Monthly Archives: October 2011

This weeks photograph is the latest in my ‘Pink Princesses’ project. I have been photographing row upon row, and pile upon pile, of pink children’s clothing. I want to create a small sub series of shop images that will sit along side the portraits I have already made of children dressed in pink.

I have been out in the shopping centres of Bristol, taking photographs and have been met with a mixed reception. My usual approach, when photographing, is to ask permission and get the subjects full attention. Asking permission in a high street chain store doesn’t work, so I have been surreptitiously taking photographs and then moving on. It’s a very different way of working for me and feel like I am spying, but this seems to be the only way to get the shots I need.

I have been amazed at the sheer mass of pink that I have come across in the girl’s department. In baby departments there is often only pale pink or baby blue to choose from. It appears to already being piled high for Christmas.

I haven’t yet worked out if these images will work alongside the portraits. This is still work in progress. I suppose if I present these images with the portraits, I will be assigning the blame for the pink phenomenon, to the high street big businesses. After having done a lot of research on this subject I do think that big businesses are to blame, but it is not quite as simple as that. There does seem to be a big demand out there for all things pink and girly. I will have to start by seeing how well the shots sit together and give a lot more thought to any kind of conclusion.

This image shows a mountain of pink pyjamas. When we are out shopping this would not look particularly unusual, particularly interesting or even warrant  a photograph, but when you take these scenes out of context it gives you the space to really look at the sheer bulk of clothing, the mass of pink just ready to be consumed.

A couple of useful links..

This website has been a great source of information for this project.

It states your rights to photograph in public places. (although shopping centres are not strictly ‘public places)

This a website recently set up by the government and advises what you can do if you find inappropriate children’s clothing on sale.

Paris Train

I wanted this week’s post to be a one of my phone photographs. Yesterday I held a photography workshop with a group of teenage students. I presented my work to them, but really wanted to make the point that they could do this too. They didn’t need to have a big fancy camera and that the important part was that they were taking photographs of the things that interested them.

I have been taking camera phone photographs since the 1st of January 2003. I contacted Vodafone the month before, when I heard that the first mobile phone with inbuilt camera, had been released in the UK. I knew I had to get my hands on one, and I approached Vodafone, with the idea of taking a photo each day for the whole of 2003. The finished project was exhibited in London in 2004 called iCapture.

Looking back, I can see now that it wasn’t a great piece of work. It was a visual diary and I was the subject. I hadn’t given enough thought to using myself as the subject for my own photography, and was uncomfortable at revealing and documenting my own life. I was never able to truly embrace the role. I have learned that I am happier to point my camera at those who are more interesting. I always appreciate and admire those people who I photograph, that can be so open and allow me to reveal a little of who they are.

Through the discipline of taking a photo each day on my phone I learned that we have a very different attachment and relationship to our phones than we do to a camera. This became the subject of my dissertation when I was doing an MA at Newport.

I still love taking photos with my phone. My phone gives me a feeling of connection to my friends and family. At times it feels like an extension of my brain. I see something. I record it. Save it. Send it. Share it. I am not saying I love my phone more than my camera oh no! My camera takes me places I cannot get to with a camera phone. The photos I take on my phone are more snap shots, but I consciously feel like I am capturing and recording a memory, that can them be shared. The photographs I make with my camera however are solely for me to satisfy my vision and ideas. It is much more selfish and solitary.

One of the points I wanted to make to the students this week is that photography now, in this digital age is all about sharing our images, sometimes instantaneously, and potentialy across the globe. When I first started taking photographs, it was all about the taking of the photograph. For them now, starting out learning to take photos, there are less obstacles to navigate to achieve an acceptable image.

To the picture… I call this photo ‘Paris Train’ after the Beth Orton track that I absolutely love. It was indeed take on a train on it’s way to Paris Nord. I like the way the seat is facing one way and the man’s profile the other. It is just a snap shot from a lovely trip that it will always remind me of, while Beth’s lyrics go round in my head.

Polly playing in her garden

This weeks post is an image from a current project titled ‘Pink Princesses’. I have been photographing girls dressed in pink for the past few months. When I was growing up there were loads of colours to choose from. Girls did dress in pink, but it was a conscious choice and it wasn’t the only choice. If you have a daughter now it is impossible to escape the overwhelming surge of pink clothes, pink plastic toys and pink gifts that your child will amass every birthday and Christmas. The pink epidemic effects all families with girls and travels across the class divide.

This is the result of marketing  and consumerism and that it is simply easier and more profitable for companies to produce a product line in only two colours (pink and blue). However this is only part of the answer as boys don’t seem to get obsessed with blue in the same way as a lot of young girls only want to have the ‘pink one’.

In our culture pink is so closely linked with femininity that when girls development reaches the stage of realising that they are female (around the age of 3-4, and interestingly they are not yet at the stage of realising that they are going to stay female!) they try to reinforce their identity by associating themselves with all things girly. Young girls then show a preference for what they perceive to be girly, and in our culture that is pink, along with princesses (largely Disney’s fault this one), butterflies and fairies. All of these relying on apperance for the most part of their appeal. I could go on all day, but back to the photo.

This is Polly playing in her garden. She is a friend of my daughters and I when I went round to her house her mum had layed out all her pink stuff on the bed, which amounted to a mass of clothes and toys that covered a single bed. This had all just accumulated without Polly or her parents actually choosing to buy pink. They were largely gifts and hand me downs. I think this is the same for all of us, that the pink creeps in even when we wouldn’t consciously choose it for our young girls.

Thanks to Polly and Sarah.