Assignment 4 belongs with Assignment 3, indeed it should follow on from 3, but I seem to have developed a phobia towards essay writing, I am sure I am not unusual in that sense. This is down to simple laziness, essay writing is too much like work, I take photos because it is fun, essay writing isn't...
Ah well, I will fix that soon, however, in the mean time here is some musing on Assignment 4. Although, this is my first formal post on the topic of Assignment 4, I have been working the material for the assignment since the day I started the course. The subject for my essay is Robert Frank and although I do not plan to place my focus on "The Americans", that book is the motivation for the subject of this assignment. When I started the year I though about creating a book from this assignment, however, my struggle with the Fest book for assignment 2 showed me that I need to take care not to be led astray from the primary goal of creating 12 photographs. I still believe that the photobook is my ultimate expression as a photographer, the gallery wall does not appeal (yet). However, books are complex things that take considerable time to develop. Whilst I found creating Fest completely exhausting it was also a great learning experience, but one that I do not need to repeat now. I probably will create a book from this and other material, but after I finish this assignment. I still need Christmas presents for friends.
So what is it about Frank and the Americans that I want to "be in the style of". First of all, I have no intent to try and replicate his visual style or content. That has been done, it was his great contribution, but it is not mine. What I want to do with this assignment is to adopt his way of looking, to place myself in his shoes, in his case a European looking at America and recording his response to the place and people through the medium of photography. In mine, a Brit looking at Germany. I will retain the small camera and also black and white - I am still interested in the qualities of B&W and want to explore further in this assignment. The small camera is easy, it is all I have. However, I am not using my DSLR for this assignment, I am using a mix of different mirrorless compacts, both interchangeable and fixed lens. But, this is not about technology it is about narrative and context.
Although I planned a year on this project it fell into the stupor of my disillusionment. 6 months passed without any new material. I am back and am now adding new material to what I captured a year ago.My subject is also more constrained, I don't have the time or money to span the country shooting 80 or more photos a day for a year. Currently I am thinking about the following, the people of Munich is the subject and their leisure the narrative. Subsequently this will be about people and what they do in their spare time, although I will also look at those tasked to service their leisure. Conceptually this is not as well developed as Assignment 5, but is more mature in terms of material. I probably have what I need for a sound response to the brief, but am not yet ready to say stop. I plan a few more shoots in and around the city, hopefully later today which will yield another post with new material.
This post is designed to present my current visual thinking and establish a start point. There are a few more than 12 images here so this is not intended to act as a candidate set.
I start with people sitting down, nicely arranged in rows for my camera. The first is a favorite, I simply like Joe Cool in the center, totally relaxed and confident, surrounded by a group of girls who look anything but relaxed. Not quite sure what the narrative is, but it has potential
I like layers and reflections
This is all about being grumpy
Michael Jackson fans hang out at the memorial to his life. Weird, they are always there on the weekend and it is a while now since he passed. Like this one a lot...
Back to people in boxes
It is all in the expression, group of American tourists, Muencheners for the day
More cool in the city
Listening to a political rally - the mayor is just off camera to the left
Another favorite, I am drawn to people taking photographs.
As with most societies, isn't it odd that most sponsorship for healthy living and sports comes from the companies whose products make us fat in the first place. More layers and straight lines...
Echoing my work at the Oktoberfest
Bavaria is one of the most conservative parts of Germany, but Munich the state capital is the exact opposite, reveling in it's alternative lifestyles. This is the annual Christopher Street parade when the gay community celebrate in a mad explosion of sound and colour (well B&W colour). This photo is made by the people watching.
A visual puzzle for a rainy Saturday afternoon in the center of the city. Munich is gradually improving the underground railway system, these hoardings hide building works.
Maybe work rather than leisure, but this works with the other images
As I have often stated elsewhere, people do not like being photographed. This is someone who serves the beer in the beergarden, his shyness might reflect the fact that he is almost certainly not German and probably not legal. Many people working in the service sector do so in the grey
Service at a large beerkeller.
In the Keller, wonderful place, superb beer and the rudest waiting staff in Munich, well worth a visit.
The mayor, Christoph Ude pitches to the crowd at a street beer fest. Frank was very interested in the American political process, I am less so in that of Germany, but this is still a possible element of the narrative
Summer at the lake. The last two photos were in the city center, this is lake Amersee, a popular day out for the population of the city.
Impromptu brass band. They had been playing at a local church parade and then did what people in lederhosen do on a bank holiday afternoon, went for a beer or two. The beergarden offered said beer for free in exchange for an occasional song.
A little different from the other images here, this is the dancing at a Turkish engagement party that I photographed and blogged a couple of months ago. Not quite sure whether to include it, it certainly illustrates a great part of modern German culture
So far I have been very much focused on people as the subject for this assignment, however, not all of Frank's images included people. Mid winter and at the time I was playing with shape and form. However, the advert on the bus shelter is very telling of German society. First of all it is fashionably in English providing a degree of cool, secondly it is for cigarettes, and finally the phrase seems very prophetic to me. I am sure that "No More Maybe" is not meant to convey what I read; I read no more maybe cancer, this product really will kill you.
As an aside I am also thinking about working a project around cigarettes and the smoking culture in Germany...
A start and I think a reasonable one. I have been working this for over a year and so should be in a reasonable position. It needs refinement and perhaps a few new photographs.