Back in college I produced a body of work documenting the changing landscape of Stockton High Street. This documentation focused on all the shops which had closed because of the recession. I had shot these images as a new topographic typology, without even knowing what the topographic genre was or what a typology meant.
Ever since we were given the brief to produce a new topographic piece of work, I have swayed towards this genre. Progressing on from the Minor Project, I want to continue making photographs in the style and genre of new topographic landscapes.
My initial idea was to photograph people’s garden hedges and the fences that sometimes accompany these. However, as I began shooting I started to notice the architecture of the buildings and the geometric shapes that the roofs created.
To explain my idea now; it focuses on the repetitive signifiers in suburban environments such as; fences, hedges, electrical boxes, and the architecture of buildings. Using the viewfinder of the camera I will create a series of typologies which show the recurring objects which we have placed within our everyday landscapes. My reasoning for producing this body of work is to make people really think about the environments in which we live in. We see multiple garden fences in our daily lives, but do we really pay any attention to them? These objects seem mundane, but through my typologies I hope to highlight the oddness and beauty in these everyday items and make the viewer see them in a different light.
One of the key elements of typologies is the reoccurring flat light and precise composition which is carried on throughout each photograph. Trying to have the exact crop for each set of photographs what difficult. Each location presented it owns challenge, which mainly included roads with busy traffic which affected the crop of my images.
My photographs do not feature flat lighting as I wanted a stronger, more contrasting light to help accentuate the greens, blues, reds, browns and oranges of the suburban landscape. Due to the majority of the project being in the winter months, I did not have many days where I had the strong light which hindered the amount of times I could shoot.
After location finding, I revisited the same areas on three separate occasions and tried to shoot them all in the same lighting. This did not always go according to plan as the light would dramatically change when clouds appeared.
The photographs I have chosen for my final series of images were all shot over the same day. As you can see from these images, the lighting is not perfectly consistent as the light changed throughout the day.
I chose a Canon 5d to allow me a quicker way if working. As I would be visiting multiple locations and covering a lot of ground on foot, I needed a lighter camera. The final photographs were all shot using a 50mm lens. This fixed lens was brilliant and gave the flatness to my photographs which I was after. Using the standard lens for location finding allowed me to zoom in and out of my subjects, but with the fixed lens I felt like I had better control of the crop and I had to physically get closer to the subjects if I wanted a tighter crop.
The only downside with using a digital camera was I probably didn’t stay in each location long enough. If I was using a 5x4 camera, the slower process would mean my compositions would have been better considered. However, the 5x4 camera would not have been practical as I was stood in the middle of main roads the majority of the time.
My final prints were printed on the beautiful Hahnemuhle Pearl paper. This pearl paper had a slight gloss finish which made the bright colours pop, and once they were behind the glass of the frame they did not fight too much with the reflections.
The frames and the problems I had I have talked about in detail in the post ‘Framing Nightmare’. In the end, I decided on an oak effect finish frame. This light wooden frame complimented the browns in the photographs and the grain in the wooden helps to pick out the textures in the fences and the foliage.
Each photograph was sized to 6x4inch and placed onto a 20x16inch document size. The grid system of 2x3 allowed me to have good sized boarders either side, and a nice thicker boarder at the bottom to balance out the photographs.
I have chosen six final typologies and the order they belong in goes as follows; fences, sides of houses I, foliage, bungalows, electrical boxes, sides of houses II. Although I chose not to type the titles on the physical prints, I will include either a mounted tag under each print, or have the titles printed as stickers and placed directly onto the exhibition boards.
The ordering of the prints has been chosen this way as I have tried to distribute the colours of each separate print so they are balanced when hung on the wall. The fences contain strong orange and yellow colourings which balance and compliment the orangey/brown tones of the houses in sides of houses II.
I did not research a lot for this project as I wanted to just get out and photograph. My influences will always be Gursky and I did not want to repeat myself from the minor project. However, I did come across the work of Henry Wessel. His Real Estate Photographs are the closest influence of my own work, and I have modelled my bungalow photographs on this.
As an overall body of work, I am very happy with my final outcome of six typologies of suburban landscapes. Although they are six different subjects, I feel they work as a whole when presented together. If they were presented by themselves, I feel the project wouldn’t be a strong.
If I were to be analytical of myself, my time management was really effected by the lighting conditions and decided on how and when I could shoot. In hinge sight, I still should have been photographing on the bad days. My composition isn’t perfectly mirrored in each photograph which may weaken my typology, but I have been inspired by Edward Ruscha’s Every building on the Sun Set Strip. This body of work shows your photographs do not need to be perfect like the Bechers water towers.
Before choosing my final series of photographs, I knew I wanted around five categories. Five is a good round number and would look smart presented on the wall as an odd number to balance out the set. Due to the brown tones throughout my series of images, I decided on an oak effect frame as the lighter tone of wood complimented the photographs. I contemplated white frames, but this washed out my photographs.
I researched online for frame making services, but wanted to purchase the frames in person so I could see the physical product. I went to Hobbycraft and they offered some pretty nice 20x16inch frames in an oak effect finish. The frame was deep and had nice solid looking boarders. I grabbed the last three frames they had in store and ordered another two online when I got home. This was ten days before the deadline, so plenty of time for them to be delivered…
After having the tutorial to help edit down my work and pick the final images, we resulted in having six final categories instead of five. I ordered another frame online. This was the 10/06/14, six days before hand in.
When my prints arrived from the printspace, (four days before the deadline), I opened the parcel up extremely excited to see the outcome, only to be massively disappointed when prints where slightly too big for the frames. The frames stated to be 20x16inch but were 40x50cm inside.
I thought about trimming the prints down to allow them to fit in the frames, but I did not want the responsibility of doing this as I cannot cut in a straight line! I took the prints to a framing shop and the gentleman inside told me he could provide the service.
Whilst talking to him he asked about the frames I already had. I was still waiting for the three frames to arrive and this was three days before hand in. In the end I left the shop purchasing another six oak finished frames as I wanted to make sure I had six matching frames for hand in.
When I picked them up the next day I was not impressed. One of the pieces of glass had a bubble in the bottom right hand corner, another frame was scratched, the backing boards were significantly smaller than the inside of the frames leaving my prints exposed, the corner joins were gappy, one frame had marks on the inside of the frame and my prints were covered in dust. I opened the backing to clean the prints and all the staple tabs fell out. I tried to place them back in, but because I did not have a gun the glass and backing board were very loose. I didn’t dare open the others to clean them.
I returned the frames to the shop where the gentleman offered to change the tabs to flexi tabs to allow me better access to my prints. He offered to change the glass and fix the frames with marks, so I left the shop to return in an hour. Upon my return, the tabs had been changed, but two of the frames were still marked. By this point I was very stressed out and frustrated. He told me to return at the end of the day and he would have them sorted.
When I returned the next day, there was a different man in the shop. He gave me the two new frames and the finish was flawless. The corner joins are tight, and so was the backing boards. I suspect this second gentleman prepared these frames. If i had received the quality and standard of these frames initially I would have been over the moon!
However, I only have two perfect frames and four okay standard ones, but at least I have six matching for hand in.
To this day, I am still waiting for two frames from Hobbycraft, even though I ordered them ten days before hand in…
Series of six prints, 20x16inch in size printed on Hahnemuhle Pearl paper.
I will discuss my final outcome in more depth in the evaluation.
Sides of Houses II