Reflective Journal Overview
1. What are the main written resources you have used to help you develop your work and ideas? List and give a brief summary of their relevance (publications/writers/articles/theories you have focused on over the past year):
My research has been vast and a varied throughout the project. My research has given me an in sight into the homeless issue from first hand research on the street, an understanding of wider social issues in the News, and artist examples who are focusing their work on homelessness. This research has been vital to the development of my project, and has guided me to create a strong series of images, which capture the homeless issue in Manchester truthfully. My work shows compassion for the homeless, whilst also showing the harrowing reality of the situation in Manchester.
Two main photography books which have aided me in this project are ‘Susan Sontag: On Photography’ and ‘David Bate: Photography - The Key Concepts’. ‘On photography’ attempts to understand the moral implications of the power of photographs to provoke strong emotions. In the book Sontag warns “ once one has seen such images, one has started down the road of seeing more - and more.” The book made me think more about the emotions of people am photographing and how they would feel about seeing their situation used in a photographic degree show. I decided that I would avoid these issues by photographing homeless landscapes instead of homeless portraits.
‘David Bate: Photography - The Key Concepts’ outlines the history of photography and the body of theory, which has built-up around it. In the chapter “Representation of Reality” Bate states “ the very visual recognition of what is not recognised in the public long-standing plight of of the dispossessed, migrants, homeless, poverty, minority ethnic groups, etc. This gives justification for taking photographs of these people and their circumstances.” He then goes on to say “this desire for recognition of reality is not only part of the photographer or those photographed, it also involves the spectator.” In other words there is a need for the photographer to take a picture, there is a need for the person to tell their story, and there is a need for a story to be told. So what I’m going to take from this is the I must understand the importance I recognized that as a photographer I must respect individuals involved but also understand that there is a need for the story to be told on various levels.
Throughout the project, I have been keeping up to date with the homeless issues in Manchester and especially those that have been published online and in local newspapers. These news articles helped me keep on top with what council and local authorities were doing aboutsituation in Manchesterwhilst also providing me with facts and figures but the numbers of homeless people on the streets. The News articles also give me an insight as to where areas of interest for me were around the city, key locations and buildings that took been taken over by activists.
2. What are the most important other sources you have used for your research? List key exhibitions/videos/talks/events etc and give a brief summary of their relevance:
Throughout the project the BBC have produced several documentaries about social issues and homelessness within Britain. Many of which have been filmed on the streets of Manchester. These have assisted me in this project by providing me with the facts and figures but also highlighting areas for me to go whilst within the city many of the stories that they show the documentary is prevalent throughout the homeless community and have backed up my perceptions of what I have witnessed on the streets myself.
In February I went to a talk call “Refugees and Homelessness: The Real Stories” at the University of Manchester. It was run by the Manchester Global Health Society with the aim to educate the importance of health care and public health through the use of workshops, events and blogs. The event began with Gulvali Passarley, author of The Lightest Sky, TEDx speaker, and student of the University of Manchester. At the age of twelve embarked on a journey has war-torn home in Afghanistan to Britain. It took in five years to be granted refugee status under a further five years to be granted citizenship. He had recently returned to the refugee camp in Callis and describe the situation as inhumane. Passarleyspoke of his frustration that the situations reflective of his own experiences still apparent today. He compared the homeless issues in Manchester with the situations he saw in Calaisandis disgusted to see this happening to people in the 21st-century. He and that is speech with a simple but powerful question: “What would you do if your home became war zone?”
The event was also about finding out what charities and organisations there are in Manchester for people to find out more information about volunteering with the homeless and refugees. They also encouraged people to speak to the homeless is it may often be the only conversation they have that day. The event was extremely emotional and educating. It had an effect on my way of working and approach to photographing so in a way was a vital part of my research material.
I have researched a wide variety of artists throughout this project, many of which are focusing on photographing homeless people. This has encouraged me to take aspects of their work and bring it into my practice. I’ve also focused on the composition of a photograph and in particular the street on frontal perspective as this Is been a recurring theme in my practice, throughout my time at university. I have researched the Dusseldorf Art Academy where artists such as Andreas Gursky and Thomas Struth studied under the guidance of Bernd and Hilla Becher, to achieve their straight on typographic photographic work. There work has inspired my style of photography.
3. From the research developed in your journals and through your practice, outline the key areas (the concepts/themes/theories) of interest have emerged this year? How has this helped with the realisation of your practice?:
My work often focuses on social and current issues. I watch the news every day as it gives me an idea of what is going on the world but also inspiring me in my work. I’ve been focusing my research on social documentary and documentary photography to help me broaden my knowledge of the subject.
A re-occurring theme in my work is people and their stories. Much of the research for this project has been first hand, on the streets, listening to stories that the homeless people have to tell. How did they become homeless and what help are they getting? I found that I was researching by doing. This resulted in me getting a better understanding of the homeless. I tried to experience the issue face on by meeting and spending time with homeless people in the city.