Category Archives: Project 1 – Photography – art or science?

PART 4/PHOTOGRAPHY/PROJECT 1/RESEARCH

It would seem in order to have a democratic medium, there needs to be the freedom of the medium to be displayed anywhere, be it on websites, in books, the press, social media etc.  But is it true in today’s society when such barbaric forms of media have been displayed on websites such as the beheadings by ISIS, how far can democracy be a good thing?  What is the truth, ‘fake news’ has become a catch phrase now invented by Donald Trump, but does he have a point?  Young teenagers are able to find obscene websites showing you how to commit suicide, is this democracy at its best?  I’m not so sure.  When it comes to photography, the saying ‘the camera never lies’ used to be true, however now you can change the look of a photograph even whilst it’s on your camera, so perhaps the rules have changed.

I do believe in democracy, however the internet has created  a way for media to be developed into a dangerous underworld for pedophiles to thrive, bullies to be glorified and suicides to be made easy.  It’s dangerous in so many ways.  However, in other ways it’s also wonderful, you can see the world from your armchair through photos on Instagram for instance, share photos on facebook with family and friends and create mood boards on Pinterest.  My argument would be if it is illegal to behead someone then it should be illegal for it to be shown on social media, there has to be more rules in place especially where people’s lives are at risk or being ruined.

Gareth Dent – OCASA President 2015 (accessed February 24, 2019

https://weareoca.com/subject/photography/people-are-hungry-for-stories/

https://weareoca.com/subject/fine-art/new-ocasa-president/

Dent points out that ‘there isn’t exactly a shortage of images in the world’. (Dent 2013).  Two photographs show a roomful of photos that were apparently uploaded to flicker in the space of a 24 hour period.  Can you imagine doing the same now in 2019 of photographs uploaded to Instagram in a 24 hour period.  I think it would be more like a house full.  In the space of those 6 years we have seen photography grow to the point we are not sure what qualifies a person to be a ‘photographer’, now that you can take quality photos on a phone, does that mean you are a photographer, the argument is out there causing ‘qualified’ photographers grief I am sure.

I am not a ‘qualified’ photographer, however, I do love taking photos, compared to other people who wouldn’t spend time looking for opportunities to take ‘creative’ photos or go off the beaten track in the hope to find something different to photograph that nobody else has, or you don’t think they have.

Instagram is where I add my photographs too, I tend to only put up photos from my travels or here in Saudi Arabia.  I don’t put up family photographs, those I share on facebook.  My partner took an amazing photograph of a camel traveling in the back of a truck, he said I could put it on my instagram, but I couldn’t because I felt that it wasn’t one that I had taken and therefore couldn’t class it as my own work.  My photographs have been taken both with my iphone and Pentax SLR, sometimes I can’t tell the difference.  My purpose is to display the photos I have enjoyed taking and have tried to be artistic in the way I have taken them ie from an unusual view-point, through a hole in a wall.  Sometimes I have changed the colour or brightness but the photos are always my own.  On facebook I will share photos that my daughters have put on their or other people have put funny or interesting photos, but I rarely put any of my own on there.

Social media allows people to share photos, ideas, inspirations, blogs and much more, the downside is the bullying, cruelty and horror it can also bring.

Asked if I feel I am ‘adding to the flood’, I don’t think so, I don’t add a 100 photos a day, perhaps one or two a month, and just ones I think are of interest.  I am not there for the likes, however it is nice when someone does post a comment and appreciates what I have taken.  There are some accounts who have hundreds of thousand followers or likes, but I can’t help think are they real, how does that happen.  I am happy for the time being with my 178 follows and the occasional ‘like’.

 

BIBLIOGRAPHY

ubiquitous – seeming to be everywhere – Cambridge Dictionary

(accessed February 19, 2019)

ephemeral – lasting for only a short time – Cambridge Dictionary

(accessed February 19, 2019)

Gareth Dent – OCASA President 2015 (accessed February 24, 2019

https://weareoca.com/subject/photography/people-are-hungry-for-stories/

https://weareoca.com/subject/fine-art/new-ocasa-president/

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PART 4/PHOTOGRAPHY/PROJECT 1/EXERCISE 2 (b)

In this exercise photographs were taken of my local community where I live.  The two groups consist of my personal photographic views of what I consider to be ‘utilitarian’ and ‘artistic’ photographs.  I walked around taking photos using both my iPhone and SLR camera taking shots of everyday viewpoints where I live.  The next day I changed positions such as crouching low, or taking a photo very close up like the cactus one and adding some colour to it using a colour tool.  The skateboard in the netting photo I thought was arty, just by the story behind it, like how did it get there, the shadowy picture against the blue sky.  I loved my teapot on the balcony shot and thought this was arty because of the close range of the tray compared to the trees and golf course in the background.  After taking the photos, I followed up by asking four members of family to describe the photographs.  This was an extremely interesting project as it proves that everyone has a different perspective and what is considered to be ‘arty’ or ‘artistic’.  Utilitarian means ‘useful or practical rather than attractive’ and artistic is described as ‘creative, imaginative, inventive’.  These words can describe anything to do with Creative Arts, be it a painting, textile, writing or a photograph and every person has their own ideas and thoughts as to what they see as being attractive or unattractive, imaginative, beautiful, dull, boring, colourful and artistic!

I was pleasantly surprised at the adjectives used to describe the photos, not too many ‘boring’ ones although I imagine ‘meh’ is possibly a slang word for it.  It was lovely to see colourful, fierce, bold, picturesque, curious and stunning as adjectives used and very happy to see quite a few ‘arty’ descriptions.  It was only a small amount of photos that I shared and was interesting to see the comparisons and how each individual saw the photo differently, with no right or wrong answers.  I would like to extend a very big thank you for the participation and descriptions received from my family.

MY UTILITARIAN PHOTOGRAPHS

DESCRIPTIONS USED BY FAMILY

1 Steps in the local park – ‘meh’ (A) – ‘paved’ (P) – ‘blurred’ (S) – ‘arty’ (M)

2 Broken Shade on golf course – ‘picturesque’ (A) – ‘thatchless’ (P) ‘Stunning’ (S) – ‘nice’ (M)

3 Flowers on the walking trail – ‘ pretty but amateurish’ (A) – ‘blossoms’ (P) – ‘deserted’ (S) – ‘nice’ (M)

4 Ducks viewing the fountain – ‘great nature short’ (A) – ‘curious’ (P) – ‘Disney’ (S) – ‘arty’ (M)

5 Jebels – ‘disappearing trees’ (P)

6 Housing – ‘meh’ (A) – ‘surrounded’ (P) ‘boring’ (S) – ‘nice’ (M)

MY ARTISTIC PHOTOS

 

1 Cactus – ‘winning shot, colourful and arty’ (A) – ‘spikey’ (P) – ‘Fierce’ (S) – ‘Colourful, arty’ (M)

2 Tea with a view – ‘bright, love it’ (A) ‘landscape shot, arty’ (P) ‘relaxing’ (S) ‘nostalgic’ (M)

3 Skateboard in netting – ‘intriguing, what’s the story?’ (A) – ‘story behind it, arty’ (P) – ‘Random’ (S) – ‘boring, arty’ (M)

4 Palm trees in a sandstorm – dramatic’ (A) – ‘sandy, grainy, arty’ (P) – ‘unfocused’ (S) – ‘windy, nice’ (M)

5 Tree in the jebels – ‘non captivating’ (A) ‘statures, arty’ (P) – ‘bold’ (S) – ‘interesting’ (M)

6 Weeds on the trail  – ‘really cool’ (A) – ‘nice, arty’ (M)

REFLECTION

I thoroughly enjoyed both parts to this exercise, it was great to have feedback on my photos and to also see how others may view a photograph differently, just by the use of different adjectives.  The first part was interesting as I pulled out some of my favourites photos which I consider to be arty, photos that I have taken whilst traveling.  Sometimes I was just in the right place at the right time, whether this constitutes being arty I don’t know but then I think would someone else have been able to take the same photo.  These are questions I am already asking myself.  Do all photographers want to be artistic or are they happy to take photos of everyday objects like their pet dog, child or hobby, does this still make them artistic or would the photo have to be above the ordinary to be artistic.  I asked my sister, two daughters and my partner to view my photos for the second part of the exercise and it was interesting to receive their feedback, I’m sure they were worried about hurting my feelings if they considered a photo to be boring or dull, but I said I wanted their honesty.  The photos were taken in my local community, which can be challenging due to the security restrictions where I live, however I think I managed to provide both Utilitarian and artistic examples and was very pleased with the feedback I received.

In this fourth part of the course, I still believe Art is something that makes you think, it can make you sad, happy, inspired, it can be cruel, harsh, beautiful and stunning and so far this has related to Contemporary Art, Creative Reading, Visual Communications and now Photography.  Being artistic or ‘arty’ means your work needs to stand out, which requires creativity, passion, detail, imagination and much more, I hope by the end of this course I will learn more about how to achieve this.  Am very excited and hope I will still feel this excitement if not more by the end of part 4.

 

PART 4/PHOTOGRAPHY/PROJECT 1/EXERCISE 2 (a)

The following photographs I have chosen from my own album and are ones that I consider to be ‘artistic’ for various reasons.  These range from the angle they were taken, the look and feel of the photo, the colours and composition, the memory of the occasion and mostly how the photo makes me feel.

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Sunrise clean up – Boracay – Jean Taylor (2017)

This photo was taken on a beach in Boracay, Philippines.  I felt this was quite artistic just by how it is framed by the overhanging plantation and the beautiful sunrise happening in the background.  It offers a feeling of peace and tranquility and perhaps the feeling of being able to hear the sound of lapping water and gentle sweeping of the sand.

Sea Views with a view – Boracay by Jean Taylor (2017)

Both these photos were taken in Boracay on different beaches, with my Pentax SLR, no Photoshop techniques or additional changes were added.  I had never seen a sunset like it.  I was lucky to be in the right place at the right time to take this photo.  A modern yacht sailing towards the sunset, music blaring, people dancing, lights flashing, whilst facing the oncoming quiet, serene, traditional boats returning to the mainland.  I loved the contrast of the boats and the sky was just unbelievable, which is why I felt it could be considered artistic purely for its dramatic colours, contrasting boats and incredible sunset.  The second photo, I feel is quite artistic purely by how I took it.  Through holes in an upside down boat that was lodged into a tree, I thought the view was just a bit different to your average photo of a stunning beach and beautiful blue sea.

The Big Breakfast – Veggie style by Jean Taylor (2019)

Not sure whether anyone agrees to this photograph being artistic, but I wanted to put a different take on an ‘English Breakfast’, in that it didn’t have to be greasy and fatty, but healthy and colourful.  I cooked stuffed mushrooms, chilli tomato and poached egg and displayed them ‘artistically’, hoping to create a clean, mouth-watering, healthy food related photo.

Saudi Beach Hut – Jean Taylor (2019)

I discovered this amazing beach in ‘Half Moon Bay’, Al Khobar, Saudi Arabia.  The unusual ‘Beach Huts’ are designed to allow families protection from the sun and for women to be shielded from unwanted male attention.  The photo was taken using my Pentax SLR, I aimed the camera through a port-hole of one of the other buildings, providing a round frame, to me this gave it a different view and provided perhaps a little ‘artistic’ viewpoint.

Perfect writing moment – Jean Taylor (2018)

After a wonderful day walking around Washington, I finally found a spot at a ‘pop up bar’ on the Washington marina.  I was able to kneel down and take this shot of what I thought to be a perfect writing view-point.  The atmosphere was wonderful, with people all around, either walking past or sitting enjoying the view.  I wanted to capture my passions – writing, photography, pens, notebooks, boats and a cool glass of beer.  I felt it was artistic just by the view-point and the inclusion of the artistic items such as pen, notebook and camera.

School Run in Boracay – Jean Taylor (2017)

Another Boracay photograph, there were endless opportunities to create artistic photographs in this incredible little island, this one I believe creates the feeling of carefree travelling.  There appears to be no fear of falling off, no protection on their feet, or helmets on their head.  It captures a moment in a family’s journey to school or work in Boracay.  I felt it was artistic, purely by the colours, the moment and what it represents in a country so different to the UK, but also just by the look on the woman’s face, a picture that can’t be captured again in exactly the same way.  I love the photo.

The Cow Tower, Norwich, UK and Washington Monument – Jean Taylor (2018)

The Cow Tower was built to defend the centre of Norwich, it is a round brick tower with holes strategically placed for the cannons to have been placed.  It is empty inside apart from leaves and rubbish.  The outside area was beautiful with walkways, surrounded by a variety of trees and their blossoms.  Along one of the pathways was a small tree with pretty pink flowers that had some kind of religious material woven around the branches. I decided to use this tree as a viewpoint as I felt it added a different viewpoint of  the tower, perhaps adding some intrigue to the unusual material, but also added colour to the mysterious building behind the branches, thus providing a little artistic contrast in colours and intrigue.  The Washington Monument is difficult to photograph up close because of its height.  It is a building with so much meaning behind it, however, I felt I was unable to capture its beauty up close.  It wasn’t until I walked further away and around the surrounding park with its stunning lake, greenery and wildlife, that I found what I thought was a beautiful setting.  I took the photo from under a tree providing a picturesque view of this magnificent building, which now shows off its height and majestic appearance surrounded by the stunning scenery, I felt it was artistic just because of how the building is framed by the overhanging tree and the beautiful greenery.

 

 

CONTEXT AS A DETERMINANT OF PHOTOGRAPHIC MEANING by John A Walker (2009)

https://www.academia.edu/14664575/John_Tagg_The_Disciplinary_Frame_Photographic_Truths_and_the_Capture_of_Meaning_

Photographs can be seen differently and the meaning changes depending on how or where they are displayed.  For instance, according to John Walker a wedding photograph can be a treasured photo in a family wedding album whereas that same photo displayed in the photographers Studio is a commercial photograph showing a potential customer what can be achieved if you chose that photographer.

Photographs can also be used to ignite anger or love, depending on the context it is shown for example Walker points out that a photograph of a group of commuters crowding in to an underground train station entrance , placed against a photograph of a flock of sheep crowding into a fold is implying that ‘these commuters are sheep-like in their behaviour’ – imagine if this was placed in the tube station, it would cause unrest and be insulting to the commuters.  So again just depends on how a photo is displayed as to how the context is understood.

Another argument to seeing how the context of a photograph can be viewed differently according to Walker is where a photograph is published.   For example if it is published on a front page newspaper with big bold heading such as ‘Gypsies destroying the Great British Countryside’ and is showing a beautiful picture of the Cotswolds along with another photo of caravans and litter.  You wouldn’t want to go there, it looks awful.   Whereas this same Cotswolds picture could perhaps be found in a high-class glossy magazine advertising wonderful countryside to go walking and holidaying.  The context being different, from an angry photograph of somewhere not to be visited to a photo glorifying the beautiful countryside.

Walker also argues that although photographs are taken at a certain time and in a certain place, these photos can be used differently as it’s life might change.  He uses the phrases ‘circulation’ and ‘currency’ to describe how a photograph’s context might change by how it circulates through communities of the world – it may go from being a picture on an office wall, perhaps showing a current printing machine advertisement to then being part of a display in a history museum showing printing machines in a historical manner.  Thus showing how a photograph’s life can change over the years.

Reference is made to Jo Spence, a photographer who transferred images from her family album into the public sphere.  Her photographs may have started off as private and personal but then became public and social.  One example was a photo taken of herself as a baby on a sofa – to then have a mirror image of her as an adult, naked on the sofa.  ‘Wrenched from their context the images acquired a sensationalist, voyeuristic and prurient gloss’ – so were basically going from an innocent picture of a baby on a sofa to a different context of a sexual nature and aimed at a totally different audience.  I did find this quite interesting, as recently my daughter and I, quite by accident, took photos on our recent holiday together that were out of context.  My daughter is a model and was able to strike the most amazing poses, whereas me, totally un-photogenic, looked funny in comparison.  We decided on a spur of the moment to start an instagram page of photos of Mother v Daughter, with photos that are hopefully humorous in the way they capture my unglamorous shots compared to my beautiful daughter’s model ones.

img_6183

Jo Spence’s final years were very sad, diagnosed with breast cancer, Spence proceeded to capture self portraits of the desease and how it affected her body, they were in a way meant to highlight the frustrations and political unrest about women’s rights and the NHS.  As her work was ‘self-reflexive’ she did try to manipulate the context of photos, depending on whether they were in a family album or local newspaper.

Walker further argues how a photograph can be seen in a totally different way by a person because of their mental set, meaning their place in society ie ‘gender, race, nationality, class, age, education, kinship, etc.’.  I can see this myself in the way I see photos of game hunters proudly displaying a photo of their ‘prize’ a beautiful lion or elephant, dead on the ground, whilst they proudly stand there with their gun perched on the head.  To their friends and family it’s a happy occasion, how brave he was, what an amazing animal.  For me it’s disgusting and cruel and I would hate the photograph.

Having read the article in full several times and researched a couple of the photographers mentioned, I came to the conclusion, Walker is correct, a photograph once taken is more than just a photograph, it can depend on so many issues as to what will become of that photo and how it is perceived.  Whether it is shared on social media, found in a magazine or displayed in a front shop window, that photo could mean something different in each case.  It can also be seen in a different context purely by being the person you are, as I explained with the shooting of the animal photo.  I could also relate to photos that have been taken of beautiful children smiling, when they are actually living in squalor and war-torn cities.  A Photograph isn’t just a photograph it is a multitude of things it is also art as it can show passion, fear, love, cruelty, beauty, life and death.  It is significant to Time and Place as it will always represent the time it was taken and the place it was taken, it’s what happens after that moment when it can be become ‘Context as a Determinant of Photographic meaning’.

 Tagg, John – The Disciplinary Frame: Photographic Truths and the Capture of Meaning – Academia Education (accessed 2/4/2019)

Spence, Jo – Work Part 1 and Part II: Studio Voitaire  Exhibition (2012) (accessed 2/4/2019)

Spence, Jo – Dust to dust: the photographer who stared death in the face – in pictures, Samantha Johnson, Guardian (accessed 2/4/2019)

Taylor, Jean – MothervDaughter (Instagram – accessed 2/6/2019)

https://www.academia.edu/14664575/John_Tagg_The_Disciplinary_Frame_Photographic_Truths_and_the_Capture_of_Meaning_

 

 

 

PART 4/PHOTOGRAPHY/PROJECT 1/EXERCISE 1

What is a camera obscura and how does it work

John Paul Getty Education

Camera Obscura

https://www.getty.edu/education/teachers/classroom_resources/tips_tools/downloads/aa_camera_obscura.pdf

(accessed January 28, 2019)

Camera Obscura as recommended by OCA (accessed January 29, 2019)

Jolly Rogers Studios

IS PHOTOGRAPHY MECHANICAL OR CREATIVE

The Pencil of Nature – William Talbot (accessed January 29, 2019)

http://www.thepencilofnature.com

Having read the introductions to The Pencil of Nature I felt that Photography was both Mechanical and creative.  Talbot had tried using a camera obscura to reflect a picture on to some paper (mechanical) and then tried to draw the reflection of the picture that came through the hole but realised he wasn’t a drawer and therefore tried to trace the picture (creative) but was frustrated by the outcome.  He proceeded to experiment with different techniques with the usage of salt and chloride of silver to promote the action of light on paper (Creative).  Various results occurred depending on the amount of light that was used.  Further discovery was to fix the process in a dark room using iodine in a deep water bath (mechanical).  In order to create any kind of fixed image the use of a camera obscura was essential ie to reflect an object such as a building.  There seemed to be lots of processes which appear to be mechanical in order for the images to appear on the treated paper, however it took a creative outlook and viewpoint in order for this to happen.

My view hasn’t changed I do feel you need a decent camera to take good photographs, however you also need to be creative, someone who has an expensive SLR camera may still take rubbish photos because they are not being creative, likewise someone with a phone or basic camera can take amazing photos because they use creativity.

EXERCISE 1

What in your view, makes photographs unique as an art form?

For me to make photographs unique as an art form means they have to be viewed differently to any other form of photograph that has been taken before, for instance we all know what the Eiffel tower looks like, but if its taken at a different angle, or just a small piece of the tower, or even with a dog, car or person that shadows it, would make it unique and because creativity is being used I would say this would not be just a normal picture it would be unique.  I try to do this with my own photography thinking of different things to photo when I’m in a new city or country – not typical tourist spots, but off the beaten track, or if it is a famous landmark I try to be creative by using different angles of the camera, or shooting from the ground sometimes making it black and white, even taking the photo through an object like a hole in the wall or a fence, just something to make it quirky or unique.

Photographs can also be used themselves to make art forms such as collages, they can be framed in an artful way and can have things added to them like stickers, shapes and lighting effects.  Photographs can be converted onto a canvas, wall, cups and books making them more than just a photo but more as an art piece something that is unique.

A ‘photographic image’ is a picture that has been taken by a camera, this can be an old pin hole camera, a small compact camera, a camera still using a roll of film, a phone camera or an advanced digital SLR, they all produce ‘photographic images’.  In my view this also means they don’t necessarily have to be a hard copy, digital copies are still photographic images it just means it is less complicated to get the finished result, a more immediate response is delivered when using a digital camera.  I recall the days proudly putting in my 24 camera roll and sometimes getting 20 of the photos back showing a complete black photograph with only 4 turning out as I recall taking the photo, it was heartbreaking sometimes.  With digital you can see immediately how your photo has turned out, even being able to change its appearance with immediate effect but taking out the ‘red eye’ or changing the colour to black and white.  The downside is loosing albums of photos to accidentally deleting a whole album of photos from your camera or your laptop where they are stored crashes and you have no record.  I still like to keep hard copies, by choosing the top ten best photos from a holiday, or I print off favorites and display them, there are more benefits now to digital photography however, I can still see the attraction to creating the simple photographic image pre digital cameras and phones.  The photos seemed more precious, now you can take 100 photos and not have to think how much that will cost to have developed, you can just print the best one out of that 100.

I am always on the look out for unusual shots and always regret not having my camera on me when I see an image and think that would make a great photo, I suppose it is a personal choice as to what does make a great photo and whether you believe it is art because it is a unique shot.   I feel the question ‘What is Art’ being quite relevant again in the start of this section of the course.  Is Photography Art? I believe it is.

CONTEXT AS A DETERMINANT OF PHOTOGRAPHIC MEANING

(Context: The circumstances that form the setting for an event, statement, or idea, and in terms of which it can be fully understood.

Bibliography

John Paul Getty Education

Camera Obscura – Details on how to make a Camera Obscura

https://www.getty.edu/education/teachers/classroom_resources/tips_tools/downloads/aa_camera_obscura.pdf

(accessed January 28, 2019)

Camera Obscura as recommended by OCA (accessed January 29, 2019)

Jolly Rogers Studios

IS PHOTOGRAPHY MECHANICAL OR CREATIVE

The Pencil of Nature – William Talbot (accessed January 29, 2019)

http://www.thepencilofnature.com

Jonathan Jones (2013) ‘Photography is the Art of our Time’

https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/jonathanjonesblog/2013/jan/10/photography-art-of-our-time (accessed February 3, 2019)

Robert Clark  (National Geographic) ‘Digital Photography Tips’

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/photography/photo-tips/digital-photography-tips/ (accessed February 3, 2019)