A 1: Preparation

Preparation for Assignment No 1: The non-familiar

The non-familiar

Brief: Your first assignment is to make five portraits of five different people from your local area who were previously unknown to you. You will almost certainly find it challenging to make photographs of people you don’t know; it’s often much easier to photograph somebody you’re already familiar with. This could be referred to as the ‘comfort zone’ – and for the purposes of this assignment you will be specifically required to leave it!

Before you send your work to your tutor, check it against the assessment criteria listed in  the notes.

1. Initial thoughts

The brief is exciting as I like interacting with people. My skills and experience as a GP and in managing mentally ill drug users may also help.

Preliminary ideas;

  • To interview people in hospital car parks about their views about paying for hospital parking. These could be environmental portraits near the pay machine. The iniquity of paying, sometimes a great deal of money, for hospital parking developed a personal dimension after my daughter was diagnosed with cancer and we visited her in hospital twice a day; these were costly visits. We could afford it but I suspect that others on smaller incomes might struggle. These hospital parking machines and parking fees are a metaphor for the commercialisation of health care and exploitation of the vulnerable sick.
  • I have been to Newcastle Quayside to photograph strangers out for the night when I first started taking photographs. Perhaps some night photography with strobes and an assistant would be interesting.
  • Think about a theme, such as ‘not beautiful’ or ‘different’ and recruit people to photograph using local social media groups. I can share output on the same site and use a hash-tag to solicit responses. A more focused way of doing this would be to use medical social media, but I want to do something new.
  • I could also use ‘snowballing’ sampling, which I used in Context and Narrative (‘An intimate examination’), to find people to talk to and photograph by asking friends to pass on my details. This is attractive as I am familiar with this method but I again I really want to try something different.
  • Can I invert the idea by getting people to send me images or selfies that I then manipulate or distort to make a different image? Or maybe I will invite people, via social media, to interview them about how and why they take their own picture then take an image and compare it with their own, again measuring their reaction. I find it interesting what people say about my own portrait because they often focus on something other than my expanding waist which I see as prominent in my own eyes. These selfies are expressions of self-identity so that might not like my own reading of their person.
  • Another inversion of the brief is to ask people who I know but photograph something about them that is a stranger to me. For example, I work with someone who is a national Frisbee player which is not expressed in their work. It would be interesting if the ‘hidden’ part of their work was something interesting like wrestling.

Picture research

My first port of call was Danny Santos’s work where he had asked people in the street if he could take their photograph (Santos, http://www.dannyst.com/gallery/portraits-of-strangers/.

He also has a series called ‘Don’t smile faces.’ He seems to have started on the streets fo Singapore and morphed into a commercial portrait photographer. Many of his images are of ‘beautiful people’ and seem to inhabit the ‘artists’ and hipsters tribes.  He comments that one of the things that makes the images stand out is the denotative labeling of the images – their stories, and I think it will be essential to include these stories or directive labelling in the final work to help the viewer to understand the image. http://erickimphotography.com/blog/2011/05/12/how-to-shoot-street-portraits-with-permission-by-danny-santos/

Screenshot 2016-08-02 12.01.53

 

Eric Kim is another experienced people photographer and in his on-line book gives tips on how to go about portrait and street photography (Kim, 2016). I think that it is his sense of place and signage in in the images that I like rather than them simply showing the person.  Santos’ images are beautiful but they lack the interest of Kim’s street photography. I will be coming back to him for a later exercise.

 

David Weir is a USA  photographer who decided to take 100 photographs of strangers. http://weiry.com/100strangers/. He used natural light to do this. Again these are beautiful people which is not what I am looking for with this brief.

Reference

Kim, E. (2016). Street Photography 102. http://erickimphotography.com/blog/2016/04/04/street-photography-102/. Eric Kim Photography.

3. Theory and research

3.1 Theory

This is a complex area of theory. There are issues about;

  • The relationship between photographer and sitter
  • What personal and conceptual frameworks inform the portraits – what is my intention?
  • How the identity of the sitter is expressed.
  • What will be the style of my images; environmental or studio portraits, props or make-up to distort personality, the use or lack of colour, framing and labeling. I am attracted to using what people to say to show the context of the images.
  • I have been wondering about this word stranger. It conjures up ideas about threat and difference and that seems to have a theoretical basis. In Vince Morreta’s introduction to series of reviews about different theories he says;

It’s often noted that many of Simmel’s concepts are characterized by combining seeming opposites into a synthetic whole. Simmel’s understanding of the stranger is perhaps the best example of this aspect of his thought (but so is the Tragedy of Culture, explained below). For Simmel, the stranger is a social role that combines the seemingly contradictory qualities of nearness and remoteness. The stranger is connected to the broader social community by only the most general (and generic) commonalities, yet is still relied on by large groups of people. By virtue of the stranger’s simultaneous nearness and distance from others, the stranger is often valued for his or her objectivity, for being able to take a distanced and dispassionate view of events and relationships. The stranger may also be someone we turn to, paradoxically, as a close confidant because their social distance from us prevents them from judging us too harshly. (Marotta, 2012)

I like this idea of the stranger having an objectivity which you have not fabricated. Elsewhere he talks about the inner stranger which is alienated from the immediate self’ a very Jungian idea; persona and unconscious hidden self (Marotta, 2000).

Muller (1987) has categorized this inner stranger as the existential marginal self, and contends that the marginal subject is that self which has lost the security of absolutes and no longer stands on terra firma, but is disoriented and directionless. The outer stranger may not experience the existential angst that seems to be at the heart of the
inner stranger, while the inner stranger may not necessarily be a member of
the excluded group. This distinction between the inner and outer strangers
is also evident in Bauman’s construction of the postmodern stranger. According to Bauman, modernity does not envisage everyone as a stranger, while in postmodernity the experience of strangerhood is privatized.

I also looked at sociological theories of ‘otherness’ which are related to issues of power, gender, race and religion and will put those ideas on my ‘back burner’ as they may be useful later on. https://othersociologist.com/otherness-resources/

References 

Marotta, V. (2012). “Theories of Strangers: Introduction.” Journal of Intercultural Studies 33(6): 585-590.

Marotta, V. (2000). “Marotta: The stranger and social theory. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/

3.2 Research on car parking fees

This is the idea I am most attracted to now, especially as my daughter is in hospital having chemotherapy and I can be visiting her three times a day. We pay a lot of car parking fees. I can afford it but others may not be able too. I am not very angry but I am becoming angry about the things I read from others about the personal and monetary costs of a family member being ill with cancer.

The cancer charity Macmillan has a campaign to for car parking to free in England; it is free in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland http://www.macmillan.org.uk/get-involved/campaigns/hidden-cost-of-cancer/give-hospital-parking-charges-the-boot.html. Their review in 2012 showed that 59% of hospital car parks were still charging some cancer patients to park despite government guidance  that they should offer discounted or free parking (Macmillan, 20120), Charges in England range from zero to £24 a day. Patients Association chief executive Katherine Murphy described parking charges as “exorbitant” for those who have to attend hospital regularly. “It is often money patients do not have in these troubled financial times and is a tax on the sick when people have already paid for their health service,”(BBC, 2012). The problem is that rather than reducing fees since this report was published these have in some cases tripled and is seen as a “goldmine for NHS trusts.” (Massey, 2016) One in seven (14%) of hospitals do not offer any parking exemptions for Blue Badge holders or long-term or terminally ill patients, said the report.

References

Macmillan (2012). Out of order: the hidden cost of hospital parking. http://www.macmillan.org.uk/documents/getinvolved/campaigns/hospitalcarparking/hospital-parking-charges-reportb-2013.pdf.

BBC (2012). “NHS hospital parking fee rises criticised. .” Retrieved 1st August, 2016, from http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-17394126.

Massey, R. (2016). NHS’s £350 parking goldmine: Trusts collect average of £950,000 each in the past three years which receiving £2.8m in fines. Daily Mail. Mail Online, dailymail.co.uk. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3653594/NHS-s-350m-parking-goldmine-Trusts-collect-average-950-000-past-three-years-receiving-2-8m-fines.html.

 4. Preliminary intention

Title: ‘A tax on illness.’

Subtitle: Portraits of people with cancer who have to pay car parking at NHS hospitals.

Short summary: Car parking fees for people with cancer and their families has been branded as a “tax on the sick” MacMillan have a campaign for NHS parking to be free or reduced, as in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. These are portraits of people and their families with their stories about this issue.

Topic or theme – why? My daughter has cancer and we pay at lot for hospital parking. This has sensitised me to this issue.

Intention: To produce a series of portraits of ‘strangers’ that illustrate their views about hospital parking.

Audience: OCA and local social media.

Approach and methods – technical, experiments, collaboration, management: Recruitment was done through local and national social media (Facebook, Twitter, personal databases). I will use Skype saves as my images or face to face portraits.

Access, consent, confidentiality, legal: All participants consented to their stories and images being put into the public domain.

Presentation, publicity, social media: OCA, Low Fell Local Facebook page, Twitter feed, participants.

What is the images purpose? To give patients and their carers with cancer a voice about hospital car parking fees

Photographic influences: Not sure at this stage but thinking about presentation I like that I will have text with images and that suggests the work of Martha Rosler and her Bowery series (Rosler, 1974-5).

Reference

Rosler, M. (1974-75). “The Bowery in two inadequate descriptive systems.” from http://collection.whitney.org/object/8304.

4.1 Reflections on objectivity

I recently attended a OCA Conference where Les Monaghan was criticised by the student audience for his ‘politicisation’ of his photography (Monaghan 2016). There are notes on my blog https://drgsiandp.wordpress.com/exhibitions-and-study-days/oca-symposium-photography-matters/. I agreed with his criticism of the current government in the way in which they manifest institutional ‘care-lessness’ about the ‘ordinary person’ and ‘poor.’ I think that his views about power and giving a voice to those with less power (and the respondent validation used in his work) are reflected in his photography. It is legitimate and desirable to express one’s own views otherwise you have impersonal and dispassionate objectivity.

I believe is social justice and my experience in talking informally to people is that car parking fees for people with cancer are about injustice. I have been reading an excellent book about theories in art history many of which translate to photography (D’Alleva, 2013). There are  notes on my blog https://drgsiandp.wordpress.com/books/methods-and-theories-of-art-history-anne-dallevena/

“The dominant class asserts its cultural hegemony by persuading subordinate classes to accept its moral, political, and cultural values, convincing them that these values are right, true or beneficial to them even though, ultimately these values benefit only the dominant classes” (D’Alleva, 2013., Page 50)

Marxist theory is applicable here; is it not the case that the monetisation of the illness experience is used to feed the means of production and controlling ideologies of health!

References

Monaghan, L. (2016). Les Monaghan – Making art photography for public audiences (fairness and effecting change). ‘Photography Matters’ OCA Symposium, CAST, Doncaster, OCA.

D’Alleva, A. (2013). Methods and Theories of Art History. London, Laurence King Publishing.

5. Methods

5.1 Recruitment

I posted adverts for ‘stranger’ participants on Facebook (OCA, OCA Photo 1, Low Fell Local (7,800 members), South Tyneside Medics, personal FB page), my photo website https://format.com/pages/2896346-a-tax-on-illness-nhs-parking-fees/edit and from my personal and work databases.

PARKING

‘tax’ on illness

My daughter has cancer and we pay at lot for hospital parking. It has been branded the fees a “tax on the sick” and MacMillan have a campaign for NHS parking to be free, as in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

MacMillan have had a campaign to make it easier and cheaper for people with cancer and their families to park for free.

I am recruiting people to interview and photograph who have views about this issue in any location. Can you share this with friends and family? Contact me here.

I  was not surprised by lots of responses by people who were keen to share their views but only a small number agreed to be interviewed and photographed. Here are a few of the preliminary responses by email via my photo site.

“I do think hospital parking charges is a tax on the sick.  I think patients should have a free parking pass for their appointments/treatment.   I do think charges for prescriptions are unfair too.  Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland get their prescriptions free.   I have to pay £16.00 every three-month for mine.  Some long-term conditions can get free prescriptions but unfortunately not mine!
“Hi Morris, to be controversial I do support NHS parking charges to some extent. When I was pregnant and going to scans I could never get a parking space, I was late twice because I had to go down the road and park in the nearby garden centre. Watching people in the car park eating their lunch in their cars while they waited for visiting hours was incredibly frustrating and would only be worse if parking was free. Personally I think that only patients should be able to park for free, and parking spaces should be set aside exclusively for them. On the whole visitors have time to find another car park or travel by public transport. (I should say that my local hospital did at least offer free parking when I was in labour!)
“We live over 20 miles from the hospital. My wife was working full-time and looking after the dogs as well as seeing me every morning and evening. She shouldn’t have had to struggle to find parking every time like that and certainly shouldn’t be paying for it.
I am currently receiving chemoradiotherapy at a hospital in *********. I paid £10 to park for five and a half weeks to cover the duration of the treatment. However pre assessment appointments and follow-up appointments I will have to lay £1.20 for every hour. I would be happy to meet.
I sent all respondents (three came via morris-gallagher.format.com, two by personal email and one after a chance meeting)  a summary of what would be involved, a photograph of myself and a link to my GP practice site. Respondents were in Northumberland, South Tyneside, Gateshead (x2), Midlands (x2). One person wanted to meet in a public place “in case I was an axe murderer,” the rest I saw in their own homes which was probably my preferred setting.

 5.2 Settings, signage, equipment

Setting

I think documentary and environment portraiture is the genre my work is located in. I want to locate the people in places of their choice, although I hope that it will be homes as this provides more information in the background to inform the viewer – context. I was searching for a photographer the look of whose work reflects what I want to achieve and I think it is probably the prolific work of Martin Parr. He sometimes stages his works and the object of concern such as rhubarb in his latest work ‘The Rhubarb Triangle’ is clearly visible in his images (Parr, 2016). Many of his other images are of people in a recognisable context; at home, at the beach or at the fair.

Signage

I have been thinking about signage too. Money is an issue and perhaps having silver coinage or notes in the frame would signify the cost, although I would like the person (carer or person) to express the cost in the image. How do they or I convey the emotional cost? Maybe that will become clearer as we progress.

I think the interviews will be simple. The main thing is listening to their story before asking my one question, which is “What do you think about paying for hospital parking fees?’ I have decided to use text from their stories to illustrate my images. The question will be what and how much?

Equipment

I will use my Nikon 810 with a 50mm lens to give a human scale to the images with or without an off camera SB 900 stroke through a Lastolite soft box . I will need to be aware of natural or other light depending on the setting. My camera Kelvin temperature is set to the cool side as this is my colour palette; cool and desaturated and in keeping with the serious nature of most of my photography. Another OCA student said to me recently, “You can tell one of your images from others because they have certain look.” I think that is correct.

Post-processing

As my work is rooted in the stories that people share with me I think that text is very important. I am thinking about diptychs or even a slide show with music – maybe Abba’s ‘Money, money, money.’ I want to do something different to what I have done before.

I am sure my images will be desaturated but the background is the thing that concerns me most – what will that say, and can I get consistency in my backdrops (or coherent diversity) given that I know that one of my strangers now wants to meet in Tesco’s restaurant rather than in their home.

Reference

Parr, M. (2016). “The Rhubarb Triangle.” Martin Parr. Retrieved Ist August, 2016, from http://www.martinparr.com/recent-work/recent-work-2/.

6. Execution – ‘Stranger No 1:’ Lynne

6.1 Interview and shooting

I was approached on Facebook by a local OCA student, who used to be a nurse, who was keen to talk to me. We met at her new home and talked about our experiences of the OCA degree course – and I asked her my question. I had a tour of her home during my visit and thought about settings while having lunch. It seemed to me that she was most comfortable in her living room. I was aware that there was a plug to the left hands side of where she was seated on a settee and a picture to the top right hand corner. I thought about cropping or Photoshopping them out but needed signs such as these to locate the domestic. The partial of the picture also suggests that there is a full picture there and more.

I had brought a strobe and softbox but the person image was well-lit by huge windows 6 metres in front and a large window to the left hand side about 3-4 metres away. I had thought about having more modelling but the look seems right on the screen. I decided to increase the ISO to ensure that the image was bright enough, but not to bright as I could adjust this in Lightroom.

I asked her what she thought about having money in her hand as a signifier of financial (and emotional) cost. She went and found her purse and it was then that she showed me what she had in there; no silver and only copper coins – and an empty purse. I liked this image and the story (which is below) that followed about her experience in a car park when her father in law had a heart attack.

“When my husband’s dad was in hospital with a suspected heart attack I had to put 4 hours on the parking meter. I was not just worried about my dad but about the car park. That seemed terrible to me and very uncaring… “You get to the parking meter and check to see if you have change and you’ve only got 5p and you need to go and find a shop for some change, and all the time you are concerned about the relative that you are visiting. Stranger Interview No 1

My first images were with a relatively narrow depth of field but I was concerned about the distance between the outstretched hand. When I looked on my camera screen the money in the hand was out of focus. I increased the depth of field. I was in Aperture priority and without a tripod. The metering was matrix as this seems to work better than point metering for portraits such as these.

I decided to try other settings in the same and other rooms but there were too many distractions in the background and went back to the living room. I did not shoot any of these alternative settings.

6.2. Contacts

These are all of my contacts from this shoot. Normally I would shoot a lot more with more variety of settings, but I was happy on this occasion that I had the best shot to illustrate the quote that I was going to use.

A1 stranger 1 contact annotated

6.3 Selections

The main issue for me here was on how much to crop from the backgrounds. I experimented with cropping out elements but this affected the signs of ‘home’ within the picture. Here is a cropped image and one not cropped. I have brightened and slightly desaturated the image – this is not a warm subject!

Stranger 1 1 (1 of 1)

Stranger 1 – not cropped

Stranger 1 2 (1 of 1)

Stranger 1 – cropped

I am also asking my buddies on OCA Photo 1 about their experiences of putting images to music – something new which might have great impact.

6.4. Processing and presentation

This is a trial diptych. I used black then blue but will think more about colour and text and series when I have more images. Black is the colour of the chemotherapy cocktail infusion bag which is in my daughter’s room today – just so you know this is a matter of life and death. I may talk to my respondents about presentation.

Diptych stranger 1 blue A1.jpg

7. Execution – ‘Stranger 2:’ Karen

7.1  Karen – interview and shooting

Karen and I met in the Tesco cafe in Gateshead. She had seen my post on local social media. She wanted to talk about her father’s illness and the problems of parking at hospitals. She talked about the experience of her father

“Dad died two years ago from stomach cancer. It’s an awful, awful disease. They took away two-thirds of his stomach. His doctor’s surgery arranged a taxi for him and his girlfriend to hospital. He could not drive as he was a pronouns er and not happy with heavy traffic . He didn’t have much money either.

“We eventually got a blue badge for free parking and it arrived two days after he died. He did not want to fill in the forms

I decided to remain in the cafe for my photographs; this was the place she had chosen. I initially took some images then asked to use money from my wallet on the table. The light was coming from the window to the right which was fine but it became cloudy and I had to alter the camera

7.2. Karen – contacts

 

Stranger 2-2 annotated

I was not happy that the Costa coffee cup was in frame, removed it and introduced some silver change for the parking meter to illustrate her comments about money. I am also thinking about presentation here and there is a close-up shot of her hand with silver in it.

Stranger 2-3 annoteed

 

Stranger 2-4 annotted

7.3. Karen – selections and processing

There are  a number of choices for a final image but I wanted to keep the signifier of the ’30 pieces of silver’ in the image. I liked the other person in the background, the woman’s handbag and tables and exterior to locate the shot: it could have been a hospital cafe, a place I have spent times buying coffee and killing time away from my daughter being on the ward.

Diptych stranger 2 A1

Diptych stranger 2 2 blue A1.jpg

8. Execution – ‘Stranger 3:’ Stuart

8.1 Stuart –  Interview and shooting

I met strangers 3 and 4 at the same home. I had arranged to interview Maureen who had just completed chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatment for anal cancer but her husband Stuart was with us and they consented to a joint interview. Maureen wanted others to know about her rare cancer which some people are embarrassed about, and which inhibits them from seeking early treatment. On this occasion I listened to her story as well as asking my question about parking. There also a more detailed discussion about parking permits and personal systems for saving money for this.

“The fear when you go to hospital is that you are going to take two or three hours to get sorted and at £1.10 or £1.20 an hour it’s going to mount up to be very expensive…

We keep a money bag in the care of change so that we are prepared…

I remember you  saying to me one day about hospital parking fees that “It’s a tax on being ill,” which I think it is.

It’s not just the money that you’re dealing with but the enormous trauma of cancer. I mean you have that and all you are thinking about when you go to the hospital is ‘Have a got a pound coin?’ It’s ludicrous.  I can understand why people smash the machines out of sheer frustration. (Stranger No 3 interview)

I photographed a parking ticket and pass and the money bag and disability pass which Stuart got from the car for me to look at. I decided that a location shot at the car, perhaps with the money bag, would provide a different background to the my other ‘stranger’ shots but still keep the money as my constant signifier throughout the series. We tried a number of poses but the one that he normally took to ‘ferret’ for his silver coins for the meter was the one that I liked best at the time and now.

8.2 Stuart – contacts

A1 stranger 3 contacts -1 annotted

A1 stranger 3 contacts -2 copy annotated

A1 stranger 3 contacts -3 annotted

8.1 Stuart – selections

I only had one selection from this whole section

Diptych stranger 3 stuart diptych A1

I think that this context and background of a car and drive with the pose works well. I am not sure about how much text to use and am using more rather then less and will see what happens later in editing. I can see a mistake with the overexposed hands and money bag which has been desaturated far too much in Photoshop, but I will solve this for the final edit by using masking processing.

9. Execution – ‘Stranger No 4:’ – Maureen 

9.1 Maureen – interview and shooting

Maureen was the person I had planned to meet. She wanted me to share her story as well as to talk about parking.

“The whole treatment process has been traumatic for me. I found it difficult, particularly seeing so many people who wanted to do things to you – it’s a shock. Not a lot of people know about anal cancer and I want people to know so that they can catch it early like mine (stage 2). I had been constipated at Christmas and then had a lot of pain going to the toilet at Easter. I then had two big bleeds, went to see my GP who said she could feel something and that was it – I’ve been lucky catching it early. It’s not an even battle (cancer) and people don’t want to say what it costs. We (me and my husband) are in it together.

I have pain when I walk so parking near to the hospital is a must. I have a wheelchair and a disabled badge now which hopefully I won’t need for much longer. One time we had to stay late and did not have the change for the meter but went to the reception, they took the car details, they phoned parking and we were let through – you can’t fault them there. We now bought a parking pass which has been a big help and it expires in a few days time. We will then have to pay the ordinary fees.

“In the last five and a half weeks we have been in hospital for 2-3 hours every day and spent 2-3 hours waiting for or having treatment…That adds up to about £100 in 5 and a half weeks which is a lot of money especially if you don’t have much. Stranger No 4 – interview

We talked about settings for the photograph but it became clear that she was in pain and sitting in her most comfortable position to ease this. She was on painkillers. This was the location of her choice and she did not move from that position. I asked her to hold the parking ticket and pass – ‘thrust’ forward as a statement but while taking photographs Stuart had been talking about the costs over five and half weeks which we calculated to be about £100 without a pass. I took money from my wallet (prepared!) and asked her to hold this money in her hand. I am not sure it is a bit forced but we will see, but the constant signifier is the money for all my images, but is different forms; purse, silver, money bag, notes.

I was conscious that I was shooting her with a very bright background. I decided not to use my softbox but in retrospect I would have liked those images to see if they were better than what will be processed ones. Initially Maureen smiled for the images but I asked her not to “because this is a serious subject.” I gave this ‘instruction’ to all my strangers; clearly this is an instinct in most of use when photographed.

9.2 Maureen – contacts

A1 strnager 4 contacts-1annoated

A1 strnager 4 contacts-2 anooted

A1 strnager 4 contacts-3 anotre3d

9.3 Maureen – selections

I had a quandary here about what to choose, maybe there is not enough choice and I should have shot more images? I was happy with the triad of the money/pass/parking ticket, head and lamp but perhaps the plant in the images detracts although it does suggest other things in the room.

 

I have put the interview and picture in a diptych but I am not sure what to use here; is this too clichéd, like ‘The Price is Right?’ Maybe it will have to wait for the final selections.

Diptych no 4 A1

 

10. Execution – ‘Stranger No 5’ – Sue

10.1. Sue – interview and shooting

On this occasion Sue had suggested meeting a local cafe but I asked to meet at her home as I thought it would say more about her personality and life. She was happy to talk about her experiences of having cervical cancer with chemotherapy, radiotherapy and brachytherapy.

“I’d had lots of smears but then noticed just a few spots on my pants when I went to the toilet, just the three times, and I knew something was not right.  In fact my tip to the ladies would be lighten up your pants so that you can see if something’s not right…

I had chemo, radiations and brachytherapy which is where they put you in a metal tube with metal tube with radiation inside you to treat the cancer. It was like being in a strait-jacket and it hurts your back – I was counting down the hours with the nurses so that they could take in off!

I would rather that they (the Hospital Trusts) spend money on hospital care than have to also pay for the parking. They don’t want to give up the parking charge and it depends on what the money that is saved is spent on; there is a lot of wastage in the health service…I realise that there are issues such as who owns the land or who it is leased to but they have to make money from parking.”

I was glad that Sue had given me a counter opinion about hospital parking as it challenges whether I should not include it or not in my final series, because it does not ‘fit’ with my narrative of parking for cancer patients being a “A tax on illness.” I think I will probably include it because demonstrating the complexity of this issue is a good thing, it adds authenticity to my series, and people’s voices count. I might change my mind though. Maybe ‘A tax on illness?’ will be a more appropriate title.

Shooting took place in her conservatory as it was full of natural light. I liked the background of family photographs and if I use them will blur out the people’s faces as this is a public blog. I moved from a setting looking outside to the fence to the opposite wall and back again. I wanted to use some off camera flash to lighten up the face and add some texture to it but there was a noticeable shadow which was eliminated by moving the flash more from on.

I did raise the issue about using money or something financial in the image but this seemed coercive and did not reflect that for her personal financial cost was not an issue, although she indication that for other people it was. The dog came into the picture and I think that this adds another focus in the image. Maybe people will ask in the series, ‘Why is there no money here?’

10.2. Sue – contacts

Stranger 5-1 annotations

Stranger 5-2

10.3 Sue – selections and processing

I like the one with the dog in it but am less happy about the facial appearance but maybe that does not matter.

And a trial diptych;

Diptych stranger master A1 No 5

Like all of my strangers I sent Sue my interview notes and trial dyptych and asked for feeback.

11. Comments by my OCA ‘buddies’

I sent a draft submission to my OCA peers. This is on the next tab https://drgsiandp.wordpress.com/assignments-2/assignments/a-1-original-submission/. Here is a summary of some of the comments by my OCA buddies on OCA Facebook Photo 1 which is a lot more active than the official site.

I think the combination of text and image works well (I used similar for my series on how people remember their miscarriages). I think the font is a good choice, and prefer the neutral grey background (appreciate that you said to ignore the colours). Personally I don’t think it loses anything by including people whose hospital experience wasn’t cancer related but I can understand why you might prefer to keep a tighter focus.

This is so powerful. It was really emotional, you cut straight to the chase with the photos and the text and the fact that it was composed like that made it even more raw.

I personally would have preferred to see images that captured the emotion of subjects as they were discussing their experiences. The posing with the money seems to create a degree of artifice / advertorial that for me distracts from the emotion of the stories.

Putting the cat in among the pigeons here, to me this piece is about the text more than the images, as in the images illustrate the text and are subsidiary to them. I’m also not sure whether one can learn much about the person from their image.
The stories are important but for me there is too much text. I wonder if less text would work better – maybe they should all just say ‘a tax on illness?’ (same issue spoken by different people)? You can then cover their individual stories in your blog. Minor presentation points – I’m not sure about the background colours or the different alignments, and the blue on blue is very hard to read for me.
It is an interesting series but like some of the comments above I could argue that the text dilutes the portraits; you are inviting the viewer to engage in a debate about hospital parking fees but by diving the text and image 50/50 the people in the pictures could be interpreted as secondary and as Holly says merely illustrative of the text. I suspect it is just a matter of balance – for example if the portraits were full frame and the text a more conventional caption the impression on entering your blog would be entirely different. Regarding the discussion on poses, I think it is only 1 and 2 that are repetitive, swap either one of those and the series will change. To my eyes they are strong portraits and deserve to command more real estate on the blog page.
I agree with most of these comments (and there were many more) and I will reflect of how I will present these images.

12. Final thoughts on presentation

I have been ‘to-ing and fro-ing’ about how to combine text and image for this assignment. I know this is a section on this later on in this module. One of my OCA buddies sent me a link to a series of portraits called ‘Humans of New York’ http://www.humansofnewyork.com. (HONY, 2016).I understand that the original images were presented without the interview text and that the site only drew attention once the interviews were added because they provide needed context.

Screen Shot 2016-08-07 at 16.02.25

 

I have decided to do something similar to ‘Humans of New York.’ Why?

  1. It is a simple and effective way of combining image and interview text
  2. I have used diptychs before to present my work and want to do something new.
  3. I have an outline of what I want to do in all the assignments and exercises in this module. I think that it is important to have presentational variability and experimentation so that I can develop my skills in this area.
  4. Assignment 1 is not marked at assessment; save presentation devices for assignments that are

I have started writing a post exploring ways of combining image and text. I am doing elements of A2 and may move ahead to do the exercises in A4 now as it may help me because interview text is a feature of a lot of my work.

References

HONY (2016). “Humans of New York. http://www.humansofnewyork.com.” Retrieved 12th August, 2016.

Henley, Topham. (2013). Firestorm, , The Guardian on line. http://www.theguardian.com/world/interactive/2013/may/26/firestorm-bushfire-dunalley-holmes-family. Accessed 12th August, 2016

13. Some more shooting (new subject)

I decided that my series was not working well together and decided to shoot one more person (a relative of someone with cancer) to make the series consistent. This time I used a 24mm lens and shot images at their home and visiting the person with cancer. I also took 300 images in that session – I have decided to take more photographs as often people’s eyes or shut and it takes a while to get into the scene. There are also a few angular shots as I will be exploring the issue of personal displacement, perhaps.

It is here that the brief falls down as I the person Josh is my son who is visiting from Japan. The images are a lot more successful and I may use some of them in A5 which I am thinking about and shooting for now.

Any further work is on the responses to tutor and changes made tab.

These images are more relaxed or normal than the contrived ones I did even though there is a strong theme in them.

I am going to use the I also went back to the original images and cropped them to make them less fabricated, I think. Here are a few. I have not included contacts as you now my style.

14. Making changes to my submission to my tutor

Further preparation and changes after advice from my OCA peers and tutor is on the following tab

https://drgsiandp.wordpress.com/assignments-2/assignments/a-1-tutors-comments-my-responses-and-changes/