This project, as expected, has been a stressful, but also fairly enjoyable experience. Beginning in December with my presentation of test shots and ideas about what I was going to do for my project, it developed into other ideas during tutorials and after shooting a few shots and assessing the results. I was not happy with the direction these ideas were taking, as you can see from the early posts on my blog, there was no cohesive idea behind the work. I did not feel motivated to keep photographing in the same areas again. I was lucky enough to have the opportunity, through Jamie’s introduction, to go and do a more industrial based project, which has always been one of the ideas I wanted to pursue.
This process of the initial meetings and showing and discussing my portfolio and ideas with Huntsman was daunting at first, but I felt I handled the situation fairly well, and got the outcome I wanted, which meant I got access to the site. I then had a site visit to assess what I wanted to photograph, and after this visit I had to arrange when I could go back to shoot for real. This process was all very slow and after the initial setbacks with my first project I felt nervous about the time constraints. Although I had been researching and working on other ideas, I felt like I was not making the progress I should have by this point of the project. Finding a suitable time when the people who would show me around the site were going to be available was also difficult, and I had to make quite a few phone calls to get these visits arranged.
Once I got into the site however, it was much easier to make arrangements in person by looking at each other’s calendars. I had 4 site visits of roughly 3-4 hours each time. More time would have been ideal, but by the time I had arranged all of these visits I would have been running out of time for the printing and editing process.
I enjoyed the process of shooting on a location like this site very much, although being supervised and having to wear safety equipment made the process a little bit more stressful than usual, I feel I handled it well and got quite a lot of shots that I am pleased with.
When I look at the series of images I took during my 4 visits, I am fairly pleased with at least half of them. Some of the photographs were not to the standard I would have liked as I have mentioned on the research blog. But I also feel that if I had extra time, after looking at my images more carefully and realizing I had the beginnings of a couple of types of series, I could have gone back to re-shoot some more and added extra images to strengthen one of these series.
I chose to go with 9 final images, to reduce the amount of repetition within my series, which was a mistake I made with my minor project. With my series I decided to include one portrait, which I think is one of the strongest photographs from the whole project. I also used this portrait to break up the series into two sections. One series of 4 based around the “white end” of the pigment plant, and the other section is a series of 4 more colourful images. Although I think I have omitted some very strong images, I feel that these images did not fit within the series without making it weighted one way or the other, or too repetitive.
When printing these images in the darkroom I tried to tie in the main colours so that they flowed as a series without having any glaringly different colour casts. I also focused on bringing images together that had a strong line running through the centre of each image to make the images stylistically and aesthetically similar.
There is a noticeable lack of human presence in the images also, with the exception of the portrait. Even though this was a working plant and I was photographing during the day. This was a deliberate decision as there are a small number of people running each section of the plant. You can see even in some of the vast spaces there is no body present. However, the motion blur of a wire or a wheel in the images gives the sense of a working site.
Rather than documenting a process from start to finish, I decided to focus on objects, shapes, textures and colours I found interesting on the site, drawing peoples attentions to the complex workings of a site that creates a product that we take for granted as being readily available. I did not want to be political in my intentions when photographing on the site, but just to be objective and look at, explore and eventually show people my findings with my final prints.
The colour darkroom process was much more enjoyable for this project than for my minor project due to the fact I had finally got used to working in there and was much more confident in my ability to create a good quality print. I feel that these prints are some of my best prints from my time at the college so far.