Some years ago, I came across a photographer on Twitter. He was based in Dereham in Norfolk, not a million miles away from me. The images he was posting stood out. Stark black and white documentary photographs that echo a tradition that starts in the slums of Manhattan with Jacob Riis. This work however, is not historical, this is now. These are images from my country, from a town that less than 70 miles away.
In March I went to a talk by Alec Soth at The Photography Show in Birmingham. Having visited his exhibition Gathered Leaves at the Science Museum, I was keen to hear him talk about his work process as I am currently very interested in photographers working processes on a project.
Soth spoke about his work in an open and direct way. It is clear that he has been asked questions about how he started many times and had a well prepared format to answer each section. The talk was titled ‘From here to there’, this process is fundamental to his work as he explained how one picture may lead to the next.
I have just finished speaking to a student as part of a telephone tutorial. He is at that mid point in a project and the conversation was about taking the next steps forward. There were a few points that he made in his discussion that made me confident that he had achieved clarity and a sense of direction on the project that he was working on. “It is how I see it” was his comment to me. This was a definite statement, not a proposition, not a question. “It is how I see it” – here was a moment of realisation at the point he is it currently at.
I dread to think how many words have been written on camera and associated equipment reviews. The photography industry is constantly reworking camera and lens models. It feels as if the pressure is always on to upgrade and add more and more pixels. The magazine and online journals seem to profligate this message (of course fueled by the advertising revenue from said equipment companies). It is easy to get caught in a spiral of ‘if only I had this lens my images would be better’.
In this blog post I wanted to explore how photographers work on a project. As part of the OCA courses, the assignments give students the opportunity to present a series of images in response to a brief. The brief will provide some guidance on the work to be produced, but ultimately the student is encouraged to develop a series of images to be viewed together.
Smith is possibly one of our most underrated photographers. He is sidelined in the history timeline of British photography and has often been labeled as just an architectural photographer. RIBA are in fact the custodians of 60,000 of Smith’s images and the exhibition is showcasing a varied selection that shows Edwin Smith was much more than a photographer of architecture.