Todd Hido on Landscapes, Interiors, and the Nude

Figure 1. #3557 by Todd Hido (Hido, 2006).

Now that I am looking at taking my project on community into a broader look at the places that allow it to function, I have been reading Todd Hido’s book ‘On Landscape, Interiors, and the Nude’ (Hido, 2014), as I have come to his look at his night images of homes and how these become an image of the people and the relationships they represent. Hido provides multiple examples of this in his book, one of these is of a bed (Fig. 1) which is not necessarily just an image of a bed (considering the denotation vs the connotations of an image), it might be an image representing a relationship, it could also be about loneliness (Hido, 2014, p.66).

Figure 2. #2133 by Todd Hido (Hido, 2001).

It is important to consider the meaning that a seemly simple image such as a building might have. My aim is to start looking at the architecture of community, through the civic buildings that people congregate. From my initial research into some of the local buildings near me, I am now keen to shoot a range of interiors as well as exterior, and eventual images, before I move on to images of people again.

I do not feel the need to shoot these as Hido has done with his buildings, at night (Fig. 2). However, his emphasis on ambiguity is something that I intend to take from reading his book. It is also a continuation of the work I have started on developing my sense of narrative and allowing the reader to ask the question “What’s going on here?” (Hido, 2014, p.28), and also posing more questions than answers. The danger of applying Hido’s approach wholy onto my own photography is to then create a contrived image, removed from the faithful representation of the subjects. It is something worth exploring and considering the impact on my work.

Setting a Stage

Hido discusses the need to set the stage, which is an area I may consider exploring. Hido works on his locations to create a sparse environment so that you can focus on the subject, creating the conditions that provides context, and so that his subjects (Or characters) are able to be natural withing. Hido says:

“You can have an amazing story to tell, but you have to get the setting right”

(Hido, 2014, p.97).

My approach to this kind of work has always been to photograph what is in front of me and be as faithful to the scene as I possibly can. As I developed over Positions and Practice however, I have come to consider the direction in terms of how much I impose onto the subject to move them away from a ‘performance’ presented to me. My role, as I have come to terms with, is to create the kind of image I want to tell, and the dialogue between the subject and myself is an ongoing process.

Roy Stryker’s ‘Shooting Scripts’

Hido mentions Roy Stryker’s use of ‘Shooting Scripts’ to guide the FSA photographers

“In order to create the feeling of a common experience”

(Hido, 2014, p.123)

which I feel might be an interesting place to start looking at for my own work, moving forward. Hido considers that these are the elements for telling a story, and creating a full body of work and useful inspiration. I intend to look at these and create some explorations based on them.

I have found through some research, this example Shooting script produced by Roy Stryker and the FSA on ‘The Small Town.’ My intention is to analyse this in greater detail and see if it will apply ton what I am aiming to accomplish with this part of my project.

Bibliography

Hido, T., 2001. #2133. [Photo].

Hido, T., 2006. #3557. [Photo].

Hido, T., 2014. Todd Hido on Landscapes, Interiors, and the Nude. New York: Aperture.

Library of Congress, 2011. Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information Written Records: Selected Documents. [Online]  Available at: Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information Written Records: Selected Documents [Accessed 11 12 2019].

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