Week 4 Collaboration: Colours of the Night

My Week 4 collaboration project was with Kimmi, Mike and Paul. The theme was Colours of the Night. This allowed us to compare and contrast four different cities since we each live in one: Bristol, Reading, Oxford and Seville.

We all did some research into the photographers and influences which interested us. Then we compared notes. We arranged to go out and shoot early in the week and to keep an eye on the colour palettes in our environments, then pool and compare images, then go out and shoot again, compare again, and finally make a selection of 4-5 images each. In the meantime, and having pooled our ideas and influences, we were able to write them up as introduction and background to the project. We elected to present as a website page rather than as a pdf. A website allows big, colourful views and perhaps is the better choice for this subject.

Our ideas were various and included the work of the photographers David Egan, Todd Hido, Patrick Joust, Rut Blees Luxembourg, Jeff Brouws and Harry Gruyaert.

What did I learn? Well, how to have fun for a start. Also that background research matters and that frequent pooling and evaluation of shared work matters – in a spirit of positive critical assessment. There is no other way to produce something which fits together and where images from different photographers flow smoothly. I am pleased that we were able to write up our research. This allowed us to introduce the project, ground it in a point of view and offer a fuller experience to the viewer. That’s the difference between an essay and a rather random assortment of images.

A positive reception at the webinar but for me two things emerged: first that fewer images might have made a stronger presentation and second that a bit more mix ‘n’ match in the sequence of images might have helped too.

At the time of writing, our collaboration is available at this link: https://www.thepadilla.com/colours-of-the-night/

The final images I contributed to our project are below

Mark Crean ( 17 October 2019): Colours of the Night

Week 4 Reflection

A challenging week but I really enjoyed myself. We were asked for brief reactions to the collaboration projects presented this week by my cohort. All these projects created something that could only have been brought to life as a collaboration. Stronger together than apart.

Collaboration – Drew and James

Two contrasting portraits show how even small changes in body language and gesture can alter everything. So, what is identity and how is it conveyed? A very effective collaboration.

Kaleidoscope of Colours – Jasmine, Justin and Matthew

The idea of evoking an emotional response through changes in the “kaleidoscope” of the colour spectrum produced in me the response: Excitement! This is the world eye and brain could never see until the invention of microscopy, photography and modern electronics.

Daily Commute – Chris and Jacy

Pleasant abstract touches, humorous, delicate, lovely colour palette. A collaboration that makes a point about crowds and people in boxes gently and with subtlety.

Erupting – Clare, De, Lor and Victoria

Muted, earthy tones, the images go well together and all make me wonder what’s going on and can I know more please. A simple idea but with many connections leading from it and the potential for strong social comment in terms of the eruption of concrete and human activity in natural landscapes.

Light at Night – Isabelle, Hans and Marcel

Very atmospheric with images that work really well together. There’s a strange, otherworldly air of waiting, not knowing and emptiness to the images. This is a night without people, perhaps just with ghosts (or photographers). I love the poem by Rilke.

Tracing Light – Lauren and Tim

A classic but very clever collaboration of images and text. Top quality in both cases. Images and text cross-comment on one another – very skilful – so meanings are constantly shifting and deepening. Thus the viewer is challenged and, being challenged, participates. “There never was and never will be one true version” (Daniel Meadows).

Adapted Spaces – Andy, Phil and Ross

What do we mean by “space” and how can anyone “use” something that’s apparently empty and which doesn’t really exist? I love these ideas. A neat idea and the images fit together. In fact as the images show, little is empty and what’s apparently unused is claimed by others. I just don’t look closely enough to notice.

Colours of the Night – Kimmi, Mark, Mike and Paul

This was the project I took part in. Comments on a separate post except to thank Mike for his hard work and generous offer of hosting on his website.

Predator or Collaborator?

The photographer Daniel Meadows describes this as the “documentarist’s dilemma”: whether the photographer is approaching the subject as a predator or as a collaborator.

Meadows was giving a talk last night to accompany his recently opened exhibition of documentary portraits from the 1970s and 1990s – Daniel Meadows: Now and Then – at the Bodleian Library in Oxford. It swiftly became clear that Meadows was very much a collaborator in his practice. His aim, he said, was to express the uniqueness of every person he met. And the relaxed, open nature of his many portraits showed that photographer and subject had met as equals sharing a simple human moment. No predator could do that. Predators take but collaborators make images. Indeed, Meadows said he is still in touch with some of the people he had originally met on the street and photographed in the 1970s.

Daniel Meadows (1974): Florence Alma Snoad. Her striking features have inspired a string trio by the Slovene composer Brina Jež Brezavšček.

So, an appropriate talk to hear when the topic for Week 4 of this course is collaboration. It was also quite humbling. Meadows described himself as a lifelong “documentarist”. There was no trace of the lofty auteur or photographer as hero-celebrity, just quiet friendliness and observation. And no question that Meadows’ archive which he has generously gifted to the Bodleian Library is a joint effort between practitioner and subject.

This is clearly the way to go in my practice, though overcoming nerves about approaching potential subjects will be a challenge. Still, I’m very grateful to Meadows for another comment about not comparing oneself to others which, he said, he did rather a lot when starting out: “My pictures didn’t look like what good pictures are meant to look like. It took me 40 years to realize that I was just making my pictures, and that was fine.”

Daniel Meadows: Now and Then (2019) [Exhibition]. Weston Library, Oxford. 04 October-24 November 2019.