Nut Lagom! # 10

“Part of the role of photography is to exaggerate”. Martin Parr

As part of the project, I am tried to critically evaluate my work within the broader context of photographic practices. To stimulate new ideas and ways of working, I have been looking through other pieces of work of documentary photographers.

One of inspirations was Mitch Epstein´s work.  This photographer shows the American way of spending leisure time in his book “Recreation” (http://www.mitchepstein.net/work/recreation/index.html).  Everyone uses their free time in their own way: alone or with others, for sport or for relaxation, at home or on travels. Accordingly, his photographs cover a wide range of situations: they depict anticipation and a new beginning, but also bizarre circumstances, because sometimes people just don’t seem to know what to do with the time they have. Also while working with my project, I felt that people seem do not know what to do and how to behave on their free time, when nothing really happened. At most situations an empty gaze appeared on their faces.

It seem that Epstein brings in himself into situations, as an unobserved observer, serving up slices of American life. Epstein’s interpretation is characteristically perceptive and sharp-witted. He makes extraordinary appears at perfect ease in the world with an eye that preserves ordinary things in a state of lasting amazement. What is equally impressive is the sensitivity and variety of Epstein’s response to his surroundings and subjects, so that at no point do the photographs become boring and didactic. Mitch Epstein about his work says, “I am compelled to interpret, not record the world around me.”

Epstein through his observational and neutral style shows the anecdotal specifics of clothing, colors and cars, which excellently show the specifics of people lifestyle at that time. I felt inspired by his genius captures which were making visually legible the relationships between people and their neighbors, their belongings and their surroundings. This skill manifests itself most obviously in portraits of groups of people, whether it is a family – were each member subtly failing to connect either physically or by eye contact with each of the others – or a crowd of Vietnam veterans, each individuated but not one detached in terms of the composition.

Other photographer who records his observations with his camera and became my inspiration is Martin Parr. His photography seems complex though it appears so simple on the surface. The question could rise, “What the photographer is trying to say through his photographs?” I think that first of all cultural perspective is important when looking at the work of Parr because he is primarily concerned with culture—how it is lived through consumption and everyday fashion and how culture is represented in images. Part of Parr’s message appears to be that how we dress reflects who we are or are trying to be. His subjects’ collections represent their identification with their culture.

“Part of the role of photography is to exaggerate” says Martin Parr. In an interview he elaborates: “With photography, I like to create fiction out of reality. I try and do this by taking society’s natural prejudice and giving this a twist.” Parr is finding the absurd in everyday life. His process of documenting and recording is led by his passion and a curiosity, taking inspiration from his surroundings. His intimate approach, photographing his subjects in their own environment, gives him space to explore their lives and values in ways that often involve humor. Therefore his images are vivid and comedic, touching perspective on the diversity of people.

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