Thoughts on “A fictive story” experiment!
From the first moment I signed into the flicker account, I realised it is a useful tool. I would define myself as a lazy kind of photographer, shooting only about 50 to 70 rolls of film yearly. Since you can spend an awful lot of time, energy and money I find photography hard to do. But I still love it. What’s the point? So many great vernacular photos have already been made and for that reason I find my photographic work sometimes useless. About two weeks ago, when we seriously started our project Ena rola filma, I thought of a way, how to use other’s people photos to create new series. A completed body of work, with false story and with manipulated meanings of original images.
A fictive story group description:
This group is an experiment of a Slovenian blog Ena rola filma!
The experiment shows the use of photography for story telling. But since there have been so many photos already taken, we will try to use other people’s photos for creating a fictive story, because sometimes photography is too hard to execute, especially for lazy people. Please help us create a story with your photo, you will not be disappointed!
The basic idea is that so many photos exist, there is very small need to take new ones. This fact is contradictory to contemporary photography production. The most important thing nowadays is the idea and knowledge for creating a series that works together visually and narratively.
1. Vernacular photography
I idolize aesthetics of vernacular photography. Vernacular in photography stands for ordinary photos of people without any intention to be arty or professional, what is often a goal of an amateur photographer. The quality of all these images is often an inspiration for my personal projects, because there is something photogenic in ordinary life that beats all set up photos ever taken. Every vernacular photo, that was not taken mistakenly, is a reflection of photographer’s state of mind in the moment when it was taken.
Vernacular photography is more a phenomenon of 20th century and nostalgia then it is a part of today’s popular culture, since today’s understanding of photographing is different. Before the appearance of Facebook and other social networks (including Flickr) photographing was considered as a tool to write down memories as a real documentation of what happened. Sometimes people were taking photos because they were bored, and we still do that, but nowadays we understand photography as a tool to make things and people look better in a certain, taught way. We now consider photography as something self-evidently (post in Slovenian language).
This project is a tribute to what photography is all about. It speaks of certain aesthetics, being a consequence of photographic process itself. It implies mostly on vernacular photography, which is often taken with cheap, “out of date” equipment. Photos are grainy, out of focus, with odd colours and lack of details.
2. Tag wars!
Tagging is a key of success on the Internet. I found many ridiculous tagged materials on Flicker. A simple try, as for example “woods”, can turn into a fiasco of over photoshopped images with girls posing in forest and for some reason bowing their heads. It was a nightmare to find a simple vernacular photography of woods.
I was surfing trough Flicker for about three days, finding lots of great images, and ten times as much of spam, crap and junk. I was selecting the images and sending group invitations. The issue was, that people didn’t except my invitation. So I was loosing precious images that I loved the most. The hardest photographs to get were the eldest. I looked them up under the tag “vernacular” and consequentially wanted to collect them for a story inside the story, a sort of found photo album in an abandoned house.
It felt like I was editing a book while I was arranging photos, but actually I was writing one, because I had to find all the materials by myself. When collecting was completed I instantly got to the sequencing. With a right sequence of images, we create a story and that is one of the most complicated things in photography. Since I have limited knowledge and experience with editing, I stuck to the simplest, most evident story of all - a “walk in the park”. It was sort of a visual exploration of vast woods of Northern USA, which I am very much attracted to.
4. Some thoughts on manipulating the vernacular
Whole project derives from a fact, that photography is a manipulating medium. It is a consequence of photographer’s visual research and every person’s unique view on the world. People shooting vernacular, mostly don’t realize that. On the other hand the genre of vernacular kind of photography is a homogenized one. Or more precisely: can we speak of a concept how vernacular photography was made, if there is hardly anything conceptual here?
I recognised two other types of manipulation: the viewers understanding and then the most important, the editor’s view, which is questioned with this outline. As an editor of this project I was confronted with my alter ego, which I can say is a sort of imaginary viewer. The relation here is a complex one. That can be proofed simply with the selection of photos itself.
Now try to imagine: I am a photographer, using Flicker as a tool to boost my creativity, searching for new ideas. At a certain point I figured out that I could create a group, which will be based on my imaginary story. When I was selecting images, I had a feeling, that I took all these photos, because my choice is a unique one. One of a thousand photos was selected, like in the real world of photographic process, where you and the camera are alone with literally unlimited possibilities of photographing… But at the same time I was able to look at completed photos that I couldn’t alter in any other way, rather then sequencing them as an editor does.
Is photographic process based on altering and limiting your own view? And more importantly, is the power of editing the key for all of the concepts of photography? If we answer to the first question with: Yes, photography can, at the moment when you are photographing, limit your view on surrounding, but it has a certain sense when editing is completed. Can you imagine a photographer so absolute in his own perfection, that every photo he takes is a successful one?
There have been many questions in the past, but so far no answers were given. So far I will present only an short selection of images without right sequence. See for yourself!
Text by Aljaž Celarc