I think a lot about production values. They are present from the moment we conceive an idea for a photo or image and run through every stage of the process. Realist photos might take on the appearance of realism and make such values more implicit – but they are just as present in reality as in expressionist or formalist imagery. This is because photographic conventions apply and often the conventions or norms are so strong and ubiquitous that they become invisible to the minds eye. Gombrich demonstrated this in Art and Illusion (1960) and Schwab’s lecture I mentioned in my last post reminded me the fact. Take this image below as an example.
At one level this photo presents itself as a simple window on the world. In other words the camera’s presence is not wholly obvious here. But of course, choices of how to frame the shot, what aspect ratio to use, and what to include and exclude have had to be made. So I can tell you that I shot this with an ISO of 160, using a 26mm lens with an aperture of f/5 and a shutter speed of 1/80th of a second. But if I chose to present the image differently, say like this below with a faux Lomo effect then my – the producers – choices become much more obvious.
Maybe this is how I can evoke my intended meaning. But would this work on an image of my street? Another approach is to offer images where the only thing is the sign or symbol such as in those I present here. But these photos don’t offer a particular commentary unless I place a series statement along with them to orientate the viewer to my intended meaning.
Yet it isn’t just the processing that affects production values, things as simple as what aspect ratio is chosen can have a great impact on the evocation. Look at the before and after image below.
Both versions of the photo are realist in nature but the second has been processed to bring out the features of the vista and make the picture interesting as well as making a statement. Maybe juxtaposing signs against landscapes would work for me. I will have to think about that.
The aim for Project 11
I need to consider what I want to say visually here, in vistas with signs. I think my aim is to challenge the assumption of normalcy of the disability symbol and my being a “special” class of person. That is I want to reveal the symbol’s social roots – make it explicit – so that I make the viewer realise that choices about how we organise the physical and social environments are made and not inevitable.
I did touch on this subject last year with a photo of the day I created here.
The idea was to use the active graffiti image to work against the symbols in the signage. So coming back to the subject I produced this below.
This didn’t really work because the effect looks too contrived. But then I created this image which works best as a diptych.
The diptych approach works (although the image looks best on my projects website – here – rather than in this format because it’s quite narrow) well as it shown what is present in one image and then offers me the chance to produce a visual commentary with a second photo and so the images work off of each other. So in this case I have not only added a dynamic symbol to the wall as graffiti but also altered the sign’s symbols from static to dynamic. I think this is the way to go. I can afford to let the images be processed in a realist style because the interest in created in the resonance between them.
E H Gombrich Art and Illusion: A study in the Psychology of Pictorial Representation, Phadion Press 1960 (1987 fifth edn)