Lewis Hines – Child Labour in America
“While photographs may not lie, liars may photograph’ (Hine 1909: 111).”
I mentioned in my first CRJ post that I was unsure how hines constructed these photos of the child labour, where they caught off guard in shock, did he ask them to look at the camera or did he even ask them to hold a shocked expression…? It’s all down the the photographer as he puts it.
To be honest, I think this conversation is a never ending paradox. The photos are not lies when the photographer is honest – A shot that has been said to be real, a un-staged shot where the only construction is the photographers aim, choice of focal length and camera settings and there is no manipulation after the photograph has been taken. Unless it is a painting, the base of a photograph will always be real to the extent of accepting the fact it has it has passing through a lens and machine reminding me of Snyder and Allens points. A photo that is deemed a lie will always have that base of original scientific truthness if it was initially taken through the camera to begin with but it is the level of which the photographer has constructed the image which can lead to, well, not so much ‘lies’ but I think more the term un-authentic. A lie would be if that photograph claimed a photograph to real, authentic and unconstructed (not staged or manipulated through developing or editing) but the photograph was in fact constructed in some un-authentic way. This leads me to believe I understand what Hines meant by this statement. I think that photographs always hold a level of scientific truth initially, but the true judgement if wether the photography holds a truthful interpretation of the world, its message and its importance in its context is down to the photographers level of physically staged and manipulated construction and claims of context the photograph has been labeled.
I like to think I construct my reality in my images as ‘half’ real and there for use methods that result in a ‘half’ constructed images. As every photographer, I will intentionally (whether spontaneous or planned) construct a image of the outside world into the frame of the camera and capture it, which for the most part will be more natural (if hunting) and then I will construct the images to the way in which I envision, see and experienced the surrounding at the time or simply find aesthetically pleasing.
It’s no secret now that I like attempting to heavily process my images in a way to create a new dimension of reality, the way in which I imagine things. Therefor half constructed means that my images are staying in this world at all times, they are still scientifically true to what we see but changed slightly to empathise the characteristics of the moment, surroundings and people involved, but not changed as much as a paining. In my project I will further explore the ways in which I can intently construct of my images for change.
I guess in some sense, in this case, it is similar to a painting, another form of constructed reality. An exaggeration of colours and lights intensifying the scene that was captured into a atmospheric moment. I like to bring the characters and surrounding to life, but in the end this is me blending my construct of the mind into the reality the photograph captures.
Hunters & Farmers
What are my working practices? Would I consider myself a ‘hunter or a ‘farmer’? Why?
The way I see it are as follows…
Hunter – Actively goes out to catch spontaneous, natural moments of life events. Their main aspects of construction rests in their ability to wait and seek out the perfect moment in their eyes.
- The photo may hold non manipulated visual messages, may be slightly visually edited though software but the photo will not be staged.
Farmer – Plans and technically stages the scene at hand whilst continuously shooting the scene over and over until the reward is reaped. Farming generally involves portraiture.
- The photo may hold visual messages that have been manipulated, may be heavily visually edited though software and the photo will be staged/planned.
I would consider myself both. At times I will prepare my self to hunt, at times I will prepare to farm. Landscape mixed with people I would genuinely be hunting. Constructing images through the lens with no requests of people or rearranging of the scenery. Portraiture I will be visualising, planning, rearranging and request in the subjects to do certain things, therefor farming.
Linda Hutcheon (2003: 117) thinks that contemporary photography ‘exploits and challenges both the objective and the subjective, the technological and the creative’.
Peer – Simon Fremont – “When I am creating images I do not view it as a trade off between being objective (head) or subjective (heart.) Instead for me one informs the other and when they combine together I have a wow image that takes my breath away.”
I agree with Simon. From an objective perspective I will do my best to consciously manage the situation form a professional stand point, meaning anyone that is included in my photography, the position I am standing in when taking the photograph and the requests of the portrait will be met and respected. However from a subjective perspective I must note what I will be shoot will most likely be coming from a passionate visualisation. Quoting another one of my peers Josie Purcell “I have probably always been more a heart over head type and in my work this is probably borne out in my tendency to create images through an emotional and aesthetic view point.” is one way I would put it myself. I do construct from the heart staying as close as I can to my vision whilst maintain a professional and respectful manner of the task at hand.
Is technology making us more creative? In relation to my project I would definitely agree it is pushing us to create and explore new methods of taking photographs. There may be someone who claims to have no photographic talent at all, then could pick up a phone camera which automatically adjusts the photograph for your photo. Some could see this as a problem and that it takes away the talent in photography, but digital SLR’s have had the choice for an automatic setting for years now, its up to the creator. I believe technology can boost us for creative change, it can influence new comers to a medium to begin the creative craft, but someone has to really specialise in the certain technology they are using to really stand out among the masses. Technology can also be used as a mask, in my opinion, the analogue camera will always truly test the practical skills of a photographer, some people are afraid of that, which is in a way a shame.
I think so much of the hard work and skill that goes into photography can not be seen a lot of the time. The settings, the patience, the dedication, the time spend preparing, the time spent editing and the time spent selecting the finals and the ones that get discarded.
How many photographs have I seen today? What Contexts did I see them in?
Many that were on the internet, the side of vehicles and product placement in shops. Advertisements.
How many of them were ‘constructed’? In what ways were they ‘constructed’?
Aside from when I am researching photography as an art, the main context I see them in day to day are advertisements. A large majority of photos are used for advertising/marketing and so constructed farming of photos is largely popular. Product placement sided with text and photoshop manipulation.
Did I read them as records or recognise their artifice?
It’s sad to say but if I view an advertisement in a photographic form, i’m aware that there is a high chance it has been manipulated, thats fair enough to do if it is visually pleasing but it can reduce trust in the authenticity of the item photographed and the product they are trying to sell. Many are very blatantly constructed and I wouldn’t take them as 100% displaying the truth. Like I said I don’t find this is not a problem if it is just visually pleasing but if the photography is intended to trick the viewer into believing something that didn’t happen to manipulate the audience in a bad way then I begin to feel it is not the right to do. Something I will have to remember in my practice, I do not ever want the viewer to feel like a fool who has been tricked.
Any any of the presentations images ‘tricksters’ to me? How and why?
I only think the term trickster applies to someone who is using a photography to manipulate an audience to believe that what they are viewing is true when it actually isn’t.
This image you could say is a ‘trickster’ but the photographer had no bad intentions.
How might I consider these ideas in my own practice?
John Sterzakers – Pair IV.
This image really brought ideas to mind of how I could incorporate this into my project, it really is unique and lead me to explore more of Johns technique…
Taken from the book “The Truth of Masks”
I managed to find examples of replications of his style through out pinterest (great images can be found there but the poster rarely leaves the original photographers name which can be frustrating) I liked this one in particular as it is a successful fit…
Finally I found a piece of work that relates along the lines of one of the elements I have plans to experiment which is the use of editing to visually display a personality, role or message…
Blind III. John Sterakar.
Again, the work of John, this time cutting out the photograph to empathise the blind mans state. I have prepared images from Thailand which I will be practicing this style of editing to enhance a policeman’s act of traffic control.
Am I a trickster?
I do and have always liked to change my photos by what I like to call visually enhancing. Through out the project I will experiment ways to further explore methods to add an impact of change to a photo. But it is not my intention to trick anyone, I’d leave that to the advertisers.
In what ways do I ‘construct’ my images?
I construct through visualisation, planning, the settings on my camera, what I place in the view finder, directing of the subject and post processing.
How do I balance fact and fiction?
I like the middle ground, to keep this maintained, I would never let my images become too over saturated or too over exposed to the point of distortion. However the creative freedom this course gives me I will like to push these limitations.
How do we ‘read’ such constructed photographs?
Depends entirely on the context in my opinion. I can’t speak for everyone.
How does context influence our response to them?
“Brooklyn-based graphic designer Victoria Siemer explores the idea of fractured landscapes through photo manipulations and collages. Siemer makes use of reflected geometric shapes suspended over gloomy natural landscapes shrouded in fog and clouds resulting in portal-like mirrors. She says much of her work is guided by the idea of emotional fragmentation and “fragmentation of the self,”” – Source
I really like the way Victoria has used her photos. With a great selection to choose from (view source) I picked this one as not only do I like the colours but I feel the people in the background give the photo a subtle strangeness. Obviously something unnatural is happening in the photograph but everyones stances are as if nothing is happening, which I feel adds a basic photo objective stand point to a very subjective edit. The people in the image are unaware of Victorias construction, had it been me I think it would had been interesting for the people in the photograph to be part of a staged act of falling from the left side down and the people on the right terrified of the enormous abstract wave to their left.
“Architect and digital artist Laurent Rosset creates sweeping photographic landscapes that seem to curl upward into infinity like an enormous wave that obliterates the sky. Rosset uses much of his own photography to create each image and enjoys discovering how even slight manipulations can vastly change the composition or meaning of a photograph.” – Source
Another great digitally altered image for maximum impact. I’m guessing this photo was taken by half DSLR half drone, combing both the shots together to make one, very clever and not something I had planned but maybe I could attempt to replicate and experiment an atmosphere to look out of this world. This image I feel creates a vertigo impact on the brain which can make the viewer ask which way is it? A downward slope? Or an uphill slope? The woman’s gravity suggests that it would be a flat to uphill slope, it would be interesting to hear the photographer view on this… The image is called ‘The Sky is Flat‘ and the caption beneath is “The way we choose to see the world create the world we see”.
“For Guillaume Amat‘s “Open Fields” project he placed a mirrored stand in various landscapes, reflecting the opposing environment back within the image to create a double interpretation of the surrounding scene. These reflections contain dark figures against bright fields, homes in barren landscapes, bits of foliage contained within stretches of industry, and even a horse that pops into the frame.
Each image is taken with a 4×5 inch camera, the included mirror measuring 31.5 x 47.2 inches. Amat wanted to concentrate on the double interpretation of the landscape seen outside and within the mirror, working on the concept of territory as space.
Independent curator and writer Paul Wombell compared this series to the Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice saying, “With the use of the camera and a mirror Guillaume Amat has made photographic images that simultaneously look forward and backwards. They create a strange dreamlike landscape where buildings and figures float in the center of the picture and suggest that he has two sets of eyes, both at the front and back of his head. Orpheus would have been impressed.” – Source
As I will be experimenting with mirrors in my practice I found Guillaume’s work to be very inspiring and interesting. They make me feel that the photo has more space. I agree with Paul Wombells description as it is like the photo looks forward and backwards at the same time. I would say that it is like a extra canvas added to an photo with can deliver multiple impacts to the viewer. It would have taken a keen eye to line up these kinds of shots which Guillaume performed well. Occasionally the help of others would be required as displayed in the image above – Guillaume would have had two subjects in the image, one behind physical mirror and the other in the reflection, unless, it was done through photoshop which I doubt as its not needed.