Mark Power.

On Tuesday 23rd October, our photography course took a trip to Hinkley and Warwickshire College for a lecture with Magnum photographer Mark Power. After an early departure and short wait after arrival, we were shown a small presentation with a gathering of images from Mark’s work “Black Country Stories”. In response to this, we were put into groups and given times to explore Hinkley and shoot our own photos in the style of these images produced by Mark Power. These are some of my favourite images which I shot.

Following this, Mark Power gave us a presentation giving us an insight to his work. Mark was born and raised in Leicester, where at first he studied painting with little aspiration to become a photographer. During his time travelling, this is when he began happy snapping, and following this he increasingly photographed the homeless situation which was worsening in Brighton. However in 1989, Mark decided against the idea of becoming a photographer. Instead he became a carpenter, however a friend gave him £200 in order to continue his photography. Whilst this was happening, he was courting a woman in Berlin – this gave him the opportunity to go Berlin, at the time of the collapse of the Berlin wall. He was able to photograph this, and through this his work became successful. The take off of his photography career. He believes that withholding information makes pictures more interesting. The photographer has control over this.

Mark expressed that there are 2 types of projects…

1. where you perfect ideas as you go along, if need be change the direction

2. plan everything before you approach it, therefore everything is set before you photograph and you stick to it.

During the presentation Mark showed us work from

  • “26 Different Endings” – Using the A-Z London Map, he photographed the areas which had “dropped off the map”. These images captured reality, without featuring anyone in the pictures to make it appear as if no one lived in these places.
  • “Superstructure” – This work is when Mark photographed the Millennium Dome under one condition, that he was paid to do so.
  • “The Treasury Project” – Through history, he photographed the destruction.
  • “The Sound of Two Songs” – As part of the project initiated by Magnum, Mark visited Poland for a 5 year period. Here he focused on the changes in Poland since becoming part of European Union. He often visited with photographer Konrad Pustola who informed him with great details of the area.
  • “Black Country Stories” – These urban landscapes capture the grittiness and reality of areas in the Black Country, showing the battle with recession. Despite this, there was an increase in lip stick sales, and Mark also photographed a number of people’s shoes to still show people caring for their appearance.

Critical Reflection 

Having only heard of Mark Power briefly before our trip, I was very interested as to see what his work would be like. With the first task, viewing his work and then photographing our own interpretations, this was a really engaging and exciting task as I was exploring a new area and seeing what photos I could compose. Also by doing this, it was effectively viewing the world how Mark had seen and photographed the Black Country.

Before the presentation began, there were a few technical difficulties which was slightly off putting. This was resolved and the lights were turned down for the presentation. Although this was good to see the images clearer, it made note taking a lot harder with little ability to see what I was taking down. Also the projector that was being used made some of Mark’s images appear slightly different to how they really were. At times Mark often sounded quite monotone and along with such darkness this caused a slight lack of interest at points therefore reflecting upon this it is important to make sure the environment is comfortable for the viewers whilst also keeping your audience engaged.

Once problems were resolved, the presentation ran smoothly. It included a variety of his projects which were attractive and alluring to view, as well as giving us the chance hear the stories behind them. By seeing an image you are able to interpret your own ideas and sense of narrative, however there is nothing better than hearing the photographers definitions and thoughts on their own images, from composition to the meaning behind them. Getting to know more about Mark and his journey was too very interesting considering how he almost ‘escaped’ the world of photography however now he is so strong. His images are thoughtful and enlightening, even when capturing the grittiness and reality of certain times and places. The presentation also included various videos – some which proved a bit gruesome for some viewers such as ones of body piercings. They also seemed to cause a bit of confusion in relevance to his images however this still remained unique and interesting because this was his work and how he likes to express his ideas. I personally liked both “26 Different Endings” and “Black Country Stories”. I liked how for both projects he captures the areas which people pay less attention to, but the way he has composed them makes us see more behind what is there. Essentially the images tell a story which I see as important when taking a good shot. The photographer is in control of what goes in the frame and what doesn’t, too which he has applied how he believes in ‘withholding information’ to make the pictures more interesting. They don’t give away everything yet they include enough to engage the viewer and make them wonder what the image is saying. His project “Superstructure” of the Millennium Dome was also really interesting in how it shows the inside details that we wouldn’t really get to see of it’s construction, showing the various stages and tasks within such a great structure. Overall, the day was an interesting experience both photographing through his style and having a better insight into the workings of Mark Power.

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~ by victoriasimkissphotography on October 24, 2012.

One Response to “Mark Power.”

  1. Great pictures Vikki!

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