Colin Steel

colin-steel
Colin Steel

Introspective photography

by Colin Steel (Singapore)

Photographing introspectively is unquestionably for me the single, most important way I have of interfacing with the world. It replaces verbal and written language in a more sensitive and personal way that allows me to communicate my sense of life and experience in way that is unique to me, and that is why I came to this workshop with Michael as a way of developing and deepening my understanding of how to achieve this.


Portfolio from the Introspective Photography workshop with Michael Ackerman, June 2014.

Written review by ERIK VROONS,
Editor-at-large for GUP Magazine

Dear Colin, let me start this review of your pictures for the class with Michael Ackerman with a fragment from your own statement, explaining the motivation for participating in this workshop:

Photographing introspectively is unquestionably for me the single, most important way I have of interfacing with the world. It replaces verbal and written language in a more sensitive and personal way that allows me to communicate my sense of life and experience in way that is unique to me.

Not being you, I can only imagine of course, through the pictures, what the interior rooms of your brain and heart contain. That is to say, I have to judge the results without actually able to see – and more importantly, feel – the world through your eyes (connected to the total experience of your body). Basically, this review – me saying something about your pictures – therefore cannot be much more than a test for yourself to check if I, a distant viewer, have understood at least the minimum of your intentions. With that, I belief, you are also able to criticaly reflect on the effectiveness of your photographs being a visual translation of your inner world.

Ok, so now that I have created this disclaimer let me say something about your pictures:

Regardless of mentioning one image in particular, a first quick overview immediately makes it clear to me that you are a talented photographer; someone with a quality to overcome the directness and with that, the banality, of the everyday experience of seeing reality. Instead, with the support of the camera (a technological device that only works according to the adjustments initiated by the photographer) you manage to create a sub-aesthetic experience.

On a closer look, when seeing your pictures individually, I could still say the same thing: they are loaded with a particular kind of beauty and, at the same time, also extracted from an everyday experience of something familiar. Again, I can't so much judge if these pictures are 'successful' in the sense that they are close to what you initially intended or, when approaching the medium of photography more intuitive, what you urged to express. I can only say that, as photographic images, they have a certain strength that make them visually appealing.

However, your intentions here are vital. Certainly when it comes to the moment when you have to bring your pictures together; when they are becoming organized in a certain way – as a series. How are they seen then? Are they still the same images as when they were seen individually? Or is there something different about them when in dialogue with each other? I am at least convinced that there is a difference between seeing the same photograph by itself or in relation to other pictures.

If you agree, then look at the images selected on the Eyes in Progress Flickr page again (like I am doing as we speak) and see that as if it is one picture established out of many. What is the overall feeling resonating from them? And how clear or ambigious is that feeling? I say 'feeling' because, other then documentary photography that aims to report on the exterior world, your pictures somehow aim to reflect your inner state of being; an interior landscape. Right?

So the 'feeling', is it consistent? Or are you under the impression that some images communicate something different, a deviation of the other pictures? I raise this as a question without a clear anwer in mind as again, I am not in the position to be part of your inner world. So, in other words, you are actually the only person to judge if you succeeded in making the translation from an abstract view to an actual picture produced with a camera...


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