Having discussed the route that led to this point it is worth now looking at how I came to take the images I did for this assignment.
The first part of this was the wonderful book on Eugène Atget by David Harris called Unknown Paris, I was reading this as part of my study of photographers, Eugène Atget was one that I chose, he was an interesting character who decided to document Paris as he knew it before the march of progress and modernization swept it all away. I was taken by the images he created of some of the parts of Paris that most people would not have visited or would have simply passed by. This got me thinking about the idea of creating images of a place and it tied into a comment that was made by Clive White at the TV Group where he said “of course you can create a narrative of an area”, That initially led me down the path of creating images of Tudor buildings in Weald and Down Open Air Museum, something that did not really gel for me, but there was an idea forming taking that comment and adding in the work of Eugène Atget, if I lay on top of that some of the economic problems I was witnessing through work I was starting to see the beginning of a primal stew of an idea. Next I went to the Photographers Gallery to see Andy Warhol, David Lynch and William S Burroughs, I was taken by the work of David Lynch though I was a little disappointed by it as I felt he missed a trick somehow, for me his style was too dark and while his artist statement claimed that he was into oil and grease and steam and rusty metal that really did not come out for me as he hid most of those things in the blackness of his images, I wanted to see more engineering and more oil, grease and dirt. I felt that If I were to take these images I would have done it very differently, I suppose it makes the exhibition a success if it drives that sort of emotion in me.
after that exhibition I started thinking about industrial settings and discovered how hard it was to get into some of these venues, I came across a photographer named Dan Marbaix who shoots derelict buildings from inside getting himself in lots of trouble with the police and apparently being held at gun point once his work can be seen here: (Dan Marbaix The Urban Explorer) in an article about him, as you can see from this he has taken some amazing images of places that he should not have been in. I love the way he has captured the essence of these abandoned places and I love the imagery of the Urban Explorer.
Next I found the work of Dan Circa, who also has taken images of abandoned and derelict buildings, the image here is from a link to his website under the gallery of Miscellaneous Abandonment, this image is entitled Whittingham Asylum – Private Ward and is for me a very powerful image I get the feel of a hospital wing and then I see the case left behind and the whole thing reminds me how many hospitals and asylums were closed under the terrible care in the community initiative this image somehow brings that crashing down on me.
My next find was Matthew Christopher who’s website http://www.abandonedamerica.us this site is his blog looking at all of the abandoned sites he has been to in America it was a useful insight for me. I also came across Mark Blundell http://markblundellphoto.com/ who has made some amazing rotating panoramas of pipes and stuff lots of abandoned industry its a fascinating site that had me captivated for hours rotating the images I was really inspired by these.
Then there was Kevin Bauman who’s work kicked me in my final direction http://www.kevinbauman.com/projects/100_abandoned_houses Kevins work was a set of 100 images of abandoned houses, these are mostly exterior shots of a range of dwellings from some that you have to look hard to see they are abandoned to some that are wrecks, this dripped into the soup and got me thinking about taking exterior shots of abandoned buildings to demonstrate the effects of the current economic Climate.
I started to think about buildings I had seen around that were abandoned particularly businesses that might demonstrate my narrative. I thought also to try to weave in a few buildings that had some significance to me during my life. I made a long list asked friends on Facebook and family if anyone knew of appropriate sites. I generated a long list and set about visiting them. To my horror so many of them were either re developed or being renovated, even some that had been deserted for years, may be a sign that times are no longer as hard.
With some perseverance I managed to find enough images to build the series, strangely since I finished looking dozens of other candidates have come piling in.
The next problem was to make these images into a narrative, I decided after long contemplation to not set them in a layout as I was advised that this can go horribly wrong, however they were not in themselves a story or a narrative just a load of abandoned buildings and there was the matter of adding a cover image.
I decided that the cover needed to add the narrative and use an image that was juxtaposition to my theme, I decided that the title on the page should be Hard Times and that I would capture an image of a smashing piggy bank with coins flying everywhere. I went on to eBay and bought six piggy banks made of cheap ceramic. When they arrived I set up a back cloth and some lights then carried a large stone slab from the garden to have something to drop and smash the pigs on. I enlisted my ever helpful daughter to drop the pigs as I took the images.
At first she just wanted to save all the pigs but the madness of destroying stuff soon took over and the smashing of the pigs became more fun than keeping them.
We put two aside and decided to drop the first four and use a fast shutter and the continuous shooting mode on my 7D to capture the sequence as it turned out the continuous mode is not as fast as it seems and most of the first four sequences turned out to have little of use, the last two I had my daughter smash with a hammer, this turned out to be gold as it leaves you with the impression that times are so hard that you need to break into your savings. Also by luck one of these sequences yealded the perfect shot.
My next dilemma was should I produce this image in colour or black and white? I had decided that the story images would be in black and white to emphasize the aspect of abandonment and depression and I also decided to use a landscape format and stick to it as I had learned during this course that images that work together should remain in the same format and that when you swap orientation you create a pause or comma in the presentation which is ok if you are changing the emphasis but not if the images need to gel together.
I deliberately, mad the cover colour and portrait and of a different subject so that there was a pause or juxtaposition between it and the main body, I felt that without this there would be no narrative, it was the bold heading and the idea of smashing into savings that would counterpoint against the abandoned buildings to produce the narrative. I now wait with baited breath to see if it worked in Sharron’s mind the same way it did in mine. Time as they say will tell.
You can view the submitted images here http://ocalearninglog.com/2014/04/10/taop-5-narrative-gallery/