Research and development
I initially generated a long list of ideas which included:
Commuting, inner thoughts, the digital human, various plots including a murder not committed, perception, self-image, money, corruption, time, my personal period of difficulty, judgemental people, my son, my partner, my business, fear, secrets, social class and mobility, things that matter, horoscopes, confusion.
My objective was to identify a subject matter that I was passionate and knowledgeable about and therefore could better visualise metaphorically without defaulting to a literal representation.
I initially focussed on my own personal journey through a difficult and challenging period of my life and I began trying to visualise my thoughts and feelings through this time. I was disappointed with my initial ideas for images as they were typical of business related problems such as shadowed financial newspapers, empty offices at night, empty wine bottles and computers – all of which seemed very literal and clichéd.
As part of our course research I reviewed Ring Road by Dewald Botha (more can be read here) and this proved to be an important development in my creative thinking.
I switched to the subject of my weekly commute to London and I would use this as the metaphor for my own personal journey of discovery where I have begun to explore my own self in much greater detail. I wanted to see how my (recent) more creative aspirations gained through studying with OCA and how my wider thinking in general might be affecting my personal objectives going forward.
test-shot outside block of flats
test-shot outside hotel
Experimenting with test shots the project began to change direction becoming more about social mobility and initially I felt very excited. I had started to focus on the limited greenery in London as a metaphor and link to where I live at the weekends in a semi-rural Worcestershire.
As I began to collect my initial images I had noticed a range in the condition of the greenery and this became a sort of hierarchy I could link to financial and in effect social resources and this I found to be an interesting idea.
After a while I felt that this was too similar to topics that I had previously focussed on and I did n’t find the photographic challenge particularly inspiring and I felt that I needed a fresh challenge.
Moving forward and changing direction
I returned to my original idea of exploring my own personal journey but in over coming recent complexities as oppose as a journey of discovery as I felt that this was really the true and accurate narrative of my life and I wanted to explore in more detail my actions and thought processes from this period of time.
This time I began to focus on an incident a short time ago where the telegraph wires (and therefore the access to broadband) had been vandalised in what is a normally a semi-rural location where nothing happens. As one of the remaining locations relying upon the old BT communications network of telegraph poles and wires I stumbled across a perfect metaphor for communicating the theme of the assignment.
I kept an exercise book as a physical log and I noted down and reflected upon ideas and made rough sketches as the project came to fruition.
Direct influences and inspirations: Other Photographers’ work
My direct inspiration and research for the development of the metaphor came from Ring Road by OCA student Dewald Botha (read more here) and El porque de las naranjas by Ricardo Cases (read more here)
As I began to consider how the images would look I took further aesthetic influence from Kodachrome by Luighi Ghirri (read more here) and Uncommon Places by Steven Shore (read more here) as well as returning to El porque de las naranjas by Ricardo Cases mentioned above.
I imagined an endless blue sky as a backdrop, contrasting and isolating some sort of complex incident.
As is my normal practice I set out on a photo shoot to try to find an image suiting my immediate thought process as in the image above. From this starting point I began to build a collection of images I constantly reviewed, re-shot, reviewed, re-shot until the direction of the assignment became clearer and moved steadily towards a final interpretation that I was happy with and in turn the resultant series.
In total I probably went out for between 12-15 separate sessions before I arrived at the final series of images with the correct form, consistency and quality that I was seeking.
To establish consistency I made a technical plan also which also developed over the period of image taking, review and reflection. My final selection was in line with the following technical cues:
Blue skies (which can be frustrating to wait for in Worcestershire during May)
Photo sites which allowed an isolation of the main area of focus or with selected objects such as greenery which was relevant to the particular narrative of the image and series as a whole – again much easier said than to find
Apertures of F5.6 to creating an image ranging in focuses, in turn force the viewer to search for order within the composition.
The narrative prompts the series to escalate to a high point and then reduces in tension
Cropping of the main object within the compositions reflect the narrative
Post edit and printing
I used Adobe Lightroom 6 software for the post edit and finally I used a local professional photo-lab based in Birmingham to produce prints on 12×8 matte fuji XZB paper with 10mm white borders.
Ring Road by Dewald Botha Ring can be see at:
http://www.dewaldbotha.net/ring-road.html (accessed 11 June 2016)
Pantall, C (2014) The Reason of Oranges. British Journal of Photography July 2014. page 68-77), this article can also be seen on-line at
http://www.bjp-online.com/2014/09/the-reason-of-oranges/ (accessed 10 June 2016)
Ghirri, L (2013) Kodachrome, second edition, MACK
Shore, S (1982), Uncommon Places. London: Thames and Hudson Ltd.