Reflections on Week 7 – Strategic Choices

The strategic choices that I make today are probably mostly due to personal circumstances and the equipment that I currently own.

In terms of personal circumstances, I live in a hot country that places certain restrictions on outdoor photography – particularly in the summer. When I began the MA, the outside temperatures were consistently above 40 degrees in the daytime and rather humid in the early mornings and evenings. Once the humidity calmed down I was able to get out shooting in the evenings – otherwise I had to take to the indoors. This will be a challenge next summer and so I will have to come up with some solutions for the very hot times between May and September. A night time project for those evenings where the humidity is not too intense and lots of indoor photography. Hopefully by then I will have a few good contacts/ families for my main project that will allow me to focus more indoors than outdoors. I have also started to intern in a photography studio in Dubai so perhaps that will also give me a few more options in the summer for continuing my photography education in those months.

In terms of the equipment that I own, I have been working exclusively since the start of the MA with the Fuji XT1 and the fixed lenses (16mm, 23mm, 35mm, and 56mm) that I own – in fact about 75% of my work so far has probably been with the 35mm which I have found to be the most suitable lens when walking around the streets of Satwa, Diera and Karama over the last few weeks. I have enjoyed shooting with the fixed lenses. I think they have brought a good discipline to my work as they make me think more about getting into the right position for a good composition. The XT1 has been great for street photography as it is so easy to carry around all of the time but I have just got back into using the Canon 5d Mark II again (having solved to mystery of the failing autofocus – embarrassingly this just needed a setting changed!) and I used this at a recent event that I covered. I can see myself getting back into this system and I need to as I had forgotten so much about the camera’s operational system in such a short space of time. It’s just such a big camera! However, I can see this being my go to system for portrait and studio work in the future….and perhaps with lighting which I have started to learn more about and experiment with this week.

These are obviously both digital systems – I have never ventured into the world of analog photography but this is something that I am going to embark on over the Christmas holidays. I want to continually challenge myself and I can see analog photography helping me to slow down a little bit and think more about the images that I capture. The other benefit of analog also is that I won’t spend any time post processing over the holidays and so more time with the kids. I will also get a nice surprise when I get the films developed! I am currently researching some analog camera options. Any tips welcome!

One of the topics during the week’s presentations was around the role of chance and serendipity in photography. I think that this really depends on the photographers practice. A model shoot for example is much less likely to incorporate an element of chance in a shoot compared to perhaps street photography where there it really is chance as to what the photographer may come across in his day to day work. As such I see this a key element of my current practice. I have shot many photographs in my street walks which relied upon the people that I came across and the situations that they are in. Chance will certainly play a big part in the people that I meet and stories that I document along the way for my main project.

Now that the weather is much better, I am going to give myself a small project each week to get myself out photographing more, continuing to learn the art and craft of photography and to really push myself further. I have bought a book (The Photographers Playbook, Aperture, 2014) that provides over 300 different assignments and ideas for photography mini-projects and I will be making sure that every day I am always working on a photography project or some sort – be it my own mini-project, a peer commission or my main project. This will provide me with certain parameters for each project and hopefully also help me to expand my creativity over time.