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Monday, 25 November 2013

How to Stop your Pictures Being Boring

Francis Hodgson gave a talk at Newport (the University of South Wales) last week in which he outlined his views on how to elevate the photograph from the digital soup into which it is in danger of being immersed.

(Read Francis Hodgson in conversation with Joerg Colberg here)

I like the idea of digital soup - it corresponds to Erik Kessels piles of photographs - a squillion photographs uploaded to flickr in one day (although is it really a squillion, and were a squillion really printed out?)- and raises the same questions. How do we differentiate our images from this amorphous mass of visual detritus?

Francis suggested 3 major ways of doing this (and noted that there are a whole bunch more).


Work with processes and you may escape the surface problem of photography - that it only has surface. You also touch on craft and connect your work to historical uses of photography.

Work in series and what is banal in the individual image is ampliflied so that similarity and difference are accentuated, so a narrative is formed.

Work with allusion and you connect your work with a broader world, one where the art-historical, the psychological, the political, the market - take your pick - is referenced. It makes people take your work seriously.

Trouble is when it doesn't work, allusion becomes collusion, delusion or illusion. And there's a lot of that kind of work around.

When it does work? A couple of examples of people who to my mind hit the three Hodgson sweet spots (process, series and allusion) every time: Sally Mann and Abelardo Morell (see  below)

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