Informing Contexts - Artistic Intent
Updated: Feb 16, 2021
My practice is very much a serious hobby rather than full time career and my portfolio of work is an eclectic mix of genres which on the face of it may lack or favour a specific style. However this has been deliberate on my part as I set out to learn as much about photography and try as many techniques as I could
My MA in Photography studies herald the point where I want to both take photography more seriously but also be taken more seriously in terms of my work and output. With the first module completed I have taken stock of my progress and plans ahead.
My Research Project ‘A City In Motion’ was intended to develop a body of work capturing movement including long and multiple exposures.
Feedback from this was positive but I was left with a realisation that I had focused too much on the ‘how’ and technical aspects as opposed the ‘why’ and that on it’s own the scope of this project is too narrow. I need to be able to move beyond the descriptive explanation of my images and show a stronger reason and intent to my work.
For example the image opposite featured in my initial project and is technically strong in terms the composition and execution of the long exposure and light trails.
However without further context and clear intent in terms what the purpose of this image is, there is also a coldness to it.
I love to experiment with in camera and post editing techniques to create work that may have an abstract or aesthetic that was not visible at the ‘decisive moment’ the shot was taken. My aim is always to capture an image that grabs the attention of the viewer and has that ‘wow’ factor. I look for beauty in my photographs through movement, composition, textures and colours.
The photographer Alexey Titarenko currently uses his analogue medium format camera to create black and white long exposures but it’s his creative and experimental techniques in the dark room that set his images apart. His work including 'City of Shadows' has a ghostly almost gothic aesthetic to it with the 'phantoms' of people caught in long exposures set against the static urban surroundings.
Likewise Stephanie Jung remains a strong source of inspiration with her use of multiple exposures, continuing to produce vibrant and unique representations of urban life. I consider both of these photographers artists in terms of the work that they produce, with their images having many layers of detail to them.
The International Festival on Experimental Photography (EXP.20) in January 2020 brought together 200 photographers from across the world in Barcelona to celebrate and explore the creative approach to the many unorthodox methods in photography.
Speaking at the end of the event the founder Pablo Giori commented ‘the festival was not an attempt to define it in the technical definition, but an attempt to define an attitude and outlook’ to this form of photography. This is something I am looking to explore as I put my work in to context rather than just focus on the technical aspects. A further event is planned for this July.
There are many elements to this genre, as highlighted in the Thames & Hudson Book, Experimental Photography. Whilst some do not even include cameras, such as Photograms and Lumen Prints, I intend to focus my immediate research on the use of the digital camera and editing to explore what is possible in this medium. However the very nature of experimentation means my practice will evolve and could well include both analogue and cameraless images as I move forward.
I have taken the following three images over the Christmas break, all of which were shared online via Instagram.
A high key portrait of my daughter where I have taken a second shot of my garage floor. Through a series of blending modes and layers on Photoshop I was able to create this different look.
The image has a strong composition, with a natural pose and focus on the eye but it is the effect of adding a texture layer from the garage floor that gives this image a unique feel, almost like gold leaf in her hair.
This is an image that illustrates my experimentation with different techniques.
This image of a physalis fruit, on a water sprayed mirror is an example where I am focusing on the beauty in the photograph.
The lighting and focus is right and the final image does stand out as intended.
However it lacks purpose and meaning other than illustrating the fine details of the fruit and once the viewer has seen this detail the image does not offer much more.
One of my most popular images on Instagram of late, this image of A Man On A Bridge is example of my creative post edit skills with two separate images being layered together.
This illustrates an example of my work where I carefully constructed the composition and then waited for the right moment to press the shutter as the man walked into the right position.
The addition of the phone adds a context to the image and generates a further level of interest that would be lacking if this was just a man on a bridge.
By not confining myself to any one style or genre but focusing on the artistic merits of the image I feel my practice is moving into the realms of Fine Art Photography. I carefully construct and plan my compositions in order to express an aesthetic or emotion in my pictures. Whilst they do tend to still reflect reality, there is a conceptual feel to some of them. With the addition of experimental techniques and effects I aim to leave the viewer asking 'how did he do that ?’
Given the ease with which cameras and mobile phones can now take photographs I want my work to be a celebration of what is possible in photography but also push it into areas that perhaps cannot be easily recreated by a simple phone or app.
My photographs should no longer just be an example of a specific technique but they will need context and a reason to be produced. As I move my practice further into the world of fine art and experimental photography the emotion, aesthetics and intent need to be both planned and overt in the work I produce.
Alexey Titarenko (2009). Alexey Titarenko. [online] Alexey Titarenko. Available at: http://www.alexeytitarenko.com/#/cityofshadows/.
ARTIST SERIES :: ALEXEY TITARENKO (2016). ARTIST SERIES :: ALEXEY TITARENKO. [online] YouTube. Available at: https://youtu.be/whoZ8SRgi2s
Stephanie Jung Photography. (n.d.). Fine Art. [online] Available at: https://www.stephaniejung-photography.com
Analog Forever Magazine. (n.d.). Event Coverage: International Festival of Experimental Photography 2020. [online] Available at: https://www.analogforevermagazine.com/features-interviews/event-coverage-international-festival-of-experimental-photography-2020
EXP. 21. (n.d.). ONLINE EXHIBITIONS. [online] Available at: https://en.experimentalphotofestival.com/exposiciones-virtuales
Luca Bendandi (2015) Experimental Photography A Handbook of Techniques Thames & Hudson