My initial research into this module was very much solidly about full on narrative as I took the fact that we had to include narrative very literally. My first inspirations came from Google and Pinterest searches which brought up Gregory Crewdson. Crewdson’s movie-style photography was rich in narrative, I instantly fell in love with his use of colour, lighting and set designs. However I didn’t feel I would be able to produce something similar as the scale of the behind the scenes of images and resorting to Photoshop wasn’t something I wanted to do as it felt too fake.
My next move was to still draw inspiration from Crewdson but also others like Victor Burgin,Jeff Brouws, Philip-Lorca diCorcia, Robert Adams and Todd Hido. Hido became my primary inspiration for this module, later bringing in Dan Holdsworth and Polly Tootal as other inspirations that impacted my thought process and writing.
At the start of the module, I was still reeling from a previous project that was orientated around colour film photographers such as Shore and Eggleston. So I was interested in the impact of colour on film and the subsequent narrative, however it was evident in a group feedback that this was too essay-based and so I moved on. However Matt did suggest that I try colour film, i’ve never used colour film before as we don’t have the facilities for it so I was excited and curious to get going and view the impact of colour film on the narrative, as I believe a choice of colour or black and white has an impact on the narrative created. So I set about using colour film, as suggested by my lecturer and shooting at night, as influenced by my two most motivational photographers for this module, Hido and Adams. I enjoyed the way their use of film photography created a sense of intimacy, something I wanted to achieve in my work.
For my Nightshoots, I decided to bring in the context of my upbringing and childhood, like Hido cited as his influence, and travel around my home village at night to photograph the areas that catch my eye as having a hidden story or sense of personal narrative such as our local church or charity shop. My next shooting location was my new home, Coventry as I feel I am still being influenced by my surroundings and the new stories I am discovering.
When I finally had all my images, it was time to edit and sequence. Firstly I got rid of the interior photographs as they took away from the purpose of the project. This left me with purely night time landscapes, photographed in landscape orientation all except for one. This killed me, it was a favour photograph and despaired at the thought of getting rid of something I was proud of. So I placed it alongside the artist statement, so in some way or another it is featured and hopefully appreciated by the viewer. The sequencing worked out so that the book started with lighter images and as the book drew to a close, the darkest image would be last to signify the advancement of the night.
The purpose of night photography was to explore the narrative of the night, the mystery of the night as the lights left on by others from their homes or the streets both hides detail but brings it out in new ways. Residential homes look sinister, lost and a variety of other emotions. Streets appear barren by show signs of the marks left behind by human presence.
To sum it up, a new narrative or story is created when the sun goes down. It is the narrative of the night, when there is little physical human presence to tell the story but rather it is left to the aspects of the night, such as light, shadows and colour, to present a notion on the life that inhabits it. What are the hidden stories behind this persons homely curtains? why is this persons office light still on? are they unknowingly telling us a story of insecurity or hope as the new day dawns? We as an audience can never be too sure, but hopefully the viewers of my images will create their own narrative in their minds and express this idea, to see if we can all come to a conclusion about the narrative of the night.
My final thoughts are that this module has been a new challenge for so many reasons, justifying my every move has been difficult as sometimes I don’t want to give a reason for my choice and don’t always feel that good work has to have a justification. it’s been a challenge revisiting film photography but for me that was the most enjoyable aspect, the outcome images have been more successful than I could have hoped. It’s just a shame that book binding took away a lot of the fun as I felt it was almost a skill that was dying out and no longer needed, however I accept that some people could say this about film photography. So I accept that this was something I at least had to try.