Seeing the world.
The caption ‘seeing the world’ can mean different things to different people. To myself, it means stop and look whats around you instead of in front of you. I believe as photographers we look at the world around us more than the average human because we are observant and also enjoy watching other people. Personally, I am interested in how others look, read and participate in life.
Documentary photography usually refers to a type of professional photojournalism. The photographer attempts to produce truthful, objective, and usually candid photography of a particular subject, most often pictures of people. The pictures usually depict a certain perspective of the photographer. Historically, this genre was only meant for publications and the press but now there is a demand for documenting within galleries. Martin Parr is a good example of a hybrid photographer, whom is looking into the ordinary and familiar which makes them seem extraordinary by isolating them. There are other types of documentary photographers such as Walker Evans and Dorothy Lang who looked into the great depression and created heartfelt images to gain a strong response. These images would have been used for press and publications to document, sadly Evans photographs weren’t used in publications as they were pulled however he did go on to make books with his large format prints.
This project has been based around local performances. I have tied this in with my clients who wanted they’re performances photographing. I want to be able to capture the spirit of the performances within my images. I will do this by using different editing techniques, but they will already have a certain atmosphere because of the stage lighting for the performance. I’m just hoping to get some really good action shots.
I have finalised my ideas; I will be doing a project on local performances and how they interact with their audiences. Both performances interact with the audience and as an audience member I can explain what it was like to experience.
The first performance I photographed was a local play at Adelphi, the performance was called Angry by The Pub Corner Poets. The play was full of emotion and was amazing to photograph. The only downside to the performance was the lighting, it was difficult to get every image perfect, but I believe I achieved the best I could.
I am happy with the outcome of this project as I got enough images to work with also the images have given me the opportunity to become their events photographer which will lead up until Edinburgh Fringe festival, which they will be taking part in. Sadly I can’t include the Edinburgh Fringe due to deadline dates. I believe once I have got the images from Edinburgh I will make a book for them to show their friends and families and future employees as the most of them are aspiring actors and directors. I’m not sure how I will be displaying the finals for this project but I do know that I want to display both performances as I think my viewers will be able to compare and contrast the human expressions and body language as the performances genre are at opposite ends of the spectrum. I believe the one point that lets it down is that I couldn’t keep revisiting it, meaning I could find the correct angle first time, I had to go with what I could see. It allowed me to feel very present and in the moment. It made me scared that I might not get any thing good or anything good that the client likes or what they are looking for. Theres nothing I could have changed as they came to me so late otherwise I would have been part of rehearsals and I would have also loved to have seen them backstage and get some interesting emotional images of them preparing to perform. I hope I can do better for the festivals and hope that I can look back at this project a little happier than I am now.
I have been researching into performance photographers but it’s not very common, the style that I am looking for anyway. I have looked into Northern Ballet photography Jason Tozer who photographs the dancers in such an abstract way. It’s nothing like my style of event/performance photography but it is still stunning, with the use of lighting and highly powerful editing skills, he makes the images look effortless, like the dancers move in that way constantly.
Now this photographer isn’t just a performance photographer, he also deals with other types of commercial work, he has worked with puma sports equipment where he uses similar techniques to his performance photography. I don’t know how he makes his images so neat, he makes the images look effortless in some ways magical. I really like the way he works but its just not something I can do with my performances as I don’t get a great deal of time to work with them. Besides, I want a realness to my images, the first performance is an emotional roller coaster which is gritty and dirty and unpleasant. Which I feel I have captured.
I found a local photographers which work in partnership with productions around this area. These images are similar to what I’d like to achieve with the realness of what the viewers see. Although I like Tozer’s work I just don’t think it would work in my performance styles. My chosen performances are clean and neat they are messy and natural with a strong sense of realness which you don’t find in Tozer’s work. These local photographers on the other hand capture the essence on the performance, they capture the movement and the emotions on stage which is what I want and what my clients wanted.
The next performance was an improvised comedy from New York, where the comedians asked the audience for different scenarios by asking questions to determine there next act. For this performance I wanted to get a close up of as they used a lot of gestures to give the illusion of having props. I used my 70-200mm lens on 6400 iso as the lighting was very low on location which I couldn’t control. But by having such a large Iso made the image size too large for my memory, which only left me with a few images. Thankfully, more than enough to be able to pick out my top favourites.
I really am not happy with the outcome of this performance. There wasn’t much to photograph and I started to feel trapped with the performance moving so much around me. Some of the expression I captured of the actors are interesting but not really what I was hoping I’d be able to get, with the last performance capturing scenes which were visually interesting. This performance was mainly for listening, I found the performance funny and engaging it just wasn’t acceptable from the cameras view. Again with this performance, was the lack of planning, it would have been difficult as they didn’t rehears they just stood on stage, moved this around that might get in the way and then performed, so if they didn’t practice how was I supposed to gather what was going on. Some of the images are nice but I just don’t think I captured what I did in the other performance. But again I think it could have all been improved by already having an understanding of what will happen and where to stand instead of chasing them round with a camera looking like a demonic member of the audience.
With the performance photography complete ,I have become intrigued into photographing people very similar to the The Decisive Moment created by Henri Cartier-Bresson. I had taken colour and black and white film shots within the decisive moments section of this brief, but I have really enjoyed them and have gained a connection to this way of working. I wanted to express my enjoyment of watching others do. The reason I have only just become interested in the film shots I took in Leeds, is because Jessops only recently gave them back to me as they were lost in transaction and to be perfectly honest I didn’t think I’d be getting them back after them taking so many months trying to get them back. The quality I liked best about this work is the blank expressions the members of the public have but the angle of their eyes gives an impression of how they are feeling for the wide eyed glance to the sly peak all the members of the public reacted different each time the shutter button went. I achieved this by merging myself with the public in a crowd waiting to move on which left them surrounding me, I took my shots just spinning around myself. I found this technique very effective. It was quiet a risk though on film to just flip around and snap away without really knowing what to expect. Never the less I really enjoyed this style and will be doing some more from my flat with in town as it is a great spot to people watch and I’d like to document the time that I’m here because other wise it would be a wasted opportunity.
Overall, I have learnt different things about documentary photography and different techniques that I didn’t know or think to try like, within the Angry performance I just followed all the action on stage with my camera, moving in and out of the audience, allowing myself to be in the zone with the task in hand but on the other hand with the comedy performance I found by staying at the back you were able to capture the emotions of the characters as they interacted with the audience. I have learnt a lot about documentary but sadly I feel I could have learnt more and had more to look at but I put this down to me not trusting my gut instincts with the cartier-bresson styled work and going with what was accessible to me, if I could have done this project again I would have focused on Angry more backstage and off stage in general and I would have collected a larger range of members of the public at similar times of days, documenting the way the world works.