My idea of environment is about looking at people and their style of living. My 3 projects I am doing this week are all personal related. 1) 5pm every day I will take an image of costa and its surroundings. 2) Every place I go, I take an image. 3) Taking images of people’s “leftovers” in a coffee shop to see how it is left.
All of these small projects all relate to how people live and in some ways, reflect upon their personality also. There are a lot of common ‘noises’ that can get in the way of my 3 ideas:
1 – People may not want to be involved in a shot of scenery. In which case, I would simply have to make sure they are not in the photo, which can cause an issue especially as the shots would be in the exact same location every day. Due to laws against taking picture of specific people in public also, I have to be extremely careful to not aim my camera directly in their face! Even more so, to children.
The image as a whole is the signifier, showing a room full of people drinking their coffee. The idea of it is to show the audience reading the magazine about the environment of the coffee shop, and how it varies each day. It’s more interesting to get images taken at the same time each day also, to see whether the same type of people come in.
Automatically, people would see the images and instantly assume they were taken at different points randomly in the day, but once they understand that each one was taken at a different time, they would learn to understand that it is about showing the different environment on each day and looking at who is sitting down. Because I am taking it at the same time every day, it is easier to get the same lighting from outside, provided my camera doesn’t change setting!
2 – This one is a much more personal approach. Because I am taking photos of anything I see in front of me when I go somewhere, I need to be extremely careful again of not accidentally taking a picture of someone directly.
Each image is a sign and symbol of where I am, sometimes I want to make them more obvious than others, but I want them ALL to not be perfect. With minimal editing and cropping, I believe this will bring out the best in this project and also link with many photojournalist photographers. It is always interesting to see someone’s travels and journeys, showing hints of where they were/currently travelling to at that given time. Each image is communicating to the audience about where I am. Again, the images are completely imperfect and mostly not a beautiful scene like I would prefer to do – each image is purely showing what I am seeing in front of my own eyes.
A lot of photographers or general people could judge the images as being completely unprofessional and uninteresting, however if you laid them out like a story, suddenly it becomes a lot easier to understand and interesting.
3 – Because I work in a coffee shop, I have managed to pick up a lot of personal skills other than knowing how to make the latest flat white. Looking at people’s leftovers on tables before we clear it up is very interesting to see. Despite the frustration of clearing up some people’s mess, it can leave a lot more meaning as to who those people are, what they are like and the environment that they could or could not live in. this mini project definitely sends out a lot of questions as to whether the theories are true, however I believe it is down to their personality mostly.
As you look at an extremely messy table, you try to calculate in your head to how they could have made that mess, and without thinking you start asking yourself questions as to whether they had a child (?), had no manners (?), or just thought it was okay to leave half a spat out sandwich on the floor. Quite often, a lot of customers would start ‘tutting’ around me cleaning it in shame of the customer who had caused it, or worse still, customers look in disgust if we had not seen to pick up a napkin on the floor, even if they didn’t see the mess we had to clear. The immediate judgment of the customer to the worker (and visa versa) can be very harsh, and by taking a picture of the tables after customers leave, it makes you think to who they could be.
Could they be an old couple? Young? Children? Family?
Why would they put the entire cutlery on the tray? Why were putting everything back on the tray when they had finished? Even why were they so kind in tidying it?
The smallest change can make a massive difference in a coffee shop, and with this project, if people see what people leave behind and how they leave behind, it would give a lot of perception of that customer and about their own personal environment.
The idea of these ‘mini projects’ is to get a divergent thinking approach to them all. Although I will only choose one to properly produce, all of these show a similar idea of getting you to look and see why I have taken them at that point in time. I purposely don’t want the images to look staged. Because I think of ‘natural’ when I think about the word ‘environment’, it reflects in my images in trying to make sure that every one is natural, and there is no staging.