Week 24 of FMP Project: The End? (27th April - 3rd May, 2019)

I originally wasn’t going to write this post as it’s pretty obvious to anyone who knows me what I will have been doing in this period. i.e. Not going out much, staying up late, starting early, All in an attempt to write up work that should have been written days, weeks or months before. Which was certainly the case over the last week.

But this is what I have to live with, I seem to want to have something to worry about..

So I’ll close with my thanks to my peers and mentors, those who’ve put up with a worried Graham at a number of times during the last two years. I was far from certain I’d reach this stage. My wife for the rather unsocial behavior I adopt close to deadline time. Does it have to be this way he asks?

In terms of the challenge to my previous practice I set myself on starting pretty much a success. A few drawbacks such as I’m now really critical of my own work, i know too much of the work of others. The number of cameras I have has doubled since I started, I didn’t plan to include medium and large format film in my kit.

On the positive side I’m looking forward to fully taking in all I’ve been exposed to and utilizing this insight in a good way. The future looks good regardless of mark. Happy to recommend others to take an MA course of study, just don’t assume it will be without difficulty..

Graham Land

11:52 - 3/5/19

Easter Break of FMP: The Exhibition extended and beyond (8th - 26th April)

As I’d mentioned I’d been surprised to be offered the opportunity for the exhibition to run for a further week, which in this case meant it would be open from the 10th to the 13th April. This meant a new set of publicity had to be printed, and distributed. The period would be slightly longer, as the exhibition was set up the Wednesday would be available for viewing.

In Design created poster for distribution in A4 and A5 sizes. Graham Land, April, 2019

The following amended flyer was distributed. Due to time constraints this time I printed only one version: I also made it as clear asI could that the first floor entrance best avoided, directing folk to the ground floor.

The other change was that I changed my projection display for that of a large screen laptop. I wouldn’t be able to be there all of the time and as the area is otherwise unattended it seemed wiser to provide the view of the video in this form. The interviews would not be available when I wasn’t there, but given most people to stay that long thi was I felt a minor loss.

The means for them to contact me for additional background if needed was made prominent.

There were more visitors from the general public during the extended period, and as in the previous week all of the comments were very positive.

I allowed myself a bit more time to take the hanging down on the Saturday. Which went smoothly, though it did start a little later than I’d planned as the last visitor appeared just before 4pm.

In conclusion I found hosting the exhibition very rewarding and fulfilling. My main regret was not finding a more effective way to encourage people to listen to the interviews. In hindsight I should have tried to get multiple monitors and set these up in the area that I didn’t use. However, as.the project will not end with the conclusion of my MA studies and part of the further development will be creating a more effective means of communicating the interview material.

Week 23 of FMP: The Exhibition (1st - 7th April)

Whilst not as frenzied as last week, it did start busy. I’d uploaded the final images on the for A1 and A2 printing to Metro-Imaging, who’d done an exceptional turn-round for my last week.. Again, the prints were available the same day, picking them up late afternoon from their place in Clerkenwell.

However, I wasn’t happy with a number of the portrait images and a couple of the landscape 4 x 3 format prints of Max (Cockneys of Croydon) and Carrie and Nick of Ludoqist. The print quality was fine, they just didn’t seem big enough relative to some of the others. So I decided to go for a larger size, ordering some additional holders from POS UK, the company that distributes them in this country. In a couple of cases, Max and Paul and Reg, I decided to change the choice of crop for the final print. In one case i went further. The blue of the image of Kish was a bit glaring, and the personality portrayed wasn’t has accurate as tht in an earlier image. So I went back to that one for the final print,.

Having uploaded a further order of A1 and A0 width prints on Monday evening I was able to pick up the A1 prints Tuesday, However, the two A0 width prints take 48 hours to process and these weren’t available until laste Wednesday evening, So I set up the exhibition on the Wednesday with their A1 width equivalent as a temporary stop-gap, replacing these before the exhibition opened at 11am on the Thursday.

On the day of the hanging I managed to get my car parked in a public car park on the rook, I knew it was near but I was shortly delighted to find their first floor fire excape came out on the same roof,, very helpful aas I’d brought two light stands and large LED lights to illuminate the poster corner. The lights would be off on that side of the room to allow the projected image to be clearly viewed..

It took until 3pm to setup.One factor I hadn;’t figured in sufficinetly was the time to cut the prints to size on one of the big tables in the Artists area downstairs. This took a little longer than I’d expected as care was needed. In the end I was ready, apart from my two A0 prints to collect. As a stopgap I placed the A1 sized prints I’d already printed up, just in case. However, Metro-imaging hadn’t let me down and they were their to pick up at 5.30pm and bring home for replacing the A1 version before the exhibition opened.

These were the images printed for the final hang, their width is indicated.

Note that four of the images, those ‘linking’ one wall to another, were positioned at an angle. This was relatively easy to do placing the nylon clips that the grip was attached to along the aluminum holders for the polystyrene tiles of the suspended ceiling, The effect was better than I’d hoped. If you stood in the centre of the area and scanned around almost all of the subjects seemed to be staring back, a ver effective was to strengthen intimacy and contact. Everyone I asked liked it.

Here is a bit more detail on how the prints and grip were attached to the suspended ceiling.And this is how they were hung. The first row of six prints were hung alongside the top (West) wall, left to right. The middle .row of three prints were hung on the right-hand side (South) wall. The bottom row of five were hung alongside and to the side of the stair-wall. See approximate position below:

I decided to position the projector close to the stairs facing the East Wall. The wall was in better condition and their wasn’t the ceiling height problem that the unused large display boards caused at the South end of that section of the space. The printouts I’d created from Kake’s material and my photographs of Croydon in 1911-13 that I’d taken with the permission of Croydon Central Library’s. Research Centre were positioned much as planned. These were entitled as follows:

I also included the following map that i created myself to show the position of my collaborator’s properties along the central retail road running through Croydon:

Here are some images of the hanging.

One issue that was never resolved was that I wasn’t that happy with the condition of the walls, not as pristine white as one would like. My excuse for not addressing this myself was that as there was a large group exhibition in front of mine, and the whole area was closed from Sunday to Tuesday, I’d need to use the first day to set things up, squeezing in the taking-down on the Saturday, the last day of my tenure.

Week 22 of FMP: Preparing for the exhibition (25th – 31st March)

The week started with a return to West Croydon to see if i could get an interview with Salal, one of my original collaborators. Sadly they were as occupied as they have been, it’s clearly not going to be possible to include any additional material from this collaborator. I did manage to get a few additional digital shots of Nick Tapper . Whilst both 5x4 images of nick had come out, I wasn’t convinced these couldn’t be improved on.

I’ve also been considering the different ways I could hang my fourteen environmental portraits in ‘THE LOFT’ space that I’ve been finally signed off for by Croydon Arts Store. A few weeks ago whilst visiting The London School of Fashion library I’d had a look round an exhibition they currently have in their gallery called Mundo Latin-X . It’s a mixed media exhibition of work by a number of artists, including several photographers and curated by White Line Projects. In general it’s very well arranged, but what particularly interested me was the way they had presented a number of images directly hung from the ceiling. See below for the images where I’ve tried to capture the effect created, taken in February and April.

The ceiling at the Loft is a suspended ceiling, common in shops, and under two metres in height. I’ve been considering ways I can give more of a shop feel to my hang to reflect the environment I’m portraying. I’ve found a UK supplier of ‘point of sale’ items that is selling a reasonable looking hanging system for use with suspended ceilings. Designed to show advertising posters from A4 to A0 size. To assess the product more accurately I'd ordered a couple of A4 and A3 sized grippers’, a pack of the required sliding clips, and a set of extended wire hooks to hang them with. These have arrived and look very suitable. It would give a very similar effect to the one I appreciated at the Mundo-X exhibition.

The next day was my penultimate 1-2-1 with my FMP tutor, followed by a group critique with a fellow student on my cohort. Copies of the scanned images of the 5” x 4” colour negatives of portraits I’d taken in the recent shoots were shown and valuable comment gained. I have a current pick for the exhibition, though this may well change slightly in the light of comments received.I also put forward a very draft hanging plan based on my chosen set of fourteen images. See below.

This would be sited in the following area, the main bulk of the images in one line across the longer wall.

However. I’ve been quickly dissuaded that this is not such a good idea. With so many images of a reasonable sizebest to break up the images and mix formats a little. Time for a plan C.

I’ve also been considering the set-up. This is my current plan:

I’ll make a final decision on porjector siting on the 3rd April, hanging day. It’s the darkest area of the room is that quadrant’s lights are switched off. But ithas a large number of spare large display boards on the floor, restricting height even more.

I’d also have a corner of the large space set-aside for my Croydon history section in collaboration with Kake. Who’s unfortunately been ill so it looks like the production of this will be just myself. The space to be used looks like this:

Area to be used for a history of retail Croydon display

I propose to use A3+ printouts mounted on 400mm x 500mm boards, of which i possess plenty.

The importance of obtaining test prints before creating the exhibition prints was stressed. The hanging system I’ve picked was reasonably well received, It’s a little outside the norm, no one I’ve spoken to about it seems to be aware of it’s use before for a photographic exhibition. I guess as the target market is purely for in-store advertising by retailers, photographers or artists have it pigeon-holed the same way if they’e seen it in use.

Read talks about the considerations and potential compromises that have to be made when considering an exhibition space. On one hand I had been fortunate in my proposal to exhibit in what was probably the most appropriate location I could have found. An established exhibition space within Croydon’s main retail shopping area. Whilst this was only for four days, Wednesday to Saturday, given that I feel I needed to be there almost all of the time to look after the expensive projection equipment I was to use.

The other activity was preparing and starting to distribute publicity. Icreated two versions on a tw-sided colour flyer. Printing these myself on reasonable quality double sided 250 sgm paper with my Epson P800, three flyers from each A4 sheet. These looked as follows:

Flyer for use in places away from Croydon and the internet:.

The major virtue in this flyer was an attempt to encourage people who hadn’t travelled to Croydon before and were perhaps expecting it to be quite a long train journey given it’s about 19 miles from central London.

So I’ve tried to give prominence to the journey times and the short walking distance from either of the two stations that can be used.

Flyer for local Croydon use:

These have a more detailed description of the expected content of the exhibition. Note that after doing a first round of prints I made the decision to increase the size for many,

Created in InDesign by Graham Land, March, 2019

A poster was created and distributed in A4 and A5 sizes: Again using a reasonably think matt paper.

I placed copies of the flyers on a number of facebook forums, including the RPS documentary group and a couple of local camera groups. Physically I distributed copies to all fourteen of my collaborators, inviting them to a private viewing on the evening of the opening day.

I changed my mind about which printers I was to use. The printer I’d had good experience with had moved to Sittingbourne, this was just too difficult to travel to and I wanted to be sure of a fast turn-around.So I went to one of the central london printers I’d had contact with before. The most convenient from where I live in Croydon being Metro Imaging in Clerkenwell. They are close to Farringdon station which is on a fast direct line from East Croydon, my local station.

I started with a set of simple test prints on my favoured paper of choice for the project. This was C-type matt. There were several reasons for choosing this paper. I knew from previous experience that at least some on the images looked good with this paper. It was also the same paper that I would have used if colour enlargement hadn’t proven to be so time-consuming for me. It’s also reasonable rugged compared to some of the giclee papers which all too easily can have their ink disturbed. These were to be shown without glass protection. I was however concerned about the degree I was enlarging the image. At this time I planned to go to A1, much larger a size than I’d made prints from before. However, the results looked fine: Turnaround ws excellent, uploaded the images in the morning, picked them up late afternoon.

The first set of test prints, Graham Land, 28th March 2019

The first set of test prints, Graham Land, 28th March 2019

‘B’ holding up the A1 sized print of Carol, Croydon Buddhist Centre in THE LOFT exhibition space.

Taken by Graham Land, 29th March, 2019

The second set of test prints also went well. I did just two prints, A1 and A2. I was concerned that as the C-type matt colour paper actually has a bit of a lustre that there was a risk there could be disturbing reflections from the overhead lights, given that it’s a very low ceiling., So the main purpose here was to hang them up, without disturbing the art exhibits currently on show.

This went well, both prints passed fine, the A1 size looked better than I’d hoped. I began to question my thoughts on size.

References

Read, S., “Exhibiting Photogprahy"; a practical guide to displaying your work” 2nd. Ed. 2014 London, Focal Press.

Exhibition: Mundo Latinx, Fashion Space Gallery, London College of Fashion, 20 John Princes Street London W1G 0BJ. Running from 8th February to 4th May, 2019.

Week 21 of FMP: Completing activities and a return to Falmouth (18th – 24th March)

Another exhausting week.

The week began with my scheduled early morning interview with ian of Headjoints in his flute repair workshop with a short large format (5x4) photoshoot. This went well, completed within the time window promised. Everything is now booked for me to develop and disk-scan these colour negatives at Halmouth University’s Institute of Photography over the weekend. I’ve decided to travel down on the ‘sleeper’, allowing me to be at the University just before the photographic facilities become available at 9am. Staying overnight and then completing my scans and any re-scanning on the sunday before heading back mid-afternoon.

Above are 2k pixel sized copies of the scanned 5x4 images captured. Whilst a slight amount of movement has softened the wider lens shot on the right of Ian testing the flute he’s just repaired, I prefer it to those that I’ve taken before of him digitally and with my 6x6 film Hasselblad.

The interview went well, here is a link to an unedited recording of it.

.In the evening after Ian’s shoot I attended a special‘Photoscratch writing workshop organised by Hanna-Katrina Jędrosz, one of the founders of Photoscratch. The aim of the two hour workshop is stated as: to: “help you communicate your ideas and advance your projects. It will be a chance to understand how your work is perceived, how you can communicate better and how to promote your work with greater clarity.” Sounds rather useful at this key final stage of my FMP.

The talk was fully booked, as I’d expected, held in an Arts building I’d heard of called “Hotel Elephant Studios” situated about half-way between Elephant And Castle and Waterloo. We’d been asked to bring examples of our work in either printed form or on a tablet or laptop. I’d plumped for A4 colour prints of some of the better images taken of my ‘Enterprising Croydon’ proprietor collaborators. I’d compromised on cost so the prints were on a slight mix of paper, most on either the cheaper matt proofing or the more expensive Oyster, this may have influenced feedback, but given the nature of it i suspect not.

Katrina gave a presentation based on one she’d recently given to an MA photography cohort of London College of Communications. She stressed the importance of where the work is to be presented and something of her own approach to building a language around a project. A key point being ‘saying what you mean - meaning what you say’. The name of the project should also be given careful consideration.

Katrina Jędrosz, preenting to a small group at Hotel Elephant Studios, Southwark. Taken by Graham Land, March, 2019

Katrina Jędrosz, preenting to a small group at Hotel Elephant Studios, Southwark. Taken by Graham Land, March, 2019

In comments on the nature of the language to be used in funding applications and accompanying biographies and general statements Katrina made the interesting observation that funding and competition applications are opportunities for exposure, even if you don’t win or get shortlisted.

The made the point that you cannot rely on spectators to immediately understand what your photographs are about, ‘to understand your visual language’. To communicate we need to understand exactly why we took these photos and recognizes that we are in a position of privilege holding a camera to do this. We should note this ‘power dynamic’ and respect the responsibility that comes with it. The more we understand our reasons, the easier it is to articulate them to others. We also need to be truthful.

A number of useful pointers were given. Such as the importance of always carrying a notebook and being open and receptive, and not placing too high an expectation or pressure on yourself or your process. A trap I often fall into. Good background through research and list collection was stressed, and the comment made that this should not be restricted, look outside and at the work of others for ideas.

Finally Katrina finished with the point that simplicity is key. Text need not be complex, ideas should be able to be expressed in just a few sentences. To avoid misunderstanding a caption can be helpful. Question whether items are really needed. Katrina gave quite a lot useful pointers on the use of social media and websites. But the key points stayed the same, keep it simple, be positive, be professional, be truthful, reflect yourself. I made a lot of notes.

After the presentation by Katrina we were instructed to conduct a simple peer review. To do this we split into small groups of three or four, to make up for slight disparity in number one person covered two groups in a couple of cases. Each portfolio was passed around and each person had to write their comments on the accompanying slip, background on the nature of the work was not provided until afterwards, if asked. It was suggested we split our coments into: Emotional, what we feel, and the literal, what we see. Finally the feedback from each reviewer was passed back to the portfolio owner.

In my case the following feedback was obtained. Note that this wasn’t the ‘final cut’ of my portfolio,there were a number of images from the same subject in some cases. I’ve kept the comments for each reviewer separate, but tried to group what appear to be related observations:

REVIEWER ONE

Traditional, craft, portrait, diversity, skill, shopkeeper

All in colour, Older generation, ambition, complex, individuals, cultural heritage

Humanity,, pride, life, happy, contentment, lovely, leathery

Britishness, honesty, intensity, resilience, delicate, atmospheric, grime

REVIEWER TWO

Urban, multi-cultural, comfortable

People, intimate, portrait, domestic, posed, centered, various depth of fields,

Inconsistent light and colour

?<Couldn’t read their writing> - Placed

Eye contact, Positive, Self-confident, Caged, Eye-to-eye

50mm, Natural light, artificial light, Average (people), Formal, craft, Landscape/portrait ?

Caring, Pride, Independent, Busy,

Personal ?, Environmental, Multi-cultural, Native, Humane, human, active, caught

REVIEWER THREE

Broad, Shopkeepers/business, Environmental portraits

Some feel more relevant ‘in the moment’ than others

Colours & tones of the edit differ – could be more cohesive

Upbeat, Commentary, Action Shots

Some very captivating/curious/intriguing

Some stronger than others

Alive, Humanity, personal insights, New perspectives, Kind, warm, connected

Not all reviewers are probably equal in weight, I know reviewer three had quite a respectable background in documentary photography.

On the positive side quite a lot of the narrative I was trying to communicate came across, much more than I expected to be honest. Particularly the breadth and hands-on nature of most of the businesses I was covering, as well as the diversity in the individuals themselves. It was noted by one reviewer than none were young, but this probably is reflective of this type of small business enterprise, younger folk are more likely to be employed by others rather than run such a business at this time in their career, maybe… Their independence and positivism was picked up, an important trait for any independent proprietor.

On the negative side there clearly was felt to be inconsistency in the impact of the images, as well as the style and way the image had been captured. The final cut is going to be important, a few of what seem my best image for some subjects is quite a different sort of portrait to others. Probably going to have to be a compromise, the design of the hanging will need to take this into account. Having a reasonably large number of individuals to show should help on this.

Awaiting the moment to take two images of Nick inside his workplace. Taken by Graham Land, March, 2019

On the next day I was able to get a large format shoot with Nick Tanner, founder-proprietor of ‘Taps’, shoe and key repairs. His shack is close to the entrance to the busy railway station at West Croydon, and is probably the business part of that London Road retail area. Setting up the camera on it’s tripod got a few comments, but not the sort of negative reaction that I’d feared in this very sensitive area of Croydon. I’d had to do this in the station yard and move it in front of Nick s at an opportune time when he wasn’t serving a customer. The pavement was just too busy to do it outside his shop.

I took two shots, to be developed and scanned at Falmouth at the weekend. They turned out fine, here are 2k sized copies of the two images:

I should note that Nick is blind in one eye but does not mind me showing the effect of this. I have his permission to do show these images. The left-hand one I quite like.

The last event of the week before heading on the overnight ‘Cornish Express’ to sleeper train to Falmouth was presenting a portfolio of my work at Photographer’s Gallery.

Sited in their Elanda Gallery this afternoon event started with presentations by Professor Steve Macleod and Polly Braden. Steve gave a short introductory presentation, stressing the need to be friendly to our critics.

Professor Steve Macleod giving his ‘Margin Walker’ presentation. Taken by Graham Land, March, 2019

Polly’s was the main presentation, starting with her experiences working in China, the work for her Lee Valley book and her more recent work creating a book about those with learning disabilities. Polly often works with writers and enjoys collaboration. Getting the right moment in street photogprahy can take many hours , citing her Square mile project as an example. Polly said that in her experience it can take years between project and publicity, so much depends on topicality, old work can suddenly gain attention in the light of new events such as BREXIT.

Polly Braden giving her presentation before the public entry to Folio Friday at The Photographer’s Gallery. Taken by Graham Land, March, 2019

At 2pm the doors were opened to the public and I had the opportunity to present a selection of my work to number of people. I presented prints from my Enterprising Croydon project on one side of the table and prints of a few of the better pictures I’d taken at London Fashion Week in February on the other.

A quiet moment during the afternoon review, Taken by Graham Land, March,, 2019

A quiet moment during the afternoon review, Taken by Graham Land, March,, 2019

The feedback was uniformly positive though several people, including Steve, made the comment that the fashion work was more cohesive. The main comment on the project was that I needed to keep to one lens system and that the work was a little mixed in standard. Polly’s closing comment to me was that I should do what I enjoy.

Paddington Station; Boarding the Cornish Riviera night train. Taken by Graham Land, March, 2019

The journey to Falmouth went smoothly, I was at the Photography Institute before the staff.

Entrance to the Institute of Photography’s development and printing laboratories, Falmouth University. (before the lights and equipment are switched on). Taken by Graham Land, March, 2019

The only disspaointment was losing my Francesco images due to the negatives sticking to the inside of the box, spotted too late. Need to keep count in future! On the much more positive side I was able to further developed by technique, I seeon was using the FlexScan’s scanning software much more effectively and getting a much improved colour range on a number of previously problematical images.. Because of this re-worked may of my existing 5x4 and 6x6 negatives on the Sunday.

An Hasselblad Flexscan X-1 in action disk-scanning the newly developed 5x4 negative of Carl Nielsen.   Taken by Graham Land, March, 2019

An Hasselblad Flexscan X-1 in action disk-scanning the newly developed 5x4 negative of Carl Nielsen.

Taken by Graham Land, March, 2019

Objectives achieved.

Week 20 of FMP: Further project progress - Getting there (11th – 17th March)

The week started poorly with a couple of unsuccessful trips to Croydon. Now had a clear no from one Indian Jeweller/Money changer i’d approached. That will be the end of my new recruitment. On the plus side have a fully confirmed shoot on the Thursday with my final FMP collaborator, Francois of The Byte cafe/TMRW. I haven’t had the opportunity to meet Francois yet, all of the arranging has been done via someone else, but looking good.On the positive side I have an interview now scheduled with Ian, the expert flute repairer of Headjoint for next week, and one with Max,the gentleman who founder and proprietor of Cockneys of Croydon

I’ve been mulling about the idea of returning to Falmouth for a couple of days to develop whatever 5x4 film I’ve accumulated at that point, and as importantly conduct a high resolution scan of all of them using one of the excellent Hasselblad X-1 disk scanners that the Photographic Institute possesses. To use a London facility will be both expensive and may come wit too long a turn-round. There’s also the possibility the results will not be so good. As I mentioned in my last blog I’m no longer going to consider colour printing as a route. I’ve had now had two training events and the last was even more unsuccessful and tme consuming than the first. Colour matching alone seems quite a challenge for me. I could pay for someone at photofusion or elsewhere to do it, this would be expensive and I’m now well aware time-consuming. I also want to be able to say that I did it myself..

Carl Nielsen of Rockbottom with his dog Megan, Graham Land, 2019

This was indeed an intensive week. The interview with Max went well. Here’s a link to that recording. The photoshoot with Max was a little intense, I was trying to do to much in the one hour available, and I soon realised in a much larger and varied establishment than any of my other locations. The Byte Cafe wasn’t too bad, apart from a lot of bright lights in the background, but through the door to the TMRW side of the operation and it was like walking into a warehouse. A very modern and well equipped office area, hosting quite a number of business start-up folk. See the walk-in video to get an idea of what was involved.

It didn’t stop there either. I had a very successful 5x4 shoot with Carl at 3pm that day.. We included his dog Meg for one or two shots, see the result, the dog moved with the quiet click of the lens. I was to conduct an interview with Carl but he’d had some issues going on that would have made it very difficult, so we agreed to postpone to a later day.

Final shoot of the day was an interview and 5x4 session with Kish, a lot further up the London Road. This also went well. Or so I thought. One camera I was using for the video wasn’t plumbed in properly. Here a view with the part of the set-up that worked..

.

Week 19 of FMP: The Falmouth 2019 Face to Face Workshop-Symposium, plus my first large format colour negs 5x4 (3rd - 10th March)

I travelled down tp Falmouth the day before it started, as well as the exposed negatives from the three 5x4 shoots conducted the week before i also brough the camera itself. decided that more practice was in order, especially as I’d the opportunity to quickly develop and scan the images captured. Whether there was time to do this could be questioned, but eh.

A rain-swept Falmouth taken from a B&B window, taken by Graham Land on his mobile phone on arrival

5th March, 2019

I arrived early and immediately started putting the negatives through the appropriate film negative processing machine. Having made sure first I remembered the procedure correctly.

I missed the morning workshop activities as I had a 1-2-1 booked with my course tutor, who would be at the University until later in the week. A quiet part of the ground floor corridor in the Photography Institute seemed suitable, though I picked up later a degree of surprised comment by a number of my cohort peers who’d passed by and seen us in conversation. So maybe not ideal.

The review went reasonably well. I’d sent a link earlier to see a copy of the interviews, the Buddhist Centre walk-in video and a selection of the digital shots taken, I was able to report that the film had come out, though whether the results were as good as those already taken digitally I had yet to find out.

TO BE CONTINUED

Week 18 of FMP: New collaborator and first interviews (25th – 2nd March)

Two of my scheduled events took place, , one was cancelled and another grabbed, and a new collaborator was recruited and fully enrolled.

Monday began the week poorly. An interview I’d had scheduled had to be cancelled at the last minute. However, I went across the road and was fortunate to catch Jonathan Myall , who I’d unsuccessfully tried to catch last week. One of his staff who knew me and told me he was very busy. However, after explaining how short the interview would be Jonathan very kindly agreed that I could come round at 4pm that day to conduct the short interview, my first.

The previous week I’d identified the Croydon Buddhist Centre on the High Street, not very far from the centre, as a possible collaborator. So I picked up my courage and entered to find out if it was there was a suitable proprietor who would be interested in taking part.

Croydon Buddhist Centre, 25th February, 2019  Graham Land

Croydon Buddhist Centre, 25th February, 2019

Graham Land

The door from the High Street takes you into a gift shop. The lady on the till was a volunteer but she quickly introduced me to their long-time manager of 30 years, Carol. After explaining my project and showing some prints of shots from the project portfolio I was delighted to find she said yes. I was given a quick tour, as well as the gift shop on a lower level there was a meetings are, with kitchen, a small zen buddhist-style garden and a large meditation room.

I was even more pleased when Carol said she was happy to give me an hour of her time on late Friday afternoon. Even though i’d explained there would be a 5x4 tripod-mounted camera shot, a small walk-through video and an interview, with a few DSLR shots thrown in. Excellent.

The interview withh Jonathan went well. I’d acquired a portable audio recorder, a Wireless Lavalier microphone and a high specification short shotgun mike. This would be my first time using them in earnest. I recorded video., putting the Lavalier audio track directly on to the camera via it’s hot-shoe mounted remote unit.

Jonathan Myall, taken by Graham Land whilst setting up the equipment for an interview.  25th February, 2019

Jonathan Myall, taken by Graham Land whilst setting up the equipment for an interview.

25th February, 2019

Unfortunately Jonathan was unable to give me a slot for the 5x4 shots that I wanted to take, though said he would be happy to do them if I caught him again at an opportune time. Several of my other collaborators had said the same the week before.

The afternoon of the next day was very busy, with two collaborators agreeing to have both 5” x 4” shots taken with a separate video/audio recorded interview.

The first was with my south Croydon Italian Cafe/Delicatessen proprietor, Giorgio. Cafe/shop business continued during the shoot, several of his customers engaging in conversation. Although people did go quiet for my interview It was unfortunate that the door was open, one of February’s exceptionally warm days. The result was that much more background noise from the busy road was picked up than I’d recognised at the time. The 5x4 shots went ok, but whether they will be as good as the excellent digital shots I’v already captured of Giorgio I wasn’t convinced. I’d also lost one negative as I must not have loaded it properly and the negative came out when the dark slide cover was lifted. If the others are ok will await me taking the negatives to Falmouth University’s Photogrpahic Institute next week when a workshop takes place. Develop and scanning them whilst there..

Giorgio Rafaelli of La Spezia, sat awaiting the commencement of an interview, taken by Graham Land.  26th February, 2019

Giorgio Rafaelli of La Spezia, sat awaiting the commencement of an interview, taken by Graham Land.

26th February, 2019

Georgio had been delayed and there was just enough time to get to my next shoot. Nick, co-proprietor of Ludoquest. Carrie, his wife and co-proprietor, could not be there. I had noticed on passing that their new business was going from strength to strength.

I conducted the interview first and then finished with the 5” x 4” shoot. Again, one negative was lost. I clearly had to revise me procedure and make sure this did not happen again. At over £6 for one sheet of Kodak’s Portra 160 5x4 film these are expensive errors. The interview itself went well, though I later discovered one of the Lavalier units had been accidentally switched off, the other audio recording was fine. Must check more thoroughly., even if time is pressing.

Nick of Ludoquist, taken whilst setting up one of the video cameras by Graham Land  26th February, 2019.

Nick of Ludoquist, taken whilst setting up one of the video cameras by Graham Land

26th February, 2019.

The working week finished with a very full shoot with my latest collaborator, Carol, at Croydon Buddhist Centre. This went really well, but I did find setting up an interview in her office area tricky. I’d boughr some LED lights with me and they proved necessary. I’d began with my walk-through video and finished with a couple of large format 5x4 captures of Carol at her desk in the gift shop. Again, lighting was difficult though this time I decided to rely on ambient. All-in-all the combined shoot took over 90 mins. A lot of this time was assembling kit and chacking all was working. Too long?

Carol, Manager of The Croydon Buddhist Centre taken by Graham Land, digital full-frame capture.  1st March, 2019

Carol, Manager of The Croydon Buddhist Centre taken by Graham Land, digital full-frame capture.

1st March, 2019

Earlier that day I’d taken the opportunity to follow-up on the advice I’d been given about securing a place at The Photogrpaher’s Gallery Folio Friday, an event I wanted to show my project portfolio at. Advice accurate, the opportunity to book came up on the web at noon. Within 20 minuted my place was booked, later confirmed secured.

March is going to be busy..

Week 17 of FMP: Preparation (18th – 24th February)

Project-wise this was a week of regaining relationships with the aim to secure large format (5x4) colour portraits and five minute interviews. In certain cases I also wanted to attempt to improve my  existing imagery. I was able to arrange a number of shoots .

Many of my collaborators were busier that they had been last year. Getting collaborators agreement to a set time in advance was not possible in a number of cases. I’d have to ring them up and catch them at an opportune time. I’m also assessing the area for potential new collaborators. I’ve tried two so far with no success. I’ve made the decision to go back to my old project, but it’s not proving that easy to persuade my existing collaborators to do some further shoots. All approached to date very busy, and a couple are out of the country.

The week started with an interesting photo-events called Photoscratch. These are almost monthly meetings generally held on a Monday where attendees have the opportunity to review a number of documentary projects, give feedback and meet the photographer. The organiser’s try to select people who have ongoing projects in various stages of completeness who would appreciate feedback on their work and guidance on how and to whom it might be presented.

As usual this was at a café not far from Elephant and Castle, not the easiest venue to get to from Croydon public transport-wise. Worthwhile though. As usual there were five presenters. I’ve included a link to their websites. I wasn’t able to be there long but these was some unusually good work.

Rita Alvarez www.tudelaphotography.com

Tee Byford www.tearlach.co.uk

Julie Meresse www.juliemeresse.com

Hassan Nezamian www.hassannezamian.com

Marie Smith www.marieesmith.com

Alexandra Waespi www.alexandrawaespi.com

As I think I’ve mentioned in earlier posts the organisers don’t accept projects that are supporting academic study. Sad.

Otherwise the week was a difficult one, interfered with by a bug I’d picked up somewhere. Ongoing negativity slightly lifted by a chat with a few of my cohort peers. Further lifted by popping in to the Library of London College of Fashion to return some books (it’s more convenient) and found they had quite an interesting hang for a group exhibition called Mundo LatinX they had on. Gave my some ideas. Here’s a few of the shots I took at the time.:

I liked the way the subject in the hanging portrait took on greater physicality and meaning. To be remembered.

Reference

Mundo Latin-X exhibition, Fashion Space Gallery, London College of Fashion.8th February - 4th May, 2010

Week 16 of FMP: Cementing change (11th – 17th February)

The week began with my second 1-2-1 of the year with my FMP tutor.

I put forward a proposal to. I also proposed to use the second-hand 5x4 Wista camera that I’d acquired last year for my self-portraiture project. The aim would be to capture as many 5x4 portraits of my existing group of twelve as possible. I’m also considering increasing the a increase the number of collaborators in my project.

The revised project plan and a draft questionnaire were accepted. These had been designed after consulting a number of books that i’d found in several of London University of The Art’s libraries, namely Central Saint Martin’s or London College of Communication. The most useful of the books I came across was that of Gilham, seemed very insightful and very comprehensive. Willis was also a useful source, stressing the cognitive aspects of questioning. Dunne’s book on interviewing techniques was a much easier to understand read with a number of useful pointers. Particularly on when it’s useful to fully transcribe, and when not. . Kvale had more about the planning, which is probably more appropriate in less voluntary work where tight deadlines are not an option. I did not make use of the ‘grounded theory’ form of qualitative inquiry described by Charmaz.

After all this research I finalised on the following questionnaire:

A few questions on your thoughts as proprietor.  

  1. What are your thoughts for the future, customer-wise, do you feel positive or negative? - Possible follow-up – Why is that?

  2. Looking back, what has been your most challenging experience while based here?

  3. What gives you the most satisfaction in running this place?

  4. What causes you the most irritation?

  5. How much do you feel this shop represents your personality?

I’ve tried to keep the questions reasonably focused whilst giving some latitude in their reply. Note that my plan is for the interview to last for no more than 5 minutes. This duration should be more than adequate for the uses I’m intending. At least to beging with I’m proposing to reasonably quality audio with accompanying video via a DSLR camera.

Presentation-wise I’m considering the possibility of presenting the larger amount of material that the Croydon Shopkeepers project should now capture in some form of book. In support of this I’d enrolled in the Victoria Forrest critique later that week, though I feel there will be insufficient time in the period left to progress far on this route.

In support of this aim I took part later the same day in a form of group critique with Victoria Forrest and our FMP tutor. Victoria was  very helpful. Only a little of the same ground that had been covered her previous presentations. The biggest difference was the direct comment that Victoria kindly gave gave on the work and plans that my colleague and I put forward.

In my case it was rightly viewed to be very early a number of positive points were made. A juxtaposition against the proposed interview text would be useful. Looking at my current set of images of my existing twelve collaborators Victoria felt that was inconsistent quality to the imagery. Supporting my view that I need to go back to at least some of my existing collaborators to improve the strength of their imagery..

The basic theme of shopkeepers was well received, a map of the locations was shown to illustrate how all are on or very close to the main road that runs South-North through Croydon. Sadly, as I’d mentioned earlier to my FMP tutor, the road has several names, from ‘South End’ in South Croydon through ‘High Street’ to finally the main stretch called ‘London Road’ (there is a short ‘North End’ stretch but this is now pedestrianised at does not include shops that I’ve covered.

Very shortly afterwards there was an FMP group critique with another of our tutors. Here I revealed my decision to forego the self-portraiture project they were aware that I had been following and say a little about my plans to further progressing the Croydon Distinctively Different’ Croydon Shopkeepers project. Feedback was fairly positive, though of course no new work to show at this stage.

On the next day I attended a monthly meeting entitled ‘Photoforum’ that meets at Print space near Hoxton. An easy place to get to from Croydon as there is a direct overground line from Croydon to station close by. Brian David Stevens began the meeting with a talk on his Doggerland project, plus a fascinating project based around the large number of suicides that take place at Beachy Head, very high chalky cliffs on the South Coast. He has to be careful when being interviewed not to make suicide sound attractive. Curious world.

The other presentation was by Andrew Yoingson, is work based on visualizing associations round landscape and memory..

The rest of my week was taken up with several non-MA photographic duties.

I’d been asked at very short notice to photograph a hat that was to be put forward for a competition, progression depended on the photograph stimulating interest to see the hat itself. I’d done this for the same client last year and both of the hats I’d shot had got to the short list and one won an award. Unfortunately it was very last minute what should have been a simple-ish product shoot, albeit in a less than perfect setting, turned into a job of several hours as further refinement was made to the hat. The lesson being be wary of last-minute jobs.

Graham Land; Four views of a hat

The second was a lot more pleasurable. I’d successfully been accredited to be one of the many official photographers covering London Fashion Week. Whilst I’d only applied for one venue, ‘Fashion Scout’ as The Feemasons Hall, the three days I was there was very instructive. Working alongside a number of full-time photographers as well as having the opportunity to capture a number of quite reasonable images. One lesson was to keep the kit used to a minimum. Little time to change lenses and not a lot of room to shoot with two camera bodies. Another lesson was to be very wary when changing settings for different environments, too often I failed to immediately notice that the manual set-up was incorrect. Overall my results were the best to-date for this type of photography, sadly they could easily have been better still. The areas to improve were largely technical, generally composition was good, just need to be a little more awake to what’s going on behind the subject lighting-wise. Not that changing position in my marked position was an option, too many photographers wanting to improve their position.

REFERENCES

1) Gilham, B. 2010 Research Interviewing; the range of techniques. New York: Open University Press.

2) Willis, G. B., 2005. Cognitive interviewing; A Tool for Improving Questionnaire Design. London: Sage

3) Dunne, S., 1995. Interviewing Techniques for Writers and Researchers. London: A & C Black

4) Kvale, S. 2007. Doing Interviews. London: Sage

5) Charmaz K., Grounded Theory Methods in Social Justice Research in Denzin, N. K. & Lincoln Y.S., eds., 2013. Strategies of Qualitative Enquiry. London: Sage

Week 15 of FMP: Revising plan and a little insight (4th - 10th February, 2019)

Project-wise the week started with several visits to existing and potential collaborators on London Road. I’ve decided not to follow-up on the two Thornton Heath proprietors as that part of Croydon is too far away from my Brighton-London Road narrative axis.

I’ve updated my project plan, building it on Microsoft Project 2000. A little dated, it was purchased in 1999 as an upgrade and need an even earlier copy to validate it before it could be used. Fortunately although the original floppy disk this came on has ceased to be readable, a copy disk still works. My initial project plan is below:

Current timeline of key activities supporting my Final Major Project on distinctive Croydon shopkeepers (as of 9th February)

It’s quite some years since i used this application and there’s a little bit more re-learning needed to make it easy to follow. The most obvious aspect is that the key activity now is to finalise a questionnaire to use when interviewing my collaborators.

Early in the week the FMP cohort were given a presentation by the book designer, Victoria Forrest. This was a follow-on from an earlier presentation she’d given in October. While some of the material quoted was the same this presentation was less on technical detail and more about how the narrative evolves with the design with images being chosen or re-shot accordingly. There was also a lot more about Vistoria’s relationship with her clieants and a degree of insight into their differing approaches and needs.

Four reasonably different book examples that Victoria had worked on were discussed: Victoria started by stressing that ‘linear’ doesn’t specify direction, nor linear sequencing a physical constraint. Images don’t have to follow a linear sequence to support a narrative. This was sort of the same point made by Hayedn White in his ‘The Value of Narrativity in the representation of reality article that I’d studied for the Aily Nash workshop the weekend before. Just put in far fewer words.

Victoria felt that the book design is the bridge between the images and the narrative. Aiding the viewer see the image in the context of the ongoing narrative. She quoted Edmund Clark’s Guantanomo and Paul Graham’s books as examples of this approach.

It will be interesting to gain further insight from Victoria at the workshop she will bevery kindly holding next week.

Charlotte Jansen

Charlotte Jansen

More contemporary insight followed a couple of days later when I attended an excellent panel discussion of three young photographers in Dalston chaired by Charlotte Jansen, arts and colutre journalist and editor-at-large for the Elephantmagazine. This event had been advertised by the Photo London organizing committee as one of the last of their 'taster’ events before PhotoLondon 2019 in May.

The panel consisted of the 2018 Talor Wessing portrait prizewinner Alice Mann, a South African, Jojo Sonubi, the founder of the renowned Black in the Day archive of family imagery who grew up in Tottenham and Sam Wright, a documentary photographer who grew up near the area I come from in Sheffield.

Sam Wright, Alice Mann and Jojo Sonubi on the stage at SET, Dalston. 7th February, 2019

Charlotte chaired the meeting well. Each photographer saying something about both their background, reasons for their interest in the projects they’ve taken up and something about the projects themselves. Very content-rich as i like to say. It also gave you a degree of insight into their differing personalities. All had been influenced by their collaborators, and also their childhood experience.

Jojo Sonubi

In 2016 Jojo had wanted to follow a black history theme. He’d decided to use his parents lives. Postings on WhatsApp took off, which he then branded and it became bigger still. He made the comment that to him growing up black was about joy, not trauma. He supported a point made by Alice that his work helped fill gaps in people’s knowledge. He did howver find the curation of the 800 donated images in his expanding archive hard. Whilst it covered a lot of ground he felt there were still gaps as the timescale covered different generations.

As well as being the creative force behind his project s is a graphic designer and still finds time to run an event brand called recess, apparantly renowned for their day parties and club nights.

Alice Mann

Alice Mann

Alice seemed a much quieter individual. Now based in London her series project was based in her South African homeland to help the community. alice described trying to show part reality through images. Establishing relationships through photography. She liked working with “people of colour” and found a universality and beauty in these relationships.

Alice said that she found collaboration shapes ideas but the role of images is complex. Often the response formed is to a pre-existing idea. She saw documentary as a contruct with many subjective positions, describing photography as a ‘construction tool’.

In response to a question on their use of social media she said she tried to avoid it. If she does she likes captions to try and put images within a context, finding the image alone insufficient. Alice tries to target her readership in her posts and tries to respect others work. She did add that she finds instagram inspiring, her saved section of images is precious to her. But she is quite careful in the dissemination of her own imagery. She likes exhibitions but a ‘considered space’ is key. Everything is better in print.

Her final comment was in response to someone saying that surely the photo-community is the best audience to appreciate work. She disagreed saying that being simply trained in visual language is key.

Sam Wright

Sam Wright

Sam was brought up in Sheffield and as a teenager enjoyed photographing punk gigs in pub basements and various Sheffield clubs. Described as always interested in discovering people’s stories.

DRAFT - IN PROGRESS

Week 14 of FMP: Back to study (28th Jan. - 3rd Feb. 2019)

The week started more positively with a discussion with several of my peers about where we currently are in our projects. Some radically differing positions, but I wasn’t alone in considering changing project stream at a late stage. This sharing of difficult positions helped. I resolved to go forward with the Croydon Shopkeepers project as suggested by my FMP tutor and finally give up on thoughts regarding the reflective self-portraiture.

So after great procrastination, I’ve decided to go back to my earlier Croydon shopkeepers project. This was discussed with my FMP tutor at the scheduled 1-2-1 a couple of days later. I agreed that I needed to work to a much more defined project plan and get things rolling. I want to add greater narrative to my project through audio or audio-video interview. To do this i need a suitable questionnaire. I’m also considering increasing the audio-visual component by recording inside the shop for a period.

Later in the week i spent a number of hours at London College of Communications well equipped library. Unlike Central Saint Martin’s I didn’t need to book a slot several days in advance to gain access as a SCONUL registered student..

Library study area, London College of Communication, Elephant & Castle (31st January, 2019)

There were a number of pertinent books. I was able to borrow two; ‘Psychoanalysis and Ethics' in Documentary Film’ by Agnieska Piotrowaska and ‘Video Documentary making’ by Mark Patterson. I picked the former as it was covering ground I’d not considered before, and was a text that wan’t easy to identify relevant pages to make photo-copies of. The latter is a 1993 BBC Television Training book that seems now to be long out of print, but nonetheless full of extremely sensible points and suggestions.

One book that initially seemed useful for my purposes; ‘Doing Interviews’ by Steinar Kvale wasn’t. Similar conclusion with ‘Cognitive Interviewing’ by Gordon Willis. ‘Interviewing Techniques for Writers & Researchers’ by Susan Dunne did seem relevant and I photocopied a number of the pages, as I also did with ‘Research Interviewing’ by Bill Gillham. Whilst ‘Documentary; Witness and self-revelation’ by John Ellis had some interesting observations, they weren’t particularly relevant to the needs of the moment.

I also followed up on my FMP tutor’s suggestion and spent a couple of hurs looking through various photobooks of Gillian Wearing’s work. I was easy to see why she had been recommended. Inventive and very direct. The description of her approach by Dominic Molon for the book on her ‘Mass Observation’ project was particularly illuminating. Sadly I was already at my borrowing limit so I contented myself with a few more photocopies inexpensively captured by my mobile phone.

Towards the end of the week I received by e-mail low resolution scanned positives of the developed negatives from the Photofusion large format portraiture workshop I’d attended at the end of last week. They were on the whole a bit stronger than I’d remembered. Probably because it’s difficult to take the image in well looking through the slightly diffuse screen o the 5 x 4 studio cameras we’d been using. Here are the images that were captured. The first three were taken on a Sinar P with LED lighting, the latter group on a Sinar F with a stronger fluorescent light.

Only the first image was taken with the film back and the lens board in a vertical format. Initially varying degrees of tilt had been tried, resulting in some interesting out of focus effects. Quite different to what you get simply by using a narrow depth of field like my earlier portraiture project with a f/8 500mm full frame reflex lens close-up or my more recent foray into the studio with an 85mm full frame f1.8 lens opened wide. The last two seemed the most satisfying, maybe we were getting better at it.

This make me re-consider just how I should approach the taking of 5 x 4 images of my collaborators in the next phase of my environmental portraiture shots. The temptation is to leave well alone however, as their background should be an integral part of the image, assuming I don’t change course and shoot that separately.

Aily Nash

The final part of the week was a two day workshop called ‘The operative image’ led by a New-York based curator, Aily Nash. This had been organised by LUX, a charitable Arts group supporting and promoting artists working with the moving image. The first day was in a very cold screening room at the institute of contemporary arts on the Mall. The second day in a smaller but much warmer screening room at LUX’s building near Highgate.

My fellow attendees were largely videographic fine arts MA students with a couple of photographers, a several graduates and two studying for a PhD with Goldsmiths’ Centre for Research Architecture.

This was my first experience of this type of workshop, quite different to any photographic workshop I’ve attended to date. A process of watching a number of short films chosen by Aily and then dissected afterwards by ourselves with aily’s guidance and background comment. A slow but effective process it forced my to recognize the importance of a number of aspects in moving image work that I’d not really appreciated, as well as a few tricks in adding mood and tension.

Most of the Operative Image workshop group in the screening room of the ICA during a break (Graham Land, 2nd February, 2018)

We’d been asked to critically assess two supplied texts before the workshop, using extracts from these texts in our comments on the film material we’d been shown. The oldest text was by Hayden White entitled' ‘The Value of Narrativity in the Representation of Reality’. On the face the article was comparing a chronological/histiographic approach to describing past events to one termed annalist. More of a listing of certain events with odd inclusions and exclusions. I didn’t think the basis of the thesis put forward was that substantial, but had to agree with a number of the points made, particularly with Haydens White’s concusions on the last page.

The newer article was chapter 5 of a book entitled ‘Precarious Life; The Powers of mourning and violence’ by Judith Butler. A heavy but quite interesting discussion on the notion of ‘face’, as put forward by Emmanuel Levinas, applies to media coverage of the Iraq war.

Entrance to LUX, Waterlow Park Centre, Dartmouth Park Hill (3rd February, 2019)

It was a lot to take in but it did promote some interesting ideas on my own proposed moving image work. More about these in my next blog.

REFERENCES QUOTED

Dunne, S. 1995 ‘Interviewing Techniques for Writers & Researchers’, London, A & C Black (Publishers)

Ellis, B (2012) “Witness and self-revelation”, London, Routledge

Gillham, B (2005) “Research Interviewing; the range of techniques, London, Open University Press’

Kvale, S. 2007 “Doing Interviews”, London, Sage

Patterson, M. 1993 “A Quick Crib to Video Documentary making”, London, BBC Television Training

Piotrowaska, A. 2014 “Psychoanalysis and Ethics in Documentary Film”, London, Routledge

Willis, G 2004 “Cognitive Interviewing”, London, Sage

Week 13 of FMP; Getting back the positive (21st -27th January 2019)

Whilst still set this very strong bout of depression have finally got myself to be active.

In the last week I’ve been exploring possible venue for my planned FMP exhibition. For my self-portraiture workshop I’d been thinking of somewhere in Shoreditch. The value is that there are a number of photographic exhibitions on within a relatively tight area. It’s not off the beaten map, which is how I feel many other Londoners feel about travel to Croydon.

On the other hand if I’m going back to my Croydon Shopkeepers project and further developing that project then a central Croydon venue has a lot going for it. It seems wrong to have my collaborators travel any distance, and the Croydon community itself is part of my target audience.. Searching for a new title. Retail with a difference’ or ‘Only the Brave’ has been suggested. Maybe..

On Tuesday I went to a presentation by Dr. Susan Bright. I was interested as she had given a very open and insightful presentation to the Falmouth Flexible students back in October, see my earlier week blog for details. I’d since become aware of her excellent ‘Autofocus’ book on contemporary self-portraiture so I felt this was an excellent opportunity to find out more. This took place at The Photographers Gallery who have been partnering London College of Communication’s photography programme to which Susan is a contributor.

Entitled ‘Collaboration and Creative Practice it was very much Susan’s own story about her experience of collaboration and how it has evolved and changed with each project. Happily there was only a little overlap with the talk she gave to my Falmouth group, whilst both covered her curatorial career the October presentation had given much more focus on the detail of the curatorial process through three recent projects.

The presentation began with a little biography and some quite personal observations on the after-effects of undertaking a PhD in 2017. (Home Truths: Photography and Motherhood). Susan’s expressed the view that the experience had been too insular and had left her feeling both negative and a little burnt out, ‘Gallery needs and academe don’t align’. .

Susan quickly moved on to make a number of pithy observations on how the status of curating has changed and could be improved. She felt that the title of ‘curator’ had become an elastic term to the extent at which the title was ‘useless’ and noted the term ‘super-curator’ had come into being in the photographic world. On the positive side she noted that though the role had changed the status had risen driven by social media connectivity.

Susan then moved on to her feelings about curating and collaboration based on her her experience and the lessons learned along the way. She felt she was best described as a feminist curator, 90% of her collaborators have been women. Susan expressed the view there were too many organizing committees composed of middle-aged men.

Each project that resulted in an exhibition would seem to have been different. Susan also questioned whether ‘the lone photographer’ really exists, as in practice photographic work often involves working with communities and networks. One of her examples provided was the studio of of Nadar were his assistants often took the photographs bearing his name.

Susan had great praise for designers she has worked with, describing their input as ‘designer magic’.

On the next day I made a scheduled trip to visit Central Saint Martins Library to return the two self-portraiture books by Friedlander and have a final look over some of the many other self-portrait imagery byvarious photographers before going back to those books that touched on environmental portraiture. One of the best still seemed to be the work of August Sander, and to remind myself of his work I took out the book on him by Gerd Sander of the August Sander Foundation. An exhibition catalogue published in 1996.

The week ended with a one day workshop run by Paul Ellis at PhotoFusion on large format portraiture photography. It was very rewarding. A degree of theory was communicated with most of the time spent gaining hands-on experience with two studio 4 x 5 cameras. Paul also imparted considerable insight on the equipment to be considered and what accessories Paul regarded as vital.

There were only four of us and most of the time was working in pairs with a camera, loading our own dark slides. and using either ourselves as subject or a female model. We had two slightly different monorail 5 x 4 cameras to work with; a Sinar P and a Sinar F. It was explained to us that the Sinar P is a camera designed primarily for studio use with both the lens board movements and that of the dark-slide mount maneuverable through geared controls whereas the Sinar P is more of a compromise with some geared movements and the ability to be broken down easily for assembly on location. We didn’t get to use a large format field camera, though the compromises in designing an easily transportable and quick to assemble large format camera were explained.

I was working with a fellow course-member, an Arts teacher who wanted to know more than the basic functions, so after making a couple of simple ‘straight’ portraits with the film plane parallel to that of the lens we experimented on tilting. Starting with just the lens board to then going for maximum effect on plane of focus by tilting the rear standard that holds the dark slide the opposite way. More about the results of this in a later blog, we had to wait for a week before the negatives were developed and scanned so we could the results of our experimentation.

What was immediately clear from the course was that I would benefit from a better loupe than the one for transparencies that I was planning to use with my recently acquired Wista 5x4 field camera, as well as a better means of loading my slides than the simple Paterson changing bag that I was currently using.

It was sadly also clear from Paul’s comment that my choice of a mint rosewood camera might not have been the best. The more expensive metal ones, such as those made by Linhof. The best ones in current productions were said to be made by Chamonix, a combination of wood, stainless steel and carbon fibre.

On a more positive note Paul mentioned the recent work of Alys Tominson, in particular her Ex-voto series where Alys re-visited Lourdes and made a number of large format black and white images. Alys spent two days with Paul learning large format technique and had recently invested in a Chamonix large format camera. Her ex-voto work will be available in March as a book ‘Ex-Voto’ , funded by a successful kick starter campaign and created with the assistance of the designer Stu Smith.

The value of working with a book designer has been outlined in several of the recent web presentations to the Falmouth Flexible cohort, the main issue in applying it to my Final Major Project activities is cost.

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New Year Break Activities; Partial break from FMP (18th Dec. 2018 - 18th Jan. 2019)

My main photo-activity of the period was conducting a number of paid shoots for two young clients. Not a lot of daylight to play with this time of year.

George Fairburn instructing his class on a cold windswept winter’s day, Graham Land, 2019

However, a reasonable amount of learning once January got properly going. Quite an interesting talk by Steve Smith at the RPS London AGM. Sort of nice to hear I’m not the onle one who gets a few aches these days from toting their camera kit. The Societies group were having their annual convention from the 17th to 20th Jan and i decided to enrol on their Thursday Masterclass day, a choice of various 2 hour long classes., and take part in a half-day workshop with the US photographer, Tony Corbell. A locations and shoot seminar by George Fairburn was probably the best activity on the Thursday. The weathe wasn’t too good so it put real bite into getting his two models motivated. Not fully successful.

The workshop with Corbell was more interesting. He likes to use reflectors quite a bit as well as strobe lighting for his shoots. Quite a few tips, interestingly he stressed the importance of not relying on the camera’s metering abilities but to use a spotmeter. Obviously really important with the way he uses flash. A good end to a pretty difficult period for me.

Many negative thoughts.

Week 12 of FMP: What next (8th - 12th December, 2018)

A presentation during the Photofusion members meeting, Graham Land, 2018

The week started with another interesting talk at Photofusion’s ‘Second Saturday’ monthly members meeting. Some commercial work got in the way of taking part in a Falmouth presentation by Daniel Blaufuks. Did manage to get to the monthly photorum meeting though. A talk by two young Reuters journalists; Olivia Harris and Neil Hall. Not quite so interesting.

Mainly family matters thi week otherwise with a bit of commercial work. I did get to see the opening of a small exhibition at Print spacei. Nice guy, some very reasonable images from a South London Park, another medium format user he is part-way through a Photography MA himself and now that he’s getting lots of attention from winning an award. Considering putting his studies on hold whilst he runs with the flow I think. A nice problem of sorts.

Week 11 of FMP: Shockwave (1st - 7th Dec. 2018)

A very mixed week. Started with a degree of disappointment. I attended Photofusion’s one day colour darkroom course on the Sunday. This did not go easily. Just getting the exposure right for the colour took simply ages. May not have been helped by the age of the negative I was using mind, but enjoy it I did not.

The next difficulty was a 1-2-1 with my course tutor, my last of the year. I’d prepared a selection of my images from the two shoots, were not received well. ‘Lack of narrative’. Somewhat in a quandary, suggested that I go back to my Croydon Shopkeepers project. Seems much more positive about me doing that. Will have to think about what to do next, time is moving on.

Rita Rodner discussing the Dichotomies exhibition set-up, Graham Land, 2018

The week finished more pleasantly with a visit to Birmingham to see rita, a peer in the cohort in front of me, with her ‘On Dichotomies’ exhibition. A bit out of the way, though walking distance from Birmingham central, you do need to be sure your’re walking the right path. In what was once a very industrial area, close to a canal. very good exhibition most impressed ho they’ve turned out, especially as I’m told they were finalised at very short notice. My turn next, I just wonder what it will be on.

I’ve put together a selection from the two shoots with a number of those from earlier in this project. See selfportrait-experimental

Week 10 of FMP: A good week (24th - 30th Sept., 2018)

A very active week.

Jesse Alexander and Colin Pantall during Colin’s web presentation

The week began with a one day darkroom course at Photofusion. Went well. The last time I’d operated creating B+W prints in a darkroom was in the 70’s. Was amazed to find my ancient skills at dodging and burning hadn’t left me, I even knew automatically which way the negatives should go in the enlarger’s holder.

Began with a presentation by Colin Pantall on the Falmouth web forum. A bit disappointing in some ways. A lot about what he’s got in a book he’s published, but far too little about what was involved in putting the book together. Ah well, can’t win them all.

I had booked a half-day session in a studio in Streatham. Went reasonably well, the subject was me. Some decent images. The time went surprisingly quickly. Explored getting really close-up, main difficulty is getting the focus right. I was using my 7” remote monitor tied uo to the camera, helped a lot. More difficult when further away. That evening I showed some of the results at a group critique with Krishna.

She’d been the person to suggest getting into environmental photography so I think she was quite surprised by what i’ve been getting up to for my FMP. She certainly sounded it. Very positive feedback again though.

Two days later went for a second shoot I’d booked at a different studio, one a but further away in Bermondsey, the other one wasn’t free that day-time. Was a bit more relaxed this time, similar work to th previous occasion, tried this time to work more with my expressions, starting to get a little troubling what I’m finding about myself. I don’t think I’m that happy.

The day finished with a very interesting opening by some folk I know at the Magic Gallery in central London, eay to get to from Bermondsey though. Followedby a talk on ‘The Female Gaze’. This was a bit dissapointing. A panel of quite young ladies, they didn’t seem to relate well to older members of their sex in the audience. Tricky, did seem somewhat superficial and chatty, Not the best PhotoLondon sponsored talk I’ve been to.,

Week 9 of FMP: A quiet week (17th - 23rd Sept., 2018)

Simon Roberts - screen capture

Simon Roberts - screen capture

The cold not quite so bad this week, functioning a little better. Took a full part in the Falmouth web presentation by Simon Roberts. Excellent presentation. Great photography and lots of background. His technique of shooting a General Election from a tripod mounted large format camera on a motor-home seems surreal. I asked how many images he exposed in a typical day, the anser was 20-30.

Interesting that once he had an assistant on an arduous trip through Russia he stayed with the same formula.

Otherwise the week had a bit of commercial work, with that cold still hanging around. Did get to test my new-old 5 x 4 camera though the negatives weren’t that wonderful, it does work.

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Week 8 of FMP: Last few days in Paris and returning with a cold (10th - 16th Nov., 2018)

Self-Portrait with an escape plan, Graham Land, 2018

My second visit to Paris PhotoFair, just as crowded as before, amazingly big space under the dome. I think I’ve now seen, beifly every single stall. Seems better quality on the whole that Photo London was back in May. Curious when I guess many galleries would have been at both. The last day, Sunday, was pretty much a disaster. I had no problem in the morning checking out of my hotel and getting to drop my case off in left luggage at the Gare d’Nord station for the return to London that evening. But then made the fatal error of heading back to Charles de’Gaulles etoilles. Security for the Armistice day massive, and I placed myself the wrong side of it. Ended up walking round almost the whole security cordon in order to get to the visit to the Dorothy Lange exhibition at the Jeu de Paume. In the end I gave up trying to get to that area of Paris and went to the ‘On Air’ exhibition at the Palais de Tokyo by Tomas Saraceno, quite a showman. Large spiders webs abounded, certainly different.

Came back to the UK to experience the start of what was one of the nastiest colds I’ve ever had. I’ll be mentioning it again i’m sure. A little too much walking the cold Paris streets perhaps.

The photographic week started with a web presentation by Clementine Scheideman that I couldn’t function well during it, just feeling too ill. Missed what would probably have been a a quite interesting photo scratch review event the same evening. My cold intervened.I did manage to take part in the group critique with Stella Baraklianou, the self-portraiture images were well recieved. A few suggestions on names to pursue.

Week 7 of FMP; The Falmouth University's Paris workshop and my first visit to Paris Photo 2018 (3rd - 9th Nov.)

The week began with a reasonably interesting wet of member presentations at Photofusion, the Brixton based photographic facility I’ve recently joined in order to conduct some printing of film enlargements.

On the Tuesday I conducted another ‘at home’ photoshoot, this time producing a reflective image of myself in a device I use very regularly. a kitchen toaster. I’m getting increasingly fussy and it took a while to get a set of shots that I was happy with. Here are the better images of this set:

The next day was a reasonably early start to get to St. Pancreas for a journey on the Paris Eurostar. The start of five days in Paris that had distinctly positive and negative aspects.

Before I leave commenting on this busy period I’d like to give a short review of a Falmouth University Photography Hub presentation by David Chancellor that I was able to take part in. He’s very involved in African anti-hunting campaigns and the photography of animals. Not really my area of interest. But he has produced a film called hunters that attracted my interest. The shots he used were much more human-environmental and the way the film was put together with the soundtrack really worked. See https://www.davidchancellor.com/works/hunters/

Does sound quite difficult photography, lots of walking-stalking on the African plains, not so different to street photography in some ways.