Mr Webster's marvellous photo booth : an exegesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Fine Arts, Massey University, Wellington, New Zealand

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Massey University
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In Mr Webster’s Marvellous Photo Booth, photographic portraiture provides a basis for exploring the process of image making using analogue photography. The relationship between the photographer and sitter allows performative and educational aspects in the role of photographer to mediate image production. Time/space is allowed for the examination and discussion of photographic practice by explicitly revealing the process of image making. This space is created in two ways, by including the audience in the darkroom experience and through the resulting aesthetics embedded in the final photographic print. The exegesis begins by providing a background to the project, describing the testing and exploration of home-made cameras resulting in the design and construction of the 10 x 10 inch camera employed in this specific body of work. The following section examines the relationships and engagement between photographer and sitter by referencing some influential precedents, and examining performative aspects in relation to the role of photographer. This extends to a consideration of academic discussion around art-based pedagogical practice and socially engaged art practice. The subsequent section examines portrait photography and the sociology of this particular project through an examination of the techniques of historical photographers. Finally, it positions the medium and the influence of aesthetics, with particular reference to the hand made and material paper object. “Since photography usually involves a two-step process of creating a negative and then using it as a template to create a reversed (positive) version, innovation could take place all along the sequence,” (Rexer, 2002, p. 12.). The particular impact of the wet negative when combined with the wet positive in this specific project defines a unique outcome compacted to fit the timeframe of the sitter so that their experience can include the processing of the negative and creation of a print that uniquely reflects their presence in the photographic studio and the aesthetic central to the process.
Webster, Tam, Criticism and interpretation, Portrait photography, Artistic photography