Tuesday 17th September 2013
On our second day starting our degree we visited Leeds. Here we visited Munro House Gallery to view the ‘Shot Up North Awards’. It was a great little place, with a gallery and cafe combined. The room was airy, spacious, bright, a good atmosphere with some light music in the back ground. The pieces were hung on nylon strings 2 or 3 pieces together on 2 strands (see images). I thought this was a good way to present images in an exhibition, something different, rather than just nailing them to the wall or hanging them on nails. Another thing that was helpful and interesting was the photographers had actually wrote how they created their shots and explained the ins and outs of their challenges and dynamics towards the end product. As a budding photographer this makes you feel included and inspired.
We were asked to photograph the piece(s) that we liked the most and ask the question – why? Why did the photographer use that angle, that lighting, that subject, that editing. What were they trying to portray and get across to the viewer? What does the piece make you feel and think? I was drawn to two different looking images, but then noticed they were both by the same photographer – Jonathan Oakes. One was a close up head and shoulders shot of a woman quite simply looking just past the camera, with flowers in her hair. I imagine it was a sort of editorial beauty shot of some kind. The simplistic beauty of the image and the contrast between her hair and skin was what drew me to it. The other image by Jonathan Oakes was of a woman on a bike in a tunnel. It had some motion blur on it which made it a little more mysterious. From my point of view, it appeared to be in another country, as the woman’s fashion sense seemed to be quite foreign looking, for example the hat she was wearing. I love the dramatic, emerging sun light… the ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ that casts a shadow behind her. Where was she going? How did the photographer capture her? It is either a set up fashion shot, or it’s a genuine documented moment in time. Maybe the photographer was on his travels abroad and thought it would make for an interesting shot!
There was also an image ‘Couple in the evening’ by a photographer called Harry Archer. It was of a couple standing with their backs to the camera, on a beach at dusk, stood on a white stand of some sort. It caught me because it was so random! I thought to myself: How did they get up there to get that shot? Is it some sort of engagement shoot with a difference? What time of day is it? Is it really early in the morning or late at night? Is this posed or natural?
After the Munro House Gallery we photographed different parts of Leeds for a while. At first we looked at cobbled streets and the old aspect. We tried to get a sense of Leeds in our own right. We were asked to photograph anything that took our fancy. One of the main things for me that immediately stood out was the vast contrast of old and new buildings. I also looked at natural patterns but then I saw more of a story in the transition between old and new throughout the city. The contrast between such buildings standing next to each other, and even some being half of each.
We then went to White Cloth Gallery where an exhibition of Laura Pannack’s was being held. There was a definite contrast with this series of images compared to the last. Her subject matter was people in various Nudist clubs, just living their lives. She had a mix of posed and natural portraits. As well as coming under portraiture I would also say it would class as social documentary, as they also had a candid feel to them. I personally surprised myself and thought I would feel quite uncomfortable with the subject matter however by the time I left I had grown to love the message Laura had portrayed through her images. The freedom in not having to worry about what others think (or wear!) and the liberation they must feel. However when it came to some of the more posed images, cracks of feeling uncomfortable began to show, especially in the eyes and the way the body was held. But over all a great and controversial message, shown through imagery.
After this we were asked to go out and photograph a story, and as I mentioned earlier I had already been thinking about the old and new contrast, so I went on with that. I was quite happy with the images I shot, as there was so much beautiful architecture to work with. Buildings are usually not my preferred genre however I really enjoyed photographing them, seeing the shapes they create and how angle and perspective can change the way something, so large, appears.