Negative space.

After a recent visit to the Rachel Whiteread drawings exhibition, who happens to be one of my favorite artists, I started to think about negative space, her work is entirely about this. She molds the insides of rooms, underneath of tables and chairs, and probably most famously the Austrian Holocaust Memorial, a concrete cast sculpture of the inside of a library (http://besondersweg.wordpress.com/2009/11/21/viennas-holocaust-memorial/).

Her work, to me, speak volumes and much more than just showing an image of the library. It shows the very things the Nazis’ were trying to eradicate, Jews’ knowledge by burning their books, this shown in a simple idea and in both a gentile and powerful way. This made me think about photography doing the same thing. I always think it’s what you leave out of the image that is just as important as what you put in. We edit a photo as we take it, constantly choosing to leave certain things out, and I think in my work I try to leave out as much as possible. I try to show just enough to tell the story. When I look at my current major project I feel this is what I am doing. I am not taking graphic images of an ill person. I am, I hope, taking images that tell a story without showing pain, illness, hurt, instead showing small parts that hint at that, thus hopefully letting the viewer use their own minds and imaginations. I don’t like graphically brutal images, except in cases of war when we should all be exposed to what our county is doing in ‘our’ name, but for everyday images its way too voyeuristic for me and can be very exploitative, I imagine most photojournalists’ worst nightmare.

Whiteread, for me, does fascinating work, and along with Mark Rothko (http://www.helhet-kroppogsjel.no/galleri/utstillinger/rothko) another of my favorite artists. I see real similarities in both their work, simple ideas, yet done in very different way. They show so much with such ‘simple’ means. Walk into a room of Rothkos’ and you can just feel the intense emotion in that room, it’s enough to give you a headache. When really it is only huge canvases filled with rich dark colours, in the same way Whitereads’ are just concrete cast, but both done in a way like no other painter or sculpture has done. For me anyway I love them, and would love to be able to create images that oozes emotion like Rothkos’ paintings do or generate thoughts like Whitereads’ sculptures. We can all but wish…

Rachel Whiteread
Rachel Whiteread
Mark Rothko
Mark Rothko



…early work.

After a visit to the Picasso museum in Barcelona, I started to think about a photographer getting an individual style to their work in the same way a painter does. It was fascinating seeing Picasso’s early work, what his college work was like, but more interestingly his early influences from other artists, and how he openly referenced them in his paintings. I found this very valuable for my major project I am doing. I am following in the foot steps of many photographers who have photographed their sick or dying close family members. Three particular photographers (Leonie Purchas, Phillip Toledano & Briony Campbell), I feel have greatly influenced me in my project have all produced amazing bodies of work and which are all so completely different from one another, yet they were all about similar subjects. All these bodies of work are fantastic, and I now know how hard they must have been to do, yet they managed to produced such intimate, loving and delicate images. This is something I really wish for from my project. If I could show in my images what is going on in my head, my life and what it is like for my mum, and manage to show it in a non narcissistic or self-pitying way I will be immensely happy, happy is maybe not the right word, but satisfied that I did this project for the right reason for myself and more importantly for my mum. It will be very hard. But looking at these photographers work definitely helps.

Leonie Purchas: http://www.leoniepurchas.com/home/intheshadowofthings/052910/selection-of-work-in-progress/?image=1

Phillip Toledano: http://www.dayswithmyfather.com

Briony Campbell: http://www.brionycampbell.com/projects/the-dad-project

If anyone wants to see my project so far please email me and I’ll send you a link to the separate blog, don’t want to make it public just yet.

Trip to Barcelona…and what is the point of photographs?

After meeting up with a load of mates in Southern Spain for a mates wedding I then headed to Barcelona on my own for a few days. It was great, and did a lot of thinking, and eating…

I really expected to take load of photographs while I was there, but I didn’t take any at all. I walked around Barcelona just experiencing it through my eyes, rather than a view finder. I found this so much more enjoyable. Maybe it could be that photography is more of a job for me now and so a break was good, or maybe it’s something different. I’ve been thinking about  the way cameras are being promoted to everyone now as this ‘must have’ item, we all now ‘need’ either a hugely powerful SLR or the smallest slickest pocket digital to snap ‘Kodak moments’ at every occasion, the consumerist dream. Wandering around Spain I saw like many other European counties, unlike the UK, the people are not obsessed by consumerism in the way we are in the UK. Why is this? Life seems a hell of a lot simpler in places like Spain, Greece and even Italy. They eat better than we do, live longer and some could say have happier lives, why? Could it be partly related to the fact that they are not continually sold things, both overtly and covertly, and having themselves forced into wanting an unattainable ‘perfect’ life by buying the next over priced gadget.

This does not have my relevance to my project, but I am fascinated by this sudden interest in owning a camera and thinking that makes you a photographer. For one, buying a SLR does not make you think like a photographer and does not make  you take good pictures, so why bother buying one, I would just stick to a simpler and much less expensive one and be happy with that, as they say big is not always better.

What else gets me is the inappropriateness of cameras now, standing in my mates wedding watching her walk down the aisle, I turned round to look back at the rows of people and it was just a sea of cameras and camera phones pointing at the bride. The couple had paid for a professional photographer to take pictures so I wonder why is it that everyone ‘needs’ to have their own version. I don’t blame people for wanting to get a good camera and work out how to use it, it’s just this obsession with getting a record of something to take home. It’s like memories are no longer good enough. Our brains are amazing things, they can store an immense amount of information which can then be recalled whenever and wherever we want it, it is the ultimate hard drive. Though the problem is no company can make money out that, so instead the multi-national companies encourage us that the way to remember is to snap away and store memories in a digital format. Truthfully how many times do this photos ever get shown? We download them in to a folder on our computer desktops and hardly ever look at them again. It is pointless.

Back to Barcelona, so wandering around looking at all the amazing architecture I decided to really enjoy just looking, and I really did. I stood outside many Gaudi buildings and just looked, didn’t take a shot and really saw things. I wasn’t looking for a good shoot or angle, just looked, and I think I will remember that feeling more than taking loads of pictures. It seems consumerism has changed our way of dealing with ‘experiences’. Why can we no longer have a memory and recall it when we wish? Why does it all have to be documented physically? This must seem odd for a documentary photographer to say, but I really think we are missing out.

Oh OK, I did take one or two images, but really only that few, I couldn’t resist the juxtaposition of the cranes with the old towers, here they are:

Gaudi and the Machines.
Gaudi and the Machines.