My research of photographers for assignment two was slow at first, then I stumbled on a number of different photographers that opened up various ideas to me.
The first photographer I came across was Hans Eijkleboom and his work ‘ People of the 21st Century’, it is a compilation of images taken over a large period of time. Eijkleboom finds a spot for the day , or for a short while, and chooses what ‘type’ he will photograph that day from the people who pass him by. It could be yellow jumpers or people holding hands, his idea was to explore ‘identity’ and the fact that despite us all thinking we are individuals commercialism means that there may be many others wearing or doing the same thing. What we wear is a form of visual self-expression even if 1,000 others are doing the same. We can feel we have expressed ourselves whilst still fitting in to the ‘bigger picture’, this could be fashion, religion or even Christmas!
I explored this idea of a repeated collection in my crowd shots when I tried to focus on Santa hats in the crowds, back of heads, selfie’s and children on shoulders.
I also came across the work of Bill Cunningham, A fashion photographer for The New York Times. He collected images of people on the street in a similar way to Eijkleboom except he was exploring fashion on the streets and emerging trends rather than commercialism of identity.
Brandon Stanton’s images ,in ‘Humans of New York’ , although again a collection of images are different in that they also include a story. It is a personal record of each person and what lies behind their image. It started as a collection of photographs designed to catalogue the people of New York and included captions. The collection is now from many different countries and features stories as well as captions and makes for really interesting reading. This collection ‘Humans of New York’ has a huge following on social media in which images and stories are being shared.
I also briefly explored the works of Brassai and his ‘Paris by Night’ series as well as images by Bill Brandt before deciding to look for images by photographers which related to Christmas as my images would be around this theme. I struggled to find suitable ‘crowd’ photographers.
Martin Parr’s image ‘Santa’s grotto’ really reflects how my own children reacted to sitting on Santa’s knee! and the use of typical garish Christmas colours. Martin Parr also did a collection of ‘Selfie stick’ images which inspired me to look for selfie stick moments.
Martin Parr – London. Harrods. Santa’s grotto. 2002
Stuart Franklin’s picture of Santa Festival Day taken in New York in 2015 is a very similar subject to mine in that I have focused on an event. I feel it is a snap shot style image which documents a moment. One lady smiles directly at the camera whilst the gentleman dressed as a king behind her is completely oblivious as he is busy on his phone and the men in front are in conversation with one another, one of these sporting a blue Santa hat?
I love the image by Bruce Gilden of ‘Santa leaving bar’, I had hoped I would capture something similar by the end of Santa Con but sadly I did not capture the end. The closest to this was Santa’s drinking a pint or two but I missed out on Santa’s climbing on the lions at Trafalgar square! Similar too is the image by Eric Hartmann of Santa trying to navigate a map of the New York subway. Richard Kalvar also captured a Santa on the subway in New York, the idea of misplaced Santa’s appeals to me.
Bruno Barbey managed to capture a group of Santa’s taking a photograph by the Berlin wall, I found this voyeuristic style interesting as he has captured a photo of someone else taking the photo.
Dennis Stock’s image of Santa’s lined up as Volunteers of America gives a sense of the commercial mass iconography of the season and makes me think of the stories we tell to our children when they are young of why there are so many Santa’s and how they are all helpers as he cannot be everywhere. Diane Arbus also touched on this notion in her image ‘Santa’s at the Santa Claus School’, her Santa’s obviously need to work on their jolliness!
I also looked at the images from Trent Parke’s ‘The Christmas tree bucket’, these were interesting but added nothing to the crowd images I was trying to capture. I did however like the Santa at the end of the hallway, it left unanswered questions about who he was exactly? Was he going home? Or was he delivering Gifts? Was he sober?
Raymond Depardon’s image of a lonely Santa walking through Central Park gives me a similar feeling to one of my own images of the lonely Santa who seems to be talking to a tree. It does make me wonder if I should strip my images of the obvious seasonal colours as I find that by looking at the black and white image I focus on the person rather than the costume.
In my searching I have found many images of Santa’s , more than I realised I would find, what’s interesting is that although Father Christmas appears timeless the images really show the decade in which they were taken and the changing face of the holiday season.