Week 8: Research Project Development

I’ve been out shooting a few times this week for my Oxford at Night project but torrential rain, gales and the rest has spoiled at lot of it so there are not many images I am all that happy with. Contact sheets are appended below.

I have, however, worked out a provisional framework for how to take my project further over the next few months. Details will follow in a Week 9 post because they are also involved with preparing my portfolio of project work in progress.

In addition to the set coursework this week, I have also looked at some books from the library as background material for the project. By far the most impressive has been Magnum Contact Sheets. It is all about curation and curation is exactly what I need to do. Without curation, I am likely to amass hundreds of digital images which are not coherent and which fail to pick out the stories I am trying (or hoping) to tell. So, taking curation seriously will help me to think more carefully. And the book offers plenty of memorable quotations to ponder from some of the world’s great photographers and, even better, they don’t all agree.

“I don’t always like to look at contact sheets because it’s work and you can make mistakes, but it’s part of the process. You have to do it … because very often you don’t see things the first time and you do see them the second or third time.” – Elliott Erwitt, p.70

“You can’t be hung up on what you think your ‘real’ destination is. The journey is just as important.” – Steve McCurry, p. 297

“A contact sheet is a little like a psychoanalyst’s casebook. It is also a kind of seismograph that records the moment. Everything is written down – whatever has surprised us, what we’ve caught in flight, what we’ve missed, what has disappeared, or an event that develops until it becomes and image that is sheer jubilation.” – Henri Cartier-Bresson, p. 18

I have also looked at a collection of Werner Bischof’s images. It is so sad that he died at a young age. Something he is quoted as saying in the Introduction resonates with me:

“What are regarded as ‘fine photographs’ are often static, and when you concentrate on composing perfect pictures you are likely to fall into the trap of losing touching with life, with its colour and movement […] Yet why not tell a positive ‘human story’ through beautiful pictures?” – Werner Bischof, quoted in Introduction by Claude Roy

Finally, I have started working through Perspectives on Place: Theory and Practice in Landscape Photography by Jesse Alexander. It’s worthwhile anyway but I’ll admit that a fair part of the reason for my interest comes from a tip in Grant Writing for Dummies, namely do some research and get to know the work of those you will be applying to.

ALEXANDER, J.A.P. 2015. Perspectives on Place: Theory and Practice in Landscape Photography. London: Fairchild Books.

BISCHOF, Werner. 1989. Werner Bischof. London: Thames and Hudson.

BROWNING, Beverly A. 2014. Grant Writing for Dummies. Fifth edit. Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons.

LUBBEN, Kristen. 2017. Magnum Contact Sheets. London: Thames & Hudson.

Mark Crean (2019): Week8-ContactSheet-1
Mark Crean (2019): Week8-ContactSheet-1
Mark Crean (2019): Week8-ContactSheet-2
Mark Crean (2019): Week8-ContactSheet-2