‘A way of certifying experience, taking photographs is also a way of refusing it – by limiting experience to a search for the photogenic, by converting experience into a souvenir (Sontag, 1977, p.9)
This session aims to consolidate ideas of the Picturesque and introduce ideas of the ‘image world’ / simulacra through critical analysis of vernacular tourist and postcard imagery. It encourages in depth research into Corrine Vionnet’s practice and the recycling of photogenic imagery as it ‘becomes’ the truth. It asks participants to be critical about the presumed truth of such imagery and position thier own practice accordingly.
‘Every day the urge goes stronger to get hold of an object at very close range by way of it’s likeness, it’s reproduction’ (Benjamin, 1936, p.23)
‘It seems positively unnatural to travel for pleasure without taking a camera along. Photographs will offer indesputable evidence that the trip was made, that the program was carried out, that fun was had’ (Sontag, 1977, p.9)
‘Postmodern culture is often characterised as an era of ‘hyper-representation’ in which reality itself begins to be experienced as an endless network of representations’ (Mitchell, 1995, p.16)
Aims & Outcomes:
To consider vernacular / stereotypical postcard representations of the land / local environment / landscape
To investigate the relationship between postcards and more subjective photographic practices as it applies to representations of place / landscape
To understand the nature of the vernalular postcard as it ‘tames’ and transforms the land into an advert
To introduce the idea of an ‘image world’ / simulacra
Participant Outcome: 1 10×8 digital print
‘It is no longer a question of imitation, nor duplication, nor even parody. It is a question of substituting the signs of the real for the real’ (Baudrillard, 1994, p.2)
‘Photo Opportunities tries to speak about our collective memory and the influence of image through films, advertisements, postcards, the Internet, etc. It attempts to raise questions about our motivations to make a photograph and our touristic experience. It tries to speak about our image consumption and how ubiquitous images actually are’ (Vionnet in Jones, 2013)
You will need:
Digital cameras for all participants (and appropriate memory cards) *This session can also be run using Camera phones or Lumix cameras
Access to computers (or laptops)
Flashguns if you plan to practice lighting techniques
An Introductory Brief & Presentation (below) for participants to outline the ideas and provide examples
A booked room to critique participants work (either via a projector or via print)
Blue tack to pin the work
Costings and Risk Assessments
‘Hinde hoped to create a visual rendition of happy holiday memories – seen now, the postcards seem to indicative of a breezy post-war optimism’ (smythe, 2018)
Research: The work of Corrine Vionnet
‘Famed landmarks appear to float gently in a dream-like haze of blue sky. Each construction espouses the ‘touristic gaze’, its distorted visual referent functions as a device for memory transport by funneling many experiences into one familiar locale.’ (Yale, 2018)
Find a number of postcards / tourist information / vernacular representations of the local environment / landscape / place
Ask participants to read Gregory Jones (2013) ‘Corrine Vionnet and the Democratic Snapshot’ in The Inbetween 23rd February 2013 available here
Ask participants to read Diane Smythe (2018) ‘Picture Postcard Perfection with the John Hinde Collection’ in The British Journal of Photography 29th August 2018 available here
Ask participants to read Jonas Larsen ‘The Aspirational Tourist Photographer’ in Either / And available here
Ask participants to watch Tony Ray Jones & Martin Parr: Only In England (2014) in National Science & Media Museum available here
Ask participants if they have thier own digital cameras and cards
Make sure you have access to computers / image editing software
Make sure there are enough team members to support participants (never assume thier prior knowledge)
Decide whether you will project the work or print it.
If you are printing it make sure the Photo Lab are aware and be aware of timekeeping so they have space to print the work.
*If you are running this session off campus, make sure there is access to printers or projectors
Presentation Ideas: the Photogenic or the real?
‘The most grandiose result of the photographic enterprise is to give us a sense that we can hold the whole world in our heads, as an anthology of images’ (Sontag, 1977, p.3)
suggested Session Outline:
Show participants a number of postcards / tourist iconography of famous / local scenes. Have they visited them? Why do they recognise them?
Give the Presentation (above). Invite participants to compare the tousist work with its reality. What are the similarities and differences?
Provide participants with a list of local areas / and postcards of these (or they can think of thier own). Identify the key elements of the scene and its aesthetic. Is it authentic?
Identify how these might be translated in new / more realistic ways
Sketch out / brainstorm initial ideas
Location lighting induction. How does light colour / black and white / aesthetics influence the scene?
Shoot the image individually / in groups
Print / Project and critique the images with the original tourist ‘scene’ in mind / on view and considering aspects of a subjective response / aesthetics / audience respsonse
‘Does landscape photography remain encoded within the language of academic painting and the traditions of landscape art which developed during the 18th and 19th Centuries’? (Clarke, 1997, p.55)
In this session, participants are encouraged to consider a historical relationship between painting and photography in the context of thier own landscape environment. They will consider ideas of the Picturesque and considerations are made as to how such visual mofifs may be culturally / visually reproduced to create a myth of the constructed land as a rural arcadia – as it is transformed into a land-scape.
Participants are encouraged to independently research the Pictorialist movement in photography and the work of Peter Henry Emerson
‘A ‘landscape’, whether cultivated or wild, is already artifice before it becomes the subject of a work of art. Even when we simply look, we are already shaping and interpreting…Landscape pictures will breed landscape pictures.’ (Andrews, 1999, p.1)