This workshop focusses on the realisation of healthy self-criticism in relation to the production of an artistic body of work within the context of documentary photography, which aims to motivate the development of a personal vision and approach. Based on a series of discussion topics, participants will be encouraged to question notions of truth, authenticity, objectivity and the underlying belief systems that drive our hyper-visual culture today.
The workshop can be divided into two segments: the introduction of a theoretical framework along with a series of practical exercises. Key aspects are the role of aesthetics and conventions, the influence of fiction on our perception of reality, the value of a self-reflexive mode, and how photobooks have shaped documentary practice.
Guidelines for preparation:
Workshop participants should be able to show a good level of photographic aptitude and a desire to learn. Candidates will be expected to develop a positive attitude towards critical self-reflexion, discussion and constructive critique. Students should prepare their portfolio presentations and artistic discourse ahead of the workshop.
- Introduction to Max’s personal work and approach to documentary photography.
- Introduction by all students of their own work in group with feedback and open discussion (portfolio viewing).
- Lecture about various contemporary documentary strategies and the role of aesthetics and conventions :
In-depth reflection on the medium based on diverse examples of work that define the boundaries and definitions of documentary practice today, such as the role of aesthetics and conventions, the influence of fictional aspects in documentary, the importance of sequencing and structuring, how photobooks have shaped the reading of documentary work, the power structures and ethics of image production and dissemination in the global media landscape today, and so on.
- How photobooks shape documentary practice:
The importance of sequencing and structuring work in the form of a publication, different workflow possibilities for editing and sequencing work, design choices and collaborating with graphic designers, technical aspects of design and bookmaking (paper choices, printing techniques, binding, etc.), conceptual implications of various formal choices based on examples, and so on.
- Self-publishing photobooks:
Practical information on funding strategies and sponsoring, timing of publications in relation to festivals and the cultural agenda, how to deal with awards, grants and competitions, the importance of promotion and communication (emails, newsletters, social media, etc.) and the development of a personal artistic discourse.
- Open group discussion.
- Assignment briefing (could change depending on the developments during the discussions):
One image that has been manipulated (not digitally, but directly on location), or contains an intervention by the photographer in the scene.
One image that functions as a metaphor, or reveals an abstract concept.
One image that deals with the power relationship between subject and photographer.
One image free of choice, but of which the motives will be explained in a group discussion.
– Work on assignment.
- Group presentation of assignment work made by all students.
– Finding the best hypothetical presentation form for their work (book/printed matter, exhibition/spatial, slideshow, performance, sculptural, etc.)