Category Archives: Study Days

Study Day – OCA TV group, Saturday 19 September 2015

Following a brief discussion about the presentation of each others work in members learning logs, I have decided just to outline the contributions of others that I may find useful on my own project. Suffice to say, the members produced a range of interesting and varied work. As a reminder only, I have listed below who presented and the topic of the presentation.

Steve – Holodeck Project for the Real or Fake assignment in DPP.

Amano – No way home as a Photography with text assignment for Landscape

Holly –  an assignment on Chronic Pain (perhaps C&N I’m not sure)

Catherine – Putting yourself in the picture, triptychs of herself in the landscape

Vicky – Presented her 50 words for women project which she has now finished and discussed with us her ideas for Putting herself in the picture  which involves issues that she has to deal with each day

Eddy – presented a personal project (motivated by Sharon),  expressing his feelings about his home situation and his wife’s illness. I can empathise with his situation, having been there. I’m not sure I would have been able undertake such a project myself.

Documentary Assignment 5 – Personal Project

As detailed elsewhere, I took along my plans for the 41 mile walk from Bordon to Bognor Regis, some sample images and the “Down Outings” journal that we made as a family in the 1950’s. John made a suggestion about writing a journal of the walk and the feelings I had as I progressed on the route. Everyone was fascinated by the book and Sharon suggested that I could present the project in a similar way to the original, perhaps as a hand made book which looked it. At this stage, I am still not sure of the form the project will take and what is motivating it beyond the original idea. Until I have experienced the walk and been to see Richard Long’s Time and Space exhibition in Bristol next month, I am letting ideas wash over me.

Sharon Boothroyd

At this meeting we, as a group said our farewells to Sharon and wished her luck with her new job and her future work. There was no-one who wasn’t sorry to see her go. We have all received so much support from her, both as a tutor and a mentor to the group. Thanks Sharon!


OCA Thames Valley Study Group – Meeting 18th July 2015

Eleven students came today with tutor Jesse Alexander in attendance. The agenda for the meeting was to  bring work for discussion  and/or questions for the tutorial group to discuss. I have made brief notes below about each student’s contribution to the day. If  reference was made to another photographer’s work I have included the URL and will made research notes in my blog later.

Eddie provided a very useful insight into the quality of different types of inkjet paper by presenting 9 different papers from a Marrut sample pack all printed with the same image. This made comparisons easy and showed how the surface texture effected the quality and resolution of the image. Eddie’s preference was the Smooth Fine Art. My choice would have been the Archival Matt or the Pro Photo Satin/Oyster. The group went on to discuss limited edition fine art prints and whether if a print was destroyed (by accident) would the photographer be justified in refusing to provide a replacement? An interesting question.

Teresa is studying Context and Narrative. She presented a very personal piece of work entitled “When You Left” which was about  coming to terms with grief. She showed two versions, a book and seven single prints with texts. The work was in 2 sections, three images depicting grief and 4 depicting acceptance. I was interested in this work as I have been thinking for a long time about this subject and how to express my own emotional journey through similar circumstances. It may or may not be something I would be brave enough to share but I certainly got some inspiration from Teresa’s work. ref Sophie Rickett.

Teresa also showed several prints recording progress in the rebuilding of her garden and a personal project on Stanwell (Middx) explaining her personal connections to the locations shown. (This ties in with my later question to the group about personal connections to the landscape which could form the basis of Assignment 5 for Documentary).

Richard is studying TAoP and DPP and showed prints covering some of the exercises for these courses. ref Victor Burgin: His question to the group was, should he produce individual prints for the assignment on colour/complementary/contrasting or produce a print with several images show these various combinations. Jesse suggested the old Triple Print idea when a processor would produce one large and two small images on the same print. An interesting idea for presentation that I may use in future projects.

Katherine is also studying context and narrative and has experimented with self portraiture for the section “putting yourself in the picture”. She said she was uncomfortable with the idea of posing and taking her own picture but some of her results were interesting, a manipulated print where she appears twice in the same frame, a fun shot where she is wearing a wig. ~She complained that the remote trigger she was using for her Canon was less than sensitive but this gave rise to the most striking image of all where she had placed herself in the right half of the frame with some beautiful flowers (in a garden) to her left. Her right hand is raised as she points the remote at the camera. I thought this was a more subtle though still overt way of saying “this is my selfie”.

Vicki is working on “Woman as Object”. I’m not sure which course this is in. She discussed her idea of photographing parts of a mannequin (which she calls Hayley) in various locations in a shopping street which would include or suggest the terms that are used to objectify women and there bodies at locations which would include the butchers, pet shop, bakery e.g. meat, pet, buns etc. This provoked a lot of discussion around the topic of objectification which resurfaced later with Steve’s contribution. Meanwhile, I see from the Flickr page that Vicki has started her exploration of the High Street:

John is working on sequencing his “Purgatory” (see previous OCA TV posts) project for an exhibition in the Churchill Hospital, Oxford; 1 August – 12 Sept. He laid out a series of 23 prints in two rows (either side of a corridor) and asked for feed back from the group. Various options were suggested regarding the grouping and sequencing of the images which gave me an interesting perspective on how complex presenting an exhibition can be. I hope to be able to get to the exhibition sometime before it finishes.

Michael is studying Gesture and Meaning and showed his work for the Calendar project in which he has to produce a corporate calendar. He decided he would create a calendar for the fictional Hoverjoy company, based around the disused Hovertravel terminal in Ramsgate. He decided he would subvert the idea of the corporate calendar by using images and gender stereotypes from the 1970’s to exclude and subjugate the roles of everyone except the Males and the heterosexual family group of a man, wife and two children. The idea worked well although some of the images were a little unclear.

I took along my re-edited Assignment 3 for the group to discuss and I got good feedback from them and Jesse. Briefly (I shall expand on this under my Assignment 3 heading) Jesse thought the project was too complex and that I should restrict it to just Kelly’s musical career and contrast it with looking after the children. He also questioned whether my photographs needed captions as I had included all of  the story in the introductory explanation. I got some technical advice on using slow sync flash for low light photography at Kelly’s performance venues. Further editing and reshooting will take place in the coming week.

Steve is working on the Real or Fake assignment for DPP and had produced a video cover for the 1980’s TV series ‘V’ showing a girl with the left side of her face peeled back to reveal a lizard’s head underneath. It looked very good an Steve talked about the different techniques he has used to achieve the effects. A discussion followed on the ethics of manipulation and there was some discussion on the objectification of women and the ethics of the promotion of an idealised female body shape.

Keith brought along his design for a catalogue for his “Lifting the Curtain” exhibition which will take place in Spitalfields 15-25 October. (proposed study visit) He also brought some Platinum/Palladium prints of the modern east end which were interesting to see.

Holly presented prints from the Great Stones Walk project that she is doing which she felt turned out to be ‘pretty pictures’ the same as any other tourist shots. The discussion that followed talked about the difference between directed reality i.e. the way the landscape in tourist sites directs access and views which everyone follows not only physically but visually. The truthful reality is usually very different.

Ref Fay Godwin, Land

This prompted me to discuss my Personal Project for Assignment 5 of Documentary which would be to undertake a walk from my present home to my childhood home via the sites of family interest along the route, Generally the idea was well received. I will do more research on Fay Godwin’s work and look at the work of Richard Long and Andy Goldsworthy who use walking an inspiration for their art. (from Robert Enoch 2012)

OCA TV Study Day 21st March 2015

Jesse Alexander was our tutor in attendance today. We had a very full day with a lot to look at. My write up is very brief this time.

The day started with a look at some of  John’s “Body of Work” photographs. These were images made in response to hand written texts that John had received or written. This sort of theme which interprets texts visually is something we have seen from a number of photographers; Anna Fox, Sharon Boothroyd, and as will be shown later, Keith Greenough. John quite often uses words as a starting point for visualisation. This was an interesting idea. I look forward to seeing forward to seeing how it develops.

Keith brought along copies of his photo book “Lifting the Curtain” which forms part of his final degree submission. I bought a copy to support the work of Toynbee Hall, a centre for culture, arts, and education in Whitechapel. Once again, over the past year or so I have seen several of Keith’s prints and it is gratifying to have the full project in my possession. The  pictures were all taken at night or early in the morning and show locations that Charles Booth wrote about in his  1889 social survey “Life and Labour of the People”. Keith has identified locations in the book and photographed them showing the modern face of the East End, juxtaposed with the text describing the conditions in the late 19th century. Keith has included a useful reference section in the back of the book showing Booth’s “Poverty Map” and a map showing the locations of the photographs.

Carol showed her final TAoP assignment which we saw in progress at a previous meeting. Jesse gave feedback on process and presentation ideas. Carol also discussed her choice for the 1000 word essay required for Context and Narrative. She has chosen Henri Cartier Bresson’s Juvisy France 1938 as her image. We spent a little time discussing whether HCB was indeed the master of the decisive moment or if some of his images had actually been arranged or posed. Jesse also mentioned Ian Jeffries book How to Read a Photograph as a good resource for this topic and how to interpret singular images.

Stephen brought along a series of black and white mounted prints, This would form part of an exhibition in Fleet Library. He had found and taken pictures of Hampshire Churches for each century of the second millennium. It was a very impressive collection, beautifully printed. He discussed how difficult it was to photograph some of the churches because of their aspect and the proximity of other buildings.

Teresa showed and interesting project on Dog Walking in her local area. (I think this was for TAoP) I made a note in my book because Johanna Ward’s work came up in the discussion. Somehow, I missed this at Brighton in October and I was away in December when she talked to OCA students. However I will watch the video and read the comments on WeAreOCA

Richard showed some work in progress about the Blue Nile Band showing images linking the band with significant periods of his life. He is using lyrics from the songs to invoke images from that time and what was happening in his life.

Michael showed more of his Rubber Flapper images. He has edited and made some decisions about their final presentation following our interest in the project which resulted partly from Sharon Boothroyd’s write up in WeAreOCA.

I took along eight images from my personal project in which I am recording the redevelopment of Bordon from an Army Garrison to an Eco Town. I explained that it was not planned as part of my OCA course work as it would take at least another 12 years and possibly 20 before it would be complete. Jesse said perhaps I could incorporate phases of the project into future work. As I had only brought images linked to one site, Louisburg Barracks, this was a possibility. It is the first site to be developed and incorporates the construction of a relief road. I have chosen to record the changes from the “edge” using the perspective that most people have as they pass by. This is because the number of agencies, and contractors make it difficult to access the site while the military boundaries and security are still in place. I think this transition is important and my use of long focal lengths and differential focus tries to reinforce the sense of distance and exclusion as the development starts. Jesse advised against the over use of long focal lengths for the careful selection and editing when presenting the project. As it stands at the moment, I am recording all of the changes that I see. Next month at the Phoenix Arts Centre sees the introduction of “Bordon Reflections” a local project which invites families to bring photographs of the past 100 years of the Garrison. I shall be attending and hope to be able to contribute by continuing to record the changes. Bordon Garrison will cease to exist when the Army officially leave in the summer.

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OCA Thames Valley Study Day 17th January 2015

Another successful study day at Thatcham with a record number of students attending (14, I think) with OCA Tutor Sharon Boothroyd offering guidance. The whole day was taken up by individual presentations of a wide variety of coursework at all levels. Each student was allocated 30 minutes. I have summarised the proceedings here to remind me of what was shown. I will add the images from my presentation to the end of this post.

Teresa presented two sets of 5 images which she entitled the Disappeared Woman and The Media Woman. She was reflecting on the perception (in the media?) that life for a woman is over at 40. Her “Disappeared Woman” series was in black and which and consisted of a self portrait, a clock face, flowers in a vase, a nearly empty wine glass,  and a pair of slippers. As a contrast to this her second series showed the same subjects, this time in colour and with  positive attributes, her self  portrait was “enhanced” to remove most signs of aging, the clock face was replaced by a stylish wrist watch, there were spring flowers in the vase, (vibrant colours), the single near empty glass was replaced by two full glasses and the slipper has been replaced by stylish shoes, perhaps for dancing. I thought this was a very well thought out assignment, although I did not record which course it was for, I suspect it was Context and Narrative.

Steven had not brought any work to show but did bring the “Nearest Far Away Place” collection as it is currently in his possession. Having been on its travels around the world for nearly two years, it is nearing the end of its journey. I did manage to get a look at some of the images. Very soon it will be with me and I’ll add the image I took as I approached Tristan da Cunha by sea on the 18th April 2013;

Tristan FB

The Flickr thread can be found here:

Katherine is continuing with her woodland project in which she is recording found objects and unexplained structures in woodland near her home. Sharon advocated a wacky light hearted approach. Katherine had begun working on a fictional hunt for information on items of discarded clothing. We await the outcome with keen anticipation. There was also some discussion about different papers that she had used to present her work. My approach it to use the ink and paper from the printer manufacture that gives consistent results. For me, there is too much time and money to be wasted chasing perfect paper/ink/printer combinations.

John (level 3 Body of Work) presented a large number of prints from Purgatory (a deserted settlement near his home in Oxfordshire). He linked the pictures with words generally associated with the perceptions of “Purgatory” Sharon pointed out the conflict with the words being negative and the images being beautiful and optimistic. John also talked about the difficulty of reaching the location which was a bog for eight months of the year.


Carol’s project was interesting. She had been to Ipswich docks to photograph the regeneration of the area and to contrast the new parts with the remaining undeveloped areas which had faltered due to the economic downturn. She was struck by the contrast between the two and had tried to show this. She thought that this was maybe a more long term project, similar to my Bordon regeneration one (which can only go as fast as the local authority and the developers, I’ve seen very little movement in 12 months). The suggestion came from the floor that perhaps she should introduce a political element to the project as the new university campus was part of the development.

Michael took us off into a fantasy world again with his Gesture and Meaning  “Hidden Histories” theme. His project was called “Rubber Flapper” and is a constructed story about an Art Deco building that has been demolished. Michael is telling the story of a woman (who may be gay) who lived in the house which was rubber lined and could be cleaned automatically. He presented images of “found” objects from the site as well as the contents of a box “given” to him by the sites “current owner”.  The point he hopes to make with his narrative is that the outcome of the story is supressed  because the woman was thought to be gay. Some very enigmatic and successful  images. Michael had worked hard on making the “props” for the story.

Eddy is working on the Advertising section of Gesture and Meaning. He has produced three images to provoke the idea of a product without showing the product itself. His …”beans means ……odour neutraliser” image was the most successful but the thought was that the other two images, “better things are electric” and “Emergencies only…. everything else NHS poster were a bit cluttered.

Holly is working on the final assignment for TAoP – Narrative. On a trip to Bath’s Roman Bath site she has taken a personal view of the modern presentation of the ancient artefacts, juxtaposing  the old and the new.

Vicki posed the question “why do we all take the same photographs?” which provoked a lively discussion and relating of experiences as tourists and of tourists. She illustrated her point (for Context and Narrative) by presenting an album with two sets of photographs of Venice, one taken by her and another compiled from the Flickr site. Sharon gave some useful guidance on her presentation, suggesting using two separate albums and not making the albums themselves so pristine. (i.e. more like the albums we all see in the homes of our friends and families).

Sarah Jane is working on Assignment 4 of TAoP “Light” . She showed 3 photographs, self portraits taken in different lighting in the same location. An interesting take on the assignment. Her narrative is about self, loss, isolation and identity.

Richard is working on People and Place Assignment 2 “People Unaware” Using a long lens he has been photographing the occupants of cars pulled up at a junction. This candid type of photography is not without its problems and I think he has been the recipient of some abuse. His images were given an interest by the reflection of bare trees in the windows of the cars. Discussion also centred on how to present and crop the images. Sharon thought a consistent landscape crop would enhance the series as a whole. Richard also showed some images for DPP Assignment 5 – Memory loss. Family albums with photographs missing, deliberately torn out.

Amano is working on Assignment 1 of Landscape and he brought his completed assignment for critique and discussion. He had produced 3 diptychs showing winter landscapes of the flooded Somerset Levels and the same location in summer. He had also produced other images of the flooding. Sharon said that the three diptychs would complete the assignment on their own and the other flooding pictures would also complete an assignment on their own. Amano also produced a photo book of the assignment but Sharon thought that unnecessary at this stage of the course although the quotes he included from the local people provided good context.

One thing that came across from this session was that it was fine to link all of the assignments in a course on a common theme where it could be done, even stretching the brief where necessary.

Keith has finished his level 3 body of work. We have been privy to its development over the past year or so. His final job has been to produce a photo book of “Lifting the Curtain” and he is also trying to arrange an exhibition of his work in the East End of London. Any proceeds from the sales of the book and prints will be donated to Toynbee Hall from where he got his inspiration – Charles Booth’s Poverty Map of 1898 – he has been looking at the relationship between location and society by revisiting the locations on Booth’s map and printing Booth’s texts alongside his images.

Sharon updated us on progress on her “They All Say Please” series. Again we have seen the evolution of the project over a year or so. She has looked at on line prayer forums and taken simple lines of prayer and illustrated them with constructed photographs. Today’s discussion revolved around the choice of mounts for her prints and the texts, floating mounts printed on aluminium? Not the sort of decisions I will have to make for a while yet.

185 empty chairs

While on holiday in New Zealand I had part of a day to kill in Christchurch before flying home.  I had been taking holiday snaps for nearly three weeks so I decided to try and capture the mood of the city as it struggles to rebuild after the devastating earthquake at 12:51 pm on Tuesday, 22 February 2011. I decided to use this series as an exercise rather than an assignment.  I wanted a narrative which told of the destruction and then showed the optimism and resilience of the city. I presented the images in two groups with a brief explanation of each one. The title comes from the temporary art installation which consists of 185 empty white painted chairs, one for each of the people who died on that day. Each chair is unique, reflecting the individuality of the person lost.


This crack was in the parapet of a bridge crossing the River Avon. The series of earthquakes and aftershocks which started on 4 Sept 2010 and continued until 23 Dec 2011caused considerable damage to the city.


The Anglican Cathedral, built by renowned architect George Gilbert Scott  was severely damaged. While the Diocese favour demolition and replacement with a new building, several court actions have resulted in the demolition being postponed.


This is the Citizens War Memorial (1914-18) next next to the cathedral. I thought it appropriate and optimistic that the angel, (bending the sword of war) although looking forwards having survived,  needs a little help to stay in place.


Many properties in the city remain fenced off and abandoned, either awaiting  repair, demolition or just because their owners have moved out of the city to live elsewhere. This overgrown garden and unused mailbox reflect this feeling of loss.


Surrounding the isolated abandoned buildings though, are a mass of building sites, regenerating  repairing and restoring those structures that can be saved. The Canterbury Arts Centre is shown here.


After deconsecrating the Anglican  Cathedral, the transitional “Cardboard Cathedral” was designed by innovative Japanese architect Shigeru Ban and constructed in 2012-13. The ‘A’ frame construction is of cardboard tubes with wood, steel, plastic and glass and the ubiquitous (in Christchurch) shipping containers. A time lapse movie of its construction is here:


I did hear it said that the only good thing to happen as a result of the earthquake is that it solved Christchurch’s parking problem! This is just one example of the the colourful murals and street decoration used to brighten up what is an enormous building site. “Graffiti bombing” of condemned buildings is common as can be seen on the right in this picture.


The “Restart” shopping mall is a fine example of the city’s inventive and resilient nature. Small shops, cafe’s and bars sprung up  to temporarily replace the shops destroyed.


Christchurch still has a sense of humour. The sculpture is in the garden of Christchurch Dyslexia Centre. The ‘Crocs’ may be a response to another sculpture in the garden  “Ron’s Shoes” which is inscribed “Combining insight with intention, Ron Davies invites us to nurture the seed of genius that lies within us all”


185 empty chairs.

I got some positive feed back from the group and some interest in the narrative. While it was a good exercise my feeling is that the story is not really strong enough.

OCA Thames Valley Study Day – 19th July 2014

Today’s meeting was quiet as we had no tutor and only four students.

Michael presented  some of his assignments for PWDP (which he currently has in for assessment). His work is based on memory, feelings and emotions. He told us he enjoys staging scenes but also uses combinations of found and constructed images to form open ended narratives . His work is very personal related to his childhood and family and he tries to express himself through memory triggers. Amongst his images was “Dreams” which was his image for the “Nearest faraway place” project, based on “The Dream”, a painting by Henri Russo :

He explained that this was one of his favourite paintings and the staging of this image led him to produce the rest of his images for this particular PWDP assignment. We discussed context and the use of explanatory texts. For this assignment  (which was about  therapy) he had restricted the captions to just one word which he felt kept the mystery and left the interpretation open. The group discussed inspiration and how difficult some of us find the search for ideas and the essential difference between the abstract and the literal.  Also mentioned was the feeling (which I often have) that the more we live with our images while preparing for assignments, the less fresh they appear. We did not come up with an answer to that question although my feeling is to start working on something fresh and go back to it. As this was PWDP there was some technical discussion of the use of software to deepen shadows to give depth to an image using PS Light room.

Michael also showed us two photo books that he had produced. One on a local area project in which he produced images of his locality which tied in with texts he had researched around  the history of Brisley Farm.  His second book was a fictional celebration publication for the re-launch of the Brussels Atomium. In this he constructed an imaginative discovery/journey of the Atomium from photographs he made using a young model that he photographed in a remote location (Dungeness), combined with images from the Atomium itself.  I got the impression from this book that it was produced in a specific style. Michael mentioned various filters that he used to achieve the feel of the images.

In the general discussion around his work and what inspired him, Michael mentioned that his way of thinking about the creative process was kick-started by his tutor posing the question, about one of his earl;y assignments, “Where is ‘you’ in these images”. I thought this was something that I need to apply consciously to my work. Also discussed among the group was the notion of the striving for perfection against the need to meet the assignment deadlines.

Eddy and Carol had nothing to show so we discussed ideas for their upcoming assignments and I am between assignments so I had prepared  ten images of the architecture in Rotterdam. I decided that I would show how I had responded to the city photographically during my recent visit. My abstracts of some of the buildings and the shapes they made, as well as my images of  the “cube houses” drew some interested comments.




Although these images were not taken for any particular purpose, they were my response to the buildings as I saw them and the variety and contrast of the built environment of a major city. The ideas may form the basis of new work at another location.

Afternoon discussion: Social Documentary and Race

With just four of us the discussion was quite short with digressions in all sorts of directions. The reading (and viewing) in preparation for the discussion is here:

American Gothic

Malthusian eugenics

The Baldwin lecture and a perspective on post genome race:

BBC4 documentary Scientific Racism: The Eugenics of Social Darwinism.

These links put some detail onto the research I did for the history of documentary photography and above all points out the dangers of claiming that photography provides objective evidence. From these examples of the development of eugenics, it can be shown how easily information and data can be misappropriated to form the basis of a pseudo scientific idea. The BBC4 documentary put an hour long historical perspective on the development of the movement and its relationship to Darwin’s theories on the Origin of Species. All very negative.

There were positives however, the parody made by  FSA Photographer Gordon Parks   in 1942  of the  painting  ‘American Gothic’ became the icon of the pre-civil rights era. Parks was an immensely successful photographer, musician and film maker, often highlighting the plight of the poor populations of the world. Is a link to the archive of photographer Roy de Carava, another successful and influential photographer. From his obituary:

“Among the many subjects his camera focused upon, he expressed an early desire to address the lack of artistic attention given to the lives of Black Americans, illuminating the aesthetic and human qualities of each individual life through the lens of his perceptions.”

OCA Thames Valley Group Meeting–31 May 2014

The day followed the usual format. Before lunch we looked at work from John, Eddy, Steve and the work in progress on my Assessment 1 for Documentary. I have selected a portion of each presentation for my report.

Work in progress feedback session

John presented 20 images from a Caribbean island, without text and arranged in a particular way. He said the the pictures were meant to be engaging “pretty” pictures. He was looking for our reaction to the set. The work was in progress and he wanted to make images that were individually striking. We found it difficult without context. We were looking for any sense of narrative. This is now very difficult to describe at a distance and it followed on from a previous assignment that I had not seen. Several members of the group saw several interesting groupings but it wasn’t until John revealed that the set was a response to the book “The Wide Sargasso Sea” and was produced as open work, (Sharon mentioned the work of Wolfgang Tilmans as being similar to the way that this work was presented). Some reactions of the group, memory, hope, desperation, relaxation, colonisation. John will continue the work and continue challenge us to find a narrative of some sort in the set.

I put out my images and explained about the brief for Local Communities. The group identified that it was a very disparate set. I explained that this was probably because I was involved with the group as a ‘participant observer’ as encouraged by the brief. I had still some more editing to do and I was looking to the group to find out what worked and which direction I should take the edit. Sharon said that there is often something very interesting going on in my work and I need to be able to see it and follow it  through.  She mentioned Eve Arnold’s film stills, not looking to document the whole thing, just the interesting moments and identified the transformation from person to character as an idea to work on.  Looking at future projects, go with a single purpose (no distractions) and concentrate on one theme. Below is the set that I showed:


I will discuss this further in the ‘Assignment 1’ section of my learning log as I make my final selection based on the advice and feedback from the group.

Steve showed work for DPP assignment 2. He chose pictures of castles on the three castle walk from Windsor to Winchester via Odiham. Also included other castles, Farnham Donnington, Ludgershall. Steve explained that he used film for the pictures and was using the zone system to measure the dynamic range of his images/scans/films. Steve also showed his submission for Assignment 1 which was the letters of the word “photography” seen in the environment. Interestingly, he chose a square format to present them which the group seemed to like.

Eddy showed some work related to his exercises in Gesture and Meaning. The particular exercise involved writing a character profile of yourself and then colleagues to write their assessment of your character produce 3 images that show your assessment and 3 that show other people’s assessment. Eddy showed us the profiles that the he had based his work on and then asked us to look at the images that he had taken. The discussion that  followed included the technical aspects of using a studio set up single handed, whether or not Eddy has succeeded in his objective (the general consensus was that he had done well).

Looking at the work of female photographers (afternoon session)

We started  the session with words that throughout our lives that we have associated with women. Soft, domestic, warm, loving etc.…

Sharon then put out some books and asked us to list the words that came into our minds when looking at the photographs in them. Unfortunately, I neglected to list the books on the table (the History of Women Photographers). My list included:

enigmatic, vulnerable, horrific, casual athletic, intense, aloof, twilight, relaxed, mercurial, strong, vivacious, sleazy, dangerous.

From the lists that we read out, the discussion moved onto observations on the pictures in the books. The women in the group 6 women to 5 men) seemed amazed by the number of pictures of naked women and the discussion moved along that route as to why this should be.

Holly felt that landscape photography was not really open to women or is unattractive to them because it was dominated by men. The discussion moved on to war photography by women and the idea that women had to produce more shocking and visceral images merely to compete withe men correspondents.

Sharon then introduced her experience at the “Fast Forward” group at Tate Modern. Her feeling is that women photographers are disadvantaged by the male dominance of   publishing and gallery ownership and she has the feeling that not many women aspire to be BIG in photography, preferring to get their validation internally rather than from outside. Holly mentioned Landscapes by Women (Facebook group) was also discussed. She felt that the interpretations were more delicate, with less strident colours. However, since returning home I have looked at this page and to be honest, I would not have known that these photographs were taken by  women. Or it may be that I just didn’t like the particular style of most of the images (over complicated compositions, too derivative)

The final exercise involved us looking at a picture by Cass Bird of a dark haired androgynous female (Jen in Overalls) to see if we could identify any “gendering” of the image. We concluded that the  model was chosen and photographed to be deliberately androgynous by her dress i.e. sexless. We could not decide if the breasts had been deliberately accented by being carelessly hidden by the loose fitting dungarees.

The next discussion revolved around the portrayal of women in films and TV effect women’s expectations of their role in the patriarchal society. The discussion followed tokenism, positive discrimination and the effect of these things on society. Eve Arnold…..” didn’t want to be a woman photographer but a photographer who is a women with the whole world in front of her camera”.

The discussion continued in an interesting way and went back and forth with lots of points of view expressed. The whole day’s discussion is recorded and stored on my PC for future reference.


This morning’s session has helped me to think about my current assignment and given me some ideas. This afternoons discussion has given me a feel for the way women photographers think about their role in the arts. I have made notes of some publications that I may want to take a closer look at:

  • The work of Claire Strand
  • Susan Bright, Auto Focus
  • Liz Wells, Viewfindings
  • The work of Wolfgang Tilmans