John Stezaker (born 1949) living in Worcester, is an english conceptual artist who focuses on experimenting with photographic collage techniques. Stezaker uses found photographs such asvintage photographs, old Hollywood film stills, travel postcards and other printed images. Stezaker is a very independent artist and his work has been shown in many solo exhibitions around the world and is part of many art museum collections.
I feel that the main concept behind Stezakers work is how he focuses on relationships and creating conversations by combining two very different photographs. Stezaker uses found photographs of mainly landscape and portraiture. Stezaker uses mainly old photography in his collages but I really love how he uses grayscale photography for the background photograph and colour in the foreground. Using colour in the foreground, especially for nature, adds this excitement and much more vibrance to these old grayscale photographs. I really like these images below because of how he has focused on relationships and used portraiture of couples behind kissing/ flirting/ talking etc and covering with landscape nature images. Stezakers collage is very simple with only 2 layers always being used in his work, however Stezaker is very smart and unique in how he connects the two images by using line and shape to merge areas of the face and continuing them on with the hills and trees in the landscape photography. Stezaker focuses a lot on relationships and the use of nature in the collages could be his way to show how love is natural.
I feel that another concept behind Stezakers work is the documentation of truth and memory because of how he uses these old found images and adds his own modern meaning when combining images. I really like these portraiture collages below from Stezakers 2006 'Marriage' series. Stezaker used old hollywood images of male and female film stars and connected them by cutting and overlapping the photographs to perfectly join facial features and create these stylistic surreal collages. I really love how Stezaker has this style to almost perfectly join images of peoples faces and also shows this rough style when presenting his work by not perfectly cutting and framing the images.
The Theme for this A2 project was 'Personal Project'. For this project I had to link it to my previous project by using and exploring my pathway of documentary. For my previous project, I explored documentary by documenting housing problems in croydon. For this project I wanted to continue with documenting my hometown of croydon and by looking at crime and documenting the negativity croydon is known for. For my outcome I created two digital collages inspired by Miles Donovan and Kurt Schwitters including film and digital photography I had taken in the style of WeeGee and Ed Thompson.
When creating my Final outcome I used photoshop to be able to use different effects and paint brushes to distress and manipulate my photographs and to form them all together to create a Miles Donovan inspired digital collage. I used a mixture of digital and film photography. When developing my film photography I used techniques such as vignetting and dodging and burning. For my research I looked at artists such as Miles Donavan, Kurt Schwitters, WeeGee, Richard Vantielcke, Tuen Voeten and Ed Thompson. For my outcome I created two inspired collages looking at two similar themes. I created one looking more at criminal activity such as stabbings, murder, gangs, burglary etc. I also created another one looking more at hidden crime/ depression giving a quite paranormal, mysterious feel to it. I used text in the collages to show these themes and the areas I was documenting but used jumbled up typewriter style typography because I wanted to still keep the themes slightly hidden and to make people feel what they think about the themes being shown.
I feel that my outcome was a success and I really love that in the end I decided to add colour to the white areas in the collage to make it much more unique. I added colour because I felt that my collage was very negative and upsetting because of all the negativity I was documenting about croydon and I wanted to show how I see croydon. I have been living in and around croydon my whole life and even though at the moment a lot of criminal activity is happening, it isn't as bad as the press portray it. Croydon is still a happy positive location and has many positive areas and people who live there. I chose yellow, orange and blues because I felt that these were the best colours when experimenting and they show positivity and happiness. Yellow and orange are bright happy colours which I used for my crime themed collage and blues are known to be calming so I used these for my depression themed collage.
I feel that throughout this project I have improved and learnt many new skills. My digital skills have vastly improved from experimenting a lot in photoshop and looking at many artists work. I feel that I have also learnt new skills in the darkroom and digital in making photographs look much more distressed and almost like paranormal found footage. I feel that I have also improved my photography skills to make my photographs look much more realistic showing action and emotion instead of set-up and much more plain and simple photography.
I feel that if I had more time I could've taken more photographs of more people and looked at more crime news stories instead of taking photographs of only two people. However I feel that taking photographs of only two people worked well because it almost shows a story throughout because of how I have used my sister as the victim and my friend as the criminal because of how it looks like he is terrorising her and he is the killer. I did complete all that I wanted to do but feel that I could've experimented with more film experiments because I really like the film photography I scanned in to use for my collage. Overall I am very pleased with my final piece because I feel I have successfully documented croydon as I wanted to and I really like how I have progressed from previous project and explored my pathway of documentary.
I have chosen to explore documentary photography throughout the A2 personal project and look at how social events and contexts have been portrayed through past and contemporary documentary photography. Throughout AS and A2 I have been inspired and been looking at past pioneer photographers such as Henri Cartier-Bresson and William Klein. I have also recently in the A2 project been looking at much more contemporary documentary photographers and looking at how they have documented social events throughout their photography. I chose togo down the pathway of Documentary photography because I felt that it was the pathway I enjoyed the most when researching and trying different experiments during the AS - A2 project and really love how you can put across a meaning and view point of a event that has happened in the past or that is happening around you everyday.
I really want to focus in on problems much closer to home and look at contemporary photographers that focus in on problems that may happen everyday or are affecting the society in areas of London and discuss the way they might show their opinion or viewpoint compared to past photographers who expressed their problems, such as war, in their time. For my personal project I have chosen to look at crime and depression and really go quite in depth to show the hidden crime and negativity that is happening around us everyday.
Henri Cartier-Bresson (August 22, 1908 – August 3, 2004) was a French photographer and early user of 35 mm format and known as the master of candid photography. I have always been inspired by Bresson's work because of how he always thinks and plans his photography to be able to show deeper meaning and creates the viewer of the photo really look at small detail in the image to be able to figure out what Bresson was trying to say and document through the image. 'Images à la sauvette' ('The Decisive Moment') was a book published by Bresson in 1952. The book consisted of 126 photographs and shows his journey around the world from east and west. I really like this quote from Bresson: "To me, photography is the simultaneous recognition, in a fraction of a second, of the significance of an event as well as of a precise organisation of forms which give that event its proper expression." This really shows how Bresson really thinks about his prints and captures 'The Decisive Moment' to be able to document his personal view and the proper expression of the event.
Henri Cartier-Bresson 'The Decisive Moment'
This photo above was taken by Bresson, in Marseille, France in 1932. After fully looking through Bresson's profile on magnum photos I found that I liked this photograph and was one of my favourites out of all of them. When first looking at this photo I already saw that there is loads of information and questions that could be raised about it. I couldn't find much information about this photo but researched a bit about black slavery in 1932 because I felt that the man on the floor could be black skinned and the man in the suit could be a white male because his skin looks slightly lighter in tone and he is in a suit, meaning that he could be the buyer and owner of the black man lying on the floor. I then saw in the description of this photo which showed some key words that stated the words 'black people' and 'white people' however next to black it does say '(all)' which could mean they are both black. I really like this photograph though because of how it does have so little information because it makes you look more into detail and find out more about the era it was taken in. I love in the photograph how Bresson has thought about composition and has angled the image nearer the man on the floor, this gives more attention to the man because he is a bigger subject in the frame. I also really like how Bresson has timed the image perfectly so that you can see the emotions on their faces, especially how the man in the suit has a smug smile on his face.
William Klein is an American photojournalist and fashion photographer (born April 19, 1928). William Klein has taken a countless street photographs throughout his years of photography and has earned a reputation as an anti-photographer’s photographer because of the techniques he uses. Klein uses techniques such as often blurring photos or making them out of focus, over exposing negatives, high grain film, wide angle photography, natural lighting and motion blur which all changed photography.
William Klein is similar to Cartier Bresson and they are both seen as well known pioneers of documentary photography. But Klein's work is very different to Bresson's work because of how he focused on the city and went in depth and to the underbelly of New York and other cities. He focused on the ghetto and the negative parts of the cities and showed this through asking people to pose to create a capture of the action in these areas of the cities. Klein's work compared to Bresson's is mainly set up and uses many techniques to be able to capture the action and what he sees in the areas he lives in and show the ghetto and underbelly of how sees it. I was quite surprised when first finding out about Klein's work and how it is set up, because a lot of his work looks quite action packed because of the way he uses techniques such as blur. I researched up on Klein's most key image 'Broadway and 103rd street (Gun 1)' and found that it was set up by Klein. Klein stated this in a interview: "Its fake violence, a parody. I asked the boy to point the gun at me and look tough. He did, and then we both laughed...". Cartier Bresson on the other hand waits and plans for his photos and will chose locations and wait for that 'Decisive moment' to happen, so that he can document that event in time. Klein also has books published, just like Bresson. In 1954 Klein returned to his hometown of New York and wanted to create a photo diary documenting life in new york. William Klein is a big influence for me for this personal project because I have decided to focus on social context in my hometown (Croydon) just like Klein. I want to also use Klein's techniques of setting up photographs and use techniques such as blur and other effects to capture that action in the shot just like Klein and also capture the event as its proper expression just like Bresson.
Kleins work has influence me a lot through the whole photography course because of how I have used his techniques such as motion blur and crash zooming to be able to capture the life of the image. I feel that this is some of my best pieces of photo work in which I used and experimented with motion blur and crash zooming to be able to show action and life in the photographs.
The use of books and photo diaries has changed a lot over the years throughout photography because of how many contemporary documentary photographers like Ed Thompson focus more on one area and document what they see and choose a social context to explore to create a photo diary out of. Klein and Bresson focus much more on capturing moments in different areas and not focusing on certain problems in those locations, just documenting what they see and feel about that moment in time. Ed Thompson is a digital documentary photographer who specifically focuses on different subjects in the areas he visits and creates photo diaries from a series of photographs covering and showing different aspects of the problem that he wants to make people aware of. He has many photo essays were he has focused on subjects such as Occupy London (London Protesters), Nuclear Families, Re-Home (Battery Caged Chicken Farming), The Texas Hill Country and many more. I feel that Ed Thompson is similar to William Klein because of how they both create photo diaries in different locations but I feel that Ed Thompson focuses more on the social context in that community and documents what he is interested in along with writing essays to go alongside the subject photographs. Ed Thompson has also been known to create photo books filled with information and his views about the topic alongside with the photographs. Klein is much more of a broader street photographer and focuses more on different the different locations and exploring the overall area other than documenting a social context happening in the location.
When looking at Ed Thompson's 'Occupy London' project, I really loved how he documented the London protestors and how he was so close up and involved in the violence and outbreak that was happening. I also really like Thompson's work because of how he is really enthusiastic about the subjects he documents and really goes all out into finding the back story and fully involving himself into a problem he wants to document in society. Cartier Bresson is also very similar in this aspect as he really fully dedicates his time into capturing a good photograph in a location he might of found and been keeping an eye on over a long period of time. Bresson really waits and thinks about the shot before hand to capture that all important moment in time in all its glory.
When focusing on my personal project I feel I want to focus on social contexts in my own home area of croydon because focusing on somewhere you know is very similar to what all three of these photographers do. Bresson, Klein and Thompson are three documentary photographers who really immerse themselves in to the location (Bresson and Klein) or the topic they are looking at (Thompson). Bresson was a photographer who use to travel a lot and even when in india he became one with the culture by living there for a year and ended up creating a whole photo book about his travels there and the culture.
In conclusion, I have found throughout research and analysis about how documentary photography has changed over time and how different social contexts have been documented. Looking back at past pioneers of photography such as Henri Cartier-Bresson and William Klein I have found that there way of documenting was to explore an area or specific part of the world to document that place in time. Bresson was quite a patient photograph I feel because of how he would study the culture in the area he visited and live there for periods of time to wait for those key decisive moments of an event in locations he has researched to document its proper expression. Klein was a photographer on the other hand that would visit an area, mainly built up cities, and document city life how he sees it and how he wants others to see it. To get this expression Klein would focus on using unique techniques and set up the photograph to show his exact expression. Bresson also set up his photography but however would do it different by visiting a location over and over to make sure the framing, composition, props, landscape and lighting etc was all perfect. Bresson wasn't a fan of cropping his photograph or using camera effects.
When looking at much more modern photographers such as Ed Thompson I found that he is unique in his work but also slightly similar to Bresson and Klein in how he documents social contexts and events. I feel that the difference now in more modern work is that many photographers such as Thompson tend to focus in on subjects in more detail with additional photo essays to go along side their work to show the problem they are going really in depth on. Bresson and Klein focused more on much broader subjects throughout time such as Bresson with war photos and Klein with the ghetto, guns and city etc. Thompson would chose a subject in a small area and focus on researching the topic and documenting it in its full honesty and not how the media may portray the subject. For example: Ed Thompson's 'Nuclear Families' project is about families living right next to nuclear power stations. This subject might be portrayed in a negative light because of danger for children, however Thompson has taken photographs of various smiling of the families and them enjoying themselves. In his photoessay alongside it, he also stated views from the parent and how they love being isolated because they feel their children are safe from "21st century child snatchers". I feel that when looking overall and comparing all their work, I feel that I really love the way Bresson and Klein have to make you think about whats going on in the photograph and question whether or not its set up or what they are trying to document. In Thompson's work, and other modern documentary work, many photographers tend to make it very easy for the audience to figure out what they are documenting but I really like how there is a set theme to their photo diaries and each lot of photographs has a social context that has been explored. For my documentary photography, I want to use both past and present techniques, by making the social context clear but use William Klein's techniques such as blur, camera shake, high grain etc to hide my views slightly to make the viewer look more in depth just like I try to do when looking at Bressons work.
Miles Donovan is an Illustrator and art director living and working in London. His work has been used internationally for editorial and advertising clients including The New York Times, Creative Review, Newsweek, The Guardian, The Telegraph, TIME and Wired. You can find his illustrations in the books
'Illusive', 'The Fundamentals of Illustration', 'Pen and Mouse' and 'Illustration Play'. Miles Donovan is an artist who creates these abstract and unique digital and handmade collages. Most of Donovan's work is very colourful and bright where he experiments with text and shape.
Miles Donovan was an artist that I looked at near the beginning of this personal project. I was looking at his much more colourful work along with other artists collages such as Kurt Schwitters, David Carson and Andy Warhol. I was looking at Donovan and these artist because I was creating collages to develop my chosen theme of crime. Out of all of the experiments I really enjoyed creating and really loved my inspired Miles Donovan and Kurt Schwitters outcomes. I used some of my own photographs from previous projects, found photographs and used photoshop to be able to experiment with colour and shape.
These were my first experiments:
Miles Donovan Inspired
Kurt Schwitters Inspired
A collage was something that was a possibility for me for my outcome because I felt that the use of a selection of photographs, text and colour could really help with documenting a theme and expressing my views and opinions on the subject. After experimenting with a selection of digital and film photographs I felt that a collage was definitely an idea for my outcome. We having a variety of images for my collage and having a fixed theme I wanted to document and express I started to look back at Miles Donovan's work and found some collage work of his I really liked. These two collages (below) are two from Donovan's website portfolio. I really like these collages because of how I feel they match with my chosen theme of crime. I feel they match because of how Donovan has used spray paint and other urban quite underground abstract effects. Donovan uses a variety of harsh lines, rectangular shapes, and edited photographs to be able to create these urban city landscapes. I really love how Donovan uses layers of lines, shapes and photos to be able add a 3d feel to the collages. I feel that the 2nd image below almost looks like a city panorama.