Assignment 1 – Progress

After researching around the ideas of Ralph Waldo Emerson, I felt inspired to actually go out and photograph more images for my project.


I went to Birmingham to try and find locations and people who fit my topic of isolation. I stopped people on the street to firstly talk to them in general, to develop a relationship and break down their isolation, then I captured their portrait, recreating the smile. Even though in the pre-production phase of my project I had considered the smile as a good thing, I can see why it is frowned upon in portraiture; even though I made the connection with them, the smiles seem forced, and it seems like I’m trying too hard to effect the connotations of the photograph and of the situation. Therefore, the images that I’ve taken of these individuals smiling isn’t that thought provoking and won’t be used in the project.

I decided to use a 35mm camera instead of the medium format so I could experiment with different formats and try and find the best medium for the project. I prefer the Hasselblad for portraits and urban landscapes because of its detail and its composition. However, the Vivitar v335 is a great camera to use for street photography, its a lot more mobile and fast for focus and composition.  The image quality is reduced, but I feel like the gritty photograph it creates works well as long as it draws attention to the people in the frame.


However, just from experimenting and observing the area I noticed something that would fit well within my project, strangers. We seem isolated when we’re alone, but so do others, so why doesn’t society allow us to converse or smile with everyone we see. Instead, we choose to ignore people and just walk away, even though these people might need a friend, or want to talk to someone about an issue, society frowns upon it. So I decided to photograph the split second as one person walks past another, both looking unhappy and both looking alone. But the power of photography groups these people together, freezes them in time suggesting they are together in this moment and they should know each-other. Even though I came up with this idea late, it makes sense to follow this theme, and explore each moment when someone approaches a stranger, and whether the location effects it. For me, it says more about society, and relates more to Emerson, especially ‘Make yourself necessary to somebody’. However, he did promote individuality so the images might not necessarily relate to his ideas about society; it can be argued that these people aren’t being themselves because of the way society as evolved, making people more judgemental and then restricting them from being more energetic in front of strangers on the street. The 35mm camera was better for these images because the photographer has to be more agile, so the small, and more easily operated Vivtar works better for what I was doing in Birmingham, and now continuing to do throughout my project. Furthermore, as I mentioned before, the gritty nature of the image is in itself commenting on society, showing the negativity of its current state surrounding individuality around people we don’t know.


As well as this idea, I took images of urban landscapes with the absence of human presence, but with the spirituality of what used to be there. I feel like my project will now consist of more candid photography, unlikely to contain any portraits. If I produce 10 pieces worthy of their place in the series, then there should be enough continuity and plenty of thought provoking imagery, if the interest isn’t common throughout, the I might return to portraiture to diversify my collection.

isolation5 isolation2


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