I have recently purchased Pieter Hugo’s book ‘Kin’ and thumbing through this book I started to feel a very strong connection with the message, well part of the message any way. I can’t relate to my home being South Africa, but the notion of ‘home’ is a strong one within my most recent project.
“[…]to look at the tenuous ties that bind us to, and repel us from each other. Home is where belonging and alienation coexist. Does this belonging liberate or confine us? Does it tie us to the terrible weight of history or free us from it?”
-Pieter Hugo, Kin.
This is where I go back to talking about myself, my project ‘ ‘S e Croitears a th’ Annainn’ (We are Crofters) looks at crofting in the small area around where I live. Most of these places, though not my home (nor do some of them have children of my age), are places of my childhood memories. I have these ties to the place, we never moved house, my mother has lived in our home for over 30 years. From knocks on the skirting to the way the grass grabs to the rocks in the surrounding fields, it is home.
This project started out as a way to document the surrounding area, in a hopefully new way, most people that photograph the Hebrides, and its ways of life, are not local. I feel that this tie to the place has changed the way I have looked at the area, but thats not to say you will see it in the same way, I can’t tell you how to see. But this project has ended up being about my ties to the land, the inescapable locality, I tried to detach myself from myself, but the place took charge and I am happy with the resulting photographs.
Today we had hours of information, looking toward the mounting and framing process, and something came up that I had never thought about doing because (as my lecturer said) borders are something of a convention. With the right images a ‘full bleed’ could really have a positive change, it could help the series to flow or it could even open the images out and make them feel more open. The nature of my photographs could be opened up by this change, this tightly cropped image can suddenly breath and become an immersive experience. I will come back with more on my final edit and the ‘full bleed’ in the next couple over weeks, if everything goes to plan.
Getting onto the main topic of the post mounting, today we were shown a variety of different ways to mount our photography on to, Dibond being my personal favourite, the rigidity of the mounting material for me is the first positive, then it has a very sleek look form the side, the second positive. Its first major downfall however, its cost. It is nearly double the price of the next cheapest material on the list.
The other material that was an early favourite with everyone, was the 5mm black foamex, it is also pretty sturdy and has a very sleek look from the side, but printing on thick paper, as I may well do, might look odd when viewing the edges.
Another part of of today was seeing paper sizes in all their glory, you can be told them, look them up even imagine them but until you see them labeled in front of you you can’t know. B0 very large, A0 also very large, A1 however, that may be large but I think that it is a manageable size. Below our very own Hal holds up an example of B0. Below that again is Kayleigh holding up an A2 print to see how many we can fit into the default exhibition space.
Today I had a tutorial to discuss my final edit and make sure that I wasn’t going in the wrong direction. I ended up discussing plans for mounting and what I want to do with my wall. My lecturer took a photograph with my phone and told me to use it for my blog, so I will. Carrying on from that, the contents of my tutorial, I was able to see a sample of Dibond, and I’m leaning strongly towards that. Along with an idea that sprang from someone a few days ago, perhaps I would mount myself using a wooden mount? I’m intrigued by this idea, I wanted to incorporate something of the crofting world into my exhibition, and using wood would reflect traditions. I also talked about which wall I would like, which can’t really be said at this point because everyones work needs to be seen and the idea of ‘what, who, where?’ really needs to be established. But I put my name forward for one of the walls, and I’ve taken a photograph of it and I’ve begun to experiment with my line. The wall goes a long way up so theres a lot of issues with what to do with all that space. So, now that I’ve narrowed it down to 49 for my folio and book, I need to decide what 3-7 I want to use in my exhibition. So, there will be an ‘Editing: Part III’ fairly soon where I will discuss my decisions.
Portraits, have you noticed how all over the place I am with portraits, first I hate them then I can’t live without them? Well, I’ve come to the conclusion that really I need them and quite a lot and realised that they don’t have to be straight up of a face. A portraits simply has to describe something about the person, for me anyway and I’m sure others feel the same.
I have been doing a project about crofting, as you may well know, and I’m trying my best to include people but as always finding it a challenge. For my last project I did a large section of portraits and while I was relatively happy with my first series of street portraits in my feedback I was told that though they did present the story they were out of my style and didn’t do me justice. A good thing to hear really, constructive criticism is always good and I have certainly kept it in mind when photographing people for this body of work.
I’m coming closer to the person but not too close its about what the people are doing, and I will share a couple of these with you but not without a little more information.
I took one of these today whilst visiting a working croft, which was very interesting I learnt about the care that some of the livestock need, and Helen (whom owns the croft with her husband) said, in a round about way, that for her crofting wasn’t about buying all of the fanciest equipment or newest stuff, but instead about making almost the same thing with materials spare from something else. This statement really resonated with me because while researching I found out so much about community spirit in the old townships and Helen reminded me of this, they made the best from every little thing they had. Nothing is wasted, until its broken at least.
The other image is of my grandmother who is the widow of a crofter, with it I’m really trying to show all of the sides to crofting.
Working with wool has come to my attention in a big way after starting to look at the lives of crofters, Werner Kissling who I have previously mentioned along side wool working has really sparked my interest into this reviving art. When shooting for my Final Major Project I visited an active weaving mill, using the traditional machines that had been restored (by Bob), these machines are still machines however, no where near the simplicity of the weaving that Kissling witnessed. One woman simply put stakes in the ground and used these to hold the wool while she wove. There was however an advantage to her method, she could expand her loom in any direction, that and the younger women would do the waulking for her, a four hour session were the wool is twisted and beaten, this bound the fibres for better insulation.
Whilst visiting the weaving mill and taking my photographs I took some short segments of video as a side project. In the mill it is required that everyone wears ear defenders, so when you watch the idea you can imagine how loud that the mill is. I don’t work with film often although I have been trying it out recently and trying to add Premiere Pro CC to my addition skills. I really enjoy working with film because having what would have been your still photograph moving helps you to tell your story. However, looking at most of my photography work I may have to film things out with my usual photography subject,
What lies beyond university for me is a bit of a mystery, but I’m trying to create some options and act upon them, I’ve already discussed being in touch with Street Level in Glasgow and my hopes for that, but I would also like to discuss where I’m from. After leaving the Ross of Mull it didn’t take me long to realise how special it ,and the Hebrides as a whole are. Over the last 18+ months I have become fascinated by the history of the place, the crofters and the fishermen, I would like to carry on exploring Hebridean history and specifically that of the Ross of Mull. My final major project is about my relationship to crofting now that I have left, how I see it, how I saw it and how it is. I plan to volunteer at the local historical society when I return to Mull, I hope that this will increase my knowledge and help me expand on this last project even post university.
I have emailed the historical society and hope to hear back from them soon.
I think that sometimes when people think of editing they only think about photoshopping out cracks and flaws in a models face, but editing generally describes the whole process after taking the photographs and before the final prints. I confess that for my main projects I don’t really use photoshop or any other editing software to its full advantage (only playing with shadows/highlights/exposure) I find that if I do much more its very easy to see that I’ve tampered with my work and I’m a big fan of the photograph staying more or less how I took it.
This being part two of an editing post I will finish discussing my narrowing down of the final images, showing my final edit and a photograph of what I believe will be the final order of the photographs, showing the passing of time and the odd one out of time that doesn’t necessarily look out of time. I had great fun using this method, spending so much time with them it becomes easier to see the ones you don’t like and I’ve certainly come to dislike a few of my early favourites.
Just today I have been introduced to something new, a way of editing that involves spending a lot of time with my photographs. Starting with the always faithful, contact sheet which helped me bring ~100 photographs down to ~50. So onwards from there have prints on roughly an A5 piece of paper, I may be over describing, find a wall big enough an just start sticking them up in the order you want them. Something I did which I would advise if you are also going to use this editing technique is, if you have a rough idea of the order you want say like a timeline or sections have that laid out. Mine vaguely follows a timeline so I had them out in rough chucks of time.
Over describing, this is early days and I hope that I will keep looking at them and seeing ones I dislike and others that I think should stand alone. I will add an edit shortly with how it goes.