Anastasia Taylor-Lind ‘The National Womb’

Having found it quite hard to find photography that involves documenting around pregnancy and birth i stumbled across the work of Anastasia’s.

The following information is about the body of work taken from her website:

The series of images from ‘The National Womb’ are in connection with the “birth encouragement program” introduced in 2008, it distributes cash payments to newlyweds for each baby born, this is to repoulate the region after the effects the 1991-1994 had left.

The conflict started when the Soviet Union collapsed. Nagorno Karabakh’s ethnic Armenians went to war with Azerbaijan, backed by neighboring Armenia. The war left 65,000 ethnic Armenians and a further 40,000 ethnic Azeris displaced. The Muslim Azeri population never returned, and neither did many of the Armenians who had fled. While a ceasefire was declared in 1994, there has been no peace settlement yet between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

On the 2nd of September this year, Nagorno Karabakh celebrated 20 years of independence, yet remains unrecognized by the international community. Life is not easy in the republic. There is high unemployment, low salaries, few opportunities and the young continue to leave in search of better futures abroad.

Since its introduction 4 years ago, the “birth encouragement program” is credited for an increased birthrate of 25.5% from 2145 recorded births in 2007 to 2694 in 2010. The program is administered by the Department of Social Security which oversees the payments to married couples of approximately €575 (300,000 ad) at their wedding. They are paid €190 (100,000 ad) for the first baby born, €380 (200,000 ad) for the second, €950 (500,000 ad) for the third and €1350 (700,000 ad) for a fourth. Families with 6 children under the age of 18 are given a house.

Nagorno Karabakhs baby boom was also sparked in 2008 by a mass wedding on the 16th October that was held for 674 couples. The event was funded by private donations from several wealthy Armenian diaspora businessmen including Levon Hairapetian and Ruben Vardanian and couples who participated receive privately funded higher payments of €1400 ($2000) for the mass wedding, €1400 ($2000) for the first child, €3500 ($5000) for the second and increasing amounts up to €70,000 ($100,000) for the seventh. Figures on the 1st July 2011 show that a total of 693 babies had been born to these mass wedding couples so far. These payments are quite substantial in a region where the average monthly salary is €35 ($50).

Family life in Nagorno Kharabak is deeply traditional and conservative. When women marry they are expected to live with the husbands family and stay at home to raise children and care for their mother and father-in-law. Even within the home men and women live parallel but separate lives. A mans role is to provide for the family financially and fathers play only a small part in child rearing. So, what of the young women who are being paid to increase their nations population, the communities of expectant and young mothers and their daily struggles as women in this unrecognized republic??

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What I found most interesting about Anastasia’s work was her ability to really be just a ‘fly on the wall’ when she takes her photographs, they have a documentary aspect to them whilst being very specific in what she wants to show. I think she does an excellent job in reflecting on the back story to her body of work. The images are predominantly focussing on the women, there is a lack of men within the frame, this highlights their absence and lack of involvement with the birth. The photograph above of the women in the hospital bed, all in the same room with their children could suggest their solitude together as women, they have had the same experience of birth and are lacking support from their partner. The fact that they are all in the same room and not in confined separate areas also highlights the high volume of women giving birth. What also particularly stands out to me in the image of the lady giving birth is that she has been careful with her cropping and selectivity of what she is showing to the viewer, it is enough for us to understand what is going on but not enough to be too graphic.

I suggest anyone interested to have a further look into her other projects!

http://www.anastasiataylorlind.com

 

 

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Interview with Peter Dench – My Case Study

Wednesday 26th February 2014

To start I’d like to introduce my case study, Peter Dench. He was born in Weymouth, Dorset in 1972 he is a Photojournalist and in 2012 he joined Reportage by Getty Images as one of their represented photographers. He began taking photographs at the age of 14, it was 1992 when he enrolled in a degree course in Photographic Studies at Derby University. Peter has worked in 55 different countries, but from looking at his work it is clear his prime focus is on England. His ‘DrinkUK..LoveUK..RainUk’ projects are absolutely brilliant, Peter’s way of representing England in the images is so clever, he has a unique and quirky style which I love. Here’s a bit of what he does:

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If you want to look further at his work (which I suggest you do) take a look at these websites:

http://www.reportagebygettyimages.com/peter-dench/

http://www.peterdench.com/#/films/Cosplay

 

So I stepped on the 10:58am train from Farnham to London Waterloo, the good thing about the journey being an hour long meant I could prepare my notes and think of more questions to ask my case study. I was on my way to meet photojournalist Peter Dench, after emailing him to answer some questions of mine he kindly suggested we meet to talk instead – I was really surprised when he’d suggested this but I was really grateful he’d make the time to meet me. After 2 and a half hours on travelling on trains, tubes and walking around trying to find my bearings I had arrived at Crouch End, the area was amazing it took me by surprise completely it was bustling with people but it didn’t feel uncomfortable like how the streets of Oxford Circus sometimes do. There was plenty of bakeries, café’s, vintage shops, pubs and restaurants – I was excited to say the least!

After wandering about for a bit to kill some time being early, I arrived at The Villiers Terrace Pub to meet Peter, it was a beautiful pub not at all like I’d expected. There was an open fire and the interior decoration was classy and had this warmth about it. I’d found a quiet area of the pub to take a seat, not that it was busy anyway but I didn’t want too much disruption when recording our conversation.

Soon after Peter arrived and greeted me with a big smile and enthusiasm in his voice – if I’m honest I didn’t know what to expect, I hadn’t ever interviewed anyone before and I didn’t know what it would be like meeting with someone with such great experience and how much of him time was he going to give me? If I’m honest Peter was really down to earth and open to answering my questions, all my nerves that I had went away within a few minutes of meeting him, he was a really comfortable and cheery person to be sitting with.

I asked Peter a lot of questions and he answered them all amazingly, he even asked me questions about myself and my own interests which was really nice, for me this completely challenges the statement being passed around that most photographers are expected to be ‘self centred’ and ‘selfish’. In all, two and a half hours passed full of interesting conversation, I’d definitely learned a lot from what Peter had to say and the advice he’d given me.  I’m really grateful for the time Peter had spent with me to be so precise and helpful with everything, I’d hope to meet with him again some day. I think if there’s ever anyone you admire or want to know more about, definitely send them an email, and they might just be so kind as to reply like Peter did. I’m not going to post the whole of our conversation on this blog as I’m going to save it for my main presentation on the 17th March but I will share what I believe to be some really interesting and key extracts.

Is there any advice you’d give to a photography graduate? 

I think definitely trust your instincts, get a group of people around you who’s opinion you value/trust they don’t have to be photographers, I show my work to family, friends, and professionals all the time. Have a body of work that people will remember you for when you leave university, this way you can wow people and they’ll think back to you. Try not to idolize other photographers work, have dignity in yourself and what you do. 

Are there any attributes/importance that you think needs to be thought about when taking photos?

To be honest that’s not an easy question to answer. Just go out and just take photos. As photojournalist we have to have something to say for the bodies of work we’re producing and are encouraged to find a subject that would have importance. I’d rather go out and photograph something I find interesting and then find meaning through the edit. I think you’ve just got to trust what you’re doing and why you’re driven to do it.

What is it like being involved with agencies? Reportage by Getty Images?

There are so many agencies to make your name in.. VII, Magnum, Panos, Getty.. But you can’t expect to fit in all of them, they might already have someone like you or similar to what you do. If I’m honest I still hope to be with Getty for the rest of my career, I’m part of a set of 15 photographers who are represented globally and its quite small and intimate. Say I have an idea for a documentary, Getty can refer me to a specific department that may be able to help me, so Getty being such a big agency is really handy.

Here’s a few photos from my visit to Crouch End..

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Mr Dench himself, and some notes of preparation…

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Crouch End bakeries were just too much for me to handle. Yum.

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Inside The Villiers Terrace, if you’re ever about Crouch End I suggest you give this enchanting pub a visit.

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Lastly.. It had to be a selfie with Mr Dench himself. 

 

Thoughts on my printed publication..

Okay so with the second deadline coming up soon I’ve started to bear in mind what I want to do for my printed part of the unit.

Making a book seems to be on the top of the cards, this way I can hopefully engage the viewer with something small and personal, being on the topic of Pregnancy I hope to use a delicate type of cover and stitch to be bound. Here’s some examples of what I’ve seen so far and like:

 

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This type of stitch called ‘pamphlet stitch’ above is what i’m keen to go for, it is simple, not too fussy and looks tidy.

 

 

 

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However this stitch above is quite stirdy and looks like it could hold a book together with a bit more strength. I think it will all come down to deciding on a stitch after the cover, layout and number of pages has been determined.

Uni London Visit

Monday 24th February 2014

A 9am meet at Farnham station on a sunny day wasn’t too bad after all, was looking forward to the day filled of exhibitions, talks and learning more within our Professional Futures unit.

First stop was Silverprint Photographic Supplies at Waterloo, the store was amazing it had anything and everything a photographer could want with regards to printing, storing and presenting work. They had loads of supplies, chemicals for the darkroom (oh how I wish I had my own dark room.. one day) plush portfolios, printing paper you name it. We had a talk from one of the people who worked there about the range of portfolios they have from boxes to leather bound portfolios, this was great to see how we should be presenting our work when putting a portfolio together. I opted for a small black box, compact, cute and personal to keep my prints in, I already have a leather bound one i’m going to use too. I’d definitely recommend giving this place a visit..

https://www.silverprint.co.uk/

Afterwards we went to the Tate Modern, was a bit of a shame we only had 40 minutes to look around before we went to Carnaby Street for our brief lunch but in that time I saw the works of Allan Sekula and Harry Callahan.

Allan Sekula ‘Waiting for Tear Gas 1999-2000’

His slideshow in a very very very dark room (I almost tripped over the seat) consists of 81 images from the protests against the World Trade Organization Ministerial Conference which was held in Seattle and began on 30th November 1999. The slidshow highlights the protests and the atmosphere between the protesters and the police, there is a lot of waiting around involved for the protesters. I really enjoyed the images shown, for me they were very striking and I was drawn to keep watching for the next slide. Here’s some photos from the exhibition..

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Harry Callahan

His large display of work at the Tate consists of photos throughout his career, it includes black and white photos, colour dye transfers and very large prints. His work is very broad, I could see a vast variety within what was shown ranging from portraits, landscapes and even nature. He is very clever in the ways he presents his work and it is obvious you can see he thinks carefully about the execution of his work with regards to how big/small his prints are. I found his work very interesting to look at, especially his series which involved his wife Eleanor whom he met in 1933 and became his most photographed subject.

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We then headed to The Photographers Gallery near Oxford Street woooo this is what we’d all been looking for. We got to view the works of Andy Warhol, William S Burroughs and David Lynch.

Andy Warhol’s work was so different to anything i’d ever seen before, he used a 35mm black and white film camera which he carried with him most the time which he captured lots of things such as cityscapes, streets, people and even celebrity parties, all of which show great reflections on his indifference to hierarchy. The photos in this exhibition were all repeated stitched photographs, he created over 500 before his death in 1987, the photos are carefully arranged together and stitched with a sewing machine. His work was so clever, who would of thought sewing images almost like fabric would be such a great idea, when looking at the photos it was clear to see how Warhol had taken lots of time, accuracy and thought on how to execute the final images successfully.

David Lynch’s ‘The Factory Photographs’ feature black and white images of the interiors and exteriors of industrial structures, the images are all very dark and moody. The photos show how these industrial places were slowly being taken over by the growth of nature. I really liked the graininess and simplicity of some of his images, although i found many of them to look very repetitive it was interesting to see how Lynch had carefully crafted his thinking when taking the photos.

Following our visit at The Photographers Gallery, the lucky 15 of us got to go to a Talk with The Guardian/Observer picture editor Anthony Bell and Photography writer Sean O’Hagan at The Guardian HQ at Kings Cross. This was really exciting, going into such a large important building in London to hear the wisdom and advice from two very experienced people.

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Key Things from Anthony Bell’s talk:

– Selection system is now made easier for them, they view the photos as thumbnails now to make it easier to view hundreds of photos and select the right ones.

– Uses Indesign and InCopy

– 50% of newspaper work is comissioned

– The Observer have 8 Staff photographers whereas The Guardian has 3, they generally use freelancers

– To get the front cover there is a lot of changes that happen all throughout the day to get the right cover, nothing is ever set in stone from the start

– Advice: Get connected with newspaper writers to form your own paths and make links

– Multimedia side of newspaper is growing all the time, more work within those platforms generally

-They have set templates for the newspapers so they can decide what sits where best etc.

Key Things from Shaun O’Hagan’s Talk

– Started writing for NME first within the ‘hiphop’ side

– Started writing ‘seriously’ for The Observer 7 years ago

– Books are a great way to get work out into the world

– Publishing work online tends to be more open minded, more chance to get it out there

– Advice: Create yourself a blog, website, publish a book (even if its a small zine) to get your work across, but be careful when thinking about distribution and cost

– The best work is showing something completely different, something unique

I found both talks to be a really great insight to the competitive industry within photography, but they have really inspired me to try and take each opportunity as it comes. Its also got me really excited but nervous as hell about my work experience with The Times Newspaper on the 24th March!!!

Here’s a pretty photo of London (The Shard) to end on..Image

Thanks for reading,

L

x

Self Publishing Talk

Thursday 20th February 2014

We had an interesting lecture regarding ways to get your work shown to the big wide world – the key being self publishing.

The idea of making a book does seem very daunting but I’m also looking forward to being able to create an actual ‘object’ to show, in this talk we was shown the different ways of making a book and how you can get really creative with it. There were lots of different examples of books etc to look at..

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Ranging from carefully crafted spines, zine type books to tiny tiny books it was interesting to see how creative you can get when self publishing your work. We have a book binding workshop on the 28th February which will be great to finally see a way to make a book and hopefully learn lots of new skills.

 

Midwife Visit with Jo

Wednesday 5th February

I was lucky enough to accompany Jo to one of her visits to the midwife at her local doctor surgery which was really nice to see all the check ups and procedures that are taken (measuring the baby bump, listening to heartbeat, general checks). During the visit I just snapped away as the midwife was doing her checks etc, I wasn’t allowed to include the midwife’s face in the photo which actually worked out well because the visit and my project is all about Jo, so the photos are thoroughly focussed on her. I wanted to experiment with using different angles when taking the photos, predominantly focussing on Jo and her beautiful baby bump. I’m really chuffed that Jo allowed me to come with her, afterwards I felt like i’d been able to document something even more personal to her which is going to be great to include in my final piece.

Here’s a contact sheet of images from the day:

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Thursday 13th February – Narrative Review

Overall my review for my digital piece went well, we had to talk about our theme, stratagies we used, experimentation and presentation of the video.

With regards to improving my digital piece to make it even better the comments i got were as follows:

– sort out the sound to make sure it all matches, make it cleaner and flowing

– add more audio and photos to make it longer

– take out my voice from the piece completely, make it specifically about Jo

– double check the transitions to make sure they flow

 

Plan for the next few weeks.. 

– have a back up plan for narrative book piece as idea is not reliable

– keep shooting photos

– carry on research

– organise time effectively for deadline as I will miss out on a week due to work experience

– go to InDesign workshops to see how a book can be put together

– research book types to suit my theme

Narrative Review Thursday 13th February

So my final digital piece went really well, I collated images together with sound recordings (of things Jo had said about her pregnancy) to make a short documentary about what she had to say. I timed many of the images to make sense with what she was saying.

The feedback I received was very useful, I now know how to go about improving my digital piece to get it at its best for the hand in:

– take my voice out of the sound recording, can be a bit jarring for the viewers

– make slightly longer to engage the viewer more

– adjust sound to make the levels the same

– check the image transitions are consistant