Month: December 2015

Reflections on the Real Evaluation

Did the book turn out the way I expected it to? Kind of, I wanted the book originally to be super personalised to the drivers, showing their personalities, emotions and thoughts on street drifting, with a real tight sense of community and breaching into it. I dont really think i’ve achieved this, but what I have achieved is better than what I originally  imagined upon reflection. I enjoy how the book flows, the narrative and meaning behind the book. I like how the book goes through to discuss where the passion comes from, what the plans for the cars are and how their making their cars better each week.

 

People have asked me a few times why I’ve decided to blur the faces and number plates of the cars and drivers, I thought it would have been simple enough to understand, it’s illegal. The drivers are my fiends now and have asked to protect their identity, so I have. I think it works a lot better too with the anonymous nature of the pixelation. It gives people who wouldn’t have known what street drifting is the ability to connect it with being dangerous and illegal because of its use on TV shows like police interceptors. Which just re enforces the notion that what they’re doing is highly illegal. I feel I shouldn’t need to justify this, but it seems that not everyone knows what drifting is, which was apparent when I showed the book to the class for the first time. Should I have made the book easier to digest? Or does my point come across well enough? I think the blurring of number plates, pixelation of faces adds to the factors of believing that this is something naughty and dangerous, even though the images already show that – the effects re-enforces that meaning into the mind of those who do not perhaps have an interest in cars.

 

I wanted the book to be very clear in it’s narrative, I didn’t want to be hard to digest or confusing at all. I feel like it isn’t, if you know cars. For those who don’t know cars too well it might be a bit confusing, but this book is intended for those who are motoring enthusiasts to be honest. As street drifting gets a lot of stick from newspapers and police for obvious reasons, but one thing that sticks with the drivers is that the publications and reports label all drivers with certain cars as the same street hooligan thugs who have nothing better to do. It’s easy to discriminate on the drifters as they dont have a voice, and people just assume that what the see online of videos of people throwing their cars sideways in busy residential areas full of pedestrians, is what they’re all like. The aim of this book was to challenge that. The subjects in the book clearly are in the middle of nowhere, on a quiet country road away from any sign of civilisation to do what they love. They’re not being like the reckless drivers you see on YouTube or in newspapers, their doing it properly and safety. They even bring friends along to stand on the corners with radios to signal when it’s clear. Its as safe and as isolated as its physically can be. They do talk about doing drift track days and have even done them before, but they are expensive and being in the middle of Gloucestershire means that the tracks are hours away. Drift track days are the best way to do it, there’s no worries of being caught, crashing into a ditch or colliding head on with other cars, but they can be expensive and far away, which discourages people. Which forces them to take it to the street.

 

The book has certainly came along way since its version 1 stage. I explained a bit more detailed in the blog posts below about the construction and flow of the book in terms of narrative, but I really didn’t want to hold the viewers hand too much when they look at the images. I dont want my opinions of the actions to come acorss in the work, I wanted the book to be a document with myself being the observer of what is going on, I didn’t want to put myself in a position where my thoughts on the topic will corrupt the viewers thoughts on the work. I wanted it to be crisp, to the point and contextual. I feel like I’ve achieved this, it’s hard to tell considering I’ve been staring at the bloody thing for two months straight. There is definitely a lot of visible development going on when you look at the different issuu versions of the book. The flow, image selections and even document size all changes at points, simply from progression and feedback received. The most noticeable piece of feedback coming from Aaron who said that he felt the book needed a aggressive, menacing picture of the car to end the book. Sort of to say “don’t mess with me” style. I completely agreed, I was never satisfied with the endings before, and really wanted to get a cool rolling shot of the car. Which Aaron kindly helped me with too. Overall feedback was positive and great, only notable points were to keep checking my awful grammar, it was awful.

 

I also touched on the point of how hard it was to find actual decent photographers work on street drifting. It was super hard, not many people have actually compiled a body of work around street drifting or a particular crew/squad, most of the images found are from a spot of multiple drivers usually in Japan having a blast. Nothing i’ve seen has been this specific or dialled like I have been doing. There’s not many photobooks on actual drifting when I think about it, other than Speedhunters. Shame really as it’s an amazing sport to photograph. So how did I eventually find research? Well I knew of Dan Bridle through Facebook, seen him at drifting events photographing along side him in the media pit and have always been a fan of his work, very Japan’y and almost like a trend setter in a way with his style. He recently went to Japan a few years ago with Driftworks who were making a movie on the Japanese culture and how it’s as badass as everyone says it is. I watched the movie and looked at his images, fantastic stuff! Shirtstuckedin is also an amazing photographer. The way to find photographers in the drift scene is by looking at the coolest cars, the coolest cars often run a sticker of their most liked photographers or pages on their cars and pretty much everyone who had a badass car had a shirtstuckedin sticker. His one of the original photographers who were capturing amazing photographs when the popularity of drifting grew. His work is beautiful, using trees and foliage to his advantage often panning through them, amazing stuff. Again the same wide angle well composed images similar to Dans but all from the motherland of drifting, Japan. Shirtstuckedin is honestly one of the sites I look at that get inspiration and to pump myself up before going on shoot. It’s hard to explain, but often the photographs coming from car events are usually so stale, tightly composed images with no soul usually, Dan and Shirt’s images ooze with soul and personality, showing a raw badassness at the same time. I absolutely love both photographers’ work.

 

Back on topic, I feel like something is missing. I dont feel like the book has finished, to me it feels like there’s more to say – a never ending story. But as Anthony said, it might seem like it’s being dragged out if I keep going on for too long. I think thats just the nature of the subject though, the drifting happens every week, there is no end. The guys strive to be better, as drivers and also with making their cars stand out so one week the cars could look completely different, it’s an evolving thing that doesn’t really stop. Which is why owning one of these cars is such a dangerous hobby, it’s expensive. But I digress, maybe it’s a good thing it doesn’t feel complete, maybe the viewer will be able to sense that too with the ending shot of the car zooming away from the lights. That’s what I’m aiming for, a shot of the car zooming away to signify that it’s only just begun, there’s still so much to work on with the cars and there is no end point.

 

I’ve decided to print the book through Blurb. The size options are exactly what i’m looking for (10×8 landscape) and the paper options do seem very good, with thick high gsm paper, ideal for what I want. I’ve decided to go with a hardback cover too. I’m just not a fan of thin softcover books and I think a hardback book will look and feel alot better and more like a photobook. Softcovers just always feel a bit too cheap and flimsy to me. I did look into using Stroma and Freestyle Printing in London, but Blurb seemed to be the best choice for reasonably priced books who dont mind a one off book. It fits my needs perfectly, which is what I am after.

 

I wont bore you with this super long evaluation for much longer. I had a lot of fun making this book and bettered my InDesign skills at the same time, I feel a great sense of satisfaction from making photobooks. The book module last year was 100% my most favourite module as it allowed me to show my creativity and make something truly unique which even to this day I am really proud of myself for making and will be for a long time. I feel the same sense of accomplishment with this book. I love the feeling of actually making something rather than just looking at pixels on a screen. Once the book arrives through the post, all the stress and hard work will have paid off.

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Let me justify myself

In this post I want to talk about a few pages in my current book edit (draft 6) that I feel need explaining as people have been asking questions about them.

 

1

First of all the cover. I dont want a cover, I like the obscurity of not having one. I want the viewer to not know what the book is about, other than the title. I then want them to open the book up and read the text about section 59 of the road traffic act. This will give them a glimpse of what the book is about, dangerous driving and re-enforces to the viewer that what they are about to see is illegal. I dont want to hold the viewers hand, I want there to be shocking points, such as the front cover and opening pages.

 

2

Farm yard shot – I feel like I need this shot, much like a novel, the characters need to be introduced properly. The whole book is about these teenagers in their cars street drifting as a crew. It would be silly if I didn’t include a picture of the cars together in my opinion. This is also the first time the viewer is seeing all of  the cars properly, as before there is only close up detail shots from the interior and exterior of a singular car. It doesn’t introduce them as a group, which is it. So thats why i need this shot.

 

3

Parts in the boot – I’ve been asked by a few people why this image is in the sequence. It is there to serve a purpose, if you read the text before hand, I am talking about how its the drivers goal to make their car look and perform better. This is a representation of him doing that, photographing the accumulation of parts building up in his boot. Showing that the care and thought of the car is being attended to, but the time to do the work isn’t really there due to other responsibilities. It flows with the story much better too as it would jump from drifting cars to fenders being cut up straight away, thats not what I want.

 

4

End page – An impactful image of the car zooming away, menacing the streets. It also represents that the journey of building/drifting the car has only just begun.

DRAFTS

I’ve just realised that i’ve not been giving links to the draft issuu books that i’ve been talking about, instead of going back and placing them in the relevant posts. i’ll just link them all here in order.

Here’s a screenshot of the upload dates so you know i’m not trying to lie about when they were uploaded.

no cheating here

First Draft: http://issuu.com/mattcrosspjd/docs/ror_book1.2

Draft 1: http://issuu.com/mattcrosspjd/docs/ror_book1.666

Draft 2: http://issuu.com/mattcrosspjd/docs/ror_book1.6667

Draft 3: http://issuu.com/mattcrosspjd/docs/ror_book1.6669

Draft 4: http://issuu.com/mattcrosspjd/docs/ror_book1.7

Draft 5: http://issuu.com/mattcrosspjd/docs/wed_night_2.0

Draft 6: http://issuu.com/mattcrosspjd/docs/print.2

 

The progress on the different books should be very easily distinguishable. For example, the flow, size of the document and images added/removed. I feel as if the latest book is the modt strongest, but still needs a it of improvement.

 

Not far away from being finished, thankfully!

Visuals

I decided to put my illustration skills from last year to use and make myself a little test book. I wanted to see how the book flows, as its really hard to judge when you’re flicking through on issuu. Andy and Anthony have always recommended to print the book out in paper before sending it off for final printing, im so glad I did, I immediately noticed images that dont quiet work together and got a feeling for the flow of the book. I kinda like it, its good to see some actual progress and feel a physical thing rather than just pixels on a screen.

Photo 14-12-2015, 3 32 26 p.m. Photo 14-12-2015, 3 32 48 p.m. Photo 14-12-2015, 3 33 14 p.m. Photo 14-12-2015, 3 33 19 p.m. Photo 14-12-2015, 3 33 36 p.m.

 

So what did I leart from doing this? I saw that the flow needs tweaking, the images that dont work together and the blank spaces that need to be filled. Although the biggest thing for me was seeing that the size of the book itself was probably too small. Orginally I wanted an A5 sized book, although after printing, I swiftly realised that the images are hard to see at such a size, they need to be increased. So I edited the book and make it 10×8 landscape. Definetly a better choice. Going to print off another and see how the text looks compared to the images.

 

Printing it off was definitely beneficial, should have done it sooner!

It’s not really been done before

People have been photographing and documenting street drifting since the 80’s, but no ones ever really made a photobook out of it. The following work i’m about to show comes from Daniel Bride Photography and Shirtstuckedin. They both have a small selection of street drifting photographs from Japan. Daniel Bridle took these photographs in Japan whilst working with Driftworks make their “Outsiders” DVD movie. A trip where team Driftworks travel to the drift mecca and experience the Japanese culture and style that we long for here int he UK. Its a great movie and i must have watched it at least 19 times already.

Here’s a link to the movie: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dZjpFYlYdw8

Daniels photographs from his trip to Japan are awesome! They show the incredible speed, aggression and commitment thats needed to street drift. As the movie says, the punishment in Japan for street drifting is very high and cars will be crushed immedietly, so there is so much on the line for the Japanese drivers.

Screen Shot 2015-12-09 at 19.23.17 Screen Shot 2015-12-09 at 19.23.27 Screen Shot 2015-12-09 at 19.27.24 Screen Shot 2015-12-09 at 19.27.42 Screen Shot 2015-12-09 at 19.28.22

Dans site: http://danielbridlephoto.com/

Shirtstuckedin is possibly one of my favorite photographers to look at when it comes to drifting. His style and wide angle shots just ooze coolness which i adore. They’re just so badass. Especially the following street drifting photos, simular to Daniels shots they show a rawness, like you can sense the badassness coming from the drivers like a potent smell. Lets not forget, what these guys are doing is still very much illegal. The risk of getting caught is still very high despite choosing the most descrete locations, the sounds of tyres squealing can be head for miles, no matter if your in an industrial estate or on a mountain road surrounded my woodland, someone’s going to hear. I feel a sense of that in these street drifting photos, a sense that what these guys are doing has very serious consequences. I dont want to diss the images, but they feel very “snapshotty” but also brilliant at the same time. I feel the sense of speediness needed to capture these images, the sense of danger and also the sense of fun. Which ultimately is why they do it right?

 

Screen Shot 2015-12-09 at 19.23.36 Screen Shot 2015-12-09 at 19.24.22 Screen Shot 2015-12-09 at 19.25.57 Screen Shot 2015-12-09 at 19.31.45

http://shirtstuckedin.com/

The only thing close I have to street drifting in photobook wise is my Speedhunters Maximum attack photobook. A book that exploses what giving 110% on track looks like, it looks at the speed, the cornering, the drift, the smoke and the rain that comes with motorsport. There’s no street drifting in the book at all, as it’s a professional outlet for Speedhunters to showcase their photographers skills and abilities. But its the closest thing I have in my possession to a printed documentation of drifting.

 

Photo 09-12-2015, 7 14 07 p.m. Photo 09-12-2015, 7 14 49 p.m. Photo 09-12-2015, 7 15 08 p.m. Photo 09-12-2015, 7 16 06 p.m.

Matthew Connors

Anthony suggested I check out Matthew Connors work to help make me understand how to tell a story in a now so obvious way, as i have been stuck in a rut of showing the story exactly how I remember it, in a timeline order. For this book I need to get away from that and make the reader make up their own minds about what the work is about and how they perceive it. Obviously I dont want them to wander off too far, but I dont want to hold their hand through the layout of the book which I think is what Anthony was trying to make me realise.

Conners work really does speak to me in such a beautiful way. The mixture of portraits of middle eastern men/woman coupled with the images of violence, war, graffiti and destruction really helps build a narrative in a way that I enjoy. It makes my mind work, makes me try to figure out what went on and emphasis with the subjects emotions. I particularly like this series of images together, showing hardship, pain and destruction all at the same time.

Screen Shot 2015-12-09 at 17.23.59

 

I really want to try to replicate this open style of interpretation that comes from Connors work, the way the information is not drip fed for you, its all in your face for your mind to comprehend and make sense of. This is what I want my book to be like. I wanted to try something simular, which is why I went on to take detail shots of the cars scratches and damages. The scratches and paint work damages could say many things, it could say the driver is bad, often making mistakes or it could say the driver doesn’t care, thrashes on the car and uses it for its purpose – to drift. It’s up for interpretation of what you decide.

 

 

 

 

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More changes coming soon!