Exercise 3.2 What Makes Me Unique and How to Photograph It
This was my starting point with this exercise, as I jotted some initial thoughts. It’s another slightly uncomfortable exercise, one of looking at myself and making observations that maybe other people do without even thinking too much about it. Uniqueness, something that sets you apart from everyone else. The more I do this course and consider identity, the more I realise that the concept of uniqueness or difference is one of something that does not exist or is very hard to obtain. However much we try to be different, we all end up looking the same or decorating our houses the same, or hold the same values and ideas. Hans Eijkelboom illustrates this perfectly in his series People of the Twenty-First Century by picking a ‘look’ and deciding to photograph everyone he sees with that particular look, whether it is the jeans and lumberjack shirt look or something more sartorial. we all think we are wearing the latest but we can all pick out those common themes in age groups or gender.
Where to start? For me, I suppose that it begins with what I can do that is not usual among my age group. I go regularly to the gym and do weight training, that is using weights to build muscle although not to the point of being a body builder. How does this make me unique? My perception is that there are more young people doing this than those my age (mid 50s), my age group prefer gentler exercise like yoga, pilates or just walking the dog. I do weight training because I enjoy the challenge it presents – can I lift more weight? Can I get stronger, fitter, faster? To photograph this would involve more ‘selfies’ which abound on Instagram and social media. This is a starting point but there are plenty more ways to explore this. Maybe I will look at this as part of Assignment 3.
The other unique point has been my relationship with music. Like many people, I love music and have spent many hours listening to it and going to see it played live, whether classical (not so much these days) or pop/rock music. What is unique to me is that I also take my camera with me and have been fortunate enough to capture some bands playing live from the front of the stage as well as having spent time backstage and in the studio with them. How do you photograph this? As a starting point, I thought about merging of photos and I tried out a couple of ideas using an in-camera method.
It’s quite basic but there is a symmetry to it with the spine of the music book bisecting the frame and a guitar either side. The colours of the guitars show through and gives it a bit of depth. It is not immediately apparent which layers sits on top. This marries together the idea of written music with the instruments that create it and I think that the colours against the black of the musical notation work well.
I put myself in the frame in this image in order to see whether this ads or detracts from the meaning of the whole thing. To be honest, I am not sure that it works with a person in it. There is too much going on in the frame and while it’s not bad, it doesn’t really say anything to me. However, it was a snap trying out some ideas and it helps as I start to think about Assignment 3 as I was thinking of exploring this type of image. I am not so sure that it works well enough now. I think I will stick to more straightforward images.
As I use my phone a lot for capturing things that I see and like, the two images above were taken using my phone and an app with filters on to recreate old style looks of photos. There are so many colours and interesting things to see in this studio, I could spend hours just looking. Woody Guthrie reminds me that I always wanted to play the piano but never got the chance. I love music but can’t play an instrument and I am envious of those who can, and do it brilliantly. The next best thing is to be around people who can play and sing, and do what I love which is photograph them and their instruments.
Having looked at my uniqueness, I am sure that I am not unique at all but to be a female who photographs musicians is fairly unusual. This has given me food for thought for my Assignment and I may pursue this further.