Max Colson: Tales

Photojournalism MA student at the LCC

Posts Tagged ‘film

Focusing

with one comment

max colson photography documentary backyard messy

Well it’s been a while.

I’ve been doing a lot of questioning of myself as of late. Being on an MA is pretty useful for that of course, but also the prospect of it ending and me then going out into the wide world has also prodded me into thinking what kind of photography do I want to be doing to help me onwards in my career. The possibilities are pretty wide. I need to narrow things down and focus.

Historically for me photography has always been a way of engaging with the moment. I’ve always tended to shoot first and to think second. My first ever project on cage-fighters and boxers didn’t have much planning or conceptualisation, it was born from raw curiosity and energy. Nothing was intellectualised. It was created from instincts, reflexes, and a lot of lucky moments. It was good training for a wide eyed enthusiast in love with Magnum era black and white reportage. However whilst it was successful, particularly as a homage to a genre, it is not the only way that I want to shoot.

Napoleon Dynamite was the first piece of work I handed in on my MA and had ambitions to be more conceptual than it was, yet it didn’t have enough of a visual idea to hold it together as a full photo essay. There were some nice images in there which were successful in their portrayal of the theatricality of the re-enactors history making, but there weren’t enough. And there weren’t enough because I hadn’t focused on that as the point of the essay. I was trying to shoot that as well as everything else. I needed more of a vision.

The re-think project that I just handed in marked a step in a new direction for me. Rather than focusing on a specific community / hobby / overly theatrical event it was born out of a process of walking. I walked through rural areas in England (Epping Forest and I walked a lot through Claverham near Bristol). I was interested in the goings on in these areas as well as their usefulness as places in which man and nature live side by side. Eventually I produced a dummy for a photobook out of this work. It marked a new step in my progress mainly because of the process in which it was made, as well as the fact that I shot most of it on medium format film. Where it needed more work was on the clarity of the idea and the relationship between that and the final images (that old problem again). There are some good frames in there but overall I think it needs streamlining. In my next project the research process will be more thought thorough and structured, and will need to start from a strong idea that I can explore and develop through photographing in the real world. I’ll also need to stick with to death this time. Oh focus, focus, focus!

max colson documentary photography swans
Advertisements

Napoleon Dynamite – the movie

with 6 comments

I recently finished this trailer for an upcoming short multimedia piece on my historical re-enactment project. The final film will be around 5 mins I expect so this 100-ish second piece is a bit of a taster of what’s to come. A big thankyou to Stephen Seymour of the 94th Regiment of Foot and Keri Tolhurst of the 50th Regiment of Foot, who both allowed me into their homes to film and interview them on their fascinating hobby.

Producing this trailer has been a pretty good learning experience. It’s amazing learning not only how powerful audio is but also how still and video have rather different qualities which do actually compliment each other. I’d definitely like to work more with them in the future.

The actual film hasn’t been finished yet but the trailer has been on time (I favour doing things the wrong way round obviously).

Lift – A 24 min Doc Movie

with 3 comments

A few weeks ago I wrote a post about Taryn Simon’s latest work Contraband, because I feel that not only is this a great work because of its actual content but because of the perception of the photographer in working out a particular point in space and time to focus on in order to make her point.

I discovered this amazing 24 minute documentary film called Lift recently, which uses the same technique although for a completely different end. In 2001 the film maker Marc Issacs set himself up in the elevator of a council estate (the phrase for project housing in England) in East London for 3 months and filmed whoever stepped in the space. As the time went on the residents became more familiar with him and started to reveal things about themselves which they wouldn’t have otherwise.

This 24 minutes is packed with characters and is an absolutely fascinating piece of social documentary. Highly recommended.

For those that are interested there’s a quick interview with the director which sheds some light on how he set this project up – here

Written by Max Colson

March 23, 2011 at 9:26 am

YouTube and new types of music video

leave a comment »

There was (and still is) the radio single, but now there is the long-form online music video. No longer do directors and artists need to adhere to MTV guidelines.

It’s great to see that the effect that online media is having on established forms of expression. I am particularly impressed with the way that YouTube is allowing the music video to evolve because of new watching occasions. This new 10 minute music/film by the much lauded NY rapper Pharaohe Monch is a great example of why independent artists no longer have to do things by the book anymore.

I’m sure the music industry is watching hard at fantastic bits of work like this. Successful experiments like the below stand by themselves:

I would also recommend watching Romain Gavras’s video for MIA’s song Born Free as another example of this new type of music video, although that said the content is not something that I’m in favour of at all: it’s pretty cynical, particularly in its use of violence.

<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/11219730″>M.I.A, Born Free</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/user3148077″>ROMAIN-GAVRAS</a&gt; on <a href=”http://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

Written by Max Colson

March 21, 2011 at 3:32 pm