First Research Proposal

For this, I have detailed the content featured within my first research proposal for final major project, it offers a fairly basic insight into my starting point in idea development and how this may evolve further.

BA (HONS) PHOTOGRAPHY
Hayley Slade – Research Proposal

KEY WORDS: WORK –

• NATURAL WORLD – EXPLORATION, CONSERVATION
• ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES
• HUMANITY & NATURE – INTERACTION, IMPACT
• CHILDHOOD MEMORIES
• IDENTITY
• NARRATIVE
• LANDSCAPES – FINE ART & DOCUMENTARY APPROACHES
• BRITISH WILDLIFE
• MACRO PHOTOGRAPHY
• ZOO PHOTOGRAPHY

TITLE –

Unknown (requires further consideration and/or research)

STATEMENT OF INTENT

1. Overview/Topics of Interest(s)
2. Introduction/Research Question
3. Aims and Objectives
4. Rationale
5. Previous Research
6. Specialist Needs – Equipment access, workshops etc
7. Bibliography

OVERVIEW / TOPICS OF INTEREST(S)

Upon reflection of my own photographic practice, I established that I feel the most creatively motivated by themes relating to the natural world, especially when striving to develop and refine my understanding of humanities impact and connection with nature.

Past projects include:
• Two landscape projects following different methods of exploring the subject of identity and childhood memories and how this encouraged a ‘nostalgic gaze’ upon nature and natural environments.
• An editorial documentary project based around the narrative of a ‘day at the zoo’ experience at South Lakes Wild Animal Park, focusing upon human and animal interaction.
• Most recently, a documentary video project based upon the impact and interference of humanity upon the British landscape, in relation to both land use and local wildlife.

INTRODUCTION / RESEARCH QUESTION

For this body of work, I intend to develop and expand further upon the contextual themes and visual approaches I established during my recent video project.

In this, I started to document the environmental impact of human development upon the British landscape (agriculture, industry) and in turn, the resulting changes within local ecosystems and their natural inhabitants, as well as this, I began to validate the power and endurance of natural life forms and wildlife, dominating and surviving amongst the fragile remnants of man-made constructs.

I intend to add to this ongoing process, through the consideration of my previous research of documentary landscape photography such as national and contemporary environmental issues and relevant practitioners, as well as undertaking new areas of research as a means of refining the development of my ideas and intentions for this series.
In particular, I want this to progress my knowledge and image development of wildlife photography, including related concepts, potential sites/ locations, nature photographers and contemporary issues within this field of practice.
AIMS AND OBJECTIVES

• To develop research that will further develop and refine my knowledge and understanding of my intended fields of photographic practice.
• To undertake further research of contemporary environmental/conservational related concepts to ensure this series underpins issues that can still considered to be of current interest and relevant.
• To consider existing research and undertake new research of national parks, wildlife sites, heritage sites and sites of biological, geological or scientific importance.
• To look further at relevant historic and contemporary practitioners as means of gaining more informed contextual and visual influences upon my visual work.
• To develop a more specific theme or visual narrative that could connect each of my chosen locations or offer a more depth perspective of one particular site.
• To undertake research that will further inform my intended theme.
• To acknowledge both practical and creative considerations in undertaking a project of this type and scale – such as time management, site availability, financial needs or any potential restrictions that might influence my overall approach.
• To consider the ways in which this series could presented or exhibited.
• To consider what audience, organisation or client this series might appeal to and how this may shape the direction of my final outcome.
RATIONALE

At this early stage, I am still uncertain of more specific aspects of my intentionality for this module. However, I have a brief outline of my overall project management. Firstly, I intend to start by revisiting previous examples of relevant research and determine what aspects I need to progress upon further, or which areas I may have initially neglected to explore within my previous projects.

From this, I can begin to explore new research that will further refine and expand upon my knowledge of various contextual and aesthetic concepts relating to both landscape and wildlife photography. This research will further explore the work of landscape and wildlife practitioners I am acquainted with but in greater depth, in particular, those visual proved very influential within my video project such as Pål Hermansen, Fay Godwin and Jem Southam.

In addition, this should allow me to progress towards new influences of both wildlife and landscape photographers. This process will likely involve a variety of media formats relating both to conceptual and aesthetic aspects of relevant visual work such as books, journals, websites and potential exhibitions (if available). This is especially important in regards to wildlife, as this was relatively undeveloped compared to landscape influences.

From these influences, I want to find further inspiration by continuing my research of contemporary environmental/conservation issues, specifically, stories that demonstrate the signs of human neglect upon land (budget cuts, pollution, peat extraction, fly tipping) or reinforce an interest in preserving it or want to allow for independent recovery (community-led conservation efforts, campaigns against urban development) or draw an emphasis to a particular area or multiple areas in which natural elements are ‘reclaiming’ privately owned rural land or urban areas.

As a result, this should allow to determine various sites of potential photographic interest that could form the basis of one or multiple visits, depending upon the scale and quantity of intended sites.
PREVIOUS RESEARCH

Throughout the duration of this course, I developed various aspects of research that relate to both landscape and wildlife photography. However, I have only recently started to undertake research that develops upon conservation and environmental issues as well as the extent of human influences, both agricultural and industrial, upon the land, especially in regards to more objective, documentary approaches.

All of these referenced examples acted as intrinsic research elements towards my initial idea development and contextual influences throughout my video project.

Godwin, F (1990). Our Forbidden Land. Jonathan Cape Ltd.

Much of Fay Godwin’s photographic work has formed an influence upon my own visual work, this was especially whilst considering the concept of environmental photography. I found that Our Forbidden Land was particularly relevant as it encapsulated her rejection of a romanticised, aesthetic view of landscapes, instead, favouring a more realist, objective approach which aimed to create a greater awareness of the negative aspects of human interference with land. This series also found much of its contextual foundations based upon political issues, focusing specifically upon agri-business and rights of public access.

Denison, S (2005). Quarry Land: Impermanent Landscapes of the Clee Hills. Greyscale Books.

This is one of two texts Simon Denison that I cited as part of my previous project, both of which were quite influential. However, I felt that this series had progressed further in its contextual and aesthetic approach and developed more so upon the themes of highlighted within his previous book, the Human Landscape. For this he focused upon an often unnoticed area in Clee Hills with significant signs of human interaction, this resulted in a melancholy series of images that highlighted the presence of man, our national history as well as a sense of time and of human fragility.

Southam, J (2005). Landscape Stories. Princeton Architectural Press.

I first encountered the work of Jem Southam during my first year book project, at this time I was starting to form initial ideas about narrative approaches to landscape photography. In particular, I found myself creatively inspired by a large compilation of photographic work, Landscape Stories. This appreciation continued throughout my second year and now into my third year, where I am now aiming to separate views of romanticism with that of objectivity. In this, Southam creates narratives that aim to explore and observe an environment over a period of months or years to observe significant visual changes within the landscape. This patience allows him to document not only natural changes but also recognise the presence of man.

theguardian.com (2013). 2013 Fritz Pölking nature photography award – in pictures. http://www.theguardian.com/environment/gallery/2013/sep/19/2013-fritz-polking-award-in-pictures.

My final research example relates to an article published in the Guardian earlier this year. It discusses the adult and junior award winners of the 2013 Fritz Pölking nature photography award, Pål Hermansen (Car Cemetery – A Wildlife Reserve) and Hermann Hirsch (The Wilderness of the Ruhr Region). Both of which provided compelling visual narratives discussing the strength and survival of wildlife in urban environments. Of the two, I found Hermansen’s series to be contextually relevant when aiming to represent the national elements reclaiming their territory, admiring their ability to survive and outlive humanity, acting as an expression human fragility.

DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS
Unknown (requires further consideration and/or research)

QUALIFICATIONS AND RESTRICTIONS
Unknown (requires further consideration and/or research)
SPECIALIST NEEDS – EQUIPMENT ACCESS, WORKSHOPS, TRAINING ETC

This has the potential to change throughout the duration of this module. At this stage, I acknowledge to need to acquire a new telephoto lens (canon fit), preferably with a max focal length of 300- 400mm. This would allow for greater range and potential for wildlife shots such as animal portraits, motion shots etc…
In addition, I would need access to equipment from university, in particular, a macro lens (canon fit) for close ups and flexible shots of smaller subjects.

If possible, it could also be helpful to consider a wildlife photography workshop to further refine my knowledge and approach when working with wildlife. In my ongoing professional frameworks 3 module, I have noted that the WWT (Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust) offer environmental/wildlife photography workshops with guest photographers, lecturers and conservationists.
BIBLIOGRAPHY

BOOKS

Wells, L (2011). Land Matters: Landscape Photography, Culture and Identity. I.B.Tauris & Co Ltd.

Moving away from some of her general critical studies of photography (Photography: A Critical Introduction) I decided to concentrate towards Wells’ insight into issues relating to the subject of land and landscape photography. Within this, Wells discusses how photographers engage with concepts relating to land, in particular, its idealisation and representation. From this, the perception of land as a landscape, influences our political, national and environmental attitudes.

Sterry, P (2008). British Wildlife: A photographic guide to every common species. London: Collins.

During my initial research, I started to consider potential sources of reference and classification in terms of recognising wildlife. This simple guide gives nature enthusiasts an outline of common species of British wildlife, including each ones physical attributes, sightings etc…

NEWSPAPERS, MAGAZINES & JOURNALS ETC

O’Hagan, S (2013). In the Realm of Nature by Paul Martineau – review.
http://www.theguardian.com/books/2013/feb/03/eliot-porter-realm-nature-review

Whilst considering potential influences from nature photographers, I came across this book by Paul Martineau upon SOLAR. I don’t currently have access to this yet but to gain a understanding of its significance, I found a review upon the Guardian website, in the Observer by Sean O’Hagan. This not only began to discuss the published work itself but also of Martineau’s influence and inspiration to others in his exploration and conservation efforts during his interaction with the American landscape.

Ross, D (2013). Lottery fund gives £3m to restore remote landscape and help wildlife.
http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/home-news/lottery-fund-gives-3m-to-restore-remote-landscape-and-help-wildlife.22551685

Whilst researching contemporary news relating to land and/or wildlife issues or events in the UK, I discovered an article within the Scottish Herald. This discussed a recent £3m funding effort from the lottery fund ‘as part of a landscape partnership project covering 150,000 acres of this part of Ross-shire and Sutherland’. This highlighted quite an optimistic action towards national and cultural awareness of the need for the restoration and protection of both land and wildlife.

WEBSITES

Carwardine, M (2013). How to be a professional wildlife photographer.
http://www.markcarwardine.com/photography/how-to-be-a-professional-wildlife-photographer.html

Of recent, I have a found a great deal of advice and inspiration from Mark Carwardine, a zoologist, conservationist and wildlife photographer, amongst numerous other fields of expertise. Within a wide variety of published articles, I found this particular example to be quite engaging and constructive in offering an insight into practical considerations and approaches when aiming to work within the field of professional wildlife photography.

Wildlifetrusts.org (2013). Bees, birds and hedgerows at risk: public must act to protect nature on farms.
http://www.wildlifetrusts.org/news/2013/10/31/bees-birds-and-hedgerows-risk-public-must-act-protect-nature-farms

Another example of a contemporary issue relating to land and wildlife in the UK, is a story published upon the Wildlife Trust’s official site. It discusses a political dispute relating to budget cuts in farm environment protection schemes, implemented as a means protecting local wildlife. ‘The Government has given only 28 days for the public to have their say on how 69% of the English landscape is maintained and how farmers can be financially supported to deliver the environmental benefits that underpin sustainable food production, healthy ecosystems and rural communities.’ This draws an emphasis to the ongoing ethical conflicts between cost-cutting governmental measures and the preservation of environments that are needed to sustain local eco-systems and in turn, wildlife.

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