Diane Arbus (1923-1971) used photography to portray the human condition through portraiture of contemporary life. Arbus would speak to actors and celebrities to relax the public figure to drop their facade to reveal their troubles. Her images are distinguished by the subject posed facing straight-eyed and unblinking toward the center of her camera lens, always with the same curious expression, as though seeking from the beholder some special understanding.”
Reading a short biography of Diane Arbus’s career and personal life, it would seem that the process she undertook to create a piece of work helped her understand the human condition for her own personal understanding, going through bouts of depression that ultimately caused her suicide.
Ultimately, I took images sharing the characteristics of what is presented: her images were commonly known to be square, black and white, with plain facial expression. This therefore takes a universalised look at the human condition in the sense that it is common to everyone. I approached strangers in the street and asked for their picture, to create a universalised take on the human condition through portraiture.
Martin Parr is iconic for his voyeurisms, using saturated colour to intensify the more controversial side of life. Parr is iconic for his tourism and seaside resort images where the vivid colours come out to depict a society that is materialised by western culture and documenting history. With this in mind, I captured images of typical brands in our society; the freshers fayre was a good opportunity to capture this. My second image of the Costa portrays an irony that coffee’s significance in the western world is so great that it isn’t deemed unusual for a Costa cup to be part of the community. In editing, I felt that to create very sickly image, so vibrance needed to be boosted, following this, the saturation of the colours identified with Costa and Dominos was increased.
The Bechers shared a common interest in the photography of architecture; although the Bechers specialised in the steel industry; I was inspired to capture regenerated and continuously used infrastructure. For instance, the Ellen Terry building, previously the old Odeon has been regenerated by Coventry University. The Bechers captured the architecture as a whole without the presence of human life; in this case, the doors to the building had to be cropped in order to retain a similar style. However, the Bechers iconically presented images of different examples of the same engineering in a sequence to portray how such technology is ignored, but as a whole is admired. I, however, did not present my images in the same way; but I did want to capture monuments ignored on a day to day basis.
[002: Cathedral Square]
Andre Kertesz made a series of images of people reading:
“Revelling in the privacy of the moment in the park, on crowded streets, at train stations…”
In this sense, I took a look around and realised that reading is common: be it mobile phone, book, magazine or newspaper. Kertesz’s images are a great documentation of the importance of reading for the human condition to gain knowledge, power. And, how the activity is presented in the most unusual places, such as the boy on the newspapers. I made the images black and white to guarantee a likeness to Kertesz.
Eadweard Muybridge is infamous for his collection on moving images from stills, using a horse to start the shutters. This was the beginning of moving images, also known as ‘the flicks’.
I took inspiration from this to use rapid fire and document the movement of people, unaware of my presence.
Robert Doisneau‘s contemporary style capturing street scenes of relationships are iconic and portray a timeless emotion. In my images, influenced by Doisneau I adopted the role in documenting relationships: above, there is a sense of difficult discussion; whereas below offers the bonding of friends through the ages. Robert Doisneau’s images although portray the human condition of love, the subjects are influenced by society: this is identified in the fashion. Therefore, it offers historical interest in the timelessness of love. Similarly, my images reflect present day, with the influences of the western world.
[003: Transport Museum]
Gary Winogrand, a street photographer, took the liberty in his ‘women are beautiful’ collection to capture the style and finesse of women to the extent that they became his ‘prey’. I did not take such drastic measures in my photography to stalk women (I personally do not appreciate the female anatomy in the same way); so I took a more ironic stance: I took this image of an old lady to portray the passing of time, confirming that finesse and beauty’s facade is short-lived; nevertheless, there is the sense that the subject still carries beauty or had done once. Furthermore, the flaw to Winogrand’s photography is that it is selective and not representative of society, singling out the ‘beautiful’ projects a falsified and shallow image. On the contrary, I chose to reflect the other side of society.
[004: Ring Road]
Edward Weston did a series of images whereby he studied the texture of objects (also he took an interest in the body as an art form). I selected this image because of the multi-textures of the paint, wood, brick and metal.