Saturday, 6 July 2013

Assignment 5 – The challenge of style

On the face of it this assignment is fairly straightforward – take a dozen photos in the style of the photographer I analysed for Assignment 4. The question I keep coming back to though is, “What is Hatakeyama’s style?” – so I thought I should explore that a little.
Clearly he makes use of the sublime – if that constitutes a style – in his early works, although it is less apparent in his more recent material – often featuring images which hint at the unknown/unknowable – either by dint of the subject size 9as in his quarry, factory and city images), or location (as in his underground images). He also makes use of stylistic devices – for example in Rivers he uses a 2:1 vertical panoramas with a strong horizontal - or shooting through wet glass for Slow Glass, although not so often that it might be considered a “trademark”. In general his work features a relatively limited – and for the most part fairly muted palette – blues, browns, greys – with very little green or yellow. It also appears to be largely taken in relatively flat lighting – frequently suggesting twilight or at least evening.
Much of his work also concentrates on man-made or altered landscapes – cities, quarries, river channels, industrial facilities – often centring on the interaction of the man made items with the environment, although, as noted in my critical essay there is a sense of detachment – perhaps even scientific study - rather than campaigning. Particularly with his quarries, coal heaps and cement factories there is a suggestion that he prefers elevated shooting positions, but this is reversed in Rivers and Underground.
All of this leaves me with plenty to shoot at stylistically, but what about subject matter. I was tempted to try a series on abandoned mining sites in the Lake District, as it interests me just how many of the now “beautiful” valleys incorporate the result of nature acting on what we might now consider an environmental disaster, but my knowledge is not yet at the stage where I could do that convincingly, and in truth I’m not really fit enough for all the hill-walking required to get the elevated positions. But I am working on it. and wondering if I might be able to weave it into Documentary.
Instead I’m returning to the coast to do a series on the interface between earth, sea and sky. The stylistic devices I’ll be using include the 2:1 vertical panorama with strong horizontals and the muted palette.

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