I came across a gallery of pictures on the Telegraph website that was a report of a project sponsored by Nikon where four photographers were challenged to create art by transforming a conventionally dull subject. In this particular the subject was multi-story car parks and after viewing the sixteen pictures I was motivated to go out and look harder at the everyday landscape around me. The full gallery is available at:
The challenge in an assignment like this gives a photographer is to create an image that can set their work apart from many other images that already exist or to escape from the traditional view of the locations and tell their story in the environment.
The first photographer Jaun Jerez has selected details of the structure and made use of available lighting to emphasise the form of the car park. In the picture below the cylindrical core of an exit ramp is emphasised both by the spoke like structure of the beams supporting the floor above and the light trails from a vehicle driving down the ramp.
Getting a bit closer to the core of this exit ramp Jaun has created a very different image below that empathises the structure helical barrier around the core through the use of the light coming down the core which is effectively a light well illuminating the interior of the car park and the blue colour of the barriers in the well. The blue colour emphasises the geometric shapes and can be sees reflected on the plain concrete interior.
The second photographer is Adrien Barakat here he uses the strong lines and colours in the car park to create and interesting composition. Looking more deeply into the image there is also the sense of solidity and stillness of the structure balanced against the movement of the door at the bottom of the ramp which is just starting to open (or finishing closing) and slightly blurred due to its motion.
In the picture below Adrian emphasises the vanishing point down a roadway in the car park but also more strongly captures the idea of motion with the moving car entering (or at least moving towards the photographer) on the left and the light trails of cars leaving on the right. Again the colours of the stationary structure are counterpointed by the moving vehicle and the light trails showing a history of previous movement.
Alastair Philip Wiper created the image below which seems to draw the viewer into trying to visualise what is around the corner. The curve of the ramp and the perspective for shortening of the lights really draws the view into the scene.
In the image below Alastair captures two chairs that he found placed next to the air-conditioners, perhaps this is a warm spot for staff during breaks? Again the is a strong perspective effect from the pattern on the floor and the pipes and wires on the ceiling but unlike most of the other pictures in the series here the scene looks like it is artificially light. The brightness of the image and the rather menacing air-conditioners gives it something of a science fiction style that is at odds with the two dilapidated chairs.
Aaron Pegg takes a very different approach introducing a ballerina into his pictures superficially you could look at this as something of a beauty and the beast theme but I think that while the contrast between the dancer and the rather stark back drop is interesting there is more to Aaron’s work that that alone. The dancer is position at the centre of the lines to the vanishing point so the eye initially focuses on the dancer and is then deeper into the image. So the viewer almost looks through the dancer. The idea of the dance being a type of motion that is somewhat incongruous in a car park is also interesting.
The picture below of the ballerina on points has a similar construction the image above again the dancers feet obscure the vanishing point but dark background only broken up by the out of focus lights give the image more of sense of mystery it is only after some study that it becomes clear that this really is posed in a car park.
For a set of pictures with a very mundane subject I found these very thought provoking. I am sure every photographer goes through phases of thinking that they are surrounded by boring vistas that have been photographed many time before or that simply are not worth photographing but these car park images illustrate that interesting photographs can be created anywhere. I think that study these images will make me look again at my surrounds and attempt to create interesting work from the mundane.