152MC: Polly Tootal- Somewhere in England

I have recently discovered a Photographer who has created a series of English landscapes that has contextual and visual similarities to my project. The article is run in Fotografia Magazine and is viewed online. From reading this article, I can honestly say Polly Tootal……WHAT A BABE! So much thought behind her work and so many useful inspirations. I am so happy.

‘New Topographics’ keeps popping up in my research for this module, it seems that many night-time photographers are representatives of the movement or are influenced by the movement. For example, Tootal is influenced by Lewis Baltz, a famous photographer who was involved in the New Topographics movement. Batlz specialised in Concept photography and urban landscapes. Polly Tootal also stated in this interview that she was influenced by Todd Hido, who has been my primary source of inspiration for this module, so I am so excited that she feels the same. Alec Soth also came up, a photographer I have looked at a little bit as he also delved into a bit of night photography work in his series ‘The Last Days of W’.

Below are some quotes that I have taken from the interview:

“Landscape is a place of mystery, wonder and adventure, of stories, of travel and movement”

“The important thing for me is that the subject matter should be free and open-ended, and that I stick to landscapes that are familiar to me in order to push myself into really looking at the subtleties of the ordinary. The everyday places we live in, work in, travel through, the landscape man uses is everywhere. It was a natural place to start looking and it captivated me. I photograph anything I have a reaction to, anything that moves me. I find these places exotic and poetic.”

“The subject matter, composition, geometry, the light, atmosphere and colour will all suddenly come together and make sense.”

“Most of my images are devoid of people. I wait for them to disappear in an attempt to strip the scene of that energy, to create a stillness and a silence to encourage the viewer to really look at the landscape in front of them. In fact, my photographs are all about people but I don’t feel it’s not necessary to include them in the image.”

What I love about everything she says is that it all applies to my work! I have an absence of human presence in my images, but still signs of their inhabitance that leave their mark. These marks are shown through the lighting and colour of their homes and the area surrounding it but also how they represent their identity through their homes. This is were the viewers keen eye comes in as they examine the images and slowly notice the details, for example how many lights are on in the house? why are they on? Why are their curtains open/ shut? what does it say about the residents personal life?

The differences between our work is that Tootal focuses on many geographic locations, to gain a broader view of the British landscape, whereas I have chosen to focus in on a specific area to create the intimacy I want to show by photographing peoples homes. Another difference is that some images of Tootal’s are taken in the daytime as well as at night but I have chosen to focus solely on the nighttime; a time of mystery, hope and vulnerability. My final thoughts are that Tootal’s work has now become a major influence on me, not just for this project but for the rest of my photographic life! The use of colour, lighting and Geometry has created some beautiful images.

References: Fotografia Magazine, (2015) You Will Find These Places Somewhere In England [online] available from <http://fotografiamagazine.com/somewhere-in-england-polly-tootal/?utm_content=buffer3f6d1&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer&gt; [15 May 2015] Galeriezander.com, (2015) About The Artist – Lewis Baltz – Artists – Galerie Thomas Zander [online] available from <http://www.galeriezander.com/en/artist/lewis_baltz/information&gt; [15 May 2015] Soth, A. (2015) The Last Days Of W « Alec Soth [online] available from <http://alecsoth.com/photography/?page_id=205&gt; [15 May 2015]

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