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Reflections on the course

Looking back at my first blog posts and exercises I can see that I've really developed myself over the past years. I have gained more technical knowledge, but most of all, filled my head with images and ideas of other photographers, that inspire me when I'm photographing myself. Because I didn't have any prior knowledge to art or photography I feel like I am discovering something new and exciting every time I look up a photographer or go to an exhibition. It's been very nice and has helped me grow as an artist myself.

The course itself was mostly focused on ways how to do things, how to get certain images and different approaches to photographing people and places. In a way I think this kept me going and pushed me to photograph outside of my comfort zone. On the other hand I feel it would have been helpful to have had more theoretical background and examples from other photographers in the reader itself. But now that I'm working on Context and Narrative, I can see that these changes have been made in OCA's newer courses and it makes a big difference.

Along the course my tutor has cheered me on and has been very helpful in showing me other photographer's work and looking at my own work from a different perspective. We had nice Skype conversations and I have received a lot of support from him. 

I wish I had been more diligent and focused on the course so that I would have finished it a bit earlier. Now I'm a bit stressed for time to get all my level courses done in 4 years and that would not have been necessary, hadn't I been so busy with other things, even though they were photography related. I think that is my biggest lesson learnt. I want to get a degree and that should be my main focus now.

100 Ideas that Changed Photography

This book is a very inspirational read. Reviews on Amazon say that there are a few mistakes in the book and that it is obvious that the writer was commissioned to write it without a lot of prior knowledge of photography, but I don't really care about that. The level isn't supposed to be too high anyway and I find it a very good read.

In 100 small chapters, ideas and practices that shaped photography as we know it are described in a concise, informative way and illustrated with beautiful examples. I have read the book in one piece, but think that it might also be nice to read one idea a day just as a little inspirational thought to get you started. 

After reading this book I made a list of all ideas that I would like to try out, or use in my own work.

- I would love to work with old development processes for example, I know there's an organisation that offers courses and I'm going to give it a try.
- I would also like to experiment with painting on a photograph, even though I'm a terrible painter, but just for fun and see the results.
- I would like to make flip flop book of moving objects.
- I would like to photograph a nude.
- I want to take a series of really saturated post card pictures.
- I want to do street photography with a flash.
- I would like to make a Refractive Hexagon, like Robert Heinecken's (pg 110).
- I want to make an abstract image.
- I want to explore the 'thingness' of things (pg 151)
- I'd like to make photo collage.
- I want to experiment with self portraiture.
- I want to experiment with surrealism.
- I want to go to the outskirts of Delhi and photograph.
- I want to experiment with text and images.
- I would like to fabricate a staged photograph.
- I want to experiment with combining video and photo.

It seems like quite a long list and thank goodness I have a life time to work on it, along with my OCA courses of course!

Marien, M. W. (2012) 100 Ideas that Changed photography. London: Laurence King Publishing.

Noémie Goudal - The Geometrical Determination of the Sunrise

I know it's not a very good study practice, but I've visited quite a lot of exhibitions during the time that I was working on People and Places and never got round to write blogposts around them. I would put the information leaflets in a plastic bag with the intention of writing posts later on, which never happened!

Now that I'm concluding the course, I went through my little plastic bag and found the folder of Noémie Goudal, The Geometrical Determination of the Sunrise. I don't remember where I've visitied this exhibition, nor what the images looked like, so I Googled it and remembered them again. Goudal's images are compilations of real and constructed landscapes and buildings. She will take a photo of something, print it out and construct it in an other place to create a different landscape with it. Through this you get a distorted idea of reality and the boundaries of nature and man made structures intertwine. 

Goudal uses a wide range of techniques to construct her landscapes, from digitally composed stereoscopes to photographs made with film. All her images have a very deserted look about them, houses and structures that seem to have lost their purpose and have sort of submerged in their environment.

"In the construction of my photos, I'm interested in creating a new perspective within the context of the image, by blurring the boundaries between reality and fiction, the real and the invented. I've asked myself how it might be possible to enter the perspective of an image by offering a half-real, half-artificial landcape" (from folder from the exhibition somewhere, sometime in 2013)

I find myself really drawn to these kind of 'constructed realities'. Minkinnen does the same, but alters the landscape by means of his own body and Escher is able to construct reality in such a way that it becomes impossible to understand but still tangible as a reality. I would like to explore these concepts more and start experimenting with it as well!

Referencing: 
Marcelis, B. (2014) Noémie Goudal - the geometrical determination of the sunrise at filles du Calvaire, Paris. Available at: http://www.edelassanti.com/news/60/ (Accessed: 14 December 2015)

Assessment - Prints in book

As part of my assessment for TAOP I had a book made with all the prints that I submitted for the course. I really liked the result and like having a tangible summary of all the work that I did and seeing the developments I made in my work. I decided to do the same thing for People and Places. The assignments work well to capture a development and bring some kind of order that keeps it interesting to look through the book.

Concerning the lay-out I've kept it very simple and minimalistic. I like white frames since it helps the eye to focus on the image and gives it a quiet feel. I doubted whether to add titles or captions to the images, because some ask for a bit of explanation, but decided to keep all the information on one page, since the book itself refers to my blog and other work which all have been looked at together. 

Unfortunately, one image of assignment 1 got lost and I only had a very low res image on my computer left. Because it would turn out very small and would obviously show that something had gone wrong there, I decided to not put it in the book. 

I'm happy with the results. The prints are good quality and not too dark and the book is a nice introduction to the work on my blog and an overview of the results of my development over the course.

People and Place on Assignment - Research

Although when I took the photos for this assignment I was focused on showing 'transitory time' in my images, after reading and looking at the photographers my tutor suggested, I have started to look at other layers of meaning in my images and themes that other photographers have used when photographing families or children. 

I have looked at images of Sally Mann, Wendy McMurdo, Tina Barney and Collier Schorr and read several essays that I found on some of the artists' website. As a beginning art student I still find myself being quite amazed at how the meaning behind the images can be explained and how the images become so much richer and layered once I start pondering on the ideas and themes the photographers have in mind when creating their work. I wish I was able to express my thoughts and findings better about what I read and discover, because I certainly feel enriched and look at my own work differently, but can't put it in words yet. I guess I just have to read more and just write down what I can and trust that this will develop over time. 

I don't think it is necessary to compare the photographers that I researched, but I find it interesting to see how each photographer approaches the subject from a very different way. Sally Mann and Tina Barney's work are mostly taken within their own family. I notice a very personal connection between the photographer and the subjects, not only because they show very intimate moments in family life, but mostly because the interactions between the subjects are very raw and unstaged. Sally Mann's images of her children have a very narrative character to them and it feels that she might have let the children be in a role play or that she has created a certain story with her backgrounds etc in which her children play a role. Barney focuses (also because of her captions) the relationships between her family members, their social status and interaction with their created environment. The tension is palpable in some images, others show how each member has a certain role to play on a stage which is the society they find themselves in. I recognised many 'transitory moments' and was interested to see the way the subjects in the images withdrawing in their own world, or disrupting the world of others.

Wendy McMurdo's work show how children respond to technology and how their realities are shaped by it. I was fascinated by how the environment the child would be in became of no importance when a child was all absorbed in its play, or in the other reality. I think you can see this also happening in my own images where the children are looking at the computer or playing on their ipads, even when they are reading a book. McMurdo's images show this constant going from the child's inner world to the digital world and back to reality and how all these dimensions interact with each other. I don't feel the children are sort of escaping from their reality, or that the images are biased towards one reality or the other. I wonder if my images do have a biased component, although the empty rooms do suggest that you would want to escape from it and so do the somewhat tragic looks on my girls faces in the image where they are staring back at me. 

Again, it is interesting to read and think about other photographer's work and ideas and then discover similar themes in your own work, even though they were not intentionally photographed at the time. 

References:

Barney, T. (no date) Tina Barney. Available at: http://www.tinabarney.com/#/theaterofmanners/ (Accessed: 11 November 2015).

Sally Mann (no date) Available at: http://sallymann.com/ (Accessed: 11 November 2015)

Wendy McMurdo (no date) Available at: http://wendymcmurdo.com/ (Accessed: 11 November 2015)

Approach to street photography

In this final part of the course and getting my work ready for assessment, I have been thinking a lot about how I work and what drives me. Looking at all the assignments I can see that most of it has been driven by what was asked from me and meeting the criteria that were laid out in earlier exercises. I know it is good to explore technical possibilities as well as starting to find your personal view and ways of working, but it hasn't been until these past weeks that I feel I should explore my motives and ideas behind what I'm doing more. I have to say that reading 'Train your Gaze' has been a big influence and it has felt entering a new level of understanding myself and my work.

For example, going back to assignment 2 and the images I took in the desert camp I am still not clear on where I would place myself in regards to approaches to street photography. Some of the images are a bit on the cynical side in this set, but overall I don't feel that I was trying put a cynical view of the tourists too much. I was just photographing in an intuitional mode. Of course, there is nothing wrong with it and especially when you're somewhere for the first time it is hard to have a well thought out idea of what to do to begin with. Later on I realised that my images were more about the meaning of the reality of an experience and the creation of this reality. 

After this set, I have been photographing in the streets more and realize that I don't like to take pictures of people in their weakest moment, even though that might make up for more sensational images. I remember being a bit put off Martin Parr's exhibition because he had photographed all the stereotypical  elements of people in the streets and the things of which one can know that they will bring a certain reaction, I found that it didn't do justice to the people or city themselves and showed that Martin Parr's interest in a place didn't go much further than the superficial layer of pre conceived ideas. On the other hand, his photos were interesting, made people laugh and caused for an immediate response. If you have been the photographer that is just the kind of response that you might want to get, that people are immediately drawn to what you've done, than you can say that the images were very successful.

But then, if I think about Boris Mikhailov's work and the provoking images of people that he took in post communist Russia, one might be tempted to have the same conclusions that he knows how to shock his audience and uses his ways of work to get a big audience in such a way. But I don't get that same initial response when I look at his work, because all of his photographs show a kind of intimacy between him and his subjects and most of all show a genuine interest in the people, the lives they are living and in a very raw way, their humanity. 

However, I'm wondering if I would be true to myself if I went about working in the same way. In the end it all starts with what interests me, what triggers me, what do I want to show, do I want to object to something, or show something and am I bold enough to photograph that? And are these personal restrictions true to what I really believe and who I am, or more based on what is considered decent or moral and all the other things I'm supposed to do and behave? I feel that I need to really think about this, explore other ways of thinking and work of photographers more and give myself the time and freedom to investigate this more. 

This weekend, I went to Old Delhi with a few friends to photograph and here are a few of the images that I'd like to share. Especially compared to my work from Assignment 2, I do notice a difference in my approach. I see that in these images I am very focused on individual expressions amidst the business of the city. I was triggered by the looks on the people's faces, the stress people feel when they've just woken up and are facing a rough day in the streets, school or at work. This was my first time there and I had not thought about what it was that I wanted to show. I really want to go back and be more deliberate on what I want to do.

References:
Boris mikhailov - Sprovieri gallery. Available at: http://www.sprovieri.com/artists/boris-mikhailov/ (Accessed: 9 November 2015).

Richard Misrach

In preparation of Assignment 4, my tutor suggested I should have a look at the work of Richard Misrach, who is an example of a photographer who shows human traces in landscapes in a very interesting and effective way. 

I checked out some of his work online and watched a few interviews on Youtube that I found particularly interesting. In his interview with Corbis, he talks about different projects and how he set about photographing them. It was really good for me to hear his workflow, also how he comes up with his ideas and combines how he is able to be inspired by one thing that leads to an other project and piece of work. He explained how 9/11 made an impact on him and that seeing some images from people jumping off the Twin Towers triggered him to photograph his 'On the Beach' series because it has the same notion of people being alone in their space, seemingly disconnected and isolated from time and other elements around them.

His other images on 'Cancer Alley' show landscapes that are very defined by pollution and human's impact on nature. The images themselves are stunning, which he also points out to be a very important aspect of his work, but besides that they really make you think about we are doing with our nature and how humanity is inflicting all this tragedy on themselves. He continues explaining how his project became a collaboration with a  landscape architect and how they together gave the images a much deeper level of understanding and tools for social change.

I'm very inspired to learn about these ways of working. I was quite struck when Richard Misrach said that he went to New York straight after 9/11, but didn't take any photographs, because 'That's not the way [he] works'. 

I'm eager to work on discovering my ways, my interests and really find my own voice in what I'm doing. Right now I feel like I have been drifting quite a bit. I know that is all part of the process, but Richard Misrach is such a good example of an artist who gives himself the freedom to be himself and does not let himself be swayed by things that should be done or photographs that should be taken.

CorbisContributor (2013) Corbis interviews Richard Misrach at 2013 LOOK3. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SwXMAh3TssA (Accessed: 3 November 2015).

Ideas on 'Setting the Stage' Bertolt Brecht

In the report on People and Places on assignment, my tutor suggested to have a look at Bertolt Brecht's ideas about staging and theatre. I had never heard of him before and it has been interesting to read about his ideas and the influences he has had on theater, but also on any form of narrative telling media. In relation to my assignment here are a few points that stand out to me and make me think more of the relationship that the viewer has with an image and how an image itself can work on that influence. Instead of creating a strong emotional connection with its audience, Brechts' plays are focused on distancing the audience in order that they can look at it objectively and from there on reflect on themselves and bring about change. He calls this the "Verfremdung Effect'. Here are a few lines from sites that I found particularly interesting:

'Esslin duly points out that his use of the V-effekt shows how conscious Brecht was of the audience's tendency to identification. He did not eliminate it, but modified and weakened it.

To discourage audience from identifying with character and so losing detachment, the action must continually be made strange, alien, remote, separate. To do this, the director must use any devices that preserve or establish this distancing.'.

'Verfremdungseffekt (the)

Translated (badly) as “Alienation-effect” and (awkwardly) as “Distantation-effect”. More accurately it is “the effect that makes things seem strange or different”. The term refers to the use of various devices to make things appear in a new light, so we consider them with intellectual objectivity, robbed of their conventional outward appearance.'

Moore, A. (2015). Brecht. [online] Teachit.co.uk. Available at: https://www.teachit.co.uk/armoore/drama/brecht.htm#dictionary [Accessed 2 Nov. 2015].

'Directors, designers and dramatists were all influenced by Brecht's idea of an epic theatre in which narrative replaces plot, the spectator is turned into an observer rather than someone implicated in the stage action, and each scene exists for itself alone.'

Billington, M. (2013). Bertolt Brecht: irresistible force or forgotten chapter in theatrical history?. [online] the Guardian. Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/stage/2013/sep/18/bertolt-brecht-arturo-ui-revival [Accessed 2 Nov. 2015].

'The epic invites calm, detached contemplation and judgement; the dramatic overwhelms reason with passion and emotion, the spectator sharing the actor's experiences.

And, therefore, the audience must be made aware that events are not present events (happening now), but past events being represented as narrative, with commentary provided to encourage our own reflection.

While some playwrights have accepted particular Brechtian techniques, his general effect, to cause writers to seek new conventions of representing human experience, is more important.'

After reading these passages I'm wondering in which ways these ideas can be put into images and whether my own project reflects some of the distance that Brecht shows in his work. I remember that I did try to keep myself distant from the scene as much as possible and did not direct the children in any way to pose. Looking at the images after having read this, I recognize some of the stage elements: The half curtain, minimalist decoration and a seemingly incoherence in the images that could also stand on their own and breaking the 'fourth wall'. On the other hand, I wonder if the photographs show that they were taken by their mother, one of the most emotionally involved people in their lives and if that makes the viewer more connected to the images as well.

This site, http://www.thedramateacher.com/epic-theatre-conventions/ gives a bullet point overview of characteristics of his plays. I think it would be nice to set up a similar scene for a series of photographs and see what kind of atmosphere will come across and in what sense I could think of a narrative that would suit an approach like this. Maybe in my next course!

Cash, J. (2014) Epic theatre conventions. Available at: http://www.thedramateacher.com/epic-theatre-conventions/ (Accessed: 2 November 2015)

Moore, A. (2015). Brecht. [online] Teachit.co.uk. Available at: https://www.teachit.co.uk/armoore/drama/brecht.htm#dictionary [Accessed 2 Nov. 2015]

 



 

Photography - A Very Short Introduction

The 'Very Short Introduction' books are always a pleasure to read. When I started this one I thought it would be a lot of repetition of subjects I had heard or read before, which in a way was true, but the author, Steve Edwards has a way of putting the facts, developments and stories together in a very interesting and stimulating way. 

His discussion on the differences of a photograph as a document or a piece of art and how different developments in ways of thinking about art influenced the medium and photographers themselves was especially insightful. 

The advantage of all concise overviews of an entire genre or subject is that it really helps you to see where you have positioned yourself in terms of ideas and ways of thinking about photography. Especially as a beginning student I often find myself reading about a subject, let's say street photography and immediately adapting to the way of thinking of the author or photographer I'm studying. This little book shows that there is much more on the horizon and that there is no 'right' or 'wrong' in how you work, just an acknowledgement that perceptions and ways of working are fluid and it's fine to just work along. Knowing that there are many ways to approach photography. Ideas and art are subject to change and that is something to be really excited about!

Edwards, S. (2006) Photography, A Very Short Introduction. 1st edition edn. New York: Oxford University Press.

Mary Ellen Mark - Twins

The photography section of my children's school library has quite a surprising good collection of photo books! When I stumbled upon Mary Ellen Mark's Twins (2003), it immediately caught my attention. I have an identical twin sister and am a mother of identical twins and I was very interested to see in which way Mark was going to portray the unique bond that I'm experiencing myself and see in my own girls. 

The book consists of images of sets of twins that were taken on a twins' festival 'Twins Days' in Twinsburg, Ohio. The photos were taken on a Polaroid 20 by 24 camera and are supposed to be of exquisite quality. Mark flew in a crew of 20 people and set up a tent during the festival to take the images. Quite a production, I'd say! In the second part of the book you can read snippets of interviews that Mark had with the twins and their caretakers after the photos were taken. 

The front page announces that 'In Twins, Mark turns her acute eye and her heart to the extraordinary bond that exists between these very special siblings.' I think it is this sentence that annoys me most about the book. The images are all very stereotypical, not only of what you expect of twins, but also of teenagers, women, kids, Afro Americans, overweight kids, etc. I don't think Mark put the twins these costumes on, but the fact that she chose to photograph her subject matter in Twinsburg, on Twinsday, already shows that her approach was to get all the stereotypes on paper. 

Most twins have tautological names, like Kelsie and Kiara, Jim and Jeff, Melanie and Michelle and Kayley and Kaitlyn. In the interviews we can read that most of the twins either live very close together or live in the same house. The questions in the interview are closed and Mark asks all the stereotypical questions I have been asked about being a twin. It's just all very stereotypical.

I found it all very unsettling and I wondered why. I mean it's not the classification in itself, or showing the weird side of people that makes me feel like this. I really like the way August Sander made classifications of people and their profession, or Arbus' approach in showing people's rarities. But in this case, I get the idea that Mark's approach to twins is very shallow and even though she says she is looking for the special bond they have, she just wants to freak her viewers a bit with the fact that twins are a bit freaky. 

I miss respect for the individual and it sort of triggers a frustration that I have felt all my life about being compared all the time, the assumptions that my life was sort of dependent on the other and the struggle to find myself. I have to say everything is fine now and I love being a twin, but when I look at my own daughters, I would never want them to be portrayed like Mark does. It's denigrating and lacks respect. Or maybe from a less frustrated response, it's very shallow.

References:
Mark, M. E. (2003) Twins. First Edition edn. New York: Aperture Foundation.

 

Assessment - Alterations to Assignment 2

Having read through the tutor report and looking at my images again, I decided to go back to the raw files of my images and post process them again. Looking through the set, I have made one alteration in the choice of images and have colour corrected some of them again. It always amazes me how a fresh look on images lets me make other decisions. Here's the final result:

I decided to add the image of the buffet, because I think it accentuates the superficiality of the place, nowhere in the desert would you normally find a buffet like this and the pathetic small palm tree besides it is a nice addition to that. I also changed the photo of the lady coming out of the henna stand because I think this one is better balanced and shows more of the context in which she is standing and explaining more of the bewilderment on her face.

With this selection I think I have a coherent set of images that have a lot of variety, but still are all leading to the same idea of the contrast between perceived reality, superficiality and how one portrays this superficiality as reality to the outside world. In most of the images there is a lot going on on the borders of the frame, giving it the idea that the images are part of a bigger picture and don't stand on its own.

In conclusion I am very happy with this set, although it is a pity that I was dealing with all this noise and unsharpness because of the low quality lens that I was using. But anyhow, I guess when the image is printed it's going to be a little bit less obvious.

Assessment - Alterations to Assignment 3 - Kermel Market

When I was going through my images for assessment, I noticed that when working on Assignment 3 I had not added images on Kermel Market. Kermel Market is a market hall in the middle of the old center of Dakar where people have been selling and buying fish, fruit and vegetables for over 100 years. The building was is a one of a kind architectural gem, with art deco, moorish and colonial influences. The building was destroyed in a fire in 1994, but exactly replicated in its rebuilding later on. At first I didn't want to add the images because I was a bit disappointed with the images after my visit, especially after looking at other images online. I kept on wondering why I hadn't photographed it in an other way and wanted to go back, which I then didn't do. The one thing I have learned over this course is that I should not be too distracted with other things and plan my projects well. Take time and not think that I can get it done within one visit or without preparation. 

But anyway, when I was going through the images that I had taken during this course, I was quite surprised with a few of the ones that I had taken at the market. I do think they fit well within this assignment, this is a good example of a building that is being in full use and has been for over a century. It's the best place to get quality foods, it's been a structure where the French were very proud of during their colonial times and a place where people get together to socialise, talk politics and sports. I think the following images reflect these functions well, so here's my first selection from which I will choose 4 that are going to be part of the assignment.

As you can see, I only took images of the interior of the market and most of the produce. The reason for that is that I'm always a bit scared that people will get angry with me when I take photographs. Fortunately it was not so bad that day and again I realise the importance of focusing on what it is that you want to photograph beforehand, establish the relationships with the people and then go out and about. It saves a lot on stress and looking back I wish I had spent much more time doing this. But anyways, I'm still happy with a few of the shots and these are going to be my final images that I'll submit:

I have chosen these, because I think they reflect the heart of the people working there. Their interests, the way they set up their shops, the laughter and socialising and the quality of their products. I'm happy with how the beautiful morning light can still be seen in the images and the sort of magic feel that it brings. All colours and textures come alive and it is so special to be there at that time of day. Just like in other photographs that I have taken from sights in Senegal, I love how every corner is personalised and a reflection of who they are, no matter that it is a public space. 

Taking photos in West Africa

My tutor suggested I'd write a post on what it has been like to take photographs in West Africa, how it has influenced me and also the way I look at other photographer's work. 

The first thing that comes to mind about taking the actual photos is the stress that I woud experience most of the time. Am I safe? Are people going to get angry with me? How can I set up a kind of relationship that doesn't make the subjects feel like I'm exploiting them? Because of this fear and a few nasty experiences I felt really hesitant to go out and take photographs and if I would, I'd make sure to have a plan, talk to the people beforehand about what I was going to do and time it. What didn't make things better is that I photograph with a Nikon D700 and a humongous lens, which made people say I was a professional and think I'd make lots of money with it. 

Now that I've moved I regret not having taken more photos and especially more time to go out and about and invest in the people that I knew. It is a lesson for my now and I feel I have to structure my life better to have set points in the week in which I will go out and photograph or film. 

When it comes to the exploitation part, I did understand why people didn't want to be photographed. Most of them work and or live in the streets and even though it is a public space, for them it is their space that should be respected. Also, most of them have never been in an other country, so have never experienced the sensation of something being new or exotic and have difficulties understanding why a Westerner would want to take photos of them. 

I think it is important to realise beforehand what it is that I'm interested in, what is it that I want to capture and explain that to the subjects involved. The clearer that is, the easier it is to know what to focus on and not just photograph out of the first hand intuition, although that might be quite exciting at times as well.

Mainly I realised how important it is to keep your eyes fresh. When living somewhere you get so used to otherwise interesting views. Often I would try to go back to the moment when I had just arrived and focus on what surprised me then, what I found particularly beautiful or exotic and go back and photograph that. 

I think that most of all, I was always amazed at the resilience of the Senegalese and how they were able to adapt places into a home, with such different standards and ideas than I had, but still give it their own style. 

Regarding photographing people I have often thought about whether my way of working is respectful or evasive. I think what helped is that I was used to the people and the way they looked and dressed, and even though that sounds quite sad, also used to their poverty. Because of this I think I was able to have a different look than the 'white man's look' and see the humanity and personality beyond. I find that with a new place and people it takes at least 6 months to see the particularities and characters in people's faces and look beyond the color and typical features. I'm not sure if this is visible in my images, but the Senegalese that I photographed were just as exotic to me as a Dutch person in the The Netherlands. 

It's a privilege to live in other countries for such a stretch of time and the challenge lies in seizing all the opportunities I get every day. Too often I hear myself thinking that I'll photograph it an other day and before I know it I've moved on to an other country. Careful planning is so important in order not to get swallowed up by daily chores and activities.

Assessment - Alterations to Assignment 3

My tutor wrote in his report that I might want to reconsider the images that I had chosen for the Palace of Justice part of this assignment. The thing is that when I did my initial selection, I was more focused on the spaces and the way the light and exterior were working its way through the building, showing the deterioration of the building. However, my tutor suggested that I added more images with human elements, that showed the initial function of the building, how people used to work there and most of all, all the life stories of the people that got lost and forgotten. I think the point makes a lot of sense, it is these elements that make the images stand out from any kind of old, empty building. So I went through my selection again and it is interesting to see how I discovered images that I had not selected the first time. I also realise that I don't particularly like the white balance that I used in the initial images. They were a lot more yellow, making the building look much warmer than it actually was. Especially since there is only natural light and shadows, I don't want the images to look too yellow anymore. This natural look makes the building look a bit more deserted and depressing, which it actually is. Here's a new selection from which I will choose my final 4 images:

A lot of rooms in the palace are completely empty, but you will find papers and furniture shattered everywhere. I want to show the decay, the personal stories and some of the architecture,but most of all the human elements that are still tangible in the building. I want to keep the entrance image in for sure, especially because the alphabet is written on the back of the chairs and the tree in front of this once grand entrance. The image with the papers in the toilet is gross and shows, together with the goats eating the files, the extreme ways in which all the documents go to waste and are not archived and taken care of properly. I still want to keep the balance between close ups and emptiness, show some of the once magnificent architecture, but most of all the decay. So this is my final selection:

When I looked at the total of the assignment and looked through my images again, I also realised that I want to add an other building and reduce the number of images of the other buildings to show more diversity and be really selective in the other sets. First of all, I want to add and other building, which is the Karmel Market in Dakar. I'll write an other post about this market and the selection process I've done. 

I also had an other look at the photos of the shack behind my children's school. I've made an other selection and adjusted the images somewhat because I didn't like the white balance on most of them. I have to say that the light was really weird that day because of Harmattan season, a time of the year in which the Sahara sort of flies over. Here's my new selection and the final four.

Although the idea of this assignment is to show the buildings more than the people, in this set I want to focus more on the narrative of the place and the people who live on it. I want to add the image that I took a year later, when everything was taken down, cleaned up and paved. I think in this story the image of the woman fits well, her strong expression shows the persistence she had to take care of her family, no matter the circumstances. So my final selection will be the two sides of the side of the wall, where we see the shacks where they slept and the 'kitchen', the drive way after a year and the lady holding her cooking gear.


Francis Meadow Sudcliff

My tutor suggested me to have a look at the work of Francis Meadow Sudcliff (1853 - 1941), a photographer who is well known for his work on the fishing village, Whitby) he lived in and photographed throughout his life. 

When looking at his images I am first of all struck by the quality of the photographs and spontaneity of the subjects. Most portraits in those days were very stiff and formal, here I see that Sudcliff made an effort to portray the people and life as it was. Because of this, I feel immediately drawn in the images and feel connected to the people in it. The children playing, the fishermen at work, the beauty of everyday life and the everyday landscape around him.

He's an example of how it is possible to keep on seeing in beauty in scenes that you may encounter everyday. How to keep a fresh eye for what's going on around you and keep on seeing what makes people interesting and special. 

I recognize the community spirit in his images from the fishing villages I photographed in Senegal. There is a sense of cooperation, working together and dependency, but on the other hand you can see that every individual has a unique role and personality that make the community stronger. 

Sudcliff shows the beauty, fun and adventure children find in everyday circumstances, the worn down faces of hardworking people, pride and perseverence. I think he's able to do this because he doesn't comply to what photography was supposed to be like in those days. His images are not to present oneself in a formal or better way, but they are reflections of everyday life, and especially the beauty of being who you are and the life that you live.

Huxley-Parlour, G. (2015) FRANK MEADOW SUTCLIFFE (1853-1941) | prints, photographs for sale | beetles & Huxley. Available at: http://www.beetlesandhuxley.com/artists/frank-meadow-sutcliffe-1853-1941.html (Accessed: 21 September 2015)

People and Place on Assignment - Final images after tutor report

In my earlier posts I wrote about the reason to convert my images to black and white. My tutor understood the reasoning, but suggested I'd convert them into colour and have a look what worked best. So I worked a bit on these coloured images and do think these results are better. The atmosphere is not so uniform anymore, giving room to subtleties in the expressions in the children's faces and interior and more details in the shadows, so that there is more to see and think about. 

Besides that, the colours show the ugliness of the light at night, adding to the impersonal and empty atmosphere that can already be felt because of the composition and state of place and time. So colour it will be!

My tutor also suggested to add two images, the one in which Julian and Eva are fighting over a laptop and the one with the girls staring into the camera. I hadn't really thought about adding them, but looking at them from an other person's perspective, I see that they add an extra dimension to the set. These images show a lot of emotion. In the one where the kids are fighting, it shows frustration and action. In the image where the girls are looking straight in the camera, we see a lot of their emotions and thoughts. Especially compared to the images I took 7 years ago, there is a matureness to be seen and much more than the basic emotions of when they were little. I hadn't really thought about that, but now I do think they should be part of the set. It draws the viewer in the scene and makes it look beyond the emptiness of the room into the minds of these budding girls. 

My tutor had also suggested to call the series 'The Waiting Room', since the images represent a time in which we had just moved into a new place but were still waiting for our furniture to arrive. The children were new at school, I was still trying to find my way around and we were all sort of waiting for normal life to start. The interior of the home and the sense of boredom that the images breath are a good reflection of how we all felt. It did feel like we were living in a waiting room, eager to get something done or started. It is in these transitory moments that you can discover things about yourself and your relationship with others, read books and watch movies that you otherwise wouldn't. Looking back I consider this time to be quite positive and I think the images reflect that in a way.

I have put the images in a somewhat chronological order so that there is more consistency in the light and also to show the process of changes while waiting and to finish off with an image in which you can see the children leave the room. 

People and Place on Assignment - Tutor report

Yesterday I had a nice chat with my tutor and we were able to talk through my submission for Assignment 4 and the course as a whole. Even though I took a long time to finish the course and at times have felt a bit disconnected from it, I have always really appreciated and learnt a lot from Les' support and advice. 

Looking at my images and the selection I made, Les pointed at a few images I hadn't really noticed and it's great to look at work and discover things that I hadn't seen myself, maybe because I'm very familiar with the people and situations in the image, or I was looking at different criteria when selecting the images. An the suggestion is to convert the images back into colour and I have been working on that this morning. I have to say, that in general I prefer colour images anyway, but because these images were so grainy and in some the light so ugly, I thought I'd better give them a black and white and grainy bath. 

I still have to step out of the idea that images should always be technically perfect. If the narrative is strong, it is ok to be a bit forgiving, so that's what I'm going to be as well. But we continue with the tutor report! 

Overall Comments
You are going for assessment in March 2016. I feel you have challenged yourself. You have also read alongside shooting. The benefits are visible. I have enjoyed viewing and discussing your work with you. Good luck for the future!


I believe our conversations have added to my desire to challenge myself and show more of my work and develop myself instead of just finishing the course as quick as possible. I think the combination of talking on Skype and the report really works well. Thanks for your support!

Assessment potential (after Assignments 2 and 4)

I understand your aim is to go for the Photography/Creative Arts* Degree and that you plan to submit your work for assessment at the end of this course. From the work you have shown in this assignment, providing you commit yourself to the course, I believe you have the potential to succeed at assessment.  In order to meet all the assessment criteria, there are certain areas you will need to focus on, which I will outline in my feedback. 

I'm really happy that I've been given more time to conclude this course and work on the details and make changes according to the advise that were given in the report. In general the feedback has been very constructive and eye opening. Studying the photographers that were suggested will help me expand my vision and ideas on photography and also the way I have been working in this course.

Feedback on assignment Demonstration of technical and Visual Skills, Quality of Outcome, Demonstration of Creativity In addition to, or complimentary to the feedback given during Skype tutorial – I feel you have satisfied your brief. There is the possibility of narrowing this brief down to reflect your reading of Angier, and your ideas of suspended narrative – this sits well with your much earlier Hopper-esque work. The results of your burst of sustained shooting are evident. There is more going on than first appears. I am glad that you chose to make new work. There is scope for future expansion, perhaps a sustained engagement with your new place.

I will explore this idea more and change the brief accordingly. It's a good idea to narrow it down and really focus on this aspect, because it was something I had in mind when photographing and I became much more aware of my role as outsider/mother/photographer, which I would like to explore more. 

I think a book would be appropriate as a final resolution. You want to demonstrate your progression through the assignments. It is a good idea to make this easy for assessors by highlighting what you feel you have achieved on People and Place, such as, aligning your research with your practice, finding a voice, gaining confidence, finding new areas that interest you, and discovering new influences.

Yes, and it's good that I have enough time now to make one and use the printer facilities that I have trust in. I still need to figure out how to incorporate the blog in the book, but I think I'll keep the book as clean and visual as possible, and leave the words and research to my blog. I also want to add a few images from the exercises that I'm especially happy with and reflect my learning curve throughout the course as well.

Looking at the images -
Subtlety, lots going on, ambiguity, you're right, there is a 'lot to see'! If you're impressed by Train your Gaze then use this as much as possible, measure your edit against its ideas. We discussed Bertholdt Brecht's ideas of staging, especially the use of emptiness. Also ideas of the children performing and being 'in-between'. I really like the idea of the home as a waiting room, a good title for this series could 'The Waiting Room'.

Again Sally Mann would be a good reference, but also see Wendy McMurdo, Tina Barney, Collier Schorr, Annelies Strba. I'm ok with black and white, also happy with with your justifications, do feel that the sickliness of artificial light works with waiting room idea so would prefer to see them in their original colour, don't obsess with 'harmonising' the colours, we appreciate the changing of the lights reflecting the transition of time.

I'll look into these artists and reflect on them in new blogs, together with the artists that you have suggested in earlier reports.

Consider these additional photos - Photo 61 in the first selection. The power of the two girls staring back, think about John Berger's comments on the male gaze in Ways of Seeing, think about how powerful and shocking it was to Victorians in Manet's Olympia to see a woman staring back, it still has power now.

Interesting that I thought the image didn't really fit in the set  because the girls are looking at me. You're right, it is very powerful and a sort of break in the flow of being an outsider in the scene. I'll definitely add the image to the set.

Photo 89where it looks like there's a tug of war over the laptop. Sharpness may not be as important as composition here. If you're having them printed check that images are sharp enough for the print size. Less post-production usually means less of a shock when the prints come back! Give yourself plenty of time to review prints.

I have added the image in the set and I think it should work, even though it is not particularly sharp. I'm not printing them in a huge format, so I think that in the size that I'm printing, it should be ok.

Add additional work as research in support of each assignment. Demonstrate why you have made the choices you have made.

I will and thanks again for the opportunity to have more time to work on it and really dive back into my studies. I'm very motivated!

Learning Logs or Blogs/Critical essays Context
Your blog has some very good reflections on work seen and books read. Tie together your thoughts with the images made in response.

Suggested reading/viewing Context
You wanted to add some reviews of the books I'd previously suggested in feedbacks 1-4. 

 Pointers for the next assignment
We discussed moving on to EYV or restarting Digital Film.

Yes, I'm still thinking about that as well and will contact the head office for some advice.