Surfaces & Strategies - Week 6

tarted the week with an interesting talk by a fellow member of the Lenses of Croydon group, Berrnard Miller. His portraits were generally very gritty, as were the nature of the two main projects, LGBT nightlife and boxing.  His portraits were generally very good, not perhaps so strong in terms of context, but good use of colour in those he could use supplementary flash. Apart from a question mark on whether some of the images in his fascinating series on South London LGBTQ late-night were too explicit, but they were certainly real. 

The other event I was able to get to this week was edition 17 of 'Photoscratch', a regular hosting of work in progress by documentary photographers. I've been to a number of these events and while the incompleteness was perhaps not helpful in terms of my new exhibition goal, but this and earlier meetings do show i think that quality always wins over quantity. As usual six photogpraher's work was exhibited. 

Always excellent to be able to speak to the photographers themselves. Naroa Perez had an interesting project where she is experimenting with a variety of materials soaked in a liquid emulsion to both capture and show photographic images. Her theme was cactii, a plant she is fond of.

I need to look further into this technique, not easy but could be a very effective outcome, depending on the narrative to be communicated.

Image from the 'A Stranger in my Mother's Kitchen' series by Celene Marchbank, 2017

Image from the 'A Stranger in my Mother's Kitchen' series by Celene Marchbank, 2017

Celine Marchbank had a very moving and very accomplished project on her relationship to her late Mother via fragments of Mother's presence and shots taken in her kitchen. She's planning to put into a book.

We've been asked to consider spaces, and the many different ways in which images can be exhibited. Whilst I often take pictures of photographs that interest me at exhibitions I go to, it's rare that I attempt to record how they are hung. I sense that will change.

We have a blank canvas.

'The Loft', one of the largest exhibition spaces currently available in Croydon 

'The Loft', one of the largest exhibition spaces currently available in Croydon 

How we chose to hang my exhibition is up to us, much to consider.

I've taken part in the setting up of small exhibitions, these images are from helping hang a recent exhibition by the South West Royal Photographic Society, but someone else has always been the curator.  

Copyright Graham Land; taken 12th July, 2018

Copyright Graham Land; taken 12th July, 2018

As mentioned in my previous blog I've decided to include video in my planned exhibition. In my recent visits to graduation shows I've been impressed how on a number of exhibits the artist has added to their work through  including video, in addition to what is generally their preferred medium. 

I feel my own project could benefit from addition of the moving image. Whether or not I include sound I'm not sure, my initial feeling is just to run it silently, but will experiment with and without to see whether sound adds or detracts to the message. There's so much really powerful video shown daily on TV that I suspect a reasonably high technical standard has to be the default for use as a documentary record.

I don't normally take video. In the dim and distant past I've owned a couple of video recorders. Apart from holiday footage I did take some more documentary shots whilst working in Japan; tripod mounted in my car in the Kansai region and walking through various Asian shopping malls. 

However, this is about to change. I've done a little experimentation in a recent collaboration shooting fashion shots and was highly unimpressed by the jerky hand carried footage that resulted. Looking further into it the solution seems to be a relatively affordable stabilized mount using a gimbal system controlled through small electric motors. It's not a powerful unit but fine for my mirrorless Fuji system and the weight is almost reasonable.

The last component arrived this week and I've taken my first video piece for inclusion in my planned exhibition. A link is shown below.

WITH SOUND - Crossing the road and entering La Zaris Art Gallery & Hairdressers for a collaborative photoshoot with Kish Soobramaney

This was taken just before commencing a photoshoot with the proprietor, Kish Soobramaney. Kish has recently changed the name of his premises from Hairdresser's to Art Gallery. Utilising most of the wall space for hanging his and other's art whilst maintaining income as a practicing hairdresser to a smaller number of clients in the same premises. I've come along several hairdressers who mix their business, but as this was the only one to encompass art exhibition I thought it easily merited an invitation to become part of my project.

As with previous participants I took some images with my medium format Hasselblad, Nikon full-frame camera., Tripod mounted I don't think I quite got the exposure right with my manual light metering for the Hassleblad. This is I think the best of the images taken this  way: 

Kish Soobramaney, proprietor of La Zara Art Gallery and Hairdressers  Copyright Graham Land; taken 12th July, 2018

Kish Soobramaney, proprietor of La Zara Art Gallery and Hairdressers

Copyright Graham Land; taken 12th July, 2018

Generally I don't think I coped well with the very bright conditions, but this is the one of the better digital images.

Kish Soobramaney in the chair he normally occupies when on his own.  Copyright Graham Land; taken 12th July, 2018

Kish Soobramaney in the chair he normally occupies when on his own.

Copyright Graham Land; taken 12th July, 2018

I was trying to connect Kish with his hairdressing business through the wall mounted hair dryer and line of chairs with mirrors and with the Art his gallery shows in separate imagery. At the same time in both images I'm trying to say something about his very outward and buoyant personality. Not sure it worked out well.

The video went better than I'd hoped in that it did seem to connect Kish with his local neighborhood whilst at the same time giving a more dynamic perspective of his shop. I now plan to ask all of the participants in my project if I can take similar short video pieces of walking into their shop from the street.

 

REFERENCES

Lapenta F. 2011 Some Theoretical and Methodological Views on Photo-Elicitation in Margolis, E & Pauwels, L The SAGE Handbook of Visual Research Methods, London, Sage Publications.

Cotton, C. 2014 The photograph as contemporary art, London, Thames & Hudson.