Informing Contexts Week 1 Photography: The Shape-shifter

Through my planned research project my name has become associated with rubbish over the past two modules, specifically debris found on beaches and other waterside locations. With Blue Planet II and government policies across the world highlighting the concerns and advocating remediating action now I find I am riding an ever-growing tsunami of photographic images and films. On the one hand there is, unfortunately, no end to subject matter to photograph while on the other it seems increasingly challenging to find a way to present my images that would merit a unique selling point.

I am delighted with the creatives talents evident in others depictions of rubbish and although I may have had similar ideas, I have not yet been able to or had the means to execute them. Mandy Barker and Andy Hughes are two such artists who have made a great impression on me. I mean to continue with this project encouraged by the responses I am getting to my posts on Instagram and the places it is leading me to. I have already visited an incinerator and also plan to visit and photograph recycling at centres locally.

I am experimenting with ways of taking and presenting my images. Getting down low and making the piece of debris large against a landscape/seascape is my attempt to try out a viewpoint used by Andy Hughes. However I have not quite mastered the technique or visited a local electrical shop to purchase a battery operated lighting system (a step up from my torch I hope).

As some will know I was also in a little bit of a dilemma last module wondering whether to focus more on sea and landscapes, that is the settings in which debris is found. I feel that I am at an early stage in this area but hope that my portrayals are improving as I move through the course and develop greater confidence to experiment.

Whether Instagram responders and likes are in any way indicators of reasonable photography work I have found it interesting to see that two images in this category have apparently gained more ‘votes’ and comments than any of myrubbish ones! The first was of a sunset and while I like the clean lines and relative simplicity of the image I would have thought others would have dismissed it as another sunset/sunrise postcard image.

The second was a first outing to the beach with my new crystal ball. I had seen some images on line posted by others and wanted to try it out with rubbish but tried its with a moving seascape first. Taken on my iPhone I had not noted the breeze or predicted the shakiness of my hands holding it while being ready to jump to rescue the crystal if it rolled off its perch! Hence the strange effect of moving rock. See @sarahnewtonphotography on Instagram for version with movement and sound.

Production of tangible goods relating to both beach debris and seascapes resulted in a series of cushions, jute bags and flip flops bearing my images. Well received as gifts I have yet to see whether they are marketable. I hope to source more recyclable materials and investigate adding images to them, if possible, without the use of plastics.

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