In my first session with my new learning mentor Louise, we spoke a little about how I could be expanding my knowledge and research beyond just the scripted exercises and assignments. Visiting galleries and meeting with other students doesn’t really ‘gel’ with the difficulties I face and so I’ve always felt that I simply would never be able to offer much more than the bare minimum.
A great idea that Louise suggested was to watch some documentaries. I had never thought of this before but I think it will do me a lot of good as I’m a fairly visual person. I find it difficult to connect with long streams in text.
So, after typing landscape photography documentary into Google, I found a short, 10-minute documentary named “The Shot”; “A short documentary shot at dawn following Sławek Staszczuk as he works to capture a unique and illusive image of the Seven Sisters cliffs. Will this talented landscape photographer achieve his perfect shot or not?” 1
Director Dave Thomas has produced a very visceral short film that really encapsulates what it is to be a photographer- capturing the empty spaces- lonely figures wandering through bad weather whilst also getting out of him the emotional and thoughtful journey that takes place with every shoot.
It was thoroughly interesting to get a sense of how this photographer worked and what his general thoughts about his photography were. Whilst I saw many similarities to myself: “Most of my expeditions are fruitless, not bringing any photographic results that I’m happy with”, I saw differences too: “All landscape photographers are optimists- they have to be.” Considering myself some sort of photographer for 4 years now, I know myself and what I like to shoot, and landscapes do not work for me in the slightest. I’ve never even enjoyed viewing the landscape work of other photographers, but seeing the emotion and effort that Staszczuk put into his trip really struck a chord with me.
What I particularly enjoyed was that the documentary wasn’t a polished, typically-professional affair. This made me feel far more connected to Staszczuk and the harsh conditions he found himself in. Having faced similar situations in my own photography, the ‘raw’ feeling of the recording was far more realistic than a BBC-style high-budget documentary.
1 Dave Thomas. (2012). THE SHOT. [Online Video]. 31 January. Available from:https://vimeo.com/35988208. [Accessed: 17 March 2016].