Week 4 – Show and Tell

Profound experiences of place.

That’s one of the key ambitions for this project. But this week I have struggled to be profound. In fact, I have struggled even to be remotely a photographer.

The river, by its very nature, is a big area and the opportunities numerous and at times overwhelming. I am very much overwhelmed.

I am starting to see why artists such as Yan Wang Preston and Jem Southam view the essence of the river subjectively and in a context of less is more.

Since starting this MA I have been challenged to move away from my comfort zone and into a more abstract record of the water, its rhythm and presents – rather than the normal ‘commercial’ images I am used to.

Take for example the following. These are two images I shot of the river today.



They are both scenes of the river in early October.

I am struggling to see these as profound. In fact, I am even struggling to see them as anything other than tourist snaps.

If I look at the work of Jem Southam, I am very struck by the way his images (often of scenes that would go unnoticed by people walking past) draw you into the image. Take for example:


Jem Southam – ‘The Pond at Upton Pyne, December 2001’
From the series The Pond at Upton Pyne – image source 


Jem Southam – ‘The Painter’s Pool, 29 September 2002’
From the series The Painter’s Pool – image source 

Both of these images carry forward an emotion and depth to the frame that is subtle, simplistic yet effective. Both images are of views that – by themselves to the passerby – are plain and otherwise nondescript.

However, Southam has captured such scenes in a way that contextualizes and promotes the view into a more interesting aperture.

I am left wondering, how is this done. What were Southam and others like him, thinking when they took this image. What made this view special and led to the image itself taking on a whole new identity.

I am left with more questions than I have answers.