4th February 2016
Studio Practice 3
“I want to photograph people & their relationships, showing the real dynamics – good and bad, between different groupings of people – opposing ‘fake’ or ‘sensationalised’ versions of relationships represented within common media.”
Within this proposal I aim to explore relationships within portrait photography and why they are important. I wish to examine connections between people – on all different levels of ‘relationship’. I want to explore why we need connections as humans and how it adds, or takes away, from our lives. I also want to explore whether authentic representation is possible within portrait photography, reflecting our attitudes towards and need for others.
My research will consist of creating and handing out questionnaires and social research by observation of social interaction and also complete test shoots showing examples of my results. I have been looking into ‘subjective documentary’ photography and photographers that shoot in this way such as Richard Billingham, Nick Waplington & Martin Parr. I find this style of photography stretches across 2 genres – portrait and documentary, however the difference with subjective documentary is that the focus is the subject (in my case, people & their relationships) but shot in a documentary style – capturing what is there in front of me, as true to life as possible. Richard Billingham and his series ‘ray’s a laugh’ is a very powerful source of presenting a raw reality of what the subjects lives are really like, and the ups and downs of the relationships they have with one another. I admire his style because it shows what is real – it opposes the ‘Hallmark version’ of relationships within the media where everyone looks euphoric and in harmony with one another – which unfortunately isn’t always the case in reality.
These photographers shoot in a very similar way but their motives for photographing people and what they are trying to achieve/show is slightly different. Each of these photographers knew the subjects very well and this enabled them to get the most natural, real and authentic moments of the dynamics within close and not to so close relationships. Another phrase I would use to describe these type of images is ‘environmental portraits’ – using location as a context for the relationship between the group(s) of people I choose to photograph. Another photographer I have looked at is Brandon Stanton –the photographer behind ‘Human’s of New York’. His images are a great source of inspiration for me because they capture the person themselves and in quite a few cases the relationship between the people being photographed, with a raw sense of emotion because of the back-story that is included alongside the image. I also love how he photographs people with their possessions that have specific meaning for them. This is something I aim to explore in the research process of this project – how we use possessions as outward symbols of inner feelings/relationships we have with those we are connected to. Some of these relationships I aim to photograph may even challenge stereotypes/stigmas about relationships within society – for example people of different religions/age groups who society may not associate with each other. I believe however that we are all human and we all go through the same emotions and milestones in life, although the way in which that is expressed is completely individual to the person and their life events/experiences.
I aim to photograph mainly on location and use the context as an indicator of relationship. I will mainly use natural day light as much as possible (so the subject does not feel they are on a ‘set up’ ‘photo shoot’). However I want to shoot in the studio also, to test the authenticity of some relationships and if the environment they are in affects how they respond and act with one another.
My target audience and end users would be creative intellectuals who would have the ability to read an image and understand the reason behind it. I imagine people who work in jobs with people and are interested by psychology and humanity as a whole would be intrigued by my work. I envision seeing these images in the SWPP (Society of Wedding & Portrait) magazine, and in their own exhibition as a ‘series’/substantial body of work. I also envision them in the British Journal of Photography magazine as a feature series. The clients/people I photograph would also be the end users of the photos, as they are of them and their relations – which I have found is a very powerful and meaningful thing for people in the grand scheme of life, as a photograph that captures genuine love between two people can be one of the most powerful images there is.