Positions & Practice

Week 1

The Global Image: How does the global nature of photography relate to my practices?

Positions and Practice PH0701 17/18 Study Block S1

Introducing the Global Image

Presentation 2

Windows On the World


Presenter Transcript

Although it was perhaps a simple matter of technical necessity to direct the camera towards a bright scene, it is nevertheless an interesting coincidence that three of the earliest photographs ever made incorporated windows. It is almost as if these photographs were prophecies for how the medium would be used and how it would be commonly described.

My notes

The three early photographs referred to above, could well have incorporated windows, not only because it would have been a good light source, but perhaps (in my opinion) because recorded images at the time were taken indoors. Having tired of making images of what/who would be inside at the time, the image maker’s natural inquisitive nature would have lead him to a window as the only other possible source of interest – to capture the world outside.

Presenter Transcript

The metaphor of the architectural window as an aperture between an internal or enclosed space and the infinite world beyond is a powerful and recurring motif that is incorporated by practitioners and discussed by writers and critics alike. It describes the universal act of photographing a subject whereby the viewfinder is always overlaid onto something. Photography always frames, always crops into a larger whole.

My notes

That’s an interesting metaphor. ‘A world beyond the window’ is a hugely strong statement. So much so, that it may well be the title of a film or a book – it’s powerful yet mysterious. It’s title allowing infinite possibilities for capturing whatever is happening (or has been made to happen) through a single or the multiple apertures of a window.

Presenter Transcript

Intrinsic to this analogy is the possibility of a two-way exchange. Photography, the window, offers us views of the world outside our own but it also allows the world a glimpse of the photographer and their own unique vision. It is simultaneously a window and mirror.

My notes

We would assume a photographer will indeed be visible to the subject as he is photographing them. Even if a large group, the photographer will always be visible at some point. However, the ‘world’ may well not even see the photographer. He may be distant from the subject/s of interest or photographing a landscape where he will never be physically identified.

On the other hand, the ‘world’ could also get a reflection of the photographer’s heart and soul. His passion. His commitment. His politics. His humour.

Presenter Transcript

This idea lay behind John Zakowski seminal exhibition, Mirrors and Windows, American Photography Since 1960, at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1978. As stated in the press release of that exhibition, “in metaphorical terms the photograph is seen as either a mirror, a romantic expression of the photographer’s sensibility as it projects itself onto the things and sights of this world, or as a window through which the exterior world is explored in all its presence and reality”.

My notes

I would agree with both statements as written in the Press Release at the MOMA. I would perhaps add another consideration for deliberation, contemplation and meaningful discussion: That of voyeurism.

Presenter Transcript

This mediating quality of the photographic window, its particular way of expressing presence and reality, was heavily criticised in Susan Sonntag’s first essay of On Photography in Plato’s Cave. In Plato’s philosophical model a group of people who have been imprisoned since childhood have an understanding of reality formed only by the shadows that are cast on the cave walls by the things outside, beyond the cave opening.

My Notes

I note with interest Susan Sonntag’s essay relating to Plato’s philosophical model with a tinge a sadness at the realization of such a world. I can hardly image their speechlessness at even being given a mere glimpse of the outside world. Of colour. Of movement. Of smell and of texture and touch.

Presenter transcript

Sonntag used Plato’s allegory to encompass her critiques of how photography was made and consumed and its limitations and shortcomings as a means to educate and communicate. Many of Sonntag’s arguments were formed around and against the photograph as an object, as something that was synonymous with collecting and with possession and ownership.

My Notes

In addition to my previous notes above – and I can see Susan Sonntag’s arguments against the photograph as an object – I would also consider the photograph can be used as a piece of information. Like a single page reference book.

Presenter transcript

As we have seen, with early daguerreotype portraiture the photograph as a particular commodity was an important aspect of its early history, an interesting point to consider today when photographic prints have become a scarcity relative to previous generations. Right from the outset the photograph diversified as a commodity and importantly became particularly synonymous with distant places. In addition to the portrait one of the core activities of photographers of the 19th century was in making and selling topographic views that were reproduced and sold as postcards and stereo cards which, when viewed with a stereoscope, a ubiquitous object in many homes by the end of the 19th century, produced a three-dimensional effect.

My Notes

Today we do not use a printed hard copy of an image (a photograph) as something to behold in many households. In fact I would go so far as to say this now applies worldwide. Interestingly enough, and not satisfied with a world of spectacular digital images comprising of infinite detail, we also now have a thirst of viewing such digitally captured imagery in 3D.

Presenter transcript

In Europe, photographic publishers specialising in landscape and topographic imagery were established by the 1850s and in America by the 1860s. As they are today, principally photographs were sold in the vicinity of where they were made, consumed like souvenirs and collectables.

My Notes

Such ‘souvenirs’ were popular in the UK too. Especially at seaside resorts and were sold to holidaymakers and day trippers alike looking to bring something home to share with other family members and friends. The Victorians were not only masters of pier building, but also gave the British public an overall experience and souvenir that was not always available in major cities.

Presenter transcript

However, by the early 1870s, publishers began selling each other’s photographs and so circulating images of places on a large scale. This meant that photographs of distant parts of the country were accessible and growing in presence, allowing, for instance, east coast Americans to see the splendour of Yosemite thousands of miles away in 3-D. To provide a sense of the scale of this industry, the largest such publisher, the Kilburn brothers, based in New Hampshire, who operated between 1865 and 1909, produced 3,000 mounted cards per day.

My Notes

Confirming my opinion as for the need for information (by way of a photographic record – a photograph), was the Kilburn Brothers family business producing hundreds of thousands of images per year, sending the across America and Canada to share images of other places and people. Benjamin Kilburn became a photojournalist and had work published that made it’s way around the world. He was also credited with the invention of the Kilburn Gun Camera.

Presenter transcript

Topographic images that incorporated rural landscapes, towns, cities and architecture, were by no means the only subjects that circulated and we could certainly discuss the importance of other popular subject matter of early postcards and stereo cards and their purposes. Titillation, amusement, and racial stereotyping were equally prominent. However, the investment in and production of these kinds of images loses significance compared to the scale of topographic imagery.

My Notes

Topographic images became so popular because the public found them to be a critical and versatile tool for viewing the Nation’s landscape. Making them also considered valuable educational resources.

Presenter transcript

You will perhaps have noticed the repeated use of the word “topographic” rather than “landscape”. That is to deliberately avoid overly associating such a broad and diverse group of images with such a distinct genre with certain discourses around its aesthetics.

My Notes

Above transcript paragraph contents noted.

Presenter transcript

As has been discussed by critics and historians, many of these stereoscopic views appear to have an extension of traditional values of the sublime and picturesque from pictorial representation but equally a humbler description of place and its physical features seem to be the objective of many, if not the majority of such views.

My Notes

At the beginning of such images flooding into the mass markets and appealing to anyone who could afford to buy them, publishers would distribute whatever they wanted. Things would eventually change with the public demanding to see images that they wanted to see as opposed images that publishers wanted them to see. More images local to them, their country, their politicians and presidents, with the Spanish Civil War and the Boer War being two examples of news photography and imaging by Benjamin Kilburn.

Presenter transcript

As well as coming from independent photographers, sometimes subcontracted by larger publishers, many of these photographs came from larger portfolios by better known photographers that documented major infrastructure projects, such as Andrew Joseph Russell and Carlton Watkins, who recorded the construction of the Trans-Continental Railroad following the American Civil War.

My Notes

Benjamin Kilburn also photographed the inauguration of president Grover Cleveland along with the floods in Pennsylvania. News photography came to the masses.

Presenter transcript

As well as Americans, European photographers also produced stereo cards of the continent, such as William England for the London Stereoscopic Company, who published the first commercially available stereo cards of America in Europe in 1859.

My Notes

The London Stereoscope Company was probably opened in Oxford Street in 1854 and by 1856 had changed it’s name to the London Stereoscopic Company until it changed it’s name again to the London Stereoscopic and Photographic Company. They were hugely successful at selling images and image viewers to the public before finally closing in 1922. Along the way, they had amassed a network worldwide of photographers and staff offices selling and licensing images, paper, equipment and anything else related to viewing and producing images.

Presenter transcript

As well as stereo cards, prints and books, or more like albums, become increasingly popular and began depicting exotic corners of the European colonies and beyond. Frances Frith, Britain’s best known photographer of the period, who began practicing in the 1850s, published numerous such books in the 1860s, including an edition of the Old and New Testaments illustrated with his topographical prints.

My Notes

Popularity of commercially printed images in books and newspapers, paved the way for good photographers to make a name for themselves. Francis Firth was one such photographer and businessman. He travelled to far away places and visited cultures that most of the public have never seen or knew existed other than for a place on a map. He travelled (with bulky and heavy equipment) to Egypt, Nubia, Ethiopia, Sinai, Palestine, Lebanon and Syria. To this day, there is a Francis Firth Collection website archiving thousands of old photographs. An interesting website at www.francisfirth.com

Presenter transcript

John Thompson, better known for his images depicting poverty in London, also produced books of the Middle East as well as the Far East, as did the French photographers Maxim de Comp and August Salzmann. These publications, and particularly the phenomenon of the postcard and the stereoscope, something which attempted to provide a truly dynamic individual viewing experience for its users, demonstrate the extent of the appetite that existed for information about places that viewers were unlikely to ever see for themselves.

My Notes

As per my notes above, Francis Firth realized this and made several millions of pounds taking and supplying photographs worldwide.

Presenter transcript

The role of photography here, though, has not been without its fierce critics, not least because such topographic documentation, particularly of places and cultures very different to that of the viewer, tended to go hand in hand with other kinds of imagery, the most extreme and controversial of which being the anthropological or ethnographic portrait.

My Notes

Such critics still exist over 150 years on. Jungle tribes and others that do not have contact with the outside world have been taken advantage of because they know no meaning of commercialisation or the consequences of exploitation in or to their worlds. Photography – the taking of a single image of someone or something, has evolved into moving images that have the power to bring the world right into the palm of our hands.

Presenter transcript

What do you make of the mirror and window analogy? As a practitioner do you identify more closely with one or the other?

Answer to Questions above

The mirror and window analogy is a retrospective view of how images were designed and created. I don’t think that these images were taken with the sole intention of either making us consider a window analogy or the window analogy. This is something that has developed and grown over time and exploration of images to form artistic language that suits the analogy.

As a practitioner, if I had to, I can identify more closely with the analogy of photography being a mirror. A reflection of what the photographer wants the viewer to see about him or her self. A statement of the photographer’s eye, his mind and his creative ability.


End of Presenter Transcript

Week 2

Interdisciplinary Approaches: What do we mean by ‘interdisciplinary approaches’ in photography?

In order to answer this question, I began to research the phrase on the internet. I have concluded that ‘interdisciplinary approaches’ are works from two or more disciplines. This allows understanding and questioning of these two or more practices that would not have been possible with single disciplinary approaches.

Photographers can use many different ways to alter their images using  digital manipulation, painting and/or printing directly onto a printed image to present their work. This interdisciplinary approach to photography to be explored and consumed by more viewers than ever before in a way that appeals commercially and artistically to an ever expanding audience.

Week 2: Reflection

This week I feel challenged by researching links and images (not photographs) that relate to my own practice. As the author and creator of aerial images, I found the exercise of finding an image relating to my practice that was not a photograph quite difficult.

I decided to use an image by NY street graffiti artist KATSU. He has been working with drones to create some interesting images combined with some interesting admissions as to creativity and ownership of the same saying: “It’s like 50 percent me having control and 50 percent the drone kind of like saying, ‘I need to turn this way to accomplish what you want me to do but still maintain myself so I don’t just fly into the wall and explode.’ Which it does, all the time.”

©KATSU: Black Magic 2014

I was surprised by how political results fair in researching drone art. Political activators use drones to perhaps fly over sensitive areas that invoke military and government responses and thus interpret their experiences and images captured through art. One such artist is Austrailian painter Kathryn Brimblecombe-Fox. Her work seeks to promote questions relating to life, humanity and the planet. An example of which is this:

© Kathryn Brimblecombe-Fox Drone Spiral, Gouache on paper, 2016

An important part of what I learned has been my own consideration of how (if at all possible) I could bring contemporary art into my own practice

Week 3

Rethinking Photographers: What do photographers do, and what do people make of us? 

Here is only one example of conception, misconception and perception.

My son is 14. He is an award-winning drummer, so naturally I know a lot of musicians and I see a lot of ‘photographers’ in action revealing their subsequent images posted on their social media platforms within minutes of taking the pictures. They have a smartphone (or may even use a tablet), a DSLR camera and a single kit lens. Ta da! Job done. And everyone who knows the ‘photographers’ at the gig will no doubt see them socially too having plenty of time on their hands, thus giving the misconception this kind of work is easy, with little or no knowledge of traditional photographic techniques, processes, values, artistic content, research, legal entity or relying on nothing but their own ability to get paid. The concept is one of quite a simple existence by some. That’s not to say great images cannot be made with simple, inexpensive equipment. It’s what is done with the images afterwards I find relative.

They may claim to be a photographer, yet don’t earn any money from it because they give it away by posting it on social media – with global audience potential in exchange for Likes, Followers or Subscribers with no objectives other than the aforesaid. I wonder how anyone would even contemplate buying their images and what value they (the photographer) would give their own work? It would surely be difficult to charge for an image, once all previous images are given away and downloaded by anyone completely free of charge.

Non-photographers also think professional photographers don’t have to work every day, because they earn enough in a single shoot to do them until they decide to do the next one!

This would be a good example of how some professional photographers are perceived from my own experiences in the local music scene. If only it was that simple!

Week 3: Reflection

How are professions of photography viewed by non-photographers and the general public?

From the individuals I have spoken to, when asked what they perceived my job to be (knowing I am a photographer and aerial photographer), the results were uniform in that they had no real concept of the amount of work required to get paid for taking a photograph.

It would seem that given the ease of which anyone can take a reasonable exposed, sharp and filtered image with an iPhone (or other such smartphone), the ‘I could have taken one like that’ comments are more prolific than ever before. Most non-photographers have absolutely no idea how to achieve the image they have just taken without using their smartphone – they would not be able to do it using a DSLR camera set to manual. Although not my field or area of interest, wedding photography would be a good example of everyone in attendance getting the pro-photographers shot with their smartphone, then sharing the same over social networks, essentially giving their images away for free, with the wedding photographer is trying to sell their official images. Group shots would be a good example of this.

Non-photographers and the general public feel ‘they could have done that’ for free so why pay for a professional?

What impact has this had on how I conduct myself as a photographer, or influences my practice in any other way?

With my previous comments in mind, I have distanced myself from dealing with members of the public, so only work B2B. I have also eliminated the general public and other non-professional photographers from my clientele list by using hi-tech equipment that will ordinarily be beyond their ability to use, therefore reducing the risk of ‘I could have taken that’ ever cropping into conversation. Maintaining my ability to keep charges at a maximum without having to compromise my professionalism.

How have I responded to changes in technology in my own practice?

In my own specialised practice, technology is playing a huge part of aerial imaging and the ability to get previously unavailable shots by now manufacturing gimbals/cameras with interchangeable lenses, fully loaded with aperture, shutter speed, ISO, film rate, quality and every conceivable setting available.

I had to decide where my interests and specialisms will be in aerial imaging and purchased equipment to future proof my existence as such for the next initial three years – by purchasing the latest UAV technology platform with extra lenses and appropriate accessories and extra batteries to provide extra flying time – time in the air.

 Week 4

Collaboration: How can we collaborate to strengthen our practices?

This week allowed collaboration with myself and three other students. I decided we would all work together to produce two magazine pages each from a fictitious architect magazine. The title of this group collaboration would be Dereliction, to provide photographic evidence of a derelict building on one page and perhaps introduce new building on the other page if required and appropriate. The magazine article was called ‘Dereliction v’s New’.

I decided to just post two images (one per page) of derelict buildings. I did not introduce the ‘New’ option because I felt the two buildings I used images of were strong images in their own right and did not need a comparative ‘New’ building run alongside. The brief we received made no mention of image size to be used or where placement of same should be contextually.

Although images and photographs are always important, we felt the object of our assignment was to produce a collaborative piece for work, allowing for the process and experience of working together to influence the final outcome.

Along with Gemma, Julia and Najm, we all agreed we would best communicate through WhatsApp – given that our geographical locations triangulated into points from Germany and various counties of the UK.

The first part of the process was to convey to my fellow collaborators exactly how I would like these magazine pages to look and feel by way of design and colour. The content was to be individual, yet fit into a ‘template’ I created for all to use.

We all decided that we would assign roles and responsibilities to each member of the team.

  • I was to be the overall designer responsible for page layout and colour
  • Gemma was colourist – responsible for colouring the images used to fit in with the page colour
  • Julia was picture editor – responsible for editing which images to use from those sent to her
  • Najm was Editor – responsible for checking copy and content

I felt this worked really well and brought the whole team together and made everyone feel responsible for their own important part in bringing these pages and this concept together.

We all communicated our questions/ideas and comments to each other as and when they occurred freely during the day and sometimes into the night too. And we made the deadline for inclusion onto the webinar for discussion and critique from our peers.

The entire process was a positive experience and one I would certainly like to repeat with my fellow students again if the opportunity arose.

My own finished pages looked like this:

Magazine pages 1 and 2

The whole group’s image of all 8 pages together looked like this:

Dereliction magazine page mock up pages 1 to 8

Our peers created their own collaboration that looked like this:

Week 4 Collaboration Peers group

Our peer group had a number of themes to include music, family, faith and colour. They delivered a great piece of work that simply conveys the meaning of their multi level collaboration ‘Time Waits for No One’. Thank you for sharing this with us and well done everyone.

Week 5

Power and Responsibilities: What is the relationship between the subject, viewer and author?

As an image maker or author, what moral dilemmas do you encounter in your own practice, or more broadly, around the medium of photography?

As an image creator using UAVs, there is constant uncertainty around the use of such by individuals (and businesses to some extent) in relation to privacy. The uncertainty of how will the images/footage be used and by whom? What exactly can be seen by the pilot/photographer? Is he (the pilot/photographer) able to/going to look in through my windows? What about my children playing outside?

Whilst these and other questions about privacy are quite legitimate, they should be an unnecessary concern if professional UAV pilots adhere to legal rules and regulations applied to every flight. Professional pilots are regulated by the CAA under an Air Navigation Order (ANO) allowing Permissions to fly and therefore cannot conduct themselves in any way that would invade a person’s privacy – and in doing so may lay themselves open to criminal prosecution. The questions arise from the misuse of drone by hobbyists and those out to ‘have a bit of fun’ by flying small invasive drones around back gardens, built up areas, military installations, airports and other places.

Having said that, I could (if I really wanted to) do all of the invasive flying and capturing of images as outlined above using professional UAVs with interchangeable lenses, allowing this to happen quite easily with – although morally questionable – excellent results.

A moral dilemma may occur if, for example, a significant news story was breaking live, if there was something happening what would (otherwise) be perceived to be potentially invading privacy by the capture/recording of such an event. In which scenario, any potential breech of privacy can be kept to a minimum and usually resolved by cropping post edit and advising on location that privacy invasion is not the reason for the flight.

However, if I supplied some images/footage to a news agency/broadcaster and they portrayed my image in a way that was misleading, I would refer the matter to my union – the NUJ. I have been a member of the NUJ for over 30 years and have full legal protection should I feel my images are misrepresented or used in a defamatory, morally questionable context. It has not happened to date.

In my practice as a whole, I do not have moral dilemmas. I understand that most dilemmas pilots face are around legal flight restrictions. Height, distance and no-fly zones are perhaps three of the most broken laws I have witnessed through social media broadcast and industry forums.

Do you have any models of your own to assess the appropriateness of an image or how it is used?

Presentation 2: Exploring Impact – Alan Kurdi

This week’s presentation was about the images published of Alun Kurdi. A 3 year old Syrian boy washed up dead on a beach while trying to reach the island of Kos with his family in September 2015. His mother and brother also died.

Do I recall any memories or experiences at the time of the publication of the photographs and footage of Alan Kurdi’s death?

At the time of publication, I really felt the emotional impact of seeing what was just reported in the news every day from a father’s point of view. As a father of a boy a few years older than Alun Kurdi, I felt an immediate connection with this image.

In asking myself ‘what if it was my son?’

Any time soon, I was hoping Alun Kurdi’s lifeless body would simply get up and start playing on the beach after having stumbled to the ground perhaps during a game he was playing and that everything would then be OK.

What are my own views on the appropriateness of the publication of these, or similar images?

My own view is that this is a war image. A consequence of the outcome of a bad situation. People not getting along with people, being driven away from their homes and families.

It is always appropriate to publish war images. We – the rest of the world – have a right to know what impact war and unrest have on civilisation. Because it was a small child, alone, dead, peaceful is not less reason to publish. Many war pictures have been published of terrible injuries, dismembered bodies and acts of killing taking place – Vietnam is an obvious example.

Would this have been a picture of a 3 year old’s headless body, it would not have been published – nor should have it been. In my opinion, a complete body, even though dead, can always be considered for publication. However, a dead body with parts missing cannot be as easily considered for publication.

Interesting how both situations will feature a dead body, but a complete dead body will more likely be published rather than an incomplete dead body. Almost macabre when put into in words, yet proven by publishing history. Alun’s lifeless body lay in a peaceful, pitiful, needless, solitary state. It was the power of this innocent lifeless body that humanised this image. The world connected.

What is my assessment of the impact of these images?

The impact of this published image has made the situation from which Alun Kurdi came from a reality. We see news footage of people migrating from all kinds or war-torn and politically dangerous areas of the world to anywhere that could offer a better life – not for themselves, but for their children. I hope this one child that never made it has given world the opportunity to examine it’s own conscience.

Week 6

Live Presentations: An opportunity to present your oral presentation for formative feedback.

I did not have an opportunity to meet with my tutor for this webinar. I submitted my Oral Presentation on time and within the required timeframe that met the LOs.

My overall mark for my Oral Presentation was 63% and my presentation is here:


Week 7

Strategic Choices: How do technical and creative strategies influence the work we make?

I posted an image to the forum that I think is an example of a good use of a photographic faux pas or ‘mistake’. That is; despite (or perhaps in spite) of its apparent failure, I think it is actually creative or interesting. Here is my faux pas image:

Wk 7 Fire Eater Faux Pas

A good example of my photographic faux pas would be this shot of a fire eater. To admit to a faux pas is one thing, but to show it to the world is quite another. I originally wanted to get a shot of this fire eater with flames exploding from her mouth. Instead, I got a shot of the flammable liquid leaving her mouth.

The fact a) I got my timings wrong and b) was only on single shot mode, is a double fundamental faux pas that need not have been admitted as the picture stands up as acceptable despite this. To be honest, it wasn’t what I originally wanted. Completely my own doing. Admittedly, more of a technical faux pas than composition.

Do I see chance as a key part of photography?

As illustrated above with my image of the fire eater, chance can play a key part in the final outcome of the photographer’s image. Although the image I ended up with was interesting and acceptable, I acquired it by chance because of a technical error with my camera settings. This illustrates that although chance and error can be different, there can be an overlap with descriptive narratives leading to similar final images.

To what extent does it play a role in my own practice?

In my new current practice of non-land based photography, chance (and to some extent errors – technical or otherwise) can play less of a part than in land based photographic practice.

The whole process of flight is a technical one, that my own image creation skills are an extension of. I have to make sure certain technical and legal responsibilities are met at all times that will not forgive a faux pas of any kind. This strict mindset is echoed in my approach to image creation. I am finding ‘check and double check’ an important part of my creation process (as it is for flying). I need to have a shot in mind before I fly and that is my objective, to capture that image.

How might you develop your work by embracing change or making new opportunities?

My practice could be developed and will move forward with experience, contacts, commercial awareness and website content. Change happens almost daily in aerial imaging. Mostly with technical innovation, sector recognition and UAV ability.

I am making good connections within the industry and have already been aksed to produce work for a Children In Need story on BBC Country File and a news story for ITV News.

What arbitrary parameters might you impose upon yourself to expand the creative possibilities of your own work?

I may be limited to applying unrestricted, arbitrary and random choice in my practice because of the confines of open space and CAA air space. It is something I am exploring within the Air Navigation Orders that regulate all flights.

All my work contained within this CRJ is based around exploring a) the theme of my Major Research Proposal and b) the legal framework of commercial flight.

I paired up with a fellow student to give each other a brief to create a micro project. My brief was to create a diptych or triptych on the subject of public transport which demonstrates its use/or non use by the local community.’

In return I have asked my fellow student to ‘take three images that depict: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.’

In response to the brief I was given, I produced this triptych:

Week 7 Reflection

What has challenged you?

I felt that finding an image I could admit to being a faux pas was a challenge inasmuch as my images classified as such do not get saved or filed.

What has surprised you?

I was surprised how much I felt it didn’t matter if my image was a faux pas. It opened my mind to other posibilities and a different thought process.

What do you feel you have learned?

I have learned that not all photography is just as the photographer intended when planning or taking the shot. And that something good can, and often does, come from the initial feeling of  disappointment when technical difficulties or errors are experienced at the moment photography takes place. It’s quite acceptable to admit the final outcome was not planned.

Week 8

Exploring Contexts: How do the ways in which we present photographs effect how they are read by an audience?

It was interesting to learn this week how important and relevant presentation of photographs is in understanding context and examining content.

In the context of exhibitions and display, how images are presented can encourage the viewer to look at an image singularly, as part of a contextual montage or as a group of images to be looked at simultaneously. The creator of these images will decide how best to show their work.

Large format images displayed in the center of a wall will allow the viewer to see every detail captured within the image – something that can’t be said of a small image in a book. In fact, quite the opposite.

In the context of a linear book, in the western world, we tend to read left to right and top to bottom. The size of which is usually (but not always) below that of an A3 page. Images that appear in photo books will not be able to give the the viewer the opportunity to have the same examination ability as a large format print mounted onto a gallery wall (for example).

How do I base my creative decisions about the final outcome of the body of work and how can I stop preconceived ideas about the presentation context from dampening your own open mindedness?

My final body of work can be presented/displayed in various formats and sizes depending on the experience I want the viewer to have. I will have to display some work as large format prints. non-land based photography will always be open to scrutiny and examination because most viewers, although familiar with the subject, will not have had the visual experience from this perspective. Fortunately, I am not aware of any preconceived ideas about presentation context within my practice of non-land based photography. I plan to examine the possibility to using triptych display techniques and these will not necessarily need to be singularly large format pieces.

I have no preconceived ideas about presentation context of my own non-land based photography practice. It is fact that my work will be viewed in three different mediums. Initially, digitally online to include galleries and blogs, then large format displays in an exhibition I am planning and thirdly in a book I am contemplating when my studies have ended.

This week I created a web page to showcase your work on your project so far. This web page or site is the means by which I submit my Work in Progress Portfolio

The online gallery is here. It contains samples of my previous work along with my new non-land based practice and Work in Progress Portfolio:


Week 9

Introducing Critical Theory: What do we mean by ‘critical theory’ and how might it relate to our practices?

My interpretation of Critical Theory (in photography) is to provide a written or verbal narrative about a particular photographic image that contains relevant, contextual reference to the work. An exploratory, in depth examination of differential interpretation. To interrogate content, application, cultural and historical perspectives based on an individual’s personal viewpoint. A degree of identifying merit or matter.

Critical Theory matters in photography because it is important to have a meaningful discussion that uses common, universal academic language leading to an understood opinion of an image that can be shared with others.

It can be the difference between consciously viewing and passively consuming images.

As Francis Hodgson states in his (16th December 2012) interview ‘Quality Matters’:

“My own feeling, and I have published this many times, is that we need to establish some kind of shared vocabulary in which to describe quality that without that shared vocabulary, everybody’s opinions is as good as everybody else’s, which is fine and is part of the old habit of photography.  Photography is very broad.  But in that breadth, we need to establish some kind of recognition for things which matter. “

Here is my own personal critical perspective of an image I  took of a synthetic football/hockey pitch in my local community. Taken in a very narrow window of opportunity one busy Sunday afternoon.

I researched my non-land based images and decided to use this one because of the subtleties within it. I did not have an image that was undecipherable without having a title or caption placed on it, in the style of perhaps some of Ori Gersht’s work.

Having said that, it may well be something I will experiment with in the months ahead.

Wk 9 Astroturf at Yaxley

There is something almost cartoon like in the unnatural colour of the surface of the pitch in comparison to the colour of the real grass that surrounds the enclosure, separated by the dark green of the fence, acting like a frame in which the pitch is displayed, encouraging emphasis of comparative textures.

The not quite parallel lines cleverly invite the viewer to look at little closer at uniformity in considering aesthetics and balance. We begin to look for points of reference from objects within the image. To add further interest, there are some reference points to the edges of the image that appear to be equal distance form other points within the image, inferring central positioning. Yet the image is not straight and true.

In the same interview, Francis Hodgson continues: “Without some kind of intellectual mechanism which says we are at least trying to isolate quality, to identify quality, to recognise and reproduce quality, then you get this terrible, terrible thing which is just meaningless transcription of pixels.  Unfortunately, it is not a very easy thing to do and because it is so easy to make pictures and so difficult to identify quality, there is always a gap there, but certainly my own sense is that photographers, distributors, receivers need to spend more effort learning how to look.

“Once you have started to do that, you can start codifying your looking into different kinds of systems, which hopefully will guide you through the future. But without that first effort of concentrated, patient rather studious looking, then all pictures come alike to all viewers and it is terribly important that they should be discriminated.”

Week 10

Theory in Practice: How can we communicate ‘theory’?

Communicating My Practice

Wk 10 Sepia Wall

I am (and have always been) interested in contextual photographic perspective. Non-land based photography provides me the opportunity to express and share my interests and interpretation of the world we live in from an unusual perspective – including the mundane and banal. One that most of us won’t have visually experienced before.

My motivation and inspiration is simple. Because of the billions of images available to view at the click of a mouse, I would personally find it enormously challenging to compete with others with established practices around the world with far greater experience and resources than I will ever have. It would be difficult for me to get recognition and acclaim no matter what the subject of my practice.

I recognised this early on and it was this realisation that led me to start a practice that was (as yet) not too over saturated, giving me a least a fighting chance to establish a practice that could succeed. I witness many ‘drone operators’ that may be able to fly, but have obviously no photographic skill sets applicable to what they are trying to achieve.

I would rarely digitally manipulate my images – and am learning not to crop – instead relying of the honesty of the image to convey my (the photographer’s) artistic intent. Because perspective is an important aspect of my practice, I would not necessarily title or caption my images to describe what the viewer is looking at. Instead opting to grant the viewer visual literacy and the ability to work it out.

Unable to attend webinar

Week 11

Introducing Proposal and Audience: What is a ‘project proposal’, and what needs to be considered in putting one together?

In researching Project Proposals, I was interested to see many different kinds of documents from central Government, heritage departments and arts awarding bodies to name a few. The document layouts and designs were overall appropriate for the organisation seeking to make the award.

 You can see the central Government’s Foreign & Commonwealth’s Office  document ’Call for project proposals on the theme ‘Smart Cities in Vietnam’ for financial year 2017/18’ is typically formal and can be seen as a Word document on their website here:

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/call-for-project-proposals-on-the-theme-smart-cities-in-vietnam-for-financial-year-201718 (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.

In a completely different style of Project Proposal, the National Lottery’s Sharing Heritage Grants programme offers everything the Proposer needs to know to advise and assist with this as a complete separate document of guidance covering such useful topical subjects as:

  •  A Welcome
  • Quick Quiz
  • About Heritage
  • Who We Fund
  • What We Fund
  • The Difference We Want To Make
  • Costs We Can Cover
  • Your Contribution
  • Making An Application
  • Receiving A Grant
  • Buying Goods, Works And Services
  • Other Information About Your Application
  • Appendix 1: Outcomes
  • Appendix 2: Supporting Documents
  • Appendix 3: Digital Outputs
  • Appendix 4: Property Ownership
  • Appendix 5: Buying Land And Buildings
  • Appendix 6: Buying Heritage Items And Promotion
  • Appendix 7: Acknowledgement And Promotion Of Your National Lottery grant

This can be seen on their website here:

 https://www.hlf.org.uk/looking-funding/our-grant-programmes/sharing-heritag (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.

This is by far the best Project Proposal guide I have seen and I will implement this structure and format into my own Project Proposal I am currently writing to Heritage Lottery Fund. I am planning.

I thought the Government documentation was too formal and lacked detail and additional information for the proposer and did not offer suggestions for successful outcomes.

The most thoughtful site by way of design to retain interest from potential photographers seeking advice about things to consider for inclusion within a Project Proposal is from an American website called Pinhole Pro. Although there may be some small amounts of applicable content lost in translation within their ideas and advice, the ideas and suggestions overall were excellent and can be applied anywhere with a little imagination.

Here is their graphic to assist photographers to mind map their costings and professional fees for Project Proposal inclusion:

Wk 11 Project Proposal Budgets for Photographers .jpg

Their website can be seen here:

 https://pinholepro.com/magazine/2014/02/how-to-write-a-photography-proposal/ (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.

I found the National Lottery’s Sharing Heritage Grants programme the best for Proposers overall in terms of really applicable and useful information for the potential Proposer. Included within the guidelines the suggestion too of how many words to use in formulating a response to their prompts and requests.

No excuse for getting it wrong then!

Week 12 Proposal and Audience in Practice: Studio visit and tips for your proposal.