Vanessa Winship “Georgia, a small piece of Eden”
August Sander “People of the twentieth century”
Notes on my initial plan for assignment 1. For this we are asked to produce a small photo essay to show our engagement with our local community.
For the last eight months or so I have been volunteering at a local community-owned family centre. In order to help raise funds to make the centre financially stable, there is a twice weekly shop in the building selling dried goods and cleaning products as refillable items. The shop is entirely run by volunteers working in pairs on two to three hour shifts.
In the time I have been volunteering there I have got to know several of the other volunteers and am aware that people have different reasons for offering their time. Apart from a general environmental concern most people there have a secondary reason for wanting to help. I will be retiring in the next two years or so and am conscious I need to start thinking about what I will do with my time. I see helping out at the refill shop is a first step towards my ‘third age’ plans.
I am in the process of confirming with the other volunteers that they are OK with being photographed. GDPR regulations mean I do not have contact details for other volunteers so am waiting for the organiser to contact them on my behalf.
I have been investigating other photographers while researching the best approach for this work.In an exercise for this part of the course the article by Simon Bainbridge led me to Vanessa Winship’s project “Georgia, a small piece of Eden”. This consists entirely of full length black and white images of people she has met in Georgia. The images are fairly static and is debatable whether they tell a story (in Jon levy’s words) at all. There is a purely functional air about this work, similar almost to August Sander’s “People of the Twentieth Century” project. Although “Georgia” is documentary in the most open meaning, at the moment I feel this approach would make for too static a set. Documenting my engagement has to be more than just photographs of other volunteers.
I am thinking of possibly interspersing images of volunteers with other images from the shop and the centre itself. I would want the images to provide more internal context to the work, rather than having to fully explain the set in order for any observer to make any sense of it.