Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Portraiture photography of Dublin’s occupants

Beginning in 1930’s, a modest tailor tried his luck at street photography on Dublin’s main thoroughfare O’Connell Street and O’Connell’s Bridge providing the service of capturing special moments on camera for the masses. He did this all year round for 50 years and to the people of Dublin became known simply as the man on the bridge. 

Exploring the concept of photography as means to survey architecture within the city, our proposal has been derived from idea of using portraiture photography of Dublin’s occupants as a means of surveying the city at present. Arthur Fields, the man on the bridge, little to his knowledge was cataloguing with his photographs the people of Dublin spanning 50 years, individually these photographs were precious family objects but collectively the are a unique and comprehensive record of the people of Dublin City. We are using a large format home built camera which is rudimentary in its design and mechanics. It is simply light sealed box with a hole to place a lens and hole to act as a viewfinder. The lens we are using is a 610mm Bausch & Lomb Optical Aerial Reconnaissance lens from a WWII aircraft and exposing onto Ilford 8 x 10 photography paper. The photographic process itself takes roughly 5 minutes and presents challenges given that once the subject is in focus, they must remain completely still while the paper loaded and the exposed. We have conducted trial photographs in afternoon light on a clear day and estimated that the exposure time has to be between 30 – 35 se­conds.­

The site we have chosen to take the photographs is the General Post Office in the heart of Dublin city. This site offers us not only shelter if needed through the portico but also an historic and thought provoking setting. We aim to set the camera up between the two central columns. Before photographing someone we will ask a few simple questions such as “whats your name?” “Where are you from?” Etc. Just prior to the person sitting for the photograph we will ask a question such as “ Whats your earliest memory of this place?”. The person will then be asked to contemplate their answer for the duration of the cameras exposure. The answer will then be recorded for accurate transcription in the exhibition. Each participant will also receive a copy of their photograph by email and be invited to view the exhibition once open.

The primary element of our exhibition will be 9 photographs simply framed with a quote from the participant underneath. This quote will be taken from the question “ Whats your earliest memory of this place?”. The photographs will be­ chosen based on the quality of the image but also on the interaction which we had with the person and what we feel will contribute most to the exhibition as a whole. As well as the framed photographs we will also create a book with the entire collection of photographs and quotes as well as a documentation of the process which can be looked through in the exhibition but will also be put online. We also aim to exhibit the physical camera to properly tell the process of the image making.

Cianan Crowley, Adrian Cullen,  Hélène Guillemot

Test 1 - Portrait of Hélène Guillemot

Test 2 - Portrait of Adrian Cullen
Test 3 - Portrait of Cianan Crowley