The assignment I was given was split in to two parts. Part one was assigned by Silvio Wolf where I had to photograph nothing and part two was assigned by William Hendricks and I had to get 12 strangers to sit for the camera. Due to the nature of the assignment I have produced different styles of images however they have both been informed by my research into the artists who set the tasks.
I found this part of my assignment equally as challenging as taking portraits of strangers. At first I began trying to rationalise what ‘nothing’ was and how this can be translated into a visual form. My starting point was to look into the work of Silvio Wolf, the author of my assignment, and try to gain an understanding of why he set the assignment and how in turn this related to his own practice. In Wolf’s work he explores the threshold between light and dark and the relationship between the present and the absent.
I was greatly influenced by his series entitled ‘Horizons’ where Wolf used a chance-based darkroom process to create images of abstract fields of colour. It was this use of black and colour which inspired me to experiment with film photography and the developing process. The final image I have produced draws on themes of absence and presence within an image and how the black area indicates absence and makes the viewer question what the rest of the image would look like if the darkness was not there. The black area of the image was accidental and I did not originally intend for the image to turn out like this while shooting the film as I had no control over it. However drawing on the experimental methodology of Wolf I decided to keep the images that did not turn out how I expected in order to represent how ‘nothing’ can simply be the unknown.
This assignment proved to be the most challenging that I have been set so far as I am most comfortable photographing landscapes rather than people. The assignment called for me to go to a place with a decent foot traffic and once set up I was not allowed to move from that spot until I had taken a minimum of 12 portraits. I wanted to go to a place that people were more willing to have their portrait taken and somewhere that had a cultural backdrop and setting rather than just in the street as this would mean the portraits would be more diverse and I would gain confidence in taking peoples portraits.
I went to a 1940’s war weekend event and positioned myself near the stalls and displays however I adapted the brief and instead of staying put in one place I moved up and down the row of stalls and set myself this small area to take the images in. I also approached people to take their portrait rather than waiting for them to come to me. I found this method more successful than simply staying in one place as it allowed me to interact with the participant more and capture them in a more relaxed manner as I was able to introduce myself and explain why I wanted to take their portrait. I originally shot the images in colour so I had the option of keeping them in colour or black and white. However once reviewing the images I decided to change them to black and white as I found the background of the images in colour were distracting and in black and white the details of the portrait stand out more which is what I wanted the focus of the image to be. The black and white also matches the photographs that would of been taken in this time period and I feel that it works more with the cultural context of the images. In addition to this the brief called for a minimum of 10 prints to be shown to a class however instead of printing these images in a physical way and sharing them with people in person I felt it was appropriate to present the images in digital form on my blog and on my Instagram as they will be shared with a wider audience.