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  • stevenrabone

Positions & Practice - Criticality

As we come towards the end of the first module, `Positions & Practice' in the MA Photography course we have had chance to look at and consider our own practice. With a new and more critical eye, than I had three months ago, this has proved to be an interesting exercise for me.

We were asked to consider a genre that our photography sits within and assess how this genre is critically perceived.

With a wide and sometimes disparate body of work I must confess I have been searching for the genre that best sums up my work for sometime. Labels are never necessarily a good thing for 'creatives' because as soon as you give yourself one, you run the risk of being less creative in a different direction or genre.

As a part-time photographer (a full time non photography job constantly getting in the way) my practice and output is largely restricted to social media platforms, occasional exhibitions and teaching a range of vocational photography courses at local colleges.

Whilst I enjoy a wide variety of genres and styles I do constantly find myself focusing on the aesthetics of my images, either through shallow depths of field and long shutter speeds through to adding textures and full outright editing in Lightroom & Photoshop. I have always been most comfortable describing my work as a type of fine art photography.

The following link from Photography Life gives one view on Fine Art Photography that resonates with me.

The article includes a quote from Ansel Adams

'Art implies control of reality, for reality itself possesses no sense of the aesthetic. Photography becomes art when certain controls are applied.'

Given my appetite to add an aesthetic to my images and the controls that come through my edits, I remain confident of my assertion that my photography is art.

Over the course of this module I have also been drawn to the 'Pictorialist' movement who had their foundations very much in fine art and saw photography as a new tool for this art. The work of William Mortensen in the first half of the last century provoked anger from the likes of Ansel Adams and the f64 Group who saw a very real and tangible divide between their 'realist' view of photography and the 'pictorialists'.

The following link gives some further context to this, 'Civil War' that emerged at the time.

Whilst the realist and pictoralist movements are now considered elements of photography's history I do see many similarities with today's photography as our cameras and editing packages offer so many more opportunities to add an aesthetic that wasn't present at the time of shooting. As such if I was in the midst of this civil war I am sure my allegiance would have been given to the pictorialists.

As my research continues I do find myself drawn towards both conceptual and experimental genres of photography. A simple 'google' of both terms throws up an array of images many of which I either like and appreciate or display similar styles to my work.

Over the coming weeks, ahead of the next module starting in January, I plan to continue my research both in terms of the prescribed reading lists but also explore in more detail the genres of conceptual and experimental photography and how I can develop my own practice further. I will of course do this alongside the all important taking of photographs and continuing to develop both my portfolio and research project.

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