LEARNING LOG: THE DECISIVE MOMENT

ASSIGNMENT 3

REFLECTIONS AGAINST ASSESSMENT CRITERIA

Demonstration of technical and visual skills:

  • This assignment drew on my visual awareness which I think is quite strong, but even so I was aware during the assignment how much further my observational skills deepened.
  • I used my instinctive compositional skills but learnt much at a mental level about what it is that completes a composition.
  • I used a lens that I had not used before which I had inherited (17-85mm) and broadened my tool kit in the future, I can be over reliant on my telephoto (16-300mm) and wide angle lens as I am so familiar with them.
  • I found it challenging on shutter speed where I predominantly use aperture priority; this maybe why I moved away from closer shots of people as I would have wanted to use depth of field to isolate subjects and moments. I did however learn how to use shutter speed to freeze at the optimum level in the assignment and to blur in the exercises.
  • I only used post production to clean up one image (because of shadows) I did reshoot on a different day to avoid this however I felt that the original image was the most decisive so used that one.

Quality of outcome:

  • I was much more confident during the editing process; I did set myself criteria to work against when choosing images, but alongside this I used my instinct about what was effective/interesting and found that my link for the series evolved spontaneously rather than being forced and that this was more satisfying.
  • I am sure the printing could be improved on, I used a professional laboratory and I will trial other printers in the future to compare.
  • I am aware that I have one portrait shot amongst 6 landscape shots, but the images were chosen for their individual strengths and the order that I have presented them in would be their “hanging” sequence.
  • I hope that I have presented and communicated my ideas effectively in my learning log and essay.

Demonstration of creativity:

  • During the exercise I was experimentally creative, especially in project 2 A durational space. I used my imagination alongside observation when I was shooting. I believe that it was my imagination and sideways thinking that led me to bringing environments and people together to create decisive moments.
  • I look forward to being more technically experimental in future assignments.

Context:

  • It was different for me to have a context which evolved during the shooting, this took me out of my comfort zone and was challenging but ultimately enjoyable.
  • I needed to do a lot of reflection to get myself into “the decisive moment” but particularly to discover what it meant to me.
  • I learnt  that a decisive moment can be spontaneously captured or patiently hunted, however I also learnt that the first shot, the first angle, the first idea is usually the best one – to be instinctive.
  • I applied my learning from the reading and exercises of Part three.
  • I realise the importance of continuing to research and visit exhibitions to broaden my knowledge, as I know I am at the tip of the iceberg and how useful knowledge is.

LEARNING LOG. THE DECISIVE MOMENT

Assignment Three

1st thoughts: To me “The decisive moment” instantly screamed street photography, however having used this predominantly for my Crowds assignment I tried at first to think outside of the box. I toyed and tested the idea of sports photography; I then tested freezing and blurring waves and weather moments. I captured some good images but though some were beautiful, they seemed one dimensional and were not images that lingered in my mind later. Ultimately I felt that I needed to work with human subjects as a part of a composition and therefore returned to street photography.

Preparations: This mind map outlines my initial thoughts about using street photography as a medium for this assignment:

planning mind map

I decided that presenting the work in monochrome would fit in with the spirit of the Cartier Bresson “Decisive moment” and give me a noticeable difference and separation from the colourful street photography and a new challenge.

The first shoot: I set out on my first serious shoot with a variety of ideas, but with the intent to be spontaneous and instinctive to see what developed. I headed to various locations in London as from my “test” shoots locally I knew that I would need a higher footfall to increase my chances of capturing something interesting. I found as the day wore on my “looking” improved. I pursued two ideas initially; firstly composing a partially geometrically pleasing shot and waiting for a subject enter to complete it, secondly watching for interesting gestures or behaviours (especially people looking lost). Reviewing the images, few of my earliest attempts of the first group were particularly pleasing, though I had caught some interesting gesture images. However shooting instinctively as the day wore on I the images that had the most impact had interesting backgrounds (street art, graffiti, signage, pattern and colour) with a human subject that added to this in a significant way. Some of these were caught quickly and spontaneously (smoking), while for some I had to wait patientlyto combine all the necessary elements together (never grow up).

The second shoot: Having reviewed the previous shoot I was focused on what I needed to complete the series: interesting backgrounds with people to complete/enhance the composition. Although I had almost enough images already for the assignment. I needed to be certain that I had got the best that I could, by revisiting some of the locations could I improve on them? I resolved to remain alert for good “gesture” shots and any interesting accidental catches, keeping my options open just in case I changed track again.

Reflections post shooting: I was able to capture a few more good images, but the 1st shoot had been by far the best.

Post shoot mind map.JPG

This mind map shows my editing criteria:

Editing mind map

After the 1st shoot I eliminated my concept of “lost people” which were not effective and thought that I would eliminate gestures also, although I had a few good images:

_MG_1495 discard                                     _MG_1561 discard.jpg

I chose the locations that had brought the best compositions and then concentrated on choosing the best image for each. My options were converse to other assignments, as this time I had a narrow number of locations but a wider number of images at each location to choose from. This enable me to reduce my possible images to eight locations. These are the last 4 images that I dismissed:

_MG_2063 almost.jpg      _MG_2353 Almost.jpg

_MG_2144 Almost.jpg   _MG_2440 almost.jpg

When editing I strove for “beauty in a fragment of time”, a fleeting precise organisation of form, as well as images that linger, engage the viewer or poses questions. I additionally looked for:

  • Images with ambiguity or open to interpretation by the viewer.
  • Juxtaposition.
  • A graphic and/or visual message.
  • Contrast
  • A synergistic relationship between an environment and a person.

The theme for the series emerged: Images where the relationship between the environment and person create a decisive moment.

 

LEARNING LOG: THE DECISIVE MOMENT

RESEARCH FOR ASSIGNMENT 3

I had already researched some street photographers for Assignment 2, in particular Alex Webb, Garry Winogrand and William Klein, as well as reading tips from Eric Kim (see link). I have researched Henri Cartier Bresson and Robert Frank during this project’s exercises and additionally investigated these photographer’s to further broaden my view.

Additional research in preparation for assignment 3 

Robert Doisneau

A French humanistic photo journalist (1912-1993) who was a “deft and amusing observer of the minor aspects of life and culture which define frenchness” (Golden 2003, p 62). He considered that “The marvels of daily life are so exciting; no movie director can arrange the unexpected that you find in the street (Pollack 1977, p 144). His work bridges documentary and art. He was innovative and combined modernism, surrealism and narrative in his photographs.

In 1950 Doisneau created his most recognizable work for Life magazine – Le baiser de l’hôtel de ville (Kiss by the Hôtel de Ville), a photograph of a couple kissing in the Paris streets. Apparently he never liked the photograph, perhaps because he had posed it. More typical Doisneau images of the 1950s are unposed, but still carefully stalked and framed (children, prostitutes or market porters, and other street-dwellers in the unfashionable, parts of Paris). “He would often find a location, or a “stage” as he called it, and lie in wait for many hours for the right action or characters to arrive.” (Lichfield, 2010).  He has also been described as a photographer “with an eye on the world and a love for others” (Clark 2016).

Doisneau   Doisneau 2  Elliot Erwitt 3

Elliot Erwitt

A French documentary/commercial photographer with a sense of humour, who has captured some of the defining images of the 20th century. His images may sometimes look simple but on closer inspection are not. A “gently mocking and probing eye that has always preferred to look at life’s absurdities rather than its ills” (Golden 2003, p 74). He has been called a purveyor of the “non-photograph” and “combines a deceptively casual approach with an unrivalled, sometimes gloriously silly, visual sense of wit. (O’ Mahony 2003).

He has a masterful technique although believes that the instinct that creates great photography is casual and uncontrollable. He is widely considered a ‘master’ of the indecisive moment, as he captures the irony and absurd of daily life.

Elliot Erwitt 2   Elliot Erwitt Elliot Erwitt 3

Joel Meyerowitz

An award-winning New York photographer, who is a “street photographer” in the tradition of Henri Cartier-Bresson and Robert Frank, although now workings exclusively in colour. He was instrumental in changing the attitude toward the use of colour photograph. Speaking to Sean O’ Hagen he said “A lot of what I am looking for is a moment of astonishment,” (Guardian 2012). He believes in “recognition and the power of the frame to put disparate, unrelated things together” (Kim). Meyerowitz often uses juxtaposition or constructs relationships between subjects.

Meyerowitz 1   Meyerowitz 2   meyerowitz 3

References:

Clark, D (2016) Diverse Doisneau in Amateur Photographer 18.14.16p 30-31.

Golden, R (2003) Masters of Photography. 3rd Ed. London. Goodman.

Kim, E (unknown) 82 lessons from the masters of street photography. E book.

Lichfield, J (2010) Robert Doisneau: A window into the soul of Paris, Independent Sunday 5 December 2010. http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/art/features/robert-doisneau-a-window-into-the-soul-of-paris-2151370.html (accessed 30.1.16)

O’ Hagen, S. (2012) Joel Meyerowitz: ‘brilliant mistakes … amazing accidents’. Guardian. http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2012/nov/11/joel-meyerowitz-taking-my-time-interview (accessed 30.1.16).