Informing Contexts - Constructed Realities
As Week 3 of this module comes to a close I have started to define exactly where I want the immediate direction of my photography practice to go. As has been covered in previous posts the current lockdown and social distancing laws has meant my previous plans to photograph busy high streets and lots of movement in and around the city is not practical. However the overriding reason that I want to change my direction and research project is that I want my photographs to have more meaning and context. I want my work to move beyond the descriptive and have real intent.
I have been called a perfectionist before in terms of my work, as I do like to spend time planning and learning everything there is to know about the shot. Whilst I can do spontaneity, through both street and nature photography, I am lot more comfortable in a set up scene under controlled conditions. Therefore this week's topic of constructed realities has really resonated with me and made me appreciate that this is a side of my practice that I want to develop further through my research project.
Alongside this realisation and appreciation of my practice, I have become intrigued by the work of painters from Caravaggio through to the Dutch masters and the hidden themes and meanings that exist in their work.
The above image was shot last week and I have taken inspiration from the Dutch masters in terms of the composition and subject matter. The pomegranate and seeds a sign of eternal life, yet ripped open to give a sense of recent human presence. However in taking this image and a number of other similar compositions I have recognised that I do not just want to develop a portfolio of still life images that could be seen as mere copies of earlier paintings. I want to explore the way we see these images and interpret their meanings.
I have been equally fascinated by there work of Barbara Probst and her Exposure series where she shoots the same scene simultaneously from different locations by way of a series of triggers and different cameras. As David Campany explains in his book, On Photographs, it is inhuman to experience a moment from different vantage points at the same time, and yet we know that they exist.
Working on this concept I am now exploring the idea that in taking a main still life image I intend to take a further set of images from different angles and vantage points with a macro lens attached to my camera. Whilst I accept this has a different premise to Probst work, where the moment was captured at the exact same time, I feel the viewer is almost given a chance to explore the scene in detail first from various vantage points. This is very much in its early stages of development but my intention will be to show the initial macro photographs first before unveiling the larger more specific shot that contains the full meaning.
The following two macro shots are an example of this work which will evolve in the coming weeks.
The research project has now begun in earnest and I have been really encouraged by the comments posted back to me during a number of forums this week which have given me confidence to continue with this new style and genre of photography. I intend to research the hidden meaning that lies behind many of the famous paintings but I also want to bring a contemporary feel to my work. I have begun reading Michael Perry's book Nature Morte for further inspiration and guidance on the reinvigoration of the still life image.
David Campany - On Photographs - 2020 Thames & Hudson
Michael Perry - Nature Mortre - 2013 Thames & Hudson
Steve Rabone - Eternal - 2021
Barbara Probst - Exposure #151 NYC 2020
Steve Rabone - Envy#1 - 2021
Steve Rabone - Envy#4 - 2021