In this part we are asked to consider how the written word can provide “inspiration for creative exploration“, by using not just the normal idioms of books, newspapers etc but also considering letters, poems, archives and transcripts of interviews as source materials.
The examples given are of:
- Kaylynn Deveney
- Duane Michals
- Jim Goldberg
- there are multiple sources of written inspiration
- creating connection between photographer and subject takes time
- text should add something you don’t already know from the image
- the subjects own view of the image is very informative.
- use of different media together creates a dynamic series
notes on the individual photographers below:
Is an American born journalist and photographer who moved to Wales to complete her Masters and Ph.D and now lives in Northern Ireland. Her studies focused on the ways contemporary and historical photographic diaries and self-books address myths of domesticity.
Deveney says in the introduction to her images in the series ‘The Day-to-Day Life of Albert Hastings‘ that she seeks in out the banal moments of the day to photograph. “The experiences not usually considered significant enough to warrant a snapshot”. She also looks for domestic patterns and routines that make us feel at home or that confirm, or conform to, our ideas of what home should be. (“KayLynn Deveney Photographer”). She was also interested in the difference between her view of the images compared with Albert’s as the person being photographed.
The captions written on the images are Albert’s view of the photographs’ meanings. It comes across to me that there is a real connection between Deveney and Albert and that as a series, they are far from banal moments in his life. Of course this is only a documentary of the time in his life that she knew him and focus on that time and don’t allude to his younger self.
I felt really engaged with this series, I particularly liked the lighting, if feels subdued and low key. The images are quite desaturated but not dull and the square format with the written words beneath. I’m not sure if they were photographed with film, but they do have a filmic quality to them.
I think what makes this series work is; time, time and familiarity, I suspect he enjoyed the company of Deveney whilst she was there taking photos of him.
In my own work, I must remember that series like this take time and can’t be done in a day!
Michals is another American photographer who is known for using text with his images, again like Deveney, he handwrites on his images. Unlike her however, he has constructed some of his narratives.
I think photographs should be provocative and not tell you what you already know. It takes no great powers or magic to reproduce somebody’s face in a photograph. The magic is in seeing people in new waysDuane Michals
I really like his work, there is a lot of humour in it, mostly added through the text. It seems that he is telling stories rather than reflecting reality, and the text always adds more information to the image (Relay). Some of his later work show’s digital manipulation, which he uses to great effect.
The ‘Raised by Wolves’ work mentioned in the course book, illustrates a 10 year project that Goldberg worked on with teenage runaways in San Franciso and Los Angeles. He uses a mixture of images, writing which looks like it’s written by the subjects, film, and nagatives. In some of the images he draws directly on the image. For example he draws a box in one image that immediately makes you look at the scar on the girl’s arm. A frame within the frame. There are images of nice homes with pictures on the mantle, compared to an image of a sofa with a painting sitting on the back of it, underneath a road bridge.
The use of different medias together in one series, works really well, it adds a dynamic and diverse nature to the series which amplifies the chaos in these peoples lives. I also like the use of detail images, which are as much a portrait of the subjects as images of them themselves.
The final images, show the series as an exhibition in an art gallery. Do the subjects see themselves as art? has the creation of this art benefited the subjects and improved their lives or merely elevated the photographer’s standing as an artist? I don’t the know the answers to this, but it makes me mindful of the reason I am taking my images. If you are going to highlight an issue, who is or should be the beneficiary?
Goldberg’s series Rich and Poor is fascinating. He documented people in their homes in San Franciso between 1977 – 1985. They were asked to comment on the photo by writing on them in their own hand. The insight into the people is very enlightening and adds dimension you wouldn’t get just from the images alone. I think you could work out who was considered Rich and Poor financially but may be not so emotionally without the text.
“Duane Michals – Artists – DC Moore Gallery.” Www.dcmooregallery.com, www.dcmooregallery.com/artists/duane-michals.
“KayLynn Deveney Photographer.” KayLynn Deveney Photographer, kaylynndeveney.com/. Accessed 15 May 2021.
Michals, Duane. “Storyteller: The Photographs of Duane Michals – Photographs by Duane Michals | LensCulture.” LensCulture, 2015, www.lensculture.com/articles/duane-michals-storyteller-the-photographs-of-duane-michals-2.
“Raised by Wolves.” Jimgoldberg.com, jimgoldberg.com/projects/raised-by-wolves. Accessed 15 May 2021.