I have been thinking a lot about documentary photography over the last few weeks. Since we announced the MA in Fine Art we have had a number of students and former students asking us about an MA Photography and specifically courses in documentary photography. We are not ruling anything out, but it will be May before we discuss plans for the next academic year with our trustees again and we already have a full commissioning programme for this year.
We have an assessment event going on at the moment and I spent a very enjoyable evening yesterday with four assessors discussing the relative merits of work by photographers such as Tom Wood, Paul Graham and Martin Parr. As the evening wore on the opinions voiced got more strident, but a common thread was the issue of intent and positionality. This prompted me to write about a body of work which I wanted to draw to OCA students’ attention.
Darcy Padilla’s Julie Project is a story of two lives intertwined. Darcy Padilla was 27 when she met Julie in 1993, Julie eight years younger at 19. Over the following years Darcy photographed Julie until her death in 2010. Take a look. I can’t stop thinking about Julie, it has taken me a couple of weeks to order my thoughts sufficiently to write this. The story may be specific, the emotions stirred are not. This for me is great photography and Darcy Padilla clearly achieves her purpose.