Thursday, 14 October 2010

Assignment Three: Critical Review

I have done things a bit topsy-turvy but I am ready to submit my assignment three before completing assignment two. I was doing the two in parallel, but my essay work is now done and has definitely informed my thinking on 'candid' photography (see previous post).

Assignment three is a critical review which involves researching the life and work of a photographer looking at their life history, work and influences. I chose Helen Levitt.  It is on having studied her life's work and that of her major influences Walker Evans and Cartier-Bresson that I find myself interested to learn more about street photography, which if I'm honest, didn't excite me at all prior to this.

So in response to this I decided to sign up for the Street Photography Now Project which can be seen in previous posts, as a means of learning the practical skills for myself.  The greats really do make it look easy as you would expect - their images are relaxed, spontaneous and in the moment. But don't, unlike me, be lulled in to thinking it is easy, because it really isn't!!  It is an art form that whilst requires speed and only a moment's decision it also demands a confident manner and 'eye' for the unique in the everyday.

The OCA have written an interesting blog post that discusses street photography. It features a number of links of how great street photographers go about their business.  Whilst bold and 'in your face' it is Bruce Gilden that tops them all in his approach.  However, such overt behaviour is not necessarily required.  Levitt herself was shy and is unlikley to have been so bold, yet her images dance with energy and without intrusion.

Another slight niggle I have is the definition of 'street' photography.  Street is associated with urban, city, highly populated and built up areas.  Does this have to be the case?  I guess parks and open spaces can be included within this but from my own perspective I will have to 'bend' the definition a little to make it work for me.

After instruction #1 of the Street Photography Now Project, I learnt it is a lot harder than I thought to create these relaxed looking snaps I have surrounded myself with recently. My respect for the greats like Levitt went up tenfold - overnight!! 

However, what I'm finding more and more with photography is the more different types of photography I do, the more I understand what I don't want to do.  I haven't ruled out street photography of course (only week two for goodness sake!!), but my own disposition is perhaps not best suited to this style of photography, although having said that, Levitt managed it! Regardless of this, I do know in the type of photography I wish to pursue, I will need to become confident in approaching and working with strangers, most probably in a consensual arrangement rather than candid - but nevertheless, I need to work swifter, more invisibly and confidently in public spaces - it's just good training... 

Anyway, the critical review is done bar the final, final proof-reads.  I've just finished all the citations and referencing, which corrupted on me yesterday, aaarrrgh... so I've just finished that a second time. Well, I have found I am researching and studying photography and art a lot at the moment.  It has made me more introspective in my own photography and perhaps a more inhibited photographer at the moment.  However, I have two projects I need to work on in addition to my assignment and project work, one is to get to grips with my new large format camera which will not be used for street photography thank the lord and two, is the street photography now project which dovetails quite nicely in to my existing course work.   

I have tried a couple of ideas for assignment two, but I'm not happy with the results so I'm back to the drawing board at the moment.... Also the last assignment has altered my thinking somewhat....why is it the more you learn, the less you feel you know.... isn't that annoying!!

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