Paul Graham: Troubled Land

In exploring other documentary work which I have been doing by looking at photo books in the library, I came across Paul Graham's Troubled Land: Social Landscape of Northern Ireland. I have decided to discuss his work as his approach to his subject matter I find particularly inspiring. 

Paul Graham is a British fine art and documentary photographer. His Troubled Land series was made up of landscape and still life photographs taken in Ireland during the war. They are devoid of people and illustrate a cultural and geopolitical typography at that time. What interests me so much about this series is that they are war photographs that do not show a full frontal war as their literal subject matter. Instead they show the social landscape of communities classed as war zones. 

In his landscape photographs in particular the horizon line is usually halfway up the photograph meaning a lot of the image is made up of the sky. Which I think really adds a sense of calmness to his images as though they are giving the audience space to breath and are a token of reflection. Graham's photographs in this series are made up of layers of social meanings and really make the viewer ask questions about why he has chosen to photograph certain places and still life. Giving an introspective quality to his photographs for a viewer to experience. They merge the context of the war with this aesthetic consideration Graham has taken which makes for a really thought provoking series of images. 

I like this element in his work because I don't always think photographs should provide all the answers for a viewer or be overtly literal in their subject matter. The more metaphorical and psychological nature to Graham's work I think is what makes his photographs so interesting for a viewer. I also think the formality of how he presents his landscapes is really effective and this consistency in the horizon and leading lines etc has given me lots more to think about aesthetically in creating multiple images for a series. 

In terms of my ideas for my current project, Troubled Land has allowed me to consider further how I can present my subject matter of hauntings, which is harder to photograph literally. I am really drawn to photographing landscapes for my series to show where these stories of hauntings took place. However I need to work out the ways I can caption the photographs and provide a consistency aesthetically to them like Graham has done and the feelings that are evoked from his images. I do like the idea of my photographs being more inexplicit to focus on social experience and psychology rather then being dominated overtly in subject matter by the people who claim to have experienced these hauntings. 

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