Personal Projects

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Here I have uploaded just a very small number of images which I shot in Cuba. As I was travelling in Cuba I was an outsider, a tourist. I hadn’t set up any shoots so my shots were all grab shots of scenes and scenarios that passed before me. I was frustrated in some senses as the lack of setting up shoots meant that my photos might lack the depth and engagement that is afforded to other documentary projects. It occurred to me that even as a bystander, an image maker to Cuban life I was producing a valuable document from that vantage point. Perhaps I could try and illustrate this and respond to this in my photographs? I became ‘the other’ whilst photographing ‘an other’. Notions of ’other’ have become a dominant interest of mine both in how I approach photographic projects and shoots and in terms of what interests me in other photographers’ work.  My ideal way of working would be to set up a situation, research it and then shoot it and have access to re-shoot on a number of occasions. Recently in the MAPJD course we have tackled Street Photography as a genre and a skill in itself and this is what has made me revisit my Cuba images (lack of time has been what has prevented me from doing this until now).

When a situation has not been set up, how do we react? What can we shoot? Looking back at some of my images I am reminded of that uncomfortable feeling of friction that I felt in observing something that I wanted to be a part of but was not. People starring back at my lens, I became the outsider. I was there, inside Cuba and yet OUTSIDE CUBA, CUBA OUTSIDE. Cuba wasn’t a collaborative project for me. How can I resolve this? Maybe I don’t. Could my Cuba images represent a sort of sideways outsider’s document, something like Robert Frank’s The Americans? I want my work on Cuba to speak back to it’s audience with an air of authority and control because even though this wasn’t how I felt shooting the images this is how Cuba communicated itself to me-that IT was in control of me and the shoot.

I wanted to take ‘anti-postcard’ shots in some respects. Instead of glorifying it according to set of Westernised tourist ideals (and there are plenty of these in amongst my other shots) I wanted to the images to capture something a little deeper. Cuba is a little austere, a little fragile and for all it’s vibrancy perhaps a little shy and self protecting. So, my challenge, how to illustrate its quiet resistance?

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