I suppose the main challenge that I faced was getting “up to speed” in a learning environment.
I graduated from my first degree twenty four years ago. As soon as I started the background reading for the MA, it reminded me that the mindset of learning is very different to that of the work that I do at the moment. Which is wonderful! That’s exactly what I signed up for. Immediately I started to feel my thinking reclaim areas that had lain dormant for years. But is it enough? Have I prepared enough? What level will my peers be at?
I was deep in the fear of the unknown. So I consoled myself with the knowledge that I had been admitted onto the course on my own merits. It was time to do my best and see what happened.
It was all fine of course. Everyone was very supportive and I felt very much at home.
I’m an amateur. I have sold a few pieces of work but mainly my practice is about my own interests. I knew from the biographies of my peers that some were professional photographers. I wondered how people of very different levels of experience would find common ground.
I was surprised and very pleased to find that there was a shared wish on the part of many of my peers: to take control of their practice, to be more creatively empowered. I’m not sure where I want to go on this course of study. I want to find out about aspects of photography that I don’t know about or never paid much attention to before. It seems I find myself amongst fellow travellers.
Until now, I have tended to think about photography in terms of my own practice and my influences. I became aware of the work of William Eggleston and Ernst Haas many years ago and they have informed and inspired the way I frame my pictures. Over the last few years, as I have taken my practice more seriously, I have found new influences, Andreas Gursky being a good example. But addressing a topic like the Global Image has helped me realise the multiplicity of practices and the value placed on them.
A good example is the family album. I have always taken pictures of my family and have inherited a rich archive of pictures of my relatives. Recent readings have helped me realise how central the family album is to people’s connection with photography. It has given me a new connection with this body of my own work.
I am fortunate in being able to travel on a regular basis. I consider that I have an internationalist outlook and try to understand the world from a global rather than a parochial point of view. I would like that standpoint to be evident in the photographic work that I make. Reading for the Global Image is obviously relevant to this desire. Understanding how certain visual tropes developed and either avoiding them or exploiting them is an essential critical toolset.
I see myself engaging in a lot more travel and photography. I would like the work that I bring back to be original and have something new to offer about the world. Having a better understanding of the myriad ways that photography interacts with different cultures and histories will give me a stronger critical platform to raise the standard of my work.