As I wasn’t part of Picbod I came into Phonar with a completely open mind to open education and these types of courses hoping for a new exciting experience and that’s certainly what I received. Phonar was a fantastic opportunity for me to learn more about the world of photography and media beyond taking pretty pictures and that’s something I really needed coming into the 3rd year as I’m finally starting to take myself more seriously as an artist and a professional. In the last few months with additional help from Richard Stacy’s lecture on the social media revolution I’ve learnt how to utilize social networking platforms and tools such as twitter to broadcast a message to an interested audience simply through the use of the phonar hashtag, this has made me realise how easy it is to let your voice be heard which is so essential now that a photography as become much more readily available to the public meaning we’ve been swamped with a new breed of photographer that I’m having to compete with. As well as this a big part of Phonar has been on distribution of images and using creative commons to our advantage by letting people share your work providing they give appropriate credit, for example the alienated sensory mashup and unphotographable tasks. This method of distribution has been a big eye opener for me which has found me using tools like flickr and soundcloud in a completely new way which will hopefully one day will have me noticed by the right person at the right time.
Throughout all the tasks and lectures I’ve how important the narrative is in photographic processes of all types and genres, this was especially emphasized throughout David Campbells lecture and the spoken narrative workshop I’ve enjoyed seeing myself in a new light as a story teller which encourages me to think more about the context every time I think of a new idea or concept for a project. I also really benefited from the talks by Robbie Cooper and Chris Floyd which were some of my favourites because it was really constructive seeing established photographers and realising that they still go through the same narrative thought processes as us to produce their work. This showed me that you don’t actually need a series of big breaks to make it as a photographer, you need to physically go out there and get the work as it comes until you find yourself in the place you aimed to be. Chris Floyd in particular was really helpful giving me tips on how to approach people when you want to photograph them with reference to his work re-visiting his childhood home which was actually the basis for the idea of my final project.
Naturally I found the final Phonar task “Life in a Day” as stressful and challenging as it was created to be. Since the day it was set, my idea hasn’t stayed the same for any 2 days in a row. It started off as me planning to revisit my childhood home as I had moved out and missed it dearly, then through a series of painful flips and twists it ended up as an online exhibit and platform allowing people that had stories and experiences to share about old homes to do so with the aim of telling the narrative of all the places we once lived through photos, stories, sounds and videos. Initially I was worried that the project couldn’t really be mine because most of the stories and images were not mine so I couldn’t possibly own a project filled with other peoples work but as it continued I began to take on the mindset and role of a curator. It turns out that the best bit of my project is the fact that I’m collecting other people’s experiences because this allows them to broadcast and share with others which is what the project aims to do. This is also what gives it the transmedia aspect I was hoping for, since I’m combining so many forms of media to create a full experience. Throughout the project I’ve had to make a series of editorial decisions to do with which images are featured and which images even make it on from the group pool on flickr and the various other ways that people send me their stories to share. I ended up choosing 4 featured experiences to be able to give new visitors a taster of what to expect in the project, but didn’t feel right filtering what went in the project as it was meant to be a space for sharing which isn’t rated on how good your photography skills are or how interesting your story is.
I thought perhaps I was doing this project because I was interested in childhood, as in the past I’ve dabbled in fairy tales and I’m fascinated by the concept of innocence. However half way through the project I noticed another pattern occurring, perhaps my chosen area of specialism is getting people involved and collecting information, I do it for #PHOTOGRAPHY Magazine, PHOTOSENSE, Raw Format degree show, now Project I Lived Here and I doubt it’s the last time I’ll ever do it too. I guess it’s good to know how to build up a following, it’s a skill that should come in handy when I enter the world of work and need to build up a following around my name, I think that Phonar has definitely helped me become more confident and better at spreading the word so I’m very grateful for that.
In terms of if I’m pleased with my final outcome, I’m not exactly sure and perhaps that’s because there is no finished artifact, rather the start of something big and that’s what I’m pleased with. I don’t often like doing projects that come to an end once the term or module has finished, they feel cut short. Project I Lived Here is most definitely on going, hopefully in the future it will gather more of a following and I can set up a forum for people to discuss their stories alongside the exhibition. One thing that I do think needs improving is a clearer more defined aim as that’s what I’ve struggled with the most these past few weeks, I know exactly why I care and there is a dedicated audience that cares too which is why this project has had quite a few responses but how do I get the rest of the public to see it the way I do? I’m not sure just yet, that’s something I must continue to work on in the future. Maybe it involves a collaboration of some sort, only time will tell.