When it comes to blogging I’m at a bit of a loss…..
Why? Why would I want to create a blog?
For myself, I’m not sure I have a good reason and, if I’m being brutally honest, I really don’t want to.
So why am I doing it?
Because I have to. As part of the MA in Photography I’m studying for at Falmouth University I have to keep a blog but, I’m finding it really hard (the blogging that is). The MA course is great and, although its difficult with working in a full time job and commuting to work to give it the amount of time it deserves, I’m really enjoying it. I’ve encountered lots of challenging ideas and different theories relating to photography yet I’m still find it extremely difficult to get my thoughts about these subjects and my reactions to the different photographers that I’ve been introduced to written down in a meaningful manner.
If I wasn’t studying for the MA would I have a blog? Probably not….
However, this blog represents some 20% of the marks for the current unit so I’d better get started – even if it is a little late to be doing so….
So I’ll start with this image :-
The photographer is Chris Killip, the image was taken in 1976 at Castleford in Yorkshire. (image source : – http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/arts/la-et-cam-chris-killip-getty-museum-20170721-htmlstory.html)
It appears in the book ‘In Flagrente Two’ published by Steidl, of which I own a copy. The image itself is a fragment of the past, captured in area very different to that in which I grew up yet the same. The image evokes many memories of childhood and of life in a Coal Mining Village in South Wales.
The photograph is an image split roughly 50/50 into two halves – on one side of the image is the colliery headgear appearing almost ghost like in the dust and murk, the lower end of the headgear disappearing into the mass of colliery buildings, themselves partially hidden behind a fence consisting largely of what appear to be old doors. From the look of the headgear and the way in which the interior of the structure appears to be ‘boxed in’ I assume that it’s the ‘upcast’ shaft of the colliery – somewhere near will be the ‘downcast’ shaft. Your view is led to this via the end wall of the house forming the other half of the picture, along a dirt path worn through the grassy area where young trees have been planted – the leafless state of the trees lead me to believe the image was probably made in the winter possibly early spring.
The house itself is incredibly evocative, possibly on the end of a terrace or street, probably built of red bricks and I would imagine, quite small or narrow. Looking at the door of the house I can see that my original thoughts about the season are probably true – there’s a Santa and Sleigh stuck to the glass and balloons hanging from the ceiling of what might be the entrance hall. Studying the upper window I feel that its quite early in the morning – the curtains are drawn concealing the interior of the room behind the glass although, from my own experiences there will be a layer of ‘net’ curtain in place as well, which must not be moved or disturbed. An alternative explanation may be that the occupant is a miner working at the colliery, perhaps he’s been working on the night shift there and is only now getting some rest. Looking at the ground floor window the curtains are drawn but, the lower ‘net’ is still in place although, this has been lifted by the presence of small child, ‘dummy’ (or pacifier) in mouth looking out at the world – the child in the window appears to be looking directly at the camera, staring intently at the photographer.
I can seen all this, I could be completely wrong in my interpretation of what I have described and the image may be describing something very different but, in the light of my experiences growing up in a place like this, it all fits together to give a coherent and meaningful narrative.
This, to me, is what photography is all about. I’m challenged by this image (and the others like it in the book) to find out more, more about the work produced by Chris Killip and more about photography and how, in the hands of practitioners past and present (as well as members of the public who may not consider themselves ‘photographers’) these flat, two dimensional pieces of photographic paper can evoke such a wide range of emotions and memories.
It’s images like this that are the reason why I’m studying for an MA and why I now find the constant flow of ‘nice’, almost perfectly focused images having the correct exposure and just the right depth of field that I see in Camera Club competitions and talks, uninteresting (not all of the images that I see but probably the vast majority) and ultimately dissatisfying to me.
In the entries that follow this I hope to discover more about how and why this image works for me and how such images achieve the meanings that they do.
Killip, C., 2015. Chris Killip : In Flagrente Two. First revised. Gottingen: Steidl
Miranda, C. A. Seven photos, seven stories: Chris Killip on capturing the declining industrial towns of England in the ‘70s and ‘80s. Los Angeles Times, July 2017.