Sunday, 22 February 2015

Extract the magic

A couple of months ago I bought a book called The Photographer's Playbook - a collection of 307 assignments and ideas from photography practitioners - artists, teachers, curators, commercial photographers - ranging from the practical and the inspirational right through to the enigmatic and the plain ridiculous. The overall idea behind the book is to encourage experimentation and play, to overcome the clichĂ© and avoid the overfamilair, to find a fresh approach to photography. The assignments take the form of exercises and lessons, games and challenges, tips and musings. Some are short and pithy, others long and complicated. I glanced briefly through the book and promptly put it aside! 

I picked it up again the other day and started leafing through it (you can either work through each contribution in order or more fun would be to follow the recommended pages at the end of each individual page taking you on a journey through related content.) I disregarded some immediately eg. Philip-Lorca di Corcia's suggestion to 'make any kind of work just as long as it involves sex' or a rather impractical assignment involving the purchase of a drone! But I found several that piqued my interest straight away and decided to try out a few over the next few months. At the very least, it should challenge me a little and maybe get me to try something different...... 

         Extract the Magic
         by Elspeth Diederix
"Choose an object that you normally wouldn't give a second glance. Something that you see all the time, but don't find very special.
Study it carefully and discover a quality that you like about it. Maybe its shape or colour, or even the way it moves or feels. 
Think of a way to photograph it that will show the beauty in this commonplace object. Most often, if you just document the object as it is, its particular beauty remains invisible. You might need to alter something to make the viewer see what you see. Take the object out its normal surroundings, or change its colour, or make it look like something else. All it might need is some special lighting. You must provide the extra element that will extract the magic from the ordinary to make it visible."
On the chest of drawers my eye chanced on an old empty perfume bottle which I've been meaning to throw away for some time. It has a very distinctive shape which I like. Perhaps it's cheating a little as it's quite an attractive object in itself, but by placing it on the windowsill with the light streaming behind it, I think I've managed to extract a certain magical quality which wasn't apparent before....

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