Urban Artists – update on thinking

Posted on June 25, 2012


I have been photographing the group of urban artists based in Bristol for some months. So far I have attended three events. I went into this assignment with a view that I might produce a series of formal portraits of the members of the group using their artwork as a background. As the work has developed I now see a number of different avenues…

  • A set of formal portraits as originally envisages. I am less keen on this now as the portraits I have made look staged and artificial. The members of the group become very self conscious when asked to pose and the results have been a little disappointing. The example below illustrates the problem. The subject seems to me to look stiff and to be forcing a pose.


  • A series of portraits of the artists at work. The photographs I’ve made so far are is a lot more encouraging in this regard and there is a link between these photographs of artists concentrating on their work and my first assignment Museum where the subjects are focusing their attention on the museum exhibits/artefacts.The subject here is the relationship between artist and their work. With these photographs I have found that a square format works very well as it emphasises the graphic nature of the images. Also it seems to me that the photographs which work best are those in which the gestures of the artists are also graphic and are complementary to their artwork.  In total I have made over 30 such portraits and this opens up the possibility of displaying them as a grid or wall of photographs – a self reflexive reference to the nature of the artwork made by the artists. This idea came from a suggestion from tutor Clive White.The following is an example of how this might be done:

30 Artists at Upfest 2012

  • A combination of photographs of the artists at work and individual portraits. I have discussed this in  previous posts with the idea of producing a book in the form of  a diary of their activities throughout the year.
  • A selection of the best photographs from the events throughout the year. This opens up a range of opportunities, one of which is to consider converting the images to black and white. The colours in the images are strong and are clearly in keeping with the subject matter but there is a danger that they overwhelm the human subjects. An illustration of a black and white treatment is shown below:

Urban Artists – black and white treatment

I clearly have a number of options and in practice I am committed to the book as I have promised the artists a copy each. However for my Advanced assignment I may end up presenting both the grid of artists at work and some selected photographs – yet to decided whether to stick with colour for the latter.