The theme of my assignment was environmental portraits the challenge was a COVID pandemic that naturally made finding willing subjects difficult, I therefore chose to use my wife as subject and our home as the environment. As subject matter I have attempted to illustrate different aspects of my wife’s character each has its own identity. (Sarah the soap maker, Sarah the ranter, Sarah’s hidden self.) These are all the different Sarah’s that I know and therefore I felt that I must be present in the picture the observed as seen by the observer. I took my ideas from Larry Sultan, Tina Barney and Cindy Sherman. Sultan and Barney helped me with the idea of using home and family and Sherman for the construction of the picture / mise-en-scene. The idea of constructing the scene was not new to me as I learned this in my OCA course, Setting the Scene. My Tutor pointed out that this construction is what Barthes called the studium (Barthes, (2000) p.26.) My last photo of the series does not include my wife, this image is to try to convey an idea of the hidden Sarah, the identity that she keeps to herself. I used the ornaments and pictures that are around the dressing table in our bedroom that I think sums up her full character and that also includes an idea of her hidden self through the Venetian mask and my reflection that appears to be trying to get a peek through the curtain. This last picture was inspired by a book I recently read that suggested ideas for photography, Lee Smolin, Three Roads to Quantum Gravity, (2000) New York: Basic Books. My tutor pointed out that choosing the order for the photographs when creating a series is important and in my case only the last picture, that of the idea of the hidden Sarah was important to be placed as the last of the series. But in other cases a picture order is important as part of the editing control for the intended narrative. My Tutor also discussed the question, would my photographs be read differently through the gaze of a female than a male? He speculated that two independent assessments, one from a male Tutor and one from a female Tutor might have interesting results.
My Tutor has recommended that I read a book by Ervin Goffman, The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life as my photographs appear to be in tune with this book and so I have ordered a copy from Amazon and will read and blog it very shortly.
For my next assignment, Social Themes, my pictorial essay will be about feelings of isolation through being furloughed. My Tutor suggested that I consider who my audience would be other than my Tutor and the college and how it could relate to their own experiences. This I thought was a very good suggestion and keeps in mind about finding that illusive punctum that Barthes discusses (Barthes (2000) p.27.)