FMP Essay – Work in progress. Contextual Investigation final major project.

The essay in final format has been published as a PDF See the post


My final major piece I have decided to represent in photographs that are about the urban landscape and the journeys people make through towns or cities and the transport of the city. I have been looking at a variety of photographers for ideas, inspiration that I can use and take ideas, themes to experiment and expand upon and develop into ideas for myself. Some of the photographers are from the 1920s right up to contemporary photographers of the 2010s.

Stephanie Jung

Contemporary photographer Stephanie Jung is photographs capture the chaos and hectic mood of a city with people on the move, the bright vibrant life and colour of advertising hoardings and shop fronts.

Image 1 New York VI by Stephanie jeng

Jung is based in Germany, Berlin. Between 2008 and 2010 Jung finished her studies in Visual Communication that allowed her to experiment with different photography and production techniques. Jung states an influential photographer while she was studying was Sabine Wenzel. Wenzel produces a mix of styles from very clear and defined commercial architectural photographs and photographs that contain fluidity and movement. You can clearly see the influence of Wenzel in Jungs work.

Image 2 “Der deutsche Wald” Wald 01 by Sabine Wenzel

Jung emphasizes the cityscape photographs by multilayering images to build up a frenzied image that bursts with life. Her photographs of the USA New York, Japan – Tokyo, Oska, Nara and her home city of Berlin.

Image 3 “Berlin Collection” by Stepahine Jung

These effects are experimental works using digital image editing that is possible with photo editing software like Photoshop. Jung uses similar post processing of nature shots of multilayering, combining shots to create a new atmospheric image. Jung also uses Photoshop editing effects and filters to introduce whorls and spirals in to floral landscapes

What do I like about the photographers work?

I like the photographers work because they have managed to capture the chaos and bustling life of a city. The strong reoccurring theme is the traffic on the road, the street lines, the cars and buses and taxis. I also like this photographer’s work because the bright colours used making the pictures standout as a collage on top of each other, but you can still see enough of the images to recognise the image as a street scene. The multi layered photographs build images of light and impressions of shapes that are similar to Turner’s later swirling patterns of light paintings such as The Fighting Temeraire or Rain, Steam and Speed.

How does this relate to my project?

This photographer relates to my work because Jung has created images of city movement in a static image. Jung states about her city photographs “it was a moment full of life. This was something I wanted to exaggerate by the multiple effect.” This was an idea and effect I wanted to try and explore the possibilities of creating different ways to capture busier pictures focusing in on the transport and people around here making a more interesting composition in the picture.

What techniques can I take from her work?

The multilayering of the image, altering the transparency of the image and adjusting the size of the image. Experiment with taking photographs at an elevated position as well as at street level.

How did I create my pictures?

Overlaying the same picture on the top of the previous picture. I made the picture slightly bigger each time and moved it in different places, offset from the original picture. I then changed the opacity of the picture to 20% this is so you can see several layers at once making the picture look hectic.

I have experimented trying to create images in a similar style. These are my responses, a series of photographs that I have taken in raw format to allow me to alter the light levels, contrast and vibrancy of colours and add as multiple layers to create a frenzied and hyperactive series of images.

Image 4 “Backs of terraced houses” by Lucy Younghusband

The urban landscape of houses look interesting, but the buildings have no people or vehicles that would add to the feeling of movement and vitality. The image has a more ghostly quality, not the atmosphere I was trying to achieve.

Image 5 “Carousel” by Lucy Younghusband

The carousel photograph is very expressive and interesting, it has a slow exposure to give the lights on the merry-go round movement. The high contrast of the light with the dark sky adds to the atmosphere. However there are not enough people in the photograph to give the impression of moving crowds of people that I wanted. The individual person has a feeling of solitude and isolation. I did try increasing the number of offset layers, but the composition looked messy and I deleted the image and retained this example.

Image 6 “St.Thomas’ London” by Lucy Younghusband

I did like this image I created. I used multiple layers and mirrored the image in the layers. The night slow exposure captures the movement of vehicles as they pass by in front of St. Thomas’ Hospital. The many lights in the building, the verticals and horizontals of the building structures construct to make the most successful example all my attempts experimenting to create a cityscape that contains movement. The darkness contrasting with the lights is in my opinion what has made this composition work.

Image 7 “City front page News” by Lucy Younghusband

I wanted to take a cityscape, the newspapers stacked in many piles reminded me of city tower block buildings a city in miniature. The photograph was taken in natural light. The multiple offset layers has created a pleasing composition, the shades of grey, the strong tower shapes ghosting give a strong sense of movement. The newspaper towers are both static and look to be in the act of falling or being thrown down. However this is not a large cityscape with large numbers of people on the move, but a photograph of city detail.

Idris Khan

Idris Khan was Born in Birmingham in 1978, Khan lives and works in London. Since completing his Master’s Degree at the Royal College of Art in London in 2004 he has shown internationally.

Khan’s works – in media including sculpture, painting and photography – rely on a continuous process of creating and erasing, or adding new layers whilst retaining traces of what has gone before. He is well known for large-scale works in which techniques of layering are used to arrive at what might be considered the essence of an image, and to create something entirely new through superimposing images repeatedly.

Khan’s style is similar to Jung multi layering images and off setting them to create a collage image. Khan works with B&W images that creates a sketch drawing quality to his creations.

Some of the subject studies that Khan undertakes are a homage to the German industrial photographers Bernd & Hilla Becher. He has taken their photographs of an industrial building – gas tanks of the same type and overlaid them with a pale opacity. This gives a soft edged image, an overall impression similar to charcoal drawings

Image 8 “every…Bernd And Hilla Becher Spherical type Gasholders” by Idris Khan, 2004. Saatchi Gallery

Image 9 “The Houses of Parliament, London” 2012 by Idris Khan

Khan’s B&W image of the Houses of Parliament create an image that to me is similar to an architects drawing or the sketches of Leonardo da Vinci.

How does this relate to my project?

Kahn’s work similar to Jung’s the images are of industrial and city views. Khan’s images are very different from Jung’s and the images I want to create, in the fact they have a quiet, stillness of a pencil drawing. The people and city traffic are not the key features of his photographs. There is a quality of tranquillity.

What techniques can I take from his work?

The multilayering of the image, altering the transparency of the image and adjusting the size of the image. An interesting idea is to take other photographers work and use them to create a new composition.

Walker Evans

Walker Evans (1903-1975) Evans recorded the American way of life from 1920s to the 1970s. Evans photographs captured street scenes, architecture and everyday people going about their daily lives.

Evans is credited with capturing “the spectator’s role, and of the poetic resonance of ordinary subjects.” Evans captured the facts of social history and changes in American way of life that happened over the 50 years he took his photographs. The changes in transport, fashions, farming the shops the change in cities as they grew.

Between 1938 and 1941 Evans took a series of photographs on the New York subway using a concealed 35mm camera. Walker wanted to take photographs of people unnoticed, travelling with the passengers taking their photographs in such a way they would not react to the camera, change their facial expressions or compose themselves.

A similar approach of taking photographs of passengers on the underground was repeated more than 50 years later by a French photographer Luc Delahaye on the Paris Metro between 1995 and 1997.

Walker Evans – People on New York subway

Luc Delahaye

French born photographer, born in 1962. Delahaye started his career as a photojournalist during the 1980s Delahaye devoted himself to reporting upon war and conflicts. He had his photographs published in Newsweek Magazine.

Delahaye used the detached photojournalist approach in a series of 90 photographs and portraits taken between 1995 and 1997 published in an album called L’Autre where people and passengers were secretly photographed on the Paris metro using a hidden camera.

The subjects of the photographs, they do not look at the photographer, their facial features are not posed intentionally or unintentionally for the camera. The subjects’ faces show no recognition, mouths are slack, their eyes unfocussed, deep in their own thoughts.

Delahaye photographs capture the passengers on their daily travels, and the stillness and private worlds of the passengers. What they do not capture is any sense of motion, the journey that is being undertaken. The passengers appear static, solitude and self-reflecting waiting as if time has stopped waiting for their stop and the next stage of their journey.

What do I like about Evans and Delahaye’s work?

The hidden camera has resulted in photographs taken of passengers who have not responded to being photographed.

What can you take from these works?

Challenge is to take photographs so that people do not respond to the camera or photographer, the methods adopted by Evans and Delahaye might be considered controversial, taking portrait photographs without the persons permission.

If someone does notice me using a hidden camera they may react, especially if they object to having their photograph taken, they may be aggressive or draw me to the attention of authorities, and without any permission to photograph on the tube system I might be in trouble.

For this reason I shall not attempt to try taking secret portrait photographs.

How dos these works relate to my project?

The photographs relate to the subject matter I am drawn to, the London Underground, but I do not want to take photographs of people’s faces without their permission, but to try and take images of people on the move, not to capture identifiable faces. I wanted to capture the transitory nature of people and trains on their journey.

Bruce Davidson

Bruce Davidson is an American photographer born in 1933. He has been a member of the Magnum photo agency since 1958. His portrait photographs, notably those taken in Harlem, New York City, have been widely exhibited and published.

“I really focused on the way they felt. They were depressed. They were poor. I didn’t know how poor they were, but they were very poor and dysfunctional. The neighborhood didn’t support them in any way. So, that’s what it’s about. I think that’s what makes it universal. It’s about the way teenagers feel if they are abandoned, abused or lost.”

“I’m not photographing people. I’m photographing the environment.”

I like this photographer’s work because of the high contrast.  The graffiti that has been daubed inside and outside the trains

How will this relate to my project of transport?

This relates to my transport project because it shows more than just there object of transportation moving you from destination but it shows the passengers that you also see with in the transport especially when it is public transport.

What will I take from his work using his ideas and techniques on my own work?

The photographs taken have been taken openly, and the people, some react to the camera, others ignore or look away. The environment on, and off the trains have been captured. The people as they travel through the networks.


Danny Lyon

An American photographer born 1942 in Brooklyn New York. Lyon photographs has a strong association with civil rights. His works include works around prisoners in Texas jails in a book called Conversations with the Dead (1971).

Lyons style of photography has been called ‘New Journalism’, this is when the photographer has become immersed, and become participant, of the documented subject.

Lyon photographed commuters and passengers on the New York Subway in 1966. The photographs were taken using a Rolleiflex medium format camera and Kodak colour film

Magnum Photos – Danny Lyon

Bob Mazzer

Bob Mazzer captured on his small Leica M4 35mm camera passengers, tourists, party goers and commuters travelling on the London tube. His work has been exhibited around London galleries. Some of his first work was first exhibited at the Royal Festival Hall sponsored by GLC

Mazzer did not attempt to hide his camera as Walker Evans or Luc Delahaye had done in the past. You can see how some passengers ‘play-up’ to the camera pulling faces, looking away or deliberately hiding their face.

What do I like about his work?

I like his work because of the harsh light and colours he uses in his pictures making them more striking to look at. Some of the photographs are amusing and are a record how things have changed on the tube. Some people are photographed smoking and drinking alcohol on the tube, these things are no longer permitted. The clothes, hairstyles.

How does his work relate to my project?

I think that his work relates to my project because of the way he has managed to capture the people and the constantly moving people on the transport.

What can you take from his work?

I believe I can incorporate the way he captures people and what they can see on the journey form the station walking to the train to on the train, this could include people busking at the side of the corridor, to people sat messing about with friends on the train.







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