The last print before summer

This may well be the last hand print of the year until autumn. It was the last print i made before finishing university for summer holidays, but hopefully will allow me to shoot more and print more later. 

Still a work in progress. May be able to gain access to a darkroom over summer to continue printing.


35mm

There’s nothing quite like taking your film to a photolab and waiting an hour for the prints to come back. They may not be the most perfect prints ever created, but there’s an inherent element of excitement, or you could even call it childhood nostalgia. I myself have not lived a vast amount of years, but in that time a lot in the world of photography has changed and generally the way we use and share images.

It would be a shame for a tradition so great and enchanting to be lost forever. 


Land.

“Landscape is a social
product; particular landscapes tell us about cultural histories and attitudes” 

In its literal
sense ‘landscape’ is well defined as “vistas encompassing both nature and the
changes that humans have effected on the natural world” (Wells, 2011, p.1). This
well describes the physicality of the land or the view, but the etymology of
the word had artistic intentions. ‘Landscap’ is a word first used by Dutch
painters in 1598 to mean inland, natural or
rural scenery. From the rising fame of Dutch landscape painters the word spread
into the English vocabulary and developed into ‘Landscape’. Both Wells and the
Dutch painters define landscape as something to be looked upon, or viewed with
intent, halting the process of day to day life simply to appreciate and gaze at
scenery.

Wells’s
explanation of Landscape as a social product is that humans have such a control
over the land that we intervene with the natural processes, and craft the land
to our own desires, resulting in something fundamentally natural, but not
constructed by totally natural causes. This applies to almost all landscape;
whether it be rural or cityscapes, mankind has had some kind of intervention in
the construction of land; from farming and agriculture - a seemingly minimal
influence in terms of buildings and land reconstruction, to vast architecture
and business districts - an all-consuming influence.

Tourism and
photography have both been coupled in a simultaneous growth due to economic,
social and engineering developments in the nineteenth century. The increase in
popularity and accessibility of the vacation and the invention of the mass
consumable Kodak camera in 1898 gave rise to tourist photography in a
vernacular form. No longer were travel and the record of it a product reserved
for the elitist upper classes of society.  Thomas Cook, seen widely as the inventor of
mass tourism offered “guided holidays abroad, for
example in 1863 to Switzerland. These catered to a mixed clientele, from heads
of state and princes to average representatives of the middle, lower middle and
working classes.” (Ueli Gyr, 2010) This supports the idea that tourism
photography is vernacular, although there are aspects of professional tourism
whereby the sole purpose of travel is to produce photographs.

 Alongside man’s desire to travel, is man’s
desire to claim ownership. By taking a photograph of a visited location, the
photographer then considers their self to own a part of or a view of where they
have been “To photograph is in some way to appropriate the object being
photographed… To have visual knowledge of an object is in part to have power,
even if only momentarily, over it” (Urry, 1990, pg.127). This is a common
desire; from the collecting and cataloguing of insects from all over the world,
to the collecting of domestic items and stamps. It is an inherent part of man’s
nature to collect things. Historically collected objects were to be shown to
visitors, as bravado, or ‘peacocking’ to increase ones social status not just
scientific benefit. Even now we collect photographs of holidays and display and
flaunt them on social media so that others can see, a modern day equivalent of the
holiday photo-album that would have been shown to visitors. So whilst the fashion
of collecting physical objects has seemingly fallen, it is now as important as
ever to show our vacations and exhibit out photographs as a sign of success.

Reverting back to
Wells’s definition of landscape as a ‘vista’, the
product that is a tourist snapshot or landscape photograph is a result of the
system and commercialisation of tourism to desirable locations or view points,
or as Simon Winchester describes them in Martin Parr’s ‘Small World’ “honeypot
sites” (Parr, Small World, pg. inner cover). The book by Parr is perhaps one of
the most obvious visual representations documenting and confronting the notion of
the constructed viewpoint and the way that society aligns itself or associates
with itself, allowing tourism companies to exploit prescribed decisions,
actions and desirability.

In this sense the view of the
landscape for example, the Grand Canyon is itself a natural product without
needing the influence of mankind for its construction, but with the rise of
tourism, the vantage points have begun to be repeated and recognised and is now
a commercially viable and marketable object. Along with the construction and
the mirage of procurement of viewpoints at ‘desirable locations’ there is also
the advertisement associated with the sale of the travel to these locations;
directly packaging these destinations through the process of photographic
representation, giving the allure of majesty and the sublime.

The resulting
system is a co-operation between the tourist’s gaze and the facilitation and
commercialisation of locations, a never-ending cycle between supply and demand.
The tourist’s gaze being the process of seeing something out of the ordinary
and the process of receiving pleasure from doing so.

To understand the
cultural aspects of tourism and travel photography, you have to understand who
the tourist is. In the growing economic climate, historically the title of
‘tourist’ has shifted from the upper classes and upper middle classes to the
title of ‘mass tourist’ including the working classes and their ability to
travel, as Urry states “The first example of mass tourism occurred among the
industrial working class of Britain” (Urry, ed.3, p.31). However, even though
the social status of the tourist has broadened, there is still a fundamental
notion that the tourist is historically white British. Thomas Cook being
British born, and Kodak being an American origin company, carries forward the
idea of white supremacists dominating the industry and attempting to ‘own’ the
world – much like the power of the British Empire colonising India the previous
century, fundamentally ‘owning’ another place. Yet on a smaller scale, the
development of the British seaside holiday as the first excursion carries
through the topic of ‘Britishness’ in tourism. Such work as ‘We English’ by
Simon Roberts perfectly illustrates the fascination and saturation of the
tourism industry in Britain, an entire series of photographs successfully
justifying its own existence by documenting British Tourism.

Overall, the
tourism and photography industries are irrevocably intertwined. Both share a
history, and predominantly a British history. It is hard to view the origins
and now the current economic state of tourism, and as such photography, without
taking a viewpoint of a white British tourist.


Gyr, Ueli: The History of Tourism: Structures on the
Path to Modernity, in: European History Online (EGO), published by the
Institute of European History (IEG), Mainz 2010-12-03:
http://www.ieg-ego.eu/gyru-2010-en (21/11/2015)

Bruns, D. Kühne, O. Schönwald, A. and Theile, S.
(2015) Landscape Culture – culturing landscapes: The differentiated
construction of landscapes. Wiesbaden.

Daniels, S. and Roberts, S. (2009) We English. United
Kingdom: Chris Boot.

Edwards, N. McCann, B. And Poiana, P. (2015) Framing
French Culture. Edited by Rebecca Burton. Adelaide: University of Adelaide
Press.

Hinde, T. (1986) Capability Brown: The story of a
master gardener. London: Hutchinsen.

Konzeption, Grathwohl-Scheffel, C. Ludwig, J. Gaines,
J. Scheffel, C.G. And Ruff, T.P. (2009) Thomas Ruff, Schwarzwald. Landschaft.
Museum für Neue Kunst Freiburg, 19. Jun ibis 27. September 2009. 1st
edn. Germany: Verlag fur modern Kunst Nurnberg.

Parr, M. (2013) Martin Parr: Life’s a beach. United
States: Aperture.

Urry, J. & Larsen, J. 2011, The tourist gaze 3.0, [3rd]. edn,
SAGE, Los Angeles, [Calif.];London;.

Wells, L (2000) Photography: A Critical Introduction.
2nd edn. London: Routledge.

Wells, L. 2011, Land
matters: landscape photography, culture and identity,
I. B.
Tauris, London.

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