Do you feel you have been influenced by a particular celebrity/television programme/film? Are you happy with this influence? Have you thought about how it may have affected your thought processes? Do you consider it to be media manipulation?
I think that society as a whole is influenced by celebrities, television and media as a whole. Reality tv in particular gives people the impression that this is the ideal life when actually it’s a lifestyle that is hyped up for the sake of entertainment, giving young people particularly, false hopes of what’s to come. Fashion trends are usually started by celebrities and passed through to high street fashion, essentially influencing the clothes we wear. In small cases like this it can affect thought processes as it can trigger ideas which you can develop into your own. In some cases I think it is good to have influences from media and celebrities as it gives it a sense of relation with the audience, but sometimes this over steps the mark and creates obsessions. I think it’s more about willpower and thinking for yourself and not allowing yourself to be manipulated.
Where does responsibility for the dissemination of ideas and ideologies lie? Is there anyone to blame for damaging ones? What are damaging ideologies?
I think the biggest blame for dissemination of ideas is the media and the advanced technology which has made it even more accessible to the public. Things are shared on Facebook and other social media as they are highly populated and an easy way to contact society. Newspapers, magazines and tv know that they are trusted by a lot of people so can write up ideas and know these will be taken in by members of the society.
I think one of the most damaging ideologies, as a youth myself, is the idea of the “perfect body”. This is commonly more of an issue for women but has recently moved onto males also. I don’t believe there is a certain person to blame but more the growing publication and sexualisation of women with the small frame, blonde hair, big lips etc. which young people aspire to be like because they think this is attractive and want to gain the same attention. I also think stereotypes act largely in damaging ideologies, for example the stereotypical woman is a domesticated housewife and the man is working and providing. Again, I believe largely due to the media broadcasting these ideas.Have you begun to think around ethical considerations in your photographic practice? Would you turn down a particular assignment because of the nature of its theme? Is acting ethically an important factor for you as a photographer?
For me acting ethically is an important part of being a photographer to gain a reputation and a strong name for your audience. It would only depend on the type of job for me to turn it down, for example, I wouldn’t be too keen on photographing children with illnesses, because although it has a shock factor which can be beneficial for raising awareness, I don’t think I could face that kind of situation just for photographic purposes.
What constitutes a role model?
I believe a role model is someone who’s actions you’d like to imitate and stands as a good example of society. Someone worthy of inspiring you and the way you act. A lot of people see celebrities as role models – personally I don’t believe they are role models they are just people with the limelight and career which people envy to have. In some cases I think a role model is someone who has done something positive for the sake of someone else, like parents or members of the army, who put their lives on the line to save ours.
What did you find particularly interesting or provoking in Martina’s lecture?
The sensitivity behind certain representations – I think racism is certainly a big one for this. The fashion catwalk using African patterns and historic backgrounds in particular was thought provoking for me as I saw this as more an exploitation of the history of Africa for awareness and celebration more than a racist set of designs. I think the way things are interpreted by different kinds of people is interesting, and how different ideas can mean so many different things to people.
How would we have felt if a man undertook Mylie Cyrus’ poses?
I think in this society a man taking part in a shoot like Mylie Cyrus would be ignored as a sexualisation and seen more as an empowering image, but this is mainly down to the idea of stereotyping and what is “right and wrong”. This is especially due to the idea of men dominating women, and the poses Mylie is undertaking look quite masculine and dominant which makes the images seem “wrong” within the thoughts of society. It would seem that the male body is more celebrated and flaunted whereas a woman is objectified and made to seem like a picture of enjoyment. Mylie was slated in the media for this shoot but in this magazine image it looks as though the fact that Dan Osbourne is naked is the selling point of the magazine.
Who is ‘shaping our brains’?
Again I believe that the media has a heavy influence on the way we see and interpret things but then does that mean that we shape our own brain to believe the media?
Are ideas of representation of gender and race something you have considered before?
I have a transgender cousin, so representing gender is particularly important as I know what it is like for Ollie to suffer with confusion and narrow mindedness from others around him that don’t understand. So for me, representing gender is something I try to approach with sensitivity and try not to include stereotypical colours, clothing and poses so not to catergorise people unless I have a justified reason to follow a stereotypical approach. With race I think it is almost the same principal, not catergorising anyone. I haven’t been faced with photographing different races as of yet, but I would be just as sensitive about this.
What kind of work in the social/political arena is still to be done? Whose rights do we still have to fight for? Can we do that photographically?
I think the biggest issue to fight against is the sexualisation of women and men in the media and portraying someone for the beauty which they want to portray of themselves. Essentially this leads onto the LGBT society, whom I feel need to have an equal place in the media and society as a whole. By introducing them into photographs that go public more often we can spread awareness of their struggles but also of their humanity which is the same as anyone elses. This way we can help them to feel celebrated and equal.
How important is it to gain awareness in terms of visual references that could be construed as racist?
I think it’s important for people to see the bigger picture and not to read into every image that is seen to be racist. Society has come along way since before the 21st century when slavery and racism was actually a very strong idea through out. I think people need to be able to understand the evolution of acceptance of race and also of photography and how this can be used to visualise things much differently to how we could before. This image of LeBron was one which really infuriated me. The intention of the image has been manipulated into a racist interpretation but look at the facts behind the image. Lebron is 6ft8 which is a massive figure which would tower over most people. He is a basket ball player so his stance in the image is one he may use regularly within the game. Gisele Bundchen is a supermodel with a delicate frame making her look a lot more sensitive in the image. The intention of the image is unknown but if you compare these facts with the King Kong interpretation it makes it seem less offensive. Overall I think people need to delve deeper into images and understand them before calling them racist in order to raise awareness of what is ACTUALLY racist.
Representations of the immigration /asylum seekers?
I think the way immigrants particularly are represented, especially recently, is totally misconstrued and give people the impression that they are just invading and terrorising other places when actually they are trying to find somewhere safe to go following all the war in Syria particularly. The problem is the media is the first point of call for a lot of people, and they miss the vital facts that can be manipulated by the media, allowing them to be brain washed into believing exactly what they read, see or hear. The media tends to publish what it wants people to believe, based on a majority opinion rather than factual information. This leads me to think about terrorism, and how with recent attacks from ISIS, people are now frightened of Muslims, but tend to ignore the fact that some Muslims are also frightened and have been killed by the group as well. The media catergorises people as a whole instead of taking people individually.
Are there any areas of discriminatory practices in contemporary society you feel ready to tackle photographically? Why?
I feel ready to tackle the representation of the LGBT community. I feel this is such a close subject to my heart with my cousin being a member of this group of people, and after having long chats with Ollie, I’ve slowly started to understand the everyday life struggles that members of LGBT contend with. I think this is something that needs to be made more public to society so that the LGBT community can feel celebrated and as equal as everyone else.