In response to Sander’s work, try to create a photographic portraiture typology which
attempts to bring together a collection of types. Think carefully about how you wish to
classify these images; don’t make the series too literal and obvious.
Once complete, post these portraits on your blog or in your learning log, with a written
statement contextualising the work (see the Introduction).
[6Sep20 I&P p.29] The options for this exercise are constrained by Covid safety considerations.
I have been thinking about this exercise for a few weeks. I will photograph members of the public without their knowledge and so it will be street- rather than formal portraiture †. I intend to photograph armed police at work.
My targets are Downing Street, Parliament Square, Kings Cross Station plus anywhere else I encounter them. Heathrow is a possibility, but rather distant. Backup subjects, if I cannot find enough armed police are police in general or workers in uniform, to include police.
I hope to get to Salisbury Cathedral this week to photograph the outdoor sculpture exhibition, so people looking at sculpture is another alternative.
I will have to take a few trips to town to make the photographs and so I will aim for a couple of weeks for completion. I am also in the process of assembling my C&N FinAss submission and that will take priority.
Freedom to photograph and film
Members of the public and the media do not need a permit to film or photograph in public places and police have no power to stop them filming or photographing incidents or police personnel.
but in my experience, from photographing demonstrations, they're not that keen. I'll take my student NUJ press card and a long lens.
† Note that I do not approve of most street photography as it often has the effect and sometimes the intention of demeaning its subjects. Uniformed public servants performing their duties in the public gaze I regard as legitimate subjects. See also C&N Part1, Exercise 1.2.
Downing Street and Parliament
[13Oct20] The Salisbury trip yielded sculpture photographs but nothing for this exercise.
Box B RPS card
To town yesterday for the first course photographic outing for some time. The target was armed police from a distance and the locations Downing Street and the environs of Parliament. The RPS sent members a card detailing the legal position on photographing the public and police which I always carry, fig. B1.
The photographs were taken from a distance, while being observed by the subjects and I tried to give the impression that I was photographing buildings rather than guards.
This is an interim statement, as the intention is to repeat the exercise at Kings Cross.
The exercise is based on 'a photographic portraiture typology … in response to Sander’s work' (I&P p.29). There are two basic ways to develop this:
firstly concentrating on a particular, closely defined category, in this case, armed police;
or secondly to take a broader view, of which armed police are a subset, for example, workers in uniform.
(There is a danger with the latter of ending up with a rather touristic set, with mounted horseguards further along Whitehall as a starting point.)
As noted during Exercise 2, for his 1929 book Face of Our Time, Sander defined his categories (translated in Stepan, 2008) as,
The Farmer, The Artisan, The Women, The Estates [Classes and Professions], The Artists, The Big City, The Last Men.
Stepan, 2008, p.53
Although there were some uniformed workers in Face of Our Time (for example, #34 Postman, #35 Police constable, #36 Customs officials), it is not clear, to this writer at least, where these fit into Sander's scheme. Given that both social distinctions and terminology would have changed over the intervening 90 years, perhaps a more appropriate category would be workers, in which case my armed police would take their place at least two levels down after 'uniformed workers' or perhaps 'public employees'.
I was interested to note from Emil Hoppé's Hundred Thousand Exposures (1945) his disapproval of the vogue for "collecting" categorised portraits by offering free sittings and a free print for the subject,
The greatest harm done to professional photography was the institution of the "free sitting". This pernicious racket, which in other walks of life would be rightly condemned as unprofessional conduct, was originated by firms of West End photographers which developed the idea of making "collections" of people belonging to various professions and social a groups. Authors, clergy, society leaders and doctors were among those who were subtly flattered by an invitation to a "free sitting". A surprising number of intelligent people actually received these invitations and many went from one studio to another to collect the customary presentation copy. It was a cheap and undignified way of obtaining something for nothing and few, if any, realised that they had no control over these portraits since the copyright was vested in the photographer who could use them for practically any purpose. Practised for catchpenny reasons, it was an odious system which brought an honourable profession into contempt, and caused a great deal of annoyance and difficulty to studios opposed to this questionable method of attracting sitters.
Hoppé, 1945, p.33
it is not clear from the book when this occurred, presumably in the interwar years.
The notion of creating an I-Spy album of uniformed workers holds no attraction for me ‡ and so I will continue to pursue armed police as a subject. This has the advantage of a frisson of risk and consequential requirement for stealth and ties in to some extent with C&N Asg.2, Forbidden Zones.
‡ [4Sep] This statement proved to be entirely incorrect and Assignment 4 comprised modern day comparisons with 1950s and 60s I-Spy books.
[23Oct] With Covid Phase II in prospect, there will be no further visits to town for the foreseeable future.
[20May21] This is now deemed complete.
I&P Exc 1.3 References
Boothroyd, S. and Roberts, K. (2019) Identity and place . Barnsley: Open College of the Arts. [I&P]
Hoppé, E.O. (1945) Hundred Thousand Exposures: The Success of a Photographer. London: Focal Press