In the past week I’ve had both a one on one tutorial and a group critique with my peers. I’ve left each discussion of my work feeling both confused and inspired. I’ve spent most of this semester focusing on film photography because it’s more selective than digital and because there’s a lot more physical editing, guess work and surprises involved as opposed to just editing a digital image on Photoshop.
I have been making videos in the background but the foreground of my current work is mainly taking shape in 4×5 photographic prints (small for both attention to detail and budgeting reasons). My photographic work usually consists of a reel of images taken in a nature reserve, usually owned by the national trust due to my membership. I take most of my photos in these reserves because these are my favourite places to be when I have nothing to be doing. I mentioned this in my group critique and maybe that needs to be focused on more. Why do I take the photos that I do?
If I’m considering why I’m taking the photos that I do then I should start considering what compels me not to print them off perfectly as they were perhaps intended by the manufacturer of the camera and film that I use? Are they really more interesting if I develop them with marks that distort the image or objects that block the image in certain shaped and forms?
I’ve found that using these different techniques to distort the image before its developed has enabled me to use the exact same film image over and over without anyone realising as it creates an entirely different end result each time just based upon how I hold a certain object, how much water I use or how I long I develop the paper for. But is this really the goal? To fool the viewer into thinking that I’ve produced many different photographs and selectively changed each one separately?
What would happen if I were to remove the imagery entirely and just try to create the same photogram image as I had previously? I suspect that, since I am not a robot, the images would have a similar likeness but would ultimately be different. No matter how many times a person repeats a process our sheer human nature would mean that it would be slightly different each time, no matter how perfect and consistent the end result. So what would I end up with? A sequence of images that start off very particular and precise and then as time goes by and I, inevitably, get bored of doing the same thing and my hands get tired of holding the same position for the length of exposure become ‘sloppier’ perhaps? Or would it be a collection of images that are all seemingly the same but because they’re photograms anyone with basic knowledge of the process would realise that they surely cannot be exactly the same?
What question would the viewer then be asking about the work?