I had made a preliminary selection of images and shared them with my tutor and fellow students on my website. I had also asked for feedback from some more photographic colleagues that I posted on my blog last week. I started by working on a small number of “desaturated” images which my tutor had asked me to do. I wanted to consider whether this idea might work with my summer images:
My tutor felt that the idea did have legs and that may be I should re-work the images to make them slightly warmer in tone. I have ruled out this idea in the context of this module’s portfolio for the following reasons that I gave to my tutor:
“I am grateful that you are encouraging me to develop my photography and that is why I joined the course. The development I see in my work, apart from the monochrome and landscape work, that are both new to me, is getting Alison into my photography. When I worked for the police I was withdrawing myself from the image making as a means of self-defence from what I was recording. So now, I want to use a place I love as a means to let the camera back in. So for me, my axis of development is not about colour or surfaces necessarily but more about allowing the camera to look deeper into me and for me to give more of myself in my photography.”
However, I am definitely not ruling this out as an approach as we move into the autumn and winter seasons when the landscape looks more naturally desaturated. I am also considering a mini-project where I spend more time climbing the Cuillin to get different perspectives and view points.
These are some of my favourite images to date although I am not sure yet whether they will all appear in the portfolio:
And finally, in a rather passionate Charting the Journey blog last week I raised my concerns about being asked to move away from monochrome images. I had a couple of replies that I would like to share with you.
“This trend towards dismissing B&W as a medium seems to be spreading. I started reading a book on lighting, which I gave away to a charity shop when, on Page 21, the author declared the only reason for shooting in B&W is if you can’t afford colour film or a digital camera.
So, don’t be deterred from your creative spirit. Anyone who claims B&W is an irrelevant medium simply doesn’t understand art, composition or the basics of photographic design which, by definition, means they probably aren’t worth listening to at all. Your explanation of why you use B&W is more than valid – it shows you have a deep understanding of photography as a visual art form.
If you need some back-up (which you don’t), as well as Don McCullin, you have Sebastiao Salgado and Ansel Adams. In the art world, some of the greatest painters, including Cezanne and Monet, worked in monochrome and B&W voraciously. And, in Hollywood, who can forget the haunting use of B&W by Steven Spielberg in the film Schindler’s List?
Any critic (or lecturer) who dismisses B&W as a photographic medium lacks credibility. Listen to your soul and let your better angels drown the critics out.
Good luck as you move along with your project!” (CW)
“This course is for your inspiration and satisfaction. How you choose to achieve your personal objectives must be your decision and to be pressurised to alter course at the behest of others who seem to be lacking in an appreciation of the monochrome art form is a distraction and confusing.” (RW)
“To see in colour is a delight to the eye, but to see in black and white is a delight for the soul” Andri Hery (PP)
If I needed any encouragement, these comments helped me to resolve to stick with my monochrome approach for the time being at least!
I agree strongly with the comments you have been given. Your tutors are right to urge you to explore different ways of working but your choice of B&W as your way of expressing yourself through your camera for this project is important and you have made the case convincingly after deep reflection which is evident from your blogs over the months. Colour in an image is like a young puppy – it demands attention, it’s all over you and if it doesn’t get what it wants it chews things. Image making in B&W is about the search for the essence of things, the noumena behind the phenomena. When you photograph a person, in colour that’s what you get, a person. When you photograph in B&W you get their soul.
More wise words and many of the reasons why I turned to black and white at least in landscape work.