Rough Essay plan and research for Photography Theory

Essay question – Compare and contrast the work of Henry Peach Robinson and Peter Henry Emerson.

key-word-essay-questions

Guide for essay – 
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All links for essay research and referencing –

 

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Lectures 1-5, Addition Readings and readings from Warner Marien, M (2014) Photography: A Cultural History

This is a summary/notes for lectures 1-5, page readings for Lecture Topics from Warner Marien, M (2014) Photography: A Cultural History and Addition Readings from the universities photography theory page.

 

Lecture 1 – The Inventions of Photography

I really enjoyed the first lecture as it took us on a journey from the birth of photography to what where we are today. It’s strange to think of how fast photography has developed and evolved since it’s a fairly recent invention. It’s gone from camera obscura to small hand held devices to the advanced DSLRs, SLRs and Compact cameras that we know and love today.


Warner Marien, M (2014) Photography: A Cultural History
Pages 9-21 

This starts us off at the beginning, the discovery of “photographies” which is derived from the Greek words light and writings. This was about Antoine Florence and his ideas and attempts to create the a permanent print but after finding out that Daguerre also had the same idea but understood the notion of simultaneous invention and that two or more people can work on the same concept. Another piece within these pages was on The “sun writing” of Niepce, Joseph Nicephore Niepce was another precursor of photography. He was born into a well off family and received a decent education so their was high expectations of him. Niepce was originally working on Lithography which is a technique for reproducing images but then began to experiment with ways to produce an image through the action of light on photosensitive paper. He then created a print from the view of his window which is considered to be worlds first permanent photograph. it then goes on to the political side of invention, An interesting part of this was when Daguerre invited many well known scientists and other pioneers of photography to view Daguerreotype and see how he did it. Obviously there where some who refused like Talbot but still had great interest in his work and even asked another photographer to go and write back to him on what Daguerre was up to. Overall this chapter is all about the origins and the pioneers of photography, its about where it all began and who was the real inventor of photography


Pages 23-29 

This chapter starts off with the second invention, this is about the political and the revolutionary side of photography. In the 1840s photography became the topic in newspapers, magazines and other places of debate and where it was called an “art-science”. This terminology was given because photography is a mix of science and art. People then began to see photography as “science wedded to craft”. I like this term as it credits the science side of photography which is how photography was born and then it also credits that its an art form of its own.



Addition Readings – Charles Baudelaire
‘The Salon of 1859: The Modern Public and Photography’

After reading this excerpt I can’t tell if he’s for or against photography. I didn’t really understand most of it. But there where some parts that caught my attention. According to Charles “the Beautiful is always wonderful, it would be absurd to suppose that what is wonderful is always beautiful”. I think that this is an interesting saying. I don’t necessarily think it is true though. He also believes that art is and only is a reproduction of nature.

Lady Elizabeth Eastlake, ‘Photography’ (1857)


Lecture 2 – Can photography be art? – Naturalism and Pictorialism

I quite enjoyed this lecture as I’m fairly familiar with both Naturalism and pictorialism but it was great to learn more on the subjects. According to Cornelius Jabez Hughes there are three classes of photography – 1. Mechanical photography 2. Art of photography 3. High art photography. Technological and cultural changes sets the stage for the first photography ‘movement’ Pictorialism.


Lecture 3 – The artist with a camera – Eugene Atget

Atget was born in 1857 and was a French commercial photographer. He was involved in the remake of Paris, the project destroyed 20,000 homes and built 30,000 new ones. He did a lot of street photography and liked to photograph the politics of everyday.


Lecture 4 – New and Old worlds – Photography and Modernism

This lecture starts off with the end of pictorialism (1902). Two names caught my eye in this lecture, Paul strand and Alfred Stieglitz. Modernism, self – consciously rejected the past as a model for art of the present. American Modernism otherwise known as Straight photography. Also there’s a group of straight photographers (American Modernism) called f64, Ansel Adams was also part of this group.


Lecture 5 – Postmodernism and Photography – The crisis of the real

For this lecture we started looking at Postmodernism, Modernism is usually between 1870-1970. Modern artist rejected the past methods in favour of developing new forms of experimentation, they also wanted to experiment with new and interesting materials, techniques and theories. Apparently Modernism wasn’t just an art movement as it forever changed the creative arts including architecture and litterateur. Postmodernism removes the boundary between art and everyday life and apparently Postmodernism was influenced the the disillusionment induced by ww2.

More Than Looking

For this task, we had to go out onto the the campus and take some photos on our phones of different textures. This task wasn’t a hard one but it was frustrating because the camera in my phone is awful. After we took a range photos, we then had to upload them to the more than looking flickr group so we could observe everyone’s pictures as a class. We also had to name each photo with one word, which was the first word we thought of when looking at our photos.

More than looking

Fading Away – by Henry Peach Robinson

For this activity we had to analyse a range of photos, all by different photographers. I chose this one by Henry Peach Robinson. We then had to answer the following questions –

 

What is your first impression of this image i.e. your gut feeling or reaction?

My first initial reaction when I saw this photo was sorrow. I thought this because the picture is expressing a lot of emotion and you can see that the subject is not very well and very ill. You can read the room and see the sorrow  of her loved ones, she’s not dead yet but fading away.

What senses can you draw on to understand this image, do smell, touch, sound, taste, sound or vision feature somehow in the image?

In this photo I can see sadness and worry around the room. The man at the window though you cannot see his face, you can see that he is depressed as he looks out of his window down at the streets below. You can feel the soft fabric of the pillow keeping the girl comfortable, taste the tears upon her loved ones faces and the sound of silence…

What might have happened before the or after this picture was taken?

I think that this photo was taken for a girl who is dying and afterwards I think she passed away and the man jumped from his window.

What fundamental components is the photographer drawing on e.g. line, shape, form, shadow, movement etc?

The way the photographer has set up the scene for this picture is perfectly centred in the middle of the room, with the girl centred and her family loved ones around her. You can sense the emotion in the room but its quite subtle. I like the contrast of the dark materials then the opposing contrast from the bright white clothing. The darkness in the majority of the photo is depressing  and has a deathly tone to it but the bright white symbolises hope.

What is the photographers intention?

I think that the photographers intentions was to capture the emotions of the room during this emotional and distressing time.

Describe what is happening in this photograph, what is says about the subject/content, and if you think the photographer was successful?

This is the photo of the dying girl, the subject even though there are multiple people in the room is the girl dressed in white, exhausted and drained. The man in the background looks to be very depressed as he stares out of the window, he is silhouetted and not the primary focus of this image but the way he is standing shows that he is an important figure. The man looks to be her father as she looks too young to be his lover. This is the photo of a family trying there  best to deal with a difficult situation, the situation being the girl is very ill and by the looks and emotions in the room, it looks like it’s too late for her.

I think that the photographer was trying to capture the emotion in the room. You can tell that he is not a relative but someone who is documenting this experience, it’s like he’s not there as no one has acknowledges his presents, he is unseen but e is the elephant in the room. The difference between the two contrasts (white and black) is crucial, as this this further explains the situation. The majority of this photo is black which is indicates depression and death but the opposing white indicates some hope and light. Maybe there is hope yet…

I’m aware that black and white film was none optional to people at this time but after seeing the feeling of the room and the emotions within it. I think that this harsh dark on bright light really adds some intent into this photo and brings it together.

Conclusion –

I think that this is beautifully dark and emotional photo with a hint of mystery about it. We know that the girl is dying but how or of what? A photo can only tell us so much. It’s up to the viewer to analyse the the photo and create a narrative to whats going on.

More Than Looking

For this task in photography theory, we had to take a photo from a fellow student on Flickr and create a narrative to the photo.

Photo taken by – John Boon.

If artists dominated the world, it would be a more colourful place see. But would it be a more peaceful place to be? War would breakout! And factions would form. The arts war would be born!

Paint bombs and spray paint will fill the air, polluting the planet we should love and care. Intoxication by the masses! Explosions! Fires! Biochemical gasses!

Why can’t we live in peace? Because the people thrive on creative terror. What was once considered an art form has turned us against each other. The fighting, Arguing and discrimination! From Cubism to Expressionism and all across the nation!

Perhaps one day we could all live in peace but only when we set aside our differences and take a step back from what a society of bitterness has turned us into.

We are Artists! Not Savages!
We are human beings! Not Soldiers!

We should spread peace and compassion through our art! Lets start the Artists Revolution! and put an end to this rain of fascism!

What is photography?


This was my first Seminar in Photography Theory. The task was to get into groups and discuss photography and answer a few questions together.

We had to first make a list of different types of photography, then we had to write down what they’re used to photograph and where they’re commonly seen.

Types of Photography. What is photographed and how?  Where is it seen?

Black and white – This is Subjective, as anything can be shot in black and white but it’s frequently seen in all types of Landscapes and Portraits. I frequently see black and white photos in exhibitions, magazines and on social media sites like Facebook and Flickr.

Landscape – When shooting Landscapes it can vary, as a Landscape isn’t just your typical shot of mountains and hill tops, it can be if that’s what you’re aiming for but a Landscape can be anything from hill tops and nature to the urban scenes of cities. Have seen Landscapes just about everywhere now, But I often see them in magazines, exhibitions, on social media and on Television.

Fashion – This is mainly focused People/models and photographed in a way to show off either a product or a new line and or style of clothes to soon be released. This is often found in magazines and online.

Event – Event photography can usually range as many things can be considered events but the main ones that a very common are Weddings, clubs/pubs and festivals/gigs/bands. These are most likely found online via social media sites like Facebook, twitter and Flickr.

Sport – Sports photography is obviously more commonly seen if you watch sports, which I don’t, but it can’t be rounded down to a specific genre of sport. They can often be seen on online and in news papers.

Astrophotography – Astrophotography is a new favourite of mine, this is all focused on space. There are many wonderful things you can photograph, like the stars, gas clouds, planets, moons and galaxies etc.. It’s great fun but difficult to grasp. If you where to have a go you would need a sturdy tripod, either a wide angle lens to capture the night sky from the ground or a telescopic lens or a telescope to photograph deep space. I don’t often see this type of photography on the high street but I often see it on photography sites like Flickr and Viewbug.

Journalism – This is an important genre of photography, as it’s they report the news,  photograph disturbing scenes of war torn cites and risk their lives to go out and photograph the what we aught to know. This type of photography is always seen on the news, in news papers and online via social media sites.

Architectural – This is focused on buildings and bridges etc… You will see Architectural photography almost anywhere, like on a Real estate agents, online, for advertisement agencies and in exhibitions and galleries.

Portrait/studio – This is a very specific type of photography, studio and portrait photography focus around photographing people and can range from family photos all the way to fine art photography. This can be seen in photo albums online or personal, social media sites like Facebook/Flickr, exhibitions and art galleries.

Macro – Macro photography focuses on small things and on zooming in and focusing on an object in incredible detail. This type of photography can show us the smallest of creatures in immaculate detail, opening up a whole new world of possibilities in photography. I personally mostly see stuff like this online via Flickr or Viewbug.

Speed camera/Surveillance – This type of photography, you normally wouldn’t consider to be photography but these are used every single day, to monitor and watch us. to photograph ad record our every movement.

The Selfie – I don’t class this as photography whats so ever. but unfortunately it is, photography is using a camera to take a photo. But to me photography is much more. You can find these anywhere on social media, literally anywhere.

We then had to answer the following questions and discuss them as a group.

1. Do any of the types of photography you have listed have anything in common? if so what? Portrait and fashion as they primarily focus on people.

2. Are there ‘groups’ or ‘families’ of photographic activity? if so, what do you feel connects them? Technically, all photography merges into one big group, filled with sub-genres of photography. You could make a family tree or a time line of photography, it’s history and all of its sub genres.

3. What are the differences between different types of photography practice? Are those differences technical, contextual, or something else? Yes, everybody has there own preference when it comes to photography. Weather it be taking photos with digital or film or what they photograph.

4. Do you think some types of photography are more important or valuable than others? If so, why? No, because photography is subjective. Yes some different types offer more or give us more information on the rest of the planets well being, like journalism but then again it’s photographers who go out everyday and discover and capture new things some more important than others but some more beautiful than others. To me all photography is important in its own right. Photography is there to capture the impossible and to show us the unbelievable beauties of the earth we live on. So all types of photography is equally as good as the last.