This week has been a ‘doing’ week and my head has been filled with installation plans for my Exhibition at An Crubh from 20-26 October 2019: choosing the images (not just in terms of necessarily being the best photographs but more about how they will work together as a series of panels of images) and deciding on the final image and overall frame size in consultation with the framer. I have six large panels to fill 4 foot by 8 foot that will be placed by a wall near to the entrance and adjacent to the very busy cafe area. I have been drawing various different panel layouts but have finally settled on this option:
I have changed my mind a number of times and found it difficult to visualise the size of the images against the space I have available, but the key decision points are as follows:
I wanted to place large images on the panels facing the main entrance (1, 3 and 5) to catch people’s eye.
2. I wanted to make sure the panel’s were sufficiently covered but allowing enough space for the images to ‘breathe’. The panels allow flexibility and precision in the hanging plan I can achieve as they have holes where I can place hanging hooks.
3. I needed to take account of using tables to display greetings card and mounted prints for sale. I intend to set these up adjacent to the first panel so I am able to greet and talk to my visitors about my work before they start looking at the images.
4. One of the other things that I have been working on this week has been budgeting and how to ensure that I develop my inventory stock available for exhibitions but, at the same time, not holding more stock than I can reasonably hope to sell (or store!). I decided on the mix of 40 x 40cm and 60 x 60cm framed images with my budget in mind. Larger images would require the services of an external printer. I am able to print up to A2 size images on my Epson printer. This decision was also driven by a need to allow my framers time to produce what is, for them, a large order. I have now placed an order for 4 x 60 x 60cm framed prints, 10 x 40 x 40cm framed prints and 20 mounted images. This is in addition to the 10 x 40 x 40cm framed images and 10 mounted images I already have in Skye. So, in total for the Exhibition I will have 4 large framed images, 20 smaller framed images and 30 mounted but unframed images.
I have also decided which images will be displayed on which panels. I am not able to show all of these in this Journal as some of my framed images are in Skye ready for the Exhibition. Apologies for the quality but they are for indicative purposes only:
I have a number of things to follow up this week:
5. Take all images to the framers for mounting and printing
6. Investigate electronic payment methods.
7. Finalising my ‘Artist’s Statement’ and ‘My Story -About the Photographer’ text
I have continued my search this week for examples of books that have interesting formats and presentation. I purchased another book from Triplekite Books entitled Elemental by Melanie Collie.
Her work is based in Cornwall and very much reflects the essence of this beautiful part of the world. She says of her work:
“The projects within this book are an effort to capture the essence of change, of making and remaking, of time and tide and the stories they leave behind. Images as moments of calm, in a perpetual flux. It is down to us to slow down, observe, listen and respect the space we have, it was left for me, as I will leave it for others.” (Collie 2017:3).
The book is again a square format but is larger than a previous book I have reviewed here Fragile by Valda Bailey – 24cm rather than 22cm. Interestingly, the additional 2cm makes a difference to the look and feel of the book and for me the larger size works well.
The book has a first page written by Melanie about her project Elemental which is followed by a Foreword written by a photographer Paul Kenny about Collie’s work. Then a further two paragraphs from Collie set to the side of a almost double page image. The book has 64 pages.
The presentation of the images very interesting and varied. As well as the square images set in a white border (about 3cm) there are also those that cover the whole page and sometimes mixed within the double page spread. I find this presentation very aesthetically pleasing. It provides variation for the viewer. There is also a page with four images set within the size of the one image format.
There are some intentionally blank pages within the book which on the whole work however, I do not like the intentionally blank facing page which disappoints the viewer as there is no image to look at.
I have enjoyed reviewing this book and it has given me lots of ideas for the presentation of my book. I like the larger square format, the varied presentation of images, and particularly the full page images with no border next to the traditional square images with border.
Collie, M. 2017. Elemental. Chicago: Triplekite Publishing.
I am very excited about the opportunity to exhibit my most recent work at the wonderful An Crubh facility on the Isle of Skye in the busy half term week in October. The facility is a prime location for artists and has a heavy footfall because of the co-located cafe, shop and post office. It is very much a locally-managed and staffed venue providing space for the local community to meet, eat, exercise and engage in other community events. This will be my first solo exhibition on the Island.
This is how An Crubh describes its own journey from a dream to a highly-successful community venue:
“Three things were at the top of the community’s wish list – a shop, a proper hall for activities, and a place to meet and socialise. Thus, the idea for An Crùbh was born.
The journey to build An Crùbh began in 2011. We received generous support from The Big Lottery Fund, The Coastal Communities Fund, Highland Council, The Robertson Trust, HIE, Fearann Eilean Iarmain, Camuscross & Duisdale Initiative Fundraising Group and architects WT Architecture. The Common Grazings Shareholders were also very generous in their support of the project.
The local community gave of their time and effort very generously. And at the beginning of 2016 the children of Camuscross and Duisdale cut the first sod.
The building that came out of that journey is a model for how small communities can develop and bring vibrancy to an area.” (An Crubh website 2019).
I have now started creating my installation plans and liaising with a printer and framer to produce my framed images in two sizes: 70 x 70cm and 40 x 40cm squares. My intention is to exhibit my newly-created seascapes and reed photographs – all taken during my intensive “creating images” phase of my Final Major Project. I see this as a significant opportunity to gain feedback from both visitors and local people on the Island. I intend to systematically collect feedback through a comments book and being present throughout the exhibition to talk to visitors about my work. I will also monitor footfall to gain a sense of the success of An Crubh as a venue for my work in the future.
I have lots to think about in terms of publicity, curating and editing my final images and getting the show on the road. More on this next week.
An Crubh website. Images. [Accessed on 10 September 2019].
Over the last three months I have been taking large numbers of images seeking to capture the ephemeral hiddenness of Skye. In doing so I have sought to extend the repertoire of my camera by testing a number of different techniques and taking inspiration from artists such as J M W Turner and Claude Monet. What I am trying to capture in my photography is a glimpse of the depths of reality behind surface perception. It is a tortuous process that relies upon the conjunction of light and timing, and camera craft, to bring forward out of the moment that ineffable glimpse of the sublime that exists below the surface of our perception. I believe that with the camera one can break free from the chains of everyday existence to catch a glimpse of that which is ephemeral in its passing but, permanent in its reality.
The weather has hampered my efforts for over two weeks but in a brief moment yesterday when the clouds lifted and the water and plants emerged into sunlight I was able to take these two shots. I was pleased as again I had been able to capture some of the hiddenness I see (as I struggled to keep my camera and tripod still enough to take a shot!).
The assertion that my images might be captured anywhere and have no direct link to the Island confuses the world of perception with the reality that drives our experience of Skye. All anyone needs to know is that these images have been taken on the Isle of Skye in a small and rarely-travelled corner. With that they can realise the camera is revealing the inalienable reality of the whole Island – as it lies separated by ocean and climate from the mainland, with its own distinctive culture, customs and mythologies.
I hope that the viewer, in understanding the first photograph above can come to know Skye. You don’t need to know Skye to understand this photograph.
From an aesthetic perspective, I seek to exploit the voice of the camera realising it fullest potential to capture, what I have previously described as the ‘eternal moment’. Unlike any other art form, in my view, the camera has the ability to translate, recognise and record the eternal moment unlike any other instrument of expression. That is why I am making these images in camera and not relying on post processing.
Although, I do not seek to criticise those who attempt to achieve this through the agency of Photoshop or other software, I believe that in following the post-processing path it is easy to change the camera into an analogue of the paintbrush or the stylus for which it is a poor substitute. It can also begin to work against what the camera has realised and potentially transforming the image into something that it was not. Our memories of a moment soon change, they become conceptualised within our framework of beliefs (and prejudices) about the world. For me the original moment is most important. The only role that I place upon software is one of bringing the completed image within the camera to its full potential by the correction of the inherent deficiencies in digital processing.
Through the confluence of techniques and a large amount of testing, I have realised through the camera a vision of the moment that reflects so much of what I have described before. In looking at the first image above, if you stand back it appears blurred, lacking focus and the subject is hidden. However, when you focus upon any part of the image, the underlying reality emerges capturing your attention, holding it and then as your gaze moves on, it withdraws into the background from which it emerged.
One of the important things for me at this stage in my photographic journey is to gain feedback as I find comments on my Journal entries very helpful. So, I was delighted to receive an e-mail from the professional wildlife photographer Chris Weston. I think they are very pertinent in terms of my work in the Isle of Skye for my MA Photography.
“Just wanted to say, I LOVE these images.” (Chris Weston 11 August 2019).
In response to my request for any hints or tips in perfecting my technique I received the following:
“Just keep doing what you’re doing, and keep photographing the internal story rather than the external event. You’ve made the leap from recorder to “photographer” which is something few people manage. I always knew you had it in you and it’s wonderful to see it emerge!” (Chris Weston 29 August 2019).
The comments were in response to my post in Week 10 entitled In Search of Depth and Luminosity https://wp.me/p9BvX0-KF. It included some recent images I had produced on Loch Cill Chriosd:
Chris, as many of you will know, is a widely respected and influential wildlife photographer. I have known him for about fourteen years and greatly admire his work. I have travelled the world with him, including Africa, Alaska and Antarctica, being inspired by his image making that displays a huge empathy with the wildlife he photographs. I love the way in which he shares with the viewer an insight into the animals’ world and in doing this Chris also shares a little of himself.
I have spent a while reflecting on what he said and found myself remembering some of my own words in my original Research Project Proposal submitted in the first module Positions and Practice:
“In this Research Project I will develop my photographic practice through a personal journey that involves death, darkness, hope and the emergence of light. It will reflect the silence that is always present at the scene of violent crime – the traces of humanity, intensely vulnerable and rendered insignificant by the events and forces around them. I appreciate that my photography here does not fit a neat genre – the way I choose to describe it is ‘phenomenological photography’, where what matters is not the object of my experience but my experience of the object.” (Price 2018:3).
I pursued this path until Sustainable Prospects when I devoted my time to making images of The Reeds of Loch Cill Chriosd. Rather than taking wide, dark and moody landscape shots I focused on the tender but resilient stems of the reeds in this small Loch, acting as a metaphor for some of the challenges, feelings and emotions of my own personal life, but also acting as a wider metaphor for the Isle of Skye itself – vulnerable yet resilient, strong and dramatic yet hidden. In my Critical Review of Practice for Informing Contexts I wrote:
“However, this phenomenological approach – whilst challenging – became an uncomfortable philosophical constraint. Like well-worn shoes it appeared to fit, except there was grit in the sole. That grit was the reality of Skye that transcends personal experience and insists on being noticed. Looking through the lens of my experience I could see the sea, lochs, mountains and moors. These are its sensible properties, but there are other properties that transcend individual experience: the ‘otherness’ of its geography, the vulnerability of its ecology and its ephemeral hiddenness. There are others too – it is an enigmatic place where mystery and normality lie cheek and jowl within its history and culture.
These are its real properties and it is this essence of ‘otherness’, vulnerability, ephemerality and enigma that mirrors my own understanding of myself and the consequences of my early career as a police photographer. Reflecting upon the real essence of Skye as something I felt, rather than consciously experience, I sought to contextualise that within my practice” (Price 2019:1-2).
What I have been trying to achieve from the beginning has been to enter on a journey. I spoke about this in Sustainable Prospects in the context of the layers of meaning in my imagery. In my images, I ask the viewer to spend a while with me, taking time in looking and seeing the layers of meaning and metaphor in my images reflecting the depth of my experience of the Island. Objective disengagement will not work, at a casual glance, all my images show is an allusion of presence and, indeed, those looking for a literal representation of Skye will be disappointed.
When I talk about seeking the “ephemeral hiddenness” in my current work I am looking to capture fleeting and transitory glimpses and this is about spending hours in the landscape waiting for that decisive moment – but the decisive moment for me is not about narrative – it is about the Island’s presence and being. As I drift deeper into my internal world the hiddenness of Skye emerges itself – in an almost dreamlike quality. The emerging moment is transitory but when it comes it brings clarity and certainty in the being that is revealed. This being is both, at once, permanent and ephemeral and can only be glimpsed. When you look for it, it disappears. – these are the fleeting glimpses I seek to capture through my lens. One might call it the eternal moment.
Price, A. 2018. Research Project Proposal: The Road to Elgol – my Personal Journey. Positions and Practice. MA Photography.
Price, A. 2019. Critical Review of Practice. Informing Contexts. MA Photography
I have been pondering a number of questions in relation to the layout of a book I might produce:
Who is the audience for the book? Is it the tutors on the programme, the casual visitor at an exhibition, other photographers looking for ideas, or people seeking an insight into the nature of the Island of Skye? I like to think it is the latter.
Would it be best to go for an e-book at this stage given the significant developments and changes in my photography over the past few months? A book looking forward rather than back would be more helpful in the development of my photographic practice.
Which images should I choose? I am still making images so the final editing has not been done.
Should I keep to one topic or a combination of subjects showing different aspects of Skye arranged into chapters?
What words should I add? Should they be my own, somebody else’s -writer, poet or philosopher?
Should I keep the page layout simple and put one image per page with words opposite or use different layouts to make it more interesting?
In order to think more about these questions and resolve how best to deal with them I decided to start creating mock-ups so I can see how they look. I produced an initial book a few weeks ago which gives a sense of where I started from:
In the new version below, I have simplified the presentation with bright white pages. I have moved on in terms of subjects and rather than focusing just on the reeds and water lilies I have added some seascapes to get a sense of what a mixed book might look like. I have tried out a number of different page layouts and at this stage just added some words at the beginning of each chapter:
In terms of using the software I have added a ‘hard cover’ to the book and enabled auto page turning. At this stage the number of pages is restricted to 30 but I am considering upgrading to allow more functionality.
I have also done some housekeeping in terms of creating collections in Lightroom for my seascapes, reeds, mountains, trees and clouds. This will help as I move forward to editing my work more meticulously.
Here is a second version of the e-book now entitled The Ephemeral Hiddenness of Skye:
I have reordered my draft Statement of Intent in response to tutor feedback by moving the last paragraph to the first, making it clear how my work reflects a personal journey which I think makes the statement stronger.
The Ephemeral Hiddenness of Skye
“The soul never thinks without a picture.” (Aristotle)
Focusing on detailed aspects of nature and spending time in the landscape allows me to reflect on my own inner life: the hurt and fracture – confronting the chaos of death and destruction during my time as a police photographer; the remnants and vulnerability of my youth and the solitude of adulthood when parents are gone. I use aspects of the natural world as metaphors for my feelings and emotions and use light and shade, luminosity and depth, shape and structure as a means of revealing the Skye that most visitors and locals fail to notice.
I am driven by a search for the ephemeral hiddenness of the Isle of Skye, and my photography seeks to capture its essence, rather than a simple visual and literal representation. I am not looking for the sublime and romantic depictions of the Island that so many photographers produce but a reflection of my personal experience of this beautiful part of north-west Scotland.
My work is informed by philosophers such as Jose Ortega y Gasset, Harman, Meillassoux and Heidegger and influenced by painters including J M W Turner and Claude Monet. Photographic influencers include Fay Godwin, Ori Gersht, Iain Serjeant and Awioska van der Molen.
Looking through the lens of my experience I see the sea, lochs, mountains and moors – these are Skye’s sensible properties. It is not these I am seeking but those that transcend individual experience – the ‘otherness’ of its geography, the vulnerability of its ecology and its ephemeral hiddenness. I am searching for those passing moments, glimpses, transitory states when Skye reveals itself to me: its mystery, fragility and resilience – its essence.
I feel that I have more questions than answers at this stage but without making a start I cannot move to a considered resolution of each one. I think I must produce more mock up books in order to see the implications of various approaches.
I first started looking at book layouts in Week 3 of the Final Major Project (FMP). I was inspired at that stage by the Guest Lecture by Victoria Forrest and her hints and tips for moving forward with producing a book https://wp.me/p9BvX0-D9. At that time I was intending to produce a book as a celebration of my work on the MA Photography. However, my thinking has changed because of the significant changes and developments in my practice over FMP to date. I have spent the first three months of FMP producing new work and developing my practice. I feel my work is changing in both its approach and influences. I am moving much further away from literal representation and towards abstract images in my search for the ephemeral hiddenness of Skye. My influences are now not only from the photographic world but from art and in particular J M W Turner and Claude Monet. I am also now working in colour (all my previous Work in Progress portfolios submitted for the MA were in monochrome) and whilst I am not averse to producing a mixed black and white/colour format for the book I think I need to think about this in terms of the messages and intent of the publication rather than from an entirely aesthetic point of view.
I have been reviewing Victoria Forrest’s website as it is really helpful in showing all the books she has worked on and describing the format and design decisions made. I am particularly interested at this point in the page layouts chosen as I have been working on some mock ups of my work in electronic book format although my comments below cover a range of aspects of the book production process.
Further Lane – Zak Powers (Victoria Forrest)
Further Lane by Zak Powers was a book designed by Victoria that took my eye in those early days. I am particularly attracted by the cloth, printed cover and the contrast of colours – grey and orange. It is simple but very effective. This style continues with the simple titling of the photographer and the title of the book. Within the book itself a range of page layouts have been used including double page spreads with the image extending across the two pages and two separate images across a spread.
Male Stripper – Jim Lambie (Victoria Forrest)
Jim Lambie’s book Male Stripper caught my attention because of its very innovative format. It has a hard back cover and a 16 page book at the beginning and then a further 16 page foldout behind. I am attracted by this format and think it would be especially appropriate for a book where a journey was involved as it implies a linear approach. This is a format I will keep in mind but I need to be clear why I would be using it.
The Reader – Sophie Calle, Whitechapel Art Gallery (Victoria Forrest)
I love Sophie’s Calle’s work and have researched in previous modules her use of words alongside her images so I was interested in an Exhibition Catalogue that Victoria Forrest had designed for the Whitechapel Gallery. Again, a simple white cover with gold lettering leads into a gold title page, and then moves into a black and white format about Calle’s work:
Rainforests – HRH The Prince’s Rainforest Trust (Victoria Forrest)
Although I am assuming this book produced for The Prince’s Rainforest Trust is a large format, again I was attracted by the canvas cover:
Inside the View – Helen Sear (Victoria Forrest)
In terms of Helen Sear’s Book Inside the View I was interested in the page layout particularly as she was presenting square format images which is my intention at this stage. They are presented on white pages which I think is what I will choose and also appear to have monochrome images in the same book.
I recently purchased a book called Fragile by Valda Bailey which I discuss below. I found out that her book was produced by Triplekite Books and this led me to investigate their work. Apparently, they are well-known in landscape photography circles as producers of high-quality large format books however, I was interested to learn that a few years ago they branched out to produce smaller books to support lesser-known photographers too as well as supporting the lesser-known work of established photographers. For example, Framed by Chris Friel:
and the beautiful mountain photographs of Greg Whitton:
With Trees – Dav Thomas – (Triplekite Books)
With Trees by Dav Thomas is a current book published by Triplekite Books:
Fragile – Valda Bailey (Triplekite Books)
Fragile by Valda Bailey is a beautifully presented book and as well as inspiring me in my photographic work it has also led me to some interesting publishers in Triplekite. Whilst I am not yet at the stage of having a fully formed proposal or a complete set of images I will certainly keep them in mind as my work develops and my book ideas take shape.
Bailey, V. 2016. Fragile. Triplekite Publishing, Chicago.