Devise a themed assignment on a topic that interests you and in a field of photography with which you feel comfortable. Construct an effective workflow, all the way through to the final image, and either make prints or a web gallery. List all the steps in your workflow, and as you move through the sequence, write a short commentary against each step describing what you did. Explain how your workflow may differ from others’, and what adaptations you made to suit the way you make and process images.
Decide Assignment Theme
I decided to try an assignment on a subject I’d not been involved with too much before, people. By that I mean I’ve made images with people in them and I’ve made images of scenes with people in them, but I’ve not gone out with an express interest in finding scenes where the individuals, or groups, have been doing the thing I have decided is my theme. I’ve made images of shows, of family and of people who’ve been caught in my images accidentally, but I’ve never photographed strangers to fulfil a particular assignment.
My idea for this assignment was initially going to be one I’d been given by one of the tutors on the OCA Flickr Forum when I’d displayed one of my images for critique and he suggested that it in some way it brought voyeurism to mind.
Voyeurism is, strictly speaking, the sexual interest in, or practice of, spying on people engaged in intimate behaviours, not something I’d want to practice as it was criminalised in 2004. The wider sense of the word has evolved to include things like non-pornographic reality television programmes, where viewers (the voyeurs) are granted an intimate interaction with a subject group or individual in a something like a secret way. Although this is a wider concept it still isn’t something I can easily set-up for an assignment.
I thought a little further around this matter and came up with an alternative that I called ‘Guilty Pleasures’, which I foresaw covering things like smoking, drinking, eating sweet things etc; but this was rather restrictive, as they’re not necessarily easily photographed over a short period of time. I therefore went a little further and decided to drop the ‘Guilty’ part and just concentrate on ‘Pleasures’. This gives a very wide scope to the assignment and can cover many activities, good and bad, from which anyone derives pleasure. I now have my assignment and can plan around that title.
I didn’t give this a great deal of thought actually, and decided that street locations would be ideal, as nowadays there are many open-air cafes’ where people eat and drink, open-air pubs, and smoking is now almost mandatory outdoors everywhere for anyone who smokes. A lot of outdoor activities would also be available anywhere, with joggers, cyclists, fishermen, boaters etc freely accessible from public road and footpaths. The only obvious indoor facility I wanted to include initially was the local public library, where many people go to enjoy reading, use computers, study and children congregate for workshops. However, here I encounter a problem; it’s no longer secret. Indoors the subjects can see you and may well become self-conscious about the situation, even if you have asked their permission to include them in an image, so that needed a very careful approach; I just hung around long enough for them to get used to me being there and making a lot of images which did the trick. I also used the longer lens as a last resort in a couple of instances.