In the spirit of further experimentation, and producing a large amount of varied work in the first stage of the Final Major Project, I plan to continue this work both through my window, and through my car windscreen, to try to reveal the essence of Skye. After all, the weather is such that I spend many days looking through my windows at murky and dank weather. Many visitors and locals must also have memories of wet days on Skye!
Two photographers that have used this technique are Todd Hido in works such as Roaming (2004) and A Road Divided (2010):
and the lesser-known landscapes of Tom Wood.
In researching these two photographers and their work I came across some interesting examples of their images and insights into their practice and how they describe their approach and intent.
For example, Tom Wood’s quotation below chimed with my own view that I am searching not for the visible and the tangible but something else – that feeling and my experience of a place:
“I think of a photograph as a receiver of sensation. Sensations are intangible, I try to organise them through the act of photography.” (Tom Wood)
Furthermore, in an introduction to an interview with Wood by Jan Willem Dikkers he says that:
“Photography inherently, deals with what can be seen. Its mechanical attention to details, its dependence on the referent – the object of its scrutiny – is what marks it as totally different from the other arts.” (Dikkers: undated).
However, as I have said in this Journal before I see the world and photography differently. Yes, photography can be about an object, but for me a photography reveals much about the photographer and their view of the world. As Freeman Patterson commented:
“The camera looks both ways.” (Patterson 1977:11).
As Dikkers goes on to say:
“Wood records a version of the world, not in its entirety, necessarily, but in its essence.” (Dikkers: undated).
This message is very reassuring for me as I seek to reveal the essence of Skye – as I said in my Pecha Kucha presentation:
“My search is not for literal representation of the world I explore but to reveal its reality, and through that the essence of my experience of that reality. I am seeking the reality of Skye that transcends personal experience and insists on being noticed and exists like grit in a shoe.
Looking through my lens I can see the sea, lochs and mountains. These are Skye’s sensible properties but what I am after is finding the otherness of its geography, the vulnerability of its ecology and its ephemeral hiddenness. It is an enigmatic place where mystery and normality lie cheek by jowl with its history and culture.” (Price 2019)
Wood’s landscapes are lesser-known than his forty-year project recording the lives of the people of Liverpool, but they have also been shot over an extended period. His images are often taken through the window of his car or through train and bus windows.
He said of his return to Ireland:
“When I first went back to Ireland, I saw it with fresh eyes. I photographed what was around me and there was nothing, just poor land. But it was our land, it had meaning for me.” (Wood)
I also reminded myself of the work of Todd Hido – another photographer taking images through the window of his car. In particular, two works – Roaming (2004) and A Road Divided (2010). In the case of Hido, rather than the conceptual basis for his photography, I was interested in his practice and the process by which he puts together his work. In an interview in Ahorn Magazine, conducted by Daniel Augschoell and Anya Jasbar, they remarked of Hido that:
“He’s the type of photographer who works on multiple projects at once, most often taking photographs to satisfy some sort of magnetism toward a specific image rather than ‘storyboard’ a future collection.” (Augschoell: undated).
Hido says of himself that he does not just work for his projects but is driven by a need to take a photograph when it presents itself:
“I’m not the kind of photographer that goes out and creates something from an idea that I preconceived…at least not with landscapes or buildings.” (Hido in Augschoell: undated)
I like this spirit and I feel that in my own practice maybe I have been too restrictive, and confined myself through attempting to pre-visualise my work and attempting to pursue an overly-prescriptive self-imposed brief.
Interestingly, Hido suggests that having taken a set of images that have presented themselves he then finds the book-making process a way of presenting his work in a coherent way:
“Without the book-making process . . . I wouldn’t know where to start.”
What I take from this is that his photographs are derived from individual photographic moments that through the book-making process lead him to develop a story around his image making – and maybe that story is about himself and his life story.
“I believe that all those signs from your past and all those feelings and memories certainly come together, often subconsciously, and form some kind of a fragmented narrative. Often, you’re telling your own story, but you may not even know it.” (Hido in Augschoell: undated)
Again, this sense that the photographer reveals much about themselves through their photography and reflect in some way their life story rings true for me. For example, much of my early work on the MA reflected the dark memories of an early police career:
This research has been interesting and actually been more revealing than I had expected. Through an interest in pursuing image making through windows I have identified two photographers that have similar motivations to myself but on the other hand have very different approaches to making images and putting together a coherent body of work.
AUGSCHOELL, D. and JASBAR, A. Interview with Todd Hido. Ahorn Magazine, Issue 6
DIKKERS, J. Making Sense. Issue Magazine
PATTERSON, Freeman. 1977. Photography for the Joy of It. Toronto: Van Nostrand Reinhold Ltd.
PRICE, Alison. 2019. Critical Review of Practice for Informing Contexts