I came across the work of Nigel Shafran when looking for images that held a similar raw, unedited and messy feel as that I was going for.
When looking through Shafran’s website, I found that some series’ had a very clear correlation with each other in their content and style Packages (2012-2013) (Fig. 1-10). Whereas others had little to no consistency in their content or subject matter Ruthbook (1992-2004) (Fig. 11-30); however by being grouped together and named as a series, we can assume these are all images linked to his wife, Ruth, who is the subject of many – but not all – of the images.
Interestingly it is one of these images that I first discovered in The Photograph as Contemporary Art (Cotton, C.). In it Sewing kit (on plastic table). Alma Place (Fig. 25) is used as an example of how Shafran portrays the domestic items of every day life. The emphasis in the text seems to be why the sewing kit is on the table, with the viewer invited into an “imaginary investigation” into this “balancing act, a totem of domesticity.” (Cotton, 2014:121) In the context of the series in which it appears on Shafran’s website, I wonder if this is just where Ruth was last using it, rather than any particular context implied by it’s position.
One thing I like about Shafran’s work is the feel that these are old photograph prints. They have an ‘instant camera’ feel to them, which makes them feel even more familiar and relatable. I found it hard to find much information on the media used for his photographs. It seems Shafran used different media dependant on what the most common formats were at the time the images were shot. For example, some series’ are in 5×3″ prints (Washing Up, 2000) and others on small format digital cameras (Supermarket Checkouts, 2005) (Sharon, 2015). I think this helps create a connection with the viewer, as they were likely the sort of photographs they were making themselves at the time.
Two pieces of work I found very interesting and similar to the vision I had of my assignment were (Washing Up, 2000) (Fig. 42-54) and Compost pictures (2008/9) (Fig. 31-41). I liked how each series kept a similar composition throughout and the subject is the ‘mess’ that comes with everyday life, particularly in this instance the mess of tidying up.