For my PEP 130 - Photographic Theory 1: Histories, Theories and Practice class, I was tasked with working in the style of a given photographer and creating an A2 poster and a presentation about that photographer.
The specifics of my assignment is to produce a two-part presentation, part one is an A2 poster about the photographer and a 5-10 minute presentation delivery. I need to take 3 A4 sized images in the style of my photographer and they will feature in both the presentation delivery and the poster, unless the two are the same thing.
The A2 poster has to have the name of the photographer, my name, the three images and any accompanying text that I deem important and so that a reader of the poster would be able to gain a basic overview of my photographer.
The 5-10 minute presentation should contain a mix of biographical information about the photographer and how I went about working in their style. It also needs to include what I’ve learnt from working in the style of my photographer and any key points of interest regarding the subject. My given photographer was Shirley Baker.
The presentation delivery can be presented in an way I like, from a video to standing in front of my poster and speaking.
I decided to create a video as I have done in the past for other, different presentations and it adheres to my personal strengths. Like most people I know I get nervous when I must address a group of people, especially in a formal way such as this so by creating a video I was able to eliminate the variable of human error. I wrote myself a script and performed the lines to my camera, repeating them as many times as necessary until I was happy with the wording and the way it sounded. In order to increase the variety in my video, rather than just have me talking from between 5 and 10 minutes, I found a video of a curator talking about my photographer and what is a plus is that the curator knew her as they worked together. I used parts of the video that were relevant to my presentation (referencing the video of course) and edited it to combine it with my speaking part of the video. Throughout I placed photos of Baker’s work that I looked at to complete the project so that the audience would have a better idea of her work and see how my three images mimic her style of photography. Then, in the background I put a nice piece of lyric-less music, for the ambiance.
My day to deliver my presentation is Wednesday the 4th of January between 9 and 12 am, and I’m glad to say it is all done. My assigned photographer, Shirley Baker, was a street photographer and this is some of the information I found out and have put on my poster/presentation:
Shirley Baker was born 9th July 1932 and died 21st September 2014. She was a British photographer who is best known for her street photography and street portraits set in the working class areas of Manchester.
“She […] worked as an industrial photographer, as a freelance writer and photographer on various magazines, books and newspapers, and as a lecturer at Salford College of Art and Manchester Polytechnic.”
(The Photographer’s Gallery. (2015). Shirley Baker. Available: http://thephotographersgallery.org.uk/3180/Shirley-Baker/709. Retrieved 28th December 2016)
Baker mainly took photographs for herself and relating to her own personal interest. She undertook a personal project of unposed photographs of the people living during a slum clearance in Salford and Manchester that lasted decades.
During her lifetime, Baker had two books published that displayed her photographs called ‘Street Photographs: Manchester and Salford’ and ‘Streets and Spaces: Urban Photography - Salford and Manchester - 1960s-2000’. After her death another book of her work was published entitled ‘Women and Children; and Loitering Men’.
The main focus here is on the images that feature in the publication ‘Women and Children; and Loitering Men’ which “focuses on Baker's depictions of the urban clearance programmes of inner-city Manchester and Salford during 1961 - 1981 and the work documents what Baker saw as the needless destruction of working class communities”.
(The Photographers' Gallery. (2015). SHIRLEY BAKER Women, Children and Loitering Men. Available: http://thephotographersgallery.org.uk/shirley-baker-women-children-and-loitering-men-2. Retrieved 28th December 2016.)
Due to the slum clearance, the adults in the community are fully aware of all the change and the impact of what is happening around them but the children are rather oblivious and, as can be seen in Baker’s work, instead find excitement and adventure in the mess.
“The children saw things differently, […] for to them it was a giant playground with untold treasure hidden amongst the junk and rubble.”
(The Photographer’s Gallery. (2015). Shirley Baker. Available: http://thephotographersgallery.org.uk/3180/Shirley-Baker/709. Retrieved 28th December 2016).
The children also really enjoyed being photographed by Baker and would often run towards her when they saw he coming, beaming and willing to become her photographic subjects.
Shirley Baker engaged a lot with her subjects and the majority of her photographs from this body of work were shot on a Rolleiflex camera so she would look down and her face would not be completely obscured, making it easier to keep conversations with her subjects and be more present.
Here are the three images that I took to use for my ‘In The Style of’ assignment:
My Photographs Briefly Explained:
My images are set in the monochrome feature that matches a majority of Baker’s photographs, even though she did eventually move on to colour images I prefer the appearance of her black and white images as to me they feel more representative of the peak of the era she photographed. . They features children, as do Baker’s images, with image two presenting the smiles and innocence that Baker often captured as the eager children ran towards her to be shot, which is also what happened here as I took out my camera and the two brothers ran in front of me so I would have to photograph them. The background in image one shows an old structure such as those in the backgrounds of her images (although their remains feature more heavily in her work) and it depicts a mother and child like a lot of her images do. The third captures a background of a low income area and a young boy out in the cold winter air, which is similar to a small winter feature Baker took in the project. The serious look on his face is often captured in Baker’s images of the older kids and the adults.
Overall I have found working in the style of Shirley Baker very interesting and have enjoyed undertaking this project (despite how much it was stressing me out and concerning me at the start when I first received it) and I’m sure that Baker’s photography will help to influence me and give me ideas in the future as I develop myself as a photojournalist.