At last the final assignment for this paper has come together. The brief is applying the techniques of illustration and narrative as if a story for a magazine. including a cover followed by several pages telling the story.
The work I am presenting is the result of several months work. It is by no means finished but the beginning of a body of work I intend to continue with it for some time. Photographing the lives of those on the street is not the sort of work you can plan to just pop out one afternoon and shoot. I have spent months getting to know the people who live on the edges of society's expectations. All of them are fighting addiction of some sort. Alcohol, drugs and mental health issues. I have learnt a lot about friendship and trust. I am often astounded by the actions of so called ordinary members of the public. Why is it necessary to physically attack someone who asks for a few coins. Isn't "no" sufficient?
I began this work taking lovely snaps. The deal was I took their photo and gave a print in exchange. The problem with these pictures was they looked like they belonged in a family album. I still take these pictures as there is a need for this family album. Now though I am permitted to take pictures that reflect more of life as it is. I am learning their individual stories. My next step is to record their stories. First I want the story of how they arrived here. Then I want to follow where they go.
Mickey, for example told me how after 19 months in the hostel and coming off his drug habit had moved into his own apartment two days earlier. ( His partner wasn't so lucky, she died.) However he now feels isolated and lonely. I've heard this story several times now. Coming back to the street for companionship.
In presenting this narrative for my assignment using all of the skills I have obtained over the past year, the hardest was editing. I have become so close to my work it is incredibly hard to be objective. I sought the opinions of several other photographers (and my tutor) to help me be objective. I still can't believe I have been as ruthless as I have. This final selection does NOT include my best portraits! Leaving them out initially felt like cutting off my hand. What I had to do was become more aware of the viewer. They don't know the people or where it is. I worked with prints on a large table shuffling images around to get a flow. I went back through my notes over the past year and considered each of the techniques I had studied. Contrasts, elements of design, colour, lighting techniques, narrative and story telling. Earlier mistakes have not been deleted from my learning log. I find it useful to look at my learning process. Going back through the years work I am pleased with my progress. For example even my most recent errors such as my first attempt to put an essay together. The layout is dreadful.
My selection is now of images all the same orientation. I found on a previous assignment it is very difficult to jump from portrait to landscape and back again. All the pictures are taken outside only using ambient light. This changes so I have selected only those where the colour of the light is similar. The final selection have a dull day, grey/blue feel to them. I reshot the environment pictures to reflect this as well. I have chosen those with similar colours. I rejected a fabulous portrait as the colours were orange tones making the image stop the flow of the narrative. I have used a variety of wide shots and close ups to help me tell the story.
Putting the narrative together I selected one of the images to be the cover, my lead photo to draw the reader in. I begin the story with the local store where high alcohol beer is sold very cheaply. I've included group and individual images. The sign on the edge of the square prohibiting drinking on the street. Just across the road from a pub. They don't drink at the pub it is too expensive. Most pubs will have people gathered on the street outside drinking. A person from the street caught drinking on the street will be issued with an ASBO. My closing image shows the abuse often received as a result of asking for money. This is the image I want the reader to go away with. Hopefully to question their own attitudes and actions.