”Brand-New Topographics”

•‘I have been frequently accused of deliberately twisting subject matter to my point of view. Above all, I know that life for a photographer cannot be a matter of indifference. Opinion often consists of a kind of criticism. But criticism can often come out of love. It is important to see what is invisible to others. Perhaps the look of hope or the look of sadness. Also, it is always the instantaneous reaction to oneself that produces a photograph.’ Robert Frank

After refreshing myself with Robert Frank’s work, I wanted to capture a very honest shot. I think that I achieved everything I had wanted to with this image. I really tried to focus on the composition of the subject and bring out a really saturated look to the colours and contrasts. When looking at the final image I think I was successful. I chose to try and reflect the same aspect of behaviour and culture that Robert Frank displayed in his book ‘The Americans’. The only thing that I think lets this image down a little bit is the fact that because I used colour film I had my negatives scanned so I could have access to Jpeg files. The jpeg files came back quite grainy and don’t have that smoothness that would relate to Robert Frank’s work

‘The complete disregard for the camera’s presence indicates it’s complete saturation in their lives. The subject neither notices nor seems to care that someone has been invited into their private moment.’ Nan Goldin

This image was also heavily influenced by Robert Frank and I did try to relate it in the same context and style of image to the first one. I tried to also show my inspiration from Nan Goldin in this image. I tried to really act as a ‘fly on the wall’ and tried to not impose the camera on my subjects to try and achieve that moment of privacy that she usually catches with her subjects. I think with this image I achieved this. Although the subject was aware of the camera he didn’t seem to care for it and I think this really does come across. I think that the composition in this photograph could be a bit better, maybe making more of a frame for the main focus of the image.

‘I wasn’t imposing my presence on anyone,..which is very important for a would-be journalist. I stayed back. Always let people be themselves.’ Eliot Erwitt

I noticed that a certain theme started to develop as I was taking my photographs, and it was that my main focus seemed to be on capturing these honest portrait images. After I had researched some more into Eliot Erwitt and Martin Parr I decided also to produce some images which were less saturated and more bold in colour. Also to really try and capture people quickly when they were really being themselves.

I think overall I was successful in all of my images. I would make improvements to them if I had another chance looking at the composition and the ways in which I could have possibly produced them so they were less grainy. I think that the grainy effect that has been left on these images doesn’t destroy them totally and does work nicely as an effect on the photographs. But I think that I would have liked them to be very smooth and soft looking for me to achieve a good relation to the photographers I have been researching. I think that considering my limitations I worked well and have learnt some things to take in consideration for the future. I have also included a video which I watched in my research which touches on Robert Frank’s ‘The Americans’. It explains how he captured society and culture and reflected in his portrait images.

Previous Post
Leave a comment


  1. Mate, first image is wicked. love the honesty, no frills bang in centre approach. Really makes you think about this guys history, what’s he done to lead to this point in time. The vacant look in his face incurs feeling of loneliness and that his lost his way in life.

  2. These images are cracking! The first image really does make you think about this persons life and what has happened, the subjects face has so much detail and making the subject the main and only focus in the image really makes the image stand out.
    Well good pictures

  3. Brilliant tramp photo. His eyes just make me want to stare at him… Although, for a tramp, he’s quite well dressed?

  4. Jack Somerset

     /  October 1, 2010

    awesome set of photos!! clearly you have no problem going up to complete strangers. your photo editing seems pretty top notch. Great colours, awesome detail, and brilliant subjects 😉

  5. Hello Sean, The Series of pictures are well shot but how would you justify them highlighting new topographics?

  6. jenniferhearn

     /  October 1, 2010

    Lovely photographs, I really like them. The colours and composition is really nice, I think this would turn out to be a good series if continued. Well Done! 🙂

  7. You know I love these images! But as for the first two, I don’t think you should have photoshopped them. They are photos of such raw reality that the less post-production and false light/colourings given to them the better. Here they look slightly less life-like and therefore less poignant. I preffered the originals 🙂

  8. Chris Alford

     /  April 3, 2011

    Hello Sean first time visiting your site. Excellent blog. Is the first photo with the man outside pool meadow really a tramp? The reason I ask is that there is a deep ingrained stereotype of what a tramp/homeless person should be and ‘look’ like. Everything is not always what it seems. Dean O brien touches upon this with his photographic work with the homeless in Coventry.

    I know of one designer for US Vogue who when people saw his portrait thought he was tramp.

    I love how the first photo for how he just stares straight into the camera with glimpses to the sides of the photo with people rushing by. Well done.

    • Hi Chris
      Thanks for the comment. I’m not sure whether this man was homeless or not, he was simply just asking people for some money so he could buy a cup of tea. so i asked if i could take a photo of him in exchange for a pound. It’s one of the favourite images i have taken and yes i totally understand what you mean. i didnt want to intentionally give the impression that he was homeless i just wanted to show how he was behaving at the time as he seemed very gittery and desperate with everybody ignoring him. i havent yet seen any of Deans work but i have heard about the homeless project he is doing, he is in the second year at Cov uni and i’m currently in my First year so i’ll have to have a look at what he’s been doing. it’s definatly a good issue to look at and something i am keeping in the back of my head to maybe develop something out of in the future, after i have finished some ideas i’m working on at the moment. there is definatly that stereotype there as there is in every culture, but it would be interesting to take this specifically and bring it out of its context in order for us to question our own archetypes.
      Thanks again for the comment.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: