Category Archives: Windows on the World

Project Evaluation Windows on the World.

Knitter__MG_6875_01“The Knitter – Steve Edwards”

This was a challenging project in that it required a set of images on a theme that should work as a collective whole rather than just individual images.

Editorial photography is basically all that is not advertising in a magazine and is used to illustrate the features and articles that are the core content of a publication. It can also be content for web sites and specific images for things like corporate annual reports.

Having spent some time looking at the editorial work of still life, particularly food, photographer Tessa Traeger I was particularly inspired by a later work of hers called the “Voices of the Vervais” a series of images featuring artisan producers of food in the Vervais region of France, many of them featuring just their hands and their respective produce.

Accordingly I decided to create a series of photographs in a similar style i.e. focussing on the subjects hands either working at their hobby or business provided it was predominantly manual in nature and /or could feature the items they either grow or make.

I made a number of self imposed “rules” concerning the images in order to ensure there would be a consistent style to the resulting images.

These were :

  • Images to be (predominantly) black and white.
  • They would be photographed on location using natural light.
  • A range of formats would be used, i.e. portrait, landscape and square.

These limitations were very largely adhered too and I found this discipline useful in combination with having a written a brief to ensure the images met the criteria as I reviewed the images on an ongoing basis and on location to ensure I had achieved my aims.

I had always intended to produce B&W images as per Tessa Traegers original work but modified this slightly once I took “The Woodturner” Image as I felt that whilst the black and white treatment enhanced the hand and background the detail and beauty of the wooden apple was to some considerable degree lost. The selectively coloured image captures the best of both worlds in my view.

The only other major exception was “Expectant Mother” as it was taken using flash rather than natural light and this was a result of the simple logistics of the heavily pregnant model, understandably, not wanting to be outside on a cold, dank day in the middle of winter with a large amount of bare flesh exposed.

As I produced more images I developed a simple style of post processing which seems to work well and produced pleasing results. The basic steps are to apply a high pass filter to selective areas of the image (generally bare flesh i.e. the hands) this brings out detail in the hands such as hair and wrinkles adding depth and interest to the image, flatten the image and de-saturate the image finally adjusting brightness and contrast. Images are then cropped and straightened for final presentation.

The additional steps for the selectively coloured images are to add a layer mask and paint in the required coloured area with a combination of brush and masking techniques.

Overall I think I have compiled a pleasing set of images that meet the objectives of the theme. I discarded two of the earliest images – “Gardener” and “Self Portrait” – because as the project progressed I become more demanding of the quality of images I wanted to produce and I found this a useful discipline to be critical of the work in order to maintain the standard of the project.

What could be improved?

The very last images were completed the week before the deadline mainly due to a variety of logistical issues, completing the images earlier would have provided more time for evaluation and finalisation of the images e.g. framing of all images.

The project has inspired me to continue this series as I feel there is great scope to continue this theme in all sorts of directions as once you start to look the range of possible subjects it is immense and can be achieved without enormous preparation or expense required to obtain a single image.

One aspect I find particularly intriguing is that whilst the single images are interesting in their own right then the collected images have a stronger appeal when viewed as a set and would, I feel, make the basis of an exhibition in a suitable space.

Steve Edwards

March 2015

Creative Brief for Windows on the World

tessa-traeger-flour-hand

Factors in Editorial Photography

An editorial brief is a key communication tool in the creative process. Many creative projects get under way without a clear definition of a requirements between the commissioners of a project and the creative staff (whether in-house or freelance) delivering it. It is also likely that neither party fully understands the issues facing their individual specialisms and thus clarity as to what is required and what can be delivered is essential.

In reality this is likely to be an iterative process as the brief evolves and / or is modified based on various factors such as approaching deadlines, budget or availability of people key to the project if this can be done in an open, frank and blameless manner then it will contribute positively to the final outcome. Although several iterations are likely the project needs to arrive at a point where the requirements are frozen, the earlier in the time-scale this can be achieved the more time available for the execution and finalisation of the creative elements and thus the quality of the final product.

Accordingly the better the initial brief in terms of defining the requirements, schedule and other factors such as budget the greater the chance of a successful project and a relationship that is mutually supportive and a basis for future collaborations. The alternative is  an extended and potentially expensive creative development process as a result of many revisions—not to mention chewed-up nails, bruised egos and damaged reputations on all sides.

Taking the time and energy up front to craft a thorough creative brief will ultimately save time, money and stress –  an ounce of planning being worth a pound of fixing – and further ensure you, as the commissioner, get the campaign, campaign website, images or annual report envisioned. Additionally going through this process provides the opportunity to review if this is the best approach and may highlight that another medium or approach will work better than the one you originally had in mind.

Your brief should be, well concise, running no more than two pages. Make it easy to scan with the use of clear sub-headings, white space and bullet lists particularity for essential basic information such as overall concept, budget, deadlines, approval process and so forth. Reserve more space for expanding the creative ideas and specific requirements. Above all be realistic in terms of the budget required. Little point in either the commissioner envisioning or the creative proposing a shoot with household name models photographed in exotic locations if the budget simply doesn’t exist for this, much better for all concerned to allow for and define a proposal that is achievable within the resources available.

Creative Brief for “Home Grown”

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Image from “Voices of the Vivarais – Tessa Traeger”

Project Title: Home Grown

Overview: This is a self developed project to demonstrate photography skills in image creation, post processing and display. The goal is a set of a minimum of 6 images that have a consistent style and feel, although each image should stand alone will also form part of the collective whole.

The concept is images of people’s hands who either make, grow or work predominantly with their hands. This is inspired by a work of Tessa Traeger who documented French artisan food growers in this style. The photographs will be taken on location showing the individuals active in the selected theme for that images. Some suggested activities might be “Butcher”, “Baker”, “Craft worker”, “Gardener ” and so forth. The selection of activities to be depcicted is at the discretion of the author providing it meets the headline concept of being “Home Grown”.

The images should be in locations appropriate to the activity and be unambiguous as to the activity being portrayed.

Deliverables Needed: Images are required in a range of formats, print and digital. Digital images should be sized suitable for inclusion on web sites / social media. Format and size of printed images is at the discretion of the author up to A1 size.

Primary Audiences: The primary audience for this project is college lecturers and fellow students in order that they can evaluate the technical execution of the work.

Tone and Image: The images should have artistic merit but the tone of individual images e.g light hearted or serious is at the discretion of the author.

Budget and Schedule: There is minimal self funded budget available for the project however, ideally, some images should be presented in a final framed state. The set of final images presented will be a critical factor in awarding a grade for the project.

Steve Edwards

The Tree Surgeon

The Tree Surgeon

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Model Bio : This is Alastair and it was a somewhat serendipitous meeting that resulted in this image. He was working on the same proejct as Fiona and when I started taking photographs of Fiona he volunteered for some too. A man of many talents his primary job is an air freight pilot but as their are strict limits on the number of hours you can fly he fills his time with a variety of other activities such as restoring old Land Rovers and the aforementioned tree surgery.

Location : Cricklade, March 07th 2015

Equipment and settings : Canon 5D Mk III, EF 24-70 L , ISO 400 at F5.6 and 1/160th of a second.

Photography and Post Processing : I decided on a relatively shallow depth of field and focussed on the point where the knife meets the fingers. This means the point of the knife is somewhat soft but I don’t feel this detracts from the overall image. The soft focus approach is consistent with that used on other images and had the knife point been in sharp focus would, I feel, have taken attention from the hands.

The image was cropped, converted to black and white in Photoshop, with the magenta channel boosted to improve contrast. Contrast and brightness were also adjusted to further emphasise and enhance the detail in the fingers. The images was then resized and a border added for use in this blog using the free FastStone image viewing software which has excellent batch processing tools.

Evaluation. Overall I think this image works well to illustrate someone who is confident working with his hands and the many specialist tools he possesses to complete the task in hand.

Click here to return to “Home Grown”

The Baker

The Baker

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Model Bio : This is a photograph of Richard a friend and retired IBM mainframe programmer. When he turned 60 a group of his friends bought him a baking course as he had expressed an interest. This new hobby has turned into a passion and he now produces “artisan” bread using natural ingredients and in a range of flavours to the delight of friends and family as the taste of freshly baked bread is truly one of life’s great delights.

Location : Cricklade, March 07th 2015

Equipment and settings : Canon 5D Mk III, EF 24-70 L , ISO 400 at F16 and 1/50th of a second.

Photography and Post Processing : .We relocated a bread board with some flour to add detail to the garden as in common with all the other images it was taken in natural light. As it was a bright sunny day a shady spot was selected to remove any harsh shadows / blown highlights from the image.

Unlike other images in the series this one has a relatively deep depth of field, this was in order to ensure the crust of the bread was in focus from front to back this because the soft focus approach used on other images used here would have meant that the front of the bread would be in focus receding to soft focus and I didn’t want to lose any detail in the hands or if I had focussed on the hands would have had a large area (the loaf) in the centre of the image that was soft focus.

The image was cropped, converted to black and white in Photoshop, with the magenta channel boosted to improve contrast. Contrast and brightness were also adjusted to further emphasise and enhance the detail in the fingers. The images was then resized and a border added for use in this blog using the free FastStone image viewing software which has excellent batch processing tools.

Evaluation. Technically I am pleased with the result as the image works as planned with the focus maintained through out the image and an interesting composure. Overall I think this image works well as part of the series and I like details such as the flour covered fingers needed to achieve the desired outcome.

Click here to return to “Home Grown”

 

The Gardener II

The Gardener II

Home_grown_03

Model  Bio:  This is a photograph of my friend Fiona working in the garden of a mutual friend. Fiona has recently started a new career and business providing gardening services – a complete change from her former life as a financial accountant in local government.  You can read more about the gardening services offered by Fi here.

The whole cycle of a garden is decay in autumn, hibernation in winter followed by re-birth and bloom the following spring and summer. This is a quite time of year – the calm before the storm of spring –  in the garden being time to tidy the garden, removing dead and decayed plants and branches and getting planned planting ready for the burst of life in the imminent spring.

Location : Cricklade, 7th of March 2015.

Equipment and settings : Canon 5D Mk III, EF 24-70 L , ISO 400 at F5.6 and 1/80th of a second.

Photography and Post Processing : Taken in natural light, at around 3 pm on a bright sunny day, accordingly I selected a shaded spot to give an even light over the image. Post processing was straightforward being a simple conversion to black and white, with a high pass filter being applied to the hand areas only and then minor adjustment of contrast and brightness.

Evaluation.

Technically I think the image works and the high pass filter is a useful technique to provide natural looking emphasis and detail to the desired area of the image. Artistically there are a couple of elements I find particularly appealing – the deliberately blurry face in the background and the manicured nails despite the manual nature of the activity.

Click here to return to “Home Grown”

The Knitter

The Knitter

 

 

Model  Bio:  This is a photograph of Susan, a long time friend and avid crafter of all things knitted or sewn. Some practical items such as clothes and some beautifully decorative such as cross stitchings to mark special occasions or major family events.

Although we had planned this some time ago and despite meeting up for numerous social occasions for one reason or another it took a long time to for us to have all the elements in one place. It should also be noted that Susan is particularly averse to having her photograph taken and only agreed to the shoot because it would only feature her hands. Susan runs a craft business in Cricklade, Wiltshire details at Cricklade Crafts.

I find the concept of knitting intriguing because the process from start to finish requires so many steps to produce an item from the raw material through to the finished item. It seems fairly logical that early man would wear animal skins to keep warm in this case sheep but who then thought of making wool and then using wool for knitting together a garment, there seems no logical development route for this process to have developed and additionally the skills were distributed over many people – the shepherd, the shearer, the spinner and the knitter.

Location : My Home on  Fri 6th March 2015

Equipment and settings : Canon 5D Mk III, EF 24-70 L , ISO 400 at F2.8 and 1/60th of a second.

Photography and Post Processing : Taken in natural light, Susan knits anywhere any time and as mentioned Susan doesn’t like cameras so to relax her we chatted as friends and then when she was comfortable I took some images choosing this one because I feel it captures her in the act of knitting in the most natural way.

Using Photoshop the layer was duplicated and a high pass filter applied with a setting of around 10 pixels, the filter was erased from all but the bare flesh areas of the hands and arms and blending mode changed to overlay. Images is then flattened and de-saturated with magenta boosted to enhance contrast and brightness / contrast also tweaked.  The image was straightened and cropped and the image resized and a border added for presentation.

Evaluation. I think the result is a pleasing image that complements the series of images I have created. I like the emphasis on the hands and the contrast between these light areas of the image against the dark background of the garment being produced and the subjects clothing.

Click here to return to “Home Grown”

 

Legal, Copyright and Ethical Issues

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These comments apply to my understanding of UK / EU law, provision varies by jurisdiction and of course in some parts of the world are extremely restrictive.

Copyright:

In the absence of any contract or agreement stating otherwise, the person who took the photograph owns the copyright for that image. This is fundamental to photographic law and the key element here is “in the absence of any contract or agreement stating otherwise”. This means that if the photographer hasn’t agreed to anything or signed a contract to the contrary, they own the copyright. Copyright does not need to be declared or registered it is automatically assigned in law and remains the authors unless and until assigned to someone else.

The most common exception to this is where the photographer is employed by someone else and a contract exists whereby it is explicitly agreed that the copyright of the images will be assigned to the employer. In the situation of full time employment, where an employer pays tax and national insurance contributions on your behalf, the employee does not own copyright on work created during the normal course of their employment unless there is an agreement to the contrary.

Only the owner of the copyright can license the copying of images, including the electronic copy and storage of digital images, and the issuing of the image to the public.

Permitted Uses:

‘Fair Dealing’ under UK law allows the copying of copyrighted material under certain circumstances without the need for prior permission. These generally cover; publicising work for sale, copying for research purposes, educational use, copying for review, submission in court as evidence.

Duration of Copyright:

The copyright of an image either taken in the EU or by an EU nationality photographer is 70 years from the end of the first year in which that person died. This is applicable to work created after 1st Aug, 1989.

Assignment of Copyright:

The owner of the copyright can pass on (assign) the rights of an image to another but should only do so after careful consideration. To sell the copyright outright requires the owner’s agreement in writing. It should be remembered that once copyright is re-assigned to another party there is no claim on any proceeds made from further sales or control of the image use.

It is important not to confuse owning an image with owning the copyright to that image; the first does not mean the latter. Owning a print of an image gives the owner no rights to that image, even if that owner happens to be the subject of the image e.g. in the case of a portrait.

Moral Rights:

These remain with the originator of the work regardless of who currently owns the copyright. The Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 defines these rights as follows…

  • The right to be identified as the author of the work (also known as Paternity Right).
  • The right to object to false attribution of the work.
  • The right to protect the integrity of the work.

The first two items basically allow the author to be credited with the original work and prevent another from claiming authorship. The third item, also described as “the right to object to derogatory treatment of the work”, is most relevant today where images can be digitally ‘manipulated’ almost without trace.

It should be noted that the right to be credited only works if it is ‘asserted’ and should never be just assumed. The use of statements such as “moral rights asserted” or “all rights reserved” on the back of images, as meta tags in digital images or as footers on websites are all legally sufficient ‘assertions’.

Model Release Forms

Model releases have become a legal minefield and the prevailing mindset is that you should always have a model release if planning to sell images for commercial use.

In fact in most situations you do not actually require a model release and if everybody conducted themselves in a fit and proper manner then there would be little problem. However, regrettably, that is not human nature and particularly if significant sums of money are involved. It is the publisher of an image and not the photographer who is liable for any damages so in particular a photographer does not need a model release however because publishers are now so wary of being sued it’s unlikely that a photographer will be able to sell images without one, certainly to any major publisher.

Further it is the issue around “commercial use” of images where the issue of liability arises. For example a photograph of a celebrity arriving at an event could be sold by the photographer and published by a newspaper with no model release as it would be considered a newsworthy event in the public interest. If this wasn’t the case newspapers would never have any photographs. The same photograph could also be presented as and sold by the photographer as a work of art and again this would not require a model release.

However if the photograph was used by the designer of the shoes the celebrity was wearing to promote their product in a commercial advert “as worn by xxxx” then the celebrity could potentially sue for inappropriate use. So what model releases do is set out in advance what uses are permitted of the images and eliminate the possibility of any dispute later – “I didn’t know what they would be used for” or “I didn’t agree to that use”.

This applies to both sides i.e. the model can specify restrictions on use – for example may not wish to be associated with certain themes or issues :- Drug abuse, child cruelty etc.

As an example of the complications that can arise in the late 1970’s when pop star Madonna was an unknown student she did some work as a nude model in art classes for photographer Herman Kulkens and she signed an open ended release allowing Kulkens to use the images as he saw fit. Subsequently in 1985 when she had become a world famous star both Playboy and Penthouse published the photographs. This was the subject of a separate multimillion dollar court case between Kulkens and the publishers as to who had the rights to publish the photos but one thing was very clear the existence of the signed model release meant the one person who could not prevent publication or receive any additional remuneration, other than the $10 per hour originally received, was Madonna.

As a result of examples such as this Model releases have become legal documents often containing intimidating and indecipherable legal phrases which in truth will probably never apply to most people or situations. As with all contracts they tend to favour the side of the person requesting it in order to retain as many rights as possible basically the photographer wants to have no restriction on how he might eventually use / sell the images.

This can be off putting to prospective models and can be an obstacle whereas in reality it’s a simple proposition; the model receives a fee for her time which may be cash or images for her portfolio and the photographer has the right to sell the images.

There is a degree of professional integrity required by all parties and successful partnerships and collaborations are much more likely to emerge based on mutual trust and respect rather than having to refer to the small print of a model release. So for example neither party should use the images for purposes that weren’t agreed e.g. the model can’t sell the images full stop as they are not the copyright holder and the photographer shouldn’t sell them for purposes likely to be considered derogatory to the reputation of the model.

A scan of the model release used for the advertising brief (personal details deliberately obscured) ;

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Legal restrictions on photography

Mass photo gathering in UK.
There are relatively few restrictions on taking photographs in the UK basically you are free to take photographs of anyone or anything in a public place. In recent years some further restrictions have been imposed as a result generally of security concerns although famously the stop and search powers of the Terrorism Act 2000 which had often been used to deter photographs were declared illegal in 2010 following much protest from the photographic community. As a result police offices cannot confiscate your equipment or force you to delete images.

Further in general the right to take photographs on private land upon which permission has been obtained is similarly unrestricted. However, landowners are permitted to impose any conditions they wish upon entry to a property, such as forbidding or restricting photography. Two public locations in the UK, Trafalgar Square and Parliament Square, have a specific provision against photography for commercial purposes without the written permission of the Mayor, or the Squares’ Management Team and paying a fee and permission is needed to photograph or film for commercial purposes in the Royal Parks.

Lastly you technically need permission to photograph on the Railways and the London Underground certainly for commercial purposes but in practice it is tolerated for private use although the use of tripods is sometimes a bone of contention primarily as a safety issue on busy platforms. Persistent or aggressive photography of a single individual may come under the legal definition of harassment.

It is a criminal offence (contempt) to take a photograph in any court of any person, being a judge of the court or a juror or a witness in or a party to any proceedings before the court, whether civil or criminal, or to publish such a photograph. This includes photographs taken in a court building, or the precincts of the court. Taking a photograph in a court can be seen as a serious offence, leading to a prison sentence.

Photography of certain subject matter is restricted in the United Kingdom. In particular, the Protection of Children Act 1978 restricts making or possessing pornography of under-18s, or what looks like pornography of under-18s. However, the taking of photographs of other peoples children in public spaces is not illegal although has become increasingly socially unacceptable and it would be a brave photographer that would engage in such activity today without seeking permission of parents / legal guardians.

For example I would thought twice about taking this scene of children playing in a fountain in the UK, It was taken in Medillin, Columbia. South America generally has a much more wholesome and community based collective view of looking after children.

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It is an offence under the Counter-Terrorism Act 2008 to publish or communicate a photograph of a constable (not including PCSOs), a member of the armed forces, or a member of the security services, which is of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism.

Ethical Considerations

There is a great deal of legislation covering advertising and related activity e.g. selling practices in the UK anda variety of enforcement agencies. There is a very useful government website that gives a plain English explanation of the rules and where consumers can complain if dissatisfied with an advert. Click here to visit the site : https://www.gov.uk A summary of the key elements and provisions is listed below.

Overview

All marketing and advertising must be:

  • accurate
  • legal
  • decent
  • truthful
  • honest
  • socially responsible (not encouraging illegal, unsafe or anti-social behaviour)

There are regulations that restrict what advertisers can and can’t do. As well as the regulations, there are 2 advertising codes of practice that should be followed to help you advertise legally in the UK.

Requirements for specific products

There are also specific requirements that apply to certain sectors, such as:

  • food
  • alcohol
  • beauty products
  • environmentally friendly products
  • medicines
  • tobacco

For example, you can only claim a drink is ‘low in alcohol’ if it contains between 0.5% and 1.2% alcohol by volume.

Advertising Codes

1 – Non-Broadcast media (e.g. print, on-line)

The Committee of Advertising Practice code has rules that cover non-broadcast advertising (eg print, online), sales promotion and direct marketing (eg telesales and email).

The code specifies standards for accuracy and honesty that businesses must stick to, including specific conditions, eg:

  • advertising to children
  • causing offence
  • political advertising

2 – Broadcast media (e.g. TV, radio)

You must follow broadcast codes that cover issues including taste, decency and product placement.

As well as setting standards about accuracy and honesty businesses must stick to, they also have rules about things like scheduling.

General broadcasting rules

You also need to follow rules about taste, decency, product placement andsoforth that apply to all broadcasting.

These are called ‘broadcast codes’. Find out more about them on the Ofcom website.

Enforcing the rules

The rules are enforced by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).

Anyone who thinks advertising rules have been broken can complain to the ASA within 3 months of the advert appearing.

If an advert breaks the rules, it may be withdrawn. If the product doesn’t match the description or the advert breaks the law, the advertiser could be prosecuted.

Also posted in Advertising Photography

Task 3 – Visual Language, Photographers who use text

Task 3 of Visual Language is to research 3 photographers who utilise text and images. This research is also relevant to the Windows on the World Brief.

“Combining written text with images has a long history in art. Medieval manuscripts in Christian Europe are interlaced with pictures that exist in a rhetorical relationship with the written text to create layered meaning and verbal/visual puns. William Blake, eighteenth century British poet, published books of his writing with his own illustrations and quickly learned that the synthesis evoked meanings beyond the power of words or pictures alone. Dadaists and Surrealists in early twentieth century Europe combined fragments of found text with appropriated photographic images to open alternative, sometimes irrational, paths of communication they felt were missing from straight art.”

Museum of Contemporary Photography, Columbia College, Chicago

After reviewing a number of books and websites I decided to explore the work of Walker Evans, Jim Goldberg and Jeff Wolin. I choose these three photographers because they use text and images in different ways. Evans is very much a documentary style and seems to love the typography, i.e. the fonts, style and layout of text within and as the image. Goldberg’s addition of his subjects text around the image add a different context to the image and in my opinion allow the photographs to speak for themselves and finally Wolin incorporates the words of his subjects as the backdrop to his subjects and in fact the subjects often seem to be almost fighting for space on the image with the textual element.

 

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This is a photograph taken by Paul Strand in New York in 1916. The simple text adds massively to the impact of the image. Walker Evans cited seeing this photograph as being a major influence on his decision to pursue a career as a photographer

“WALKER EVANS: No. Nothing. Well, I did get excited over one Paul Strand picture. I remember his famous Blind Woman excited me very much. I said that’s the thing you do. That really charged me.

PAUL CUMMINGS: Do you remember what the qualities were of that photograph?

WALKER EVANS: The Strand picture? Sure. It was strong and real it seemed to me. And a little bit shocking; brutal.

PAUL CUMMINGS: Well, those were qualities then that you worked for – right?

WALKER EVANS: Well, that’s what attracted me in art. I mean I would read a book like Thompson’s Hunger and that was a joy because I thought that was real. It really wasn’t. But the lack of judgment of this particular youth – me – led me to believe that since I had a genteel upbringing that real life was starvation; so that it was honest to write about that. That’s all wrong; but that’s what I thought. I thought to photograph the Blind Woman was the thing to do.”

Extracted from Oral history interview with Walker Evans, 1971 Oct. 13-Dec. 23, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. Evans’ works for government agencies and this interview with Paul Cummins are in the public domain.

Evans is most famous for his work during the post great depression period whilst working for the Resettlement Administration (from September 1937 became the FSA (Farm Settlement Administration)) between 1935 and 1938 which was also responsible for Dorothy Lange’s iconic “Migrant” Mother image as part of their  photographic project to document their work. Evans saw it as a great opportunity to develop is artitistic eye whilst being sponsored to travel and take photographs although he was dismissive of the bureaucracy surrounding it.

Walker Evans created a seamless text/image collage by including advertising signs, often fragmented, in his photographs. sometimes these were carefully crafted landscapes or interiors at other times opportunist street photography as per the examples below :-

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In the summer of 1936, while still working for the FSA, he and writer James Agee were sent by Fortune magazine on assignment to Hale County, Alabama, for a story the magazine subsequently opted not to run. In 1941, Evans’s photographs and Agee’s text detailing the duo’s stay with three white tenant families in southern Alabama during the Great Depression were published as the groundbreaking book Let Us Now Praise Famous Men. Its detailed account of three farming families, The Burroughs, Field’s and Tingles, paints a deeply moving portrait of rural poverty.

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This image of Allie Mae Burroughs made her an icon of the Great Depression era. Evans had an uncanny knack for capturing what was a rapidly changing social and cultural environment and many of his images are references for that period in American History.

In his later years Evans spent a lot of time capturing street images using a small polaroid camera which he could conceal in his clothing. However in his early career he openly photographed what was around him and he had a keen eye for what was happening around him. This may have partly been due to the limitations of camera technology as it was much bigger and bulkier than later models.

He was, for a photographer of his era, strangely uninterested in the production of his images often leaving that to others giving them brief notes with the negatives, this may explain his later fascination and use of polaroid technology as providing instant results.

Walker Evans work inspired many other photographers and artists to reappraise the way that they view text and images and it could be said that as a result of his work by the 1970’s / 80’s it was an established photographic genre.

Jim Goldberg

Is an American photographer, born 1953, whose work reflects long-term, in-depth collaborations with neglected, ignored, or otherwise forgotten sections of society.

Goldberg is a Professor of Photography and Fine Arts at the California College of the Arts and is a member of the Magnum Photos Agency.

The work that brought him to prominence was called “Rich and Poor”, Goldberg photographed his subjects in their homes and then got them to add comments to their prints this work was featured with that of Robert Adams and Joel Sternfeld in a 1984 exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art entitled “Three Americans”.

The comments added by the subjects are by turn sad, moving and revealing. Although the subjects clearly vary hugely in terms of background, education and of course wealth a consistent theme is the inability to communicate with the people around them. Further an inability to act in the way they would like compared to the way that they do act. This provides deeply revealing poignant  insights into the human condition. Initially it was met with some criticism but has since become recognised and hailed as a landmark work.

 

 

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 “My life is personal, but I will tell you one thing I’m too fat.”

NYC30010My wife is acceptable. Our relationship is satisfactory”

Edgar looks splendid here. His power and strength of character come through. He is a very private person who is most demonstrative of his affection; that has made me very very unhappy.

I accept him as he is. We are totally devoted to each other. Dear Jim may you be as lucky in marriage!”

NYC46979“I keep thinking where we went wrong.

We have no one to talk to now,
however, I will not allow this loneliness to destroy me

– I STILL HAVE MY DREAMS.
I would like an elegant home, a loving husband and the wealth I am used to.”

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“I wish that Stanley and I could like each other when we are together – But we don’t.”

“When I look at this Picture I feel Alone. it makes me want to reach out to
Patty and make our relationship work.”

Images from Magnum Photos and Zoltan Okay

Goldberg went on to do similar treatments with an exhibition called “The nursing home series” and an exhibition and book entitled “Raised by Wolves” about homeless children in California.

Another interesting thing about Goldberg is that as a teacher he is very open about the process he uses to capture his work whereas most practitioners of his calibre are quite secretive about the process and mechanisms they use to achieve successful works.

He lives and works in San Francisco and apart from his art work he has a large body of commercial fashion, editorial and advertising work that has appeared in numerous publications including W, Details, Flaunt, The New York Times Magazine, Esquire, Rebel, GQ, The New Yorker and Dazed and Confused.

 Jeff Wolin

Jeffrey A. Wolin, born 1951 is Ruth N. Halls Professor of Photography at Indiana University.His work is part of the permanent collections of many including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Houston Museum of Fine Arts; Art Institute of Chicago; Cleveland Museum of Art; New York Public Library; Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, MO; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Bibliotèque Nationale de France, Paris; and Museum of Modern Art, New York. Henry Radford Hope School of Fine Arts » Faculty . 2015. Henry Radford Hope School of Fine Arts » Faculty . [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.indiana.edu/~finaweb/test/cms/fina/areas/photography/photography-faculty. [Accessed 04 March 2015].

He has used a technique of hand writing the life stories / comments of his subjects on the prints and covering a wide range of topics including Holocaust Survivors, Residents of Pigeon Hill – a deprived area of Bloomington, Indiana and with slightly different technique Vietnam Veterans.

Jeffrey Wolin began photographing Pigeon Hill–known simply as “the hill” to its residents at the Crestmont Housing Project in Bloomington, Indiana. Pigeon Hill, a mere five blocks wide and three blocks deep on the west side of Bloomington, was long known for its dangerous reputation of being an area rampant in poverty, crime, and substance abuse after reading about the grisly murder of resident and former Indiana University graduate student Ellen Marks. Through slowly gaining the trust of the community, Wolin photographed individuals and families that lived in the area from 1987-1991.

Reading about another murder in 2010 of one of his earlier subjects – Crystal Grubb – he revisited the area to re-photograph many of his subjects and update how their lives had developed in the intervening 20 years in a series called “Pigeon Hill Then and Now”.

darlene_1989

Larry, Darlene, Chris & Larry Jr., Pigeon Hill, 1989
“When I learned Larry had molested my daughters, Vicki and Trish, I checked the .357 in my boot. I drove 100 mph from Martinsville where I worked to Bloomington Hospital where they took Trish. Then I drove to the gas station where Larry worked but the sheriff was already there and he was arrested. Judge Dixon gave Larry 5 years but he got out in 2 1/2.”
darlene_2012

Darlene, Buck + Zeke, Spring Street, 2012
“Buck and I have been together for 21 years—we don’t even argue any more. We got Buck’s daughter, Lacey, out of Owen County Jail when she was 4 months pregnant with Zeke and put her up until she could get back on her feet. When Zeke was 6 days old, Lacey went drinking with her friends and didn’t return. Buck and I love raising Zeke and wouldn’t change a thing.”

 wendi_1991

Wendi Pemberton, Pigeon Hill, 1990
“I was only four when I saw my first stabbing—a drug deal gone bad. I knew I had to be tough just to survive on Pigeon Hill. My mom was a nurse but she got into drugs and left when I was nine. Odds were I’d have a kid by the time I was fifteen, like many of my friends. But I dind’t want that’I wanted to get off the Hill.”

wendi_2012

Wendi Pemberton, Ellettsville, 2012
“I live out in the country with my husband, Luke, and sometimes my daughter. She has a more protected childhood than I did. I’m employed as a Water Quality Engineer at the Indiana American Water Plant in Terre Haute—it’s a 54.4 mile commute from home to work each way. I’ve taken up drag racing on the weekends in a car Luke built for me.”
Wolin’s images of Holocaust survivors have even more text in the images.With simple portraits of the subject and their stories as a backdrop.
1 7 9
Lastly his series “Inconvenience Stores : Vietnam War Veterans” have a lengthy narrative that is presented separately to the image. This gives a different impact than the combined image and photograph and of course a more complete picture of the individual than a snippet of text.
1VW“The first time I saw a dead American, there were three of them-their heads were up on stakes. It was in ‘D’ zone, not too far from Bien Hoa. The enemy was doing that to scare us. Of course, it didn’t scare us; it made us angry. It made me angry. By this time I was lost in the jungle. I was alone. I was AWOL-I weighed 112 pounds; they wanted me to hump a spare barrel of an M60 machine gun. I had just gotten out of the hospital two weeks before with appendicitis. I’m thinking, ‘I’m not in shape. I can’t do this job. I’m leaving!’ I ran off and then I stopped. ‘What in the hell are you doing? You’ve never been in the jungle before!’ By this time it was too late. I was lost, separated from my unit. That’s when I ran across the heads. I found the individuals that did it. I heard them down the hill by the river and there was one over where the heads were and he was masturbating. I was going to try to take him prisoner but I stumbled and I stabbed him accidentally with the bayonet. Once I did that I had to kill him. And when the other two came up I shot them both and I cut off their heads. Some of the guys from the 101st Airborne used to call me ‘head-hunter.’ At first I did it because I was enraged but then it was a way to score points-that’s how you were esteemed by your peers. It didn’t bother me back then. But now I don’t sleep more than 15-20 minutes at a time and then I wake up with nightmares and chills and sweats. I walk the perimeter at night. But that’s my cross to bear. I see children when you’ve killed their parents-you hear them crying. I proudly endured that I stood my post; I did what was expected of me. My fellow paratroopers respected me despite the fact that I was a fuck-up in the rear. In the boonies I did my job. Today I have to suffer with that. No big deal. Thank you very much for your tax dollars-the VA pays for it. Georgie-boy, when he came in as president, they started cutting our benefits. I’m at 150% disability: 100% for PTSD; 30% for diabetes; 10% for erectile dysfunction and 10% for organic brain damage. I’m in pain all the time but you get used to it. They give me medication but it doesn’t work. What does help is marijuana but the sons of bitches won’t let me have it. I don’t want no more drugs. They want to give me codeine, heavy narcotics, but that counteracts the Viagra and I’d rather have a hard-on and endure the pain than just be a fucking zombie… Here we are in the middle of the night-it’s drizzling-me, Doc Wheatfield, a guy we called Cherry, John Wekerly, and some others. We go and there’s a girl lying under a huge banyan tree. The only other one there is a little boy. She’s pregnant, about to deliver a baby. We break out our ponchos and Doc Wheatfield gets underneath and delivers the baby. We felt responsible for the baby. Doc asks one of the guys to get some fruit from the C-rations. I said, ‘Doc, no one’s going to give up their fruit.’ Doc was a Christian man. He said, ‘Oh, ye of little faith.’ The guys came back with a big sack full of canned fruits. We gave her whatever we had in money and fruit. And then a mama-san arrived and first she looked at us real mean like ‘you murdering bastards.’ But then she saw the food, money, the baby was fine, the little shelter we had built and she came and stood in front of us and she bowed. It was raining, like I said, but when the baby came out there was a clap of thunder and it stopped raining and the baby cried out. You could hear it in the whole valley. We were so proud and so happy and some of us were crying. As soon as we started to leave, here comes the rain again. We were walking along a rice paddy, standing out like a sore thumb if there was a sniper on the hill, especially when the lightning flashed. There was a herd of water buffalo and someone says, ‘Look at that deformed cow!’ It was a cow having a calf. People from ranches will tell you this: a bull knows its babies and will allow the mother to have a calf but other bulls don’t give a damn. So here we are in the middle of the rain holding hands in a circle around this cow while Doc Wheatfield is helping deliver that calf. We went over there as regular kids doing a tough job. Some of us lost our way. We did bad things when we were required to but at the same time when it came to helping the innocent, we helped. We were noble. Our hearts were good and those good hearts got wounded. After the war we were treated disrespectfully. We were persecuted. In the ’70’s over 30% of federal prison inmates were Vietnam veterans. I was one of them. On Mother’s Day, my father, Benito Garcia, a police officer, arrested me for robbing banks. In 18 days I robbed 6 banks in Chicago. I’d go in with a .25 automatic pistol with .22 ammunition-I didn’t even have a gun that shot. I was not very good at it. Then I hung up my guns and picked up the books while in prison. In 16 months I received my Associates degree in Secondary Education from Vincennes University. I earned enough credits for a Bachelors degree from Indiana University in Sociology. In prison I felt comfortable because I know how to be in a society of macho men. I was always alert, always tense. I could deal with that environment-it was the jungle with steel bars. I could function there; I couldn’t function out here-it’s still difficult. I served 6 years, 1 week active military service and 6 years, 3 months in prison. I got my degree; I was released and I was everybody’s success story. Harry Porterfield did a 30 minute segment on me for the CBS Chicago affiliate.

I was successful for a while but then the nightmares about ‘Nam started and I had to drink. The only way I can get through the night without getting up is when I’m passed-out drunk. But I haven’t had a drink since ’95 when I got in trouble again. An east Texas judge wouldn’t believe that I was a thrifty shopper and that the 320 pounds of marijuana in the trunk were all for me. I wound up in a Texas prison. I served 3 years, 3 months. I am presently on parole for that offence – possession of marijuana, not distribution. When I got out I had 89 months of parole-I’ve got 14 months left. I successfully completed the parole for my bank robberies and I expect to successfully finish this one. I won’t smoke now, but come December 27, 2005, I am going to roll a fucking joint the size of a bus and I’ll kill it in one drag.”

All Images and associated text from Jeffrey A. Wolin || Photography. 2015. Jeffrey A. Wolin || Photography. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.jeffreywolin.com. [Accessed 04 March 2015].

There is a separate evaluation of the projects including the research available from the respective brief page.
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Steve Edwards

March 2015

Also posted in Visual Language

The Dog has to go ………………

sm-clifford-colorin I found this image on a website and just liked it – particularly in respect of my personal blog – www.lifeintheolddog.co.uk – so decided to use it. Then when some fellow students saw it they claimed it was an image of Clifford the Big Red Dog. Further research confirmed it is indeed an image from a book by the American author Norman Bridwell, the copyright is owned by Scholastic Books the worlds largest distributor of children’s books.

It would be a major own goal for someone such as a photographer, whose income depends on the protection of intellectual and property rights in respect of the images they produce, was to deliberately infringe someone else’s copyright and so the dog has got to go.

So this dog is no more! He has ceased to be! ‘E’s expired and gone to meet ‘is maker! ‘E’s a stiff! Bereft of life, ‘e rests in peace! If we hadn’t pasted him in the image he would be pushing up the daisies! ‘Is metabolic processes are now ‘istory! ‘E’s off the twig! ‘E’s kicked the bucket, ‘e’s shuffled off ‘is mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin’ choir invisible!! THIS IS AN EX-LOGO!!* (Rant based on Dead Parrot sketch from Monty Python)

 

Life in the old dog logo – aka “Clifford”

RIP

June 2013 – Nov 2014

 

doggone

 

Also posted in In Search of Specialism

Self Portrait

Self Portrait

2014-12-01__MG_4809_001

 

March 2015 Update; After final review of all the images I decided this image was weak and I replaced it with the Tree Surgeon. Although the relatively late change caused some logistical issues in order to complete the set I feel its omission is to the benefit of the overall quality of the project.

The Self Portrait

Model  Bio:  This is a photograph of myself, taken with a self timer and tripod. A self portrait being another form of home grown art and is also a humorous reference to the sequence of images with the hands covering the face, the face being the most common subject of a portrait shot.

Location : My garden, Cricklade, November 26th 2014.

Equipment and settings : Canon 5D Mk III, EF 24-70 L , ISO 200 at F3.2 and 1/60th of a second, 10 second self timer.

Photography and Post Processing : Taken in natural light on a particularly gloomy November day, hence the relatively wide open aperture but this also helps throw the background out of focus which has been a common and deliberate technique in this series of images.

The camera was focused on an object the same distance from where I would be standing and then switched to manual focus to lock the focus distance, then repositioned to have the clock in the background. Then the self timer was set to 10 seconds and I took up position in front of the camera.

Post processing was to crop the image to a square format, adjusting contrast as the light was particularly flat and adding a high pass filter layer but only to the hands and head.

Evaluation. I feel the square format works well with the diagonal formed by the two “circular” objects – the head and clock face – this was a deliberate composition. Technically I feel the image is well exposed and I like the humour of the parody of the concept of a self portrait as being “Home Grown”. Whilst I think the image works as a single image I am not entirely convinced it adds to the collective set as much as I would like artistically.

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Also posted in Location