From the archive


#streetphotography #Ireland #photoftheday #Dublin

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Photo of the day



#photoftheday #streetphotography #Ireland #Dublin

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photo of the day



#streetphotography #photography #photooftheday

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photo of the day



#streetphotography #ireland #photooftheday #photography

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Photo of the Day


#photooftheday #film #streetphotography #blackandwhite

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Photo of the day


Strangers on a train.

#photooftheday #photography #film #streetphotography

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One more minute!

This series of photographs is the result of a very confused brief .  The essence of that brief is that the portfolio should be based on the seasons.  The brief was written in a contradictory way.  It has worked out better for me because it has required me to examine and question what I mean personally by a seasonal portfolio, what is my personal response to the idea of a selection of landscape photographs that represent the seasons?  I have set out to explore, to test this theme with the portfolio
When I think about the seasons the images that come to mind are what I imagine are quite typical.  Initially I had considered seasons in terms of the changes seen in the landscape, the colour change for example; the leaves in spring and the unique green colour when they are young and full of vigour.  In summer the green deepens and darkens, becomes fuller and as the summer passes they begin to droop in the late summer torpor until autumn brings the shorter evenings and the first morning chill see the green slowly change to yellow and red then brown.  Winter arrives and the first atlantic storm has them dropping down to make a rich brown carpet that leaves the trees bare and naked.  This of course in Ireland is a romantic and idealised idea of the changing seasons.  Here spring frequently fools us, lulls us into a false sense of security with sunshine one day followed by hails, rain and snow all accompanied by gale force winds leaving us shivering and confused.  In the Irish landscape it can be autumn one day and deep winter the next at times of year.  You can be photographing the beautiful autumn gold or perhaps planning to go out tomorrow to capture it only to have winter arrive in the form of a huge wind from the atlantic that leaves the trees embarrassingly naked.  Even in summer it can feel like winter.  So depending on the idealised signs of winter can be difficult and to me they don’t represent the changing seasons.
I began to broaden my thinking on this and consider different aspects.  Firstly on a more practical level, I went back through my images of Irish landscape photography taken around Ireland since 2012.  I examined  them chronologically, by date and chose images that I stood out to me for whatever reason into seasonal collections; Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter respectively.  I didn’t worry too much whether they met, what I think of as the conventional signifiers of the seasons.  As I did this I could see that some might have conventional seasonal signs like for instance daffodils but also they could have other conflicting signs.  A good example is this image here:

This image for me is a more authentic representation of how I personally experience Spring here in this part of the west of Ireland.  Look closely and you can see the yellow daffodils between the bare trees.

Maya Angelo said “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did but people will never forget how you made them feel”.  The same is true of photography, people don’t look at an image and wonder what camera it was taken with or if it is composed on the rule of thirds etc.  At least not at first, at first what hits them is “how does this make me feel?”  The technical analysis comes later on.
So in some of the photographs I have included the more obvious seasonal signifiers like daffodils for spring but I have also included other signifiers such as the window.  Shown  from inside this could signify the weather, the cold and the rain, the claustrophobic feeling of being sick indoors on a rainy day and so on.  This image then, is polysemous, it can mean many things to many different people.  This, to me, makes it a richer image visually.    When I dig deep and really examine what the seasons mean to me they mean lots of different things, I represent them to myself in pictures, words, thoughts, feelings, sounds, tastes and smells.  So the possibilities are endless when it comes to making an image or a series of images about the seasons.
Another concept I have been exploring is around the meaning of the set of images.  As I asked here and elsewhere, what does this selection mean to you?  Who decides what the set means; Me (the author) or you the reader?  The traditional idea or concept of the author of a piece of work is the person who not only creates and crafts the work but is also the sole arbiter of the works meaning.  Again in traditional terms it is the readers duty to discover what the author’s meaning is.  I have certainly found myself standing in a gallery trying to understand what an artist meant when they created a certain painting or photograph have you?
A discussion that came up recently on a forum I participate in was Roland Barthes essay The Death of The Author.  In it Barthes proclaimed the death of the author and the birth and emancipation of the reader as the arbiter of meaning in a piece art or a text.  From the many and varied responses I received it appears that he may have had a point.

No two viewers responded in the same way as an earlier blog post shows.
This concept of the death of the author not only emancipates the reader but also the author too.  Barthes essay shows up a common misconception on the artists  purpose in creating a work of art.  It is often  thought that the artists purpose in the creation is to establish a direct line of communication between the themselves and an audience.
While this may be the case in advertising or illustration it is not the situation in fine art.  A fine artist will create a piece of work, show, share or exhibit it and the audience will understand it (in some way).  If there is any coincidence between an idea, meaning or message that the maker/artist might invest in the work and the audience might discover then it is only coincidental.  So not only are we free as an audience from deciphering the meaning that the author may have intended but also as the artist or photographer we are free from having to invest any meaning that might appear in the piece other than what might appear during the process.  It is not that the work has no meaning, on the contrary the meaning exists as the result of the interaction between the work and the audience but also as Barthes points out the author is the first reader too….
So now I ask you once again what does this et of images mean to you personally?  What comes up when you see them?  What do they say to you?  Leave me a comment please!

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Your feedback on Portfolio 1

I have received a huge response to my request for feedback on what the portfolio selections so far might mean to you.  The following reactions are from people on my blogs, Flickr on email and on social media to the first version.  Tomorrow I will be sharing the final selection.  Thank you to everybody who responded, as you can see the reaction was very diverse.

“Isolation, Self imposed. Sad.”

“Hi brian – I see alot of images are shot through windows – and an impression of holiday memories in Ireland are coming through – perspectives of a passenger in a car- making images of scenes in the moments of travel”

“Destination anywhere! More than likely damp if it’s going to be Ireland”

“Lee Friedlander visits Ireland”

“Disconnect”. So much focus on the foreground/barriers, makes me think what’s beyond it is not what’s important.”

“One initial thought on your landscape set: “landscape” is tied up in my mind with ideas of “outdoors”; here you/the viewer are inside (a car, a holiday cottage, a caravan) for most of the pictures (there are only two as far as I can see where it’s possible you’re “outside” when taking them); this makes me think of “views from” rather than landscapes ie a mediated view rather than THE VIEW; and also the climate-related British practice of driving to the coast and looking out at the sea until the tea in your thermos has misted up the inside of the rain-spattered windscreen of the car…”

“I watched the film Fracture the other day, and I was attracted to the name and its meaning and its supposed link to the film. Now looking back at your set this BoW links to my feeling of Fracture, as I said on Flickr, the meaning of not really being there/connected (foot on the ground), not really separated from nature but finding a way to dislocate from it – car. You understood time-travel and that’s a feeling I too get from looking at it, as if swiftly dragged from one place to the other…I appreciate the video/slide as I’m not required to click to view the next image so can seat back and enjoy it. Not so sure about the light grey background, I think white works best – but that’s a personal taste – for both B&W and colour.Hope this helps. Looking forward to the next instalment. :-)”

“I like the general documentary feel but it is not consistent. There are a couple where “composition ” is rather too “self-conscious” for me. Also I am not convinced by the sequence, there seems to be a lost opportunity here, where is the strong initial image to draw us in”?

“To me it’s about several things. How a car can get you places but uses up natural resources. You can think you’ve been to a place just by going through it in a car or sitting there and looking at the view. Seeing the world through a glass screen instead of getting out there and feeling the breeze in your hair and the sun or rain on your face.”


“Hi Brian
 I think it works fine as a series. It makes me think of the transition from the old country to the new; how Ireland becomes America, ‘Thousands are Sailing’.
 The big skies and highways are foretold but the car is stymied from escaping by the water hedging it in and even signs slowing it down as it looks for a way that’s not eventually barred.”

So each viewer had a completely personal response to the piece.  No two reactions were exactly the same.  Thanks again everybody!

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I need your help again!

I was blown away by the response from all you photographers out there who took your valuable time to give me feedback on the first edit of my landscape photography portfolio last week!  The feedback you gave me on the series of photos was so insightful and so helpful to me so I am very grateful!

This photography project has been deeply insightful for me.  I have realised so much about myself and my work that its hard to our into words.  During the 2 years I have been studying Landscape with the OCA my understanding has changed.  I have especially become more aware of how photographs are representations that we create based on our perception of a subject whether that is a landscape, a country, people or whatever we select to be the subject of our photographs.  During the course I read extensively on representations of Ireland specifically and the different forms that this representation takes.  If you are interested in reading on this subject yourself, a book I can highly recommend is Ireland and Photography by Justin Carville.  Gradually you become aware that a lot of the forms of representations seem to fit into a couple of categories.  That, I guess is very big picture.

What I realised about myself was that as a photographer we have a couple of choices when it comes to going out to make photographs:  We can head out on our photography adventure visualizing what we want to find out there in the landscape and go on a hunt to collect or bag the image tat we think will fit the preconceptions that we have.  Sometimes we find what we were looking for and sometimes we don’t.  The problem I have found with this is that quite often if we go out to find precisely what we think is there we can blind and blinker ourselves to what is there.  We go hunting for what we think should be there and not what really is there.  If it’s not there then we try to force what is there into the picture we want.  I find this particularly difficult here in Ireland as we live in a land that has been so stereotyped already, so packaged and marketed as a kind of dystopian cure for the modern condition, a landscape of quiet, green, picturesque beauty with a pub on every corner with a warm fire and friendly chatty locals drinking pints and playing traditional music.  This is not the Ireland I live in, its fantasy land.  The only truly picturesque landscape here is in the big country houses where the gardens are modelled on 18th century English landscape gardens.

The second choice we have to go out photographing with an open mind, with camera in hand, look at and evaluate everything afresh.  Turn off the inner monologue and experience the landscape visually, notice how the images affect you and how you react to what you see.  Photograph what is there not what you think should be there.  Do not self censor.  Photograph everything not thinking about what it means or if it is a suitable subject.  Free yourself of all restrictions and go with the process. See what you find.  Pan for gold, see what you find, save it, take it home and examine it.  If its gold then keep it.  Allow the story to emerge on its own.  Trust in the process, trust your eyes and your vision to guide you.  Don’t force it.  Allow it to happen instead of making it happen.

Now I need your help I would love to hear your thoughts on the slide show above.  Take 1 minute of your time to look at the video and afterwards leave me a comment here on what you feel the images say to you.  What do they bring up, what do you think the series is about?

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A Photography project that I need your help on!

Hey whether you are a photographer or not and you’re viewing this post I need your help with something I am working on.  This is a selection of fine art photography, Irish landscape photography and also pictures of other places taken while on photography adventures.  These are photographs that have been taken over the last 2 years for a project.  I have created a video/slide show with them to experiment with presentation.  I find laying images out on a blog page is a different experience for the viewer, a video or audio slide show is in its cinematic nature so crank that baby onto full screen!   I am being deliberately vague of the subject of this project and I will go into details below so stay with me!

Photographic Memory

The medium of photography has long been associated with memory and there is a lot of material out there from Susan Sontag to Roland Barthes that discussed in detail the associations and reliability of using photography to aid memory or even to replace it.  In a sense each image, to my mind acts like an anchor to trigger a memory, do you find the same thing?  When you look at a photo album do the images trigger memories of the time and place?  Or have you an experience of looking at a photograph where the memory has faded, the photograph is still clear but the associated memory is hazy?  Have you had an experience where the photo becomes the memory?  It takes over and replaces it?

Photography and Time

Time also has a strong effect on how we view images.  Have you ever looked at Walker Evans’s American Photographs and wondered how they would have been seen at the time the book was published?  I don’t mean how a critic would view them but how a contemporary would view them.  Would they see them the way we see contemporary photography today?  We view so many images today that we forget that these are likeness’  not the actual subject of the photograph that we are viewing and also we don’t register so many of the details in a modern image, the items and clothing, the fashion are so familiar that we don’t see them, not really.

Seeing in Black and White

While I was assembling this set of images I deliberately stayed away from using black and white photography.  Can you guess why?  In the past black and white was reserved for the use of art photography exclusively.  Colour photography was the preserve of advertising and looked down on by the critics and the curators.  Then William Eggleston had his famous show at MOMA and things changed.  The real power of colour photography in my opinion is its everydayness.  We see the world in colour, we have been taking colour photographs en mass since at least the early to middle 1960’s so colour is common currency, it is vernacular photography in all its mundane and ordinary beauty!  Black and white photographs are really seen as vintage photography now.

In Conclusion

So why have I deliberately left the subject of the video blank?  Why is there no sound to accompany the slide show?  Why is there no proper title?  Because the work is not finished.  I am reusing photo’s from my archive of the last 2 years since moving home to Ireland and re-contextualizing them.  These were not consciously taken for this project they are reused and re-assembled the re-presented in a different running order.

Here’s where you come in!

I have not said what the meaning of the photography video is because I want to hear what you think it’s about, I want your input into this project.  I want to collaborate with you dear reader.  Any image can have many, many meanings and as the author of this piece of work I cannot prescribe what the meaning is to you, the reader or the viewer, because you will experience photography in a different way.

Call to Action!

Now this is where you come in!  Please leave me a note in the comments section below and tell me what impression you have of the photo presentation.  Please tell me what comes up for you when you look at it, what you feel the subject or subjects are, anything you want to say I will listen.  I want your feedback.  Please!  Next week I plan to add a second variation of this project using different images and you can contribute there too!  And please like and share it elsewhere too on Facebook, twitter and other social media!

Thanks in advance for your help!

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