Photography: A Critical Introduction • review part 1

This is the first introductory textbook to examine key debates in photographic theory and place them in their social and political contexts (Publishers note)

With the manifesto set out at the top of the first page this book, although said to be introductory, dives into (for me) some pretty deep waters and requires careful reading and several re-readings. This is the first of an occasional series of postings which will each concentrate on a chapter or two. I am working from the 2nd edition (2000)

The book is arranged in seven major chapters, each with its own bibliography, together with an extensive introduction, indexes, glossaries etc. In this posting I will be looking at the ‘topping-and-tailing’ material and at the first chapter, ‘Thinking about photography‘ by Derrick Price and Liz Wells.

The introduction signposts the structure of the book chapter-by-chapter, setting out its arrangement and purpose. I initially found the section, ‘How to use this book’ rather patronising but, after a foray into chapter 1, I began to see the point.

The end material will probably be the part of the book that I refer to most in my future studies with OCA as it seems to be a jumping-off point for research. In addition to the (expected) index and bibliography (14 pages!) we get a glossary of key terms and lists of archives, journals and websites.

Chapter 1 Thinking about photography

It must be said that this chapter makes heavy reading; the language being both dense and ‘technical’, particularly some of the late 20th-century pull-quotes. Having a scientific/engineering background and being exposed to ‘Pseuds Corner’ and Monty Python’s caricature art critics (example here at 3:47) it came as a culture shock to encounter similar language used in serious technical discourse, which leads me to consider  the reasons for it.

I am aware (from use in my own primary profession) that jargon has two uses, to obfuscate or (more properly) to serve as a form of shorthand between practitioners in a specialist field. I believe Price and Wells are using it in the latter form and it is a privilege to be allowed into the discussion at that level even if it means diving into the glossary at regular intervals. The first part of the chapter is particularly difficult because it is trying to introduce a theory of criticism and ‘art theory’ from scratch, without resorting to circular definitions. This is analogous to the sort of pure mathematics text that introduces number theory (“what, precisely do we mean by ‘two’ anyway?”). We all learned to count in primary school; most of us use numbers every day without thinking about then, but it is sort of comforting to know that they have a valid foundation.  Similarly with art criticism, it is useful to have a framework to work within and comforting to know that it has a firm basis, even if we do not consider it from day to day.

The chapter is arranged in four main sections. The sections are subdivided but I found that there was not a great correlation between the subheadings and the text.

‘Aesthetics and technologies’ eschews the standard list of inventors  but instead looks at the evolving technology in the mid-19th century and asks (but unfortunately doesn’t answer) why the need to produce and fix an image became an active field of research at the time. Once the technology is in place, it became adapted to social uses in a variety of ways, not all of which were intended by the original inventors. This appropriation and subversion of the technology continues to the present day in such forms as social media.

The “is it Art” debate is aired by quoting opposing views from Baudelaire (quoted on pp.13-14) who said that photography would corrupt or supplant art (by which he appears to mean painting) and should serve only as a ‘handmaid’ to the arts and sciences, and Lady Elizabeth Westlake (quoted on pp.15-16) who considered that a good thing. Photography was not ‘Art’ but would displace the old structures of Art.

Outside the ‘high art’ world of galleries and salons, we see the proliferation of jobbing photographers, mainly portraitist but also producers of views and postcards, springing up in most towns, which upset the painters (presumably, the jobbing portrait painters) with their improved speed, accuracy and quality control.

This accuracy, together with ease of reproduction makes photography a very democratic medium and valuable in documentary uses. However, there is some debate about whether a photograph shows us more than the surface appearance of a subject.

We move forward to the modern and post-modern eras with the rise of ‘straight photography’ presenting a new way of seeing the world. Moholy-Nagy (quoted on p.19) wants us to see what is ‘optically true’ rather than the pictorial framework erected by individual painters. In other words, he wants us to see what is really there, rather than what we have been taught is there.

Contemporary debates‘ looks at the development of ‘photography theory’ out of ‘art theory’ in the early 20th century and the shift in emphasis from techniques to a reading of the image as image, with a brief reference to the more recent approach through semiotics.

Price and Wells consider that the ‘great masters’ approach found in other branches of art criticism does not fit particularly well with photography (although it is traditionally used) because of its democratic nature and the difficulty of separating ‘masters’ from movements. This is a theme repeated in several places in this chapter.

The realism debate compares Sontag’s view of photographs as objective traces of the subject with Kozloff’s view of the photograph as a ‘subjective witness’ with the possibility of misunderstanding or partial information.

The major part of this section is a case study showing alternative readings of a particular image, Dorothea Lange’s ‘Migrant mother’. The image is seen as a testament to an event and a period of American history, although the title was changed (‘Seasonal Farm Worker’s Family’ has an entirely different meaning) and there was some minor retouching (part of a hand holding the tent flap was removed). We see that other images from the same set were not used, and Lange posed the subjects, giving the iconic ‘madonna’ impression that we now know and which has been appropriated or subverted into different forms.

The context of the image is important; we would get one reading from its placing in a report on farming conditions, properly captioned, and quite another when seen enlarged and out-of-context on a gallery wall.

Histories of photography‘ notes Martin Gasser’s 1992 classification (Wells, 46) classification of photographic histories into (1) the priority debate, (2) the development of equipment and techniques and (3) histories of the photograph as image. The first two are dealt with fairly swiftly with a warning against taking contemporary and early 20th-century accounts at face value. Nationalistic factors come into play with, for instance, French accounts giving the daguerrotype more importance than I consider a blind alley deserves.

Viewing the history of the photograph as image became the the predominant approach after the Second World War. This section compares the contributions of Beaumont Newhall and the Gernsheims and the later 1989 works by Mike Weaver and John Szarkowski which marked the sesquicentenary of photography (both works starting as exhibition catalogues for the Royal Academy and MoMA respectively). Price and Wells note that all of these histories ultimately tend toward a ‘grand masters’ approach.

Photography and social history‘ moves away from ‘grand masters’ and the gallery wall and considers the review of ‘popular photography’ meaning the postcard, the family album, the records of clubs and societies, etc. In other words the sort of images encountered or used by most people. In noting the use of photography as a testament to history (initially by the popular medium of television, rather than by traditional historians) we are warned that context and provenance are important but can be difficult to determine.

There is also a short section on ‘categorical photography’ noting that photography was implicated very early in issues of surveillance and control. This, of course, is an issue that concerns us today with the proliferation of CCTV and other monitoring technologies. Control issues include the Victorian attempts to categorise races, social classes, criminality etc by means of ‘typical’ or composite photographs (introducing a point that will be covered in more detail in chapter 5)

The final part deals with photographs viewed out of context, on the gallery wall or in forms of history other than that for which they were taken. Again, provenance is important but there is a concern that images are often selected for aesthetic reasons, ignoring their original context, and thus becoming unreliable witnesses.

The final paragraph is a teaser for chapter 2 on documentary and chapter 3 on personal photography.

Overall, the chapter was a fascinating insight and a good introduction to a more serious approach to viewing and reading photographs and their contexts. I look forward to reading and reviewing further.

References

Wells, L (ed.) (2000) Photography: A Critical Introduction (2nd edition) London: Routledge

A riff on ‘originality’

This posting starts from Matthew’s (my tutor) comments in formative feedback on Assignment 2.

The question that arises is a fundamental one of originality and at what point does work produced become imitation. In the world were millions of images are produced daily we may have to question if there can be such a thing as originality. It is conceivable that at some point we may have to draw a line in the history of photography at the point where originality stopped and to consider imitation not only as a form of flattery but as the only means of producing work.

I propose to take up the ball and, if not run with it, stroll around with it for a while. I don’t expect to come up with any answers but I hope to ask some of the right questions.

As a starting point we must heed Humpty Dumpty’s comment to Alice (Dodgson, C.L. as collected in Gardner 1970, 269) ‘When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less’. It is possible to create a problem, or escape from one, depending on how we define our key words. However, for a bit of objectivity, I start with COED (1964) which gives ‘originality‘ as the adverbial form of ‘original‘ inter alia thus:

… that has served as a pattern, of which copy or translation has been made, not derivative or dependent, first hand, not imitative, novel in character or style, inventive, creative, thinking or acting for oneself …

I suspect that Matthew is using a quite strong definition of originality, meaning something on the lines of ‘nothing like it has ever been done in the history of photography’. This is analogous with the concept of priority in scientific research – whoever is first to publish takes the credit. As time goes by, new research covers increasingly narrower points – effectively filling-in the gaps but whole new fields do open up from time to time. Similarly, in photography it is increasingly difficult to find something that has not been done before but I like to think there are ‘gaps’ to be filled, and the occasional conceptual leap.

I believe there is a legitimate, weaker form of originality in the dictionary definition – based on the phrases ‘not imitative‘ and ‘thinking or acting for oneself‘. An idea, concept or photograph may be original to a particular photographer even if it has been done by somebody else, somewhere else, so long as the author was not consciously aware of the previous work. (Work based on subconscious memory is a grey area in this argument). To continue with the scientific analogy, this is similar to Wallace and Darwin describing natural selection at the same time,  Newton and Leibnitz inventing the calculus, or Swann and Edison independently inventing the electric light bulb.

There is also a stronger interpretation, by which it could be said that no photograph is ever original. Every photograph (rather than piece of digital art) requires a subject to be present; the photograph is, effectively, a copy of the subject. This is obvious with a piece of 2-dimensional art such as a painting or a piece of graffiti. It is less obvious, but I believe no less true, that a photograph of any object is a copy of the surface form of that object.

On that basis, is a photograph of a photograph, such as Richard Prince’s copies of the Marlboro Man (example) or his ‘New Portraits’ exhibition (link) any more of a copy than his subject is? My own view is that they are blatant plagiarism, but this appears to be controversial in the art world. (Parkinson 2015)

In the absence of direct plagiarism we can still ask how similar one photograph must be to another before we consider it an imitation, and whether there are other factors in play. Is it simply the subject matter, or is context relevant?

Consider the images above, made decades apart. All are unique. All are of gardeners posing in their gardens.

I made the left-hand image today. Nobody in the history of photography has previously taken a photograph of my wife, wearing that outfit and standing in that corner of our garden. Indeed, the potting shed is only six months old and it is the first time it has appeared in a photograph. The image is unique, but does that make it original? My answer is ‘no’ because it is a conscious imitation (albeit in colour) of the sort of image used by Keith Arnatt in his ‘Gardeners’ series, discussed in previous blog postings.

Is the central image original? It was taken at about the same time Arnatt was making ‘Gardeners’. I regard this as original to me (the weaker form of originality described above) as I was not aware of Arnatt’s work (or indeed his existence) at that time.

Similarly, the right-hand image was taken by my mother some 15 years before ‘Gardeners’. Does that give it priority over Arnatt’s work? Does it refute his claim to originality? I think not, for similar reasons to the previous paragraph.

At this point, I run out of steam without any real conclusions except that ‘originality’ is a slippery concept and the question of its eventual demise depends entirely on how it is defined in the first (original?) place.

References

Concise Oxford English Dictionary (1964) 5th edition. ‘Original’ definition. Oxford University Press

Gardner, M (1970) Lewis Carroll. The Annotated Alice. Revised edition. London: Penguin

Parkinson, H.J. (2015) Instagram, an artist and the $100,000 selfies – appropriation in the digital age [online] at: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2015/jul/18/instagram-artist-richard-prince-selfies

Tate (s.d.) Search Art and Artists, Keith Arnatt [online] at: http://www.tate.org.uk/art/search?aid=666&limit=100&sort=date&type=artwork (accessed 3 April 2016)

Exercise 3.2 – some stuff from my archives

Before leaving Exercise 3.2 and the representation of motion, I will post a few examples of some of my earlier (pre-OCA) experiments.

The first image is not, strictly, a multiple exposure but a sequence of images (1/1000s with the camera in ‘machine gun’ mode) montaged in Photoshop. The focus blur on the rearmost image is accidental but seems to ‘work’. My montaging technique is not perfect, so there is some uneven colour in the sky around the kite-lines.

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The next set is of an Irish Coastguard helicopter that was doing training exercises with a car ferry that I was travelling on, which gave me the chance to experiment with the effect of shutter speed on the rotors are depicted. In the first image, at 1/1000s, the main rotor is ‘frozen’ which gives the uncomfortable feeling that the engine has failed and the helicopter is about to fall out of the sky

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At 1/400 we see some blur but the rotor is still effectively static. At 1/15s we lose it almost completely. The intermediate images with shutter speeds of 1/100s to 1/50s work best for me.

Slow shutter speeds and moving people can produce results ranging from delightful to bizarre, with quite a lot of ‘interesting’ in between. The two dancer images have exposure times of 0.8 secs, resulting from the very low light in the hall, but which capture the movement of the veils (which is the object of this dance)

In crowd scenes with an exposure of about 1/2s as with the examples below, people walking will blur but not disappear. This sort of image emphasises the stationary people and is a way of emphasising stillness in the middle of bustle.

Shutter speed is critical as there is a very odd effect which occurs at exposure times of 1-2 seconds. No matter how fast a walking or running person is moving, the foot on the ground is stationary. At these shutter speeds, a moving crowd becomes a sort of fog full of disembodied feet, which is very disturbing.

The final image is made with a pinhole camera and an exposure of 5 minutes. This is Maidstone’s main shopping street on the weekend before Christmas. The grey ‘fog is a crowd of moving shoppers. Only the group taking a breather are recognisable.

Maidstone pinhole mk1-003

Exercise 3.2 – working with moving clouds

The images in this posting continue my Exercise 3.2 work, but viewing clouds in motion rather than water. I was fortunate enough to visit the Angel of the North on a breezy day with broken cloud. My viewpoint is downwind of the Angel, with the intention that the clouds would be advancing toward me.

The first set of images, effectively, repeat the water exercise with single exposures at shutter speeds between 1/800s and 40 secs.

Clouds are slower-moving than water and I saw no significant blur at shutter speeds faster than 1 second. The 20- and 40 second images give an impression of motion but introduce a second problem, clouds have rather softer definition than water and the motion blur tends to smudge into a featureless highlight.

In the final two images below, I have used the E-30’s multiple exposure facility to capture four images on a single frame in-camera. A function named ‘automatic gain control’ has handled the issue of total exposure, presumably by reducing the effective ISO sensitivity.

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4 exp, 5 secs at 30 sec intervals

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4 exp, 1/100s at 30 sec intervals

The second version, with multiple short exposures gives the best definition but a sense of staccato movement. My preference is for the first image, combining reasonable definition with some motion blur.

Exercise 3.2 – shutter speed and moving water

I have long held the belief that there is no ‘correct’ shutter speed for moving water or, to put it better, there is no such thing as an incorrect speed for moving water. Different shutter speeds simply tell different stories. In this post, I examine a wide range of shutter speeds and also two different types of motion.

The first two sequences are at the Lodore Falls in Borrowdale, running a little empty after a period of dry weather. I therefore worked in close to show a reasonable flow of water and to avoid glare as much as possible.

The first sequence was shot at shutter speeds between 1/640 second and 60 seconds.

At 1/640, my intention was to freeze the motion, for comparison with the slower speeds. Individual water droplets are frozen; there is confusion but I get no sense of motion. At 1/200 and 1/100 it is possible to make out individual droplets together with enough blur to show there is motion and some (admittedly small-scale) violence.

At the intermediate speeds, the movement is  shown by streaks rather than blurred droplets. The one that works best for me is 1/25 s.

The three slowest images were made using an ND10 ‘big stopper’ filter. As the exposure time increases, the details in the moving water smooth out. There is a sense of ‘flow’ in the falling water, the splashes have disappeared or form a light mist, and the froth below the stone takes on a milky appearance, with most of the detail disappearing between 5 and 20 seconds. This area is confused rather than flowing.

The second set of images takes a wider view, with an obvious direction of flow. Shutter speeds were between 1/250s and 60 seconds. A polariser was used to minimise glare by ‘killing’ some reflection from the rocks behind the water. The lower fall and the rock are those seen in the first sequence.

Again, the fastest shutter speed freezes the motion. In this case, there is enough detail to be interesting. However, my preference is for the images between 1/100s and 1/10s, where we see both detail and motion blur and get a feeling of flow and tumult. With the longer times, particularly at 60 secs, there is a feeling of ‘flow’ but the individual droplets are lost and the impression is much more peaceful. The appropriate speed depends on the message one wants to convey. My favourite from this set is the image made at 1/8s.

In the third set, I look at a water surface moving in the form of ripples but with no overall flow. Shutter speeds were between 1/1250s and 60 secs

Tonal differences between the top and bottom row may arise from the use of an ND10 filter for the bottom row. We see individual ripples in all the top row images, with blur starting to intrude at 1/13s. With the two faster images on the bottom row, we know that the surface is rippled but is being smoothed out; I get the best impression of motion a 1.6 secs. In the two longer exposures, the motion has been smoothed out to a ‘frosted glass’ texture. There has also been time for clouds to pass over and their shadows to average-out, so the overall tone is smoother.

I am aware that bigger waves have a longer period and would require correspondingly longer exposures to get a similar effect. The ‘surface’ would also appear more as a layer of mist.

Overall, there appear to be three ‘zones’ of effect arising from shutter speed. Very fast shutters ‘freeze’ the movement and show detail, but can look a bit artificial. Medium shutter speeds (say 1/100s to 1 sec) give the best impression of movement and tumult. The very slow shutter speeds, seconds or minutes, average-out the random fluctuations (thereby appearing more serene) and show the underlying flow or stillness of the body of water.

Voigtländer Vito IIa

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This is a Voigtländer Vito IIa, a 35mm folding camera from the mid-1950s.

Voigtländer had the advertising slogan, “It’s the lens that takes the picture” and this camera is fitted with a pin-sharp 50mm f/3.5 Color-Skopar four-element lens similar to the Tessar. It has a 9-speed Prontor SVS shutter (some versions had the cheaper 4-speed Pronto shutter) and cost about £25 when it first appeared in 1955.

Unfortunately, there is no rangefinder or light-meter but the scale focusing is accurate and it is not too difficult to carry a meter, or estimate using the ‘sunny 16’ rule.

Solidly built, the camera is surprisingly weighty but the folding design makes it eminently pocketable.

I used mine for April in my 12 months 12 cameras project. I love it for the lens, the overall ‘feel’ and for being built between 1955 and 1957 – just like I was.

Collecting • Tutor feedback and responses

I have now received my tutor’s feedback on Assignment 2 ,’Collecting’.Once again, it appears that the project itself is satisfactory, with no rework needed, but I have to make some changes to my approach to research and exercises.

Word document here

I have copied the substantive text in blue type and added my initial responses in black.

In this assignment you have demonstrated an ability to work consistently to a theme and have chosen a topic that has started to develop your thinking and approach to your photography.

My first view of this assignment was seeing the print submitted and the immediate impression that followed was to think that this looks like the work of the Brechers and that their work had been viewed as part of your research.

I am pleased with that reaction/impression because my approach was a deliberate homage to the Bechers’ style and presentation, albeit with a very different subject matter. See below on originality but I hope I put my own twist on it.

Through their position in the Dusseldorf school their work has influenced and permeated to a surprising degree European photography. Two of the better-known photographers coming from this background are Andreas Gursky and Thomas Ruff, both of whose work develops on the Becher’s.

The Ruff JPEG images were referenced in one of the Part Two exercises. It will be interesting to research and do a blog posting on the Dusseldorf School – perhaps using as a starting point Tim Clinch’s tongue-in-cheek depiction as ‘the gloomy b*****d school of photography’ in the current issue of B+W Photography. Is it a legitimate comment or a caricature?

This influence has become particularly noticeable in the effect that it has had on a great deal of students studying photography in art colleges and the production of bodies of work that do not add anything to the canon of photographic originality. The appeal of the Becher’s work is it’s apparent simplicity that leads many unsuspecting student into a cul-de-sac.

In my case it was a deliberate choice to emulate a style, led by the brief, and to see if I could carry it off. This is a one-off and not something that I intend to carry forward as a personal style.

The question that arises is a fundamental one of originality and at what point does work produced become imitation. In the world were millions of images are produced daily we may have to question if there can be such a thing as originality. It is conceivable that at some point we may have to draw a line in the history of photography at the point where originality stopped and to consider imitation not only as a form of flattery but as the only means of producing work.

Another subject for a blog posting.

As a first response, I see two different definitions of ‘originality’. The form that Matthew (my tutor) refers to implies that nothing similar has been done in the entire history of photography. This is roughly equivalent to the concept of priority in scientific research. However, there is a weaker form of originality which requires that a concept is original to the individual photographer without consciously imitating work done by somebody else and somewhere else. There could be unconscious/subconscious influences at work or there could be something like convergent evolution (‘Great minds think alike’).

Drawing a line in the history of photography would be like trying to draw a line in the history of science. Some fields appear fully developed but new work is done all the time.

I was pleased to see that you found a level of experimentation in this work but I would like you to spend more time in developing your projects and in this case perhaps considering a range of different subject matter.

Mostly guilty as charged. I took a soft option, knowing that I would be spending a week in a location where a particular form of subject matter would be readily available. I believe I developed the project by focusing-in (moving from complete bikes to bike parts to a particular class of detail) However, I did not widen it beyond bicycles.

Feedback on assignment and supporting work

The technical nature of your work is consistent in quality and your own assessment of this work clearly demonstrates your understanding of technical process and application.

There is good relevant research into the work of other photographers but I would like to have seen you consider the topic in greater depth. The use of photography as part of classification systems has existed since the beginning of photography and we need to question as practitioners how we contribute to this process. Victorian photographers Francis Galton and John Lamprey used the medium to classify social types and anthropological subjects. Today these would be viewed in a totally different context and some photographers have chosen to readdress these views in contemporary work.

[image of Francis Galton’s composite portraits of social types.]

[images of John Lamprey’s record of a Malayan man.]

These images remind one of the butterfly collections pinned into glass cases in museum collections and of course museums are the great purveyors of classification systems.

Again, guilty as charged. I was more concerned with the aesthetics of the project than with the underlying concept of classification. There was, for instance the possibility of classifying drivetrains by the number of gears in each cluster (and I was looking quite hard but unsuccessfully for an outlier such as Sturmey-Archer hub gears).

The Lamprey images, in particular, appear as a sweeping generalisation. Do Malayans really have only one body shape and only one set of facial features, or do they have a similar range of variation to Europeans? This is similar in concept to some line drawings of ‘the races of men’ that I recall seeing in a Victorian encyclopedia.

You might have considered and critiqued how contemporary photography across a variety of genres falls easily into classification as an example what are the concerns of Sebastião Salgado’s major opus on workers? At one level the bleakness of exploited people throughout the world but on another his camera lingers lovingly on the faces and bodies of his subjects in many ways similar to the early anthropological photographers.

I am part-way through ‘Genesis‘ at present and will review it.

I would like to see you take a wider view on the topics that you select to work on and to develop these within the context of your own research.

The final piece of work was a good choice of subject but when looking at your contact sheets I found that I was yearning to see another piece of work that included all of these images in a single frame.

Allowing for duplications, that would have been in excess of 100 images in the final grid, with very small images or a very large piece of printing paper. I chose to present a sample of nine because it fitted with the brief.

As a regards the exercises do not just consider these as merely a means of illustrating the techniques but take the opportunity to develop interesting images within the parameters of the course requirements and trying out possible ideas for future projects.

I think I take a utilitarian view of the exercises (particularly those in the first half of the course notes which look like revision of existing knowledge) but try to branch out with the assignments.

Learning Logs or Blogs/Critical essays

The learning log has a good layout and is well illustrated with your own work and that of other photographers.

There is good research into the work of other photographers and the descriptions of the work and exhibition visits are informative but I do not get a sense of what your intellectual and emotional responses are in relation to the work.

As I am new to the idea of art as an academic discipline, I have felt inhibited about my comments for fear of trampling on orthodoxies. I will take this comment as licence to be a bit more outspoken in future.

You say you did not get the Bruce Gilden work. I would have been interested to know what your thoughts were on this and where you placed the work in contemporary practice.

Strange And Familiar: Britain As Revealed By International Photographers, Curated By Martin Parr

The Bruce Gilden images in ‘Strange and Familiar’ are this set. My first reaction was one of revulsion. On reflection and analysis I see a common approach; larger-than-life images, highly detailed, oversaturated and showing wide-angle distortions produced rather grotesque caricatures of the subjects and presented them with no dignity, as exhibits in a freak-show.

Do analyze the work and ideas in greater depth. I would also like to see this applied to your own work. Try to draw connections between different photographers work. For example Keith Arnatt’s series could be related to the earlier work of August Sander and the contemporary work of Rineke Dijkstra.

Suggested reading/viewing

Continue critical reading with current books and relate to own work

There are many photographers historical and contemporary whose work can be researched. Some photographers that I recommend you investigate include W. Eugene Smith, Josef Koudelka, William Klein, Sally Mann, Andre Kertesz, Gary Winogrand, Paul Rheas, Martin Parr, Rineke Dijkstra, Cindy Sherman, Pieter Hugo, David Goldblatt.

All names to look out for. I have seen some of these (Mann, Kertesz, Winograd, Parr and Sherman) in books or exhibitions. First reactions: Martin Parr is definitely growing on me. Sally Mann shades worryingly into child porn. The Cindy Sherman self-portraits seem too self-indulgent for my taste.

Pointers for the next assignment

Select texts for critical reading appropriate to the assignment.

Between Amazon for new books and eBay for second-hand, my critical library has been building up since starting this course. My reading is starting to catch up with my acquisitions.

Continue to develop in depth your learning log to consider the progress of your own work and reflect upon your reading and viewing.

The ‘to do’ list is getting longer. I currently have 5 ‘saved drafts’ with titles only, following tutor feedbacks. Watch this space.

Take more time to develop projects and proceed with assignment 3.

Most of the mechanical exercises are done. I am looking forward to the HC-B review developing my ideas about ‘the decisive moment’. Plenty to do before the submission deadline.