Brexit March

I had played with the idea of involving my personal struggle with the Brexit Referendum with my work in previous years, only to brush over the topic and leave it aside. However, after reading daily articles in the Guardian throughout early 2019, leaving me in utter confusion as to what will actually happen on the deadline in March 2019, when the UK is destined to leave the European Union, I came across a call to another Brexit Protest March occurring in London on the 23rd March.

There had been a previous march in mid-October of 2018, which attracted a roughly estimated 700.000 participants and the second march was said to trump those figures by a large margin.

I felt a spur of activism and thought this would be the perfect opportunity to not only document an important political struggle within a country but also to become more engaged within my potential role as a real Photojournalist.

Photobook Project

As part of one of our second year modules we have been tasked with creating a Photo-book covering a topic of our choice and including our own work.

To complete this task I have looked at different types of books already in circulation in order to emulate a style and presentation that suits my work. I have looked at contemporary South African artist Pieter Hugo and his work ‘The Hyena and other men’ (’05-’07). Apart from the visual spectacle within Pieter Hugo’s images, it is also the overall layout of the book itself that intrigued me.

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The book begins with a brief summary of the contents of the book, which makes up the majority of the text, giving the reader an idea of what to expect on the following pages. What follows is a gallery of square format crisp images depicting humans and hyenas (as well as some primates) interacting with one another. The gallery only contains one image per page, giving it a minimalistic appearance which I would like to replicate in my book.

Collaborative Photographic Practice

As a part of our Collaborative Photographic Practice Module, we have been allocated groups of 3-4 persons. I was lucky enough to be put in my first choice of group, teaming up with Alicia and her Project regarding the environment, hosted by the Swansea Environment Centre.

As a contribution to this project, I hope to capture aerial footage of heavily polluted areas such as beaches, parks, city centers and most of all: Port Talbot.

I hope to achieve some sort of Hyperlapse effect over the heights of the Port Talbot industrial area and have taken most of my inspiration from Vfx artist Rufus Blackwell. As my drone-enthusiasm has grown over the past months, so has my interest for different techniques whilst using it. The drone itself is run via DJI software, connecting your phone/tablet directly to your drone (and the attached camera). The OS is very sophisticated and easy to use, however, it does not allow you to set waypoints for the drone. This can cause problems when trying to create a hyperlapse, especially when trying to show a day/night transition. After doing a lot of research on YouTube, I found a third party application for Apple devices called LITCHI. LITCHI not only allows you to pre-program the height, speed and POV (point of view) of the drone, but it also allows you to set physical waypoints on the map and save it. By doing this, you can fly a specific route of your choice at a set speed/height, save it, and return at a different time in order to get the same recording at a different time of day.

I still have a lot of work to do regarding my own video, but in theory, I have it all mapped out in front of me.

This should allow for a solid contribution to the collective project in the form of a video installation.

Rufus Blackwell:

Impressions of Rajasthan & Varanasi

I have (finally) been given an official date for my exhibition at the Creative Bubble and I will be exhibiting my work from the 14th January 2019 until the 19th January 2019.

I have created an official Facebook event on the 15th of January in order to give me a bit of extra time to prepare the necessities at the venue itself. The doors will open at 6:00pm and I hope for a good turnout as my friends have been excited to see my images for quite some time now. Though I do not yet have all the information regarding the terms and conditions, I plan to have drinks on arrival ready for when my guests arrive. All images will be for sale, though this won’t be the sole purpose of my exhibition.

Depending on how well this event goes, I look forward to perhaps hosting more in the future.

Salty Beards Barbers II

My friends at Salty Beards Barbers Co. asked me to take a few more images for them recently and I was very keen to oblige. It is a great way for me to experiment in some more ‘commercial’ types of photography so I have built up a good relationship with them. I get to practice my photography and they get high-quality images for their social media and marketing.

My images look very similar to the ones I took in January, however, I had the opportunity to photograph more models in different areas of their shop and see how I fare with varieties of available light. In my next session, I would like to rent lighting from stores and see if I could experiment with a somewhat more professional set-up, as my current images are acceptable but not industry standard.IMG_3141.jpgIMG_2960.jpgIMG_2947.jpg

Individual Exhibition Proposal

As a part of our assessment we have been asked to produce a body of work as part of a collaborative research project. Originally my plan was to get involved in a local project at Peg2 in Mumbles, a small Non-Profit café that hosted a ‘Syrian Night’ every month in the format of a pop-up kitchen. This format sounded perfect as it allowed refugees from war-torn Syria to cook for locals of Swansea in order to bring them a bit closer to their food and culture. Unfortunately, Peg2 was only a short-term project run by Red Café (another community project) and closed down mid November.

 

Regardless of having lost the opportunity to share such a culturally rich experience, I wanted to keep focused on different acts of human kindness and noticed how I was being bombarded with requests to donate to this, or that charity. Mo-vember, Children in need etc., though they seem quite tedious en masse, I hadn’t experienced the vast celebration of giving (to charity) when I was growing up in Germany. It was with this thought that I decided to concentrate on some of the few individuals that I know who dedicate a lot of their time to a good cause and manage to raise large sums of money for a charity of their choice.

 

I have different individuals in mind, one of them being a potential subject for a previous project as well as being a Mumbles local celebrity, Margaret Thrush. Margaret is known around Mumbles for her unique appearance (Mexican Sombrero and bright green shirt & shorts as support for her charity of choice, MacMillan Cancer Charity). Over her career as a charity worker, Margaret has managed to collect close to £2million for her charity. I know Margaret from my position as a Restaurant Manager at the Mermaid Café, Bar & Restaurant over the course of three years from 2015 until present. Margaret is considered a bit of a Wild Card by most who see her for the first time (myself included). But once you hear her story you come to appreciate the tremendous effort she has made over the course of a few years. Margaret carries a bucket of change along the popular Mumbles Mile and stops off in every Pub/Restaurant that will allow her inside (many don’t allow her to collect money in their establishments as she can be quite blunt at times).

 

Though I would probably be able to focus this exhibition on Margaret alone, I would like to include more casual participants, including my colleague and good friend Stewart Montgomery, who runs multiple marathons every year to raise money for a variety of charities and will not only be running the London Marathon in 2019 in the name of Maggie’s Cancer Charity, but also running a marathon along the Great Wall of China to mark his 40th Birthday.

 

While more subjects may be added to the project, my main goal would be to have individual portraits taken of both Margaret and Stewart in the comfort of their homes, perhaps preparing for a long run or a long night of raising money. I would also like to display images of them in their ‘element’ for example, perhaps a shot of Stewart running along the Mumbles promenade wearing a T-Shirt in solidarity with his charity of choice or Margaret in a busy Pub, interacting with would-be donators.

 

The aim of this exhibition will be to display the charitable nature of the people of Swansea and the extent of their efforts to raise money and awareness for good causes. An additional aspect of the exhibition would be the possibility of selling the images displayed and to donate any proceeds to a local charity. From having conversations with the subjects of my project, many people have had saddening experiences in the past, either facing difficulties in their personal lives, involving their relatives or close friends. When I asked Stewart why he competes so often and what drives him, he told me that his brother had committed suicide a decade ago back home in Ireland. He started his journey along the road of endurance training as a part of the Cycle Against Suicide foundation, raising money for assistance in suicide prevention, a cause that still takes him to Ireland every year. However, there isn’t a month that goes by where Stewart doesn’t take part in some kind of charity event, as he is keen to sign up to any local 5k, 10k, half-marathon or full marathon runs in the name of a good cause.

 

The chosen location for this exhibition would be the Mermaid Café, Bar & Restaurant at SA3 4EE, 686 Mumbles Road. The Mermaid is a family friendly restaurant, currently under lease by Simon Paine (also an art and crafts enthusiast) which already hosts a small gallery of prints and paintings from a number of local artists/photographers and has become a hub for fundraisers hosted by establishments such as Maggie’s, Macmillan Cancer Support, Marie Curie – Care and support through terminal illness and many others. As I am very good friends with the owners of this establishment, I would be able to use their venue as a temporary host for this exhibition against no further cost or commission, however, any food or beverages consumed by visitors of the exhibition would have to be purchased on the premises at the prices dictated by the establishment. The images will be displayed throughout the restaurant among the regular customers whom will, I am sure, be familiar with the subject matter. Furthermore if I were to plan an ‘opening night’ as a more formal introduction to the exhibition, a certain food & drink package may be arranged for around £250, including a selection of wines, a buffet and a private section of the restaurant, suitable for approximately 50 persons.

 

Charities mentioned:

Cycle Against Suicide

http://www.cycleagainstsuicide.com/

Macmillan Cancer Support

https://www.macmillan.org.uk/

Marie Curie – Care and support through terminal illness

https://www.mariecurie.org.uk/

Maggie’s

https://www.maggiescentres.org/

 

Venue Website:

The Mermaid Café, Bar & Restaurant

https://www.mermaidmumbles.co.uk/

New Cameras

After my recent trip to India and rigorous use, I have decided to retire my Canon 7D. Apart from the obvious signs of use, I felt it was time to upgrade to a full frame camera that doesn’t use CF-cards. Luckily my good friend Rowan Morgan, who is a professional photographer, was selling his Canon 6D as he too was upgrading to a newer camera. So I was able to purchase his second-hand SLR for a good price and can continue my work.

Furthermore, as I am starting to capture more moving image footage, I am thinking of buying a more discreet camera to film with. Using an SLR with a tripod provides decent footage, however, it can be pretty annoying lugging all the equipment around, especially when encountering anything interesting ‘on the move’.

Ideally, I am looking to buy a handheld device that would fit in my pocket, providing good quality 1080p footage and acceptable audio (preferably with the ability to attach an external microphone).

Options at the moment seem to be the Sony RX 100 III or the Osmo Pocket.sony_dscrx100m3_b_cyber_shot_dsc_rx100_iii_digital_1049537

National Museum Wales

Today we visited Artis Mundi at the National Museum in Cardiff.

Artis Mundi describes itself as ‘an internationally focused arts organisation that identifies, recognises and supports contemporary visual artists who engage with the human condition, social reality and lived experience.’

Presented were different artworks from artists across four continents and showcased a variety of artistic practices.

Naturally, I enjoyed Trevor Paglen’s work the most, as it focused on photographic journalism and the surveillance state we currently live in. Some of the images were taken of a military airbase and quite blurry, although you could still make out the subject matter. Others were more exotic, looking like something out of a Sci-Fi film.

Surprisingly, I also found myself drawn to the work of French-Nigerian artist Otobong Nkanga. I find the work itself hard to describe from memory, but it was presented by an elaborate circular installation as well as a beautifully crafted Tapestry. The topic of her work is the excessive extraction of minerals in African countries and the difficult relationship between these countries and their colonial legacies.

The artists all compete for a Grand Prize of £40.000, with the winner being announced on the 24th January 2019

 

 

Manufactured Landscapes.

20d45f78-8035-44b2-bc32-1dc78f99de2b_570Film number three of this semester is a documentary covering the work of photographer Edward Burtynsky.

With the main locations of the film being China and Bangladesh, Burtynsky captures images of some of the most industrialized areas of the world.

The lack of commentary during the film makes it rather strenuous to watch, however, this was most likely done intentionally in order to emphasize the powerful images depicted throughout the duration of the documentary.

Though Burtynsky stresses that his work is not politically motivated, it is likely to have sparked many debates regarding western motivated consumerism and the immediate effects it has on our environment. The fact that Burtynsky simply gives the viewer the information, but does not tell them what they should think when they see it, is one of the main factors I enjoyed this documentary.

My first Drone

After having our first moving image project in the second semester, I decided that I would like to start creating more video content as a part of my practice. I already have an SLR that is capable of capturing footage at 1080p, but I wanted to add something new to my arsenal. The decision was to either get a stabilizing gimbal for the SLR or to take the plunge and buy a Drone in order to capture aerial footage.

mavic airI ended up buying a DJI Mavic Air second hand from wexphotovideo.com.

The original motivation for this purchase was a trip to India in September, a trip I wanted to document in a Vlog-type style and perhaps create a series out of it. Unfortunately, shortly before leaving for India I read that the use of Drones is prohibited unless a Government letter of permission has been issued. This was subject to a ~£250 service fee and a lot of paperwork. As I was short on time (and funds) I decided to leave my drone at home and stick to street photography.