Brand-New Topographics.

Being given the title ‘Brand-New Topographics’ with inspiring quotes from various photographers, these were the images I produced after researching their styles and ideas and adapting them to my own work.

“I wasn’t imposing my presence on anyone, which is very important for a would-be journalist. I stayed back. Always let people be themselves.” – Elliott Erwitt.

I like this shot because it shows completely natural expression and behaviour. It features two men relaxing in a casual environment, demonstrating ‘always let people be themselves’. The image is cropped quite closely, with the main focal point to the right of the image making the visual weight heavier. The males face acts as the first focal point in the image, immediately drawing us to his natural laughter linking the photo to the quote. The tones of the image are quite calming and relaxing, and we can also familiarise with the surroundings as I did not crop them out of the image. There is a lot of detail in the image however not too much going on to draw away from the focus on the people.

“I would say to any artist: ‘Don’t be repressed in your work, dare to experiment, consider any urge, if in a new direction all the better.” – Edward Weston to Ansel Adams.

This experimental shot works effectively by focusing on the various patterns and lines. It highlights the sharpness of the spikes whilst leading the eye through alternative areas of the image. I like the composition of the shot, close up with quite a tight frame which allows the eye to image what is beyond the edges. I also like how being close up you can see the textures in the wood. As well as this, the wide aperture creating the small depth of field has caused the spikes to be in focus, drawing the eyes here first whilst the barbed wire in the background is out of focus although it still adds detail to the image.

“The complete disregard for the camera’s presence indicates its complete saturation in their lives. The subject neither notices nor seems to care that someone has been invited into their private moment.” – Nan Goldin

This is one of my favourite images because it captures quite an interesting moment. Here we can see students sharing a moment together with little, if any acknowledgement of the camera. However, it is clear that the girl to the right has noticed something in the direction of the camera or in fact the camera, and capturing this communication between the two is quite intimate. It also represents how the subject ‘nor seems to care that someone has been invited into their private moment’.

“I hate nothing more than sugary photographs with tricks, poses and effects. So allow me to be honest and tell the truth about our age and its people.” – August Sander

This shot has captured a man at the bus stop, simple and natural. I kept the composition quite simple, taking the photo straight on which centralises the subject making him the main focus. This draws the eye to notice him first, so we focus on how the image tells the truth – fitting the quote. It also represents telling the truth ‘about our age and its people’ by showing the simplicity of everyday activity in this age. I feel the photo fits the quote well, however the image overall has a lot going on with a number of people in the background, shapes and straight lines. I think this makes the photo less visually pleasing, however it represents a natural environment which we can familiarise with.

“I go straight in very close to people and I do that because it’s the only way you can get the picture. You go right up to them. Even now, I don’t find it easy. I don’t announce it. I pretend to be focusing elsewhere. If you take someone’s photograph it is very difficult not to look at them just after. But it’s the one thing that gives the game away. I don’t try and hide what I’m doing – that would be folly.” – Martin Parr

This image captures someone pausing for a moment in a busy environment, close up with the impression of ‘focusing elsewhere’ therefore the camera remains unnoticed to the subject capturing her natural behaviour. Although we know little of the person in the photo, with such an up close approach it makes the shot quite intimate. By putting the photo in black and white, this creates a huge tonal range and some interesting contrasts. The females dark jacket dominates the photo making it the first focal point, as well as being the main works well because it draws the eye in.

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“Photography has become a formidable weapon against truth in the hands of the bourgeoisie. The enormous quantity of picture material spit out daily by the printing press, that consequently appears to possess the character of truth, actually serves only to obscure the facts. The camera can lie just like the type-setting machine.” – Bertoit Brech.

I decided to link this photo with what Bertoit Brech said because I wanted to produce something which contradicts the quote. The camera can lie however this photo demonstrates the truth, something that would be ‘spit out by daily by the printing press’. By capturing the rubbish spilling over the floor in a street scene makes us familiarise with our surroundings, representing reality. Again, I like the composition of the shot with the rubbish to the left, making the visual weight heavier here whereas we can also see the background and setting which gives the image context.


“Trust that little voice in your head that says ‘Wouldn’t it be interesting if…’ And then do it.” – Duane Michals.

With this quote in mind, I decided to try something different. This shot may not necessarily composed at it’s best, however I decided to try and contrast old and new. To the left is The Hub, part of Coventry University recently built with a very modern design. I like how the natural light has caused reflections on the wall. In contrast to this, you can see Coventry Cathedral in the background, a famous historic monument attracting many to the City. I really like how the image can capture so much history, yet modernisation. I approached the shot with the thoughts of it creating an interesting image and feel I have done so.


“I am not very interested in extraordinary angles. They can be effective on certain occasions, but I do not feel the necessity for them in my own work. Indeed, I feel the simplest approach can often be most effective. A subject placed squarely in the centre of a frame, if attention is not distracted from it by fussy surroundings, has a simple dignity which makes it all the more impressive.” – Bill Brandt.

I feel that this image fits the quote perfectly. I kept the composition straightforward and let the subject speak for itself. The angle is kept simple with the ‘subject placed squarely in the centre of the frame’. There are no ‘fussy surroundings’ which causes the viewer to focus solely on the subject. What I like about this photo and what makes it so striking is the sharp angles of the building, particularly the point at the top. The narrow aperture has defined a lot of detail with most of the building in focus, highlighting the hard texture and defining the different geometric shapes and straight lines.

Being the first task of my first year at university, I was a little apprehensive of how to approach this task, how to present it and how to evaluate my images. Looking back, I can see how I have developed over the year and been able to make better connections between my images and the quotes we were provided. It was really interesting to first read the quotes, research the particular artists and pre visualise the images in which I could create. As well as this, it was quite experimental by going out and taking a number of unique images and then relating them back to a quote. This task was my first time photographing in Coventry, and we were guided with a number of places to visit whilst also having the scope to explore where we liked. Although not all images were of a great quality with good compositions and creative ideas, I am pleased with the outcome of a few selected photos and how I have related these to quotes from some brilliant photographers themselves.


~ by victoriasimkissphotography on September 28, 2012.

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