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.