Having accumulated some new working strategies from the previous weeks of my MA in photography, I now needed to put this into practice. Before I began this work, I reflected further on the work of other photographers and their working methodologies to see if I could incorporate this into my work.
Ansel Adams (THE ANSEL ADAMS GALLERY, 2017) work was brought to my attention by one of my peers.
I was particularly impressed by the tonal range of his black and white photographs, and so I decided to look at a couple of his books to help further my exploration of his work and in particular his insights on the working methods or his methodology he has adopted. In his book The Negative (Adams and Baker, 2003a) Adams writes about the three qualified scales within the tonal range of exposures of the 0-10 Zone system, which is the full black to white 0-10, the dynamic range from 1-9 and the textural ranges 2-8. So within my work, I try to capture as much of the textural zones, which is commonly known as the mid tones to add depth and some visual texture to my images.
Visualization and image values is another topic Adams wrote about, he wrote
“I am convinced that the best photographers of all aesthetic persuasions “see” their final photograph in some way before it is completed, whether by conscious visualisation or through some comparable intuitive experience.” (Adams and Baker, 2003b)
The intuitive experience part is something I have been working on in my work to try to capture barbershops and barbers and their environments. As a moderately experienced trained hairdresser my self I have a unique perspective compared to a photographer who has his or her interpretation outside of the hairdressing industry, while at the same time I appreciate barbering, and hairdressing has moved on a lot since 1986.
I have been relearning some of the more up to date aspects of barbering, such as the use of more modern razor tools as illustrated below and the London school of barbering website (The London School of Barbering, 2017), this helps me to contextualize my work from my perspective. Learning about black and white photography in more depth is enabling me to create the essence of the barber shops with more focus and selection as the color photographs often confuse and draw peoples eyes away from the human elements of the image and also the what is often overlooked is the details of character and culture within the image. The vintage aspect is also part of the culture in Hong Kong (Midwest Vintage 美華氏, 2017) and the Barbers themselves are often interested in photography and vintage cameras. In some ways, barbering is a kind of hipster scene and the culture of Hong Kong(Google.com.hk, 2017) and it is often about nostalgia(Silentnastalgia, 2017) and businesses as a sustainable living from what they do. So the lifestyle aspect is intertwined with hipster and combining the classic culture of Hong Kong and the traditional vintage barber culture and combined with the transcending development of the barbering scene here in Hong Kong.
In Adams book “The Negative”(Adams and Baker, 2002c) He goes onto to say, that his work was often regarded as realistic, while in fact, the value relationships within most of his photographs are far from a literal transcription of actuality. He also states “the first step towards visualization and hence towards expressive interpretation- is to become aware of the world around us regarding the photographic image. We must examine and explore what lies before our eyes for its significance, substance, shape, texture, and the relationship of tonal values.”
So with this in mind, I revisited the Neighbor Barbershop in Kwun Tong to see how my new strategy of using my old vintage medium format camera and to try to create photos of more significance and shape than the previous ones. In these shots below I used two different types of film, Rolie 400s Retro and Fuji Acros 100. During this time I also took some digital images using my Fuji XT2 with a black and white film emulation of the Fuji Acros 400.
Adams, A. and Baker, R. (2002a). The Ansel Adams photography series 2: The Negative. 2nd ed. New York: Little, Brown, p.52.
Adams, A. and Baker, R. (2002b). The Ansel Adams photography series 2: The Negative. 2nd ed. New York: Little, Brown, p.1.
Adams, A. and Baker, R. (2002c). The Ansel Adams photography series 2: The Negative. 2nd ed. New York: Little, Brown, p.1-2.
The London School of Barbering. (2017). Barber Videos | Learn Barbering Techniques. [online] Available at: http://www.londonschoolofbarbering.com/videos/ [Accessed 10 Jul. 2017].
THE ANSEL ADAMS GALLERY, T. (2017). Home – Ansel Adams Gallery. [online] Ansel Adams Gallery. Available at: http://anseladams.com/ [Accessed 10 Jul. 2017].
Midwest Vintage 美華氏. (2017). Midwest Vintage 美華氏. [online] Available at: http://www.midwest-vintage.com/en/home/ [Accessed 14 Jul. 2017].