My first task has been to finalize the conceptual basis of the assignment.
- I am not going to try to copy Frank's visual style, I don't own a 1950's B&W film based Leica and if I did I still would not use it for this. I have my own developing visual style and want to progress with that. I have adopted a clean sharp style and admit that this is very different to Frank.
- I am sticking with B&W. It has been a distinct goal of this course to explore the medium and see whether it works for me. It does and suits this subject very well. The fact that Frank used B&W is not a part of this decision, indeed that would be a reason to shoot colour. Another advantage is that I used 5 different cameras during this assignment, all digital and all with subtly different colour handling. B&W will a visually more coherent set of photographs
- I am trying to channel Frank's way of looking at the world, using my camera to ask questions and capture the strange or the marvelous.
- I have taken time over the assignment, again paralleling Frank's months on the road. However, I don't have the ability to consider all of Germany as my subject so have constrained my scope to the people of Munich
- I have tried to capture within the photographs a complex narrative, each should ask questions of the reader and hopefully contain a few surprises. Frank excelled at asking questions within a single image.
- To add a little context I am drawing a little on a German photographer, August Sander, each photo should be a "type" of Munchener. However, I am adopting a rather loose definition, not one tied to profession, perhaps more to stage of life, such as child or OAP, or activity, shopper, drinker, or position in life, wealthy, poor, etc. To a degree I will match this to the final set of selected images, but it will help drive that selection.
- I am not standardizing my aspect ratios, I choose whatever works for the image. This will create disjoint between the images, however, their is no linear narrative, each image is a stand alone statement. However, sequencing is still important, and so I need to be a little careful. Frank drove certain themes in the Americans, even if they were hard to follow as a novice photographer.
Applying these concepts to the body of photographs I have taken over the last couple of years, I have refined down to 48 individual photographs that I think are strong enough to submit. Working down to 12 is not going to be easy. To assist that process I have created 4 "contact sheets" each with 12 photographs. I will now take these to the garden with a couple of red and green marker pens. Hopefully the result will be 12 photographs. My challenge is that some of these photographs have become favorites due to visual content and whilst they might be funny or striking they do not contain the narrative element I am looking for. A good example is the following
I love this photograph, it makes me smile, but is it really strong enough, I don't think so. It is a good photograph, but it is simply what it is, it does not really ask any questions.
My challenge now is to find 12 photographs that speak of Munich and reveal something of the fabric of society in which we live. I am, however, also resolved to create a book from this study, a book that will definitely include the photographer with his proper pose and hat.