Module 4: Informing Contexts. Week 6.

Work-in-Progress (unsuccessful out-takes).
Copyright James Bellorini 2020.

This week marks the mid-way point of Informing Contexts so I thought it wise to check in with where I am at.

To begin with, it’s been a week of reflection. I’ve had a couple of ‘dud’ project photo-shoots where the outcomes do not particularly add to the ongoing progress of my project work, or simply aren’t strong enough. This might be an indication that I’m losing touch with what I’m trying to say in the work and possibly that I’m getting too focused on outcomes too soon. I have also had a lot of client work to shoot and edit which has consumed focus and time.

My Module 4 reflecting and thinking ‘mind map’.
Copyright James Bellorini 2020.

As a consequence I’ve taken a step back to think, read, develop some fresh ideas, and to touch base with my intentions for my practice during this module.

It’s almost a given rhythm now that I recognise across the time-frame of a module: I start strong with new ideas, or the revisiting/development of older ones, create a body of images which start to speak then, about five or so weeks in, I reach a point of creative ‘confusion’. This sets me on a path of reflection/doubt where I have to refocus, find/clarify the intentions for my practice, then almost start afresh. The anxiety arises of course because of the ever-present module deadline (which is a positive pressure, don’t get me wrong). I know from speaking to some of my peers that I’m not alone in this pattern.

I mentioned in a post earlier this week that, at a presentation at Brighton Photo Fringe’s regular monthly meet ups, the photographer/artist Tom Pope discussed how he spent some time during his M.A. to really reflect on the fundamentals of his practice and what he connected with most in himself in that. I have been running with that idea this week. I’m hoping this will reinforce my personal vision and then I can use this to move forward practically.

Consequently, I’ve started by considering my photographic gaze and practice in further detail: What is present in it? What do I recognise as fundamental to the way I see the world (or at least attempt to) photographically? This is extending my thinking outlined in this post.

I recognise some of those fundamentals as follows:

  • Improvisatory/Instinctive
  • Elements of chance
  • Poetic/Ambiguous
  • Psychologically Questioning
  • Performative
  • Narrative
  • Collaborative
  • Colour-based

Helpfully, I can see from this list that I am not teasing out the performative aspects as much as I would like when I am shooting, so this is a clear next step to explore. As if to underline this, I attended photographer (and tutor) Clare Bottomley’s presentation lecture this week, and her work gave me a fresh appraisal of the performative, especially with regards to turning the camera on my self again – something I have tentatively explored in my second module – and to explore images with more than one person in (frequently I am shooting solo portraits of subjects/collaborators).

Lamentations, from Innumerable Messiahs.
Copyright Clare Bottomley 2013.

REFERENCES & RESOURCES

WEBSITES:

Tom Pope. Available at: https://www.tompope.co.uk/

Clare Bottomley. Available at: https://clarebottomley.co.uk/