Since having the first idea around this assignment I have rapidly assembled a set of photographs that look like a good start and perhaps even an end to this assignment. I mulled over what a "day" would be and what day to capture. A weekend, a day out to somewhere cool, a composite day that illustrated the many elements of my life? In the end I became very introspective and started to consider what is a typical day for me, how do I live what do I do and how do I reveal myself to others, the viewers of these photographs. As part of the research for this study I took a look at some of Nan Goldin's self portraits and studies of friends, plus a brief look at some of Richard Billingham's "Rays a Laugh" photographs. WHat struck me was that some of the most powerful photographs were often very ordinary moments, but ones in which the subject revealed their inner self. My life is not as dramatic as Nan's or as sad as that of Ray, but it is my life so how to tell the story?
First off, a single day would be hard to document, so I have worked over several days, taking advantage of a predication towards black t-shirts to ensure continuity. I wanted to describe a normal day, a working day. I work from home and so this did not present any access issues with the camera. On a typical day I spend about 15 hours out of bed, of which 12 hours will be spent in front of my computer working. As 10 photos of me working are not going to be terribly interesting, I am more interested in the 3 hours when I am not working. I have gone with a high contrast B&W style, somehow suiting the depressing days I sometimes endure. This was also driven in part by a need for continuity in the imagery and the need to therefore shoot at ISO 3200, noise was going to be a factor (a welcome one in this case). Unlike landscape I am not too worried about technical excellence in the images, what I want is representation and conveyance of mood.
I start the day with my camera on a tripod in the bathroom, carefully positioned to preserve my modesty, but reveal myself. The first shot in the shower captures a moment when I am trying to wash away the fatigue of the previous day. I am currently working 12 or more hours a day and I am beginning to feel it. The reflected light obscures my face and somehow emphasizes the sense of vulnerability and tiredness:
Next stop is the mirror to put in my contact lenses, this was an ouch moment when a bit of grit got under the lens. I am not sure about including both of these images, but they do work into the day and how I am going to spend it.
This is how I spend most of the day, sitting propped in front of my work computer on a conference call. The phone is a speaker phone and I am engaged in a conversation with someone in Asia or Europe at this time of day.
Coffee, is a must and with this photo I show a little more of the environment I occupy and the processes that support the day
Although the day is long, I try to take a break and work on my course a little. I guess I am not the type of person that can simply laze away a day in front of the TV. I am averaging 60 hours working each week and on top of that a good 15 hours dedicated to my OCA studies. Here I am starting work on my paper logbook, gluing in a Steidl brochure advertising the works of Robert Frank. I like the movement in the frame. I have adjusted the lighting a little, reducing the strong shadow that was obscuring my face.
Lunchtime brings with it a few chores, one is getting rid of the piles of cardboard that accumulate due to my Amazon addiction. This also brings a chance to illustrate some of the aspects of living in Germany and to portray the world outside my locked in life.
Oddly therapeutic, I do the days washing up at luchtime
OK, this is kind of odd, but I like it. This is me shooting this assignment, so this is the only photograph not taken with my 5D2. A typical day in my life always includes some photography, even if just looking at it on the web.
Back to a work shot, this is now the end of the day and fatigue has really kicked in, it is after 7pm and I am still sitting in on conference calls...
Finally I leave myself out of shot. This is taken in the morning, showing the remains of a bowl of soup, a beer and empty ice cream wrapper, my treats at the end of a long day and not tidied up because I was knackerd and just wanted to head to bed.
I think this is a revealing and interesting set, speaking about the hum drum life of an office worker (even if a home office worker). The photos are not representative if they were they would be very dull indeed. To illustrate how unrepresentative they are I embarked on a supplementary piece of work. On a day that I knew would be long, I mounted my 5D2 on a table facing my desk, set it to shoot 1 frame every 30s and left it running for 15 hours. The 1,660 photos that resulted really show how I spend my life. I am thinking about making this the 11th image in the submission or as a replacement for one of the photos. It tells the story in a way a single image cannot and yet is still a work of photography not cinematography.
Together I think this eloquently speaks of my real life, not one that I have exaggerated, but how it really is. In many ways it has been a frightening experience, until I really studied myself objectively I did not know quite how I spent my days. I am now going to leave this alone for a time and see how the concept sits with me before writing up and sending in, however, I really think I am close.