Interview between Jonathan Worth, Fred Ritchin and Stephen Mayes

As I identified that Fred Ritchin and Stephen Mayes would be an influential part of my research paper, I felt it would be beneficial to me to revisit the interview made by Jonathan Worth in which Ritchin and Mayes discuss ideas related to Bending The Frame and current photojournalism. My notes and the evaluation can be seen below:

Jonathan – questions/points

  • Who should be in charge of the information?
  • Who should teach the skills of technology and photojournalism?
  • Can the photojournalist let the viewer down by not providing an outlet of way for people to help
  • Visit Simon Norfolk’s work of Afghanistan

Stephen Mayes – background

  • CEO of VII photo agency (agency of photojournalists)
  • Worked in fashion/commercial previously
  • Describes himself now as a ‘visual entrepreneur’

Stephen Mayes – ideology

  • Commercial aspect is key – those who are attempting to make a living will need an income from it (however we will figure it out)
  • Commerce has shaped the form of documentary and news that we live – structure of magazines, then TV has shaped the structures and styles that we are used to
  • There has been a ‘transliberation’ – practical problem of generating income/commercial constraints vs. invention in how news is gathered, contextualised and distributed – we can reinvent how news and documentary works, everything is free of commerce at this point
  • This liberation could be a problem however it could be a huge opportunity
  • The structure of the magazine/photo essay was essentially born of technology and was part of the commercial process- it doesn’t necessarily mean it is the most effective tool of using these images/data
  • There is a lot of confusion with too many sources of information, the sources are cryptic/foreign however there are standards that are emerging – there is potential for a much more creative way for news to be told
  • The traditional form of story telling is very much simplified – all this has sprang apart and we are confronted with complexity now which might be a better way of describing the world
  • Optimistic = pessimist who doesn’t know all the facts
  • All of the problems Ritchin describes could be changed – the front page was very much a form of control, making exclusions to centre around a focal idea – perhaps it was a risky tool to exclude everything else that was going round in the world, there was actually no way to know if the people actually reading and engaging with the ‘front page’ story? The chances are it would be the people that already engage and want to change therefore we might not need the entry point?
  • We are experiencing a longer form of journalism already because it never ends, it comes to us in a rolling stream and we are also liberated from the constrictions of the constructed package of a story to create a neat summary of what was going on in the world, there is an ever rolling evolution of stories with have no beginning/middle/end
  • Although content moves through the internet very quickly it is easy to follow and track the developments – the websites will also always be there, print magazines disappear – we are giving people more opportunity to do things about the issue online, you can like/share/comment/donate/volunteer as a result of the media – we can act more as a community
  • We are developing tools where we can find and target people who we know are more likely to get involved and compare
  • Reflecting on Simon Norfolk work – someone was horrified that a photojournalist could be considered as a story teller (the origins of storytellings for ancients were metaphors that brought us truths) news information should be facts not stories. Simon Norfolk’s work is a draw back to a more profound form of story telling
  • Story telling has evolving to indicate what might have happened in contrast to factual reporting and what has happened, Mayes finds it is an enriching and gratifying process considering the power of the metaphor – photography has always been trapped in the notion of depicting
  • Simon is part of a bigger trend where the metaphor is used increasingly in storytelling
  • Examples of the image to provoke action: image of youth wearing a hoodie in the US – the Trevon Martin – it did galvanise action form a massive amount of people but sadly to the wrong effect, it was a socially driven example. Another example was the huge Facebook reaction to the scanners at US Airports that it was said could reveal everything underneath their clothing thousands said they would not use the scanners and pose a strike however only one person did it
  • We are moving past the idea that the photographic can only be interpreted as a fact, photography could be a more thoughtful metaphoric medium

Fred Ritchin – background

  • Professor at New York University
  • Picture editor at New York Times Sunday Magazine
  • Written three books

Fred Ritchin – ideology

  • Photographer we think of is a reactive individual with a camera / visual journalist is someone that can be a ‘meta-photographer’ dealing with contextualisation
  • The visual journalist can be a proactive/peace photographer – much broader definition of someone that will just respond to an event
  • Hyper-photographer is someone that can work with interactive non-linear technology will probably work with sound/video/still images
  • PROBLEM: Diminishing sense that the media is telling us things of importance, and people are less willing to pay for it – older models of marginal/mainstream/conventional media is imploding
  • We need to figure out the hybridisation of media which includes the contributions from the citizen journalist has the context and the serendipitous fact of being in the right place when things happen – however we need the professional to prioritise and filter the most important content and put it all together
  • The idea of citizenship in journalism – people needed to know what was going on in a timely manner to understand their world, if people aren’t willing to take on this role journalism becomes sort of entertaining, people are still suffering but people can’t/won’t do anything about it
  • The ‘simplified’ form of media was to implore people to try and help assist the victims of the events that we are describing – there has been complexity since the first forms of media – however the role of the news is to be understood and read, the older forms of media were to get people interested in 6/8 pages
  • There is no front page at this point, if the Napalm girl image was released today it might be on the internet for an hour, it wouldn’t be the image for change
  • Not everyone in the world should be reinventing media – there is still a need for photography/media to be useful for the sake of the youth who will need that form of old media to learn/understand about the world
  • 5 year projects of more artistic documentary photographers may release a book or build a website/exhibition but realistically how many people actually see the images/content?
  • Take Afghanistan – what can we actually do about it? There was no image that we could rally around and share ideas on. Do people actually know anything about Afghanistan and the culture? People are ill-educated in terms of foreign affairs and cultures. In Ritchin’s experience he knew that if he saw an image the rest of the public were likely to have seen the same one and this meant people could come together collectively – you could go to the subway and talk to people
  • There is no entry point in the media anymore – the image that was used as a rallying point was the entry point, the front page had a good use in the world – the online gesture of liking/sharing/making a comment is very half-hearted – the images of the killing of Osama bin Laden weren’t realised because the government thought people wouldn’t believe them and didn’t want to enrage people that were already angry
  • You have to think about things in terms of the rich country ideas against the poor country ideas – the victims don’t want people to learn about the famine/war that is affecting them, they want them to help, ‘if my house was on fire I wouldn’t want people educated about fire and houses, I would want them to help’
  • Although the internet has given an explosion of possibilities for people to search and learn at their leisure however for those people who are suffering they want people to have a more focussed effect on helping
  • The magazines/papers gave people the power and focus to shame or expose negative situations in society and make people want to change something about it
  • There is a difference between ‘us and them’ news – us is where the change is happening in our social environment however them is when the events are happening in foreign countries/cultures to us – the Vietnam girl image could be considered as an image metaphor for war as it descried horror, it became a symbol of a ruined social situation
  • It is simple and easy to use photography to tell a story without needing to make something up
  • Although you can learn a lot from Simon Norfolk’s series of images, for example he talks through the history of Afghanistan, he only shows his work in galleries, his work might not have as much as an impact as a typical print image would – perhaps society doesn’t want to be impacted – we are resisting the front page because we want to live in our own bubble and be protected against the happenings we don’t like
  • There is no prevailing point of view: there is a flood of different views that could be completely misinformed by false or ill conceived information
  • There is no sense of discourse or dialogue- the government used to be the fourth estate in which journalists would have a dialogue is – there is now a fifth estate which are those who hack and reveal information
  • There is no efficient sense of filtering information now – increasing sense of utopianism – the possibilities of the automobile were wonderful however they brought all kinds of problems that were brought with it
  • The internet is powerful and great in the sense of commerce however it isn’t very good at bringing a news story forward to an individual

 

Evaluation:

There was so much content in this interview that I am still revisiting it and gaining new ideas and picking up new points therefore since I am using Fred Ritchin and Stephen Mayes as framework for my paper I needed to listen to this interview again and note down the important ideas. This opposition created by Jonathan Worth in the interview formed the basis of my structure as I felt I could discuss the relevant debates and issues in photojournalism using the ideology from Ritchin and Mayes to compliment and contradict each other.  The key idea I am taking away from Stephen Mayes in this interview is the idea that digital, online photojournalism is a rolling, continuous stream and that we need photojournalism to adapt to suit and take advantage of this dynamic. One of the key ideas I am taking away from Fred Ritchin in this interview is the changing professional and the concept that we are moving away from the iconic images associated with analogue photojournalism to produce larger, more informed bodies of work. This associates with my discussions of the context for the final outcome as this is as equally important as the photographic process because the work needs to be interpreted in the right way. There are so many other points and concepts in this interview that will be so relevant both in relation to my research paper and the blog posts I am planning to write. Overall revisiting this interview has been extremely beneficial to me and has shaped the structure for my research paper.

 

Reference: Worth, J. (2013b) Stephen Mayes, Fred Ritchin and Jonathan Worth [online] available from <https://archive.org/details/MayesRitchinWorthFull&gt; [5 January 2015]

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Towards A New Documentary Expression – Stephen Mayes

In the workshop with Shaun Hides, I idenfied that for my research paper I could use the opposition between Stephen Mayes and Fred Ritchin created in the interview for Phonar as a suitable framework. I was already familiar with Fred Ritchin’s writing however I hadn’t read anything from Stephen Mayes so I set myself the task of reading material from Stephen Mayes. My notes and evaluation can be seen below:

  • John Stanmeyer: “we’ve got to stop thinking of ourselves as photographers. We’re publishers” – the smartphone is more than just another camera, it redefines the role of the image-maker
  • What is valuable about photography now? (new audiences/new interests)
  • Opportunity to challenge conventional photography and storytelling and create new models
  • This evolution references ancient storytelling (photos as metaphors)
  • 20th century conventions are dissolving
  • Photographers aren’t constrained anymore, being published allows them to choose their themes, audiences, distribution and means for expression
  • Documentary photography has been questioned, expanded and revised
  • Bill Eppridge: photo essay “Panic in Needle Park” used a sequential format
  • Straight narratives are beginning to ‘age out’ in society and media
  • Online imagery is less presenting objects of memory and more about sharing experience
  • Endlessly streaming experience reflects the messy experience of life
  • Snapchat is the latest phenomenon ‘vernacular is the vanguard’
  • Documentary practitioners are already experimenting
  • Chris De Bode – Bangladeshi migrant workers freeling Libya in 2011 (innovative print context)
  • Peter DiCampo and Austin Merril – Everyday Africa, “rolling evolution of multi perspective narrative” (Instagram and Tumblr – photography as a conversational tool)
  • Shift from linear to dynamic stories isn’t the only change
  • Documentary has been a vehicle of factual information, this is up for review as audiences shift (social media, traditional media, games consoles, galleries)
  • Images are read less literally
  • Factual credibility is under suspicion because of concerns over manipulation and falsification
  • Less discussed is the significance of context as context defines meaning
  • Smartphone aesthetic is casually intimate – Ron Haviv and Michael Christopher Brown made work in Libya with their mobile phone 2011
  • Photography can be seen as a visual metaphor
  • Transformative storytelling is important

Evaluation:

Stephen Mayes is my key authority on the smartphone as a tool in photojournalism and the influence of the mass image culture on the practice of photography. This piece of writing reinforces that view and gives me plenty of points to raise in each discussion. I find Mayes’ comparison to the fragmented nature of experiential photography to the ‘messy experience of life’ extremely interesting because it perhaps explains why image-based social media has become increasingly popular. The quote from John Stanmeyer is very relevant in association with the mass image culture that is growing due to the mass engagement with social media; it is also relevant to the professional practice of photojournalism as the professional photographer can have more control over the content that they produce. Perhaps the role of the photo-editor is declining because the photojournalist can be responsible and have control over the publishing of their own work; this would decrease the likelihood of an image being interpreted the wrong way when the sense of purpose and control gets lost through translation between the photographer and the photo-editor. This responsibility and control is a concept I will be addressing in my research paper in relation to all aspects of the photographic process from ensuring an accurate representation to deciding the appropriate environment for the final visual outcome. I will definitely be incorporating Mayes’ ideology in association with the publishing of content, in particular the content from the citizens who are participating in the experiential medium Stephen Mayes describes. In this paper Mayes characterises the content from social media as an ‘endless streaming experience’, in his interview with Fred Ritchin he described it as rolling and continuous; it is this flowing dynamic that I wish to address in my research paper and compare it to the fluid nature of the digital image as addressed by Joan Fontcuberta. If photojournalists can take the image further than the analogue format it is currently trapped in, they can fully take advantage of the continuous informational stream available to them.

The Phonar Finish

Approaching Phonar I had the ideology that the photograph was the same as the image, digital photography and video were completely separate mediums and the key issues involved with photography didn’t stretch much more than the limitations of commerce and commercial manipulation. However after being introduced to practitioners such as Fred Ritchin, Stephen Mayes, David Campbell and Shahidul along with many other contributors, I have been able to identify and reflection the key issues associated with post-modern photography following the paradigm shift from analogue to digital.

I am now considering the concepts of narrative, representation and truth are all to be considered in relation to my own practise; for example sports photography is all about capturing a moment in time however the mechanical nature and ‘decisive moment’ notion of analogue photography would suggest that digital is only appropriate because of the instantaneous technology. With the increasing separation of analogue from digital photography there has been an increasing difference between the terminology of the ‘photograph’ and the ‘image’. The photograph is the physical manifestation of the print produced from the analogue camera where the visual content is the only ‘data’ to be extracted. In comparison the digital image is built up of two elements, the metadata and the visual representation. The latent and manifest forms can exist almost simultaneously resulting in the accumulating reference of the digital image to quantum physics. The idea of truth is a concept seemingly being destructed by the evolution of digital photography and the capacity of editing software to fabricate a scene, however with the credibility of the image we must also consider the credibility of the photographer.

In particular I have been engaged by the notion of representation on the Internet and the growing capacity of the computer to plausibly replicate human actions. There is a dialogue between virtual reality and artificial intelligence mostly seen in video game culture and interestingly enough; this immersive practise has been identified as an effective tool for both photojournalism by Marcus Bleasdale and education through organisations such as the Thing Out Loud Club. However with artificial intelligence comes restriction through the form of online filter bubbles, which is potentially challenging the notion of a democracy by unintentionally limiting the flow of information for the sake of relevance. There is also an issue of online safety through the sharing of inconsequential information, which I have identified in my Post Photographic Portrait.

The Phonar module has been responsible for the change in my ideology and practise from visualising and producing ‘decorative’ work to identifying key issues and responding with the most appropriate tool available to me; whether it be photography or another practise such as video, sound or even the written word. I understand that my work in the most case is a starting point; a raw thought to be developed on however I have been able to interpret and reflect on the key concepts, which will undoubtedly form the basis for my future practise.

Stephen Mayes in conversation with Wired

This blog post is a reflection on the interview conducted by Pete Brook from Wired Magazine with Stephen Mayes on the concept: ‘Photographs Are No Longer Things, They’re Experiences’.

Smartphones are a pivotal force in the transformation and expansion of photography in relation to mass consumption by the citizen population. The images produced from phones truly reflect the latest paradigm shift; where digital SLR’s attempted to replicate the appearance and characteristics of analogue cameras, smartphones are completely different. There is a fluidity in the digital images that allows the user to make continuous changes that wasn’t seen in analogue photography and the instantaneous nature of communication accentuates this. Ritchin described digital photography as “quantum imagery”; the more we try to examine the medium the more possibilities are opened up and it becomes harder to evaluate. The smartphone device was originally designed to communicate and stream; it is this process of immediate reaction that fuels the existence of smartphone photography. Our relationship with photography is changing from documenting and cataloguing evidence to the act of experiencing and streaming. However we still try and relate the digital image to traditional norms and values, we are embracing the digital culture but are constantly relating it back to familiar ideology, as we did with the automobile.

The main catalyst for the rise in smartphone photography in the media is the accessibility and the ease of the citizen user to produce and publish content. Most of the current events have been documented and experienced through phones; some of the most integral imagery from the Japanese tsunami was captured and shared from a smartphone. However the greater capacity for freedom of speech has created an unstable environment as the traditional gatekeepers are no longer in control of the information. This raises the questions of who should be the individuals providing the information? There is a certain credibility and trustability with the imagery and videography seen from mobile phones however it is not appreciated as a solid, serious medium. However should the population pay photojournalists when there is an online network of citizen journalists willing to provide information for no cost? These speculations are being made by many in the world of media however for now there it is apparent that there is still a role for the professional photographer as they have the skill to construct and read an image in a professional sense.

To see my Storify notes on the interview – follow the link below

https://storify.com/rebeccawoodall/stephen-mayes-and-wired-interview

To read the full interview – follow the link below

http://www.wired.com/2012/11/stephen-mayes-vii-photography/all/

Fred Ritchin and Stephen Mayes

Continuing on from Phonar’s interview with Fred Ritchin over Bending The Frame, this week had Phonar listening to an interview between Professor Fred Ritchin (previous picture editor at New York Times) and Stephen Mayes (head of VII photo agency). In my previous blog post I referred to Fred Ritchin as a digital migrant and suggested this could be a reason for his seeming reluctance to newer methods of photojournalism. In contrast Stephen Mayes is also what could be considered as a digital migrant however he takes a different stance and prefers to embrace and speculate over the potential of new technology in photojournalism. In this interview it appeared as though they had polarised views on the concept of photojournalism and this dynamic allowed both participants to bring out points for either argument allowing the listener to have a balanced, comprehensive view.

Fred Ritchin’s view is that photojournalism was and perhaps should remain as this iconographic series of front page images which pose as an entry point for the viewer and stand as a rallying point which the population can collectively engage with. He argues there is a diminishing sense that the media is reporting content in the public interest and a reluctance from the population to pay for this information and as a result, conventional media is imploding. In response to this issue Ritchin states that there is a need for a new for a new type of photographer: one that will produce visual content but also deal with the contextualisation behind it. This visual journalist should pursue the idea of becoming a proactive photographer: a more extensive role which encompasses the ideology that a photographer should produce work to inspire social change rather than react to the ‘bright lights’ and ‘loud noises’ of unfolding events.  There is complexity in media today as the demise of the traditional gatekeepers and the rise of the citizen journalist has changed both the quality and the quantity of information, now made readily available by the internet. This saturation has seen a loss in the prevailing view and defining image which traditionally accompanied a story. One of the differences between the wars in Vietnam and Afghanistan was that in the latter, there were no iconic images. This was partially because Obama didn’t want them used as propaganda but also because the introduction of editing software has lessened credibility of the image; people simply wouldn’t take what they saw as truthful.  Although the possibilities of new media are seemingly wonderful, the situation can be comparable to that of the automobile which although revolutionary, brought with it the consequence of climate change.

Stephen Mayes however introduces the idea of liberation; photojournalism and documentary photography have previously been bound to the form of the photoessay by commerce. Now there has been a ‘transliberation’ where the practical commercial restraints oppose the possibility of invention in relation to how news is gathered, contextualised and distributed. The conventional form of narrative in the photoessay although effective in some cases, is only one tool out of the many on offer as a result of the most recent paradigm shift. The front page as one of these tools was a distinctive form of control, risky in the nature that it would make countless exclusions to centre around one focal idea. Perhaps we no longer need an entry point into media as we are now provided with a constant rolling stream of journalism, liberated from the constructive package of a linear narrative. Despite the fast pace of content online it is still easy to search and follow developments as the web page has an permanent but faceless existence as opposed to the printed cover image which is bound in the form of physical, disintegrative materials. The nature of online platforms also give people more opportunity take instantaneous action through the process of liking, sharing, commenting, volunteering and donating; can the notion of collective viewing be seen in the online space? The concept of storytelling is undergoing a process of evolution, as Ritchin denoted the image is changing to become metaphorical as opposed to evidential. Photography is transforming from it’s evidential and factual origins to become a medium that is profound and metaphoric.

It is clear that photojournalism has become an ambiguous term, stretched by the explorations of practitioners striving to create social change and fuelled by the advance of technology. However unless a sense of responsibility and the notion of producing quality is maintained there is a possibility that photojournalism will become saturated by unmoderated, citizen generated content. The concept of photography as a metaphorical medium is generally not new however in specific relation to photojournalism it is not an approach usually taken. By using emotive, conceptual photography it could be possible to evoke a response that perhaps surpasses that of an evidential image. Ritchin stated that the purpose of photography was to be useful in the world and it appears as though the paradigm shift has facilitated a world where technology can advance the capacity of photojournalism to new horizons. However there are risks accompanying this vision; with the automobile came climate so what will the world of evolutionary, collaborative and interactive media bring?

To see my own Storify notes as a initial response to the interview – follow the link below

https://storify.com/rebeccawoodall/fred-ritchin-interview

To hear the original interview – follow the link below

https://archive.org/details/MayesRitchinWorthFull

Phonar Task: Bending The Present (BTF )

The link to my response: https://storify.com/rebeccawoodall/btf-framing-the-present

This second Bending The Frame (BTF) task was to frame the present as opposed to framing the past; I have already seen that next weeks task is to frame the future so I need to think of a response that directly addresses the situation in news right now. I wanted to encompass all the ideas of Ritchin and Mayes of the evolution of photojournalism and also the ideas from David Campbell on power and responsibility. In the last Bending The Frame Task I attempted to encompass the ideas addressed by the previous Phonar task particularly telling a story using sound so it seemed appropriate to base this week’s task on the current lecture content.

In previous university modules we have been introduced to the concept that a range of different resources can be used to research, even Facebook and Twitter can be valid for research as long as you can filter what you are reading. I wanted to build on this idea and to try and create a story that is based on research using online channels and it suddenly came to me that the perfect tool for this is Storify which I have been using to collate the notes for Phonar classes. Storify allows the user to bring in elements from a wealth of different wesbites such as Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Flickr and you can even embed a url you have found. With this in mind I wanted to construct a story on Storify that would draw in resources from all different websites to provide a more comprehensive view.

In terms of the story to choose the content didn’t really matter to however I am quite interested in Virgin’s attempt to commercialise space travel therefore I chose to cover the crash of their recent flight test. I created a story on Storify and then set out finding resources to put into the space of the story. First of all I used the embedding tool to start the story with content from BBC News and Sky News, I felt it was really important to begin the story with content from the more traditional gatekeepers of information as these resources are the ones that digital migrants would be most likely to go to first. After that I searched for resources on YouTube as Storify doesn’t just show a link but actually embeds the video file so the reader could choose to watch video content instead of reading. In reading around the subject of photojournalism it was drawn to my attention that TV/video is actually a resource that is threatening the conventional forms of media and as a result YouTube has flourished. Many YouTube videos get millions of views and most of these viewers are between 18 and 24, I felt it was important to include content that would mostly be seen by the youth.

Following this idea I included resources from Twitter and Facebook, which have become particularly prevalent in today’s social culture. Fred Ritchin touched on the concept of collective viewing where people would invest in one main narrative and feel prompted to discuss it with each other; to some extent this is seen on social media platforms such as Twitter. Twitter is a vast network of people interconnected with each other and if you like a thought from a person you can choose to either favourite it or retweet it, as the thought gets passed on from person to person the original tweet records how popular the idea is; this essentially reflects collective viewing of a particular tweet. It could be said that collective viewing and experiencing has not been lost however it has lost the physicality that Fred Ritchin was referring to. However in contrast this word-of-mouth communication can be considered as extremely localised, where Ritchin was concerned only people on that particular Subway carriage would be interacting about the story whereas on the internet using social platforms, collective viewing can be extended to the whole world. David Campbell reiterated the idea of collecting extensive amounts of context, surely interaction on a global scale hearing a range of international perspectives could be considered as a strong gathering of context.

I also used the Getty Images section on Storify as I felt it was important to include a ‘professional’ standard of image in my collection and Getty is a widely recognised photo agency. It was just as important to include images as well as texts, it is interesting to me which images start to occur more often in the articles are they are then produced and reproduced by many different outlets. In this case all of the imagery available to me was free however my choices might have changed if I was then confronted with a charge for the material I really wanted, with the focus on minimal expenditure in the economic market today some images get discounted because they are not free and editors have admitted to choosing free content even if it isn’t as effective.

There was a sense of narrative in my construction however I didn’t dedicated enough time for this first draft of the story to put a great focus on the narrative. I aim to revisit this experiment and investigate the story from start to finish to provide myself with the context behind this particular event as David Campbell recommends; as a first ‘draft’ this arrangement was proficient to ask the questions however for it to be an effective news story it needs more work on the narrative.

Journey To School

As part of our Summer preparing for third year we were told to ‘bring me a story of your journey to school’, and that was all the direction we were given. I’m assuming this is to preapare us for the format of Phonar where we will be given weekly tasks to complete and the brief could be as loose as this one. It was good to engage with a brief again to try and define what it would mean to me.

I live in a small village and my mum used to walk me to and from school every day, I can remember the route so clearly as visual markers in my head. As most young children do I had an overactive imagination and it was sparked by different stages in the route. With this in mind I wanted to create a set of photos that would match with the memories  that I have of my journey to school.

At first I started thinking I could use Google Maps to take these photographs and I played around with taking screenshots from Google Maps and using some HDR editing however after editing some of the images I felt that this wasn’t suitable for my idea. I knew that to connect with the images and memories I would have to take the photographs myself and relive those memories walking to school. I set out the next day and took my camera with me to try and capture the images I would want to use.

I made a conscious effort to shoot from a lower vantage point, either bending down a bit or holding the camera in line with my waist to try and replicate the view point that I would have seen the journey from as a child. I also included some close up photographs to try and emphasise how vivid but scattered some of the memories are to me; some are complete scenes whereas some of them are just fragments.

I then went home and uploaded the photographs to my laptop to start looking and editing them down to a final number, I settled on ten in the end because it’s a good rounded number and my story would be succinct but still with a sufficient amount of photographs to create the idea of a story. The next step was choosing how to edit them into finished pieces to go in the series; to associate the photographs with the idea of memories I chose to crop them into squares and created a stylised border to replicate that of a polaroid print. Polaroid prints in today’s culture are associated with the idea of memories, perhaps most commonly linked to holidays and parties. In addition to this at the time where the Polaroid camera was first introduced it was  one of the means to capture the memories of the average family.  In addition to this editing I also use some HDR toning to try and manipulate and bring out the detail in these images; I believe that by changing the images slightly they become more like a memory, matching the idea of what we have in our mind rather than reality.

With the images created and edited I then had to match them with memories in my head, and think of a way to put them together in visual form. I decided to use some simple text on the bottom of the images in the bigger part of the border to define the images and link them to each memory in my head. I wouldn’t explain the memory fully however the phrase would instantly remind me of the part of the journey it referred to. Sequencing the images was not hard at all, it simply went in chronological order of when I took the photographs as this was the only way to portray the journey to school properly.

The full set of images can be seen in the gallery however I wanted to provide a bit of incite behind each photograph to read if anyone wanted to know further details; if these photographs were up in an exhibition I would detail the following descriptions on a card with my artist statement. This can be seen below the images:

1. Outside my house there is a pattern of bricks, the ordered layout always made me think of soldiers marching together in harmony and each brick was a footprint.

2. On a green round the corner there grew patches of clovers, I used to scan the ground every day to try and find that lucky four leaf clover, I’m still searching.

3. I’m a superstitious girl and I don’t like treading on any crack or line in the pavement, in this case I used to imagine these cracks were canyons I could fall down.

4. On a short cut there is sandy ground and there were always marks left there for me to track, pretending they were endangered animals that I could save.

5. Not all memories are pleasant, I was once given the fright of my life when I was walking on a low garden wall and the owner of the house shouted out the window, every time I walk past I can still picture her face in the window.

6. There were some walls I could walk on, and I used to pretend I was walking over this great chasm with only a rope to tread on.

7. The pink house always stands out in my mind as a marker to cross the road, perhaps one of the only times I looked up and ahead in the journey before falling back into daydreams.

8. One of my favourite memories was when I used to pretend I was a horse taking each step as a show jump, my mum used to tell me off for running however I had the perfect excuse.

9. There was always one part of the journey I didn’t like and that was walking past the scary alley, something about the shadows made me feel uneasy.

10. The journey would end and the school day begins, I always remembered to meet my mum near the steps to complete the journey.

 

Reflection:

Having almost completed the Phonar module now I felt it was essential to go back and reflect on the first task I completed without knowledge on what the module would be about. My approach and ideology was really quite interesting looking back, I unknowingly referenced Stephen Mayes and the developing experiential form of photography through the concept of the Polaroid. In today’s society Snapchat could be considered as the digital replacement of the Polaroid, facilitated through the instantaneous nature of digital photography. The relationship between the image and memory is something that is really interesting and is a concept we explored when we discussed the nature and narrative of photo albums. Photography fulfils the individual’s need for representation and the preservation of memories however does the ease of photography encourage a certain disregard for capturing and remembering the memories that really matter? In analogue photography the individual would have to prioritise each moment in their life in accordance to importance as there were only a limited number of shots available i a roll of film. In digital photography we have been liberated from this limitation, however has this dismantled the concept of preserving memory in photography? Can the experiential medium of photography still be considered as capturing and keeping memories?