Following a discussion with my tutor, Les Monaghan, I realised that I had set the context for the assignment using an example of work by Robert Doisneau and analysed it using Barratt’s analogy: internal, external and original context, but this context did not fit with the example of my bike. Les pointed out that the photograph referenced was of people, whereas my example was an object. He suggested I return to my subject and create a series of photographs which implied human intervention, told a story.
As suggested I researched the work of photographer David Moore. To create his series “The Last Things” he was given access to a secure military location below ground, which would be used in the case of there being a threat to the country. For security reasons, he was not allowed to show any people or items which could be identified and used in some way. Yet, he has managed to convey a human presence in each of his images. For example, the one entitled “Officers Quarters” shows a shampoo bottle, a tub of Nivea and some discarded epaulettes. He has used the effect of light in the one entitled “Broadcast Studio”. It appears as if someone is about to come into the room, sit in the chair and start broadcasting. In each image there is a feeling that someone was there just before he took the photograph, but had stepped away to the side, just out of shot.
Moore also created a series of photographs taken in the House of Commons. Once again, he has not included any people in this series, but there is a feeling of a strong human presence in each photograph. I was particularly drawn to the image of the scratches caused by heels along the wooden seating of the Opposition backbenches!
http://davidmoore.uk.com/intro [accessed 28/10/2019]
I was aware of Les’s work in at the Brighton Photofringe: WeAreAllConnected (2018). The series, on his Instragram page, shows a number of situations rather than people. In some photographs there are no people, just objects, and in others where there are people, it may only be hands, or the back of a head. As with David Moore’s work, there is a strong human presence in all the images regardless of whether they are actually there.
https://www.instagram.com/lesmonaghanphoto/ [accessed 28/10/2019]
Les also sent me some photographs which he took while working with cadets, illustrating the use of light and shallow depth of field, and how they can be used to give the impression of something implicit in its presence. For example the shadow being cast onto the face of an officer by his peaked cap makes recognition almost impossible.
To contextualise these images with the one which I included in my assignment: Robert Doisneau, it is not necessarily what is explicitly in the photograph, but what is in shadow, out of focus, or missing entirely that tells the story.
So to return to my bike, I decided I would take some additional photographs with a shallower depth of field than before, and to include items and viewpoints which imply I’m just about to cycle off.
I have selected 8 images from the series, shown below, and updated the contact sheet, (see link below).