Shaama Reese written study example


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Shaama Reese written study example

  1. 1. Shaama Reese A study comparing and contrasting the work of Martin Parr and Sophie Calle, looking specifically at how they use still life within documentary In this study I will be looking at the genre of documentary photography, in particular how still life of objects and close ups are used to document people’s lives and events. I’ve chosen this genre as still life is something that is so broad and can be used in so many different ways, and documentary is an interesting aspect of still life as it allows the photographers to interpret their subjects using the objects they’ve photographed. However, this is quite a step forward from my summer project as my main focus for that was wildlife and nature, but I feel that by moving on to still life within documentary I will be able to experiment with my photographs and involve my own point of view. The photographers I have chosen to look at are Martin Parr and Sophie Calle. Both of these people photograph their subjects and objects from an insider’s point of view. Calle does this in various ways, including inviting people to sleep in her bed in her shoot The Sleepers or by following a particular person for two weeks in her shoot Suite Vénitienne. Parr does this by spending time with subjects and experiencing their way of life, for example with his photos 'Chew Stoke: a Year in the Life of an English Village'. I have chosen to look at these photographers as I find the way they use still life to document people’s lives allows you to interpret people’s lives from an unusual perspective that you wouldn’t consider before. I will compare their photographs by looking at how different and how similar they are, and the different technical aspects that have been used. Because of this I hope incorporate the idea of being able to interpret objects and how they connect to someone from your own point of view within my own practical work. Martin Parr – Axbridge, Somerset (1999) The main first hand research I did was going to the Mshed to look at the Martin Parr exhibition on Bristol and the West. This allowed me to look at Parr’s work for myself, and the way that he puts together the pieces to present them. It was interesting to see the way the photographs of objects can build up to create an image of what the subject is like. It also helped with how I could interpret still life myself as it allowed me to see the different ways objects could be taken and the different technical skills used. I then advanced on my first hand research by looking at books such as Martin Parr’s Common Sense which as many photographs of objects and close ups, and The Photography Book which had quite a few photographers using objects and still life including Jan Groover, Emmanuel Sougez, and Sophie Calle.
  2. 2. Shaama Reese Martin Parr approaches his subjects with a unique perspective as he hopes to show society in a way that we’ve never seen it before to counteract the photographs that are shown in today’s media. Recently he has moved on to photography that is a lot more close up including things like people and food to “become part of the big picture”. Before 2004 he either used a Fuji 400 Superior film or Fuji 100 asa film depending on the type of camera he used, and to get the bright colours he just used flash alongside the coloured film instead of using Photoshop. With his photograph Harvest Home, Shew Stoke 1992 the use of saturated colour helps to emphasise all the colours not just in the foreground but also in the background. The way that Parr has then used lighting by having the light coming from the left of the image helps to emphasise the colour of the lemon curd even more. You can also tell that the light must have come from high up due to the shadow’s that been created. By having a shallow depth of field it helps to draw your attention to the lemon curd in the foreground and suggests that all the lemon curd’s in the background were also part of the competition but didn’t do as well. However, by having more than one lemon curd in the image it helps the overall idea that this is what people living in a village make quite regularly, and this then goes towards his overall project of ‘a year in the life of an English village.’ However, in comparison most of Sophie Calle’s work is in black and white, and the images that are in colour are quite dull compared to Parr’s work. One of her most famous projects is The Hotel. While working as a chambermaid, Calle took photos of the guest’s belongings and wrote her findings every day. Like Parr, she uses objects and close ups to help build a bigger picture and to help her piece together what she believes the person to be like and what their lives are like. However, Parr seems to portray his objects in a way that are true to the subject, whereas Calle interprets the objects giving her own personal view. This gives her more of a relationship with the person she’s documenting on, for example in one of the texts for The Hotel after the guest was gone she wrote "He has left his orange peels in the wastebasket, three fresh eggs on the windowsill, and the remains of a croissant which I polish off. . . . I will try to forget him. . . . I shall miss him." In addition, Calle’s use of the camera is not as technical as Parr’s work. Although she thinks of what she wants to
  3. 3. Shaama Reese document, she doesn’t choose the composition of the objects herself. To her “ the photograph’s first intention is not to be beautiful or technically brilliant but to record” as she feels that “using the camera to document is obviously photography’s primary function but to call it art is what other photographers’ object to.” I tried to recreate The Hotel shoot in my own room, and I did this by focusing on the objects and the environment to show how they really look, rather than by taking the photo in a way that would make the objects look more interesting than they really are. My own shoot To conclude, it is clear that both Parr and Calle use objects and close ups in different ways to document people’s lives. Parr thinks more about the technical aspects of his shoots in regards to the lighting, whereas Calle’s main focus is the object itself. I would also say that Calle takes much more insiders point of view. From her first shoot in 1979 to the present day Calle has not only put herself in other people’s shoes as a way of documenting their lives, she has also put herself in the public eye. Although Parr does take an insider’s approach as he spends time with his subjects, he doesn’t get as emotional involved as Calle does. However, this is not to say that Parr’s way of documenting people’s lives through objects isn’t as effective, as with both Parr and Calle you are able to put the objects together to make your own interpretation of what you believe the person to be like.