Exercises for Assignment 4

Exercise 1: Read the article ‘’On Foucault: Disciplinary and Photography’’ by David Green ( The Camera Work Essays, 2005, pp.119-31). Core resources: OnFoucault.pdf

Sumamarise the key points made by the author in your learning log.


The main idea of discipline in this article means training people to obey rules using punishment.

Writer raises the question if people have to be punished to learned their mistake, or is it possible to do reach this goal in other ways.

Discipline and punished has influence on documentary photographic practice too. Photographer uses discipline to observe and record those issues or themes he thinks is important. In other words photographer has power over his subjects.

We also have to think about subject as free people, street/ documentary many time go to close, record very personal things and situation. Documentary photography opened new possibilities to use photograph as an evidence, however we have to think how we will use power of photography to obey rules of ethical values.

Exercise 2: Read the article ‘The Photograph as an Intersection of Gazes: The Example of National Geographic’ by Catherine Lutz and Jane Collins.
Core resources: NationalGeographic_gaze.pdf

In what ways does the idea of the gaze apply to your photography? What are the implications of this for your practice? Write a short reflective commentary in your learning log.


This article is about relationship between photograph subject and magazine. This is about meanings of gaze, which created westerns.

National Geographic magazine is about different photography, photography who has meaning and a story. In this type of magazine we can find photographs as documents and also beauty photographs.

7 types of gaze listed in the article:

  1. Photographers gaze
  2. Institution gaze (magazine)
  3. Readers gaze (western readers)
  4. Subjects gaze (non western)
  5. Explicit looking done by a western subject appearing in the frame with non western locals
  6. Returned gazes (from reflections, mirrors, subjects using cameras)
  1. Academic gaze

This article made my think about ethics in my photography practice. We have to be careful taking non-westerns people as subjects in our photography, there are many images in a press like this. We have to take in count if we were in this situation, how would we feel?

Those images were taken to inform rest of the world about poor situations our there, but this doesn’t give us a right to take photos like this.

In my experience I have been doing few projects on street photography, but then I did not took those ethical issues in count, now I see problems in this…

In my opinion documentary photographers work for public to inform and highlight current issues. In this case people have to let photographers gaze on them, use their personal information.

Exercise 3: Listen to Don McCullin taking about his exhibition Shaped by War on Radio 4’s Excess Baggage: www.bbc.co.uk/radio/player/b00qlgzg

This radio interview covers an idea of how those photograph of pain, death, conflict, war and suffering affect us. I thing that everyone human being seeing things like this have a strong emotional effect.

McCullin in this interview describes how he felt about that kind of situation. He wanted to escape North London, however when he escaped and saw even more tragical and very difficult situations. It is very hard when you photograph subject asking you for help and you know you can not do anything, only to take that picture and send message across to the audience.

This is where Mc Cullin found landscape photography, this was an escape and some kind of meditation for his soul and minds.

Monica Porter talks about her experience, growing up in New York and London, in a perfect and safe environment. When at that time there was a war in Hungary. When she was nineteen she decide to visit her Home land, and there were so many things she weren’t comfortable with. Growing up or living in another country so a long time makes you really an outsider, you come back to the place you are borned and you don’t feel that connection anymore. I am talking about my own experience.

This exercise is for us to understand that photograph is a document, however we need to understand photograph. Images have to have clear message. I believe that photograph is successful when you see photographer’s emotional input in it.

I can talk form my own experience, I tried to create photographic project based on homeless people, I fell shock that most of them just impersonate to be one. But the homes who were really homeless with serious health problems, I could not take images of those, their eyes screamed help me. There was too strong emotional feeling, which I couldn’t face up to.

Exercise 4: Read the articles ‘Walk the Line’ by Max Houghton (Foto, Issue 23, pp. 143-4) and ‘Imaging War’ by Jonathan Kaplan (Foto8, issue 23, pp.142-3)

Core resources: Foto8#23_Kaplan&Houghton.pdf

The full issue of the magazine available to download from:


Write down your reactions on the author’s arguments.

Jonathan Kaplan is a war surgeon and at the same time photographer, he raises a question where is the limits for photographs to be shown.

Max Houghton writes about same article, he have to understand that photography is not only the art, it is strong toll also. The image in his article definitely crosses all ethical boundaries. Also this image distract viewer from the main problem/issue.

I am mother myself, seeing this situation in the real, I would probably forget about camera, I would try to help this distress child, who left without mother.

This makes me really sad that someone think that this way of photographing people in normal.

Exercise 5: Read the booklet ‘Imaging Famine’

Core resources: imagingFamine.pdf.

Do some research across printed and online media and find examples that either illustrates or challenge the issues highlighted in the document. Add your findings to your learning log.

I found an interesting detail in this article that showing famine pictures in the press has negative aspects too. Africa became continent of Famine, this is how western people imaging this.

This type of photographic project do not le those African people to have dignity, they are photographed in those kind of situations where they are not able, to say know. In my option photographers use this power over them.

I agree that is hard to tell the story keeping their dignity. But we have to look at the ethical side; they are alive and have feelings, begging for the help.

I am really glad than in 1980 Oxfam decided not to use this kind of photographs in their fund raising campaigns. In order to save people’s dignity, most importantly mother and kids.

There is another truth for this fundraising campaign, that Oxfam would not raise so much money, if they would use different images. Empathy is strong tool playing of people’s feeling.

This raises a question again, what is documentary photography? Newspapers, journals and television are the main market for those photographs. Photographer does not decided which images should be published this is done by editors and directors. So we see images that will increase number or reader or watched, but not the ones which photographer picked us to see. So the statement what we see is truth is not necessary correct.

My opinion about aesthetics and images of famine is very negative, Being the mum for 2 years old and seeing those children suffering, stops me form thinking about aesthetics qualities. There is a right time and place to demonstrate ascetics qualities, photos of famine is definitely not the one.

I researched some images that have signs of aesthetics:

Source: https://iconicphotos.wordpress.com/tag/famine/

Source: http://blogs.denverpost.com/captured/2011/08/03/captured-somalia-famine/4538/


I found an interesting essay on famine:


An interesting interview based on aesthetics and famine:


There is an interesting interview with David Campbell and John Levy considering if famine images has place for aesthetics. There are many different opinions however some of them raises very important questions such as why photographers creates images where is clearly seen result of the issues, but not the issue itself? The problem is not famine, problem is in power and structure of those countries, there is plenty of food there, but people still die there. Campbell blames photographers for not showing real situation to viewer. This opinion been compared to situation of blaming blog post creator for the comments on his work.

Another interesting pint covers aesthetics, David Campbell proves that some images has aesthetics in themselves, some subjects are photograph many times, to achieve the best looking image with right composition and beauty.

In my opinion the important parts of this essay covers the understanding of aesthetics, if you understand aesthetics as a beauty of something very neat, there is no chance seeing those signs in famine photographs. However if you understand aesthetics as good composition and the best possible camera settings used there are chances you find quite few images like this.

Exercise 6: Read the, WeAreOca blog post the ethics and aesthetics, (http://www.weareoca.com/photography/the-ethics-of -aesthetics/) including all the replies to it, and write a comment both on the blog page and in your blog. Make sure that you visit all the links on the blog post.

Alejandro Chaskelberg work proves us totally different seeing, understanding and believing of photographed images. This kind of way saves people dignity and seems like those colours makes situation look better. Also looking through those images I feel like those people are closer to us than previous images based on famine, it seems more western. Could it be the case that photographers want to distract viewer form real situation, using his technical abilities? Or create situation better as he wished that situation would be better there. It can also be the case when press needed new and unpublished view on famine? I do understand the real word for aesthetics in famine photographs now, as Chaskelberg proved us this very well.

Exercise 7: Read Claire Cozens’ Guardian article about Guerrero’s photograph:




What would you have done had you been the editor of a British broadsheet newspaper?


A similar case revolving around photograph of a dead Iraki soldier in the Gulf War prompted Michael Ignatieff, the author of Magnum degrees, to write and reflect on the ethics of photojournalism. Read ‘But Should You Print It?


Core resources: ShouldYourPrint.pdf


I guess aesthetics is important when we are talking about press, there are many people reading this newspaper, so editor did not want them to get sick seeing this photograph, we also have to think about children, newspaper is available to them as well.

I think it was very difficult decision for editor, as altering images means he changes real facts and information.

If I would be an editor I would probably leave this article without any image, as there another question is raised, about privacy of those injured people and their families.

In my opinion all photographs containing violence, terrorism, dead people and car crashes is not for publishing. However the contest and idea of those kind of images are very important too, as there is an examples such as images of atomic bomb tests in the American south-west, bodies of the Jews murdered by Nazis, as those images made our history is written in the book for schools and universities, there is only one way to create right impression, by using those images. I think every image has to have it own purpose and meaning, and if it has one and it is shown in right light, it can be published.

Exercise 8: Read the two essays in the BPB 2008 programme and look at the work of the curator selected for the exhibition.


Core resources: BPB2008.pdf


Write a short press release of around 250 words in your learning log – in your own words.

Brighton Photo Bennial’ s 2008 programmer ‘’Memory of Fire: the War of images and Images of War’’ introduces us with and goes into more details how war photographers changed during the time. There are listed thirty-five war photographers wit examples of their work. In this case some of those photographers are artistists photojournalists or even amateur photographers. Those visual examples help us to see more details, elements of war photography and aesthetic side of those works.

The writer of those essays – Julian Stallabrass , his biggest fear that commercial side of the war images would destroy the real idea and understanding of the war situation. Many photographers staging or altering with digital manipulation images by this way they loose their truthful understandings and ideas. The worst case that reader doesn’t believe the photographs in press anymore, as it is very hard to understand where is right or wrong information. We all know that press is using their articles and photographs to attract more readers, in this case it may be false or altered information used.

In my opinion documentary photography is losing it meaning, as the main point is to inform readers, create a document, which can be used in the future.

However there is a problem of power and structure there, photographers do not decide what images have to be published, press does. After all photographer is powerless…

Exercise 9: Browse the catalogue Tribal Portraits: Vintage and Contemporary Photographs from the African Continent, Bernard J Shapero Rare Books.


Core resources: TribalPortraits.pdf


Write a brief reflective commentary in your learning log.

The catalogue contains around 200 –photographs, taken from 1830 until now.

Many famous photographers are included in this catalogue such as Seydou Keita, Leni Riefenstahl and Irving Penn.

This catalogue is a perfect example how hunger and poor living conditions do not get in the way of demonstrating tribal’ life, unique rite and clothes. Also there is a strong sign of photography possibilities growing during that time.

I fell that from all photographers George Rogers stands out. His images perfectly reflect uniqueness of each tribal. Strong compositions together with honesty and simplicity cover many traditional tribal routines and rites. All his images are in motion; this may be a key for his success.

This exercise helped me to understand that idea of photographic project is very important, as one situation can be interpretive in different ways, problems and solution, photographers has a huge power to decide what has to be shown and why to the public.

Research Point: Do your own research into the bodies of work discussed in this project. Can you find any examples of work carried out amongst indigenous peoples that, in your view, honesty document the lives of their subjects without falling into some of the traps that we’ve been discussing here? If so, how has the photographer achieved this?

Peter Lavery Of Humankind




Peter Lavery produced some images of different ethnic groups, however he decided to detached people form their surroundings. In my opinion images lost their connection with the environment, also it lost their power of showing uniqueness of each ethic group, the all look the same in black background.


David Bruce San



Same static images, on the background, those images kind of asking for more information. I find it quite confusing, those portraits are here to introduce us with ethic groups, but at the same their background is in the secret.


Edvard S Curtis Nootka Women




Very similar portraits to David Bruce’, however those been photographed 100 years earlier. I think we can produce better images with more context and narrative.


Juan Echeverria Himba of Namibia




There is uncomfortable to look at those nude women when they are detached form their surroundings, it hard to understand who those women are and why they are nude in front of the viewer, also what is the main idea of those photographs.



Alvaro Leyva Indigenous people in the Amazon Basin


Could not find any information about those images. Website http://www.alvaroleiva.com/index.php?ctrl=section&action=view&id=2 does not contain those images.








I found all these links very useful; it pushed me into doing more research on these projects. The good thing is that some of these projects are very successful and others are not… this gives us a chance to see why…


Interrogations’ by Donald Weber




Source: http://prisonphotography.org/2010/11/09/interrogations-by-donald-weber/



“Watching the methods was not pleasant. Humiliation, violence, degradation. How could you not be repulsed? But the reasons I was there were not for judging them, but was to actually show something very special in the terms of the secrecy of the act. I made a special document precisely because it was about the ‘absence of the void,’ that it showed humans at their most vulnerable and most cruel. This series could easily be judged along the same lines as a war photographer that constantly gets criticized for not doing anything, for not jumping into the fray.”


9:30AM PST, NOV. 10TH

As you know, so often I think it is important that a photographer really describes the circumstances of their work. Donald Weber must be aware that I harp on about access (as it relates to photography in prisons) because he emailed me and asked me to pass on this information:


“As you know, I’ve spent almost six years living and working in this area. On my very first trip I met a police detective with whom I got along with. Over time, we developed a bond and a trust. Every trip I would bring him photographs and was always very upfront with my work, who I was and what I was doing. Never hiding the results, however critical they may be of him and the methods the police employ.”

“About five years ago I witnessed my first interrogation, and was utterly shocked at its violence, not just physically but mentally as well. Solzhenitsyn talks for almost a third of his book The Gulag Archipelago about the nature of interrogation, and the importance of the interrogation not just through Soviet history, but universally. He would think everyday about the moment of his interrogation how he was broken, and everyday about the moment of his execution. So, the seed for this story was planted.”

“For obvious reasons I could not just ask to photograph inside an interrogation. As my work progressed, so did my police contact, who rose over time to the rank of Major. He had gained a position of authority to grant permission. Since we had spent so many years together photographing, he was aware of my methods and how I worked. We rarely spoke to each other, during work or after hours. I felt it best to maintain as much distance as possible but still respectful of his role. When he finally granted permission he still made me work for the access to the actual accused.”

“I sat almost everyday for four months on a bench in a hallway of the police station waiting with the people who were to be interrogated. The first month, not  a single frame was photographed. Each day I would show up 9am, and leave approximately 12 hours later. Most days were spent with nothing to photograph, many of the accused were not interested in having there photo taken. On average, I was lucky to photograph maybe two people a week over a four month period.”

“This was not simply a case of walking in saying hello as a privileged Westerner and flashing my camera around. This was a project five years in the making. So before anybody rushes to quick judgement, I felt the facts as to how the work was created should be shared.”

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Source: http://prisonphotography.org/2010/11/09/interrogations-by-donald-weber/


Interrogations, by Donald Weber, is a collection of images operating along the undefined boundaries between the private and the public. Photographs of arrested petty criminals at the moment of their confession convey a raw honesty that is painful to see. It is painful because in most images those photographed show obvious guilt, which is a strong emotion usually confined to the private domain. So there are interesting ethical issues surrounding Weber’s work.’’


Source: http://www.weareoca.com/photography/oca-students-visit-hereford-photography-festival/






‘Traces’ by Manuel Vazquez


Website: http://www.manuelv.net/PROJECTS/TRACES/1/


‘’However, it was the work of fellow Spaniard Manuel Vázquez which I found the most moving in the Time & Motion display. His visual renditions in response of the 2004 Atocha bombing in Madrid make use of universal metaphors of dark and light, life and death, blurring the boundaries between fiction and reality yet conveying a strong and poignant message.  Vázquez also explored the multimedia environment for this body of work.’’


Source: http://www.weareoca.com/photography/oca-students-visit-hereford-photography-festival/



‘Sleepers’ Dhruv Malhotra



















Source: https://www.google.lt/search?q=Dhruv+Malhotra%E2%80%99Sleepers&tbm=isch&imgil=l9yfm8Bb7xMmDM%253A%253Bhttps%253A%252F%252Fencrypted-tbn3.gstatic.com%252Fimages%253Fq%253Dtbn%253AANd9GcRR0H6-DHoE_yFpBlBuX6Hi–pgdxAYahUJV9eirl4YQWgkc1EA%253B640%253B360%253BVBnZaSr4T-TpbM%253Bhttp%25253A%25252F%25252Fvimeo.com%25252F32226097&source=iu&usg=__NlogaMtRFqKhW_n6U7n39H2PFJY%3D&sa=X&ei=ZVccU5_bMtOQhQefv4CoAw&ved=0CDwQ9QEwAQ&biw=1411&bih=696#facrc=_&imgdii=_&imgrc=k-6CekGWL75-vM%253A%3BMKj258G6zfTLAM%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252Fwww.villanoailles-hyeres.com%252Fuphyeres25%252Fthumbnails%252Fdhruv_malhotra_03_600x600.jpg%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252Fwww.villanoailles-hyeres.com%252Fhyeres25en.php%253Fcat_id%253D4%3B600%3B491



‘’Dhruv Malhotra’s Sleepers portfolio blew me away. OCA level 3 students reading this, please go and see his work. This is a lesson for us all in the West, with our far-reaching gaze which is at the same time inherently shortsighted. Here we have an Indian photographer from Jaipur who could teach us a thing or two about what it takes to put together a coherent and captivating body of work on a humanist topic of universal appeal.’’


‘’I think there was a universal thumbs up for Dhruv Malhotra’s’Sleepers’.


Source: www.weareoca.com/photography/oca-students-visit-hereford-photography-festival/


‘The Election Project’ by Simon Roberts

















Source: http://theelectionproject.co.uk/the-exhibition


‘’ The other body of work at the Co-Op building I would like to mention is Simon Roberts’  The Election Project. You may have heard of it. It provides an interesting visual and conceptual counterpoint to Malhotra’s sleepers. Sitting on a fence is hardly a comfortable place to be so I will take a stance here, for the better or the worse. Roberts’ images left me cold. What is photography if not a mechanism to elicit emotions in the viewer? Roberts’ images triggered zero emotions in me – unless you count my frustation and mild annoyance at his work as emotions. What purpose do his images serve? To me, they reflect an election utopia, an idealised society devoid of emotions and tension embarked in the ultimate civilised activity: a confrontation-free electoral process.

So you see Roberts’ images, and then you go to the far end of the exhibition were election photographs taken by the public are also shown in a collage. Here you will spot posters of Gordon Brown defaced with red paint – a metaphore for the spill of blood in Iraq? And photographs of David Cameron with a hand-painted toothbrush moustache – OK, unfair but very funny. Yes, emotions, they make us human. On a very personal level, and intellectual and artistic considerations aside, I’d rather see the photographs taken by the public one hundred times than Roberts’. Because if a photograph doesn’t make the viewer feel anything,  well, what is the point of taking it in the first place?’’

‘’ Can’t comment on Simon Roberts because there was a power failure on the first floor of the Old Co-Op building when I was there. They certainly didn’t look too good in semi-darkness!’’


‘’ I share Jose’s concerns with regards to the Election Project images…on first sight they left me a bit cold. Although I have to admit as I spent more time looking at the images I began to see more in them – perhaps this was Simon Roberts’ intention…to make us look and think.’’



‘Closer’ by Stuart Griffiths






















Source: http://www.stuartgriffiths.net/portfolio/closer.html


‘’ I thought that, and Stuart Griffiths’ ‘Closer’, were the strongest work of the Brighton shows.

A lot of the rest provided plenty of grist to the mill in the context of some of the debates already taking place on here, irrespective of its appeal.’’

Source: www.weareoca.com/photography/oca-students-visit-hereford-photography-festival/


Queer Brighton by Molly Landreth


















Source: http://mollylandreth.com/#/portfolio/portfolios/queer-brighton/10


‘’ For me the highlights were the sensitive portraits by Molly Landreth – Queer Brighton at the Lighthouse and Mexican taxi driver, Oscar Fernando Gomez’s, photographs through the window of his cab on show at the Co-operative Department store.’’


Source: www.weareoca.com/photography/oca-students-visit-hereford-photography-festival/



‘Windows 2009’ by Oscar Fernando Gomez






















Source: http://www.lamiradadeltaxista.com/content/en/projects.htm


Peter Denche



Website: http://www.peterdench.com/#/drinkuk/00001Book018


‘’ I knew that no matter how shocked I initially was when I first saw the slideshow by Peter Dench, I would eventually say something positive about his work. “Don’t do it”, I said to myself, “you are from Barcelona”…well, I’m not really, but even though the UK is my country of adoption, I’m still, strictly speaking, a foreigner.

And that poses certain challenges when it comes to doing cross-cultural analysis, which is why I wanted to remain neutral about Denche’s work. But sitting on the fence is pretty uncomfortable, and the opportunity to stir controversy too attractive, so I’ll take sides, for the better or the worse: I actually like his work. I’m not talking about his photographs of drunks, on which I totally agree with Gareth, I mean the other set of images shown on the slideshow, those tackling the topic of multiculturalism. I find them visually unsophisticated, and that’s precisely why I like them so much. Slanted, unbalanced and off-the-cuff compositions add a layer of instability to his work which perfectly matches the subject matter. I look at his photographs and I get a sense of a precariously unstable exercise in multiculturalism. I’m not making a judgement here; but that’s what I felt when looking at Denche’s images.’’

Source: http://www.weareoca.com/photography/right-here-right-nowsecond-thoughts/


Michael Wolf






















Source: http://photomichaelwolf.com/#paris-street-view/6


‘’ The idea of authorship was challenged by Michael Wolf in his ‘A series of unfortunate events’. A collection of images regurgitated by Google Street View made up his exhibition. His photographs – they’re not his,  are they? – highlight nothing if not the fact that we all like looking at things. It’s called scopophilia and it is hard wired in us. And if you’re thinking that the sexual connotations of the term are not relevant within the context of Michael Woolf’s work, well, think again because by looking at his work at Derby’s QUAD you – like me –  became a voyeur. BJP magazine interviewed Michael Woolf at Format; worth watching to know more about the photographer’s motivations behind his work.’’


Source: http://www.weareoca.com/photography/right-here-right-nowsecond-thoughts/


Joel Meyerowitz


Website: http://www.joelmeyerowitz.com/photography/index.html


‘’ Which leads me to the topic of Street Photography, the main theme of Format and a genre which I love and hate in equal measure – you can read an older post on street photography here. Photography heavy-weight Joel Meyerowitz said that:

“Street photography is pure photography because it never borrowed from the vocabulary of painting in the way still-life, portraiture, genre-studies and landscape did. Most people now carry a camera-phone, and through the agency of the internet, a new generation has the potential to show us raw genius from the ranks of the millions of people now photographing this way.

(you can listen to an interview with Joel Meyerowitz on BBC’s Front Row – fast forward to 17′)

And with all the respect that I have for someone like him, I can’t help thinking that that’s a scary prospect, if not a dystopic one. No matter how compelling some street photography can be, as demonstrated by the In-Public collective exhibition at Derby Museum, I still find some of it slightly creepy. Millions of people with easy-to-conceal cameras observing us, stalking us. Did I say observing us? Street photography, with all its potential for communication, uncomfortably resonates with the Mass Observation Project.’’



Project Colour and modernity

Exercise 1: Read the article ‘Seeing and Believing’, written by Max Houghton for Foto8.


Core resources: Foto8#4.3_SeeingBelieving.pdf


The full issue is available to download from: http:/issuu.com/foto8/docs/vol4no3


Select two bodies of work from Eight Ways to Change the World that show different conceptual and visual styles and write a short reflective commentary in your learning log. Both bodies of work should be in colour. Discuss aspects like information, aesthetics and expression.


Core resources: Panos8ways.pdf


This article is about how non-government organizations (NGO) used photography to manipulate charity work idea.


The questions arise if photographs would be more truthful if were photographed by local photographs? Photographers from elsewhere may be influenced by NGO. However local photographers do not have relevant education and experience to do it.


Houghton explains how NGO uses their images, they records things what has been done to help those poor people, in the way attracting us to donate money and continue helping those people. However as many charities, lots of those money are going towards things no one promotes. Images we see are not truth, this documentary course proved this many times.


The main point is that getting closer to your subject, revealing more information, to show how charity work helped them is more interesting than sad images of hungry kids. I think the problem is that people stopped believing that help is possible and action was taken, as it wasn’t enough information.





























Source: http://www.panos.co.uk//bin/panos2.dll/go?a=disp&t=preview-loader.html&si=&ir=00034132


The first image I chose from project Eight Ways to Change the World is taken at school. Limited access of education is popular between many documentary photographers. This image has strong signs, which creates narrative and raises many questions. I understand this image as the young lady ask for one more child to be educated with the help of charities, one after one this could lead to groups. This image is a proof that schools exists andruns well.I do understand that colour is revolution in documentary photography, however photographer doesn’t use very bright colours, seems like some of them are desaturated. Also I find format of the image quite different maybe cropped image? As there is no B&W option photographer decide to illuminate not important parts this way?






























Source: https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=eight+ways+to+change+the+world&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ei=FwceU7P6D4aUhQe3ooHoBw&ved=0CAgQ_AUoAg&biw=1411&bih=696#facrc=_&imgdii=_&imgrc=n2P086AC52ot-M%253A%3BfhrLVK25hd6cKM%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252Fnews.bbc.co.uk%252Fnol%252Fshared%252Fspl%252Fhi%252Fpop_ups%252F05%252Fin_pictures_eight_ways_to_change_the_world%252Fimg%252F1.jpg%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252Fnews.bbc.co.uk%252F2%252Fshared%252Fspl%252Fhi%252Fpop_ups%252F05%252Fin_pictures_eight_ways_to_change_the_world%252Fhtml%252F1.stm%3B600%3B400


This image has strong signs too. Bricks symbolize building better lives and fulfill their dreams. Despite that those men lives in poverty they are able to work and support their families. What ‘s charity role in this? Provide bricks, equipment for work and better living. I can notice again that image does not contain much background and photograph format is different again, this is totally different to B&W.


Exercise 2: Choose a topic that interests you and produce a small portfolio of five colour images in a surrealist style.


Share your portfolio with the OCA communities in OCA/student and ask fellow students to comment.


Before you start this exercise visit Peter Dench’s website www.peterdench.com


Analyse Dench’s style, looking particularly at his use of surrealism. How effective is surrealism as visual and conceptual strategy in Dench’s documentary photography?


Peter Dench photographs UK during different occasions and situations, his photographic albums such as etic, love, drink, rain, fashion and so on. I paid attention to his album called ‘the last resort revisited’ which has strong influence by Martin Paar.


His surrealistic style with humor and special depiction creates powerful image of British every day life and problems/issues. However some of themes he chooses in my opinion has no narrative and some composition are not so strong. It feels like he only shot what he see instead of trying to create better composition with powerful narrative.



My five surrealistic images in color:


Topic: Light expressions



































































































Exercise 3: Read the first chapter of The Tourist Gaze. Core resources: Urry_TouristGaze.pdf Write a 200-word reflective commentary in your learning log about its relevance to documentary photography.


This chapter from book ‘The Tourist Gaze’ introduces us with Tourism in many ways: various social classes, cultures understand Tourism differently; gaze and photos that are produced reflect this different too.


I tried to find relevance to documentary photography, more closely to street photography. Urry talks about gazing to other people personal life, to be honest gazing is important part of street photography too as we need to find out why we will be taking this image, what details and composition can work better together and finally waiting for right moment, decisive moment.

In my opinion travel photography takes a huge responsibility for producing right photos with huge volume of information and details to attract potential client. By seeing those photographs we imagine the place and more often is not like we expected.

I remember looking at photos of Paris and wondering how great it would be to get there, Eifel Tower seem to be something magical, love flies around, many kissing people. Reality I saw when I get there was very far away from my illusion: huge tourist queue, waiting for 5 hours to get there, many policeman with guns, drinking wine at every corner and don’t forget very enjoying souvenir’s sellers.


Exercise 4: Go to: http://www.insight-visual.com/paul-exhibition.html
and look at Paul Close’s environmental portraits. Analyse his visual style and consider whether the images work as documentary photographs and, if so, why.

Firstly few definitions of documentary photography:


Documentary photography has implied a practice in which the photographer examined a socially conscious concern of the time within an extended form. An extensive series of images as well as the use of text are utilized to provide an in-depth examination into a subject with the intention to suggest empathy and/or social change.

Source: http://aphototeacher.com/2010/02/01/redefining-documentary-photography-then-and-now/


Documentary photography is extended form — that is, a work composed of a sizeable number of images. Some relation to text is a given, even if it’s only minimal, as in the identification of subject, date, and location; the text may in fact be extensive. There is no external time limit implicit in this form; some documentary projects have stretched over decades.

For this reason, the documentary photographer is likely to have the opportunity to refine the project, not only through the analysis of the work-in-progress at various stages but even by the reshooting of unsatisfactory segments of the work. The elaborate nature of such projects lends itself to subjects that are seen as enduring; for much the same reason, the final forms they assume tend to be durable: the book and the exhibition have to date functioned as the primary embodiments of documentary projects, though certain audio-visual formats are serving this purpose with increasing frequency.

– A.D. Coleman, from his essay, Documentary, Photojournalism, and Press Photography Now – Notes and Questions and published in Depth of Field.


Documentary photography has come to represent the social conscience of liberal sensibility presented in visual imagery. Like photos of children in pleas for donations to international charity organizations, liberal documentary implores us to look in the face of deprivation and to weep (and maybe send money, if it is to some faraway place where the innocence of childhood poverty does not set off in us the train of thought that begins with denial and ends with “welfare cheat.”)

The expose, the compassion and outrage, of documentary fueled by the dedication to reform has shaded over into combinations of exoticism, tourism, voyeurism, psychologism, and metaphysics, trophy hunting – and careerism.

It is easy to understand why what has ceased to be news becomes testimonial to the bearer of the news. Documentary testifies, finally, to the bravery or (dare we name it?) the manipulativeness and savvy of the photographer, who entered a situation of physical danger, social restrictedness, human decay, or combinations of these and saved us the trouble. Or who, like the astronauts, entertained us by showing us the places we never hope to go. War photography, slum photography, “subculture” or cult photography, photography of the foreign poor, photography of “deviance.”

Martha Rosler, from her essay, In, around and afterthoughts (on documentary photography) and published in The Contest of Meaning: Critical Histories of Photography, edited by Richard Bolton



As I see it, the intentions of a documentary photographer are to record some aspects of reality, by producing a depiction of what the photographer saw and which portends to represent that reality in as objective a manner as possible. If we can agree to that description, I can already see our critics pounding on their desks accompanied by some degree of glee on their faces, as they suggest that this is precisely the reason why there is no room for the computer to be used in recreating documentary images.

I believe we have already discussed in all sorts of forums the fact that photography per se, is tantamount to manipulation. That the impact of the lens selected, the film chosen, and all the other technical variables leave ample room to question the so called “faithful representation” of reality.

So why are so many people up in arms about the idea that a photograph edited in the computer is not really a true documentary representation? As I have come to understand it, it has mainly to do with past traditions and customs.

Pedro Meyer, from his essay Redefining Documentary Photography and published in The Real and the True: The Digital Photography of Pedro Meyer



Paul Close has very strong photographic voice, looking from the side it looks like he follows Ricard Avedon signature. Avedon main idea was to separate subjects from their background. I think this type of photography is difficult to understand, as there are no details to tell anything about subject, however we are forced to look at his eyes, lips, facial expression, body language, and clothes.


Close places his subject on the white background, however leaves plenty of important links behind it. There are people standing behind white background or some kind important place that definitely links with the subject. This type of photography is interesting to view; it’s like puzzle you have to find right pieces connecting to the subject and have to think why and how it used.


I like the idea how photographic separation makes subject and his environment even closer, it seems like this way subject importance to his environment is shown. In my opinion white colour gives strong contrast to the rest of the image, black background would not have same affect? This portfolio also raises the idea that tourist will never be professional photographer, there is always a chance to catch really good moment, but professional photographers has a reason why and instructions how he will achieve successful image. I will categorize his photography as documentary as there is a lot of important information, there are clear signs of what African needs and aspirations are.


Exercise 5: Read the interview with Cia Rinne on The Roma Journeys. Core resources: CiaRinne.pdf.

Research and compare Koudelka’s Gypsies and Eskildsen’s The Roma Journeys. Discuss aspects to do with the photographer’s intention and the distinctive aesthetics and approach of each body of work.

The interview introduces us with Eskildsen’s photographic project about Roma’s life and conditions what occur. This project been produced between 2000 and 2006 with help of Cia Rinne. Photographers spent lot of time with their subject, even lived with them if circumstances were right. The interesting fact is that photographers did not have a certain photographic goal before traveling to Roma, there was only their own interest and curiosity. I found this very surprising, this means that there is no need to preplan or to set goal for yourself prior shooting…This is totally different what we are told by OCA learning materials and tutors?


We are asked to research and compare Kaudeka’s Gypsies and Eskildsen’s The Roma Journeys.


  1. The first biggest difference is the choice of photography. Kaudeka photographed in Black and White and Eskildsen used colour in some of his photographs. In my opinion black and white create stronger feelings and circumstances that photographers wants to express.


  1. Kaudeka’s images represent older era, many of his subject are older people, we can see in their eyes, body positioning and expressions they hard live they lived, it seems like they did not have any modernity in their lives.


  1. The photographic detail as colour documentary photography says us that Eskildsen’s photographs are modern and more like contemporary art.


  1. Eskildsen photographed young people, his images full of positive feelings, there is no signs different view to gypsies lives.


  1. I noticed that Eskilsen’s project including gypsies of seven different countries are very different, this shows us a huge impacts and affects of home country, this creates the rules of live.









Exercise 6: Exercise

Read the article on We English in Eight magazine (issue 25, summer 2009). Core resources: Foto8#25_WeEnglish.pdf

The full issue of the magazine is available to download at:


Download Stephen Daniels’ introductory essay to We English and the relevant contact sheets from:
http://simoncroberts.com/work/we-english/ #PHOTO_0

Write a short reflective commentary.

Simon Roberts uses ‘Motherland’ project as a tool for representing how English people are attached to their homeland. Photographer decides to take images of people in everyday life and social activities.

Simon Roberts has very close idea as Tony Ray-Jones, Martin

Parr and John Davies but he has a different approach, his image are more distance, there I more connection between people and landscape.

I found one of his sentences quite disturbing:

‘’It’s an enormous amount of work, incredibly time consuming, and this

is one of things young photographers don’t realise – 20 per cent of your time

is taking pictures and 80 per cent is banging your head against a wall trying

to make things happen.”

I am not sure if I can agree with this, in my photographic projects I definitely spend more than 50 per cent on my time on photographing and rest on writing, explaining and creating visual idea. There are so many successful photographers round and each of them have their own techniques which can not be judged.


Robert’s wide frame pictures have very strong little details in foreground, most of the time there are people who make frame full, they explain why this image is English and purpose of each beautiful landscape.

‘’Many of the most memorable shots incorporate coastal scenes yet I wonder how much of this statement is weighed down with personal memory and in so doing realise this is a huge part of the work’s charm. Woolacombe beach, in Devon, where I spent a holiday as a ve-year- old, provides now, as then, a perfect sandy playground. Holkham beach, here swathed in soft dusky sunlight, in Norfolk, brings together a game of cricket as well as a mother chastising her child for unfair play and an endless trail of people meandering down to the sea. The beach is Sarah Roberts’

favorite place, and so the annual family  visit there takes on a sense of pilgrimage. A snowy scene plays out on a golf course, near Roberts’ parents’ home

in Oxted, Surrey. In this one image there is a sense of the Englishness of manufactured landscapes, a painterly quality that Roberts frequently brings to each frame and the personal association (the young Roberts would toboggan there as a child).’’


The words above show us strong personal links to selected places, once again every successful photographic projects are based on personal interests, places or feelings.



Exercise 7: Exercise


Read Brett Rogers’ introduction to the online gallery of Documentary Dilemmas at:




Follow the ‘Glossary’ link.


Look at the work of the photographers highlighted above and others.


You might ­nd it useful to read the Arts Council document Changing Britain as a brief


contextual background to Documentary Dilemmas.


Core resources: ChangingBritain.pdf


http://collection.britishcouncil.org/whats_on/exhibition/11/14136 – link no longer exists


Chris Steele-Perkins



Steele- Perkins photographs are unique because of his strong choice of decisive moment, he catches it exactly in the right time, He took the project on British poverty, used to knock on the door and asked to take pictures of people in their environment. His psychologist studies helped him to understand his subjects better, in the same way to pass this information to viewer. My favorite photograph is “Bingo for pensioners” 1975, I love the way how photographers chooses the right moment, Bingo has to be fun for old people, chance to escape home and speak to other people, chance to escape their lonely lives, however this image talks about poverty and hard life which, it seems that image is about Bingo game, but this is the way to see the sign of poverty.


Tony Ray-Jones




Looking at ray-Jones images I noticed that they are very similar to Martin Parr and Chris Steele-Perkins photography. Tony Ray-Jones influenced them both together with Daniel meadows and Simon Roberts. Tony Ray-Jones had strong personality and very simple thinking of photography: “Do not take boring photographs”. He gained degree in graphic design at Yale, United States. So he had a strong opinion about Creative Camera magazine – “Your magazine’s shit.’’ Streets and seaside were the main photographic places for Ray-Jones, however he took some photographs at boarding school, opera festival, beauty contest and pop festivals. He had a perfect eye for detail that perfectly worked in his complex compositions. Most of his images seems to be cluttered, however every detail is there for a reason.



Paul Graham







I do like an idea of capturing same street in different occasions; there are variations of situations in his project. The book ‘’Present” “relays on idea that present last only for couple of seconds when new situation occurs. There is very abstract theme and hard to develop into a project, however Paul Graham managed to do this very well.



Martin Parr


Martin Parr has very unique way to present world to us, his garish colours and unusual compositions creates totally different way that we never though of. He uses symbols to pass a message to the viewer, the strongest symbol I have seen recently is alcohol and young people, he pass the strong image to the public, however the photograph doesn’t look so serious. He creates inimitable photos, which can not be repeated. His photographic approach perfectly works for art photography; together his images can be used in advertising in journals and newspapers, One of the most interesting techniques he uses is humor, his images makes us to recognize ourselves and laugh from it.



Paul Reas




First major retrospective photographer, manly worked on middle class mining district. He grew up in such a family; this is why all those situations and photographers were very close to him. It is like insider on the outside. He has many very interesting photographic projects such as “Can I help’’ and “Day dreaming about good times’’ – it seems like those two takes us back to eighties, it seems like we are back to old supper markets, miners, old fashion clothes and so on.



Anna Fox







Anna’s tutors were Paul Graham, Martin Parr and Karen Knorr, this influence is clearly seen in her photographs. The most famous project – Work Stations, competing, employment and people at every day life. Anna Fox used colour and flash, her main intensions were to record present, produce images that gives this felling. Large scale images with lots of colour and it had to be sharp, combination of text and images. Humor in photographs is perfect tool to engage with viewers. Anna Fox projects looked more like journalistically project, as she interviewed everyone she took photographs of.


Exercise 8:


Read the document ‘Martin Parr: Photographic Works 1971–2000’ by the National Museum


of Photography, Film and Television. Core resources: Parr.pdf


Watch an audio slide show of Martin Parr talking about his progression from B&W to colour


photography and The Last Resort: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TJinAgBYaLs


In this video Martin Parr acknowledges and defends what he calls the “hypocrisy and


prejudice” in his work. What do you think about this statement? Write a short re‑ective


commentary in your learning log.



We have heard Martin Parr’s name quite a lot during studies with OCA. The reason would be that he is the perfect influence for colour documentary photography. He definitely has his own photographic voice, together with a good eye to decisive moment; he catches people in the vulnerable situations with odd and funny facial expressions. However he does this for a reason, every project has clear idea why and what he wants to tell. He is brave photographer, his project Boring seems to my very interesting: to take boring images for the sake of it, while other photographers tries to attract viewer with something interesting in their images, Parr choses totally opposite way.

To me all Parr’s projects are very unique, every photograph requires attention to details, so we can understand what photographer has to say. I like the way Parr produces new project, his chooses main problems what surrounds him, so he is very familiar with them and this is easy to reflect it in his imaginary.


Martin Parr calls ‘hypocrisy and prejudice’ that is strongly shown in his photographs, however in you look more carefully into details he is preaching against this. This is the reason why every image has to be studied more carefully; every detail there is for a reason. For example project where English people went to France to get duty free food products, the main idea was to show the wellness of West, however the details shows us angry, untrusted, desperate and rowel people.


Exercise 9: Read the article on England Uncensored by the BBC Picture Editor Phil Coomes: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/17190001

Dench talks about his “humorous approach with an underlying social commentary”. What do you think of this approach? Does it work? What are the ethical issues?


Peter Dench had a clear idea how he want his photograph to be presented, humor helps to attract viewer, however photographical voice offers social commentary, which starts discussions and makes this work more popular.


I think this approach worked very well, this can be proved by World Press Photo Award. In my opinion it was easy for Peter Dench to follow Martin Parr’s footsteps, as his project ‘The Last Resort’ created the rules and footpath for younger generation.


There are issues that Dench confirms, his images are struggling for better camera settings, and he calls it laziness and fear.


Dench images have the ethical issues, subjects are caught in uncomfortable situations and I do not think they would like anyone to see those photos.


Exercise 10: Exercise

Read the article ‘Think Global, Act Local’ by Diane Smyth (BJP Aug 2010, p.55):

http://www.bjp-online.com/british-journal-of-photography/interview/1932196/global-act-local Research Tom Hunter’s work at http://www.tomhunter.org/html/news.php

Finally, listen to Tom Hunter talking about one of his most iconic images, Woman reading a possession order, on Radio 3: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00zt7ky

Summarise your thoughts in your learning log or blog

Tom Hunter takes a project on to show his neighborhood in a better way, than it is shown in newspapers.

There are many interesting facts about him, he left school aged 15, worked as laborer, then tree surgeon up to age of 29, when he started his photography education. Many of his projects are very personal, which helps him to created closer view; he also manipulates situations, to attract more attention to the social problems.

I do agree with many Hunter’s ideas, such as we do not need an expensive photographic equipment to create good images, that is better to take only three good images, than thousands, that his images are about passing a message to public, fictions are not less true full than straight photography.


Hunter also thinks that photography is all about art and message to the public, he does not like that his photographs buy reach people and hang them on their wall.






BB3 recording reveals some additional information about Tom Hunter and his work. Hunter links his photographs ‘’The Ghetto’’ to The Golden Age of Dutch painting – artist Vemeer. Hunter been influenced by his paintings. There are many similarities to this, composition, idea and mood.


I found this photographer very unique, open and he definitely knows what he wants to achieve with his photography project.


Exercise 11: Exercise

View the video on Hasan and Husain Essop at the V&A exhibition Figures and Fictions and write a short reflective commentary in your learning log or blog.

http://www.vam.ac.uk/channel/people/photography/figures_and_fictions_hasan_and_ husain_essop/

Identical twins Hasan and Husain Essop, creates and amazing idea of altering documentary images after shooting, another very unique idea is that they are only two actors in all set of images this is because they are not allowed to shoot and display images of other Muslims due their religion.


They subject is Muslim faith, they were grown up in very strict Muslim family, so they are trying to reflect this to younger generation and it seems that this slowly dies in their environment.


They were thinking for a long time on photographic subject, when they looked at the strongest teenagers issues, strong western influence, where Muslim has to give up their Islamic faith in order to act like westerns.


They have unique way of creating an image, each of them think separately and create his own image, then they discuss it and put together all information, create an image.


There is an issue that this type of photography seems too far away from tradition photography as it does not seems to be real, we can not find real faces, emotions, body language, relationship with other people.


I found this information very useful, documentary does not mean only images taken know and reflecting current situation, it can be staged and also altered after shooting.


Exercise 12: Exercise

Read the article on Jeff Wall in Pluk magazine. Core resources: pluk_JeffWall.pdf Briefly reflect on the documentary value of Jeff Wall’s work.

I found Jeff Wall’s images boring with no links to documentary photography. It seems like those photographs are not finished, some important parts are missing; there is no connection to viewer.

His work is staged and performed, like Husan and Husain photographs, however objects seems just too far away, others taken from subject’s back, hides all necessary information.


Domestic and everyday scenes do not seem very informative; I can not feel any message to be send out from these images. It reminds me of Martin Parr project ‘Boring”.


Exercise 13: Exercise

Read the WeAreOCA blog post ‘Seeing is Believing’:


Read all the replies to it then write your own comment, both on the blog page and in your own blog. Make sure that you visit all the links on the blog post. Base your opinion on solid arguments and, if you can, refer to other contributions to the blog.


This is very interesting article; however we need more proof that those images are not real and are altered with Photoshop. We grown up in society where we are keen to believe everything we see and this is totally normal, firstly every human being tend to believe and only afterwards he raises questions which caused daubs in the information we see.

We all know that image of Osama Bin Laden appeared in newspaper at the same time we understand that those kind of images if they would be real could not be released by press, I guess it should be some kid of government secret.

I wrote an essay based on this thematic, and if you will look carefully into this image, you can see difference in colors and tones between Bin Laden’s body and face. I only can guess that this has been done by purpose.

Question: Seeing is believing? Can only be answered by everyone personally, this states comments on article. So answering this yes or no is impossible, as everyone has his own thoughts on this. This actually reminds me of believing in God, many people do believe in God, but others don’t.



Assignment 1: Read the 1939 article on documentary photography by Elizabeth McCausland.


Core resources: PhotoNotes.pdf


Write a short bullet list of McCausland’s main points in your learning log. Explain in your own words, in single paragraph, why this article is relevant to this part of the course.


1. Social situation of that age forced documentary photography to start.


2. New purpose for documentary photography is to report events.


3. Same question again: is photography an art?


4. Photography is the best way for documenting.


5. Photography represents any situation better than other artwork.


6. Photographer’s job in to reveal true situation, do not let photographs to lie.


7. Photography helps us to understand world better.


This article highlights very interesting points on documentary photography. The most important part of this, that photography represents any situation better than any other artwork (photograph taken by skillful photographer), also can be used as evidence in court. The importance of documentary photography is to highlight social situation and problems, this is where we can learn our mistakes and try, at least try to make world better place to live. This is what this OCA course is about to show our thoughts on certain things through our imagery.


Exercise 2: read the article ‘Survival Programmers’ in Eight magazine (V5N1, June 2006)


Core resources: Foto8#5.1­_SurvivalProgrammes.pdf


The full issue of the magazine is available to download from:




Survival Programmers article has lots of historical information. We can see that Nicolas Battye, Chris Steele-Perkins and Paul Trevor have done really good job, storytelling is strongly revealed this project. Also I would like to comment on this article, those images with co commentary would still have very strong storytelling affect (tell people that social reform needed to escape those situations), but the commentary with no images would lose at least 50 per cent of power. Ages ago we relayed stories in the books with no images or pictures, but nowadays every article in the press has supporting image, mostly to attract reader.


Exercise 3: Read ‘Bill Brandt’s Art of the Document’ by David Campany.


Core resources: Campany_BillBrandt.pdf


Write a short summary in your learning log. How did B&W become such a respected and trusted medium in documentary?


This article is about how photographer’s carrier had an impact on photographs he shot, and also how photographs/photography had an impact on Bill Brandt.


Bill Brandt is one of the most famous photographers and his image ‘Parlourmaid and Under Parlourmaid Ready to Serve Dinner’, which clearly revels contract between social casts.


As soon as photojournalism become fashionable, Brandt lost interest in it, as everyone was shooting this style, maybe it was too difficult to stay original? Then extreme white and black photography era for Brandt started, this wasn’t typical for this kind of photography. He also gone for nude photography, where he could explore lines and curves of human body.


For all Brandt’s career he believed in black and white photography, to be honest if we would be able to convert those famous photographs into black and white do you think it would be same effect? In my opinion those images would loose significant photographer’s voice and meaning in most of the cases. Most of photographers call color as distraction, with black and white image it seems like it is closer, you can feel it. Also photographic theme has a big influence on decision: color or black and white? I do not think that war images can work with color photography, do you?


Cole Thompson (Photographer) has an interesting explanation for this:


‘I am often asked, “Why black and white?” I think it’s because I grew up in a black-and-white world.

Television, movies and the news were all in black and white.

My heroes were in black and white and even the nation was still segregated into black and white.

Perhaps my images are an extension of the world in which I grew up.

For me color records the image, but black and white captures the feelings that lie beneath the surface.  People ask if I’ve ever worked in color, and the answer is no; I only see things in black and white.’


Source: http://gmbakash.wordpress.com/2011/07/14/an-interview-with-“master-of-black-white-cole-thompson/


Exercise 4: Read the introduction and first section (p.p. 105-10) of the article ‘Discussing Documentary’ by Maartje van den Heuvel (Documentary Now 2005).


Core resources: Heuvel_DiscussingDocumentary.pdf


Write a short summary in your learning blog.


This article raises a question: can documentary still reveal real subject and details?


‘It was our job to document the problems of the Depression so that we could justify the New Deal legislation that was designed to alleviate them.’

Arthur Rothstein, photographer

Source: http://historymatters.gmu.edu/mse/photos/photos.pdf


Nowadays there are many fiction photographs in press. Author reveals how photography is linked to other art genres, also that photography is now changed. Many years ago when documentary photography started there was no television, magazines and Internet. So documentary photography had to cover media purpose, nowadays information is very easy accessible.

We can contrast documentary photography purpose to reveal social issues at 1890 and nowadays. I guess historical situation changed, however social issues stayed. This is the reason why documentary photography ad art photography most of the times very close to each other and this gives us very hard time when categorize photographs. Even photographers are confused what category they belong.

All in all many documentary photographers still find may social issues to photograph in everyday life. The best examples are Christian Rodriguez and

Michael Hanson. Christian Rodriguez made a project called ‘Teen Mum’ and Michael Hanson photographed young teenagers who will be signing contract with major football team.




Exercise 5: Read the interview with Marcus Bleasdale in Eight magazine (V4N3, Dec 2005).


Core recourses: Foto8#4.3_MarcusBleasdale.pdf


The full issue of the magazine is available to download from:




You can see tear sheets of Bleasdale’s work on the website of the agency VII:




See also the article in the Guardian magazine 16 January 2010.



I read Marcus Bleadale article about hid photojournalist work.


Bleadale was a banker but he gave up his carrier for the photojournalist work. He sold his flat in London and spent all the money on traveling, as this been important park of photojournalism. The issue Bleadale reveals in his photography is the reason of the conflict in Combo and other continents. I found that YouTube short videos covering many issues of Compo society, this is better information source that the single interview listed above. Also they cover more issues and situations.


In those videos Marcus Bleadale talks about the reasons why this project is important. However media wasn’t interested to print his photographs as it was a political issue and someone used this information to make some money.


The link could be found below:




I feel that Bleadale reached his objectives to reveal those issues by publication this across the US newspapers. Thank you Marcus Bleadale for an opportunity to know that those places exists and that we have to do something to help those people to escape gruesome situation!


This information helps us to understand that photojournalist job is important as solders or politicians or any other well qualified job.




Exercise 6: Analyse Martin Shields’ photograph of two young footballers. What are the denotations and connotations of this image? You can write your answer in descriptive prose or make a bullet list if you find this easier.


Compare your findings with those of other students via the OCA student forums.


Denotations: two young boys nearly the same age, in the different footballers clothes, hands across each other, maybe a semiotic terms of friendship? They are definitely going the same way, coming back home? Could they be brothers, hair color illuminates this fact.


Connotations: photographic representation in semiotic terms tells me that this photograph can be used friendship, future or we all after their life will be going same way meanings. There is strong sign of friendship as boys wear different clothes, this may be because there are in different teams, but after a game they are the best mates again.


There is saying, that kinds is our future, which perfectly fits into the frame.


Third idea is that we all will die despite our differences.


Lets see how other students investigated this photograph:



“Two boys going to or coming from a football match walking through a run-down area. (I’d say going to the football because of the cleanliness of their clothes.)”

“Two boys, arms around each other, carrying a football each and walking somewhere.”

“two lads going to football.  I think this is before the match as they are clean and well pressed – unless this is modern image that has been ‘aged’ in which case they might have been on an all-weather pitch.  An area of urban dereliction.”

“Boys walking through a partially completed demolition site on a dry day, each has a football tucked under an arm, each has the other arm around the shoulders of his friend.”

The readings focus on the prime subject of the two boys, the cleanliness of the kit is clearly observed and to a lesser extent the run-down area.



“Current friendship, northern township dereliction of 1960′s, rugby (from shirt on LH boy, hoops not stripes), freedom of travel, age of innocence, destruction of heritage, working class area, long summer days.”

“Opposing teams – might be Rangers and Celtic and maybe Northern Ireland – got that feel to it – boys can still be friends – innocence of youth transcends divisions. This could be the Catholic/Protestant divide?  Can still have friendship and camaraderie across divisions in the eyes of the young – but does this stop as they get older.  Contrast between the clean kit and the derelict surroundings.  Do they belong there or just passing?”

“The image has a late 50’s look to it, but names on football shirts only became compulsory around the late 80’s and found their way onto replica kit.  Also footballs made with pentagonal and hexagonal panels were not available until 1970ish – so is this a composite?  Maybe the dereliction is more recent?  Maybe it’s not dereliction.”

“they support different teams yet care about each other. A rundown council estate – looks abandoned somehow, waiting to be demolished. Thought bombed-out but not sure as it looks 50s/60s. Something about the different tops makes me think of Northern Ireland, factions, warring religions – yet here are two boys wearing different ‘uniforms’ and arm in arm. Hope lies with the young; they are our future; they can re-build etc. There’s something that unsettles me but would take longer to work it out.”

“Friendship, innocence of youth, sentimental, people can be friends even if their football teams are old enemies.  Even in poverty and decay there is human spirit, kindness. Perhaps the adversity of the surroundings strengthens the need for human empathy. There is certainly a strong contrast between their clean clothes and the squalid environment. Perhaps they’re from wealthy families just passing through this area en route to their destination.  Maybe they’re brothers.  Maybe one or both are girls?”

All in all we can see that vast majority of students have the same option, however there are students who looked more deeply into this image and found more semiotic representation signs.



Exercise 7: Download from the OCA student site the tear sheet of the newspaper in which Shields photograph was originally published.


Core resources: FootballBoys.pdf


Read the accompanying text and answer the following:


  • Does the text relate to your initial deconstruction of the image?
  • Does the text change your perception of the image? If so, how?


Yes the initial text regenerated my deconstruction of the image, as I had no idea that in this image the most important part is the housing estate, as this will be reconstructed.


However it did not change my perception of the image as I was right saying that this image reveals future plans. This is good lesson to take time and all possible signs before deconstructing a photograph or before shooting work on the obvious and hidden connotations.


Exercise 8: This exercise revolves around the body of work The Americans, by Robert Frank. You’ll need to do your own web research to find relevant images and background information.


  1. Find five images in The Americans where symbols are used. Explain what they are and how they function in the images.
  2. Read the introduction to The Americans by Jack Kerouac.

Core resources: Kerouac_Americans.pdf Find symbolic references that you can also identify in Robert Frank’s photographs – not necessarily the five images that you chose for the first part of this exercise.

Source: http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/tny/2009/09/slide-show-robert-franks-the-americans.html#slide_ss_0=1


This image is the first in his book; this tells us image is important and telling many things about book. The symbol in the photograph is flag, this introduce us with the main topic and the main sign through all series. Composition show us clear sign of outsider, also the strong relationship between people and flag. We are not able to see faces in this photograph, in my opinion this done deliberately, choosing symbol of those two people as a big part of population.


Source: http://reelfoto.blogspot.co.uk/2012/05/robert-frank-imagining-americans.html


This image has strong sign of multicultural population. Black women holding white baby also can reflect the space between people, that they are not so close and open to others. As we know that one or other culture moves to certain region, to live close to their background people. However the book title tells us that they are all Americans, don’t matter what colour.

Source: http://erickimphotography.com/blog/2013/01/07/timeless-lessons-street-photographers-can-learn-from-robert-franks-the-americans/

This image has symbol of the car, which means isolation. The lady in the car looks lonely and separated from surroundings. This is significant issue for every American.


Source: http://erickimphotography.com/blog/2013/01/07/timeless-lessons-street-photographers-can-learn-from-robert-franks-the-americans/


This image has strong symbol of disparity of wealth. This lady is wealthy we can judge by her clothes and posh surroundings. In my opinion this disparity is most common in every country, not necessarily America.


Source: http://erickimphotography.com/blog/2013/01/07/timeless-lessons-street-photographers-can-learn-from-robert-franks-the-americans/

This image is the last in Frank’s book. I understand this image as a symbol of believe not necessarily God, it may be believe in America, in Americans, in American flag. This image used as a final one due its context and narrative. In my opinion this image speaks: God is with America!

Source: http://www.npr.org/2009/08/30/112389032/robert-franks-elevator-girl-sees-herself-years-later


This young lady’s expression in the image symbolizes loneliness. This is a big hard to understand as she is in the lift with at least two other people. However this must come from deeper. I suggest that Frank wanted to show with this image, that however big America is there are many lonely people around.


Symbolic references:


  1. … ‘holy halo’ of sun hitting a chair in a café…



The empty chairs and television may be symbols of human involvement in the politics; people want to take part in it and to be heard.


  1. … Negro woman pulling on her cigarette with thoughts of her own, as pure a picture as the nicest tenor solo in Jazz…



The passing car indicates passing of time, all those people seem to be not so young, so they seen a lot, especially the facts how America changed.



3. … In Plate 52, Men’s room, railway station…



The strong sense of loneness felt here, empty space in the toilet (I guess) might be sign of hard living and working conditions. There also strong sign of male energy, no women are allowed into this picture/place.


There are many other signs telling us about this book themes and structure for example death theme, gambling, politics and possessions.


Using signs takes photography into higher level; this means that viewer has to spend more time to get what this image is all about. Sighs are codes, every code has explanation that closely generate with photographer’s ideas.



Pictures taken from:





Exercise 9: Read Mraz’s essay in full. Core resources: Mraz_Salgado.pdf

Research the work by Salgado to which Mraz refers and evidence your research in your learning log.


1. Perhaps the best photojournalism fuses information and expression,

document and symbol, in such a way as to create a metaphor: an image

that retains the particularity of its referent but, at the same time, stands

for a broader truth which transcends that immediate context. A revealing

example is offered by Salgado’s reportage on the garimpeiros, the goldminers of Serra Pelado, Brazil, which he began shortly after the

publication of Other Americas, and that constitutes a chapter of

Workers.42In penetrating photos, he captured the insanity unleashed by

the frantic search for instant wealth in inhuman living conditions: faces

full of dementia and delirium, running battles between the half-crazed

miners and the soldiers sent to police them, landscapes where ant-like men

under cumbersome burdens trod on the feet of those in front of them This reportage could well serve as a metonym for the infinite aberrations

of a world with so little hope. It represents a significant advance over Other Americas

, for here estrangement is not mysterious; rather it derives

directly from the manifestly horrible conditions in which these poor devils

live and work. That is not the case with Other Americas, whose images

contain little visual information because they were taken predominantly

in a way so as to eliminate social, political and economic contexts.











Other Americans:






Images were taken form Google search.


I do agree with Mraz’s words above as Salgado project Garimpeiros reveals more social, political and economic aspect. Other Americans are based on photographic expression of sadness, mystery and death, but there is no sign of real situation (movement) such as documentary have to record events around us. For example third image of two boys, there is no evidence of something happening, only symbol of loneliness and sadness. So this is strong point by Mraz, if something has no evidence in recording can it be documentary? Probably we can call this imaginary Travel/People/Black and white photography. Referred to this website http://www.mediacollege.com/photography/types/.



‘You photograph here, you photograph there, you speak with

people, you understand people, people understand you. Then,

probably, you arrive at the same point as Cartier-Bresson, but from

the inside of the parabola. And that is for me the integration of the

photographer with the subject of his photograph…. An image is

your integration with the person that you photographed at the

moment that you work so incredibly together, that your picture is

not more than the relation you have with your subject.’

Salgado thoughts are totally different from Cartier-Bresson thoughts about decisive moment. Photography is much more to Salgado than right moment.


Also lack of decisive moment in photography is filled in with altered imagery.

‘I had no intention of waiting a week,

ten days or the time necessary so that something would happen, so that

I could get the “decisive moment” looked for so often by

photographers…. The specific “decisive moment” wasn’t to be found, it

had to be created’


Pedro Meyer – Pioneer of Digital Imagery


Mraz tries to link these two statements above, but s we seen there is no connection to be found. Salgado did not used digital manipulation, he captured the world he integrated to, felt it. However writer calls his project Other Americans failure for lack of accompanying text and decisive moment.


Next Salgado step was book call Terra.


Untitled9 Untitled10 Untitled11 Untitled12


Mraz notes that this book seems like divide into two parts, first part images are more like Other Americans continuous with misery and sadness (exactly like the one on the book cover) and the images above are more concentrated on social issues. Writer compares Salgado images to Jacob Riss imagery.


Jacob Riss photographs:

Untitled13 Untitled14



All in all, this essay based on two things how photographer demonstrates his work and how it can affect the meaning. Mraz compares Salgado work, also he uses Cartier-Bresson and Jacob Riss images to show us how every photographer has his own way to illustrate the meaning of something. The main problem in this essay is lack of visual information and social, political and economical context elimination in some Salgado works.


Exercise 10: Listen to Daniel Meadows talking about his work: http://vimeo.com/28349336#


Then read the essay ‘The Photographer as Recorder’ by Guy Lane.

Core resources: Meadows_GuyLane.pdf


This video and an essay take us closer to the photographic project taken in 1973 on double-decked bus, the aim was to photograph ordinary people (British). Daniel Meadows did not want to show something behind the scene, every photograph he taken reveals as much information as subject wanted to express.


The reason why Meadows decided to do this project is his curiosity, he felt that he has to learn and understand people, listen to their stories. Many people were interested in doing this because of free photographs Meadows provided.


The essay revealed many aspects of Meadow work, however there are many critics in this too. There is quite a long gap between 1973 and 2001 while this project continued, many things changed. I guess the way Meadow photograph people change too, as he was criticized for not having enough experience and not employing photographic techniques correctly.


I think this project not only documentary record; there is also record of Meadow’s photographic development and findings. We can see know how far photographer went through for 28 years.




Exercise 11: Read the information that accompanied August Sander’s exhibition People of the 20th Century at San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

Core resources: ASander_SFMOMA.pdf


Write a 200-word reflective commentary on Sander’s seven-category system. Briefly discuss the implications of his classification system within socio-cultural context of the time. Make connections with contemporary practice as that Zed Nelson, if appropriate.


Sander is very famous for his socio- cultural work, between two World wars. His project is break down into 7 classification units:


  1. The Farmer
  2. The Skilled Tradesman
  3. The Women
  4. The Artists
  5. The City
  6. Classes and Professors
  7. The Last People


The most interesting thing about this classification is that one single person cannot be classified as City and Artist, or Women and Classes and Professors. This is very strong classification system, which reveals contemporary Germany society status, after World War 1 economy was very week as all money was spent on the war. Hitler created strong industry and everyone knew his social class. Life was ok if you had a job in the industry this is why social classes was so important, also there was easier to highlight Jewish people, who had life with no rights or citizenship. His images mostly shoot on location.


Zed Nelson was interested in revealing portraits of coal miners, fisherman and ship builders. He did not gone further to other social communities. All these photographs have names underneath each image, the images reveals more faces and character, images shoot in studio, some of them grouped to reveal more information and compositional approach.


Irving Penn images have similar approach as Sander’s and Nelson’s, however there is unique way to illustrated those people with their work tools, there is no more than two people posing.


All in all Sander had the better way of showing social classification, as he worked on wider group, also most of his photos shoot on location, so this reduce unreal posing sense, people fell more natural in their own environment. I think social approach is a huge part of documentary photography; this is the way to think for the future assignments.



Exercise 12: Read ‘In the American East’ by Richard Bolton (in Bolton, 1992, pp.262-83) and write a 200-word reflective commentary on its relevance to documentary practice.


Then look at work of Charlotte Oestervang in Appalachia (Foto8, V6N1, June 2006, pp.58-9) Core resources: Foto8#6.1_Appalachian.pdf

The full issue of the magazine is available to download from:



In the American East can be found here:




Note: it would be helpful if this link would be suggested by OCA, as I spend lots of time looking for it, also due copyright there are no images displayed.


Richard Avedon work is slightly different from documentary work we look at in the previous exercise, however he used social classification, but in the other way. He classified people looking at geographic location, for example American West – Bolton.


Avedon illuminates subject from their surrounding shooting in the studio, also he uses white background, which gives us more details, clearer view also. There are no details accompanying images, so we have to use our intuition in judging them. This project is clearly affected by social, economical and political issues. Most of those people have to work hard to support themselves and families.


Bolton considers if art with the sign language are illuminated by commercialism and advertising, which manipulates images and lose real photography information.


Avedon project perfectly fits this description, he came from fashion and celebrity work. So white backdrop in the studio with his unique documentary style proves us that documentary photography can be stylish, but in the same way very informative in documentary terms.


All in all portraits without their surrounding lose half of the information and all metaphors, there is not enough information.


If we compare this project to Charlotte Oestervang images, we will see how much photograph with it’s surrounding can tell you, we can see signs and metaphors in the image which white background can not produce. There are no signs of modern living or comfort in in Appalachia. There is an unusual square forms photographs. It seems like this community ask for help.


However these two projects have some similar points: they are portraits, unhappy and unhealthy people.  Where we can call Charlotte Oestervang’s work documentary (it very similar to Riss or Hine), can Avedon work be called the same?




Exercise 13: Read the article ‘Making Sense of Documentary Photography’ by James Curtis.


Core resources: MakingSense.pdf


Curtis contextualizes the work of the FSA photographers within a tradition of early twentieth-century social documentary photography and touches on the issue of the FSA photographers’ methods and intentions. What is your view on this? Is there any sense in which the FSA photographers exploited their subjects?

Visit the FSA online gallery on the Library of Congress website and refer to their FSA catalogue if necessary:




This essay introduces us with historical aspect of documentary photography. FSA photographers works compared with Riss and Hine projects.


Early documentary photography was very mechanical and there was no chance to go away from the studio, there was no such as equipment which can be used outside studio. Many equipment photographers had wasn’t very powerful, so subjects had to remain still for quite a while to get technical correct shot.


We have been introduce to documentary photography in passive recorder scene, however Curtis provides facts how many of the photographs been posed. This makes us think, are those signs and metaphors of poor living, bad conditions really true? Maybe it was useful for government that people thought this way?


FSA project wasn’t about artistic work it was passive recording. However Curtis provides evidence of alteration, in this case passive observer becomes active photographer.


In my opinion FSA photographers exploited their subject by telling not real story, perfect example is Russell Lee photographs of Mexican households, photographer used his techniques and skills to represent totally different story, the story FSA wanted to hear. It raises a question: if FSA project is really documentary, if we can alter any situation in the way we like.


All in all FSA project was government sponsored, so they had an interest to show rest of the world how they are helping poor people, which wasn’t always the case. And photographers done their job, without asking why…


Exercise 14: Read the article ‘What is Street Photography?’ on the London Festival of Photography website: www.lfph.org/what-is-street-photography


Now visit: http://streetphotographynowproject.wordpress.com/


Choose one of the weekly instructions given to contributors to the Street Photography Now Project in 2011 and build a small portfolio of B&W images on your chosen brief.


Publish a selection of five images from your portfolio on your blog.


There is no such an article on this website, probably it was replaced by Fotaura.com. So I will continue with another part of exercise.



Every week Fototaura.com is giving instructions for photographic projects. I have to choose one and provide small portfolio on chosen subject.


Make a picture that is funny and sad at the same time. A photograph that simultaneously evokes pathos, irony and humor.


Jeff Mermelstein


I have chosen an instruction above, I thing it would be nice to look at something different, also this gives you an experience to fell different kind of photography.














For this exercise I used photos from Flickr as this reflects how hard is to shoot something for chosen brief above. Some images has more sadness than fun, but the perfect balance has the first image taken in a zoo, where many people enjoy looking at dolphins (I guess this is dolphins), but really they are not happy as they want to be free and enjoy their life. This is perfect exercise for understanding shooting on assignment and photographic balanced experience.


Exercise 15: Read Miranda Gavin’s reviews of Anders Petersen’s French Kiss and Jacob Aue Sabol’s Tokyo for Hotshoe Magazine


Core resources: FrenchKiss.pdf

Core recourses: Tokio_Sobol.pdf


Read the article ‘Bye Bye Photography’ (AG magazine #38) and research the work of Daido Moriyama. Core resources: CBadger_Sayonra.pdf


Write a short reflective commentary about the connections between the styles of Moriyama, Petersen and Sabol.


There is no surprise that all these three photographers have been grouped to this exercise.


Let’s see what they have in common? They all shoot in black and white; this could be influenced by 20th century documenting photography. All these artists have same perspective, usage of contrast and tones, same photographic angles, focus, usage of close up images. Looking at the images there is always questions rise, images confuse us, and we are trying to find out what surrealistic approach was applied here.


However they have some differences: Petersen’s images are more about people, their emotions and relationship between them. He photographs nude people this reveals intimacy. Some of the images gives us a little shock, as there in no restrictions what can not be photograph: drunk people, prostitutes, prisoners. It seems like Peterson is not restricted by any ethics and intimacy rules.


Sabol’s work has more surrealistic approach; there is more meaning behind the scene. His compositions have lots of symbols in every tiny detail.




Daido Moriyama focuses on blur photography; also there is the strongest aspect of street photography. William Klein influenced him.



Assignment 1 – Exercises

Exercise 1: Listen to Miranda Gavin talking about documentary photography at



 In your learning log, write a 200 word reflective commentary setting out your reflections to Gavin’s viewpoint.


Miranda Gavin is talking about what is documentary photography. In her practice documentary photography clashes with art photography. We need to specified these categories making then clear. As new technologies appeared and understanding about documentary changed, also more women coming into photography had added a value. Also many photographers tries to discover something new in the photography, show us something that is not in the frame, old and boring.


Documentary photography in our book called reportage, photojournalism, visual ethnography, street and travel photography. All these categories could go fall into commission or art photography category.


Even so experienced editor could not categorized images, as sometimes they merging into two or more categories.


I do not understand why people aiming to put everything into the frames, to call themselves documentary photography. In my research many photographers starts with one category then moves to another as it may be quite boring to work on one photography category all your life.


All in all Miranda Gavin explains that only photographer knows how he call his relationship to the photograph, as the main point is what photographer want to achieve and show to the public.


Exercise 2: Read the first free sections (pp. 1-8) of the essay ‘Transparent Pictures: On the Nature of Photographic Realism’ by Kendall L Walton


Core recourses: Walton_TransparentPictures.pdf


Write a 200 –word reflective commentary in your learning log outlining your views about Walton’s idea of photographic transparency.




Realism in art essentially refers to composition constructed as plainly and without interpretation as possible. The movement is generally noted to have originated from France around the 1850s. Artists sought to resist the more romantic notions represented in art and also to depict the realities of the Industrial Revolution that began during this time period. The Realism art movement continues to present day and offers depictions of highly detailed and carefully planned artwork.

Source: http://www.ehow.com/info_11372148_characteristics-realism-art.html

Renaissance – The Renaissance popularity of Humanism and classical readings, combined with the availability of literature such as Dante’s Divine Comedy, led to an interest in mythology, pagan and secular themes. Humanism emphasized the importance of education and knowledge, as well as the potential of the individual and civic responsibility. So in the Renaissance, we might see a civic mural like Ambrogio Lorenzetti’s Peaceful City, a secular mural like Raphael’s School of Athens with its themes of philosophy and science, or Boticelli’s lyrical, mythological Birth of Venus.

Source: http://www.studyarthistory.com/characteristics-of-renaissance-art-251.php



Kendall L Walton gives us his view about photography and painting differences and which one is more realistic. He starts with similar idea of Edward Steichen ‘Every photograph is fake from start to finish’. However when he needs to talk about realism, photography seems to be more realistic, as images are taken of real subject, when painting can be done using painter’s illusion.

All after all I have to agree with some points in his essay, however some of them doesn’t state real situation. I do agree that photography is more realistic, however we have so many talented painter who can duplicate real situation or person exactly as original…

Using software programs realistic image can be manipulated to suit situation.

Same could be said about paintings, painter can reveal his views on something using a brush.

In my opinion realism and documentary photography has got strong link, this exercise has been given to us to understand importance of reveling true situation or people through our imagery.

Realism made huge difference in art history, however photography is too young kind of art to be affected by this. Photography started in 1950, so paintings has much stronger history and changed with every new period.


Exercise 3: Read the post ‘What makes a document?’ on WeAreOCA, including all the replies to it, and write your own comment both on the blog page and in your own blog. Make sure that you visit all the links on the blog post.




Make sure you reply is personal and authoritative. Express your opinion on the topic of the blog and substantiate your comments with solid arguments, ideally referring to other contributions to the blog.


My opinion document is the fact of something happened, we see an old picture of two men, but this image doesn’t let us know how things happened, what was before and after, how this changed situation. How we can call this a document if we cannot get enough information by looking at it? This picture with no author’s comments doesn’t make document! Even then an author tells us a story, how we can be sure is true fact? There is no evidence…If it would be series of images caught people in action; we could tell this is a fact. For example someone caught steeling, this could be used as evidence in court.

This image doesn’t gives us any facts, story does…


Exercise 4: Make a selection of up to five photographs from your personal or family collection. They can be as recent or as old as you wish. The only requirement is that they depict events that are relevant to you on a personal level and couldn’t belong to anyone else (i.e no photographs of the Eifel Tower).

Using OCA forums such as OCA/student and OCA/Flickr group, ask the learning communities to provide short captions or explanations for your photographs.

Summarize your findings and make them public in the same forums that you used for your research. Make sure that you also add this to your learning log.


Link to my post:




I found that comments was various, some of them did not even understand what I asked for! However all the images had a special sense to me, as they were from my own personal gallery. People who commented did not have this connection with people in the image, so that’s why they could not understand those in the same way as me. The best commentary was by my previous tutor – Clive White, as he worked with me for a year, so he has better understanding where I am coming from and what I want to achieve. This is a perfect example why photography critics gives us totally different written work, as each of them has his own opinion and views and they way they interpreter images.




Exercise 5: read the article ‘In, Around and Afterthoughts ( on Documentary Photography)’ by Martha Rosler in Bolton R. (ed.) (1992) The Contest of Meaning. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press (p.303). Make notes in your leaning blog.


Postmodernism is the name given to the defining artistic movement of the second half of the 20th century. Aspects of postmodernism in art and literature include surrealism, abstract expressionism, and the Theatre of the Absurd. Postmodern photography is characterized by atypical compositions of subjects that are unconventional or sometimes completely absent, making sympathy with the subject difficult or impossible. Like other postmodern artists, the champions of postmodern photography contend that it is possible to ignore the “rules” and still create art.


Art critics and theorists gave the name “modernism” to the art, literature, and music created during the 19th and early 20th centuries. Modernism was characterized by a rejection of previous artistic trends, such as Romanticism and a tendency toward realism. Postmodernism took this further by questioning standard definitions of “art” itself. Modernism and postmodernism were both controversial within the art world, and even the meanings of the terms themselves are the subject of debate. The general public, meanwhile, was often mystified by these works; many viewers questioned whether they were even “art” at all, which some postmodernists saw as a validation of their approach.

Postmodern painting was often characterized by an abstract, or non-representational, approach; works often appeared to be random colors or scribbles without an overriding design or meaning. Postmodern photography takes the same approach, but the medium offers special challenges for the postmodernist. The camera captures a perfect representation of whatever is in front of the lens. This means the images must be carefully chosen in order to remain abstract. Too much artifice, however, is contrary to the postmodern concept.


The word “banal” is often used in relation to postmodern photography. Banal means “ordinary” or even “boring.” As traditional photography focuses on subjects that are interesting, unusual, or beautiful, the choice of banal subject matter is an obvious one for postmodern photography. Again, the idea is to challenge the viewer, whether that viewer is an art critic, academic, or casual passerby. The artist asks a question or, rather, forces the viewer to ask, if the subject is ordinary or boring, whether the image is still a work of art.


The photographer William Eggleston has been called a consummate postmodernist. Eggleston worked with color images at a time when only black and white photography was considered “art” by critics and museum curators. While some questioned his choice of a format that was seen as common or pedestrian, its eventual acceptance made color photography a valid form for other artists to use. This illustrates how postmodern art, while sometimes controversial or confusing, has benefited the practice of art as a whole.


Source: http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-postmodern-photography.htm


The article can be found here:




This article introduce us with:


  1. History and meaning of Documentary Photography.


  1. Contest of Documentary Photography changed, photos of poverty and degradation are more popular as postmodernism came into scene.


  1. Liberal documentary still exist (magazines, books, newspapers, then more expensive moves to art galleries an museums).


  1. Diane Arbus – freak show photography.


  1. Photography from the past with the most famous photographers (war, slum, cult, foreign, poor photography).


  1. W. Eugene Smith keeps chasing the truth for us in words and pictures.


  1. Edward S. Curtis and his imagery (ethnographic costumes or travel, Indians photos) has been retouched and sold for good money.


  1. Can we trust photos as the documents?


  1. War times and no choice of photographic freedom. Photographers taken a chance to record some actions by armed solders even that this could cost their lives.


  1. Dorothea Lange in 1936 taken the most reproductive photograph. However subject of this photograph complained that he gets no penny of it.


  1. Documentary photography has two sides: Instrumental – evidence of something and conventional –historical purposes.


  1. Story with Thompson (picture of Dorothea Lange taken on 1936) showed us that photographers can harm incense person life by revealing who they are. This is when false names was given: Gudger, Woods and Ricketts.


  1.  Documentary photographers years ago reveled what was happening around and persuade viewer to take action, however nowadays photographers show us real life, with no action needed to change these things.


  1. Difference between sixties and eighties photography and subject matters.


  1. Nowadays documentary images haven’t got any new styles or no new messages compare them with 1930s.


  1. Author calls this era documentary photography boring, look at Bowery photography (images of flat drunk people).


  1. Photographic critiques issues.


  1.  Advertising photography is not criticized, which makes this different form other genres. However it still has it’s own viewer.


  1. At the end the author reveals her feminist views and thoughts.


I found this article interesting, but reading whole book with full contest would make some points more relevant and more understandable. Rosler covers many things, so the best idea was to write out some points what her article consists of. I like author’s comparization between documentary photography war times, and nowadays. However I do not understand why she is suppressed that photography changed, many things changed since then, documentary photography had to adapt. Rosler criticizes these days photographers, as she does not understand this, one of her least favorite photographic work – The Bowery is mentioned few times, she states that they are victims. These people photographed when they was drunk and not in the best state. Why we have to show this to the viewer? Documentary photography covers many areas, so this one is included. Then the author moves on to criticism, how and why criticism exists; also she mentions that advertising photography is not being critized. Does it have the right being called an art? Many different aspects Martha Rosler covers in her article can’t wait to rad a full book.


Exercise 6: Write a 25-word reflective commentary on the above quotes by Andre Bazin and Allan Sekula. Briefly compare their respective positions and record your own view on the issue of photographic objectivity. Full texts available from OCA/student Core resources: Bazin_ontologyphoto.pdf and Core resources: Sekula_PhotoMeaning.pdf



“For the first time, between the originating object and its reproduction there intervenes only the instrumentality of a non-living agent. For the first time an image of the world is formed automatically, without the creative intervention of man…in spite of any objections our critical spirit may offer, we are forced to accept as real the existence of the object reproduced, actually, re-presented… ” 


(André Bazin, ‘The Ontology of the Photographic Image’ in What is Cinema? 1945, p.7)


“If we accept the fundamental premise that information is the outcome of a culturally determined relationship, then we can no longer ascribe an intrinsic or universal meaning to the photographic image.” 


(Allan Sekula, ‘On the Invention of Photographic Meaning’, 1997, p.454)


The main issue about these two states above is photographic objectivity. Andre Bazin has very contrasted views to Allan Sekula. Bazin thinks that the camera intervenes between photographer and the scene taking all the credits, at the same time showing no creative invention or any objections. However Sekula gives his views on this saying that photographic objectivity may be compromised does not matter how long and hard photographer worked on it.


My opinion on this topic is that the camera does not take pictures; photographer is the one who drives his artistic skills through the camera settings. This should be said again, as in the previous exercise, everything depends on a photographer how he understands situation and what he wants to achieve by representing it to the audience. Also whom he works for as many magazines and newspaper photographers had to present news in only one way.

Some best-known photos had been set up to create propaganda, images like Capa’s millitiaman, Joe Rosenthal’s depiction of the raising of the flag at Iwo Jima and Leni Riefenstahl’s photography. This caused by change of documentary understanding and photography. As the first explanation of documentary photography was to represent information of historical events in the way they really happened.

Photography changed drastically over the times, so the photographic objectivity has not play the important role in nowadays life. If we look at advertising photography or photographs on magazine cover they do not meet reality at all.


Exercise 7: Read Simon Bainbridge;s article on the 2011 Hereford Photography Festival. Core resourses: Hereford_Bainbridge.pdf


Select one of the bodies of work in the article and write a 200-word reflective commentary in your learning log.


Next listen to Jon Levy, founder of Foto8, talking about documentary in the art gallery at http://oca-student.com/node/100127


Note down your reactions to Levy’s comments in your learning log.


I have decided to look at George Georgiou work for this exercise. Georgiou (1961) is British photographer, gained his photography degree at Polytechnic College London. His images for Hereford Photography Festival have been taken in Eastern Europe; his main idea was to reveal Russia influence on its soviet neighboroughs. As you known I am Lithuanian, Lithuania is based in Eastern Europe and has border with Russia. Years ago Lithuania was part of Russian, but we got our independency on 1991. So this imagery is very close to me in many ways, Lithuania still suffers from Russian occupation.

When I look at Georgiou images I see the country where I am from: old 5 floors buildings (renovation plan is already in place), people dressed in the same way (very short squirts), soviet paintings, really old cars (new cars still costs a fortune in Eastern Europe), very old clocks hanging on the wall, people living in horrible conditions and old shops. Some of these things are not so bad in Lithuania; I have to admit that Ukraine and Georgia is affected by Russia more than other countries.

All in all George Georgiou gives us an opportunity to see different angle and thematic documentary photography, we go away from aesthetic images.


Jon Levy’s talk:


Jon Levy talks about documentary photography more about photojournalism and photographers intentions. He has much experience in this area, as he is founder of photo journal based on story telling. Once again he admitted that is very hard to classified photographers as the most important thing is that photographer want to show us, what ways we wants to do this. I like his talk that he know only one photographer who clearly know his intention and what he wants to achieve, all other photographers quite not sure what is their pathway. The final sentence that we need to know photographer personally to understand his views through his imagery is very true, sometimes I feel like my tutors don’t understand where I am coming from and it our connection very weak, so I am not able to progress as much as I would like.


Assignment 1:


Local communities


In preparation…


Read the section entitled: ‘The Photographic Brief’ in Short, M. (2011) Creative Photography context and narrative. Lausanne: AVA Publishing, pp. 20-26


After reading Maria Short section about photographic brief it made me change my photographic theme. The best way to reveal your ideas, feelings and thoughts by knowing your photographic subject, so the best idea for me is to take photographs of my husband at work and at home, as we are new parents to 2 months old baby I will take this into consideration and will call my project ‘New life, things changed…’ Who will know better than me how he feels, what he thinks and who he truly is?

Short’s book section provides us with clear examples of documentary photography briefs, the most wonderful thing is that every photographer has his own way to reveal things or subjects, as everyone has his own feelings, views and issues he wants to speak of in photographic way. There are many tips how to handle photographic brief.