Ideas & Influences
I plan to expand on the Fortitude Project, not just for myself but for other survivors, to share the experiences of exploring thoughts and feelings using visual expression. Whether that is photo shoots involving Survivors as models or a Survivor's thoughts and ideas simply expressed visually. Not all my work will make it to a public website, due to the highly sensitive nature of the project, only those who are 100% comfortable with having their visual explorations displayed will be shown here.
There were two main photographers that I researched whilst working on the original project, that had influenced my work thus far.
which appeared in an article featured in The Independent a few years ago.
Photographer Jo Spence is someone I’ve researched recently due to her being one of the famous names for pioneering Photographic Therapy throughout her struggle with cancer and after.
She was focused on in the book ‘Phototherapy and Therapeutic Photography in a digital age’ I read to expand on my 'Photographic Therapy' and is the first photographer that springs to mind when I think of therapeutic #selfportraits
One of many driving reasons a photographer takes self-portraits is because its therapeutic! Both the act of taking the image and the act of expressing yourself creatively.
Photographer Influences In-depth
One of the most difficult questions I find to answer is what photographers or photography influences my work.
I don’t look at the world like that.
Until 2016 when I started studying photography, I did not know a single photographer's name, not one.
Yet I have been passionate about and pursued photography consciously since my mid 20's and subconsciously as far back as my early teens.
I later discovered that I have in fact known of photography work throughout my early life, due to my eclectic music taste and the movies I loved.
When I studied evening classes in photography the first photo I ever tried to emulate and recreate the lighting of was the iconic Queen cover album by Mick Rock, later to rectify my lack of knowledge I discovered that many more of Mick Rocks iconic photography was heavily imprinted in my teenage years, especially his Rocky horror show Stills. It’s this very reason that I have always wanted to at least once try out being a stills photographer to at the very least see if it is something I would be interested in.
When I began full-time education again I started learning about photographers, each photographer I researched and delved into the life of fascinated me and I always took something away from this knowledge, there was always something that inspired me about their life or their work.
Those Photographers are Lee Miller, Man Ray, Philip Halsman, Henri Cartier Bresson, Thomas Annan, W. Eugene Smith, Olivia Bee, Cindy Sherman, Richard Wentworth, Iain Sarjeant, Oliviero Toscani, Nan Gouldin, Angela Grahams, Zaneli Muholi, Harry Benson, Anne Geddes, and Arpita Shah. Then, of course, there is Mick Rock, Jo Spence, James Pfaff, Margaret Mitchell, David Eustace and Martin Parr who have left me feeling ‘high’ on hope and inspiration after hearing of their work and motivations. With every new photographer I encounter or research I take something else from the experience.
Lee Miller and Man Ray were my first formal and solid introduction to surrealism, which lead to my experimentations with the “solarizing effect” in my own work. Lee Miller's inspiring life as a female photographer in her time, the struggles as a war photographer, were fascinating and spurred on my own determination, her ability to take portraits without people, using their precious items was the first time I encountered this concept which I later unconsciously started exploring.
Philip Halsman's work with Salvador Dali both amused and inspired the endless possibilities of fun that could be had in perusing photography, the idea that his photographic effects were produced in-camera inspired me to experiment more with my equipment, to learn that he developed a “philosophy of jump photography” finding so much humor in his work inspired me, his eccentricities validated my own.
Henri Cartier Bresson’s street photography, his everyday moments and the term “decisive moment” heavily influenced my pursuit of street photography which is one of my stronger passions.
Thomas Annan’s documentary photography gave me a real insight into how powerful, purposeful and life-changing photography can be, until that point, the idea of documentary photographer terrified me, now I am able to understand and acknowledge it as one of the driving forces in my work.
W. Eugene Smiths' photo essays and his manic stubbornness to stick to his guns despite those around him not understanding his work at the time, this was the first time I fully understood the legacy that photography enabled you to leave behind.
Olivia Bee’s story to success inspired hope, her self-portraiture further encouraged me to pursue self-portraiture, slowly breaking down the society induced misconception that self-portraiture is conceited or vain.
Cindy Sherman’s colourful portraits further opened my mind to the possibilities of colour in photography as the focus.
Richard Wentworth’s series “Making do and getting by” really started to make me think about the “everyday things” style of photography and just how important the seemingly mundane is, as did Iain Sarjeant's “fragments”.
Harry Benson's work was an inspiring testament to just how far and how successful documentary style photography can be, opening my eyes to the endless possibilities.
It was Anne Geddes work that has always inspired me that even in my least favorite genre of photography you can find a niche that you love and enjoy, as a direct result I asked myself if I pursued social photography what would my niche be, I quickly found my answers by looking where my passions were.
Angela Graham’s 'absence of presence' directly inspired me to take similar personal and intimate images in my storytelling.
Zanele Muholi’s work is breath-taking, I had to find out more, yet still have not delved into her work as much as I would like, she was the first photographer that I encountered who had the strong sense of being an activist, which directly helped me realize and discover the activist in myself and my own work.
Arpita Shah’s exhibition was another breath-taking experience, her ability to tell her personal story once again justified my own path within photography, one portrait directly influenced my ideas and experiments in my recent self-portraits.
Jo Spence's work I’ve long admired, her pursuit of Photographic Therapy is something I intend to follow with, her use of self-portraits to heal, finally shed the last of the socially induced misjudgments I had, the more I studied and re-studied her work the braver I became with my own.
David Eustace story of success inspired me, giving me the hope and encouragement, I needed to accept I could be successful too. His finding Eustace series directly influenced the style of photography I produced for my Ripples in the ocean Storybook.
James Pfaff's “Alex and me” exhibition was inspiring, often I worry about how telling my own story makes people feel uncomfortable or I would be judged as an attention-seeking over-sharer. The intimate exhibition of “Alex and me” finally made me understand that there is a place and purpose for work that is very personal. It empowered me to pursue my personal project on a more intimate level.
Martin Parr’s work and the story of success, though not directly my style of photography gave me the courage and inspiration to realize that regardless of what others say, your work matters, no matter how crazy or out there it is.
This In-depth detail into the Photographers that have influenced me comes directly from the Research Essay I compiled for my Abandonment Project
Though this was not directly related to the research necessary for my Abandonment project, after my recent disappointment with my BAhons interview and my inability to verbally communicate in an interview my influences, I felt I owed it to myself to look over the photographers I have encountered and educate myself on how they have influenced my work, there is no guarantee that my words won't fail me again in the future but perhaps writing this will help.
Within my #FortitudeProject there are a few subdivisions;
*Exploring self-expression and Therapeutic Photography with other volunteer survivors as the subject, not all of which will be on display due to the sensitive nature of the project.
*My own self-expression of thoughts and feelings as a Child Abuse Survivor.
*Some visual images connected to re-visiting my childhood from a new perspective, this will be a slow-going project.