Posted by A. Wise at 2:46 PM
The image above is from a set of images that I'm not very proud of, from the 3canal Jam-It! rehearsal (February 2nd) and Show (February 8th) at Queen's Hall.
I have been struggling with my photography for the last couple of weeks and I'm not entirely sure why that is, or how to get out of this photographic funk. Each time I go shooting, I come back and review my images with much disappointment. I keep finding the images technically weak and thematically understimulating. I don't think all of my recent images are terrible, but they are nothing that I can feel proud of... nothing that I want to send home to my parents or print for a portfolio.
I think part of what's going on is that thus far, I've only been photographing whatever events and places I happen to be around so I'm inherently lacking the conscious engagement that comes with deliberately choosing your subjects. I think it's time that I start thinking more about what space I want to occupy while I'm here and what role I want my photography to play in helping to form my own space in Trinidad. While I wrote a few weeks ago about the documentary value of photography, "documenting" is far too wide of a task for me to actually tackle.
One of the things that I want to do while in Trinidad, which applies not only to my photography, but also to my studies at UWI and my general social and life goals, is to live, study, and experience life here in a way that can only be experienced here. I want to study topics that I can only study here, I want to make friends from here who can show me a side of life that only someone my age from here can show me, and I want to take full photographic advantage of this unique set of experiences I have here, that I can't get elsewhere in the world. Somehow (although I haven't figured it out yet) I want to leave here in May with a collection of images that I can carry with me throughout life to remind me of the particular chance circumstances that resulted in whatever particular experience I had here.
On that note, sometimes when I feel lost with photography, I find it helpful to look at other photographers work in order to consider styles I would like to emulate and incorporate into my own work and also to consider how different people approach photographing various subjects. One photographer that I've recently come across on Lightstalkers is a New Orleans based photographer named Andy Levin. The first of Mr. Levin's images that I noticed were his photographs of Haiti which are, obviously, very relevant right now, and particularly given the consciousness of the destruction in Haiti throughout the Caribbean. His images obviously tackle serious themes of devastation, poverty, and death, but his images are also very human, and in my opinion, very hopeful. Mr. Levin also has a superb photoessay entitled Remembering Katrina: A Carnival of Suffering which is also filled with deeply powerful, and sometimes deeply difficult images of the 2005 Hurricane Katrina which hit New Orleans, Louisiano hard and killed over 1,800 Americans. One of the elements of Mr. Levin's photographs that I admire is that they are not always pretty. Sometimes, if the theme of an image is something dark, it does not make sense for the depiction to be contrary to that. Form should mirror function, but that's not always easy. As a photographer, I always want my images to be pretty. This consciousness of form mirroring function is something that I want to keep trying to incorporate into my own work. This first time I've ever felt like I did that was with my images of the Kalinda Stickfighting Finals.
Another photographer that I've recently come across, whose work will hopefully inspire me, perhaps in a less morbid way than Mr. Levins work on Haiti and Katrina is a Russian photographer named Mikhail Galustov. Mr. Galustov, who I also found on Lighstalkers, is currently based in Afghanistan. While Mr. Galustov has photographed some politically and socially difficult places including Afghanistan and Caucasus, I am really intrigued by his portrait work. Mr. Galustov has potraits of military people, families, women, men, children, and each one is visually different yet somehow consistent. He also does interesting pairings of some portraits, which leads me to another thought about how images are presented. I think it's important to consider how your images fit in the context of other images around them. In the context of a set of images, which image you chose to place before or after an image will affect how your viewer perceives that particular image. That's one of the reasons why I prefer organized photo essays that present images in a calculated sequential order over images haphazardly presented in chronological order of uploads, like on a Flickr photostream, which to me feels like you've just vomited up an incoherent mess of images.
I don't know how much logical sense this post makes but I guess to sum up:
1. I feel lost and confused with my photography right now.
2. I think I need to decide WHAT I want to photograph in order to get out of this funk.
3. I'd like to keep working on mirroring form and function.
4. I want to give the presentation of my images as much thought as I give the individual images themselves.
Ready... Set... Go!