Artist Statement

“A place without meaning is no place to be.”
Wayne Gerard Trotman

For me, my sense of place is where I spent my childhood and grew up – Manchester, UK. As this project was to explore ‘Sense of place’ I wanted to document where I grew up as it holds the most meaning to me and is where some of my favourite memories came from. To do this, I went back home to Manchester with my camera and went to the places I would go with my friends and family, documenting as I went along.

I decided to photograph in three main locations; The Northern Quatre, Canal Street and the ArtZu Gallery, this is because of these three areas being able to best present my experiences in Manchester. My aim was to mostly focus on street art and abstract landscape imagery by taking close up images and direct viewpoints to try and show how the city is seen through my eyes. I decided to follow this idea as Manchester is a very diverse city which has a strong sense of culture and full of unique photographic opportunities which I wouldn’t be able to replicate anywhere and receive a higher quality set of images. In addition to this, it was important to me to use a direct viewpoint as it gives the viewer that they are looking into the city how I would see it. Whilst capturing these images I had a strong, nostalgic feeling within me. This is how I knew I was responding to the theme in the best way possible for me, showing the places which made me who I am today.

I chose to present my photographs in sets of three, this is because I like the visual effect of having images which work well alongside each other in sets to produce the overall ‘Sense of Place’ portfolio. I think this idea worked well for me as I was able to document certain areas of Manchester and put the images together to produce a bigger image to display what Manchester means to me, and how it shows my sense of place.

Overall,  I am very pleased with my outcome as I was able to share my sense through a set of photographs whilst visually showing viewers where my identity came from and how my upbringing in this area shaped how I am as a person.

Initial Ideas

For this project, I am exploring the theme ‘Sense of Place’.

Potential ideas;

  • Photographing my family.
  • Photograph where I grew up.
  • Objects and items which have meaning to me.
  • Places which are important to me.
  • Images of my friends.
  • My pets.
  • Places I walked as a child.

After conducting research into various Magnum Photographers I am going to portray the theme ‘Sense of Place’ in a documentary style. To do this I am going to photograph where I grew up (Manchester, UK), however, I am going to focus on the areas here which have the most meaning to me. These will be, The Northern Quater, Canal Street area and Picadilly Gardens. I also want my images to efficiently work as a coherent set as it will be visually pleasing to have a portfolio in which the images are complimenting each other.

In Plato’s Cave – Susan Sontag

After reading and reflecting upon ‘In Plato’s Cave’ from On Photography by Susan Sontag the following points resonated with me. Photography is said that it can allow us to ‘collect’ the world. I found this to be a very interesting point as photography is a form of communication which can connect people from all over the world by sharing images of anything and anywhere. In addition to this, we can ‘collect’ the world through capturing images of special moments and once printed we are able to take keep a visual copy as well as the memory behind the photograph. 

We also learn that the act of photographing can be described as being an event itself. From this, we are able to understand the importance of photography through the idea that it can be done to document and record important moments in people’s lives and to capture special moments in time. Moreover, describing photography as an event implies that it is viewed as being an essential part of our everyday lives, which it is.

Photographs are valued because they give information, this echoes the importance of photography as through images we are able to see things we wouldn’t necessarily be able to. For example; cultures, abroad locations, world events and environmental wonders. Without the art of photography, we would be unable to connect with the world in the same we do.

For me the most significant point that resonated was the idea of photography creating memories, this is because it is relevant to my project in which I am going to photograph and document important places to me in the areas where I grew up. In this chapter, we are told that ‘photographs certainly become more real than it would have been if one had never seen the photograph’. From, this I was able to understand that photographs are meaningful and when I am taking images for my project they will carry a lot of meaning to me, especially because I will be exploring my ‘Sense of Place’. Additionally, photographs can create and/or convey memory, this point is very important to me as it reflects the ideas behind my project of documenting the place I grew up. I am hoping my photographs will reflect my childhood and upbringing in a unique way whilst also reflecting my artistic intentions.

Erich Lessing

WEST GERMANY. Rhineland-Westphalia. Ruhrgebiet region.

Erich Lessing was a renowned documentary photographer born in Vienna in 1923. Lessing used his photographs to document many significant political and social events, including the reconstruction of Germany after the war and the dramatic events of the Hungarian Revolution. In addition to this, he spent most of his later career working around the world with different companies and has had photographs published in renowned magazines including LIFE, Paris Match, Epoca, Picture Post, and Quick. I really enjoy his style of photography as he documents natural images of friends, family, and landscapes at different events in a variety of locations. From doing this, he indirectly portrays a sense of place from photographing in a variety of locations and documenting cultural events. This is similar to the style of photography I want to explore throughout my project as I want to produce a range of images which represent what ‘Sense of Place’ means to me. I intend to do this in a similar way to Erich Lessing however I am going to take images of landscapes and environments in places which are important to me.

Copyright – Erich Lessing @ Magnum Photos.

Burt Glinn

Giant mural of Lenin in front of the Park for Industry and Science.

Burt Glinn was a freelance photographer who was born in Pittsburgh, Philadelphia in the 1920s. During his life before his freelance photography career, he served in the US Army, studied literature at Harvard University and worked for Life Magazine. Glinn became an established member of Magnum in the early 1950s with his first publications being a colour series of the South Seas, Japan, Russia, Mexico and California. By the late 1950s, he was awarded the Matthew Brandy Award for Magazine Photographer of the Year from the University of Missouri. Alongside this, he has received numerous awards for his editorial and commercial photography, including the Best Book of Photographic Reporting from Abroad from the Overseas Press Club and the Best Print Ad of the Year from the Art Directors Club of New York. Glinn has served as president of the American Society of Media Photographers. I really like how Burt Glinn takes his photographs as they seem natural and unplanned, I will use this idea to generate my own inspiration for my project. I am going to work similarly to this when taking photographs for my project as I want to represent my sense of place through a series of photographs of places which are meaningful to me in the area I grew up.

Copyright – Burt Glinn @ Magnum Photos.

Wayne Miller

USA. Illinois. Chicago. 1946. Storefront.

Wayne Miller was born in 1918 in Chicago, before perusing his career in photography he studied banking at the University of Illinois and worked part-time as a photographer. Miller also studied photography at the Art Centre School of Los Angeles in 1941, and in 1946 he won two consecutive Guggenheim Fellowship awards. In his later life, Miller taught photography at the Institute of Design in Chicago, then in 1949 moved to Orinda and worked for Life Magazine. He became a member of Magnum Photos in 1958, and was named as its president from 1962 to 1966, throughout this period he inspired to ‘photograph mankind and explain man to man’. After he retired from professional photography in 1975 he spent his time working to protect California’s forests. Prior to this, Miller co-authored ‘A Baby’s First Year’ with Dr Benjamin Spock and published his own book ‘The World is Young’. I am going to take inspiration from the way Wayne Miller works as he effectively takes images of the natural world in a fascinating way, this is what I am going to do for my ‘Sense of Place’ project. However, to make this unique to me I will photograph places of meaning to me which reflect my sense of place.

Copyright – Wayne Miller @ Magnum Photos.