Exercise 4.5

A Personal Voice

To help develop your personal voice as an independent practitioner, it is important to acknowledge your subjective attitude towards the subjects you’re researching and photographing. Right now you’re dealing with themes around landscape.
Write an entry in your learning log (around 300 words ) reflecting on any current and previous circumstances and experiences that you think may influence, or may have influenced, your view of the landscape. Describe how you think these factors might inform your ideas about landscape photography or related themes.
If you’re stuck, consider the following:
● Did where you grew up/ spent time whilst growing up influence your view of the landscape?
● Are there any social or political issues that particularly concern you in relation to the landscape?
● How difficult or easy do you find it to engage with and ‘see’ your current home environment? Are you less likely to produce images within your everyday landscapes than you are ostensibly more ‘exotic’ ones?

LP&E, p.159

[9May22] We are all shaped by events that surround us. My grandmother (one of twelve children in a family that migrated from Scotland to Wales) was caught up in the religious revivals that swept South Wales in the early 1900s. Her husband died in 1924 when my mother was four years old.
My father was injured in Dunkirk: if he had not been, he would not have met my mother and I would not exist.
As a consequence of some of of those streams, I was born in Wales in 1954 and brought up in a fundamentalist evangelical religious sect.
I rejected religion in my teenage, leaving with a healthy and lifelong mistrust of leaders and rhetoric. I love churches: I have no affection for chapels.
I grew up 20 miles from Aberfan and was 11 at the time of the disaster. I remember my “uncle” (who had a car) making repeated runs to the town with blankets and other supplies throughout that night. This helped me to learn a healthy scepticism of the motives of management, reinforced 10-or-so years later when I worked in Cardiff for an arm of Barclays Bank that administered the trusts for the children of Aberfan who were coming of age at that time. Perhaps mismanaged would be a better description and the bank was shamed into making up the losses on the investments.

I have always been rebellious in nature and always questioned authority. This crystallised as a teenager with the concept of rational anarchy, defined by the future historian Robert Heinlein — “tell me which law and I’ll tell you whether I’ll follow it.”
My political leaning is towards Marxist historical materialism, tempered with an absolute mistrust of leaders and the belief that although change centres on class struggle, classes are mutable, there is individual mobility between classes and there are multiple intersecting, multi-dimensional classes.

The most influential book I have read is Pirsig’s Zen and the Art… (1974): it taught me (or perhaps defined) the importance of quality and beauty and the fragility of human nature and relationships.

Question everything and look for the motive.

● Did where you grew up/ spent time whilst growing up influence your view of the landscape?
● Are there any social or political issues that particularly concern you in relation to the landscape?
● How difficult or easy do you find it to engage with and ‘see’ your current home environment? Are you less likely to produce images within your everyday landscapes than you are ostensibly more ‘exotic’ ones?

I was brought up in and have always lived in an urban, industrial (or post-industrial) environment. I am drawn to urban landscapes.

I always have a personal political interpretation of my (and others’) landscape photographs. Other viewers will have their own interpretations, derived from their experience.

I engage almost exclusively with my local environment. I disapprove of (most) and do not indulge in long-range travel on ecological grounds. Exceptions are made.


LPE Exc 4.5 References

Alexander, J, Conroy, A, Hughes, A, & Lundy, G (2019) Landscape, Place and Environment [LPE]. Barnsley: Open College of the Arts.

Pirsig, RM. (1974) Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. NY: William Morrow & Co.