In a rare moment not thinking or writing for my MA, I spied an article in Black and White Photography magazine entitled Reflective Practice by Vicki Painting. I thought I would give it a read before returning to writing about my practice.
It turned out to be about photographic voice – a concept I have written about recently in my Critical Research Journal (https://www.wildreflections.photography/contextual-research/forty-photographers-on-process-and-practice-week-22). In that post I had looked at a number of photographers who had been asked about whether they believed they had a photographic style or voice. A number of them did not believe they had one or were sceptical about the need for one. Painting asks the question whether we are even aware of it ourselves. Maybe we are focused more on that single image and it is only later that we see a style emerging in a series of photographs? She suggests that putting together a series of images provides an opportunity to communicate the idea more effectively. This is something I need to bear in mind as I edit my final set of images for my Final Major Project portfolio.
Painting describes her own practice as deciding upon a banal idea and taking it from a number of angles – thus from her perspective avoiding the single image trap. Like me, she is drawn to the landscape and uses it as a metaphor for what she wants to say – but in an oblique, indirect way. Our practice is also similar in the sense that I return again and again to Loch Cill Chriosd and photograph the tender stems of reeds.
Liz Wells suggests that women are more likely to be attracted to the inter-relation between people and place, rather than land as vistas. This is certainly the case for me where I have no interest in recording the sweeping vistas of Skye. For me, micro aspects of the landscape provide me with a vehicle for conveying my own thoughts, feelings and emotions and for revealing the fleeting moments when Skye reveals itself to me.
Painting writes about a recent visit to Spain when she focused on what she described as mini landscapes – quite different aspects of land including salt flats, streams and cactus gardens. She speaks of her experience of the landscape as being retained in her memory long after she returns home. I find this very much the case that when I revisit my images immediately after taking the shots or days, weeks or months later, I am still able to evoke the memory of the weather conditions, the smells of the day and the feelings I had – all verifiable in my case through consulting my journal that I write when I am in the field. Painting references Helga Nowotny, who refers to the ‘extended present’ that she sees as an unfolding process, which leads to a lack of distance between past and present. As a result, of this process our recollections can never be neutral. They are influenced by our preferences for storing information and how we see the world. Our schema is unique and shaped by life’s experiences. Our voice therefore, is subjective.
Back to writing about my practice!
PAINTING, Vicki. 2019. Reflective Practice. Black and White Photography magazine. Issue No 236, December 2019.