I have chosen to present Assignment 1 in a handmade book, the non-synthetic nature of which I feel reflects the organic nature of the brewery and photographs I produced for the brewery in the project. I have alluded to this in the introduction of the handmade book which incidentally was purposefully hand-written to fit in better with the same theme of organic. For me this organic theme lent to a more personable object (the handmade book) which felt unique, a bit like the brewery I had been photographing.
The book took some time to make and I found this process made me think carefully about formatting options and attention to detail in displaying the photographs. For example a measurement of 145mm was apparent on the long edge for all photographs, landscape, portrait or square, which helped the book to maintain a consistent aesthetic. The photographs were also centred in their respective pages in order to keep the viewer’s eye immersed in the book.
I decided to use a folded method – the ‘Snake Book’, as per the instructions found in Alisa Golden’s Making Handmade Books – (Golden, 2010) – for making the book. It seemed simple to make yet afforded me the right amount of pages necessary to accommodate the photographs, the introduction and the front and back covers. In order for the book to accommodate the photographs at a decent size (145mm on the long edge) as well as using a folded book method, it was necessary to use a massive-sized piece of cartridge paper (A1) to fold the book from. I folded (and cut) the A1 piece of paper into a Snake Book and then applied the photographs one by one using self-adhesive spray to the centre of each page.
Lastly, I attached a wide ribbon made in hessian to add a rustic feel to the book which could be tied to close the book. Then I applied the front and back covers to the book. The front and book covers served a dual purpose; firstly to show what the book contained quite clearly and also to hold the ribbon in place.
Overall I would describe my first venture into making a handmade book as quite successful and also liberating and fun, if time-consuming. Provided I could embark on a project which merited presenting work in a handmade book in the future, I would embrace making another one. The experience made me aware how much craft and materials are necessary to make a relatively simple book and was in some contrast to the ease with which digital files like photographs can be mass-produced.
Golden, A. (2010). Making Handmade Books. New York: Lark, pp. 39-40.
In light of my tutor’s comments regarding my original version of Assignment 1, I have made a significant change to the project, which I feel makes the project work as a whole a lot more. The change included replacing certain photographs with others from the initial shooting period or shooting certain photographs again so that the set established a more consistent viewpoint of the brewery. Specifically this entailed choosing a replacement photograph I’d already shot for Photograph 3 of my original version of Assignment 1. Also shooting again the final shot (Photograph 10) for the assignment which aimed to show the brewery doubling as a working bar. Both these replacement photographs avoided eye contact in the gaze between the photographed people and the viewer. This helped maintain the same unobtrusive perspective throughout the project so that each photograph was accordant with the next. Therefore the viewer was more likely to be immersed in the photographs of the brewery which was my initial intention.
In addition I wrote a different introduction to accompany the photographs which I felt better reflected the revised version and which I have subsequently turned into a handmade book:
My response to showing my engagement with my local community has been photographing a nearby brewery. More specifically my response has been photographing the people behind and connected to the brewery as they interact with it. I have used a focal length of 35mm throughout the project and have chosen to avoid eye contact with the camera for the people interacting with the brewery. This was to maintain a consistent aesthetic style and to look at the workings of the brewery from afar. I have displayed the photographs in this handmade book as I feel it reflects the organic feel to the brewery.
Here I have attached my tutor report for Assignment 1 – Documentary. This is so the viewers of the journey I’ve taken through my course are able to see how I improved on the comments I received for Assignment 1 (and coursework) from my tutor in terms of presentation and content.
I felt I responded to the brief well throughout the photo essay in terms of the project being a coherent body of work documenting the brewery and its people and my engagement with them. A strong area for me was the sense of progression from one photograph to another, which could serve to pull the viewer in to the project. I saw the research into Lewis Hine and Henri Cartier-Bresson beforehand as being very helpful in establishing a strategy for photographing the brewery and its people. I concentrated particularly on creating quite decisive moments in the brewery and its surrounding vicinity. This enabled me to show better my interpretation of the scene. Combining this with eye contact in a couple of photographs to further show my engagement but in a different (more direct) way.
In terms of creativity, I could see a few photographs where I was clever with composition but two photographs which stood out creatively as a pair were Photographs 4 and 5. They helped to give the viewer as much better idea of my engagement with the brewery worker during the project when viewed simultaneously. I thought the execution of the idea was quite good because the action of the brewery worker was captured on both cameras at pretty similar moments in time so the viewer could associate the two photographs in tandem.
By titling the photographs, I felt I gave them extra context which I had increasingly come to realise was important for the viewer to gain insight into a project. This was because it allowed them to make up their minds more readily. I thought most parts of the project could be inferred from photographs when seen as a series but the titling helped with the flow of the photo essay. My communication of ideas after titling the photographs gave extra context in what I saw as quite a clear concise manner.
I would say a few of the photographs could have been taken better in regards to technical skill, for example Photograph 2 where the sun flare was quite distracting and some of the highlights were blown. Overall though the photographs in my opinion gave a realistic depiction of the brewery at particular decisive moments in time in relation to its people and my engagement with them. This was what I had set out to document and I was pleased it showed the brewery from more than one dimension.
Photograph 10 was a massive contrast compared to the previous two photographs. Here, the scene was much more organised and the photograph was clearly posed; a group portrait of three of the bar staff. The reason I included this photograph was to show another side to the brewery, a more polished and refined side where the beer had been made. Evidence of the beer having been made was bottles proudly sitting on the shelves and on tap for the customers ready to be served by the welcoming bar staff. This was an example of me showing my engagement with the community because I maintained eye contact (albeit through the camera) with my subjects who were responding to being photographed by me. This portrayed something of my relationship with them; they were comfortable in my presence reflected in their smiles. I felt the 35mm focal length worked well here because I could frame all three of them in the camera easily within the confined space of the brewery. This was while still providing some subject separation from the background by using a fairly large aperture setting of f/3.2.
Camera settings for Photograph 10 were:
f/3.2, 1/200s, ISO 1400, focal length 35mm, handheld.
For me this clearly showed the second part of the mashing in process: the stirring of the mixture. Although there was less steam present for this part of the process there was a bit and so there was still some atmosphere while still retaining an accurate representation of the environment. I changed the camera angle slightly, while still photographing from a high viewpoint looking down I moved round to the right a bit. This was in order to show another part of the brewery and suggest to the viewer that this was a different part of the mashing in stage. Instead of using a small spatula instrument like the man stirring in Photograph 7 – ‘The Brew School in Full Flow’ was, the brewer used a massive paddle to stir in the grain. Therefore the contrast was obvious in scale from Photograph 7 up to Photograph 9 (similar as with Photograph 7 up to 8).
Camera settings for Photograph 9 were:
f/4.5, 1/200s, ISO 2000, focal length 35mm, handheld.
Moving on from the smaller proportions of the brew school mashing in, here was depicted a brewer pouring in a whole sack of grain and mixing it with water from a hose. This was in contrast to the brew school where a bucket of grain and a comparative trickle of water were mixed in together. This for me showed the more serious side to the brewery when the beer had begun to be made on a bigger scale. I thought the steam coming from the mixture added to this seriousness as it added atmosphere to the more hands on approach of the process. I chose a high viewpoint looking down to document this process as I felt it added drama as well as showing more clearly what was going on inside the canister. The inclusion of more sacks in the distance suggested just how much grain the brewer would be pouring in to the mix. Lastly, I felt I managed to capture quite a decisive moment by photographing the brewer in full flow as he made sure to mix the grain and the water together, making the process more obvious to the viewer.
Camera settings for Photograph 8 were:
f/4, 1/200s, ISO 1400, focal length 35mm, handheld.