Tuesday, 24 April 2012

A catch up on all things photographic or otherwise.

Evening all (or morning, rather, as it is approaching 1am as I write this). Things have been stacking up rather a lot recently - Uni. work, exhibition planning and generally having a life - and so updating my blog has taken somewhat of a back seat. It has been over a week now since I have written anything on here, and quite frankly I feel guilty. Perhaps this is a state of mind I should be worried about, feeling guilty for not talking to a computer, and I should possibly contact a psychiatrist. Anywho. This post is to catch up on the rather large backlog of news, information and thoughts from the past couple of weeks.

Let's start with a couple of said thoughts. Over the past few weeks I feel I have discovered a few things about myself - or rather about how I relate myself to photography. It all started when a friend of mine came very close to leaving the Press & Editorial Photography course; the reasons: because so far we have simply been filling crappy sketchbooks to meet deadlines; because photojournalism appears to be too exploitative; and that the photography industry is apparently full of arseholes. A fair critique, I felt. It got me thinking, too, about whether this was the right place for me. Sure, I have been having a great time meeting interesting people and learning a myriad of new skills, but what was I actually achieving? Like my friend, I had thus far only been shooting work for the briefs, and not shooting anything personal for myself. Furthermore - as we engaged in many disparate conversations about the world of photojournalism - it was becoming increasingly apparent that photography is one of the most egocentric mediums, with a who-owns-the-best-camera mentality giving birth to a breed of people who seem to think that because they are a 'photojournalist' they have the right to poke their lens in to other peoples' private affairs. And I should know - I've done it myself. The very project I am working on at the moment appears to be everything I have come to dislike about certain aspects of photojournalism.

The aforementioned project is about the homeless of Newquay (and everything surrounding their lives), with the hopeful intention of shedding light upon an area often fogged with doubt and uncertainty. I have also begun to photograph the lives of young adults (16-25) who have either run away from or have been forced to leave their homes. Instead, they live in a small flat in the centre of Newquay as part of what has become known as 'The Turnaround Project', or 'Turnaround' for short. Turnaround - a Christian organisation - aims to accommodate, rehabilitate and educate the youngsters, as well as teaching them to be self-sufficient around the home and their general lives. The images so far go a little something like this:

As I mentioned before, I have been having somewhat of an inward-facing battle with myself over the past few weeks about the ethics of this. In one hand the Turnaround Project are happy for me to be there, and the youngsters themselves appear to be comfortable. But as I thought about how I first introduced myself to their lives, I realised just how ridiculous it sounded. I am conducting a 'project' - I have also come to dislike categorising people as 'projects', but it will do for now until I can think of a better word to apply - on the homeless population of Newquay, ranging from rough sleepers to, in the case of Turnaround, the accommodated, but all are without any real 'home'. What, then, has given me the right photograph these people? These people who, in relation to me, have nothing (although the youngsters at Turnaround have come to call the apartment home, it is not exactly the same deal). When I really think about it, the only reason why I chose to do this 'project' was because I simply got lucky with the access way back in February. But to tell you the truth, I believe I have matured as both a person and a photographer since then, and I that simply "having access" doesn't constitute a reason for carrying out a 'project'. I want to do a project about something that I feel moves or inspires me - not that a lot of what I have seen doesn't inspire me, I have met some amazing people - but, and again I go back to the reason why I started this in the first place, I don't feel as though I truly deserve their attention. It is almost as if I am making a story just becuase of their position in life, which makes me feel very uncertain as a photographer. These days, I find that the stories that hold me the most are not this which document hard core subjects such as homelessness, but smaller stories which make you think - "wow, I had no idea such people existed". A great example of this is a recent piece by r Jono Rotman, who produced some amazing - but simple - portraits of the Mongrel Mob, a New Zealand-based gang. This work for me made me realise just how effective a simple body of work can be.

Back to the matter at hand, and of course, if I could help any of these people in some way I would be extremely happy. In fact things are already beginning to take shape in regards to different charities. I have recently been in contact with a representative of Emmaus UK, one of the biggest homeless charities. Conversation has started in regards to exhibiting my work as a fund-raising tool as well as general propaganda. And that, I think, would give me the right to photograph these incredible people.

As far as everything else is concerned, things are going swimmingly, albeit extremely busy. My year and I are ploughing ahead with exhibition planning, with the whole thing starting to shape up rather nicely. Follow this link to the Pig House Pictures Facebook page (see previous post for details on that). We have also organised a smashing after-party to be held at Toast in Falouth to really see-off the opening night of our first year exhibition (which will be on display at the Royal Cornwall Polytechnic Society from the 8th - 14th May). As well as all that, we also have plans for a pocket-sized publication in the pipeline; more on that to follow soon!

Oh, and before I forget, I have photographed my first wedding! ("Hoorah", "Hazzah!"). The big day was last weekend, in fact, and was a friend of mine's in Newquay. It was quite a nerve-racking day to say the least, and needless to say I learnt a fair few lessons in photographic management! But enough spiel for now, stay tuned (if anyone does indeed 'tune' to this) for wedding photographs galore. I'm not entirely sure if I should be admitting such a thing on a photojournalism blog.


No comments:

Post a Comment