Week 2: Reflection

How my work relates to interdisciplinary practice?

I consider the work that I produced when freelancing for magazines. Regularly, it was my job to follow up on the trip of a writer. Many would attend ‘Junkets’ to write a piece on the destination, if commissioned, I was then sent to respond and photograph the key aspects of the text. Photography and writing work closely together and support one another. Images providing visual stimuli for the words, and words provide additional context and background that may not be ‘read’ visually. 

Spread from National Geographic Traveller. Words by Helen Warwick, Images by Phil Hill.​*​

I have created personal work that utilises text, as I mentioned in my previous post and find it a fantastic accompaniment to the image, providing narrative, and context to the work.

To extend the use of interdisciplinary practice in my own work, I am considering the use of audio. It was mentioned in the forum this week that Susan Mesielas used audio to record interviews with her subjects for the book ‘Carnival Strippers’​†​ that was then included in a book of the work. Jeremy Deller also used this approach for his work ‘English Civil war part 2​‡​ where he recorded the stories of the Miners who were at the ‘Battle of Orgreave.’ I am very keen to create a collaboration between me and the subjects that I photograph, this could potentially be a way of doing that and allowing the voice of the subject to help develop the work.

Following on from the ‘Other than Photography’ discussion this week, I would to also experiment with some of this technology. There is much potential to use my images to ‘trigger’ events using augmented reality, or as simple as playing an audio track to support the visual images.

Reflecting on 3/10 webinar with Michelle

From the webinar, I have really come to understand the importance of representing the subjects of my work in a considerate way, being faithful to them as people. Additionally, over the summer I read the book:  ‘Decolonising the Camera: Photography in Racial Time’​§​ by Mark Sealy. It is a conversation that I am starting to see come up more and more in photography, and has led to publications such as National Geographic issuing an apology for a history of inherently racist imagery.​¶​ It has prompted me to question my role in photography, and what I am saying when I create images. This is very much related to my images when I was freelancing as a travel and lifestyle photographer, primarily for the airline publication sector. Regularly my role was to present the ‘exotic’ back to a western audience to promote it as a destination to visit. 

Bamburi Beach, Mombasa, Kenya. Image by Phil Hill
Dawn on Bamburi Beach, Mombasa. Image by Phil Hill

My research project, I am hoping to look at the themes of ‘Community’ and ‘Social Capital’ (discussed in my previous post). My first shoot was on the Somerset Carnivals that are taking place during the run up to Christmas. When approaching the subjects for a portrait, they would automatically assume a somewhat cliche pose associated with the local press photographers they are used to posing for. This would include giving me a ‘thumbs up’ with a wide grin. I would photograph them in order to break the ice and then ask the subject to adopt a more formal pose for the images that I wanted to achieve. I have started to question this approach in how I representing my subject, if they are naturally posing in this way, does that say more about their character that the pose that I ask them to do? A counter to that discussion, however, might be the social conditioning that they have prior to my photograph that they automatically assume. Does my approach allow them to be ‘read’ in a way that is more faithful to the person behind the presented image of them? These are important questions I hope to find answers as I develop my project.

After the discussion, I was given some photographers to look at:

  1. ​*​
    Hill, P. and Warwick, H. (2013). Free Spirit. National Geographic Traveller, pp.92,93.
  2. ​†​
    Meiselas, S. and Wolf, S. (2004). Carnival strippers. Göttingen: Steidl.
  3. ​‡​
    Deller, J. and Noord, G. (2002). The English Civil War. [London]: Artangel.
  4. ​§​
    Sealy, M. (2019). Decolonising the Camera: Photography in Racial Time. 1st ed. London: Lawrence & Wishart.
  5. ​¶​
    Goldberg, S. (2019). For Decades, Our Coverage Was Racist. To Rise Above Our Past, We Must Acknowledge It. [online] Nationalgeographic.com. Available at: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/magazine/2018/04/from-the-editor-race-racism-history/ [Accessed 4 Oct. 2019].

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