Helping Hand | Week 3: Working with Others | Surfaces and Strategies | Lesson/Research |

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Learning with Others

Which is more interesting to me? The subject or my view of the subject?

I would have to say both. I really have respect from my subject. I want to portray it/him/her in their own grace, but import the way I view the subject into the image.

How could I be influencing my subject, and is that something that should be avoided?

I believe if it was avoided, any photograph made would not have any personality added from the photographer therefor the term ‘photographer’ wouldn’t exist.

By default I influence my subject through my composition, settings and editing. If it is a portrait, not only will I be influencing my subject by directing, visual appearance and clothing but if a smile is required I will tell the subject to think of something funny or I will try to make them laugh myself. A fake smile would not be acceptable.

There are times in the past where I have relocated items in an image to ether make it more cleaner (such as rubbish) or added props or repositioned items that are already in the scene.

We all influence a photographs in one way or another the moment we compose.

Conversely, how could my subjects be influencing me and my approach?

When working with portraits I have always found it easier to work with subjects that I get along with. If our connection is good, the more at ease the shoot feels therefor allowing me to come up with more experimental or demanding poses. This shows that the subject does have an effect on me.

Helping others

Within my own projects, how much agency do my subjects have in the creative decisions?

There has been times where my subject has suggested shooting ideas which ended being successful approaches.

A recent example, shooting for my negative practice part 2. I was trying to get a creepy environment for subject to hide in for the shoot. Myself and my subject were trying to enter a forest, but the entrance was surrounded heavily by stinging nettles up to the waist. Being so set and focused on being able to shoot in there, I was about to call it a day and head off to find a completely new forest. However, my subject suggested to me to look all around us and notice that we could make use of the tall grass that surrounds us. Something I most likely would of overseen using…

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Who is my primary audience and subsequently my secondary audience?

Anyone who is interested. I actually like to try and please people who are not into photography, as I feel like that by having to draw them in is a challenge.

In sharing the work, how can I retain the agency of the participants for a secondary audience without speaking on their behalf?

Help from the Crowds

How can crowd sourcing aid my project?

I won’t be crowd sourcing. But I do plan to make a questionnaire.

What can I learn through crowd sourcing or mass participation?

Through the questionnaire I can learn about how the effects of the process my photos go through impact individuals in a different way.

I must say I did enjoy Simon Terrills work.

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Green Crowd, type C print 1.8m x 2.4cm 2008

I especially like this one as it has naturally ended up looking like a painting. This whole series reminds me of ‘Wheres Wally’.

Crowd sourcing you can learn which photos are more popular with the masses.

Mass participation can teach you about the experiences of a wide amount of different souls and you can learn that the bigger the crowd the more difficult each subject is to control.

Working with Others

If all photography starts as a collaborative act, who or what am I collaborating with?

Collaborating with light.

Am I giving my subjects/participants a voice or a platform to share their perspective?

Yes absolutely, most of the subjects I have worked with are keen to get involved and will give suggestions to what attire they think will be appropriate for a shoot. I never feel comfortable taking a photo of someone who didn’t want it.

Am I asking for their complicity in my work, and if so what do they get in return?

If I ask permission to use a subject, I will normally offer something in return which is photos for themselves to keep.

Perhaps consider wether it is really necessary to really care about the involvement of others? Are such strategies an unwelcome distraction?

I would say it is not something to worry about unless it is portraying someone in a bad way, then a discussion would be required with the subject wether they are ok to be involved in the photograph.

Take Shizuka Yokomizo’s – Stranger work for example…

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Shizuka Yokomizo Stranger #9

Had it not been that Shizuka asked for permission from the people she photographed through the window, this act would, at least in my opinion (and I would like to believe many others) would be seen as morally wrong and an invasion of ones privacy being that they would be a complete stranger.

But if Shizuka was to go ahead with this project, I found out how she still wanted to capture the natural shock of a stranger but have it done with permission, she did this by posting an anonymous letter through the subjects door asking for an agreement…

“The amazing Shizuka Yokomizo’s photo project, came from running around London with huge telephoto lens, trying to glimpse unsuspecting people through the windows of their flats. Being absurd and frustrating by the one-sidedness of the activity, aside from the ethics aspect, she soon realized it was important for her to have eye contact while photographing. She needed the people to look back and recognize her equally as a stranger. So she decided to use the format of a simple anonymous letter, which contained the possibility of agreement. The effect was that when Yokomizo sent her subjects the letters, they started agreeing and stand in the front window of their home at a specified date and time.She started being welcomed. She would then arrive, set up her tripod and camera, exposed her film, and then leave. Each photograph shows someone looking out of a window. She selected the addresses and then wrote the note. Posers were not victims, they would allow Shizuka to see their homes.  She needed their eye contact and them to recognise their existence. She existed as a stranger, they existed as strangers, but they both created a strange meeting point rather than just showing people’s private lives. Yokomizo made sure that when the photos were taken, the light would be too dark outside to see her, she would allow her subjects to see their own reflections in the window.” – Source

Reflection

Coming to a conclusion of this weeks lesson, I managed to draw an idea when looking at the works of Gilliam Wearing (1992-93) – “Signs that say what you want them to say”. I want to do a mini project where it is “feelings that you show what you want to feel”. Since emojis are used worldwide I want try and approach strangers (with a friend) and ask if I can take their photo, also inspired by Shizuka to do it abruptly as I can. Now my guesses are that the majority of the people will smile. A social “mask”. What I then want to do is quickly offer them a emoji mask to put up to their face and display how they are really feeling inside…

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Along with the results, I think this will be interesting to see the two images displayed side by side to one another.

This week was interesting as it made me think about the subjects actual knowledge and awareness of what is taking part can bring either more authentic or unauthentic results. When I edit my subjects by illustrating their feelings and inner emotions visually later along my project – the feelings and inner emotions too could certainly be influenced by the subject themselves actual genuine feelings inside. Speaking of illustrating feelings and inner emotions visually, in one of Gemma-Rose Turnbulls images this photo to the left spoke out to me and gave me the idea of asking for the real input of my subjects emotions when editing the photo. The black eyes must had been a way of the subject displaying the inner feelings of insecurity after clearly stating how he feels on his forehead. Screen Shot 2017-06-17 at 16.24.55.png

Thanks.

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