My first university project brief was titled ‘Representing Time’
The brief required that I worked in analogue format, shooting 35mm B&W film, developing said film and printing my final selection in the darkroom by hand. Being an avid film enthusiast I was excited by the prospect and threw myself head first into the project.
Having never really studied photography at a real academic level in the past, the use of research books was a completely new experience for me but one I benefited hugely from. Being able to lay out ideas and research relevant artists really inspired me. Combining this with weekly group tutorials to discuss my ideas and thoughts with my fellow students and tutor through the course of the 6 week project really made a difference to the way I approached my work and took me down avenues of experimentation that I never would have considered before.
My research led me to practitioners I had never known before - Harold Edgerton, Duane Michals, Pedro Meyer, Mishka Henner, Julian Baron, Irving Penn, Zed Nelson and more. Collectively looking at these practitioners and their styles inspired my own ideas.
One thing that was said early on by my tutor was ‘if you have an idea, go and shoot it!’ I did that and it felt good and my idea developed into something much more different - Without that initial shoot my ideas wouldn’t have progressed as they did.
I settled on the notion of representing time through portraits of people I know and representing that time by manipulating the images in the dark room. I started experimenting with the dodging and burning technique with my prints with the rough idea of removing detail of the print dependant on the amount of time I had known the subject. The initial results were a little rough around the edges to say the least but during a tutorial session my tutor suggested I experimented with bleaching my prints. This is not something I had come across before and I discovered that by applying a bleach solution to the print would reverse the silver halide process and removed detail from the developed image. The photography tech department had all the necessary equipment and chemicals required so I began experimenting with the process, applying the solution to specific areas on the prints to remove the detail. The results were exciting but a little hard to control as the solution was liquid and hard to keep contained within the specified areas on the print. I began submerging the entire print in the bleach solution and as you would expect the whole print began to lose the detail and the tones began to fade.
After a discussion with my tutor I decided to pursue the submersion idea further, timing the prints in the solution to see if it was viable to base the submersion time on the length of time I had known the subject. The idea rapidly developed over the course of a week and the final prints were completed today.
I wanted the subjects I had known the longest to retain the most detail so I reversed the timescale so that the people I had known the least amount of time would have the least detail in the prints.
The images you see here are the final results and it is possible to see a clear difference in each print, representing the time I had known them. I’ve still got a bit of writing up to do but I’m almost there!
Thanks to Rob, Dave, Helen, Tom and George for agreeing to take part in the project.
Camera - Olympus OM2-n Film - Ilford HP5+ 400iso Paper - Fotospeed B&W
Very happy to say all developing and printing was carried out by myself!