Week Nine- Critical Perspectives on my own practice

The MA has already taught me it about looking at your own work and asking yourself why? Why did you shoot it that way, did you have a plan? Are you giving it a title or letting people make up their own opinions? Does giving a photograph a name lead people into what you want and not what they see? Who are your audience and many more questions. Slowly being answered on my journey.

But firstly looking at my practice.

My photography journey started many years ago. My father had always been a keen amateur photographer. And so I caught a bit of enthusiasm from him. Photography was huge journey for me. As a young adult I took hundreds of images of my children reaching milestones and experiencing new things. I feel that was because of a turbulent childhood, loosing my mother and ending up in children's homes, there isn't any photographs really of me until I am around 10 years old. I feel that that affected me to the degree I didn't feel I knew myself, I had no memories I could confirm by images. Or milestones I reached, we look at images and see people who are not in our lives anymore and they are brought back to life by seeing the photograph. With no evidence of a past, no people to look at to see they were there too it is almost like the past didn't exist for me.

In a paper by Jenny Chen in the Cut "We’ve become an increasingly visual world: By one estimate, around 1.3 trillion photos are now taken each year, a rise fuelled by smartphones and social media. Without getting into the debate about whether either of those things has influenced our lives for better or worse, it is fair to say that all the images we take and post provide a sort of window to the past; our ability to capture experiences visually and pay attention to visual details has allowed us to literally “look back” at experiences we’ve had."

It wasnt until my daughter asked me to do headshots of my little actor grandsons, that a different viewpoint was had. I then began looking at the child from an aesthetic perspective. In my desire to get it right I then began learning about lighting, I had everything portable, a put you up portable back drop and bulb lights with umbrellas for around a year. Around the same time I was advised to look at lightroom. So being the great multitasker that I am, I was learning how to use a DLSR, learning how to use lighting. Lightroom and photoshop techniques. Building a website. Just to start me off.

My damaged neck did get in the way at times, I couldn't lift or twist so was very restricted but refused to let it get to me. At that time I had no real inspirations, no artists I liked or inspired to be like or even an idea of style I preferred, I was much more focused on technicalities.

©Gail Timms

My First image that went to a model agency. He actually got lots of bookings but I feel it certainly wasn't because of good camera skills but because he is handsome boy.

My photography passion grew as I began to get a little bored. I joined The Guild of Photographers and watched the monthly competition, admired the skills of professionals, always asking how they did it. But never having the money to go on training courses. It seems that every man and his dog wants to charge a fortune for training. And local people won't train you as you then become competition. Which I at the time hated. But hear myself saying the same thing now!

I then started to find styles I liked within portraiture, for no other reason than I was immobile from my accident. So it forced me down the route of portrait lenses. Not being rockafella I was then a bit stuck doing portraits although I didn't know it at that time. I was becoming a one trick pony. I didn't know the difference between lenses, so mastered the art of google and sites like Tech Radar and Ken Rockwell type pages when I was looking for a new lens.

I began entering competitions within the Guild of photographers and other organisations and used it as a way to learn, it gave me a goal to reach. At first I just wanted to have an image that the panel of judges felt was of a pro level, which took me a while to do. Then I was greedy and wanted more and more clarification that I was doing right and on the correct path to improving my skills. I then got my first award..

The down side of that was that I then became focused on what judges wanted and not what I wanted in an image. My work seemed lifeless and for a better of putting it, boring! But I had become so focused on technical that I wasn't actually thinking about what I wanted to say.

The positives I guess were I needed that time to learn that photography, for me wasnt going to be about wildlife or documentary. I like it, but it is out of my comfort zone, I prefer a much more controlled situation. So learning how to light a tiny space, deal with children, learn to be creative, all came from those years of pushing myself to win awards. I also then sought out a qualification and worked at Qualified with the Guild and Licentiate with the SWPP and the MPA

The downside of that is that I did get bored, I did become a one trick pony and this MA has opened my eyes to understand about a single image having a huge impact on the viewer and I already have improved on my consistency within editing by having to turn my photography inside out and ask myself why? I feel I need to turn away from learning the settings on my camera and just take photographs, but my plan was to learn about light in the renaissance period and put that along with creativity into my images but now I am thinking there is only so far I can go with this topic, I need to break it down into smaller chunks, yet to be defined..

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© 2018 by Gail Timms