Sustainable Prospects, Project Development / Contextual Research

I have decided, for the remaining few weeks of this module, to focus on one location, and one household to document. I have made this decision as I feel it will give me a better sense of the kind of work I can create when a family has grown comfortable with me, and my presence with a camera does not cause a too drastic change in behavior. If this approach is successful, I would like to work with three or four families from different small towns in Central Oregon to document for my FMP. 

Mackenzie 19, and Russell 2. Dufur, Oregon

When I began photographing in this region, I certainly felt like an outsider, which led to concerns about the ethical implications of the work, and a fear that I might represent these communities inaccurately, or in a way that they wouldn’t appreciate. By working closely with specific families, I feel a greater sense of collaboration with my subjects, and it is easy to engage in consistent, open dialogue with them regarding the images and how they are being used.  I do think I need to be cautious that my images do not get too sentimental however, as I become closer with the family.

As I aim to create a stand alone body of work to submit for this module, I would like to add more shots of Dufur itself, the landscape surrounding the town, and details from the inside the house. I will be spending Thanksgiving with the family, and think this will be a great opportunity to build on the images I have already taken.

Contextual References

Nick Waplington. From the series ‘Living Room’, 1990

Nick Waplington. From the series ‘Living Room’, 1990

Before revisiting Seth and Sam’s house in Dufur last weekend, I looked at Nick Waplington’s early series Living Room. On the back cover of the book is a quote which remained with me as I went on to create my own work, reminding me of what can be achieved when close bonds are formed between a photographer and their subjects. 

“Through living with his subjects, with who he becomes a kind of accomplice. Nick Waplington is able to offer us various shades of fondness for the quotidian. Far from the falsely compassionate conventions of social “reportage” He draws us in. Close enough to almost share in the human dignity of these difficult conditions. Finally, he offers us a key that enables us to read society without caricaturing it.” - Christian Caujolle, Director of L’Agence VU. Paris.

 Although there is still quite a lot of formality to many of my images, I do see my work moving more towards the aesthetic obtained by photographers who embed themselves within a group, such as Waplington. This is very different from the ‘dead pan’ look of artists such as Stephen Shore or Alec Soth, who I have always considered as key influences on my work in the past. I am now in a place where I am trying to find a comfortable position between the two styles, and I wonder if I can combine both approaches. In my tutorial with Sophie this week, she introduced me to the work of Anastasia Taylor Lind - an artist I see complimenting reportage style images, with slower, more formally posed portraits. 

Anastasia Taylor Lind - From the Series ‘Siberian Supermodels’

Anastasia Taylor Lind - From the Series ‘Siberian Supermodels’

Using Format