Sunday, December 18, 2011


Trying to avoid the usual cliched Christmas presents, this year I am making several of my own, a couple of calendars, some framed prints, but most importantly two books that build out a couple of Assignments that I have either completed or am working on.

As I have discussed previously, I find the photography book to be the most satisfying way of enjoying the work of photographers and owning something that is quite special.  My own practice is increasingly looking at the printed book as the end point of my work.  Starting with simple books documenting holidays and diving trips, I progressed into production of wedding albums for friends whose weddings I had shot.  Wedding books have a very specific and pre-defined narrative flow, not always easy to capture, but not difficult to sequence.

More recently I have started to think about how I could present my "Art" as a book, stepping beyond simple recording of events, towards a thematically consistent body of work that has its own narrative.  The first of these books is an extension of Assignment 5 from People and Place, a study of the Munich subway. Putting this book together I had two goals, to explore the sequencing of more abstract photographs and to build a personal style statement in terms of the typography and the layout.  Layout was simple, photographs on facing pages, with a small number of layouts depending on the aspect ratio of the photograph.  As I was using facing pages, I had to ensure that each pair of photographs harmonized with each other.  Clearly this is not necessary, contrast might suit in some cases, but for this subject it was a given.  Each page has the station name and line number as a caption, the line numbers in the colour coding used by the system.  I used a san serif font for the names, choosing something that I thought created a contemporary and clean look to the pages.

Sequencing was a challenge, there is no story in this book, simply a series of brightly coloured personal interpretations of this space.  I started very geometrically with strong vanishing points formed by the platforms, moved into other spaces within the system and finished with shots involving more people.  This created a thematic flow, but not really a narrative.  I completed the shots for the book in no more than 5 separate shoots, I know that more visits would have yielded a better set of photographs, but the goal for this exercise was the book as an art form, the photos I had were enough.  Additionally it is illegal to shoot in the subway, so I have already pushed my luck far enough.

Here is the result:

My other book project, became an assignment, rather than originating from one.  I had the idea to build a very personal present for close friends and family, using a set of sequenced images taken within a small space in the park.  This developed into an obsession, with multiple dawn visits each week to capture differing light.  I terminated the book project once Autumn really gave over to winter and the light changed.  I also wanted to ensure that I had enough time for the publication process.

Transient Light is a visual exploration of dawn light and its interaction with the autumn mist.  Unlike the previous book, every photograph is identically framed in a 2x1 ratio and there are no captions, however, I did pen an introduction.  I also put my name on the book, something I omitted for the more abstract U.  The photo sequence is designed to bring the viewer from the abstract whiteness of dense fog through to the sharp clear light of day, with contrast and colour gradually building through the set.  I printed the photos on a heavy matte paper, a better medium for the soft tonality of Transient Light than the semi-gloss used for the brightly coloured U.

Both books are an early attempt at building the skills needed to sequence photographs in a book format.  The 8-12 photograph sequences needed for the assignments have the extra challenge of working towards such a small set of photos, the books permit far more expression.  It is not my plan to submit these as part of the course, but looking towards the next level, I expect that the photo book will be my medium of expression.

Finally my tutor shared these links with the head of the college, the very kind words in response encourage me to think this is the right direction for me.

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