Assignment 4 : Response to Tutor Feedback

Response to Tutor feedback on People & Place Assignment 4

As ever, my tutor gave me quick feedback which was much appreciated. Also, (as ever) it’s taken me a while to respond. It always takes me a while to absorb comments, particularly when my mind has moved ahead to what I’m doing next, and also, on this occasion, my tutor gave a different kind of feedback.

In his overall comments he wrote :

 Overall this has been a very interesting assignment to review. I found it very encouraging that you managed to pry your lens away from the very obviously photogenic cathedral and concentrate on the visitors. The sublime beauty of the cathedral is something that immediately grabs attention and I could have seen you easily put together a series involving images such as _MG_4168 and _MG_4126 which offer a very majestic view of the Cathedral interior. Instead you have concentrated on something most would totally ignore and conceptually this is very interesting. I am not sure you have been entirely successful; with following this through to the final edit but then that is the purpose of this feedback process once a student moves beyond requiring basic technical instruction.

I found the idea of focusing on the visitors to the cathedral space very interesting and the thoughtful poses in which you have captured them reflects somewhat the philosophical idea of how a space becomes a place in our psyche. To this end I feel you might be better served taking the edit one step further and removing the two detail photos and replacing them with two more observed portraits so that the series becomes about the visitors and their looks of contemplation. You then have the option of either keeping everyone at roughly the same distance from the camera, and hence size in the frame (see Struth’s Museum visitors work or the closer up view of diCorcia’s Heads I have referenced in the suggested reading), or varying it a bit..

My original choice was related to the concept of people being faced with their own mortality when they go into a Cathedral and my thinking had been to include two detail shots illustrating this concept of mortality (it’s just occurred to me that, of course, the people being /remembered/ are now immortal through the remembering).  However, maybe it isn’t necessary to show the detail shots given that I’ve explained the concept in my statement.

My tutor then queried , “…do all of the visitors need to be lost in thought? Is that the only thing people do when they go to the Cathedral?”. He referred to, for instance, a couple of other photographs showing people interacting with the space in a more tourist manner (yet not in clichéd smiling shots).

My thoughts around this are that, so far as my concept is concerned, the visitors do need to be lost in thought and they need to be large enough in the frame for this to be seen. The first image could possibly fit, especially if I cropped it but it doesn’t have the right mood for me somehow and additionally there is movement blur on the lady..

Tutor’s edit

My tutor then continued by taking me through his own edit from the contact sheets I’d submitted, to give me an alternative view that sticks to horizontal images as he felt that the series as a whole worked better in this format. He selected 22 from which he selected 12. These are photographs where I have more distance from my subjects, allowing them to become more part of the scene.

Tutor's 12

He thought there were many different options for a final 6 and chose those that he felt worked well together  “and feature a strong connection of the visitors staring up towards the architecture”

I realise this is a totally different edit than the one you have submitted but I felt this might be a useful exercise – seeing how someone completely detached from the work would edit the selection. If we compare this to the original edit you’ll see we have selected totally different images, which is quite surprising, and yet the overall feel of the series remains one of the solemn contemplation of the space by the visitors.

Here are my 6 again:-

Our selections are certainly different. I can see how my tutor’s edit places people in the Cathedral whilst showing more of the grandeur of its scale which is highlighted by the first image. My selection puts the visitors more in the foreground and captures their expressions. As I mentioned above, I do understand a different view concerning the appropriateness or not of the detail images.

In my Assignment 4 write-up I had also shown other selections – of Winchester itself and then the staff/volunteers in the Cathedral. What keeps coming into my mind now is a compilation storyboard of visitors as they enter the Cathedral; the scale of the building and the activity of the staff and volunteers within this. I would like to return to this so will add an addendum if I achieve it. (Assignment 5 awaits!).  What I am particularly pleased about is that I had sufficient quantity and quality of images this time for several different edits to be made and to capture my tutor’s interest.

Technical aspects

My tutor wrote that there were very few technical issues but reminded me to have fast enough shutter speeds to avoid camera shake and to be sure to straighten up any converging verticals or wobbly horizons. He also mentioned using smaller apertures so as to get both the people and the space in focus and to use a tripod when working with available light. I had mentioned in my write-up that I used a tripod wherever possible and also had the use of a T-SE lens on my final visit.  I didn’t make full use of it because I became drawn into the visitors again.  I certainly agree that this type of precision is very important in architectural work and using a T-SE lens certainly saves a lot of extra time in post-processing. I now also have Lightroom 5 which has a new straightening tool that cuts down on the editing process.

Suggested Reading

I had pondered covering this in a separate post but decided to keep it here as it’s a direct outcome of tutor feedback. These were the suggestions:-

Philip Lorca diCorcia’s ‘Heads’: also here

Peter Bialobrzeski

Simon Roberts

Alexander Gronsky

Luigi Ghirri

Robert Polidari

I have already written about Simon Roberts here  and here  as I find his work inspiring and this encouraged me to experiment (in a small way so far) with medium format work.  After reading this my tutor had suggested I look at Peter Bialobrzeski (b. 1961) who is a German documentary photographer.  In fact I also saw one of his photographs at Landmark: The Fields of Photography an Exhibition at Somerset House this year but had become so absorbed by Simon Roberts that I hadn’t paid so much attention to it.

Peter Bialobrzeski 

Peter Bialobrzeski has said that he advocates photography as a cultural practice as opposed to fine art, yet I think he combines both. His work is beautiful to my eyes (I make no apologies for saying that!) in terms of  subtle colour and composition whilst portraying the effects of human hands on the landscape. He documents ways in which people on the one hand want to hang onto the old and resist change, whilst on the other hand have the desire to demolish the existing urban landscape and create anew. I am at an early stage of exploring his images to see how he evokes thoughts, moods and feelings so will write more in a future post.

His books are expensive but I’ve ordered “Case Study Homes”  which is different from his usual dawn or dusk large format work. These are contraptions erected in a squatter camp near Manila and a take on the Case Study House Program initiated by Arts and Architecture magazine in 1945 in an effort to develop low-priced single-family homes. Looking at them makes me think of them as one step up from the ‘installations’ I photograph on the Common – see here .  Well – maybe two steps!

Alexander Gronsky 

Alexander Gronsky  was born in Tallin, Estonia (1980) and is based in Riga, Latvia. In some respects his work reminded me of that of Bialobrzeski.  I’m comparing here Gronsky’s “The Edge” with Bialobrzeski’s “Heimat” (“a personalized bit of visual and cultural history that goes beyond Germany’s dark past”.)  Both photographers utilize pale layers of sky and earth with darker figures in a landscape, although the former has his figures in the middle third, which provides balance,  whilst the latter has them in the bottom third, which gives one a sense of heaviness even in the delicacy of the composition. I am also drawn towards  the colour palette in Gronsky’s “Pastoral” (Moscow) and Bialobrzeski’s “The Raw and the Cooked” (the Asian megacity).

Philip-Lorca diCorcia’s “Heads”  (images on Google)

These images appeal to me with their gaze as if these people are simultaneously maintaining awareness of their surroundings whilst keeping an eye out on a busy area. There’s a similarity in the gazes I captured in the Cathedral but with a subtle difference which I think is to do with the quality of eye focus. Those in the cathedral appear more inwardly intense whereas those in the street are looking intently ahead. I could be imaging this of course to prove my point but this is how I’m perceiving the difference. Here’s a quote from the New York Times in 2001 :-

Unaware of the camera, they are absorbed in thought or gaze absently; they are how we act most of the time, walking down the street, in a crowd, focused on something or nothing. But enlarged and isolated, their expressions become riddles, intensely melodramatic and strangely touching.

Mr. diCorcia’s pictures remind us, among other things, that we are each our own little universe of secrets, and vulnerable. Good art makes you see the world differently, at least for a while, and after seeing Mr. diCorcia’s new ”Heads,” for the next few hours you won’t pass another person on the street in the same absent way.

(NY Times, Michael Kimmelman, 14 September 2001),

This work has been described as a departure from diCorcia’s usual staged scenes. .  A large strobe flashlight was fixed to scaffolding over a subway in Times Square and shots of passers-by were taken covertly, in daylight, with a small or easily concealed camera.  The series comprises 17 head and shoulder portraits chosen from 4000 photographs that were taken over a two year period. The comment has been made here  that as the heads emerge out of the background darkness, “The surroundings have been reduced and largely eliminated, thereby extracting the genre of portrait from the genre of street photography”.

The author goes on to discuss how street photography “stands in the tradition of impressionist and pointillist painting of urban subjects” and how, in the latter the choices of formal composition and tonal value determine the distribution of figures in the scene whereas in photography the conscious distribution of figures is, “replaced by a hit and miss series of shots from which prints are selected that are suitable to be organised under a common theme or project”. In thinking of my own photographs in the cathedral I wouldn’t say they were hit and miss overall.  Certainly, on the first visit, I photographed whatever I found interesting whilst keeping in mind “A sense of Place”. It was on looking through the photographs afterwards that a theme began to emerge and I followed this through on the third visit.

The author further comments that diCorcia,

aligns himself in a tradition that is less concerned with capturing a particular psychological moment than with, isolating, stochastically, through selection and rejection of shots, a certain attitude in the series that is emblematic for what is understood as the ‘human condition’. DiCorcia, “seems to play out an essentialist gesture – cast away what is ephemeral and home in on the face, the carrier of the riddle, the dearest surface that is so telling and at the same time strives to hid its tale.

There is also reference to the plays of Samuel Beckett, earlier work by Robert Frank on the New York underground and Beat Streuli’s work that also singles out the individual in motion – this time with sunlight.

I certainly hadn’t been consciously aware of diCorcia’s work – maybe I had absorbed it subliminally at some point – but I can certainly see how, in my own much smaller way, I had been working through a similar process.  My reading about “Heads” also highlighted another issue for me that I have referred to before which is the question of the ethics in this type of work.

Ethics

In my post on Assignment 3 I had commented on my concerns about photographing inside a small church and whether I was respecting the space.  In Assignment 4, I wrote that I felt easier about this in this large Cathedral that welcomes so many visitors (many with cameras).  When I’d talked about the project one of my student colleagues had suggested obtaining photographs of people in prayer but I’d said that I didn’t want to do that because it would be too intrusive. Have I been intrusive though in taking photographs at a closer distance? My tutor chose his final edit from photographs taken further away where, certainly, faces can be seen but there is more anonymity in the distance.

There was an article in the New York Times in 2006   describing how Erno Nussenzweig, an Orthodox Jew saw his picture in the “Heads”exhibition catalogue in 2005. If the photograph is the one I think it is then it is actually a wonderful study. However, Mr Nussenzweig sued diCorcia and Pace gallery for exhibiting and publishing the photograph without permission and profiting financially from it. The suit was dismissed at the beginning of 2006 but reading about it reminded me again of issues of privacy and intrusion of personal space in a public place.

Summary

I have to admit that I was rather taken aback at first by my tutor’s very different edit of my work.  Photographing at shorter distances, and feeling more comfortable about this, had been a positive learning curve for me and so it was a surprise to see an edit based on images taken from further away. However it reinforced for me that there are as many ways of looking at a piece of work as the people looking.  Feeling more comfortable with closer work doesn’t mean I have to do it all the time either. For me it’s a case of being able to recognize the kind of images that work well together and I still have a lot to learn about editing.  This is where involvement in the Thames Valley Group and/or meeting in a focused way with other students, is invaluable for me as I gain the views of  people who aren’t emotionally attached to the work.

I’ve also been pleased as I wrote above, that I had sufficient number of interesting images for different edits to be made.

The suggestions for further reading/research have been absorbing to follow. I haven’t mentioned them here but I have also looked at Robert Polidori and Luigi Ghirri and have additional notes on all the photographers in my paper log.

27th July 2013

References

Suggested Reading

 

Philip Lorca diCorcia’s ‘Heads’:

http://www.pacegallery.com/newyork/exhibitions/11963/philip-lorca-dicorcia-heads

http://www.moma.org/learn/moma_learning/philip-lorca-dicorcia-head-10-2002

Peter Bialobrzeski -http://www.bialobrzeski.de/

Simon Roberts -http://simoncroberts.com/

Alexander Gronsky -http://www.alexandergronsky.com/

Luigi Ghirri -http://www.americansuburbx.com/channels/l/luigi-ghirri

Robert Polidari -http://arthurrogergallery.com/artists/robert-polidori/

Other websites

http://beatstreuli.com/random-largeformatprints.html

http://jmcolberg.com/weblog/2009/11/review_case_study_homes_by_peter_bialobrzeski/

http://uk.images.search.yahoo.com/search/images?_adv_prop=image&fr=yfp-t-702&va=philip-lorca+diCorcia%27s+Heads

http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/3882434414

http://www.houkgallery.com/artists/robert-polidori/

http://www.nytimes.com/2001/09/14/arts/art-in-review-philip-lorca-dicorcia-heads.html [accessed 24/7/2013]

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/03/17/arts/17iht-lorca.html?_r=0 [accessed 27.07.2013]

http://www.oturn.net/probe/heads.html

People & Place Assignment 4 : A Sense of Place

People & Place Assignment 4 : A Sense of Place

A: The journey from Assignment 3

This journey has been a long one as Assignment 3 was completed at the end of January and my response to feedback on that is here . I still have to write-up the study Visit to the’ Klein/Moriyama’ Exhibition in January plus the informal visit to the ‘Cartier-Bresson and a Question of Colour’ Exhibition at Somerset House. In February I went solo to the ‘Light from the Middle East Exhibition’ at The V&A and the ‘Nadav Kander Exhibition’.  In March I went on an OCA organised talk by Tom Hunter in Dalston. I’m not happy about the delayed write-ups but, on the positive side I have  put together a new blog category on “Writing, art and Photographers” here  and have already written about Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road”, Robert Frank’s “The Americans”  and Elif Shafak, the Turkish author.  Shafak writes eloquently on language and culture and how storytelling can puncture holes in the cultural cocoons that we weave for ourselves.  I believe that photography can do the same.

Additionally, I’ve attended two meetings of the newly formed OCA Thames Valley Group which I’ve written about here . We’ve been fortunate to get some funding from , the OCA Student Organisation (OCASA) so that we can have OCA tutor Sharon Boothroyd in attendance. It makes such a difference to be able to meet with people for a more intense discussion on photography/photographers and share work in progress. The physical act of taking along prints and having others comment on them is so different – it’s as if I’m looking at my work through other eyes.

I’ve also begun to work with a medium format camera and written about that here  It’s the kind of photography I want to continue with.

All in all, reading back on this, I think I’ve achieved more than I thought I had so that’s good. I just need to curtail the extent of my reading and be more focused instead of reading anything and everything and then thinking I have to write about it all!

Onward now to Assignment 4.

B: Assignment Brief

To draw together all the various strands explored so far, including technical skills,; observation and reaction and “the underlying appreciation of what spaces and buildings mean for people who live in and among them.”  6 images as final selection but to choose from a strong selection of 12.

Imagine that I’m on assignment for an intelligent, thoughtful travel publication (not tourist promotion) that is demanding a considered, in-depth treatment. To me this means that I will look at the less good/mediocre as well as the positive aspects of the ‘place’. The aim is to show the character of the place and people who live there with as much visual variety as possible, resulting in 6 images as the final selection, chosen from a strong selection of 12.

I intended to follow my tutor’s suggestion of sticking to my 60D.

Choosing the Location

I had carried out the Projects/Exercises for this Part of the Module   in various locations in London and, at first, thought I might go back for a more in-depth look at the V&A which had the advantage of being indoors (good for the ongoing bad weather) and photography being allowed, unless otherwise indicated.  However I decided on Winchester  Cathedral for two reasons. Firstly, I’d been inspired by Peter Marlow’s book “The English Cathedral” (2012) and, secondly, I know Winchester reasonably well as I’ve worked there from time to time in the past.  I also knew that cameras and even tripods are allowed in the cathedral subject to special Services and events.

Questions/Thoughts

How is the character of a place conveyed visually? What is it that speaks to me and makes me want to return to a place? A purposefulness about the people – being busy and active; animated or looking relaxed and calm; at peace with what they’re doing; therefore people at work and play; singular or interacting. It doesn’t matter whether rich or poor but a caring for and about the environment. I look for a sense of history about a place as well and so Winchester appeals to me on all these levels.

Resources/Inspiration

I’ve already mentioned Peter Marlow.  I also looked at all the suggestions from my tutor  (see response to feedback on Assignment 3) – Simon Standing and Peter Fraser  seemed particularly relevant here . I also reminded myself of Thomas Struth’s work  that I’d seen at the Whitechapel Gallery  when I was studying AOP – all those groups of people visiting various types of places of worship  and being engaged in different ways of looking. I also have a book by Karen Knorr, Genii Loci (2002)  including her series on Connoisseurs  as I appreciate her images that combine elegant grandeur with historical reference  and a wry look at  how the connoisseurs behave.  Whilst at the second meeting of the OCA Thames Valley Group in April I was also recommended to look at Mark Power’s “MASS”   – the work he did in Poland and the way he took the same viewpoint in each church, paired with a close-up of its ‘slot’ where the congregation are encouraged to place money.

I have read Joel Smith’s book The Life and Death of Buildings: On Photography and Time (2011) which was an accompaniment to an Exhibition at Princeton University Art Museum in 2011. Smith writes:-

Photographs are made of time. …… Because they are made of time, photographs, in the plural, are good at reflecting change, whether of a person’s maturing face or of a building as it rises, or as it disappears
.….. buildings and photographs are concrete instances of social memory in action: they are, from corner to corner and from subcellar to roof peak, impure fragments of the churn of time”
(p. 14/16 2011)

I  acquired some old postcards in between my three visits to Winchester   because I was interested in how the Cathedral had been portrayed earlier for tourists and how my images might compare. Here are four of them.

Winchester Cathedral 1 Winchester Cathedral 2 Winchester Cathedral 3 Winchester Cathedral 4

There are two  from Francis Frith (a matt sepia)  which, I think, must be late C19th/early C20th. They are unused so no postage stamp to give a clue but they are similar to images I found on the Francis Frith website . The third is a Tuck’s glossy  monochrome of the C12th  black Tournai marble font, that could be 1930s,again no stamp. The fourth was posted in July 1967 (glossy b+w) and is of the Presbytery. I was interested that the Frith cards seem to represent the cathedral as almost a gothic ruin, aided by the fact that there is no seating which can serve as a reminder of people (it’s only in the modern era that people are no longer expected to always stand in Services).

Winchester and its Cathedral

_MG_4194 lr

In his welcome to the Guidebook Winchester Cathedral (2012) the Dean of Winchester, the Very Revd James Atwell, states that the Cathedral was “the Crown of Wessex that first united the English people in a single identity” and many of the early monarchs rest in an honoured place near the high altar. The original church was started on the orders of King  Cenwalh of Wessex  around 645 and the present building was begun in 1079 by Bishop Wakelin at the side of the early church (which was demolished), with some remodeling in the late C14th. It’s said to be the longest Cathedral in Europe and is also very narrow.  I won’t write more about its history and the famous people connected with it because it’s all summarized on the Cathedral’s website . The now ruined Wolvesey Castle was the Norman Bishop’s  palace , dating from 1110 and its chapel was incorporated into the new Palace, in the 1680s of which one wing survives. The Great Hall of Winchester  Castle (founded in 1067)  still stands nearby.  I’m mentioning this because it seems to me that those early Kings and Bishops lived side by side ruling their separate kingdoms – the temporal and the spiritual; the secular and the sacred.

The process of the assignment

The Cathedral sits within its own green space with its shop and refectory close by and the town streets a short distance away.  I visited on three separate days for the purpose of the assignment. The Cathedral staff and volunteers were most friendly and welcoming and it was good to wander around for a few hours on the first day to get a sense of the place and absorb the atmosphere, including light lunch in the refectory. On reviewing the photographs I thought it was insufficient though, too bitty to get a sense of people interacting there.

I thought maybe it would be better to go into the town so I returned on a very cold day to find shoppers, street musicians. I also became more aware of the immediate area round the cathedral;

Winchester people

going back into the Cathedral again is struck me how much it is like a small city on its own where everything is organised and in its place. The volunteers are friendly and helpful. They walk around and stop to chat to check that you’re okay and ask if you need any information. There are regular guided tours by trained guides.

Cathedral Staff:Volunteers

The clerics themselves seemed to drift by occasionally with an air of going somewhere on an important purpose.

I saw more clearly how this large cathedral is divided into separate areas – smaller chapels going off to one side and places where some people (presumably staff) gather to talk in twos and threes. There was a whole sense of business going on behind the scenes. I began to think how ideal it would be, if I became a well-known photographer, like Peter Marlow for instance – to be able to have access to these other areas of the building and staff to gain a real sense of how everything operates as a microcosm.

I came away, still unsatisfied somehow wanting to have more photographs of people, especially as, on this particular day there were few visitors.  I began to think maybe I should go somewhere else instead and had the idea of re-visiting Sunbury on Thames where I used to live.  I did this – again during the continuing bad weather – and wrote about it here .I still felt that pull towards Winchester though and so returned for the third time.

The editing and evaluation process

I used only my Canon 60D camera, mainly with zoom lens but I also used a wide angle Sigma 10-20mm and Canon TS-E  24mm lens – having acquired the latter just before I went to Winchester for the third time. The light in the cathedral was much kinder that that in the two churches I visited for Assignment 3. The problem this time was more in converging verticals and the perspective etc of a tall building – hence the desire to obtain a TS-E lens (shared with my husband so I could convince myself it was cost-effective!)..In total I took 291 photographs (I’m expecting, again, that my tutor will say it wasn’t enough!) From those I selected 110 to process and convert to a mix of jpegs –  the Cathedral, its precincts and the City.  On looking at these 112 it was the Cathedral and the people inside it that began to weave me a narrative.

I’ve mentioned above my impression of the cathedral as a world within itself, with its different groups and routines.  I also became much more aware of how it serves as a monument and memento mori.  Despite the welcome I don’t experience it really as a spiritual place – certainly not like St Nicholas Church near to me. The Cathedral is a more masculine place to me – tall, hard, lofty, angular – whereas St Nicholas is small, rounded, enclosing and maternal, more of a mother Church maybe retaining more sense of its earliest beginnings in a different religion and way of looking at the world. The Cathedral appears to me as a monument, certainly to the glory of God but also to the priests who built it, the powerful,  and its wealthy patrons. Its tombs and effigies reminded me of the verse

Stop ye travellers as you pass by
As you are now, so once was I

As I am now, soon you shall be –
Prepare yourself to follow me.

I had a discussion with one of the volunteers as to where this originated but neither of us could remember. I researched when I got home and discovered here that it’s an unknown epitaph from Tasmania, Australia. There are two monuments that explicitly represent this because they are cadaver effigies and the one most finely worked is this one of  Bishop Richard Fox.

_MG_4688 9x6 lr

I’m certainly not saying that there is a deadness about the Cathedral. There is a beauty of light, form, glass and glowing wood lovingly carved by expert craftsmen over the centuries.

_MG_4719 9x6 LR

However, with its contents it is a time machine with a life of its own. It embodies time in its fabric, like the photograph but more so as, together with its people it is a three dimensional object. Anonymous visitors become Everyman as they come face to face with their own mortality and, as they gaze for a long time.,they become like living statues. The crypt of the Cathedral also holds the sculpture Sound II (1986) by Antony Gormley .  I hadn’t realised until I watched a TV programme recently, that Gormley uses his own body for his sculptures. He makes himself into monuments of himself, as it were, in many different places and here he is in the cathedral also.

This idea of memento mori and the entranced gaze of visitors is something that stayed with me and informed my selection from the processed jpegs. I also discussed my ideas and shared some of the prints at the OCA Thames Valley Group meeting (link given above). It makes such a difference to have other people look at the physical prints and shuffle them around to form different narratives.

Working towards the final selection

110 jpegs became 52 as I discarded all except those inside the Cathedral. 52 then became 25 as I concentrated on the people; monuments; statues and tokens of remembrance.

The next selection of 12 included volunteers/staff as they worked.

Selection of 12

Reasons for exclusion:-

4391, 4662 and 4735 – reluctantly as they were focused on a task as opposed to ‘gazing in stillness’;  plus the colour palette was different.

4126 – the close-up of the head and hands seemed more appropriate than the full-length.

4160 – I had to exclude this because it was the only one in portrait format so it stood out as being different, I would have preferred it otherwise to  4111. My tutor had previously commented (Ass 3) where I had just one image in a different format. I could have justified its use because the effigy was gazing down but couldn’t work out how it could fit in the layout I wanted.

4168 – the colour palette was different.

The 6 selected for prints to be submitted

The order above is the order I envisaged for the layout and I have also printed a composite for my tutor to see. The prints are on Epson Premium semi-gloss photo paper. I will also be submitted printed contact sheets of the selections of 25 and 12 images plus some composites I did for the other themes I had discerned regarding the people of Winchester and the staff/volunteers in the Cathedral. These contact sheets have been printed on Permajet Matt Proofing paper – less long-lasting but with the advantage of giving a good representation plus cost-effectiveness. My tutor will also have access to a Dropbox folder containing all of these, plus full-size jpegs of the final 6 and contact sheets of the original 291 RAW images and the initial selection for jpegs.

 

Conclusion

What I set out to achieve/how I see the essential character of the place

As mentioned earlier it was Peter Marlow’s book on English cathedrals that initially sent me to Winchester.  I diverted along the way with a diversion to Sunbury and also a look in Winchester City.  Another book I’ve read is ’Townscape with Figures” by Richard Hoggart (1994). The book is actually about Farnham where he lived for some time but, despite the fact that it doesn’t have a Cathedral, Farnham does remind me of Winchester as it has retained old buildings, narrow streets and independent shops. Hoggart refers to writing one more book “which aims, by looking at a particular place and its people, to offer some ‘representative significance’: whilst also recognizing unique characteristics.”  and the tricky element of finding the right balance between the two.  He continues:

If the book so focused on the special nature of Farnham that it appealed to hardly anyone who did not live there or have a prior interest in the town then it would have failed …….because I had not made the place seem interesting, in its own right, to people who had not heard of it until they began to read”  (1994 Introduction xvii)

I think it’s easier with photographs, perhaps because photographs capture people’s attention in a different way, but this is what I’ve struggled with.  If I had been taking photographs with no end result in mind I think I would have been inclined to concentrate on the interior of the cathedral but not the people inside it.  This is why this particular assignment has been another learning experience for me.  I became more interested in the interactions and reactions of the people there.  The visitors behaved in such a different way.  I could see how they were being drawn into the atmosphere of this beautiful cathedral and behaving in similar ways.  In this sense I hope I have captured some ‘representative significance’ within the unique building that is this cathedral. I actually used a variety of focal lengths when I was photographing but notice that the six I’ve chosen are fairly similar. I used a tripod for the first 4 with a lower ISO. The selected photographs are also in landscape format – to me this seemed better suited to a wider view of People in Place. I have written about the layout I envisaged above.  If I had had more confidence I would have devised a more complicated slideshow where I could juxtapose the gazing visitors with images of the effigies as they faded in and out.  I intend to practise slideshow creation and, hopefully, do some work along these lines for Assignment 5.

It was hard to let go of some of the photographs of  staff/volunteers etc in my final selection but they didn’t fit my  emerging awareness of a theme that seemed important – that everyone who visits there is surrounded by reminders of their own mortality.

13th May 2013

References

Hoggart, R (1994) Townscape with Figures, Chatto & Windus, London

Knappett, G (ed) (2012) Winchester Cathedral, Pitkin Publishing, Andover.

Knorr, K (2002) Genii Loci, Black Dog Publishing Ltd, London

Marlow, P (2012) The English Cathedral, Merrell, UK

Smith, J (2011 )Tthe Life and Death of Buildings” On Photograph and Time, Yale University Press

http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Epitaphs

http://winchester-cathedral.org.uk

http://www.francisfrith.com/winchester/photos/

http://thomasstruth32.com/smallsize/photographs/places_of_worship/index.html

http://www.karenknorr.com/photographs/connoisseurs/

http://www.markpower.co.uk/projects/MASS

http://www.peterfraser.net/

http://www.simonstanding.co.uk/Portfolio/Portfolio.html