Photomedia – Inspiration and Influence…

I want to take this opportunity to reflect on my project so far. Exploring my personal observations, limitations and benefits of my image series. I feel that it is important to stop, reflect and evaluate the successes and constraints of my photographic investigation.

Photographing Vehicles…

  • Initially, I photographed vehicle’s in an around my local area when out and about; these vehicles (and subsequently!) and images lacked any significance to me because they belonged to unknown strangers; they were just images of cars, not inviting any form of reflection or critique being ultimately bland and lacking stimulation. My initial methodology created a strong sense of anxiety and discomfort due to its nature. For fear of sounding stupid, it made me feel uncomfortable to photograph in this way because I was snapping shots of vehicles that don’t belong to me (often without planning or prior permission). I felt it was inappropriate for me to create a photographic investigation that explored our ‘attachments’ and interactions with vehicles, when I, myself, was photographing subjects I had no relation or context too. I was not in the position to create such a bold critique when my images didn’t encapsulate this. Reflecting on this, you can notice within my original shots. All of which appeared almost voyeuristic or creepy due to the distance between me and my subjects. For me, these images contained the awkwardness I was experiencing, I failed to connect with these images in initial shots because of this. This greatly limited and restricted my project engagement and development… (This was an obstacle to be overcome later in the project.
  • To combat and overcome these issues, I decided to go back to basics (and return into my comfort zone) by photographing my partner’s vehicle. This decision completely altered and advanced the nature of my project. I was now able to freely photograph my subject in a way that allowed me to fully engage, investigate and explore the relationships and attachments we establish with our material possessions. This vehicle now shaped and manipulated my photographic investigation leading me to develop my project into a more solid framework. Now aiming to focus on the social significance of our cars, exploring how our human interactions and personal inanimate objects leave behind traces and evidence (sometimes reflecting individual identity… (e.g. Alloys clean, tidy and shiny or messy, damaged and worn down – possibly a signifier of attitude and personality?).
  • My approach to this investigation was to shoot intense close-ups of a particular area or section of the vehicle, areas that exhibit wear/tear, ageing or damage. It occurred to me that the justification for my investigation (a focusing on vehicles as a subject for said investigation) was linked to personal contexts of this project. Its significance and relevance are symbolic of connection, escape and intimacy within my personal life.

Connection & Disconnection, conflicting juxtaposition…

I speak of ‘intimate connections’ linked to my investigation in the context of the vehicle’s involvement in the relationship between me and my partner as well as my personal associations of car use. Firstly, the vehicle (for me) represents a tense and often conflicting relationship of balances and compromise. The vehicle…

  • Enabled and maintained the intense and close nature of my relationship with my partner. Allowing us to meet regularly and maintain the connection throughout a long-distance placement year when he and myself lived at opposite ends of the country.
  • The vehicle is sometimes a cause of conflict when it fails to provide or disrupt the desired service; needing repairs and costing substantial labour bills…(a tension around the demanding requirements to run and maintain a vehicle).
  • Providing an opportunity for freedom and escape when evading any undesired situation but also acting as a restrictor of freedom due to fear of location… (I won’t drive or be driven in a location where we have previously been involved in an incident due to the narrow and unmiraculous nature of that rural road; developing an intense fear of that area that is an inevitable route to get to my home.)
  • A vehicle is a costly but almost essential tool in modern life in some areas and cultures, difficult to obtain and financially demanding to acquire, maintain and restore.
  • Personally, the vehicle also acts as a source of stress and anxiety when on the road (due to the careless and inconsiderate attitude of other road users) but at the same time acting as a stress busting method of escape and place of personal reflection and deliberation.
  • The source of comfort and protection from outside extremities (e.g. Exterior shell and protector, temperature control etc.) but simultaneously a site of danger, risk, loss of control (in terms of other road user’s behaviour) and obscurity.
  • A cultural signifier of independence but also concurrently representing a strong dependence on mechanisation and machines to fulfil our needs and desires.
  • A form of prosthetic enhancement to our identity and social status that potentially signifies wealth, class and taste.

Issues & Limitations…

Due to the nature and subject of my photographic investigation, I have experienced various limitations and restrictions such as:

  • A decrease in a number of daylight hours and available shooting time. Because I am shooting outside, using natural light sources, this decrease means that I have less time to shoot but also that the natural lighting available often isn’t sufficient or suitable to shoot my images; this is made worst by the time of the year, meaning that most days are cloudy and overcast (restricting my lighting and image temperature.
  • Weather is also an issue because I am shooting outside, my photography is restricted through unsuitable lighting. I am also unable to do shoots increasingly because of adverse weather such as high-speed winds and heavy downpours of rain.
  • Another issue is to do with my subject matter because my photographic investigation is using this vehicle as a case study of sorts. When ideal shooting conditions are present such as the ‘Golden hour’. This ‘Golden Hour’ of shooting usually occurs (if at all…) is between the hours of 07:00 and 08:00am to which I am usually in the car travelling to university. I feel that this is an issue because the lighting of my images affect they’re appearance and reception, however, I would argue that to a certain degree, this works in my favour because the lighting conditions most of my image are shot, (also due to the content within the image) appear to exhibit a black and white, tonal and melancholy atmosphere (fitting with my subject material). However, my concern is that my images are not fully accessing their full aesthetic potential.

Benefits & Advantages…

  • I would argue that my images work well in the sense that they encapsulate and reinforce my discourses around material attachments to inanimate objects, and the traces this subsequently leave behind, whilst also drawing on further themes such as entropy and estrangement.
  • My images have (so far) successfully created a series that depicts the gritty and unseen nature of our interactions with cars whilst also presenting themselves in a pleasing and highly aesthetic style which creates a reflective juxtaposition that invites the viewer to critically re-think the relationships we have with our vehicles.
  • The decision to focus only on my partner’s vehicle has allowed my to engage fully in my photographic investigation by shooting intimate shots that reflect the intentions of my project. It has become clear that proximity and context to the relationship between photographer and subject is an important element to consider in any photographic practice. In particular, this has allowed me to fully engage with this project and to criticised in the social significance of the objects we interact with in an anthropological style.
  • This project so far has not only allowed me to reflect on the cultural significance of objects but also has allowed me to reflect on my own patterns on consumption.
  • This is (as mentioned before) a culturally fueled and inspired investigation, focusing almost exclusively on upper-middle class western cultures and modernity. This is an investigation and critique the capitalist structures that are present within our western societies that arguably revolve around money, consumption and obsolesces.

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