Sunday, 20 March 2011

Assignment Two

Assignment Two: Interactions

Occupation ‘Mum’
(As per submission)

Pictures will be included at a later date - scanner currently out of action!!

I have written this introduction prior to completing the project to state clearly my intentions from this assignment, in the eventuality the execution fails to achieve this.

It is not ordinarily important for me to emphasise the technical aspects of my photography.  However, I wish to make an exception with this assignment, as this is the first project I have used a 5x4 large format camera. For me, this is an achievement in itself. To reach the point of having a set of images in a presentable format has required an inordinate amount of time, energy and cost.  I clearly have my doubts as to whether using this camera over a digital is evident or has resulted in a superior finished product.

I have purposefully kept things simple for this assignment given my inexperience with a large format camera. I used this assignment as an incentive to familiarise myself with it.  I also considered the idea I had for this assignment would suit this more meditative style of photography.

However, this project is not a collection of unpredictable or spontaneous photographs.  I have not chosen to photograph a common interaction as seen on my whereabouts.  Street photography features strongly in my practice, in assignment four, so I have not felt obligated to demonstrate this in assignment two as well.  Additionally, to use the 5x4 in such a way would be nonsensical.

For this assignment, I have tried to retain more objectivity with my photography than in the past, although on a continuum I can only claim that it is less subjective than previous work. 

I have set up a social experiment of sorts. I set the parameters within which each subject has responded and in which interactions occurred.  So as a series of images, there is likely to be much commonality with subtle differences to explore. I am unclear what the images will glean, if anything.
  •           each image is taken within conventional working hours
  • -       each image is taken within the home of the subject
  • -       each subject helped choose the location within their home
  • -       each adult subject was requested not to smile
  • -       each adult subject was asked to look at the camera
  • -       each adult was asked to keep still
This sounds prohibitive but in reality they were there as a guide for the subjects and to create structure to the series.  The children on the other hand had no instructions other than to be in the frame.  They could ‘be themselves’ – if they moved or wriggled that was fine. Clearly this has affected the result with motion evident on some, given the one or two second exposures. Personally I believe this is a true reflection of their freedom, movement and indeed energy and to stifle it would have felt unnecessary.  It was however important to me that the adult was clearly in focus.

All images were taken using a 150mm lens and depth of field was set relatively wide to f5.6 or f8 due to low light conditions. I would have preferred slightly greater depth of field, but I was reluctant to increase exposure times beyond 2 seconds or manipulate the image by adding artificial lighting.

The interaction between parent and child in each of the photographs is what I have chosen to explore.  All the subjects were known to me as either friends or acquaintances. 

The concept has been a seed of an idea for several years, probably because it remains prevalent in my life and those around me. My envisaged approach in executing it however has evolved over this time as I have developed my photographic study.  From perhaps a more orchestrated and overtly visual concept initially, the final execution assumes a more modest and uncontrived approach with a subtle aesthetic influenced by photographers such as Thomas Struth, Alec Soth and Tina Barney.  Whether this enhances the viewer’s experience or if it in fact remains ‘underwhelming’ and overambitious as I fear it might, does continue to trouble me. However, I am hoping that when viewed as a series and with the accompanying image titles there is some encouragement to delve deeper in to why I am showing these images, cautious not to offer too much. I am interested to ascertain whether I have indeed found the right balance in this respect and whether the viewer is left wanting to know more or if the image lacks the immediate draw to make it adequately compelling.

By describing or drawing conclusions from the project too explicitly I am concerned I may devalue it and as such I would like to present a brief ‘artist’s statement’ to contextualize the images. By doing this I am hoping the work can be assessed in the manner I would wish it to be viewed, mindful of any of my own prejudices.  

Artist Statement

‘Occupation Mum’ is a study to explore the intricate stereotypes, challenges and ambitions concealed by the overarching definition of a ‘mum’. Each subject has been photographed in their home environment with their pre-school child or children with them. The project heading overlaid with image titles that reflect previous or current job titles entice the viewer to contextualise the subject and make subjective assumptions. This series of images intends to reinforce or challenge perceptions and prejudices about societal stereotypes and the inherent dangers of doing so, as well as question our own views in relation to what we think we see and believe.

Post Edit: 6 September 2011
Images have now been professionally scanned and included here:

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