them up on the wall in anyway, just to get them up. It’s made me realise how much thought goes into how people present their images. The way work is displayed can completely change the way it is received.

Presenting Ideas: part two

Further looking at ideas of how I could present my project, whilst I was home I replaced some of our family photos with images from my project. I wanted to see what they would look like in a domestic environment. One of my ideas for how I could present is turning a section of the gallery space into a domestic environment such as this and presenting them in frames you would find in peoples homes. I couldn’t use all the frames which had been placed on top of these draws in my family home as some were printed larger or were portrait and couldn’t be turned landscape.


Shown above is the display I created, I’m actually really pleased with how it looks. I like that they’re in different styled frames rather than all the same. I also like that all the frames are different sizes even though the images themselves are the same size. I’m also pleased with the image I have framed, as previously I had been showing them in threes, but I think one image of each car works better, gives more of a variety.


My mums also had some flowers in vases so I thought I would put them with the images to see what it would look like, and I think this works even better.  A lot of the cars are quite vibrant colours so the flowers compliment them. It also gives off more of a domestic environment, as well with the ornaments which are there as well.

It is also interesting to note that all the cars within the images have female names, or are related to femininity. From left to right they are; Kylie, Penelope, Goddess, The Bitch, Poppy and Amber. So having them in a feminine environment is interesting as well.
I’m not sure what sort of table I would be able to get hold of to have within the gallery, whether I could borrow one or find one fairly cheap, but then there’s storage for before and after the exhibition which could be an issue.

I’m glad that I am getting closer to figuring out how I want to present my work, and I think that the images shown above will perhaps be my final images for the exhibition. I think they work really well together.