Assignment 2 Preparation

This will be an ongoing post, to show my thoughts and ideas for this assignment.

Given the current situation with Covid-19 it would perhaps be a bit strange not to use this as a starting point in some way. David, my tutor, in my recent feedback session, pointed out that this is really a great opportunity to produce a series of assignments with an overall theme around the pandemic and its effects.
I intend to investigate how other photographers have responded to similar situations – not necessarily directly to Covid-19 but in ways that correspond to related concerns. As a start point I’ve produced a list of words taken from my Thesaurus that relate to words appearing frequently in the news.

Crisis – Turning point, Crux, Climax, Moment of truth, Zero hour, Rubicon, Emergency, Disaster, Catastrophe, Mess, Trouble, Dilemma, Quandary

Isolated – Alone, Solitary, Lonely, Exiled, Forsaken, Forlorn, Secluded, Hidden, Desolate

Confine – Shut up, Cage, Coop up, Imprison, Intern, Incarcerate, Intern

I have been looking at the work of two Japanese photographers, Masahisa Fukase and Daido Moriyama. Both have aspects of their work that may be useful in conceptualising this assignment. As well as the words I listed previously, it seems to me that life at the moment is in a sort of limbo, where everything is unclear and yet straightforward. I more or less know what each day will be like but it becomes harder and harder to distinguish one day from another.

Moriyama often makes use of extremely grainy images, where the image has been deliberately constructed as discrete dots. This pixillated effect gives the images a strong sense of fogginess, obscurity, where the meaning is intentionally clouded by more than just the subject matter itself. I see possibilities in adopting a similar approach to try and elucidate the current state of the world, where we are just existing in a impermanent state.

Fukase’s ‘Ravens’ project makes a lot of use of very dark tones, lending the work a strong sense of mournfulness and regret. I’m not so sure I intend to try and replicate this in my work here – I don’t necessarily share the same sense of despair as Fukase seems to – but use of muted tones may be a useful aid to depicting a sense of unease.

Moriyama’s use of grainy images did suggest uncertainty, which fits in with my thoughts of how to depict the sense of limbo in these uncertain times. I took a few photographs from a distance with a high ISO (6400), and then cropped down to show my intended subject.
IMGP2502 cropped B&W
Using this approach for the entire set may well be too artificial but it does supply a feeling of lack of clarity – a bit too obviously perhaps

A second possible approach is to photograph everyday objects as signs.
The rather dark tones also give an overt feeling of lack of clarity, and the footballs themselves point directly to the cancellation of all sport


It is nearly a month since I last updated this post but I have been thinking about this assignment alongside other coursework and research. In this time I have researched other photographer’s responses to the Covid-19 lockdown, which has unsurprisingly become a very common theme. I find myself split between wanting to document a response to lockdown, but wanting to find something new to say – which is not easy.

The assignment brief is to produce a set of photographs to convey a specific idea. Lockdown itself is rather broad but the period since I started this part of the course has brought changes to the way I see the world and life in general. I want to use this set to try and document a low move away from uncertainty towards a gradual return to normality. The work of Fukase and Moriyama that I mentioned earlier now seems too bleak for a consistent approach to everything here, but I may look to this as a start point before leading into a lighter tone.

John Mraz’s critique of Salgado’s “Other Americas” has made me even more conscious of how image selection and sequencing can radically affect the way a set is received. I’m aware that any idea of a ‘return from lockdown’ is always going to be my experience but I will aim to make this as universal as I can

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