First year at Coventry University BA (Hons) Photography: I feel I have turned a corner..
Well that really flew. My first year at Coventry University. I learnt as much about myself as I have about photography. Photography is a discipline which requires your total commitment and attention. If the desire to become a photographer is not burning inside you then I don’t think that it can be achieved through academic studying alone. It requires passion, commitment and a desire to succeed.
I have started to look at myself and my practice in a totally different way. One big change that was needed was my website. It needed to take on a more mature appearance. Small changes to it have made all the difference. I added links which bring traffic from my website direct to my blog and twitter feed. This has opened me up to a wider audience. Some days I am shocked at the amount of people who have been reading my blog. The stats figures let me know what people have been looking at and which images have had the most views. This then obviously feeds information to me informing me which images or articles people are finding most interesting.
No longer am I found pondering over the latest lens or camera. I am now more likely to be found pondering over how I can make the shot more creative. This is where pre-visualisation comes in. Pre-visualising how the image you intend to create will appear in print. What the finished piece will look like. Shooting digital had made me lazy in some areas. I now pre-visualise all my shots with much deeper thought.
I can’t remember how Jonathan Worth put this now during a lecture, but he hit the nail on the head when he was describing the work of David LaChapelle. We were shown an array of LaChapelles images on a powerpoint display as asked to point out what makes these images unique to him (LaChapelle). I couldn’t put my finger in it until it was pointed out by JW. He stated that even if we were put in a room with all of the objects that we see in the image, we could not create the same image. I never understood what he meant at first but the answer was simple. Its because we all ‘see things differently’. Including LaChapelle. He has a very unique vision as we all do. After this talk I honestly felt like I had turned a corner and learnt something. My own vision is as unique as that of David LaChapelle and anybody else for that matter.
JW also taught us about ‘record and reflection’. He explained that it is simply not good enough to just simply record what we have seen. We need to reflect upon it. Its obvious when you think about it, because we need to compare these things with the work of other artists so that we fully understand what we are trying to say.
Paul Smith was on hand to give me some great lessons in Photoshop this term whilst completing my 151MC module. I was familiar with Photoshop before, but being shown how to use proper techniques has been a real godsend. Its a skill that no forward thinking photographer these days can be without. I managed to produce some great images influenced by the minimalist art movement. For the final images I was encouraged to use the Print Bureau at the University. Instead of having the images printed onto photo paper and them mounting them into an aperture cut into mount board (which I would normally do) Paul encouraged me to try a different method. He recommended that I have them mounted directly onto high density board by the Print Bureau. I was a bit reluctant at first. I’m not too sure why. I’m a bit OCD. I don’t like change. However, the final pieces were amazing when David at the Print Bureau produced them. David was also on hand to give me advice on what finish was recommended for the type of print etc.. This project taught me that I need to embrace change more. I need to be more open with my thinking and not ‘play safe’ with what has worked and been ‘good enough’ in the past. Only by breaking free of these old habits can I take myself further.
For my final project at University I decided to return to a children’s home where I spent a large part of my childhood. Because this body of work was very personal to me I strongly believe that this is why I managed to create my best work yet. I took a series of colour polaroid images, each of which told a narrative. As these images are unique and original as they stand it was suggested by Jonathan Shaw that I create a book to present them in. This way then the originals could be preserved. Typically of me, I was reluctant at first. However, I managed to produce a basic book. Nothing breathtaking but I could see the potential. I think this is what Jonathan wanted me to see. He wanted me to see the potential and what was achievable with these Polaroids. Yet again, only by trying something new and different did I achieve something special and a final piece to be proud of.
This has led me to want to self publish my own book before I complete my degree. I have just missed the ‘Self Publish Be Happy’ event at The Photographer’s Gallery but hopefully there should be another event not too far away in the distant future. In the meantime, I have been drawing huge inspiration from the three youtube videos that are doing the rounds. Self publishing a book would be a great way to get myself some proper exposure and out there to the masses.
I went in to University a couple of weeks ago to have a final feedback session and discuss my last year with Jonathan Shaw. It was great to get some proper down to earth advice. It was also nice to hear the Jonathan thought that he had made the right decision accepting me on the course. I understand that it must be a tough decision deciding who to accept and who not to accept onto the course. Photography is becoming an increasingly popular subject for people so the standards for acceptance onto such courses will no doubt be getting higher.
I realise that my own future in photography will be decided by myself. I have a few projects in hand which need further developing. I do feel that I am moving in the right direction and making positive steps towards entering the world of professional photography. I intend to travel more. This will help me to engage with people and places and be more creative with my thinking. More importantly, I need to try new things and embrace change more. My last two assignments proved that to me.