In my post on the preparation for this assignment, I mentioned that there were two options, Photographing the unseen or Using props. I chose the former. The assignment brief asked that I make a list of things that I’ve been ‘experiencing now or have recently been thinking about’ which are deemed to be un-photographable. The list can be seen here, in my post on assignment preparation.
From time to time, I feel the routine elements in my life make me suffer from boredom and mental fatigue. The feelings are more apparent on days following a poor or restless night’s sleep, which is quite often as I work a cycle of day and night shifts. These feelings of boredom generally only visit me while I carry out mundane tasks. Boredom, routine and repetition were developing into a theme for the assignment. I thought it wise to first define the meaning of boredom, as this was the emotional response to the mundane. The most satisfactory, interesting and indeed slightly amusing definition I found was from an article on The Guardian newspaper website. ‘Boredom is an emotion of mild disgust encouraged by temporarily unavoidable and predictable circumstances.’
With a little self reflection at the routine elements in my life, I realised that whether I’m working on a particular day or not, I get up and go about my morning rituals regardless. We humans are very much creatures of habit. With new born babies, one of the first thing the parents do it to get the child into a routine. With routine and repetition being the trigger for such feelings of boredom, I decided to spend a couple of days recording the events which make up a small section of my life, my morning routine and rituals. This proved more difficult than you might think, when trying for a detailed account. On these particular mornings I noticed that my mind was more focused than usual as I kept mental notes on my actions. I began to consider the number of times I carried out the various action per day, week, month, etc…. The idea struck me that I should form the narrative around a character getting up and out to a nine to five job, day-in day-out. Feeling that the narrative would be stronger if I put myself in the central role.
With mundane and ordinary elements in life central to the assignment, I looked at the work of William Eggleston for inspiration. Eggleston was a master of photographing the mundane and ordinary elements of everyday life, doing so with a fantastic use of colour. I also revisited The Day-to-Day Life of Alfred Hastings by Kaylynn Deveney, as I feel that her photographs present the ordinary and simple part of Hasting’s life in a very attractive way.
Feeling a little more inspired, I used the notes I had gathered form my morning routine and drew up a storyboard of possible shots. With this foundation, I set out over the next number of mornings to photograph the routine.
The fact that I had given this assignment an autobiographical element, I was looking for a way to put myself in the frame. After a little research, I found the most influence in the self-portrait work of Lee Friedlander. The number of different and inventive ways in which he was able to portray himself within the frame is incredible. I worked with my shadow, reflection and various self-timed shots to put myself in the frame, eventually settling on a mirror image portrait which I took while shaving. Including the camera in the image felt like the right thing to do since the morning routine had changed slightly with it’s introduction.
With the use of routine and repetition we are able to accomplish so much in relatively small amounts of time. My goal with this assignment is not to merely show my morning routine as the boring series of events that it is, but to show that these fleeting repetitious moments are part of what launch us into each and every day and make up a life.
This section of the course introduced a considerable number of photographers who use text in some form to either reinforce or add new and greater meaning to their images. My images don’t convey the repetitiousness of the routine on there own. I feel that by adding captions I was able to expand the narrative from a single day to many, while also making the series more personal, allowing the viewer greater access to my world. With repetition central to my theme, I thought it important to include one repetitious element in the series, and so I included a second, although slightly different breakfast image, with a degree of humour, I hope.
Nine to Five
I lost a lot of time during this section of the course for various reasons. Truth be told, I didn’t push myself enough to do the work, finding plenty of excuses in my everyday life. However once I got up and running, I really began to enjoy the course again. With this assignment, I again started down one road before having to go back to the drawing board. This was a little frustrating but by no means a waste of time, as I enjoyed the canal walk and the time helped me resolve an issue lingering from the first assignment. (Follow link to Assignment One Feedback)
The brief asked that I aim for a tightly edited and visually consistent series of images, and I feel that I’ve at the very least come close to this. The trouble I find, is that I become so familiar with the images that I start to doubt certain choices I’ve made. From my research of William Eggleston, I’ve learned that this isn’t so much of a problem for him. Eggleston only every takes one photograph of a subject. He either gets the shot or he doesn’t. He discovered that taking any more than one photograph of a subject confused him as he had little interest in having to choose the better image. I have recently written a full post on Eggleston, which I linked here.
On a whole, I’m pleased with my submission for the assignment, and I feel that I produced a few interesting images. With this particular assignment it was compelling to discover that sometimes a series of images necessitate text in order to communicate the narrative.
This section has again introduced me to a number of fascinating photographers. I found Duane Michals particularly interesting, and like the way he uses sequential images and text to stimulate thoughts and questions in the mind of the viewer.
UPDATED 6 NOVEMBER 2015
Below is the updated assignment following analysis and tutor feedback.
Nine to Five
American Suburb X (2015) ‘Lee Friedlander’ [online], available: http://www.americansuburbx.com/tag/lee-friedlander [accessed 26 Jul 2015].
Badger, G. (2013) The Genious of Photography: How photography has changed our lives, London: Quadrille.
Deveney, K. (2015). kaylynndeveney.com [online], available: http://www.kaylynndeveney.com/bertgrid.htm [accessed 26 Jul 2015].
Deveney, K. (2007). The Day-to-Day Life of Albert Hastings, New York, Princeton Architectural Press [online], available: http://www.photoeye.com/bookstore/citation.cfm?catalog=pp034 [accessed 26 Jul 2015].
Eggleston, W. (2015) William Eggleston [online], available: http://www.egglestontrust.com/ [accessed 26 Jul 2015].
Fraenkel Gallery (2015) ‘Lee Friedlander: 1960 Self Portrait’ [online], available: https://fraenkelgallery.com/portfolios/1960s-self-portraits [accessed 26 Jul 2015].
Michals, D. (2015). duanemichals.tumblr.com [online], available: http://duanemichals.tumblr.com/ [accessed 26 Jul 2015].
The Rad Pho (2013) ‘The Colourful Mr. Eggleston’, Imagine, available: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3jZ_HkaTXh8 [accessed 26 Jul 2015].
Toohey, P. (2015) ‘Boredom can free the mind, but too much can make you crazy’, The Guardian [online], 1 May, available: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/may/01/boredom-free-the-mind [accessed 26 Jul 2015].
Warner Marien, M. (2010) Photography: A Cultural History, 3rd ed., London: Laurence King.