Positions and Practice – Week One

Going Global – Reflection

What a whirlwind the first week has been; in a good way.

Never having attended university, I was rather nervous about starting out in ‘academia’ at a later than average age. This first week has however allayed any worries and is already giving me my ‘photo mojo’ back.

I applied for the MA in Photography at a time when my day job had been particularly taxing – I wanted something positive to concentrate on and a means to focus my often magpie attitude to my photographic practice i.e. there’s often something ‘photographically shinier’ that grabs my attention.

I can’t say I have ever considered how my photographic work relates to the globalisation of photography, but it has been interesting to consider this. My work, certainly most recently with my village project Humans and Dogs of St Agnes, has always seem very localised. My alternative photographic process enterprise runs workshops in Cornwall, so trying to place myself in the global picture has seemed quite difficult.

As a medium, photography has evolved and grown to become a part of everyday life – from baby’s first photos to moments of death, our lives are documented continually. It is accessible to anyone who can access a camera – something it has done throughout its history from the earliest times when the Daguerreotype was given to the public by the French government for free. As such a democratic medium it would seem to generate a universal nature – humans, on the whole, want to belong to a group or tribe they identify with – although the content of photographs is often divisive.

To try to illustrate what I feel addresses the theme of a ‘global image’, I chose a picture very dear to me. It portrays a father and daughter who I met on my first visit to Sri Lanka. His family have become good friends and this image has since been sent as a print. Other than uploading to my personal Facebook page, this photograph is not accessible or seen ‘globally’ but it is part of my personal photographic ‘global’ experience. It is part of a connection, a visual description of a different place to my own everyday life. I know that the location of this photograph was hit by the 2004 Tsunami, destroying so much and making it part of the subsequent global story. It also includes a recognisable global brand – Coca Cola bottom right. So although not a global image in the sense that it is well-known or easily accessible, its content creates, for me, a representation of the global theme. As the English Oxford dictionary explains global to be ‘relating to the whole world’ and ‘or encompassing the whole of something, or of a group of things’ in this essence it could be argued that this photograph does that by simply portraying one moment in the lives of two humans that are both part of a global existence.

Lal and Tarini – Sri Lanka

© Josie Purcell 2014. Copyright for this photo belongs solely to Josie Purcell and cannot be  downloaded/used for any purpose without her permission.

It was interesting to read some of the comments left by my fellow students in response to this, which included thoughts about how the making and taking of photographs creates bonds and links, however fleeting, to ideas relating to, despite the effects of a natural disaster, global companies keep turning out their goods.

This week has helped me to evaluate my place in the photographic arena – I think I am happy to be a little fish in a big sea and that’s fine by me. For now.