For this assignment there are two options, first photographing the unseen; creating a series of images of a subject that might be deemed to be unphotographable. The second option is using props, to produce a set of images using either a white shirt or a handkerchief to suggest a narrative.
My initial thoughts are that both options seem challenging but that of the two photographing the unseen is the one I find the more engaging. Having decided on option one, the next step is to make a list of at least seven potential ideas and for these to be subjects in which I have a personal interest, as much as possible, rather than generic topics. My initial ideas are detailed below:
- The 48%. I am absorbed and appalled by Brexit in equal measure and my idea was to represent the sixteen million plus voters who voted remain in the referendum and who have been conspicuously left out of the subsequent discussions about how Brexit will be delivered. My idea was to accompany images with text from leading brexiteers high-lighting ‘the will of the people’ or the ‘17.4 million voters’. My concerns about this idea is that I used Brexit as a subjext in EVY and I also that I might end up with a series of very similar images, people with EU flags and witty/sarcastic slogans.
- Electricity. I think this idea would be relatively easy to photograph which on one hand appeals to me but on the other I wonder if it is challenging enough. The idea is to communicate the shift away from fossil fuels and also our increasing reliance on electrical devices. I think I will explore this along with one of the other ideas and make a decision on submission once both series are complete.
- Mental health. I am fortunate in that I have never suffered from any mental health issues, however, I know several people who suffer from anxiety and depression. My thoughts for this were to try and shot portraits in a controlled environment and to use text to detail either the condition they are suffering from or the medication they are taking. The more I thought about this idea the less I liked it for a couple or reasons. First it feels inauthentic; I don’t have any first hand experience and it is also not something that I have more than a gerneral interest in. Second, I think it could be exploitative and so for these reasons this will not be a subject I will develop further.
- Discrimination/Prejudice. I don’t really have any ideas of how I would develop this idea and as a white middle-aged male I don’t think I can bring any personal experience to bear on the subject so I’ve decided to park this idea.
- Nationality. This idea came about following the decision to remove Brititsh citizenship from Shamima Begum. My idea was again to take portraits in a controlled environment and to try and find models that would challenge ideas about nationality. I think that the problem with this idea and with discrimination/prefudice is that I’m grasping at an idea without really being clear about what I am aiming to communicate.
- Unseen workers. This idea is to photograph workers that we rarely see in their workplace; office cleaners, call centre workers, medical test laboratory technicians. My plan would be to photograph them in their place of work but to only partially have them in the frame and for no faces to be showing. I think there are three challenges with this idea; identifying the relevant groups of workers; gaining access to photograph them and lastly being able to achieve my preconceived ideas without knowing the environment I would be able to photograph in. Despite these challenges I think this is an idea I would like to explore further to see if it is achievable.
- Children playing outdoors. This is idea is perhaps a too literal interpretation of photographing the unseen. I was reading an article about photographs taken on the streets in the north of England in the 1970s and published in the book The Lost Art of Playing Outside and thought about photographing empty parks and playgrounds. My idea for this would be to caption the images with the day and time they were photographed so that it would apparent that they were taken at times it would be reasonable to expect them to be used. The aim would be to ask questions about why children do not play outside as previous generations did, is it because of a preference for playing on consoles and screens or because parents’ perception of the risks of playing without supervision?
I think I need to continue to think of other ideas whilst at the same time start thinking about the practicalities of my preferred options to see if it is possible to produce something that is in line with my ideas.