Month: February 2015

Evaluation AD5801

This book has been in progress for a while now, over a year in fact. As soon as I got the job as a nightclub photographer I knew I was going to see some funny stuff as i’m used to clubs and love going to them. I had a vague idea to capture all the bad things that revolve around a casual Saturday night out in Cheltenham. The place I work at isn’t even that bad, its very high class compared to some of the others that are in Cheltenham. The age range of people who attend the club i was photographing is usually 20 upwards, with snazzy clothes and proper shoes. Not like other clubs where you can get in with a hoodie and trainers. So it’s not like these aren’t respectful people, this is Cheltenham… But their attitude completely changes when they step foot into the club. As shown by the photographs.

So what’s the book about? I think it’s pretty self-explanatory if I’m honest. But even so I felt the need to add some descriptive text at the start of the book which reads: “Indecent is a comment about current British Society, clubbers to be exact. The way we dress, the alcoholic beverage of choice to get ‘wasted’ on and the inevitable vomiting in the taxi on the way home. With the rise of current TV culture, the UK nightlife industry is booming. However it’s not all sunshine and roses, this book shows the unavoidable, explicit and downright hilarious situations that revolve around a ‘casual’ Saturday night out.” The pictures do the talking in my eyes. I didn’t want to dive deep into the hidden contextual meaning of the photographs as I just want to book to speak for itself, make the viewer make any assumptions that they want (to a degree, I still want them to know roughly what it’s about). Although you could argue that there are deeper hidden meanings behind this body of work. Ofcouse there is, there’s the argument of how alcohol is effecting these people and their behaviours, there’s the argument that the current culture has made nightclubbing more presentable for the younger generation by the use of TV programs like Geordie Shore, The Only Way Is Essex and the countless BBC Three documentaries. All of these programs appeal to younger people who then want to go out to a club as it looks like fun. It’s basically advertising. So yes there is the speculation that the book does address some of the above issues, but that wasn’t the plan.

Target audience? The target audience is people around my age and upwards, obviously I can’t say it’s for teenagers as there’s explicit content in the book which just isn’t allowed. It is intended for anyone who’s ever been to a club and thought ‘I wonder what really goes on here’. It can be for anyone who’s intrigued by clubs and nightlife. What I’m trying to say is there is no target audience. However the way I have laid the book out and the style of writing I have chosen is aiming at the younger generation around my age 18-25. I aimed it to this age group as they are most relevant to understand what’s going on and they can relate to it if they are avid clubbers (which most people of this age are).

So I work at the club, I turn up with my camera and flashgun and take photographs on behalf of the club to use on their Facebook page then get paid at the end of the night. I don’t set out to capture images like the ones I have used here as it doesn’t happen as often as you’d think. I try to do my job. It just so happens that these things begin to happen before me. I choose not to upload them to help save some dignity of the subjects, the club and me as a photographer. Most of the time I have to be quick in order to capture whats going on in front of me. Which is why some of the images are not perfectly exposed, sharp or framed correctly as I just don’t have time. Its like I have to pop my camera up take a snap and carry on. Although I like the way they aren’t perfect, it adds more personality and character to the images. They share properties to that of Tom Wood, Richard Billingham and Gary Winnogrand in some cases. As all of the mentioned photographers don’t really strive for technical brilliance, but want the subject matter and context to take paramount importance. Tom Wood’s book Looking for Love has massively influenced my photography. I love the photographs, book layout and context. As mentioned I also love the fact that it doesn’t matter if they’re all perfectly exposed, in Wood’s case most of them are spot on. Which just shows how good he is!

I decided to make the book on Lightroom as it’s the program I feel most comfortable in, know how to use it and have all my images imported onto it’s library. So all my images are on here. InDesign I don’t get on with, it’s just too confusing, yes it is more customisable and you can do a lot more, but Lightoom can match it easily. Why did I not stick with one style for the photos throughout the book? I wanted to mix up the layouts of the pages to create more interest and drama, some of the images are stronger than the others so I wanted to reinforce this with the layout. I chose to use 27 images for my book. Not because I don’t have more, but these are the funniest and most impactful. Also I didn’t want to go overboard on the use of pictures. The aim was to keep it clean, concise and looking good. I feel like I’ve achieved this.

I got a lot of feedback from the class from Jake, Luke, Lily, Becky and Jess. Thanks to them I feel like my book is a lot better and a lot stronger. They helped me decide on multiple things, such as the font, the text, the layouts and more importantly the flow of the images. Jake suggested to put the most shocking images at the front for maximum effect and to make the book instantly recognizable. I liked this idea and ran with it, as a result to this feedback I completely changed the book layouts and made them a lot punchier. Which in turn improves the book tenfold.

Overall I am happy with the book I’ve produced, I feel that it does convey the conventions that I set out to achieve and I feel that it does comment on the current British culture. I like the layouts and the flow and everyone I’ve showed the book to has laughed or turned their head away which is the exact emotions that I was after which is a good sign as that was the aim of the book from the outset, to draw some sort of emotion out of the viewer. I could have improved some of the photographs and possibly taken more, but it’s not something that I can plan or control so its all a case of being quick and getting the shot. Overall I’m happy with it and I am glad I made the decision to change ideas half way through the project as the motorsports crew was a dead end project that I couldn’t elaborate. This however is wide open and open for interpretation.

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Tod Papageorge – Studio 54

Tod Papageorge’s Studio 54 is a photobook around the bustling nightlife in New York in the late 1970s in arguably New Yorks most infamous club. To get in to Studio 54 you either had to be a celebrity or amazingly beautiful according to the stories and posts i’ve read about this body of work. What I like about Papageorge’s photography is that the photographs arn’t all tightly cropped, there is added free/dead space around the subject which maximises the context and adds a greater understanding of the club and it’s surroundings. Tod Papageorge’s work is very different than mine, but that’s why I like it, he is documenting the life of this club that is seemingly impossible to get into in the late 70’s. Also the photography used is beautiful.

In Papageorge’s own words, “The 66 photographs in this book were made between 1978-80 in Studio 54, a New York discothèque that, through those years, was the place to be and be seen, as the celebrities, partygoers, and those crazy for dancing who filled it every night were happy to prove. Unsurprisingly, given its reputation (which quickly flamed into notoriety during a short, 33-month existence), it was difficult to get into: the imperturbable doormen who doled out access as if they were controlling passage into a fabulous kingdom made sure that it would be. Only the famous or socially connected could assume they’d find themselves shooed around the flock of hopeful celebrants milling on the street side of the velvet rope and guided through the door; otherwise, the thing most likely to help was to be beautiful. Once inside, though, everyone there seemed thrilled by the fact, no matter how they’d managed it, an excitement fed by the throbbing music and brilliantly designed interiors, which, on a party night, could suggest anything from Caliban’s cave to a harem.”

Final Book layout

So i’ve made a few small yet impactful changes to my book over the course of the last week. First of all the name has changed from Classified to Indecent as I feel that Indecent is a better description of what the book is about and Classified felt a bit too … corporate? I dont know it just didn’t work. I’ve also updated the books description as well as add my name to the front of the book – taking ownership of my work.

I’ve decided to go with Full Bleeds for most of the images as people liked the idea of zooming tighter into the subject, but it looked odd when I did it with white borders around the frame. So I made a few of the pictures full bleed for added impact. Although I do like the contrast between those that are in full bleed next to those that are bordered off.

I’ve been asking everyone to review my book versions and so far this is the only one noone had a complaint about, the feedback I was getting from the class was very helpful and I feel that without it the book would be nowhere near enough as strong as it is at the momment. Personally this is the version I am happy with. I still dont know if I prefer the zoomed in nature of the book, but for the assignment i’m going to keep it zoomed it as it’s what the majority of people have liked.

Enough talking, here’s the link to the final book edit. Enjoy!

Supporting Statement

My book is titled Indecent. It is a photobook about what I’m not allowed to show whilst working as a nightclub photographer. Things that the club do not want on their Facebook page. Things like nudity, excessively drunk people, swearing, vomit or anything that doesn’t promote their club in the best way possible. That doesn’t mean that those things don’t happen, of course they do. You just have to make the moral decision not to upload said photos as it will make the club look bad, as well as yourself as a photographer. This book disregards that, this book goes into all the profanity that happens on a casual Saturday night out in Cheltenham. I want the book to be very brutal and in your face. I want to draw emotion out of the viewer, whether it be laughter or squirming, I want the reader to have some sort of emotion that makes them remember the book. I’ve compiled the absolute worst (worst meaning most horrific) photos I’ve taken over the past year whilst working and put them in a book. On a whole my book is a comment about the current youth in out British society. It demonstrates how our generation spends a ton of money on fancy frocks, alcohol and taxi’s home. It also comments and demonstrates the abusive effects of alcohol, as 99% of the people showcased in this book are heavily under the influence. On the other hand it shows how the nightlife industry is booming in the UK.

Still Looking for love – Tom Wood

Whilst researching Wood’s other book Photie Man, I ran into one of his older books Still Looking for Love (1988) which co incidentally is all about nightclub life in Merseyside. This book is exactly what I’ve been looking for. I cant beleive i’ve never found it before. It goes into the nightclubbing life in Merseyside in 1988 on film, beautiful stuff. It’s stupid of me to compare it t Photie Man, as Photie Man was published in 2005, however you can see that Looking for Love heavily influenced Photie Man with the use of hard hitting flash, ascew angles and a close relationship with the subject. It shares properties with that of Gary Winnobrand also, as Winnobrand in an interveiw says that he doesn’t really care about the technicalities of straightness of the photograph when he’s working, which is a characteristic of his works which helps make him stand out.

I love this photobook. I found an interview with Tom Woods about his career, and here are a few questions/answers that I thought were most relevant to what i’m after.

So what it is that drives you as a photographer; is it a desire to engage with these people?

I was just lucky to end up in Merseyside, I mean the people there were just great and the energy I got from just going out there. I used to go out with my camera, I mean I didn’t want to photograph in the nightclub but it was there on my door step. I’d go in there to party myself upstairs and you’d go down to the main club and I just thought I should do this.

It’s really nice, that element of your work. I mean people think you take a photograph and you’re taking something from someone else but you’re actually giving them something and there is a real exchange going on in your work. What is it about you as a character that makes you able to do that?

I just felt that I never had the right to exploit them in any way. On the cover of Looking for Love, it was my first book (in 1988), it was about nightclubbing. So the 2 girls on the front cover saw themselves in the book shop and they thought I was making loads of money and they came around to the house; I showed them the accounts and how I was making a loss every year, so I gave them a print and they were happy, you know?

Quotes source: http://paper-journal.com/tom-wood/

Here’s another little flick through video on Vimeo showcasing Wood’s work:

“Still Looking for Love is a chance to revisit a series of photographs by one of the true underground heroes of British photography and catch a glimpse of British nightlife on the cusp of rave and the acid house phenomenon”
http://www.sorika.com/product/coming-soon

All images from: http://www.sorika.com/product/coming-soon

Photie Man – Tom Wood

Andy recently showed us this body of work for our Black and white module, I think I instantly fell in love with the work. It’s in a candid manner and is shot not to be technically correct or aesthetically pleasing, but instead to have as big of an impact as possible to the viewer. The subjects are always do close and in depth, as if you are literally in their face alongside Tom Wood. I’m pretty certain that I could begin to smell them after a while also. Woods uses cheap little point and shoot cameras to produce this body of work, which just re enforces the brilliance of it.

What I love about Wood’s work is the brutal hard hitting flash in some cases. Then you can tell that it’s taken on a cheapo point and shoot with a rubbish flash. I think Wood’s work is comparable to mine in this way, as I too have a cheap shitty flashgun that only have manual control whilst most of the time ends up in mistakes, especially for these sort of photos what I need to be quick and snappy in order to capture whats going on. As a result of this, most of the images are over exposed, simply because 90% of the time I couldn’t adjust fast enough for what was happening in front of me. Although personally I think that adds to the feeling and context of the images. If they were perfectly exposed it would run into the thin line of being borderline boring. But because some are over exposed, it adds a sort of personality to the images and makes them stand out. Much like Woods’ work. Imperfections are often beautiful. Imperfections is a good name, maybe I should use that for my title instead…?

I like the fact that the pictures were obviously taken with the subject knowing they were being photographed creating some great photos of people really engaging with the camera. For tom wood there was no hiding what he was doing, he didn’t hide his camera or anything which is what gave him the nick name from the locals as “photie man” which is where the title of the book comes from.

All images from: http://bintphotobooks.blogspot.co.uk/2010/08/over-here-photie-man-street-photography.html

Here’s a very cool little video of a flick through of his Photie Man photobook on vimeo

Here is also a very cool PDF which is the exhibition notes from The Photographers Gallery. It goes into more depth of what the body of work is about as well as Wood’s definition of documentary photography as well the way he gets permission etc. Very cool read which gives more added insight into the life of Tom Woods.
http://thephotographersgallery.org.uk/images/Tom_Wood_____Exhibition_Notes_5085626bddea1.pdf

Adding more context to my book edit

So far when making my book, I realized that my book is really rather plain and repetative so far. I’ve tried to think of other ways to get around this dilemma by playing around with the page layout and experimenting with full bleed images mixed with other cropped images. This has helped a little bit, but it does throw off the flow of the book and makes it quite different to the other style of photobooks out there.

I therefore began to experiment with the use of text. I was against it at first, as Stuart Wilding said “Text anchors meaning” which means that as soon as the use of text is involved within photography, the meaning of the photograph is presetermind as a result of the text used. I was hasitant to do this for that reason. So I began to think of ways to make the captions more entertaining and not just repeating to the viewer what is already in the image. So I googled some statistics about nighclubs as I thought it would be cool if there were random facts about nightclubs dotted around the book.

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“55% of women expect men to be confident enough to approach them, but the other 45% say they have no problem approaching a man if they are interested in him.”

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“70% of women have intentionally given out the wrong telephone number.”

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“More married and divorced women go to clubs than married and divorced men.”

I really like the way the quotes add extra context to the images. I wanted to pick very random, yet relevant quoetes into the book as I thought it would be funny and more thought provoking. They’re also statistics, which speaks truth. I got them from this website: http://www.sosuave.com/quick/tip278.htm

I also wanted to change the name of the book to something alot nicer sounding. Classified in my opinion was way too broad and didn’t really convey what the book is about. I feel that Indecent is alot better to convey what the book is about and is all together just a nicer sounding word than classified. I want the book to be appealing, yet mysterious, I want it to grab your attention pretty much the same objective as the whole book. I had a little bit of trouble finding something that worked, as I dont have a very good range of vocabulary in my noggin, so I had to use the internet. I used thesaurus the search for Unseen as thats the vague word for what I wanted to say. That is how I came up with the name of my book. The internet.

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Now to edit the book layout and images further.

Cardiff after dark

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There’s not many photostories about Nightclub photography, if any really. It’s a really discreet and taboo subject that people often shy away from. The most popular of which being ‘Cardiff After Dark’ by Maciej Dakowicz. He photographed the bustling night life of Cardiff’s thriving city. Dakowicz description of his body of work is very comprehensive “Everything takes place in public – from drinking, fighting, kissing to crying and sleeping. Supermen chat up Playboy Bunnies, somebody lies on the pavement taking a nap, the hungry ones finish their portions of chips and the policemen stop another argument or fight. Nobody seems to worry about tomorrow, what matters is here and now.”

I dont want to compare myself to Dakowicz, but his photographs are very reminiscent of mine in the fact that it’s very in your face, crude and elaborate. The lighting is very poor in some cases, but Dakowicz exposes the images correctly by adjusting his shutter speed accordingly, you can often see this by the movement in the hands, head and body which is very typical of shutter blur. Most of Dakowicz’s work is shot outside int he street after the part-goers have partied out.

My work can be compared to Dakowicz’s because of the subject, the photos are both very in your face and deliberate of their meaning. There’s no hidden meaning behind the images and they’re all very crude. Some of them aren’t, but most of the ones in the club are very sexualised and borderline explicit. I think some of my photographs share some of these traits and are quiet simular in the way they express their meaning.

What have I taken from his work? I’ve known of his body of work for a while now, since college but never really looked into his work in depth like I have recently. His images have taught me not to look too deep into the meanings of photograph and that its okay to photograph the things that you see, just ‘snapshotting’. He also opened my eyes to the fact that you can just photograph what you see aswell such as the vimoting, kissing and flashing that happens when you’re at a club.

His work has been very popular within the mainstream papers within the UK and was published in the Guardian advertising his work in a book format.

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Elaborating on the feedback from last week

So people said they wanted the book to be more “artsy” and make them question whats going on more. They suggested to do this by zooming in a crazy amount on something intresting within the image to confuse the reader of the location/meaning of the image. I thought I may as well give it a go, to see how it looks.

I’ve been making my books in Lightroom 5. It’s the simplest way i’ve found of doing it and I really dont get on with inDesign at all. It just confuses me. Plus i dont own inDesign, whereas I do own Lightoom. So it’s only logitcal to use what I know rather than using something alien to me. Plus its really easy to use.

You just click the Book tab on the top bar, select all the images you want to use and drag and drop them into place. From there you can zoom, adjust the page layout, add text or whatever you want to do. It’s so easy.

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I dont know if I like this or not. I dont really, as I prefer the previous, more transparent version. By transparent i mean there’s nothing to hide, it’s all out in the open for the reader to see (much like some of the people photographed…) whereas in this newer version i’m not too fond of it for that fact. I dont necessarily mind if people know the photos are taken in a club or not. It’s a documentary photobook showing the unseen, yet popular and illusive aspects of a Saturday night out as well as commenting on the devastating effects of alcohol. I could possibly change the story to be something around alcohol. As all of these people photographed are under the influence and it does have drastic effects on their behavior.

I’ll have another look through the images I have to see if I can direct it around alcohol. But I am pretty certain that Im going to be going back to the other style of book layout that I used previously as it’s more in your face an vulgar, which I like.

First book feedback

We had to show our first 6 pages in class for some feedback. Here are the 6 pages I showed of my first edit.

cover

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Overall they all liked the book, there was a good show of emotion laughter and even the occasional “eww” which is good and what I intended in the first place. I feel that I’ve got the emotion side of the photographs into the book, but need to work on the flow of the book overall. They did however question the context and objective of the book initially. But once I told them what I was aiming to do, they finally understood what the aim of the whole book was about.

The whole 4 people who turned up were very helpful in giving feedback, I wish there was more people around to help me on the book edit. The feedback was quiet good however, though I did not always agree with what they were saying most of the time. People suggested to zoom in more to the facial features and nipples in a cause to confuse the viewer and make them question what these wacky photos are from and what sort of meaning they had. I dont know if this will work. I will try it out and see how it works first of all, but I dont think I will actually do it however. Becky told me that it doesn’t feel like an “art” book, she commented that it felt more like a jokey book similar to my ‘shit London’ books, that I love. I dont necessarily agree with Beckys opinion as I’m not trying to create an Art book. I’m making a documentary book that comments and speculates more on British society.

As I said in class, and in the previous blog post, I want the book to be vulgar and in your face because that is what the whole book is about. The photographs are in your face and rude, just as what i want the book to be like. I opened up the book with a very in your face quote like “This book contains all of the above, if you are easily offended then please put the book down and leave.”

I’m going to re edit my book tomorrow/tonight and see how it looks to see if I like it. We will see.