Ask Me Anything!
I’m heading to the Australian bush to finish my project, Lonely Wind, Roaring Sky. Want to know anything about doing field research for a book project? Making photographs for a book? Traveling as part of an art practice? Meeting people and working with them as collaborators and photographic subjects?
In my last post, I dove into the historical archive of photographs of the Australian bush in order to spend some time thinking through the complexity of this space and its colonial legacy. I’m wrestling with the classic problem of the politics of representation. Let’s talk about this. Have you struggled with this in your work? Have you seen photographs or writing on the topic that has moved you? What is our responsibility as photographers?
And feel free to ask about anything at all. The floor is yours. Get those questions to me starting now and through Wednesday. I'll post responses to them Friday morning 9am-11am EST (New York time).
Enjoy your week,
Hi Adam, thank you so much for your newsletter series. It's been great to learn about your process and you've changed how I think about my own approach to documentary photography. (Great interview on A Small Voice podcast too!)
My question: how to you approach reviewing work when you are on the road? Do you look through (or even thoroughly edit) the new work that you're shooting as you go along? Perhaps to look for emergent themes or to see if you have images that communicate key information/emotions? In my experience, some people like to review as they go, so they have a picture of how the project is coming together and others just dump the images then move on, proceeding on intuition alone.
Do you use digital camera or film camera? what your favourite large format digital camera?
Hi Adam, thanks again for your Ask Me Anything post. Would love to hear about your approach meeting people (photographic subjects) and working with them as collaborators - how do you manage release forms with collaborators, do they have ownership rights of the work, payment etc? etc
Hi Adam, thanks for offering your experience and knowledge.
Do you have any practical advice for first time conflict photojournalism? Is a press pass required or recommended and how can this be obtained by a freelancer not associated with a news agency? Are fixers essentials and if so, is there a reliable online source available to make these arrangements? I appreciate your thoughts!
I am struggling at the moment to ask vulnerable people for their portrait. I work with First Nation Peoples (day job) and would love to take their portrait. However, the idea of asking makes me very uncomfortable. Morally it doesn't sit well with me as they are quite vulnerable. The line between taking advantage and providing an insight is a fine one for me. How do you approach and ask someone for their portrait when they are vulnerable?
Sense of Place and Politics of place are great fodder, and how we make images that allude to and ask questions about these things is endlessly fascinating to me. How do you attempt to image the notion of country ? And here in Tasmania the idea of contested land. Does your research inform what you go looking for, or does it help you recognise and image when you see it , either before of after you have made it ?
I think you should check out recently published book called Making Australian History by Anna Clarke. A quote from the back cover 'each new wave of historians asks its own questions and produces its own narratives of the past'. To me that means that History is shaped by todays societal issues and morals which change over time to there is no fixed history, but a fluid one.
As a question, what is your go to road trip food?
Yes, I've definitely struggled with this in my work, especially in terms of the power dynamics of race and class. I feel like it made me run away from that kind of work for a while because the problem felt overwhelming and I didn't have the tools to answer some of the questions I had about myself and the work I was doing.
For questions, Adam, what helps you find the "definitive image" for a story or part of a story when editing?
Question: Why is this the title of the book? At first I believed it to be a book of poetry from the Scottish poet named Adam Ferguson. He's incredibly famous on the internet. But it turned out not to be so. Tell me how you arrived at such a name then? Also, big fan of your owkr.
Firstly thanks so much for your articles, they are a great insight into your working process, and also a great read.
My question is, how easy (or challenging) was it for you to get yourself 'into' the photo industry? Are there differences between trying to break in with Australia having a smaller working footprint, compared to say the USA? I ask as I'm trying to break into simply just assisting here in Sydney, and apart from emailing the relevant agencies, it seems to be a tricky one to get into! Any advice or insights you may have would be great to hear.
Hey man, not sure this is completely on-topic, but it might be from a photography perspective... Q: what on earth is going on in the Australian desert? Ross Coulthardt has been trying to work it out... https://www.amazon.ca/Plain-Sight-Investigation-Impossible-Science/dp/B09B7VPP93/
Surely this is the biggest story of our time! (feel free to delete if it's way off topic!)