Photography is a collaboration in which at least two persons are involved – the photographer and the viewer. It can be argued that there is a third participant in the shape of the camera (and therefore the camera manufacturer?) in that the photographer must interact with the camera in a meaningful manner in order to record an image.
For the most part, I work in a solitary manner on my projects. Its not important to me wether or not anyone else likes or appreciates my work – its made by, and for, myself. Occasionally I take part in a photographic activity that may be considered as a collective or participatory activity, usually as part of my local camera club. Such activities may include submitting images for competitions both within and between clubs or giving a short lecture or presentation about some aspect of photography that interests me.
However, having stated that I prefer to work alone, I have led several projects at the school where I work, in conjunction with several of our partner junior schools. These were photography projects that contained elements of collaboration, cooperation and participation. Working with a single year group from selected primary schools and their teachers the pupils were each given a 27 shot single use camera, a brief lesson in how to use it and basic mistakes to avoid when doing so. They were then issued with the aim of the project – they had to provide an introduction to their life, no text (initially) and no music (initially) were to be involved. The end result would be to produce an exhibition, using photographs made by the pupils that would “tell us” something about themselves.
While this was a very enjoyable experience it was incredibly tiring and stressful. As the end of the project approached the pupils were given a further brief – they would be allowed to provide a favourite piece of music and a single A4 sheet of paper on which they could write about themselves. The staff involved would now also participate in the project.
With all the images developed a short “movie” was made consisting of each participants images set to the music that they had chosen. The projected culminated in the showing of the movie to the pupils parents and teachers from both schools with all the participants images being displayed in an exhibition type setting.
While the projects produced some excellent and occasionally thought provoking results I wonder if they contributed towards my tendency to work alone.