As much as I enjoyed doing my projects in my first year at uni, they weren’t as good as I wanted them to be. I felt I was too far in my comfort zone, and I couldn’t get out. I’ve learn’t a lot from my mistakes and my knowledge on photography has improved since I came up with all my ideas. Originally my main interest in photograph was portraiture. Portraiture engages both the subject and the audience with the camera in a emotional way and it stimulates a response. But last year I wasn’t aware of the way I wanted to take them. My portraits where posed wrong, composed wrong, and even though I was aware of this, at the time I didn’t know how to improve them.
The task was to improve a project. From what I’ve just talked about, this task is ideal for me. My project about British farmers was in theory a relevant project that everyone was excited to see. But my portraits seemed too awkward and too different from one another. I simply didn’t pose my subjects with continuity or confidence. However, the cost of the project in travel cost was too dear, and I didn’t get the summer job I wanted, so at the time it was difficult to do. Instead, I’ve decided to take the lessons learned from that project and apply them to other mini-projects so I can practice.
(Awkward smile, more commercial portrait, no real information about the person or location)
(Much better portrait with facial expression but no continuity to the last and hands could be shown more)
Tour De Yorkshire
Living in Yorkshire in the summer made it almost impossible for me to miss the ‘Tour De France’. From the news and the sport coverage people around the world were stunned by the turnouts to each stage. I myself was shocked, I didn’t expect to ever see the amount of people that were in Harrogate. Harrogate is a town that I’ve been to countless times because my mum was brought up there and its so close to home. It was great to see passionate supporters all over the town waiting to see the riders complete their first stage. To actually witness it was amazing, and seeing the peoples faces changed the dynamic of everything. Even though there was news coverage it didn’t reveal the scale of the support and the happiness of the people of Yorkshire.
When getting on the train I knew instantly what to expect. There was a double carriage train on the small line from York to Harrogate, the only train people could really get if you were north of york. There were enormous queues to get on the train. They were so big that I couldn’t get the train I booked because there were so many people. But once I did get on there was no room to breathe, it was packed. The train stopped off at small towns and villages on the way. Each time the train stopped the faces of people on the platforms were of pure disappointment when they realised that they couldn’t even fit on the train. Regardless of this the train still stopped, but only to prolong the arguments and discussions between the ticket man and the disgruntled non-travellers. They were not angry, they were just upset that they couldn’t be a part of it all.
We finally arrived to see the flood of yellow t-shirts and polka dot jerseys. I was blinded by the brightness. But I was also struck by the happiness and togetherness of the crowds. I got my camera out and captured what I saw. Children were swept with the feel of the people around them, unaware what the Tour De France was, but just happy to be a part of it all.
I set off to find a space next to the road so I could see the sprint. I walked for about 2miles down the road before I could find a spot. So many people were already there and I was 2 hours early. Camping with their chairs and picnics to enjoy being part of it. Regardless of the wait, everyone was singing along and smiling, but anxiously waiting for the peloton to see who would win the first stage. I really didn’t know what to expect because I had never seen cycling like this in person. When I did see them come, i got my whopping 70-200lens out and snapped away. As I was taking the photos, I thought it seemed pointless. they were going so quick and I was in an awkward position to get any good ones. Instead the more interesting subject was the crowd of people more excited than ever. The cyclists were gone within 30 seconds, but the crowds smiles would last the whole day. I experienced the Tour De France in its new unofficial home. It was amazing to experience and a pleasure to be apart of.
Searching for the essence of nature
From learning about photography, I discovered my love for landscape and nature photography. I just love the look of natural things presented neatly in books. Whenever I take landscape photography I always feel like I’m not doing it justice. I’m taking a photograph that everyone could take.
I discovered a new photography technique, that by removing the lens from the camera body, but still holding it as if it in the same place, so camera still captures the images, but with an incredibly shallow depth of field. I decided to try it out with nature photography to see if I could give it justice.
The images looked beautiful, instead of looking at the images through my eyes, I saw them through the eyes of an insect or animal in their habitat. The depth of field and the close focus made me feel smaller and made me see a side to nature that I haven’t see before. I really enjoyed taking the photos and prolonged it as I searched for the essence of nature.
This project is a journey to find the essence of nature in todays natural landscape. Its difficult to photograph nature; to make the viewer engage in same way its experienced. The breeze, colours, smell and texture can not be truly captured in the same way its experienced. But this project is an attempt to use new found photographic techniques to help people indulge in the essence of nature through photography more freely.
The Peoples Festival
During the summer I went to the Cropredy folk festival near Milton Keynes. I went because my brother was playing there as part of the Birmingham Conservatoire Folk Ensemble. I hate folk music; call me narrow minded but I just can’t come to like it. I enjoy fleet foxes, feist, and hope and social; typically known as 21st century folk. But I just can’t appreciate the bands that would play at Cropredy, I just don’t like it, but thats my opinion. The people who went to the festival did, and you just had to look at them to see that. The men had long beards and the women were covered in daisy chains. There was a real togetherness from their mutual love of folk music, something about that festival that I did love. I wanted to capture the people, in a similar way that I did with the cycling. I stopped people walking and talked with them about their love of the music and photographed them with my Hasselblad 500c/m. I did so with continuity and confidence so I could get better results than in my farm project. I posed them and composed them very traditionally with their head pointing away from their body. I played with the lines in the image to make it neat, placing the subject in the middle as a vertical, and the landscape and the sky half and half as horizontals. Posing it like that revealed more about the person; what they are doing with their hands, what the are holding, and giving them confidence because they are directed where they need to be, instead of awkwardly doing things that they might believe to be a convention in photography. The portraits showed their individuality, and it showed them in their place of meditation; the peoples folk festival.
I also took some scenery shots to reveal more about the festival while showing people enjoying themselves, these were also thoroughly composed with verticals and horizontals. I found that composition is made easier with film cameras because you care about the outcome, there is an element of unpredictability about it, so it slows you down.
The rest of my images were artistically my most successful. As I mentioned before, the festival is like a place of meditation to these music lovers and it was literally that to some people. I photographed people lying down and listening to music with their eyes closed. They look at peace with themselves and their surroundings. Even though they are around people, they don’t care what they think; its like they don’t even know they are there. I flipped the images so it looks like they are falling, but its like they are falling effortlessly in meditation (similar to the photograph of the falling man by richard drew, but obviously less controversial and chilling) to suggest they are dreaming. Even though the composition is a bit more hectic, it is neat with the verticals and horizontals, especially with the dreamers in the middle.
I just wanted to show the peoples love of folk music, and present the 21st century hippies to those who have forgot what the 60’s were about. I took aspects of the first year that I wasn’t good at and forced myself out of my comfort zone so I could improve, and I feel as if I have. I now feel a lot more confident in photography.