Max Colson: Tales

Photojournalism MA student at the LCC

Posts Tagged ‘documentary

Landmarks on look and feel

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Here are some examples of the kind of work that I’ve been looking at recently as part of the research into my project. I think the work of Roman Sakovic and Tamas Dezso are worth putting together as they depict landscape in similar ways. There is a sense of detachment both in the pulled back position of the camera, the rigidly formal approach, and the use of desaturation that isolates the subjects from us. We look, clinically. The two are withdrawn surveys of landscape, its character, and its development; as beautiful as they are cold and alien.

Whilst Roman Sakovic’s work is as strong as Dezso’s, I find the variety of subject in the latter more compelling and I feel that my inquiry should not only be restricted to landscape but could also include interiors and portraits. There are telling details in everything but they just need to be united within a particular look and feel, as Deszo has so evocatively demonstrated.

Images from Tamas Dezso’s Here, Anywhere

Images from Roman Sakovich’s Transformation

The stories of Tyneham and Lulworth: initial thoughts on my Major Project

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The Village that Died for England - Patrick Wright

 

From the 1980s to the 1990s the historian Patrick Wright made many trips to Dorset. His targets were Lulworth and the valley of Tyneham, as part of the extensive research he was undertaking for his book The Village that Died for England: the Strange Story of Tyneham. His book concerned the fate of the small village of Tyneham and the surrounding area, a village that had been evicted during the 1940s to enable the MOD to train their tanks as part of the Second World War war effort. It was subsequently never returned to the villagers. Now still largely controlled by the Ministery of Defence for the training of tanks, the majority of the Lulworth area is a patch of British countryside that remains untouched by modern developments such as agriculture and heavy tourism (save for quite a few tank shells obviously). According to his book ‘it has lurked in the national imagination ever since as the symbol of a vanished England’.

 

With a keen grip on the history of the area and its ability to relate to wider themes within Britain’s development, Wright’s research trips allowed him to identify significant locations, people, and events that would help him put the pieces of his story together. In his hands Tyneham and the surrounding area was not only a story about a specific area in England, it was an area which allowed him to investigate the hopes and fears of Britain as it came to terms with the advance of the 20th century: his book “investigates the strengths and weaknesses of ‘organic’ visions of the English countryside. It is concerned with opposed expressions of patriotism, the fear and appreciation of technology and military power, the tension between traditional ideas of English life and the transformations brought about by the modernising State.”

 

I am interested in Wright’s work because it is not just a study of surface appearances but is concerned with tracing a story of Britain, by unravelling and joining together the layers of history hidden at symbolic locations. It is these ‘historical’ points that I want to try to identify and photograph. I’m interested in loosely re-tracing the footsteps of the historian around the area with the same inquisitive eye, trying to ascertain elements which could be used to piece a story together about what this part of rural England was and what it is today. I’m hoping that the kind of images I make will make something that will not just be about a specific location but will allow me to explore what aspects of this area have symbolic potential and why this is. What is it that makes us see something as symbolic? What is it about a site or a way of photographing a place that allows it to comment to the way we think about our country? Which sites are more relevant to our sense of Britain than others and why? Will these images demonstrate a wider significance to the everyone else or will they just say more about my personal point of view of Britain? And most importantly, will anyone actually buy the vision of England that I’m presenting?

 

I have a few ideas about how this project could look like but I will add these in the coming weeks in more posts. I will also be visiting the area for the first time tomorrow on a five day camping trip. The weather forecast is pretty grim but this is all what being a fearless adventurer is all about, right? Let’s hope I can get to grips with the tent and the good old camp stove. Grrrr.

David Hockney & ‘higgledy piggledy’ viewing

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David Hockney's 'Pearblossom Hwy', photographic collage of a Californian highway from 1986 max colson

David Hockney's 'Pearblossom Hwy', photographic collage of a Californian highway from 1986

As I got a couple of books of David Hockney’s work for Christmas I’ve had the chance to dig his work even more than usual. In particular I’ve very much enjoyed reading through the conversations in the newly released book A Bigger Message: his thoughts on photography have been a good companion on my (nebulous, goddamn never ending) trip to working out what it is that I want to do and achieve with the camera. I’ve also found it really refreshing to read someone who’s less concerned with discussing photography as an obstacle to objective seeing and is instead more interested in the tenuous relationship that it has with the fragmented, higgledy piggledy way in which we actually comprehend what’s in front of us with our eyes:

“A photograph sees [The Grand Canyon] all at once, in one click of the lens from a single point of view, but we don’t. And it’s the fact that it takes us time to see it that makes the space.” p.143

“We think the photograph is the ultimate reality, but it isn’t because the camera sees geometrically. We don’t. We see partly geometrically but also psychologically. If I glance at the picture…on the wall over there , the moment I do it becomes larger than the door. So measuring the world in a geometrical way is not that true.” p.53

It’s hard not to be influenced with his work after seeing it. This is a photo collage of my girlfriend’s room that I made a few days ago for her birthday card. Click on the image for a bigger version of the design. It’s nice to play!

Max Colson photo collage david hockney documentary photography

Birthday card design

A gutted room

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Max Colson torn carpet photography

Still meandering with a camera and without a project to put it to I found myself staying at a very lovely house on the outskirts of Bristol recently. The main house was lively and warm, just as I’d remembered it, but at the end of the main arterial hallway I found that the old study was being gutted. There was to be a complete refurbishment; someone new was moving in; everything was gone.

The change from how I had remembered it from before was immense, the loss of familiar objects as striking as it always is. But now daylight was streaming through the front windows without any obstruction, bathing the carpet all over the the room with a strange light. I spent a while in the room photographing what I saw, and recorded what I thought would be intriguing to look at in the future.

I don’t think these images all really go together as a set, because the mood is different in many of them, but regardless here are some of the things that were there:

Max Colson torn carpet photography

Max Colson lamp cracked ceiling

Max Colson plug cracked chipped wall

Max Colson photography wall plug

Max Colson tiled floor puzzle

Max Colson wall drill hole

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November 25, 2011 at 9:37 am

The human presence

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Max Colson photography photographer tomato advertisement

Over the summer I didn’t really know what to do with myself. I had a camera in my room and it was burning a hole in the drawer where I kept it. What the hell kind of images should I make? What was the point of using the camera? Where was I going?

Earlier on in the summer I had handed in my first assessed MA project Napoleon Dynamite with a sense that it was okay. There were some nice images in there but, as was later commented upon, it was a piece which didn’t hang together as well as it could. Nevertheless I learnt a lot more about how to handle my camera under pressure and so it good learning experience in this respect.

I didn’t have any gleaming ideas over the summer either but I wanted to play around with how I was photographing and try something new. To try and free myself I decided to do some walking around London with a tripod and to try not photographing with a journalistic story in mind. Instead the only thing I would do is would to capture anything building or surface that struck me. Inevitably, being pictures taken in a city, there would always be a human presence.

Max Colson photography photographer shadow and face

Max Colson photography photographer council estate bin bag London

Max Colson photography photographer front door spyhole

Max Colson photography photographer council estate delivery boy london

Max Colson photography photographer atm cash machine london

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November 22, 2011 at 9:53 pm

Some bookmarks

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Paul Graham A1- the great North Road

Paul Graham, from 'A1 - The Great North Road'

Haven’t posted recently again. Not that I haven’t been doing anything though, it’s more that I’ve been looking at others a bit more and then separately also trying to work out what the point is of the next thing I shoot.  That and a million other things. God, life is busy sometimes!

Everything is continuously punctuated by blown awayness. For me at the moment it is all about unearthing; I feel like I’m making up for lost time somehow.

The internet is great. It’s at once mountainous but also, inevitably, inspiring. Here is my current list of faves as of Nov 2011, the month of my 26th Birthday. I’ve enjoyed checking these guys out so I hope other people will find them interesting as well:

Walker Evans

Simon Roberts

Tom Hunter

Alec Soth

Vanessa Winship

David Monteleone

Yael Bartana

Walid Raad

Nadav Kandar

Simon Norfolk

Taryn Simon

Broomberg and Chanarin

Stephen Shore

Miriam O’Connor

Thomas Struth

Paul Graham

The good thing is that this doesn’t feel like proasic study, it’s just immensely enjoyable. I guess that’s a good place to be.

We-English-Simon Roberts

from Simon Robert's 'We English'

Frieze 2011

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Frieze 2011 Max Colson Photographer Photography

I went to the Frieze art fair the Saturday just passed, which was quite an interesting experience. I didn’t go there to take pictures really, although I did bring my camera with me and fired off a few frames inadvertently. Mainly I went there to check out what new artists are doing and what’s out there at the moment. As there was so much stuff to see and I only had four hours I didn’t obviously see everything but there was definitely some great stuff there.

I just have to say this artist Walid Raad whose work I saw there was just brilliant. Maybe I’ll ask Santa to buy me some of his work for Christmas 🙂

Here are some other snaps from the fair:

Frieze 2011 Max Colson Photographer Photography

Frieze 2011 Max Colson Photorapher Photography

Written by Max Colson

October 17, 2011 at 3:19 pm