For my final major project I’m going to be working around the theme of social documentary: the recording of how the world looks like, with a social and/or environmental focus. I want to look at the people who surround me, documenting how they each live their private life compared to the life they expose to their friends. It will be interesting to try and capture how differently people spend their private time and how they come together and what they do in company. I am aware that my subjects might pose in front of the camera but I am hoping that with time and regular reshoots they will get use to my presence, relax and reveal their real private selves.
I want to document different friends, taking note of how they go about their daily lives, showing what the most important parts of their days are. This will either demonstrate a contrast between them all or reinforce the fact that we all have very similar activities. I plan on taking images of my peers: all teenagers living in England who are still in education, studying different subject at College or University. I want to document how diverse everyone in a friendship group can be (as everyone I am shooting knows one another); yet even though they’re all so different they’re able to bond and have fun together. This is something I find interesting as we all have our own lives but we don’t take into consideration of how others live their private life, what we don’t see.
I like to pay attention to details so when it comes to taking images I don’t want all my images to be wide shots and candid portraits. I want to also focus on the small things that have meaning to the person. In the past I haven’t produced much portraiture work, especially on location, and therefore don’t feel very confident with it. So for this final project I want to challenge myself to create a series of images that I am proud of based on the genre of environmental portraiture, which I don’t feel, is my strong point. It will allow me to learn how to work with my subjects on location, using available light, having to adapt to my surroundings and thinking about how to make each shot different.
I have been looking at the works of Patryk Karbowski, Anne-Stine Johnsbråten and Noelle Swan Gilbert. When I first saw their images I was inspired by how simplistic they looked. They have a natural/ free style to them, as their images are mainly candid. They’re also powerful in the way, as you know what the photographer is portraying just from seeing their body language and/ or personal belongings. They helped me discover the path I want to go down within social documentary photography. I like how their images are precisely framed yet don’t look staged at all, showing they had to act fast and be spontaneous. Patryk Karbowski’s series of work is documenting middle class teenagers in Poland who were born and brought up following the demise of them Communist Regime. Anne-Stine Johnsbråten documents teenage girls in Oslo, who are divided by the invisible wall that splits the upper class on the West side and the lower class on the East side live their separate lives. Noelle Swan Gilbert documents the world that her daughters and their friends inhabit moments of a teenager’s life, wanting to capture the moments before they’re all gone.
I plan on following my subjects to different types of locations to see how they interact with their surroundings, documenting their actions and taking note of how much they subconsciously check their phones. I will shoot some of my subjects in their homes to get the more personal side we don’t see, this will include parts of their daily routine and how they live/ spend their alone time. This will give us a deeper view on their interests and how they further them when they’re alone. I feel these interests will also be shown when socialising in a group, as when you’re interested in something it’s likely they’ll want to share their love with others.
I’m going to do a lot of online research to get inspiration from other artists and try to find what magazines and exhibitions have the style of I hope will influence me and bring me new unique ideas. I won’t plan out every shoot carefully as I want my photography to be spontaneous and some of my images to be candid. I won’t be able to predict how my models/subjects will act, but I will make sure to be more confident with my camera without making the image too awkward for the models/subjects.
I feel my images will improve the more I shoot for this project, as both my subjects and I will grow accustomed to the situation. As well as taking lots of images, making sure to keep changing the angles so not one image is the same, and this will come more naturally to me the more I shoot and find what I’m strongest in. Having my artist research and mood board to look back at, will remind me to stay on track and keep things interesting as I feel it could be very easy to get off topic and the images not flow as a series.
In terms of techniques, I want to experiment with film as moving image is a way to capture a moment that maybe a still image wouldn’t be able to. I feel using different mediums will bring my project to life even more. Experimenting with a Nikon film camera is something I plan on doing throughout this project because with film images you don’t know how the images will come out so every shot counts and you want to make sure it’s perfect. I will use a Canon 600D for most of my shoots, using a tripod if I want to take and motion images or if I know a location will have low light. Depending on how the shoots go I will think about adding text (caption or title) under each image/ selection, either written by mean simply explaining the shot or written by the model and their emotions or their take on what they were doing. If the image includes a personal object/ detail I will get them to write about what the object means to them.
I’m going to present my work on a blog. To me it will be easier to keep my work up to date as I can add to it at any time (working from home or using my phone), this will allow me to easily see my whole project development on a continuous time line adding more and more as I create and develop my ideas. I plan to evaluate my work throughout with contact sheet evaluations, edit processes and more, making sure to give myself notes on how I feel the project is going as well as what I like and how I can improve. This will keep me on track and help me reflect on the project’s progress. Depending on how many final images I have I want to mount my images on the wall as a series, using collages of images that were taken on the same shoot so have similar aspects. If I like my moving images I will either have them projected next to my mounted images or shown on a tablet that will but under or next to my images, I’ll have these moving images playing in a loop making sure to crop to a length that I think works best for the exhibition space and audience.