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.
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).
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.
As the name suggests this was an action shot of the brew school as the brewers performed the ‘mashing in’ stage of the brew. I knew from photographing at the brewery that the mashing in was quite an obvious situation an action shot could occur at the brewery and so when I learnt the participants at the brew school would be doing this at a much smaller scale that day I tried to capture a decisive moment of their mashing in. I felt I was successful at this because it showed two of the brew school participants doing the mashing in as well as brewer running the brew school overlooking. Compositionally I thought the photograph was strong too because of an implied triangle between the three people pointing downwards towards where the mashing in was taking place. In my opinion it gave a better inclination to the viewer that there was a brew school happening at the brewery compared to Photograph 6. This photograph also served as a nice precursor and link to the next two photographs where the real mashing in for the brewery took place on a much larger scale.
This was quite an opportunistic photograph in two senses. Firstly, I found out that the brewery was very characterful in that it didn’t just operate as a brewery and bar but also a brew school on certain days. I decided this would be a good opportunity to show another side to the brewery and I was glad I did as I felt I came away with portraying to the viewer another, more playful dimension to the brewery. One aspect of the brewery is that it is quite confined in space and so I was having difficulty acquiring many good shots of the relatively numerous amount of people attending the brew school that day. Eventually I went on a whim around to the other side of the main brewing equipment and perceived a potential opportunity for a photograph in between two of the canisters. Not only was there a gap in between them showing people at the brew school but I was fortunate enough to find the brewer running the brew school deep in conversation with one of the brew school attendees. I thought this combination of features worked well, the canisters on either side and in the background showed it was a brewery while the two people in conversation could be seen to be talking about some aspect of the beer being brewed there. Although the information that the discussion was taking place at a brew school wasn’t absolutely clear in this photograph, for me the next photograph worked well as a continuation of this one.
I chose quite a loose title for this photograph mainly because I felt it was quite evident to the viewer what was happening in the brewery when seen in tandem with Photograph 4 (‘In Preparation for the Day Ahead’). This was one of my response strategies to the brief where it asked me to show my engagement with my local community and its people. By appearing in this fifth photograph while simultaneously taking ‘In Preparation for the Day Ahead’, I saw myself from the outside, on assignment, in the brewery. I used a self timer of ten seconds on one camera set on a tripod (for Photograph 5) and took Photograph 4 at as similar a time as possible in order to make the effect of seeing myself from the outside as obvious and literal as possible. While it was a constructed photograph in the sense that it hadn’t happened by accident, I tried to compose both scenes for each photograph to my liking and interpretation (keeping in mind that I had to make my way over to where I had visualised the other tripod should be within ten seconds). This would hopefully enable the viewer to recognise that both shots were mine when seen in the series as a whole. I felt this quite creative response to the brief was a good strategy to both show my engagement with the brewery and its people as well as showing off more of the interior of the brewery at the same time. One thing I would say was that both Photographs 4 and 5 were taken with tripods and this wasn’t consistent with the rest of the photo essay where I had shot handheld because I deemed it more conducive to getting ‘decisive moments’ with.
I would pair this image with Photograph 5 for this photo essay because they deliberately work together in giving information about the interior of the brewery while allowing myself to be more creative with the assignment. The first of this pair is ‘simply’ a document of one of the brewery workers preparing for the day ahead by stacking the shelves of the brewery with more ale. It gives information about the different kinds of beer on offer while providing the viewer with an idea of what preparing for a bar day at the brewery is like. The photograph in my opinion would work by itself in describing the type of product the brewery produces and who works there. Admittedly, one of the subjects of the photograph, the brewery worker, wasn’t sharp because of subject movement and a relatively slow shutter speed but I found it added to the sense of action in the shot of him putting the bottles of beer away. The clarity of the beer bottles on the shelves was good in my eyes, catching the eye and reminding the viewer they were a subject of the photograph and place.
By maintaining eye contact with another brewery worker in this third photograph, I felt I was able to bring the viewer into the series and make them feel like they we’re entering the brewery. The open door to the brewery also backed this up and signalled the brewery was open. As a document, the photograph mainly shows the shape of the brewery building and its features but by including the brewery worker extra detail is conveyed in the from of an environmental portrait, giving some insight into how one of the brewery workers is involved. In this photograph I endeavoured to get as clear a shot of the brewery exterior as possible but there were a lot of cars parked nearby so this was the best angle I could manage. I was pleased with the outcome but ideally it would have more closely resembled the logo for the brewery; just visible on the sign to the right of the frame indicating the brewery was again open. However, the photograph in my eyes was nicely composed with the placement of the brewery worker for the environmental portrait and all the components of the exterior of the brewery were clearly visible.
This photograph, although in a snapshot style, conveys a lot of information through the central composition with the main aspects of the image falling centrally in the photograph too. It shows one of the brewery workers putting out a sign which indicates the brewery is open for business as a bar and takeaway at certain hours of the week. It also gives a sense of environment for the brewery worker and the sign – that the brewery is perhaps nearby and what kind of area it is located in. By placing the sign and brewery worker centrally, the environment on either side acts a kind of secondary information point while the primary subjects stand out more. The sign itself is a document within the photograph, giving information concerning the brewery, while the photograph is also a document, depicting the sign and brewery worker interacting within the environment. Technically, I felt the photograph could be much better with more highlight detail and no lens flare but I was pleased with the composition and the amount of information that was conveyed.
I decided to start the assignment off with a landscape shot which was quite distant from what were essentially the two subjects. I chose the quite distant viewpoint so I could firstly fit in both main subjects of the photograph but also to introduce the series of photographs from a wider perspective. These subjects comprised of a man walking off round a corner juxtaposed with a stand-out sign welcoming the viewer to the neighbourhood and specifically the brewery. Although this relationship was quite unimposing, I felt it worked because it could be imagined the man was perhaps walking off to the brewery itself (the sign did have a pointer in that direction after all). I have added context to the photograph with the title: ‘To the Brewery’, which reads the same as the sign on the wall. I would say this gets across to the viewer concretely the essence of the photograph but is somewhat unnecessary on this occasion. This is because the sign is so apparent and is supplemented by the person walking in that direction.