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Ways of Seeing

4 min read

In order to undertake additional research across a breadth of photographers and photography genres, a forthcoming project will “steal” the ideas of fellow students in the hope of providing insight into the way they and I perceive the same subject matter. The intention is to escape beyond my comfort zone and using foreign ideas may serve as a mechanism to pursue this.

An original intention of the project is to highlight that ideas cannot be stolen because the method and creativity which lies behind the artist is different to another. Images are stolen all the time on the internet, laws have recently been passed which attempt to provide compensation to an original artist whose ‘orphan works’ are stolen and used online (The Instagram Act). (Available at The National Archives)

I find it interesting that one can take inspiration from another and recreate a derivate or new work of art. What’s the difference between stealing or copying an idea or paying homage to another artist? Is there even a definition for this and would the victim or celebrated individual agree to the fact they’ve been ripped off Daily Post (2013) or respected? BBC (2009) .

We all see the world in different ways, and this may become the foundation of the project, the message I wish to portray, it’s purpose is to highlight that it’s possible to recreate without theft nor homage, just by simply seeing things in different ways. Berger (1972)

Ordinarily, people cannot learn new subjects, or develop in their skill set unless risks are taken and attempts are made to trial something new. For me, it is the reason for undertaking further education in photography.

Ways of Seeing Test Shot #1 by TomRobson

The above image is a sample shot based on the idea of a retired mathematics teacher, who is undertaking further education in photography. The original idea of the student was to rearrange clothes pegs in precise and specific geometric patterns. I had not seen her original images nor spoke with her about her idea however, after arranging pegs into a geometric shape myself and taking a few shots, I was satisfied with the result. This increased my determination to use other people’s ideas for my own project and the development on my own part is to do so, without stealing, without homage and without offence. If offence is taken, it’s theirs to take.

I also wish to research the artists which my fellow students have researched as research is an area I am lacking. I am unfamiliar with so many photographers and artists; it’s difficult to appreciate both photographs and photographers. I hope that by researching their inspiration, at least eleven different photographers and/or genres I will benefit by enhancing my own understanding of photography while appreciating both the joy and difficulty in creating photographs.

I believe the project has a strong concept, which I can demonstrate, yet the challenge is to ensure the project is not simply a collection of random images based on an idea, or a collection of ideas. Even if the viewer does not understand, or care about the concept, they must find the final set of images aesthetically pleasing when presented together. They should speak for themselves without the need for introduction. Susan Sontag (1977) The thought of invading their ideas with my own photographs, featuring a part of me in some format appeals. I intended to conceptually belong within the picture, not just to sequestrate the idea.

Each photograph will use its own technique which may harm the visual impact of the overall project. For instance, an idea for a single image is to take dozens of photographs then rearrange them into a final image, not different to David Hockney’s photo collages. How could I unify this concept with the above image of pegs?

I welcome the challenge, not just for the additional research and burying myself in other peoples works, for my own research in understanding how very different concepts can belong together in conceptual thought.

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TomRobson's avatar

The Next Stage

3 min read
Last year, I embarked on a project to improve my photography skills.

I simply wanted to understand the camera a little better, so I could take better photo's so I enrolled onto a photography course to enrich myself.

Over the course of 6 months, I learned lots of practical examples of art photography and methods on how I could apply myself, I'm very satisfied with my resulting work and at the end of the course (City & Guilds Award In Photography Level 1) all students celebrated and presented "The Eleventh Hour Exhibition" a photography exhibition and a celebration of the projects and achievements as our qualifications were achieved.  I am delighted to have attained the grade of distinction for my work.

The artist's work on display contained a diverse range of photographic genres including portrait, self portrait, street, documentary, still life, conceptual, art photography and landscape. The artists also used a wide variety of techniques both in camera and through digital manipulation to produce the work.

Our teacher, Zoe Van-De-Velde had said "There was no intention to just teach students how to use their camera and to ask them to take the standard shots. Their work should, though their creative process be a reflection of them. By this method the students could, over the time of the course become themselves though their images and ultimately forget their tutor's existence."

I discovered throughout the process that I inject my own emotions and feelings into photography and people have said I'm a conceptual photographer.  I'd rather spend days thinking about what to photograph, then click in an instant, the moment is preserved forever.  I'm also deeply critical of my own work and often will refuse to publish photographs for fear of rejection or ridicule.  This is something which needs to be addressed because every photo has it's own story.  Despite the eventual negative connotations of some of my previous projects and the frustrations I've felt with areas beyond my comfort zone I'm very proud of the achievements I've made, the photographs I have taken and the messages I've explored with them.  I have done what I never intended and found pleasure in carefully sculpting an idea into a staged photograph, or created a message from a set of photographs.  I initially just wanted to learn how to use my camera to make better photos.  I've discovered art photography though the process and I desire to contribute.  I firmly believe that that with more understanding, more reading, more training and more practice I will unlock more potential and have even more fun with it.

And that's why, commencing from 7th November 2013 - new projects will commence as I've enrolled in the next, progressive course and this profile, on DeviantART shall be the location of my projects.

I look forward to sharing with you,

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Ways of Seeing by TomRobson, journal

The Next Stage by TomRobson, journal