Providing Paradise - New Book Publication

HaVe Photography are extremely excited to have published their second 'Portfolio Edition' book, through the online publisher 'Blurb'. Exploring the dedication and hard work of those who work behind-the-scenes in the Maldives island resort of 'Royal Island', it shows just how 'paradise' is brought from concept to reality. To view the images within the book, click this link.

A Dozen Eggs - Image Update - Margaret

Margaret is 'Egg Number 6' within the Major Project. This photo-shoot was arranged for the Friday morning before the children went back to school. In discussion with Margaret, we decided that the Friday morning offered two possibilities: (1) because she was off work, it would allow me to photograph her daily life (which, in essence, is looking after the house and children), and (2) it was a 'special' moment for her, as her son (Alex - who was due to attend secondary school the next week) was going to try on his school uniform for the first time. I took a variety of shots (in a close-up, reportage style), but the shot below was my favourite, capturing not only the wonderful relationship she has with her son, but also her great sense of fun.

A Dozen Eggs - Image Update - Angela

This was an interesting shoot in that it was very spontaneous; it had not been pre-arranged, but I had my camera with me because I was taking my Mother out for the day at a National Trust garden and I wanted to get some shots of her. Angela decided that she would come along, which I was extremely pleased about as I thought it would be nice to spend some time together (and get some shots of her as well). Angela does amateur dramatics, and therefore plays to the camera a lot; in fact, trying to get her to be completely herself whilst a camera is around is quite difficult. Although I captured a few 'candid' shots (which could only be captured if she really didn't realise I was lining up a shot), I like the image below because of the texture and detail within the image. It is posed (naturally - by Angela - as opposed to any intervention on my part), but this is all part of Angela's character, which I was pleased to document.

A Dozen Eggs - Image Update - Graham

To represent Graham (Egg Number 3) within the Major Project, we decided that rather than any specific 'moment', it should be more of a general portrait session. Graham leads a simple, almost 'introvertive' lifestyle; when he is not working as a fork-lift truck driver, he is found in 'his chair' watching TV or reading a classic car magazine. His main hobby (aside from reading about classic cars or watching F1) is fixing bicycles, which he does from his shed, or on the bench, in the back garden. Other members of the family, when asked how to sum up Graham, have all said, "sitting in his chair, putting the world to rights". This seemed the logical perspective for this shoot. The image below represents Graham as everybody knows him. The image is full of texture and detail, and (as Roland Barthes comments) has a series of punctums for members of the family viewing it - from the graduation picture, to the photograph of the dog, to the yellow plate on the bookshelf - details of familiar items, bought and gifted by others who are the focus of this project.

A Dozen Eggs - Image Update - Self-Portrait

This has been, by far, the most difficult part of my project. How to represent oneself! I have discussed this in detail within my written logbook, so I won't dwell too much on it here, but self-representation is a very difficult thing to do. As well as challenges with the shooting itself, there are a myriad of decisions that need to be taken into consideration, mainly in terms of how I fit into this project successfully. I am, by its very nature, the only one of the 'eggs' that has made a conscious decision to create an album representing myself to others, and the decision of 'intimacy' and 'how much to reveal about myself' is a consciously slow and purposeful act. It is something I will be working on over the next few months. I have included a couple of shots below as a starter. These represent precious moments that I have at home - playing with the dog and enjoying a coffee on a Sunday morning - simple pleasures that are rare in my life because my work keeps me away from home for 5 out of 7 days.

A Dozen Eggs - Image Update - Mother

I recently shot some images of my Mother, for my major OCA project - A Dozen Eggs. Whilst the images will not be going into the final project itself, one image will be used for the 'cover' of the project (as a representation of 'Mother Hen'). I have chosen the following shot, which was a candid shot taken in the grounds of Speke Hall in Liverpool:

My ideas for representation of the project (which may well change) is currently as follows:

1. A large eggbox (for a dozen eggs) will be used as the 'case' for the images. This will have the project title (etc) (as well as the image of my Mother, shown above) on the top of the box.
2. Each sibling (egg) will be represented by five images chosen from a selection of images shot to represent a specific 'moment' in the individual's life.
3. Each sibling will write a short account of the images, which will be included as an introduction to their 'section'.
4. The images will be contained within a small folder - the likes of those given by street-side photo-labs. This represents the 'snapshot' nature of the family album. Each folder will contain 6 'eggs'.
5. The images will be developed as 4"x6" prints (as per the 'family snapshot' of old). These will be C-Type Metallic prints, published for this project as a 'one-off Portfolio Edition'.

In addition to my Mother, I have shot the images for myself as well as 2 brothers (Godfrey and Steven) and 1 sister (Linda). Over the next few days I am planning a further 2 shoots, with 6 more to follow over the next couple of months.

Major Influences on OCA Advanced Project

Of all the photographers that I have been looking into over the past few months, I think the most influential to date has been Stephen Gill. I have commented on his work rather extensively within my Learning Log, so will not add too much here, other than to point any readers to his work via the link. I own quite a few of his books (and was recently gifted a copy of his ‘Field Studies’), which I have found enlightening. More than anything, Gill has made me realise that I can steer away from ‘conventional’ thinking, and simply explore ideas in the way that I feel is the right way to explore them – without fear of conforming to an ideal of what photographic critics may think. My photography is becoming more and more conceptual and artistic, using photography as a vehicle to attain what I am trying to say, rather than the photographs themselves being ‘all-encompassing’. That is not to say that I’m averse to standards photographic ideals of composition, but they do not ‘bind’ me anymore; if they do not allow me to ‘speak’, then I will ignore the rules in order to say what I need to say.

My personal project, ‘A Dozen Eggs’, focuses on my family and explores a private world of interaction and familiarity amongst 12 children (my siblings and I). There are many ‘moments’ explored – some private, some emotional, some celebratory and others – an intimate portrait of a family that is at once familiar, but also becoming less familiar with one another as we age and drift. As well as the likes of Stephen Gill influencing this work, I have also been exploring the works of Paul Graham and KayLynn Deveney, as well as the likes of Bruce Davidson (whose documentary work I hugely admire). I have also recently come across the work of 3 photographers that I shall be exploring further over the next few months: Christian Sunde, Tom Zimmerman and Arthur Freed. All three have made a point of exploring their private world in order to deliver photographic insights of what verbal (or written) communication could never achieve, and I am fascinated to see what I might discover.

OCA - Advanced Course Update

I started my final course with the OCA a few months ago (Level 3 Advanced), but it’s been a struggle to keep up my electronic journal via this blog. I am living away from home at the moment (working away during the week) and have had no internet connectivity so I’ve reverted back to old methods and decided to keep a hand-written logbook instead. What I intend to do is try and complement this with regular (as much as possible) electronic updates that can provide some relevant links to exhibitions and the like.

However, I have also been keeping a visual learning log, which I have been adding to weekly and which is now rather extensive. Within this I have five sections: (1) Critical Text Studies; (2) Critical Photographer Studies; (3) Influential Imagery Specific to my Project; (4) Further Influential Imagery; (5) Photographic Essay. For the imagery sections, I have appended notes relating to what I think of the work and how it has helped to refine and develop my project (or future photographic/visual ideas).

As far as my photography (from a practical perspective) is concerned, I have only done 2 major shoots over recent months (which I shall post some examples in my next instalment). This has focused on my Mother (who will only feature on the cover of my project) and a self-portrait study (which was particularly challenging, considering the reportage style that I have developed over the past couple of years). However, I have an extensive shoot planned for this weekend, which will allow me to put my first assignment submission in. The subsequent submissions should then flow relatively quickly, as I have a planned series of shoots over the next couple of months. This will allow the practical side of my course to ‘catch-up’ with the academic side, so that my aim of a Spring 2011 finish will be back on the cards.

The Battlefields of Northern France

I spent 2 days this week on a tour with some colleagues, visiting the battlefields of France and analysing the contribution that the RAF made within both the first and second world wars. The trip began with a visit to the 'bunker' at RAF Uxbridge, where Winston Churchill witnessed the Battle of Britain from the underground operations room, followed by a very poignant and moving visit to the RAF Memorial at Runnymede prior to leaving for Northern France. With all that is going on in the world at present, it was a timely reminder of the sacrifice that our forbears had made in previous wars, and of the lessons learned (or not!) from those wars. At times I was deeply moved and honoured at having the fortune to look upon the memorials and be a part of the future legacy that these men and women sacrificed themselves for. There was also a feeling of frustration in the futility of warfare - it's exceptionally difficult not to feel a certain sense of anger when faced with rows upon rows of nameless graves. However, it is important to recognize the sacrifice given by those who faced danger (and continue to do so), and it provides an important aspect to my future photographic work and study in telling the story, through imagery, of those who continue to fight so that others may have peace.

David Perlmutter

I have been busy reading 2 superb books on the subject of photography in warfare, in preparation for my final course with the OCA. Both books are by David Perlmutter, the head of political communication at the Manship School of Mass Communication, Lousiana State University. The first is called, "Photojournalism And Foreign Policy: Framing Icons Of Outrage In International Crises" and the second is entitled, "Visions Of War: Picturing Warfare From The Stone Age To The Cyber Age". Both books have given me a really good grounding in the 'history' of warfare as viewed both through the photographic lens and through 'pre-photographic' imagery, providing some thought-provoking ideas on how to look at my own work. As I look deeper into my own vision of warfare through photography - especially through the 'eyes of the soldier' - I intend to provide my own insights into this fascinating subject.

Future Focus

Not one to sit still for too long (having just recently completed my first Level 3 course with the OCA), I'm busily researching the focus for my final OCA Course (Photography 3: Advanced), which I intend to start in May 2010. I have a huge interest in Photography & International Conflict and have found a superb project being run through the University College of Dublin's (UCD) Clinton Institute for American Studies on this exact subject. My intention is to research into the area (from both a primary and secondary perspective), prior to undertaking a prolonged practical project that I intend to culminate in an exhibition (and, of course, the extended 'Learning Log' requirement for the course). I am still working on the fineties of the practical project, and will be discussing this with my tutor once I enrol in May. I am really looking forward to it - the completion of the course will (if everything goes well) award me with my degree in Creative Arts, something I've been working towards for a long time, and a qualification which I am not only extremely proud of, but one which I hope will lead me in new directions.

My current work is very demanding (but also equally rewarding) and this, along with a Masters degree in HRD & Performance Mgt (which I am currently studying with the Centre for Labour Market Studies in Leicester - due for completion in 2011) have made the job of studying for the Creative Arts degree a huge challenge, but it is going in the right direction (albeit with some late nights and early mornings). My long-term goal is to study for a PhD (hopefully with the UCD) in Photography and both work and lecture in the area of Photography and Social/International Conflict. I have a real focus (and passion) for this goal, and will keep on working hard until I achieve it.

The UCD site is superb as a research tool, and many of the links I have added to this Forum. The recorded interviews with Photo Editors and key photographers in the documentary field within the 'Imaging Famine' link are especially valuable and provide a great source for debate and thought. As I narrow my focus towards a 'solid' research topic, I will keep updating this forum with my ideas and thoughts (if nothing more than to keep a track of my 'developments').

OCA - Assignment Five (and Final Submission) Feedback

My tutor’s comments were, once again, well received and have helped to finalise the images for my exhibition. The OCA’s ‘Submission Advice’ does not allude to sending the actual exhibition images for assessment; however, were there that requirement, I would utilise the advice given, in that:

1. I would change Image 11 to ensure that the landscape format was adhered to, to ensure that the ‘middle’ images between the ‘bookends’ of each line followed a strict visual pattern. For Example:

Instead of:

2. I would ensure that all images were ‘tweaked’ (in terms of utilising ‘dodging’ and ‘burning’ where appropriate to maximise the images impact).

3. I would present the images as outlined in my Assignment 5 feedback – A3 is certainly the minimum image size that I would like to present for this work.

It is important to note that the restrained use of blur within the first 2 lines of the exhibition (as noted by my tutor) was a conscious decision on my part. I wanted to align the images with the poetry, leading to an eventual ‘explosion’ of camouflage in the final line, accompanied with the words ‘slipping and sliding’ to describe a scene awash with ambiguity. All of the images for the exhibition can be viewed on my 'flickr' webpage.

Overall, I feel extremely pleased with the results for the exhibition. I still feel it is a work in progress, and with a future trip to Afghanistan planned within my work, I feel this will be an opportunity to further develop this body of work.