Research – Robert Mapplethorpe.

When I was in college back in Norfolk, I was introduced to the photographer Robert Mapplethorpe and I was also lucky to see some of his work on exhibition in London around 4 years ago – from what I can remember was that some of the images were so graphic that all was on show was black text, mounted inside a frame describing what the photograph was! When being first introduced to photography I found that so unusual and alien like – nowadays I just want to play around with text more in certain projects!

After having a “Progress Review”  and the GTA (Graduate Teaching Assistant) saying “have you looked at Robert Mapplethorpe” I was a little dumb-struck and couldn’t believe I didn’t go to this photographer as a first point of call!
So today I went to the library and looked at 2 thick books of his work (also completely forgetting how graphic some photographs were and nearly fell off my seat with pure surprise! haha!).
Here are some of the images I came across that felt fitting for what I want to achieve for Independent Study.

Reading throughout the book, I soon discovered that Mapplethorpe started his career off as a sculpture and then progressed onto photography. By looking at the photographs you can clearly see the link between the two arts – some of the models he took photographs of do mimic statues!
Looking at these images helped me to understand how he positioned everybody in his photographs, and inspecting closer I understood how important body shape is – different sizes, different skin tones and even the way muscle definition can look the same but different at the same time.
By keeping them in black and white, I find that you notice the body in more detail to how you would see it in colour, which is one of the reasons why I have decided to stick to monochrome photography.

Even after his death, Mapplethorpe’s work is still being shown in various galleries all over the place, and with having that insight to his work, I hope to produce high quality images that I can show in a gallery in an exhibition I can proudly call my own. I find that there is something beautiful in monochrome photography, especially when seen up close as opposed to a big thick dusty book from the library shelf.

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Photography is easy, Photography is difficult.

So… I came across this quote that my fellow photography student posted on her blog and couldn’t resist re-blogging it on here.

Ok, so how do I make sense of that never ending flow, the fog that covers life here and now. How do I see through that, how do I cross that boundary? Do I walk down the street and make pictures of strangers, do I make a drama-tableaux with my friends, do I only photograph my beloved, my family, myself? Or maybe I should just photograph the land, the rocks and trees – they don’t move or complain or push back. The old houses? The new houses? Do I go to a war zone on the other side of the world, or just to the corner store, or not leave my room at all?

Yes and yes and yes. That’s the choice you are spoiled for, just don’t let it stop you. Be aware of it, but don’t get stuck – relax, it’s everything and everywhere. You will find it, and it will find you, just start, somehow, anyhow, but: start.

Okay, but shouldn’t I have a clear coherent theme, surely I have to know what I’m doing first? That would be nice, but I doubt Robert Frank knew what it all meant when he started, or for that matter Cindy Sherman or Robert Mapplethorpe or Atget or… so you shouldn’t expect it. The more preplanned it is the less room for surprise, for the world to talk back, for the idea to find itself, allowing ambivalence and ambiguity to seep in, and sometimes those are more important than certainty and clarity. The work often says more than the artist intended.

Photography is easy, Photography is difficult – Paul Graham

This pretty much sums up how I feel right now with regards to my unit and all of my photography practicing right now. I can sit there for days or weeks on end trying to think of some sort of idea before actually having that “lightbulb moment” and going YES! I am so going to ace this.
Photography is easy, it is also extremely difficult. But, as photographers we rise to the challenge and we get creative.