Monday, 15 March 2010

Shaped by War - Don McCullin

On Sunday 14th March I went to the Imperial War Museum to see the Don McCullin photography exhibition 'Shaped by War.'

Imperial War Museum North presents the largest ever UK exhibition about the life and work of Don McCullin, one of the world’s most acclaimed photographers, to mark his 75th year. Many items are on public display for the very first time.

For more than 50 years, McCullin’s images have shaped our awareness of modern conflict and its consequences. His courage and integrity, as well as the exceptional quality of his work, are a continuing inspiration and influence worldwide.

A unique collaboration between McCullin and the Imperial War Museum, this major new exhibition contains over 200 photographs, objects, magazines and personal memorabilia, and shows how war has shaped the life of this exceptional British photographer and those across the globe over the last half-century.

Don McCullin said he used black and white photography for more impact. I found his work extremely moving and had to continue to remind myself that the images were real and that he was there in the moment. Some of his photos were so powerful and emotional, they just consumed you and you felt like they were speaking to you. Reading the short blurb beside each photo really gave the pictures meaning and you could then identify with the people in the photograph.

Below are some photographs which I cannot forget.

A mother and daughter
This photograph was taken in Africa of a mother and her two children. The mother died and years later Don returned to Africa and gave the boys this photograph. This was the only time he ever did this. The boys were happy to have a photograph of their mother. Don did not enjoy this moment.

A solider in shock

A wife grieving for her dead husband.

The Belfast Concept

After our session on wednesday I went and printed all my B&W photographs on A4 paper.

My original aim in taking the photographs was to capture where 'things meet' (protestants & Catholics) therefore I only selected the photographs which made a solid divide through the whole image.

Abstract photography provided the opportunity to capture a personal unique perspective of Belfast. In taking the photographs I was looking for significance in the mundane and ordinary using composition, lighting, layout and texture.

I stuck all the photos on my wall and experimented with different concepts, orders, directions, rotations, patterns etc. When I placed all the photographs in a horizontal line and rotated the images accordingly to match up the division line I realised that as an overall piece this created a seamless thread joining all the photographs together.

It was a challenge in selecting the order of the photographs as some images work better than others together to create the solid line through the centre. When I sat back and looked at the arrangement of the images I realised that to me this concept represented Belfast. When you bring together photographs of divisions, collisions, separations, you create a single thread that links them all together. Without having that contrast, the conflict, the barrier, you would never create that unity. That single thread creates greater strength.

This signifies that Belfast could be a stronger place in terms of relationship, and attitude due to its areas of weakness. The thread running through the middle is an element both sides experience and have in common.

The continuous line that runs through the centre of the photographs represents the division in Belfast. It is consistant and strong and symbolises that Belfast have always had divions, Belfast will always be remembered for divisions and Belfast will continue to have divisions. If Belfast recognise and respect these divisions by stepping back they can see that the divisions have have created a single thread that runs through the city generating great strength.

Although this thread represents Belfast's history, present and future, what is really important is the people either side of this line. It is the people on either side of this thread that continue to demonstrate Belfast's strength. I would show this by the use of text on either side of the line. Quotations, stories, memories, opinions, personal interviews. The line is always going to be there, however the people to talk about Belfast, not specifically the political / religious divisions.

Together the line and text would take the reader through a narrative. The art will be making the line seamless taking the viewer on a journey. At this point the black and white photos work best. It signifies Belfast's distinct contrast between two sides however, almost in every case, it demonstrates that there are shades of grey. This is reflected in my Northern Ireland segregation maps.

I like how the black and white photographs make the audience work to interpret the content. By injecting colour, it can often give the picture away to easily. I opted against using flag colours as it makes the project too obviously political and I would like the audience to interpret the meaning of the images themselves. The territory colours having such significant meaning in Belfast I am reluctant to use them as I would be worried of causing any offense. If I were to include colour through the images it would begin to influence the photographs I took and I must remember the main purpose of the photography is to capture things 'that meet'.

With the photographs in Black and white they are not detracting from the importance of the words.


Belfast is notorious for division,

Together division can create great strength,

Strength is reflected in the people of Belfast.

I think the combination of the back and white photographs representing something of a taboo subject in Northern Ireland would be balanced out by the warmth of the personal quotations.

Overall I think the abstract photography, the personal words and the following of the line through the book would generate an interesting narrative, of my own personal representation of Belfast.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Karen McClintock


Karen McClintock is an amateur photographer based in Belfast. I find her photographs really inspiring and enjoy the simplicity of them. Karen's work demonstrates how to use both black & white and colour effectively in abstract photography.

Monday, 8 March 2010

Kyle Cooper

Kyle Cooper is the most successful modern designer of motion picture title sequences.

His work includes the opening credit sequences of:

Seven (1995),

Arlington Road (1999),

The Island of Dr. Moreau (1996),

Flubber (1997),

The Mummy (1999),

Zoolander (2001),

Spider-Man (2002),

Dawn of the Dead (2004),

Spider-Man 2 (2004),

Godzilla: Final Wars (2004),

Superman Returns (2006),

Across the Universe (2007),

The Incredible Hulk (2008),

Tropic Thunder (2008),

The Orphan (2009)

With regards to the typography I like how the typeface works individually with its frame, but also all together as a sequence. I love the hand written effect on top of the images.

Kyle Cooper’s work is famous for the level of detail and beauty within every single frame. He concentrates on the movement of typography at much as the design. The transition between frames is so well considered that they tell a story within themselevs.

Kyle’s work is often refered to as the prologue as the title sequence can sometimes serve as the first scene, or as a prologue to the story you are about to see.

Kyle Cooper Interview:

“I really like the idea of the veins of an eye becoming a map. He’s changing, but he’s also running away. It’s a very short moment, but as a frame, and as an idea, I really like it. It’s well composed. It’s beautiful, and it tells the story in a very quick and concise way. So those kinds of frames – those kinds of little details – perfection is made up of trifles. I’m not saying it’s perfect, but those kinds of trifles are interesting to me.”