Sunday, 15 May 2011

Evaluation

Overall I am extremely happy with the results of this project. I set out to make a documentation of allotment sites in various areas of the country, and I had no idea how interesting these places were until I got out and started shooting. There are almost endless subjects to capture, and I feel I have only dented the surface, and believe the time constraint may have been a good thing otherwise I may have never stopped and ended up with thousands of images.
When I set out to create the body of work I was determined to make the main focus portraits of people, influenced heavily by my project on greasy spoon caf├ęs last year where the portraits were by far the most successful aspects. I feel that even after the massive amount of experimentation throughout the project I have come back to this initial realisation, and the portraits are still my favorite images of the series. I believe the success of these images is partly down the subjects themselves and partly the technique I used to shoot them, which I have honed over the course of the year and that was massively inspired by photographers such as Mark Power and Alec Soth. As well as the portaits the other success of the project is the sheds. These structures epitomise what drew me to the sites in the first place, their beautiful wonky charm free from building regulations perfectly demonstrate the amazing array of subjects the sites have to offer.
From a technical viewpoint the switch from digital to 120mm medium format film was paramount for the final look of the project. Many of the photographers who influenced the series shot in large format, which unfortunately was beyond my reach due to the costs, so I felt shooting medium format would be as close as I could get. Using film has given the images beautiful colours and tones, and allowed me to utilise the shallow depth of field I craved for my portraits. Also the higher quality has really given justice to all the details of the subjects.
Above all else I have made new friends and I learnt later on in the project that the Brent site that was the focus of the series is under threat from the council, which has made the images not only important to me but potentially the people in them as well. The project has brought a new level to my image making ability and interaction skills with my subjects. I feel my photographic style has really been established through this series.
As well as the images I am happy with the book I have created. I decided to steer clear of online book printers as I have had poor results in the past, and opted to print the images myself. This has really done justice to the 120mm scans, as the print quality is far superior. I also wanted the book to be a one off, and more of an item and just a book, which is why I created the wooden cover. I think this has set the work aside from conventional photo books and made it feel more like a something that borders on documentary photography and a one off art piece. Although the book cover has it’s draw backs as it has to handled in a specific way to view the images properly I think it was worth the effect as it has made this piece far more unique.
Overall I am ecstatic with what I have created and feel it is most definitely a unique piece of photo art.

Issuu book

I have published a digital copy of my book on Issuu.com so you can get an idea of how it will look:



I am very happy with how this looks. Issuu is an amazing site that has allowed me to get a real idea of what my book looks like, as well as being able to send the link to people who may not be able to see the book otherwise.

Sample layouts

These are some sample layouts I have created for my book:





I am unsure of the order of the images yet but this gives you a rough idea of how some of the pages will look. I don't want to have too many double sided pages because of the way the cover is made, it makes it difficult to view the left hand side images. However I feel it is important to have some to make the series feel like a book and not a bound set of prints. I want to keep the viewer interested so I will mix the images up so it isn't repetitive.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Book Cover

As I mentioned in the previous post I have made this wooden cover for my allotments book:


I decided to make this cover and print the book pages myself, and not order one from an online site because I wanted a higher quality to the images, as well as the book feeling like more of an object, a one off creation.
The cover itself is made to wooden shed panels glued to a sheet of MDF. I found some old rusty hinges to use, also to make the book look and feel as much like an old shed as possible. I then painted the allotments title on to mimic the type of painting commonly seen on the sheds as well as carving my name into the wood. Once the book is printed and bound, to drill holes that will enable me to bolt the book in to place. I think this has given the book a real heavy duty feel and look and I am very happy with the result, I think it is a really unique piece.

Book introduction

As well as the images in the book I have asked one of the allotment plot holders, Carole, who has helped me massively with the project by providing me with a key to site and allowing me unlimited access, to write a shot piece about what owning an allotment means to her. This is what she wrote to me, laid out how I intend it to be in the book:
I feel that Carole's piece of writing is a perfect introduction to my book. I asked her to sum up how important owning an allotment plot is to her and she has done an amazing job. I feel that the short piece of writing will really help the series fell like a book when it is completed and put together.

More Sheds

These are the most recent sheds I have shot on the Brent site:




















I feel that I have collected all the images I can before the deadline and in time to edit them, decide on the final order, print and bind the book. For the sheds I intend to group them in to similar looking images, to display in grid form, and also choose my favorite ones to have as full pages along side the grids. I also need to make the cover for my book. I intend to make the cover out of wood to resemble the side of one of the sheds, and then I will bolt the bound book in to the cover.

Before and After Images

As I have mentioned in previous posts I had intended to shoot some of the images for this series in a 'before and after' style. After doing some experiments it became apparent that this would not be possible with many of the images that I shot. However these images have worked well:

I have chosen to include these images in the final set because I feel they have worked well and are extremely strong and striking images. I left image was taken early in the project when I had more limited access to the medium format camera, and the second close to the end. Many of the final images, especially the portraits, where shot towards the end of the project, so you don't really get a sense of the time span the project stretched over. However I feel by adding these images I feel you start to get a sense if that, because it is clear to see that these images have been shot at different times of the year. As well as them bringing more context to the work I am also very happy with how these two images have come out. I managed to position the camera in nearly exactly the same place for both shots, and you can really get a sense of the change in seasons, and also activity on the site. I intend to display the images as above, over a double page spread so you can really see all the details.