Manhattan is now in its full autumn colours and the cold winds has descended. I’ve fallen in love with the city, the people and the incredible amount of photography events here. Lauren Greenfield’s exhibition at the ICP Museum is particularly worth a gander.
I’ve spent the last couple of weeks meeting people from my Instagram account, FoundPhotoUK, and beyond, for the project. As with before I interview them and I then take their portrait based on what their passions are within their collection.
Its fascinating meeting the people behind the user names. Making the virtual world real, it’s like living in Tron but better because I watched Tron recently and I’m afraid I feel asleep.
When you follow someone for long enough on Instagram, even if the images are purely of found photographs, you get a feel for the user’s personality and certainly the themes they are particularly passionate about.
So going behind the curtain, what did you discover Dawn?
That we have tons of similarities - we not only have a passion for photography but also philosophy too. I guess people collect for different reasons, but on the whole there is the drive to preserve, to save, to look for new insights into our ancestors lives so we can understand our own lives better. We are all looking for the treasure hiding in each photograph we collect.
R_Mewshaw in her home. As with all my sittings I generally take an more traditional portrait like this and then the master portrait for the project - which is hush hush for now!
Knowing that we all sit individually in our homes and archive and research and all have our own ways of processing our collections is rather geekily fascinating to me.
The passion with which we all chat about our collections is infectious, and in each instance we have ended up talking for a good couple of hours. PHOTOGRAPHY CHAT HEAVEN. It really is kinda like being part of some secret photography underworld. Ok I’m getting frivolous, but when you meet people with the same interest as yourself you kinda are a few steps along on the friends scale. Because that defiantly a thing Dawn. Yep.
Anyway over the next few posts I’ll describe my meetings, but to start here is R_Mewshaw.
I’ve followed R_Mewshaw from early on in my Instagram journey. Her collection is consistently excellent. Entering her home and discovering her collection was such a treat.
She began collecting around 20 years ago, when she became fascinated by large group photographs of vast dinners - lots of people dressed in their finery, in great halls, dripping with silver and all looking at the camera at once. These were taken via a tall ladder and an incredibly bright flash. These large dinner images seem to be more common here than the UK.
She once covered the walls of her dinning room with the images and laid the table to match. IMAGINE!!! It would have been an incredible sight! All those faces watching you eat, like you are sitting in the photograph. One day I may have to emulate this.
She no longer collects these larger and more cumbersome images, but still collects images in sets of themes.
She focuses on themed weeks on her instagram and after talking for a while she made some very good points about how grouping images as themes can create something entirely greater than the sum of it’s parts.
As humans we naturally look for patterns and find satisfaction in them. By seeing multiple images of say, couples standing next to their car in the 40’s, we can discover so much. the pose, the fashion, the angle of the camera. Are they parodying adverts they’ve seen? Why take the imagine in the first place? Who are they going to show it to?
So she collects and organises the photographs into themes, Dogs, cars, fashion, couples and my favorite - shadows. Where we see the photographer's shadow looming into the image.
Generally people take images because the subject means something to the photographer, so if 100’s of people take the same picture, what does that say about society at the time. It's not just the similarities but the differences. When everything is the same bar one thing, that one thing becomes vastly more important then it would if you were looking at the image on it’s own.
But I could ramble for a long long time, but I wanted to pop an update here asap.
I’m excited to say I have lots of other Instagram friends to meet this week which I’ll I’ll update you all with soon.
Maybe by the end of this trip I’ll understand why I collect photographs of strangers. Hearing other peoples reasons have made me re-assess mine a little. Oh blimey, it’s like therapy.
Photographed as part of the project - Stacey on Williamsburg Bridge New York. More on my meeting with her soon!
I’ve realised the breadth of knowledge we begin to accumulate when sorting through our collections. From fashion, interiors, chemistry, the mood of a nation at the time, we dip our toes in 1000’s of different subject. So when we are sitting in all our individual rooms all over the world, we are actually exploring time, space, social history and science.
WE ARE ALL DOCTOR WHO.