Select an image by any photographer of your choice and take a photograph in response to it. You can respond in any way you like to the whole image or to just a part of it, but you must make explicit in your notes what it is that you’re responding to. Is it a stylistic device such as John Davies’ high viewpoint, or Chris Steele Perkins’ juxtapositions? Is it the location, or the subject? Is it an idea, such as the decisive moment?
Add the original photograph together with your response to your learning log. Which of the three types of information discussed by Barrett provides the context in this case? Take your time over writing your response because you’ll submit the relevant part of your learning log as part of Assignment Five.
For this exercise, I chose to take a response to a photograph by street photographer Anna Delany. I’d initially intended to copy her shot by taking a similar non-traditionally attractive male walking past a beauty salon, but then a situation presented itself that I grabbed a shot on my mobile phone when in town not intending to take any photos!
This is Anna Delany’s shot:
This is my shot:
The shots are similar in that both are high contrast black and white. Both have a sense of irony on that in Anna’s shot we have someone who is not on the face of it beautiful walking past a beauty salon, whereas in my shot, there’s a homeless man sleeping in front of an advert for furnished office space.
As per the course material “Barrett suggests that we interpret pictures according to three different types of information: information in the picture, information surrounding the picture and information about the way the picture was made. He calls these the internal context, the external context and the original context.”
In terms of what’s in the picture, both the original and the response shot appear to make a statement about society. The first in terms of what’s recognised as (or in this case seen as the opposite of ) ‘beauty’, the second is a statement on the fact that there’s plenty of luxurious sounding office space for rent, when there’s homeless people sleeping on the streets. Both images could have been staged, but mine definitely wasn’t – even if the homeless man chose his sleeping spot to make a point.
It’s unlikely either shot would be used for a different purpose, however, Anna;s shot could be used in the context of beauty is beyond the surface I’m sure the man in her image will be seen as beautiful by his family and friends in terms of other characteristics and the relationships he has. My response could be used as a poster for the current political campaign by the Labour Party to draw attention to the increasing gap between the rich and the poor. Or in the media to illustrate a potential ‘rags to riches’ story if the man were to go on to work in the furnished offices, or a dual life of rough sleeping and working in an office.
http://www.annadelany.com/places/beauty [last accessed: 10/05/2017]
www.terrybarrettosu.com/pdfs/B_PhotAndCont_97.pdf [last accessed: 10/05/2017]