This is actually a challenging question – worth exploring. How much of my work is influenced to the point of being derivative of others. I have of course taken inspiration from a number of different photographers throughout this MA for example, Alys Tomlinson, Alec Soth and Vanessa Winship. During Landings, my work was complimented by a number of my peers, which is always appreciated, notably, Gem Crichton asked me if I liked the work of Winship, clearly highlighting that the influence of her work is present in mine; potentially there is some work that needs to be done to continue to use these influences in a positive way without my work becoming homage to a practitioner or style.
In the episode of ‘The Messy Truth’ featuring Alex Coggin on ‘Authorship’ (2019) this idea was discussed with a key takeaway was the suggestion from Coggin that photographer must be careful what they are consuming in the form of other images, with interviewer Gem Fletcher also noting that too much influence can lead to ‘Career suicide’ (2019). The comment is fairly alarming when I find myself working to develop my workflow and style. However, it is also worth noting that within the same episode both Coggin and Fletcher talk openly about how Coggin’ s own work is visually similar to practitioners, such as Martin Parr, to the extent that his agents have trouble navigating this at times. That said, they do have a point as I am not aiming to emulate another photographer’s style, only take inspiration from and it can be quite easy to get caught up in the kinds of trends that are happening on platform’s such as Instagram, which leads too homogenisation in terms of what we consume and ultimately produce. Clearly, I have work to do in order to resolve this, especially before the start of the FMP.
Taking a minute to consider my strengths from a commercial point of view. Attributes, such as the ability to network effectively is not something I have been hugely prolific with and when the opportunity has presented itself, I have not found that I could capitalise on it. Not to say that I am completely unable, as I have been a freelance – more that I work more effectively electronically. Email and I also keep a fairly large mailing list. When I was working as a travel & lifestyle photographer, I was also living in Perth, Western Australia, which has a significantly smaller creative network and easier to stand out and also cut through and market the fact I was based in a region useful to an editor of a European travel publication.
If I was to aim and compete in the UK market, then I feel I would need to develop my confidence in this area a lot more. I don’t rely on full time commercial compensation to survive however, in order to develop my practice, it is in a world that is still competitive and requires work in this area.
As I am considering strategies for working with landscapes and bringing these into my broader narrative, my initial explorations vary slightly. I am primarily continuing to look at the idea of where the countryside stops and the urban begins. A useful visual way of showing this initially is where the M25 is, as it provides a useful barrier between what is considered greater London versus everything outside of it. An area worth exploring is the images shot during fog, albeit weather dependent.
During the last webinar with Colin, it was suggested that I could also consider the idea of edgelands and the book by Michael Symmons Roberts and Paul Farley, which I think would link quite well to my initial research into this area. It was also suggested that I consider the way that create a story and then take control of it. Chris Killip was also suggested as he has stated before about his work in the foreword to In flagrante that: “This book is a fiction about a metaphor” (Roberts, 2009), which is definitely an area of investigation.
I am continuing to produce portraits as part of my work in progress and hope that the current pandemic rules allow for that to continue. My focus is shifting with these onto people that I know, over encounters that I am having in my community – although, I could extend this to people that I have already photographed to see how that relationship is changing.
I am also wanting to experiment with the placement and sequencing of images together to see how they are working as diptychs. For example, the placement of Ryan next to the disused church is in part because of the window in the Ryan portrait and also the symbolism of his tattoo in relation to the cross on the side of the church
Coggin, A., 2019. The Messy Truth: Alex Coggin on Authorship [Interview] (May 2019).
Roberts, S., 2009. CHRIS KILLIP, IN FLAGRANTE. [Online]
Available at: http://we-english.co.uk/blog/2009/03/03/chris-killip-in-flagrante/
[Accessed 9 October 2020].