In search of my mojo

Somehow, over the last couple of months, my enthusiasm for coursework and even photography has disappeared and I need to find a way back into it. So yesterday, just for fun, I met up with fellow student kate513940 to do some work using her die cutting machine. She has been playing with ideas on her own blog and Instagram feed (ref) here, and we spent the morning talking over ideas and trying some different techniques. Here are a couple of images of what we were doing.

We discussed the difficulties of making work that avoided being too twee (image 2 falls into that category) and bemoaned the fact that the great majority of die templates available are produced for the card-making market with its associated connotations, and wondered whether it might be possible to commission one’s own dies. (Something to look into). We also talked about how both of us are interested in how the image can be utilised and manipulated as a physical object. For example, I produced this study when I got home, using a photograph I took while travelling in Cambodia last year, along with a die and a cut piece.


I need to think about how these concepts might be expanded for use within my degree work in a meaningful way.

One of the points we considered was something Kate had been told by a die-cutting friend, which was that if one is going to cut up photographs and other items (as the machine can be used on all sorts of flat items from tin foil to fabric), then the base item should have a personal meaning. I liked the concept that playing around and practising on various media is just that – practise-, but that to create something serious should mean cutting and refashioning/repurposing something to which you have an emotional attachment, and by doing that you are both honouring the value of the original object and making something artistic instead of crafty. This resonates with what I was doing earlier in the course on family archives and how they can be re-examined over time as chronotypes, and my interest in making work which is about subjects that are personally meaningful.

Moving away from physical objects, we also considered the use of Instagram in the light of a couple of links we have been discussing over on the Facebook forum.

There are some interesting considerations within these two posts about how we use our social media accounts to reinforce our work or not (and in the latter case, even to sabotage it, unthinkingly). I was very impressed by Sam Vox’s clearly thought through strategy for his Instagram account; his internal consistency of subject matter and colour palette has added the extra dimension to his work which differentiates it from the vast majority of Instagram accounts. To this end, I have now divided my fledgling Instagram presence into two account, a public one at eleanorrigby1212 and a more personal one, where I try out different styles of work at hollywoodward2017. Come to think of it, I should probably swap over the names.

Part of the current problem is that I am struggling to deal with the idea that in order to become known as a photographer one generally has to produce work that is accessible to the great majority, and the obvious way of achieving that is through social media. But given that the great majority only judge images on the basis of a single quick glance and don’t stop to consider anything more than the immediate appeal (beauty) of the image, much of the more interesting work gets overlooked. I am not interested in setting up a photography practice, so in theory that should matter to me, but somehow it does. To compound this issue, I have been asked by a member of the Royal Photographic Society to give a talk at one of their Western Region meetings on how doing a degree in photography alters the mindset away from “camera club” style images, and have been thinking through some of the ideas I want to address. I will do a separate post on that, as it is very much an ongoing and unfinished project at present.

Furthermore, I am involved in a collaborative “hive” project called Grey Matters along with several other OCA students, where we supply a variety of single images focussing in the idea of the colour grey. They clearly have to be self-explanatory, although we can give each image a title. Thinking this through, I reckon the issue I have to address is the difference between a single image, which has to carry all the necessary contextualization within itself, and the series, where there is time for the meaning to become apparent over several photographs. This is where I must take my research forward in the next unit.


14 thoughts on “In search of my mojo

  1. Catherine

    I’m sorry you feel you’ve lost your mojo for coursework/photography at present – yet, it’s obvious that your creative side is working busily away and exploring being ‘an artist’.
    I was interested in die-cutting having read Kate’s blog-post and so your own enthusiasm has re-inforced that so I’m looking forward to seeing how it all works if we get the chance at TV group.
    I have to confess that I’m bemused by Instagram, but then I am about Twitter as well so I need to think more on what’s holding me back. Best of luck with your two accounts though.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Kate

    It was a very engaging morning, thank you Holly. Yes, my friend who talked about the work only having the meaning because of its value is a fine artist who’s also interested in exploring die-cutting.
    I’ve been thinking about how I use Instagram and at the moment it is more for (a) networking (b) inspiration and (c) providing a different perspective on my own work. I am happy with that though, less so with my Twitter account which lacks focus and direction.
    Can I re-press this onto my blog please, credited with original link too of course.


  3. Pingback: Reblog from Holly Woodward – Kate Aston

  4. Judy Bach

    I know the feeling of being overwhelmed by course work & losing inspiration but you are involved in some really interesting sounding projects so am sure you will find your OCA & photography mojo comes back soon . Good luck.


  5. Wendy Rose

    Have you looked at the Silhouette cutters, the Cameo and Curio. I have these and you can scan in images and turn them into cutting templates so you are not restricted by ‘Craftsy’ designs, you can also etch and emboss etc as use the pixmatt to cut from an image. It sounds like these are what you need. I want to explore turning images into 3d objects with these but I never seem to get any free time to do my craftsy / creative stuff anymore, just work and coursework! Depending where you are based you are welcome to try them out.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Holly Woodward Post author

      Oh, dear. I wish I hadn’t looked at the Silhouette cutters as now I want one. Thanks for letting me know about them. Where do you live, Wendy, as I’d love to try it out? I live in Wiltshire, but am pretty mobile.


  6. Anne Bryson

    This was me too a little while back, you do get overwhelmed and it is hard to get out of it sometimes. I like the idea of going off and doing something completely different though and good that you are back on track.



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