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Anthony Arrowsmiththe [...] space

12 November - 11 January 2020

F8 and be there

The phrase ‘F8 and be there’ is largely attributed to the documentary photographer Weegee, famous for his stark, black and white images of New York in the 1930’s, 40’s and 50’s. When asked how he managed to get such consistently interesting images, he replied with this now famous quote. Weegee is alluding to the technical application of shooting at an aperture of ‘F8’, using this setting will make sure nearly all of what is being photographed in the scene will be in focus, from the front to back of the image. When he says ‘…and be there’, he means make sure you turn up ready and prepared, also be aware of where you are and know what you are doing there.

There is a simplicity to this quote that is attractive to photographers, but it is also quite opaque, it reveals very little about the process of making images or conceptual idea behind the work being captured. With this in mind, it leaves a lot of space for interpretation and reinvention of the quote and it also offers the possibility of reinterpreting the meaning. 

During teaching I have often used maps and particularly street maps and city centre locations to offer students direction and the basis of a concept, in order to make photographic responses to a particular place. This offers the possibility of containing your work to a specific site but also retain some physical parameters and force some limitations to the working process. I am using the street atlas, an ‘AtoZ’ of South Wales, and visiting grid reference ‘F8’ on each double page. While this is a physical manifestation of ‘F8 and be there’ it also offers the possibility of drawing meaning about what connects each space and what might be contained within it.

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