This week we have been looking at how the wider world see's us as photographers and the effects that has.
Working as a photographer I have a strange relationship with it's perception, as a wedding photographer I spend a lot of time telling people how i'm not a what they'd expect as a wedding photographer. I even brand it differently with an alias to separate it from the art documentary work. As an events photographer I explain my method in my 'one handed photographer' approach. I am part of the event interacting with people and getting close to what is happening.
It allows me to get very personal candid images that would have not been possible in a more formal setting (in my opinion at least). I think it's fair to say in most areas of professional photography I feel like I'm up against a sea of sceptics full of anti professional feelings. To the lay man it appears to be a lazy whimsical and over priced profession. This is probably due to the huge rise in mass consumption and accessible technology in digital photography. Smart phones, social media apps, and entry level DSLR's have all devalued the professional photographer somewhat. People seem to think that the difference between the professinal and amauter is more of a label and not so much measured in skill or education.
How has this affected my practice...
Working in a professional capacity has been hard to navigate, I am very cautious to how I've marketed myself. Although I work in a few different areas of photography for paid work I separate them. I do this becuase I feel it's important now more then ever to connect to the client. Being personal and connecting with people with shared values is key. In an over saturated market I think the person behind the camera is more important than it used to be. With the art-documentary projects I invest a lot of myself personally into it. I've touched upon it before, but the there is no way we can stay impartial, neutral or independent of the subject where framing. That's why I choose to embrace it. I think it's possible to be part of the work and it adds an extra layer to it, I feel that it would be better to utilize these diaristic and self reflection elements rather than battle against an impossible task of being the 'neutral' or 'impartial' observer.
Everyone was packed into a crowded room and crowd surfing, when it looked like someone was falling I passed my camera of to the person next to me and went to help. They took a shot without being promoted and captured me, I think it's an interesting point with regards to the diaristic elements to the work.
I always imagine people viewing me ' the photographer' in a negative light, perhaps from the way photographers have been portrayed in pop culture and in the media, which is generally in a negative light, often as invaders or stalkers. I feel by sharing the position ( if you can call it that) it democratizes the act and breaks down the barrier of ' us and them'. It's now just 'us'.
The effect a camera has...
Simply having a camera around signifies to other people around that you are intending to take images. I find having a camera around your neck with a strap (DSLR/SLR) instantly puts you as a photographer a step back. I often shoot with the strap wrapped around my writs and by my side. It's not as noticeable and I sometimes prefocus to set distance with an aperture that will capture what I want. I also know how to increase or decrease the flash power (off camera flash) pretty much instinctively to adjust what I need to shoot. I don't think I would get even half the images I select from the edits if I didn't. I think it's really interesting that the very image of a DSLR/SLR camera changes the dynamic between the subject and the viewer. There has been a rise in professional photographers utilizing this and using smartphones with there now fairly impressive sensors to overcome this barrier and get even closer. One notable practioner would be Damon Winter with his 'A Grunts Life' Work.
Jocelyn Bain Hogg
I think it's very important to show a world that people don't know especially in your own country.
Taken from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jbZi5MIQtug
He works in a hugely dedicated way, he spends up to 10 years on a single project. He explains that he finds it important to not try and emulate the people you're with. He explains If you're not trying to be them or judge them, after spending a lot of time with them, a mutual trust is made between both of them. I think it's interesting how he managed to gain the trust of these organised crime gangs to the point where they were open and welcoming of him to take these images. It's certainly a testimony of the importance of the photography subject relationship.
After looking at my approach and the way I've been framing myself amongst the work I think I want to keep it on a similar path. I feel my work relies on the mutual trust and respect between me and the people I work with. I will of course look at experimenting with my techniques but I think the relationship I aim to maintain should be fairly similar to how it is.
After going on tour with Larkhill (band) I talked in depth about my intentions. I spent a pretty much all day everyday with them, we ate slept and travelled together. I still feel it's about a mutual respect for people and just being yourself. I also had them take images of me to democratize the power amongst us all.