Monday, 11 February 2013

Aesthetics v Politics

One of the things I realised not that long ago was that my definition of documentary photography was different from other people's!  Perhaps it says something about me that although I know Simon Norfolk's work, for example, has a heavy message behind it, I have tended to take it at it's aesthetic level - not what it was about, only about how it looked.

This came to light for me when I was part of a group discussion with a visiting professor - Prof John Roberts - and Norfolk's work came up.  It just struck me that I'd never thought of him as a documentary photographer which struck some of the others as very odd!  After I thought about this, I realised that this has been one of the problems with my work and the images I'm interested in - I don't think of it as documentary, but I appear to others as documenting such things as coastal erosion, or industrial leftovers.  When I think of the work I like, there's quite a bit by documentary photographers as opposed to artists - Donovan Wylie and Simon Burch are other examples.

That said, despite that new found awareness, I'm still adding Alexander Gronsky to my list - I really love his work.  Once again I know that he has a message behind the images, but I'm not considering what it is, only how they look.

(Interestingly, Roger Palmer came to talk to us at GSA last week (separate post to follow) and he said something that summed it up for me.  When talking about how much he travels to make his work, he was asked how much he considers the culture of each country or area.  He answered by saying that he's not interested in the countries or the culture within them, he is interested in the 'similarity of the spaces'. He has 'nothing to say about [the country] and everything to say about photography'.)

The Edge

Mountains & Waters

Less Than One


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