Human Presence

For this module, 152MC, we have been set the task to investigate photographically the idea of ‘human presence’, in other words how to depict human presence without a human present in the photographs; this may include a narrative however it does not have to. Some areas I could look into include: personality of a place/space that is usually inhabited, it is defined by those events and people; human presence on the landscape; movement and patterns of people; belongings and items of personal importance, etc. This task is to be approached as if I was submitting to an exhibition, this means that I already have an audience; often creative individuals visit photography exhibitions and can make their own interpretations on work with different meanings, as well as understanding the viewpoint of the photographer. My photographs should be done by using alternative processes; it can be by using one alternative process or more. Some photographers who look at the idea of human presence in different ways include:

  • Corrine VionnetPhoto Opportunities. These photographs are composite photographs, made up of all tourist pictures, of one iconic location, merged together. The individual photographs of the tourist are everyone’s personal interpretation and there is a story to each separate image. This body of work shows the presence of the tourist and holidaymaker.

Works from Corinne Vionnet

  • John GossageThe Pond. The main focus of this project is the photobook containing a set of beautiful photographs. The book starts with entirely natural landscapes, but as the book goes on, more human presence comes into the images. This human presence is represented and shown by marks/scars on the landscape that have been created by humans. These marks give the viewer little clues to the human presence.

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  • Richard NicholsonAnalogue, Last One Out, Please Turn on the Light. This set of photographs is showing the idea of the death of film photography. There are no humans present in the photographs, yet the human presence is implied by the objects and items in the photographs- hand written notes, images on the wall. This shows personality and someone’s own notes and work.

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  • Paula McCartneyBirdwatching. These photographs show natural landscapes, the places are untouched by humans and so they seem to have no human presence, however human presence is the birds in the photographs as they are fake, made and put into the landscapes by the photographer. This is an unusual way of showing human presence that not many people would think of, let alone realise; this is showing subtle human presence.

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Overall, all of these photographs show the idea of human presence in a different way; this made me think about my own ideas for my task, and helped influence some of my ideas. I have a wide range of ideas, however I will not be able to focus on all of them. My ideas and what processes I could use for each idea are:

  • Light trails and movement, the idea that they have been there, showing the paths of people. Their own personal journey. Pinhole photographs of locations, with people walking past quickly, just see the blur and movement of the people, not the actual identity. Also using longer exposures, to get light trails from cars, showing the movement and flow of the human life style.
  • Rooms- showing belongings, this gives the viewer an idea on the personality of each person, giving them a glimpse into their lifestyle. I could use a pinhole to capture the detail, and also cyanotypes/photograms to show the objects that are in different people’s rooms.
  • Wing mirror photographs, taking photographs of a car’s wing mirror; this shows where you have been/driven without you being in the photographs, but still giving the clue that you drove. Looking at personal journeys. This would be done using a pinhole as it gives flexibility with the focal lengths needed.
  • Graves- tells only a brief amount about a person- only a small insight into life. Does the grave give a clear idea on the person? Shows no personality, but it still represents them after death. This would probably be best done using a pinhole camera as it would allow me to capture the detail on the grave stones.
  • Walking through puddles, the splashes and ripples created, possibly using photograms laid under the water to capture the movement.
  • Locations without people- empty spaces- the buildings and structures are the human presence as they are made and designed by humans, they are their print on the land. These spaces show personality and peoples own designs and layout, representing their lifestyle and human presence.
  • Presence of a tourist- taking influence from Corrine Vionnet, show the tourists own take on a place, their view and what they see, more personal, yet there will be similar subjects such as iconic buildings.
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