#Phonar Session 7 – Marcus Bleasdale Reflection.

Marcus Bleasdale photographic journey began through playing around with a camera after the realisation he had spent so long in a room surrounded by computers and telephones. He developed love of the image although he was unsure of what he wanted to achieve with his camera, bearing in mind the power of photography with the concept of narrative. Studying a post grad in photojournalism created a formal structure for leading into exploring the issue of documenting human rights. He spent time documenting life along the Congo river creating One Hundred Years of Darkness in 2002. From 2002 – 2013, Bleasdale documented the issue of natural resource exploitation. He highlighted the importance of using work he’s already produced to engage a different audience as well as using different platforms. A collaboration with Paul O’Connor, comic artist, created a story which appealed to a wider audience. Also, the video game ‘Blood Minerals’ was created in order to involve younger audiences to learn more about relations with natural resources through different roles within the game – being engaging, informative and educational.  Bleasdale has just been awarded the Amnesty International Media Award 2014 for his piece ‘Descent into Hell: Bloodshed in the Central African Republic’.

Whilst listening and learning about Bleasdale’s career, there were a number of points which stood out to me. Firstly he commented on how photographers take little steps to create great bodies of work. Personally, I can find myself getting wrapped up in something as a whole rather than a simplified process of approaching certain aspects individually. Whilst we admire a photographer’s body of work, it is important to appreciate the process it went through to get there. This includes revisiting that place of creation, which Bleasdale later refers to, where he points out no matter where you work there will always be time constraints. He comments on feelings of regret such as not following through a certain thought process or spending enough time with people. I think this is interesting to consider because although we do have to meet deadlines, after producing a piece of work it is so important to reflect upon it and evaluate allowing you to distinguish where you can go back and “fill the holes you think you have” in order to create an impacting piece of work. Thoughts and situations may arise which you may not have been able to capture or turn into a story in the first instance. Secondly, Bleasdale spoke about “how photography is about understanding the issue, concept, people, understanding how they are living and impacted by the behaviour of others”. “You have to be passionate, engaged and involved on a personal level to produce work that impacts change.” Why is this so? Anyone can take a picture and document something and this can suggest there is no connection between the photographer and the subject. However if you involve yourself into a situation, learning about their feelings, thoughts and emotions you can begin to consider how this would make you feel. Rather than just documenting a moment, a passion created by understanding those emotions will encourage you to produce the best possible photo to portray the way it has made both you and those people feel – the power of narrative. Finally Bleasdale says how he takes a lot of inspiration from literature, using it to inform himself about places he goes to. This made me think back to the quote from Todd Papageorge – “If your pictures aren’t good enough, you’re not reading enough.” This shows the spark of an idea, research and preparation and how reading can encourage the flow of our thoughts and ideas to create something brilliant, relating back to those little steps that each photographer takes to create a great body of work.

The talk from Marcus Bleasdale can be heard here.


~ by victoriasimkissphotography on November 12, 2014.

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