PHO704: Week 10: Photography and its Fine Art Market

Work in Progress Portfolio

In order for my progress to be reviewed in Week 10, I’ve attached below a draft of current work in progress. I am enjoying making new images, even if trial and error is a large part of it. I thought experimentation was coming under control yet as I curtail wider attempts like long exposure, I still have pursued other realms: framing (as a reaction against the conformity of unifying squares and in greying images and technique layering to calm things down as part of my anti-kitsch movement.

Technical layout (with InDesign)

Control has now been gained so instead of those quad layouts published over past weeks and to be honest, in the last module, those pixellated versions of full resolution files that got published (in despair), I’m now happy to more or less have full control over layout. Thank you to the Falmouth Software Teaching Team for advising back in early September.

Simplify, simplify is the mantra (I agree. Let the photographs do the talking). Even when avoiding bells and whistles there was still a key lesson to learn. Yes a tutor could see why I grouped images but still it is better to have one image per page – I’m working on it. Some images come alive on a larger scale.

Although expansion of PDF pages to larger size works well, I presented via Canvas where sadly the expansion does not have a control. I’ll write that off to experience.

Narrative Simplification

As a string of three developed or developing projects there has to be a history and how difficult that is to hold back. I do let the pictures talk nowadays and invariably I get asked to explain, which is good. If interest is expressed then respond is the idea. I usually give the following pitch:

“Bravery and sad events unspoken. Now 100 years on, as tears are wiped away, I remember them (I remember them all), through the glow that is life’s force.” Michael Turner

The challenge is in taking it a step further. I learn and relearn not to mention the 100 years, instead I should focus on the future to enable link-back in time (usually to world events). 

The second challenge is not to mention the mitochondrial DNA. Genetics is complex, highly complex and for some viewers/listeners it has been intimidating. Instead l should link to the viewer through common experience, which of course I get, but to enact this is much more of a challenge. At this point I fall back on the emotional baggage – I cannot directly reference the past as it affects me too deeply. However, I will say it has drawn a family together. Nowadays, abstraction is my “therapy”, my means of remaining connected without the baggage. 

There is strong authenticity at a personal level and yet I cannot ignore the degrading of the work if it were ever deemed to be kitsch.  I understand the work is not kitsch and yet I have reacted to the possibility. The main factor is the toning down I have wanted to see in my highly saturated colour images. Trying to be clever, and not always a good idea, I have met with some success in review in terms of combining monochrome images and colour images. Some of my colour work now only focusses on a specific point of interest (signposting) and the remainder of the image is toned down. I suppose a form of colour popping. This can also be seen as cliched. Getting balance right is a very tricky skill to master but one worth persevering with. Anyway, as I look at the bright images on screen so much, too much colour can make the eyes seek rest. 

Narrative

I was asked by a fellow student to consider this and without reply I quietly took this away for improvement. I have grouped images that go together as already mentioned but I also reverse time order. Again I fell foul of the work outside of term time being discarded by the course rules. I returned to the earlier style and placed those images at the end or out of order in a sense. For me the narrative was always the researched written narrative, that I was illustrating. Now my work has taken on a life of its own it will have to stand on its own. If though, I take a recent inspiration, Ellen Carey, her work is presented as thematic groups and development phases. As abstract work, what is the narrative? 

Colour Grading and Colour matching and Print

I’ve gone back to print, hurrah. Now with a different technical platform and sadly with an attendant loss of control over colour profiles. This has forced the agenda over colour control in my images which I’ve wanted to refine for a while now. It has been great to read up on technique but I invented my own technique. The question is how far to go as there is no branding or product colour consistency required. 

Degree of Difficulty

Trying to photograph an elbow is tricky in close-up/macro/magnified. Try and photography one’s own elbow – I think you get the message. This is the photographic challenge and so I set-up a comparative trial: DSLR v flexible bridge camera v Smartphone with lens add-on. There is a convenient method, the latter and the other two methods give results in some circumstances. I mention this as the value of work is aided by overcoming such constraints.

Review images – web version 

“Photographic seeing meant an aptitude for discovering beauty in what everybody sees but neglects as too ordinary.”

Sontag, Susan. On Photography (Penguin Modern Classics) (p. 89). Penguin Books Ltd. Kindle Edition.

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