As the clock strikes twelve, 2024 begins and my thoughts turn to a new project that I intend to develop from the practice-led research, approach and thinking articulated in my PhD thesis.  I plan to write a book about what I did and learned about myself, my photographic practice, and how my thinking might be extended to inform and help others understand and articulate their photographic journey.

The first task on returning to my desk, a couple of days before the end of the holidays here in Scotland (a sign of the level of motivation and enthusiasm I have for this project) is to think about my audience and re-engineer the relevant sections of my thesis into a structure and format that is appropriate to a book others might find helpful, rather than a document in a pre-determined format intended for examination. What are the key messages for practising photographers and how might they follow in my footsteps, and extend, reinterpret, or redefine their practice?  What are the benefits of undertaking this practical evaluation and reset?

My answer to this question is that it opens up new horizons, new understanding, and new opportunities to extend and develop practice beyond that which might have been possible had I continued on my search for essence in the same groove. I had for many years – occasionally, through luck and determination, and entering an unexplained zone with my subjects, been able to capture an image that represented something over and above the scene in front of me, “more than” the subject. I believe I exposed something beyond sensory perception and experience.  Something that revealed a connection and allusion to a reality beyond.  But how do I convey my enthusiasm and excitement to others, and who might be interested anyway?

Who is my Audience?

 This book aims to support photographers who:

  • Have lost their way, their mojo or both
  • Want to understand and evaluate their focus, priorities, and current practice
  • Set a new course for future practice
  • Wish to investigate the relevance of Object-Oriented Photography to their practice

I will help you to answer the following questions:

What type of photographer am I?

We all approach our photography in different ways.  For example, “You might be someone who says I take photographs, I enjoy the technical side of photography, I like to capture the scene in front of me as accurately as possible, I like to be informed about my subject, place and location or I want to engage on a voyage of discovery working through the dimensions and drivers of my practice.”

Who and what informs my work and in what ways?

We are all informed in our photography to a greater or lesser extent.  For example, perhaps you might say “I like to be informed about contemporary practice and enjoy reading about photographers, artists, philosophers and writers, searching for inspiration, new ideas and information.”

 How do I identify and articulate the drivers of my photography?

How do I choose what I capture and why?  For example, “I like to photograph the beauty of the natural world, I enjoy street photography, or creative work in post-processing is my passion.”

How and in what ways might I extend the depth and breadth of my photographic practice?

It is natural and likely that you might get stuck in a rut doing the same thing.  It can be challenging to switch to a different genre of photography, learn the new skills required or find new inspiration in a familiar place. For example, “I feel I have exhausted my imagination with a particular genre of photography, I am not happy with photographing the same thing in the same way, or how can I develop my skills, scope or focus.”

How can I extend and manifest this new understanding through my image-making?

By extending your knowledge about your practice and what drives you as a photographer you can find yourself in an unfamiliar position.  For example, “how does knowledge about myself as a photographer and my practice change how and where I take my photographs, find new projects, find new ways of using the camera or viewing the world from a different perspective.”

The Storyboard?

A book tells a story, and it needs a structure as well as a compelling narrative.  I have remodelled and omitted parts of my thesis below as a starting point, an initial storyboard, a baseline of how I might tell my story and connect with my audience.  I have retained the original section titles at this stage but will amend these in due course to reflect the new writing I add.  The storyboard will inevitably change and develop as the narrative becomes clearer and better articulated.

 Introduction

  • My Search for Essence
  • Context and Motivation for My Research
  • Contribution to Knowledge and Practice

Practice-Led Research

  • What does Practice-Led Mean?
  • Setting and Defining a Project – useful for RPS and other distinctions
  • Why is it Relevant to a Practising Photographer?
  • Research Questions, Aims and Objectives

My Research Journey

  • Research Methodology and Methods
  • Journey through Visual Heuristics and Experiments in Essence
  • Dimensions of Practice – More Than Taking Photographs.  Why walk, why journal/blog
  • Inspiration and Influences
  • Case Studies and Reflections
  • The “Quiet Photographer” to the “Thinking Photographer”

Lessons from my Research Journey

  • The Ten-Signifier Diagram
  • Allure
  • The Paradox of Being
  • From I-ness to Entanglement

Conclusion

Alison Price

Alison Price

My name is Alison Price and for the past ten years I have travelled the world photographing wildlife, including Alaska, Antarctica, Borneo, Botswana, the Canadian Arctic, Kenya, Rwanda, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
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