Magnum Photography – Financing Personal Projects – Harry Hardie

Lecturer, London College of Communication & University of Westminster, Co-Founder & Director, Herepress

Harry Hardie is a Lecturer in photography at LCC and the University of Westminster. He co-founded and is Director of Here Press – an award-winning book publisher dedicated to exploring new and unconventional forms of documentary photography in book form. Previously Harry was director of HOST Gallery, a London-based photojournalism and documentary photography gallery exhibiting everything from classical black and white reportage to contemporary mixed media. Harry also worked at the Times for a number of years, starting as the assistant to the Director of Photography before becoming Photo Editor for The Times LUXX lifestyle magazine.

Harry provided his perspective on publication of work and started his talk by using a number of quotes to illustrate his point of view.

Robert Capa “If you pictures are not good enough you are not close enough”

Todd “If your pictures are not good enough you are not reading enough”

He felt that what these two quotes are trying to say is that you have not invested enough in your project either emotionally or through research.

Harry proceeded to explain how a quote from Life Magazine was his initial view on the reasons behind Herepress’ mission however more recently he feels that a quote by Nicolas Rothwell better describes what he and his partner are looking to achieve.

He explained in his opinion Photography and Design are bedfellows where bad design can ruin a photographic concept however great design can help support a weaker set of images. Photography is the language while design in the accent used.

There are four pillars to a well executed project:

  • Content
  • Concept
  • Design
  • Dissemination

Harry proceeded to illustrate his point by examining a number of photographers and their projects.

  • Natasha Caruara was the first photographer he discussed looking at a number of different projects. The first was a project related to people selling their wedding dresses on eBay. They had used images from their wedding to illustrate how the dress looked while using different techniques to hide the face of the bride or in many cases the couple. The project asks many questions about how much those people valued their wedding day. Natasha had worked with Harry on a second project where she had dated married men from a website while secretly filming and recording the events that took place on the date. Harry felt their was a common theme running through Natasha’s work that relates to relationships however there is an element of deceit in these two projects. Harry asked Natasha about the sources for her projects. Many of the ideas for her projects come from the short 1in by 1in stories that are published in the Metro and Evening Standard. In fact she has a folder of clipping each of which could be the idea for a project after conducting further research into the subject.
  • Ben Roberts was the second photographer and Harry highlighted Ben’s project based on the Occupy Movement which was a reaction to an article in the Daily Mail that suggested the occupy movement was initiated by middle class people who had pitched the tents yet went home to their suburban beds to sleep at night. Ben got permission to photograph the inside of the tents while asking that the tents were empty when he took the photographs therefore turning the Daily Mail story on its head. The project was published as a magazine to align with the culture of the people who were part of the movement.
  • The next photographer was Edmund Clark (who I have referenced a number of times through my CRJ). Harry talked about the Control Order House project and the creation of the book. He explained that Control Orders were a form of detention with agreed terms that if broken by the person subject to the Control Order would result in them being charged with terrorist activities. Edmund negotiated with the Home Office to spend time working in one of the houses used for Control Orders though after a few days the Home Office informed Clark his stay at the property had been approved in error and he had to leave immediately. When the reviewed the images they realised that none of them was any good to tell the story. Through careful design they managed to combine the images with details of a control order that tells a story of these anonymous places of detention that that could any suburban house.
  • A book by Jason Lazarus was a series of images that tell the story of who introduced you to the band Nivarna. Harry explained how the book was designed to ensure that it would not just be read once and then discarded. Images from different people were allowed to bleed across pages to knitting images together.  The images were numbered and the text was placed at the back of the book similar to the positioning of lyrics in an album. (Reflection: A clever use of design to introduced additional layers of reference to the book.)

Harry provided a few closing comments on the publication of books:

Hardback books do not mean better books instead you should decide if a hard cover fits in with the concept for the book.

When pitching a book to a publisher there are two sentences that you should have in your head.

  • What is the project about?
  • What do the pictures communicate?

In a pitch you can you use a few pretentious words that will help capture the imagination.

Harry explained that HerePress find projects that are not fully formed interesting because they represent a chance fo the publisher to contribute on the project. HerePress are moving away from pure photobooks towards that have more text. HerePress have a reputation of getting good press coverage for their books yet press coverage in a broadsheet does not necessarily translate into book sales.

Essex Ports – Research

The journey along the Essex coast is book ended by two ports Tilbury and Harwich as part of my research of the project and to link my Brexit narrative to the Essex coast I felt it was appropriate to conduct some research into the current role or these two ports with respect to trade with Europe.

Tilbury is responsible for the following trade grain, animal, paper and forest products  were traded with Europe.

Harwich is responsible for the following container goods as a gateway to Scandinavia and Europe trading 3.7 million tonnes of freight a year.

Trade is one of the key points of the negotiation for the new deal with the European Union. The two ports provide the economic context to the project and the photographs a deal that does not result in some form of fluid trade is likely to impact the overall prosperity of the country and without income the ability of the government provide social support will be severely impaired.

[pdf-embedder url=”http://fineart.photography/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/Harwich-International-Port.pdf” title=”Harwich International Port”]

[pdf-embedder url=”http://fineart.photography/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/Port-of-Tilbury-Expansion.pdf” title=”Port of Tilbury – Expansion”]

[pdf-embedder url=”http://fineart.photography/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/Port-of-Tilbury-Cruise-Terminal.pdf” title=”Port of Tilbury – Cruise Terminal”]

[pdf-embedder url=”http://fineart.photography/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/Port-of-Tilbury-Portcentric.pdf” title=”Port of Tilbury – Portcentric”]

[pdf-embedder url=”http://fineart.photography/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/Port-of-Tilbury-Paper-and-Forest-Products.pdf” title=”Port of Tilbury – Paper and Forest Products”]

[pdf-embedder url=”http://fineart.photography/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/London-Construction-Port-of-Tilbury.pdf” title=”London Construction – Port of Tilbury”]

[pdf-embedder url=”http://fineart.photography/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/Port-of-Tilbury-Grain-and-Dry-Bulks.pdf” title=”Port of Tilbury – Grain and Dry Bulks”]

Research – EU Withdrawal Agreement

Having collected and read many news articles on the state of the negotiations to reach an agreed settlement for the United Kingdom’s departure for the European Union I was becoming concerned as to how I could align the Brexit Journey to the coastal journey between Tilbury and Harwich. The later journey having a clear structure based on geography. The former was proving more challenging to describe a path that could be followed given the differing opinions being expressed in government and the press (I am reminded of the nature of Fractal forms where when you zoom in a new level of detail is exposed.)

After further research I came across the draft EU Withdrawal Agreement a document of 130 pages with multiple articles (europa.eu, 2018.) Taking a step back from the detail of the document I realised that the document was constructed of a number of sections that addressed the important aspects of a future agreement. Sections in the document include: Citizen’s Rights, Transitions and Financial Institutions. After careful consideration I decided that the 7 sections would allow me to split the photographs into smaller groups similar to the Paul Graham ‘Shimmer of Possibility’ layout (Moma.org, 2018)

[pdf-embedder url=”http://fineart.photography/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/EU_draft_agreement.pdf”]

Draft EU Withdrawal Agreement

 

References

  • europa.eu. (2018). [online] Available at: https://ec.europa.eu/commission/sites/beta-political/files/draft_agreement_coloured.pdf [Accessed 15 Jul. 2018].
  • Moma.org. (2018). a shimmer of possibility. Photographs by Paul Graham | MoMA. [online] Available at: https://www.moma.org/calendar/exhibitions/321?#installation-images [Accessed 15 jul. 2018].
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Debugging Audio Installation Piece: Activity

In addition to the video piece I decided to include audio in the exhibition in the form of a morse code version based on the letter that formally triggered Article 50. Unlike the video I did not want it to be a continuous loop instead I wanted it to be spectator triggered. The trigger device would be a Morse Key that would start the morse code transmission.

Similar to the video piece a Raspberry Pi micro computer was selected as the brain of the piece. In this case I needed to have an interface module to detect the Morse Key being depressed.

After conducting some research on the internet I found a design for the hardware and an associate code segment using the Pi’s GPIO module.

I built up the module and ran a few tests which showed that the breadboard module was fragile and it did not trigger the audio consistently. 

Raspberry Pi – Using GPIO Breadboard
Source code to capture Key Press

Based on my own production values and with a weather eye to future installations where the piece might be left unattended for long periods of time I decided to search for a more robust solution.

A second internet search identified a company sf-innovations who make interface modules for the Raspberry Pi used under the banner Custard Pi. I order the 8 digital I/O module. This module mounts directly on the the Raspberry Pi resulting in a more robust installation.

The following day the module arrived so time to install write a new script and test the new rig. The tests resulted in a much more stable solution where the Morse Key successful triggered the test audio file.

Raspberry Pi with Custard Pi Board
Revised script using Custard Pi

Next steps are to procure some authentic 2 core cable to connect the Morse Key to the Raspberry Pi. Source a box to install the micro computer, speaker, power supplies and adapter cables.

News Articles – Research

Over the last 6 months I have been tracking news articles on Brexit to create the narrative that will run alongside the images in the exhibition. The research process is proving challenging as the news stories about Brexit are taking many different twists and turns. It very much feels like the coast line as you follow the waters edge through the creeks and back waters along the Thames Estuary and along the Blackwater River.

If I was creating a book then I could use these events to create narrative for a fictional character who lives in Essex yet is close to the negotiations. I am reminded of the fictional books about Harry Flashman(En.wikipedia.org, 2018) a character from Tom Brown’s school days who finds himself close to major events in the Victorian era.

Attached are few of the news articles that could have allowed me to develop a book narrative.

[pdf-embedder url=”http://fineart.photography/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/Corbyn-shifts-Labour-towards-soft-Brexit.pdf” title=”Corbyn shifts Labour towards soft Brexit”]

[pdf-embedder url=”http://fineart.photography/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/More-than-100-seats-that-backed-Brexit-now-want-to-remain-in-EU.pdf” title=”More than 100 seats that backed Brexit now want to remain in EU”]

[pdf-embedder url=”http://fineart.photography/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/Carney-No-deal-Brexit-highly-undesirable.pdf” title=”Carney- No-deal Brexit highly undesirable”]

[pdf-embedder url=”http://fineart.photography/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/Brexit-what-would-no-deal-mean-for-food-and-medicine.pdf” title=”Brexit what would no deal mean for food and medicine”]

[pdf-embedder url=”http://fineart.photography/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/Brexit-What-would-a-no-deal-look-like.pdf” title=”Brexit What would a no deal look like”]

[pdf-embedder url=”http://fineart.photography/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/Will-the-EHIC-be-valid-after-Brexit.pdf” title=”Will the EHIC be valid after Brexit”]

[pdf-embedder url=”http://fineart.photography/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/Brexit-What-would-no-deal-mean-for-aviation.pdf” title=”Brexit What would no deal mean for aviation”]

[pdf-embedder url=”http://fineart.photography/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/Tory-vice-chairs-quit-over-PM-Brexit-Plan.pdf” title=”Tory vice-chairs quit over PM Brexit Plan”]

[pdf-embedder url=”http://fineart.photography/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/Brexit-All-you-need-to-know.pdf” title=”Brexit All you need to know”]

[pdf-embedder url=”http://fineart.photography/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/What-kind-of-Brexit-do-voters-want.pdf” title=”What kind of Brexit do voters want”]

[pdf-embedder url=”http://fineart.photography/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/YouGov-How-Britain-Voted.pdf” title=”YouGov – How Britain Voted”]

References

  • En.wikipedia.org. (2018). The Flashman Papers. [online] Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Flashman_Papers [Accessed 12 Jul. 2018].

Wall Text Revision: Activity

The current version of the wall text contained two diary entries one from a time in the 1990s where I was commuting to Europe to work for the first time and a second entry dated from around the start of my journey to consider Brexit.

Though recent impasse within government and events of the last week have led me to consider revising the strategy to reflect recent changes.

My revised strategy is to break the text into smaller segments representing different dates in the Brexit timeline aligned to points along the journey from Tilbury to Harwich. This approach allows me to revised the text and include information that covers recent events.

The initial revision has split the text into three sections though it leaves the middle section significantly longer than the other two. Splitting the middle section into at least two diary entries could provide a more balanced presentation without loosing meaning.

Revised Exhibition Wall Text, July 2018

Exhibition layout version 4

During the Group Critique with Krishna Seth I received feedback on the previous version. The feedback was that the group did not feel that the abstract images were as strong when compared to the other portrait orientated images so I decided to remove those from the image selection. The other piece of feedback was related to the relative placement of the landscape orientated images compared to the portrait orientated images. On the basis that the portrait images are images that focus on superstructure I placed those images on a lower level and the landscape orientated images on the higher level. Though placement of the two levels was restricted due to the ceiling height of the gallery. The width of the was another consideration when deciding of the layout. 

On reflection the layout would work better in gallery space with extra ceiling height plus the layout did not support the coastal journey or the United Kingdom departure from the European Union. The experiment was worth the time only to conclude that this was was not the correct layout for this show.

Author, 2018, Exhibition Layout 4, Right Wall
Author, 2018, Exhibition Layout Version 4, Left Wall

Group Critique with Krishna Sheth

Krishna Seth one of our tutors from the Sustainable Prospects module was the guest tutor for this Group Critique. I created a portfolio based on the 3rd version of my gallery http://fineart.photography/exhibition-layout-revised-version/ layout plus the exhibition text. The pdf of the material is embedded below.

I outlined the context of the project in its exhibition form to the group that included Jo Sutherst, Philip Singleton and Ashley Truckey.

The feedback from Krishna was that she liked the landscape images which she felt were very strong. She felt that some of the portrait images did not hod their own when compared to the landscapes. There was a positive response on using the deckchairs to frame panels of an overall larger image and the decision to position the installation piece at the end of the gallery she felt made sense. Krishna asked if people would be able to sit on the chairs. I explained that I was not intending to print on to canvas that would allow people to sit on the chairs transforming them to having a dual purpose of piece of art and a functional item. The whole premise is the chairs are lent against the wall showing that their use for the day is over.

Philip suggested that the text for the exhibition should be organised in multiple columns to make it easier to read. This is something that I need to consider and test before send the graphics to the printers.

Jo showed her layouts for the gallery which had evolved since the earlier layouts from the Pecha Kucha talk at the start of the module. The premise for the exhibition still makes sense however I am not sure that the installation plans really hold together as they feel a bit random. There is a plan to introduce small LCD panels though how they with the A1 single prints and the images containing multiple variations of a selfie requires further exploration. It is possible that Jo is introducing to many disparate elements into the gallery space.

Philip shared a video of his gallery installation as at the time of the Group Critique his show had just opened. The layout overall looked well considered and overall it fitted together with it showing 3 different surfaces. Traditional framed prints, the work printed on concrete and the two projections.

In the case of the prints I would have avoided the use of the little white border within the black surrounds as visually the eye is drawn to light spaces which means we do not focus on the image within the frame.

The double and single lines of concrete images at different sizes was well considered. I found the fact that the concrete images did hard a slight incline due to only being fixed to the hanging cables at the top a distraction. Especially with some being hung as a pair on the hanging wires. This was even more evident with the fact some of the images were close to a corner leaving space might have reduced the visual impact.

I really liked the projected pieces though the fact the image sequences are slightly out of sync needs clear contextualisation in his Critical Review of Practice.

Ashley shared her book dummy which as her work will be resolved as a book. Depending on the each size of the book I can image a family sitting round the book looking at the images and the associated text. The level of text compared to images felt right to me as the book is more a visual story than a textual one. I believe Ashley needs to consider the sequencing of images especially when she explained that the images in subsequent pages do not always related to a single father. Making into a series of chapters that explore each father relationship I felt would be more powerful and allow you to compare and contrast different relationships especially in a world where we are exposed to stories of adults that talk about abusive parent child relationships. The narrative feels to naïve compared to what is being played out in society today, this maybe a reflection of the values of Ashley as an individual. Though this should not detract from the consistency and quality of the images contained within the book.

Moving Art with Raspberry Pi – Activity

The intention for the exhibition is to have two video installation pieces and an audio piece. The two video pieces are intended for monitors however it is important that the video sequences are on a repeat loop. When discussing this with Wendy in a 121 tutorial the advice was to find a solution that would ensured that the pieces would function without any complex setup. Based on this feedback I started to do some research on technology solutions that provide a reliable platform for operation in the gallery space.

One of the video pieces will be displayed on the check-in monitor from Terminal 1 Departures which was purchased from the recent Heathrow Terminal 1 auction. When in the terminal the monitors were controlled by Citrix terminals mounted on the back of the monitor. This would provide the processing capability to run the video clips on that monitor. However it Citrix boxes were running unsupported version of windows plus the power supply was missing.

The second video piece is intended to run on a new TV screen my initial thought for this piece was to place the video on a memory stick and use the devices internal video player, however they do not automatically start when the device is powered on.

Therefore it was time to undertake some research to find an alternative solution. After a few days of research I decided that using a micro computer such as the Raspberry Pi with appropriate software would provide me with the required solution. The only downside of the Raspberry Pi solution is it is not capable of driving the 4K monitor I wanted to use for one of the pieces. Therefore an alternative solution would be required to resolve the piece for that installation.

Having selected the Raspberry Pi as the primary platform for delivery the next task was to find an stable solution to play video loops. Reviewing posts on the different Raspberry Pi forums contained posts where people posted issues with getting the Pi to play seamless loops. I did consider creating custom scripts which given my technology background was a realistic option yet writing custom scripts / code would require time to debug and test the scripts. Having had experience of doing that as part of my first degree I decided to continue to look for a solution that would only require me to configure the player.

I found a suitable software solution which I downloaded and configured the Pi to run a test on my desktop monitor. The installation process proved painless and after a series of tests I was comfortable that the platform operated seamlessly. I was ready to sign-off the Raspberry Pi the lower resolution video installation.

Further tests are required to confirm that the Raspberry Pi will support by Audio piece. To drive the 4K monitor I have found an alternative microcomputer called Rock64 which hopefully will be my 4K source though it will require a different operating system and software to build the complete platform.

Test Prints Paper Selection – Activity

Having created a shortlist of images for the exhibition and completed a number of test layouts it is time to make decisions the print method and type of paper that will transform my vision from virtual form in the digital domain into the physical realisation. The intention is to mount the images on the wall using a frameless method with the prints mounted on a foamex substrate to give the print structure. The images will be either A1 or A2 in size. The paper and print method selected needed to enhance the images.

Based on the print size there were two options available Inkjet and C-Type. Using inkjet would allow a wider range of paper stock to be considered for the project at the expense of the more subtle graduation of colour available. Based on the fact the the landscape have blue as the predominant colour with large expanses after careful consideration it was decided to select a C-Type printing method over inkjet which is the method that has been used for earlier work during the course.

I having decided on a print method the next decision was paper stock. Printspace the selected prints for the project offer 4 types of C-Type paper. I decided that the metallic paper would not be suitable for the project This left 3 possible paper options. I eliminated the Fuji Flex paper as it has a yellow colour cast which did not fit with the overall colour palette of the predominant images.  This left two paper stock options Fuji Matt and Fuji Gloss. The Fuji Matt paper is really a Semi-Matt which was similar to the Hahnmuhle Fine Art paper that I had selected for earlier prints for the project.

I decided to order 4 test prints each of both the Fuji Gloss and Fuji Matt paper at A4 size to help make a final selection on paper stock. The images selected for the test run needed to be a representative sample of the overall exhibition. I selected the following 4 images.

Author, 2018, Fuji Matt or Fuji Gloss

The test prints arrived within 48 hours of being ordered. Reviewing the test prints placing each pair of images next two each other I decided that the Fuji Matt presented the best option to represent my vision for the project.

Photographer and Creative