Documentary Photography in Barcelona

A workshop with Eyes in Progress

Over the last five years of practice-led research I have taken hundreds of photographs that each fell beyond the scope of my academic work. For the most part, these images are concerned with everyday life. They have a strangely fractured and serendipitous quality to them owing to the fact that they were all taken without a plan, though countless ideas inspired by my research have poured into them in one way or another. It is almost as though this was where the real work was being done all along and, more than half a year on from submitting my thesis, I am trying to piece these more personal photographs together into new bodies of work, and new ways of working.

Things are starting to change dramatically in ways I could never have imagined. My first creative project this side of submission has the much welcome support of project funding from ArtsACT. This is how I found myself in Spain and enrolled in a documentary photography workshop facilitated by the wonderful Véronique Sutra of Eyes in Progress and taught by Magnum photographer Patrick Zachmann. As a starting point I brought with me a series of black and white photographs that I had pre-exposed to starlight five years ago, unwittingly re-shot some years later and finally developed only days before leaving Australia. These double exposures document daily life and the stars of the night sky… The photograph above – Her Bedroom Full of Stars, 2012-2017 – being one of my favourites from the roll.

The course was rigours and already I can sense something new emerging between my dream-like way of working and Zachman’s way of composing a frame, anticipating the quality of light and identifying moments of significance (especially moving are Zachmann’s photographs of students in Tiananmen Square from 1989 that are evocative more of Woodstock than of the state brutality that would follow).

During the workshop I walked the streets of Barcelona and attempted to photograph the acoustics of the labyrinthine alleyways, vaulted cathedrals and the metro. However, four days is only enough time to crystallise an idea and the workshop has provoked further questions such as: what can musicians in the street tell us about the socio-economic conditions of the city they perform in, and what can the faces of their audience tell us about the inner and emotive life of a community? The task now is to take this experience as a point of departure, process my thoughts and my film and develop a series of photographs for an exhibition of new work.


Barcelona, June 2017