Monday, 2 May 2011

We English author Simon Roberts

Following the feedback of my last and final assignment, my tutor has suggested looking at a couple of artists and I am glad he did.

The first one I am really impressed with and have learnt some crucial techniques, the opposite in fact of how I currently work. This will hopefully lead me to taking better images of things like street scenes.

Simon Roberts book 'We English' [ http://we-english.co.uk/ ] is a fascinating journey through England taken over several months, photographing how we interact and live in our countryside, seafronts, towns and villages.... we can be a quirky lot when seen as a whole in these images.

The first impact of his images to me is the use of space. I tend to fill the frame to make the image bold and interesting, however most of these images show a vast expanse of space such as sky or sand on a outstretching beach. This has two effects which I have ignored until now. Firstly the use of space gives the viewer an appreciation for the scale of the scene, showing how small people can be and that the subject matter is about both England and us, but we being the smaller part of it.


The second point is that people can be a small indistinguishable part of an image and it still works well. Although we cannot identify a person we can identify with them and their anonymity does not matter in taking in the image. To date I have always liked the people in my images to be mainly identifiable. Another great example of this technique was in Mary McCartney's book I referenced earlier in this blog, showing two distant people holding hands running towards the camera on a golden beach. They could be anyone, the fact that it was her parents does not matter.

The other thing I have noted from Simon Roberts work is that he tends to take the high ground in the vast majority of his work overlooking his subject. This looking down on people almost makes them even less significant to the viewer especially on mass, but I like the way this works and am already formulating how I may be able to use this for the next course.....

I like the images of the walks to Scafell Pike etc., these are similar to some of mine, but I would have done better to follow some of Simon's skills....if I had more sky and less foreground I think it would have been a better image.



Finally, I also looked as his earlier work 'Motherland'. A similar topic in Russia this time, but a completely different set of images. This I found stereotypical of Russia with subjects of serious stern faces giving away little emotion. Reminiscent of the cold war... again stunning work I must go back to.