Throughout my first two year studying photography at university I have learned a lot, not only about the subject, but about myself and my style of work. Before I started at UCA I thought I had quite an open style and didn’t think that all my work would have the same aspects. However the majority of my university work has followed the same themes despite the assignments having very different topics.
All of my projects have contained some kind of portraiture, which is not a topic that I thought that I would be interested in, this is the main thing that I have learned about myself and my work. I didn’t think that I would like working with models and directing them, but it is an aspect of my work that I prominent and that I actually enjoy. Whatever the them is I have unintentionally made it about people and portraits, even topics in first year such as Architecture and Environment I made about people and chose to shoot portraiture. These were the first few projects that I directed people and learnt that I actually found it enjoyable and learned that I liked portraiture. Not only have a learned this, but I also discovered that I found my best work is self portraiture, something that I certainly didn’t think would be the case. I have never been overly confident and especially not infant of the camera. Having done a bit of modelling myself it washy something that I found particularly comfortable or natural to me. In saying this it came as a surprise when I felt totally comfortable shooting sleeve portraiture and about about very personal topics. The first project I ever created using self portraiture was on the theme of grief and after losing a lot of people in a small period of time, including all three of my granddads in one year, I found it hard to cope. This project opened my eyes to the stages of grief and I learned that it’s ok to still be grieving and that the mixed emotions that i was feeling were normal. Not only did this project help me develop my work, it also helped me develop as a person. This project was the last one of first year and it was after this that I felt I had really found my personal style.
It was in Second year that I really developed this style and experimented more with self portraiture. The themes of my work still aren’t specific, other that visually similar through the aspects of black and white portraiture, but I do like to choose contextual themes that are personal to me. I prefer to do personal projects as I feel that they help me grow as a person and I find that it’s easier fro me to stay connected to the project its self. I enjoy doing the research and readings that are important to developing my work when they are on topics that I am passionate about and that have importance to my personal life. An example of this is the work that I created for the first project of second year, ‘Beyond Photography’. These were self portraits that demonstrated the way that having low body confidence and self esteem issue can effect you as a person, and how they have effected me personally. These images really put my body and myself out there for everyone to see and this is something that I have never done, this was a personal achievement as it was something that a few years ago I would never have felt comfortable doing. I also think this project expanded my photographic ability the most as well, I used photographic techniques that I have not used before and learned so many new techniques of photography and printing.
Once we have been briefed for our projects and I have decided what approach I am going to take, I like to let my projects take a course of their own. I try not to plan too far ahead and let my projects change and develop as I do more research and shoots. I like to have an open mind with the direction in which my projects take, and through doing this my final tends to change multiple times. A strong example of this was the project I created for the ‘Storytelling’ unit in second year. This project changed so many times as my research developed and I experimented with different techniques. Not only did the physical ways I wanted to present my work change, but the theme throughout the images also changed a my research developed. This unit started off being based on the theme of fairly tales and how the messages they send are outdated, and the ideas of beauty standards and body images. It then developed to looking at the stories of ‘Peter and Jane’, and looking at gender stereotypes and roles in a family dynamic. And after shooting and more research, the story line took a turn down the domestic abuse route and this became my final piece. Although this development doesn’t have set stages, I think that my project was more natural and turned out better in the final outcome by trusting myself and changing the direction of the project after researching more.
In terms of the creative industry, I’m not sure where my work would sit. Its not commercial or fashion based, and I definitely can not see my career heading in that direction as I prefer working in more natural location environments rather than in the studio with a huge set up of lights and equipment. I think that my work is more documentary style. I like to have freedom with my shots and to take images freely. I can see my self working as a documentary photographer, I like real life scenarios and real people. For previous projects I have looked at the work of Donna Ferrato and I love her style of documentary. She has an intimate look in on the lives of real people and captures raw emotions and expressions. This is what interests me the most about photography and what I can see myself doing. I like the aspect of capturing and moment in time and freezing it forever. I like to capture real people and real moments, the term ‘a picture speaks a thousand words’ springs to mind and this is what inspires me to capture real events and situations.
Overall I think that I have learned so much in my last years at university, not just technically, but about my self and my own style of work. I now know my own style and feel confident in the way I work, I know where my strengths lay and I feel that they are with black and white portraiture of all kinds. I have learned how to direct and work with people but also thatI am my own best subject and the work I have done that is the most personal often turns out the most successful. I like to explore my own life and emotions through photography, I take inspiration from the likes of Francesca Woodman, and through doing this I have become more confident as a person and in my work.