Informing Contexts: Week 5. Independent Reflection W/C 23/02/2018

Following on from this weeks work we were asked to consider our gaze. This was a particularly interesting week for me as it is quite relevant as to why I started to look at macro photography in the first place. To challenge what people see, to encourage people to really look, to look around the full frame to see what they can see.

It also made me think about how I look at images. When I go to the Side Gallery in Newcastle, I like to get quite close to the glass and really look for the textures around the image. In past exhibitions like Shipbuilding on the Tyne by Bruce Rae I enjoyed looking at the textures of the metal where it had been worked, where the colours went from black to shiny glowing silver – it is this type of effect that I would like to achieve in my own work. After this initial look I am led to look at what is in the background working outwards leaving me wondering what is outside the boundary line of the frame.

With my own work as described in my own way of looking I want to encourage people to look around the image, can they see what I see? If not what is it that they can see? Perhaps I am more motivated exploring the gaze of others than I am of my own.

Voyeurism was a topic that we discussed at our tutorial this week. Whilst I don’t necessarily agree that for me sexual pleasure is obtained by creating or photographing or even reading my images, there has to be some form of pleasure otherwise why would we do it? Again not in a sexual way I enjoy watching other people read my images and try to piece together what it is that they are seeing. Perhaps it is still a form of voyeurism like Merry Alpern’s collection Dirty Windows as people do not always know that I am observing their reactions.

With regards to my project work I have been looking at Animism. It was a term I had not heard of before, but one of my fellow students mentioned inanimate objects and the Shrine of the Dolls in Wakayama, Japan in a tutorial and I went from there.

In a simple online search I found the following definition:


  1. the attribution of a living soul to plants, inanimate objects, and natural phenomena
  2. the belief in a supernatural power that organizes and animates the material universe.

Anima = Life, Soul.

Gary Ferraro, in the book Cultural Anthropology: An Applied Perspective defines Animism as:

“The belief that spiritual beings exist and that spirits also reside in plants, inanimate objects, and natural phenomena” (Ferraro, 2014, Pg 418) does a really great job of explaining the concept of animism.

I can apply this to my work through dealing with my objects in a more sympathetic manner. Dealing with them like I would a person and this is a major turning point in my project.

During my week 4 work was when I saw the change being in the way I had started to discuss the way I spoke about my image and now not treating them as inanimate object but actual things with spirits has changed my whole process entirely.

If inanimate objects have a soul I want to show their lives, their story and this inspired me.

It led me to research what the stages of life were scientifically.

  • Infancy (Birth -2),
  • Early Childhood (3-5),
  • Middle/Late Childhood (6-12),
  • Adolescence (13-18),
  • Early Adulthood (19-20),
  • Middle Adulthood (30-60),
  • Late Adulthood (61+),
  • Death.


This was the most comprehensive breakdown that I studies and I moved to start thinking how I could include these stages using inanimate objects, and also about life events that could occur during these life stages that could be made recognisable to a viewer.

This also led me to take me first images with this narrative. Following the feedback received during my portfolio reviews I decided to work with a DSLR again, instead of the iPhone to see how I felt about the images.

These images from last week cover Birth/infancy:

I also wanted to experiment with working life in the images:

Whether I return to working with my iPhone I am not sure yet, I like the feeling and clarity of my new images, but life isn’t always clean-cut so using an iPhone that everyday people use often might be another thread to the narrative.

I was also led in my research to look at elements of Panpsychism:

“the doctrine or belief that everything material, however small, has an element of individual consciousness.”

This seems a bit more of a complex area that I need to work on to get a more complete understanding as it is more of a philosophical term.

I am also drawn to add some elements of Anthropomorphism into my research:

“the attribution of human characteristics or behaviour to a god, animal, or object.”

I am doing this through the characteristics I am hoping to capture within my work.

I feel this week has given my work much more direction and the narrative that it has been lacking.


Informing Contexts: Week 4. Independent Reflection W/C 16/02/2018


With my work I want to encourage people to think about my images. It is my goal that they would begin to use their imagination to try to make a response to tell me what it is they think they are seeing. This is why I capture my images in a macro style.


To achieve my intent the strategies I have in place are my photographic style and the way that I edit my images. Through using black and white photography an extra layer of abstraction is added to the image. I then try to start conversations about my images to find out the thoughts of others. Through sharing on social media I want to get more people to see my images, the wider they are spread the more possibility of it being a conversation starter.

Are the strategies successful?

In some ways the photographic side is by far more successful than the discussion side. It is important that I do more work on defining who my audience actually is to make this more successful. I currently see my audience as people who enjoy abstract/black and white work – this could be art or photography. I understand that not everyone will be able to see what I am trying to do with my work.

Is photographic ambiguity an intent in its own right?

Ambiguity it has several definitions:

“Uncertainty of meaning” (wikipedia)

“The quality of being open to more than one interpretation; inexactness” (google)

“a fact of something having more than one possible meaning and therefore possible causing confusion” (Cambridge Dictionary)

If this can be seen as an intent it would work really well for me! I want individuals to feel at first a little confused but then to make their own conclusions/decisions. I openly encourage differing interpretations, so I would like to say yes it is an intent in its own right.

This week.

After coming away from the face to face event at Falmouth this weekend I was working on coming up with a narrative to help better explain my work. One comment that came from the weekend was to focus on one specific item rather than several and create a series. This led me to think of Life Cycles. Instead of using my iPhone I decided as has been referred to a few times to use my DSLR and I think in some ways I maybe preferred the outcome. Part of my still wants to stick to the iPhone to maintain the feeling of the everyday.

I presented this idea at our week 4 webinar and it received positive feedback. An idea that was brought up regarding some cultures believe that inanimate objects have spirits or souls. So for my research for the coming week I will be focussing my attention on the concepts of panpsychism and animism.


The Falmouth Face2Face Weekend

This week overall has been an amazing learning experience at the face2face event where I got to meet up with the other students on the course – the 9 and a bit hour journey from Newcastle to Falmouth was well worth it.

It has been commented on at assessment and tutorials that I should be experimenting with lights so on that Saturday I took the opportunity to do a full day of studio lighting. In these  sessions I took my first portrait and it was also my first time in a studio. It was truly liberating the lessons I had already learned just seemed to make more sense when I could see what the light was actually doing on a larger scale.

Day 2 I completed the Here and Now workshop making pinhole cameras from drinks cans and capturing our here and now. I had never used a pinhole camera or even been in a darkroom before so to actually achieve an image I was absolutely over the moon about. The whole group then put their images together and made a book.

The afternoon was spent in portfolio clinics. It was nerve-wracking but highlighted my need for a narrative, this is something that has been discussed before but I really need to get to grips with this to enable to me to improve and develop.

The last thing on Sunday was the Print Swap Fair it was great seeing everyone’s work I even swapped one which I didn’t think I would.

Monday and Tuesday was the IOP Symposium, we had lectures in the morning I was so drawn in my Jenny Lewis, her story and work and enthusiasm was infectious and it left me buzzing. The afternoon I had 2 portfolio reviews, one more positive than the other but that is ok because it gives me something to think about and build upon.

Monday evening I participated in  another lighting workshop which was led by Simon a fellow student. It was a great opportunity to learn more about what I can do with light it was really beneficial.

Tuesday was more lectures I really enjoyed John Spinks and it again highlighted how long it can take for a project to come to fruition.

The afternoon was my final portfolio review, it was great to finish with the feedback as it gave me some clear goals to go away with and work on.

Overall a great 4 days that will allow me to move forward with my project work.



Informing Contexts: Week 3. Independent Reflection W/C 09/02/2018

With my practise I do construct my images, but not in the ways that other artists covered this week do. Jeff Wall constructs large-scale theatrical pieces, I focus on mainly one object. I do however feel inspired to try to obtain more dramatic images as looking at the work of others this week. How I plan to do this is through trying to have my items suspended in a way to make my images more exciting so that all of my work is not flat lay.

From this weeks work and the reading of a photographic ‘truth’ I feel could well be a symbolic construction in itself – who decides what is the truth?

If you are constructing or re-constructing something that has happened, the image will still be showing an event that happened, so there is partial truth to an image. My work is abstract everyday images. I choose not to tell people what they are, does this affect the truth of my work – or does it make me a trickster?

From my research an artist that I have enjoyed this week is Lorna Freytag’s photography it inspired me in the same way as the magical realism reading did this week.


The juxtaposition of the children with the giant animals/plants etc, they are still real things. They are clearly constructed and I think it wants to show the power of imagination. I find this quite interesting and it really makes me think about the scale of my own work. Freytag’s work makes objects so much larger than reality and I am focusing on the tiny  It is something that I could look at in my work, making my tiny objects look huge in scale within their frame.

In relation to my own work the idea of getting up close to the  objects it also alters the scale of what I am shooting, it is also my desire to have my viewers use the imaginations and this is what I took from Lorna Freytag’s work.

In other parts of this weeks work I did enjoy the concept of Jeff Wall’s Hunter/Farmer nature of photographers when constructing images. Using the way Charlotte Cotton breaks down the concept I can identify myself clearly as a farmer. The objects I shoot I nurture and ‘cultivate’ until I get the image I am looking for and capture it. I often build upon the images and return to them over time. I feel that this description of Farmer is also the right description from my photographer personality.

During this week I have also continued to investigate the way that I use light. In the most recent images I focused on reflecting daylight to experiment and attempt to find my direction.

Whilst this was an enjoyable process it did show me some flaws in my practice that I will need the rectify in order to improve my images.

During this experimentation I don’t feel that my images of the mechanical parts of the vintage cameras is really working, but the images of the natural/flowers is working better. I’m still not sure if I am heading in the right direction, or if this is the direction that I want to be headed in.


Informing Contexts: Week 2. Independent Reflection W/C 02/02/2018

Did any ideas particularly interest you:

  • The close connection between photography and ‘physical reality’
  • How the photographer is part of the situation that they depict.
  • I think authenticity depends on why the photograph was taken – What was the intent of the photographer
  • I read about the Cottingley Fairy Hoax  of 1917 ( This links to the intent – these photographs were produced to mislead no matter if you believe in Fairies or not!
  • I didn’t agree with the description that photography lacks expressive freedom – expressiveness is something that I aim to achieve with all of my images.

What Challenged you and have your ideas changed:

  • I think my main challenges this week was weighing up whether any photography can be trusted any more than any other type of image.
  • This process of evaluation has also changed the thoughts that I had at the start of the week. These days with the easily available digital editing platforms it is almost second nature to edit and make changes to any image. I used to think that photographs were the most truthful form of art, but now I am swayed to think otherwise.
  • As with painting it is down to the choices of the photographer as to how trustworthy a piece of work is and unless information is given out with each image we would never know what the choices made were.

How might your work be (or not be) considered as a peculiar practice:

  • I think my work would be seen as a peculiar practice by many! My project currently focuses on Macro photography – relying on abstraction using an iPhone. In many circles this method will not be understood along with the fact that I take images of the mundane/the everyday.

Think about how the context affects how people view your work:

  • Context plays a major role in how people view my work, without the context of challenging perceptions and advising people that I want to know what they can see, without them need to be correct my project would be a confusing concept for many.

Reflect on your practice in the context of other visual practices and theoretical points:

  • I think I can continue to research artists in genres such as abstract, expressionists, surrealists, modernists to give context to my work. Like Scruton said “the viewer often looks through the photograph to the object it depicts” this is what I personally want the viewer to do.
  • I was interested also in another section of Roger Scruton’s article Photography & Representation. “the medium of photography has lost all importance: it can present us with what we see, but cannot tell us how to see it” pg 590
  • This quote seems to encapsulate what I want to do with my project. Whilst I don’t agree that photography has lost its importance. I want to present an image and the viewer to tell me what they see – I don’t want them to be told how I want them to see or what society wants them to see. I want them to explore and express themselves.
  • I agree with Scruton that if I start telling people what I see in my images, I would then be required to describe the image and tell others what they should be seeing (pg 586) – this is not what I want to achieve with my project.


This week I have also explored the work of John Humphrey. He is a Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society.

I chose to look at this work as he is a tutor on a course I have been taking to improve my skills and learn the technique of stacking.

His image Cactus 1 is the type of image I want to create – it made me wonder what it was as I couldn’t tell and it encouraged me to explore the frame. This is one of the things that motivates me with my project – encouraging the viewer to really look and spend time gazing and wondering.

Cactus 1 -John Humphrey 2017

At the same time I think Cactus 2 is a little too far into the abstraction for what I want to achieve and it makes me realise what a fine line it is to tread.

Cactus 2 – John Humphrey 2017

I really enjoyed paper curl. The aesthetics of the image I can relate to as it is an object similar to what I want to shoot for my project. I get great satisfaction from the way it makes you wonder where it goes as it disappears into nothing, as if it were melting into the background.

Paper Curl – John Humphrey 2017

With the image Torn Paper I can also apply elements to my project work. It is important that I learn these lessons on composition to enhance the work that I produce for my project.

Torn Paper – John Humphrey 2017



Informing Contexts: Week 1. Independent Reflection W/C 26/01/2018

The nature and intent of my own practice:

  • I want to challenge the way people see things, explore if they can still identify something if it is photographed in a more abstract way.
  • I take my images using a square format, on an iPhone, using macro photography using an olloclip, I apply black and white/silvered filter.
  • I am in some ways struggling with my narrative, I know I want to look at perceptions of how people see, but am still looking at the means in which I do this.

Where am I now?:

  • The place I am right now is pulling together my style and deciding where my work belongs. I want to find a theme to my work to provide continuity perhaps the various different items I have previously used is not what I need for my project.
  • I am still also trying to narrow down my audience and then this in turn should help me with everything else.

What contexts your work could be consumed in:

  • My work would probably be consumed as fine art/abstract. In a photobook or perhaps a small exhibition.
  • The idea of a small exhibition really excites me and I am looking at hosting a small event at Newcastle City Library.
  • I do however enjoy blogging and perhaps to keep on building my website is still a good way to go.

Your practice in the context of other visual practices and critical ideas:

  • You could look at it along the lines of abstract or surrealist art.
  • Perhaps some aspects could be related to Frida Kahlo’s still life work in the way that I look for textures in my work.
  • Or maybe the hyperrealism art of Giacchino Passini like his flower image in the following link:  This painting shows so much detail and gives me ideas and inspiration of how to present my objects to the viewer.
  • Or the work of Dennis J Wojtkiewicz – http://www.wojtkiewiczart.comRosette Series #32.jpg
  • The abstracts gallery of Wojtkiewicz is of particular interest to me and I can relate to it so much . Although I have all of my work in black and white and much closer I can really relate to these pieces of art. Wojtkiewicz’s work in particular appeals to me stylistically, although it is a painting the up-close textures and angles show what it is possible to achieve, but also how I could start setting up images in terms of composition.

This weeks Presentation:

During this weeks presentation the work of Uta Barth really drew me in

I particularly enjoyed the project Field 1995 – 1998 especially Field#9 and Field#6. In these images I like the bokeh, this is something that I have captured in a couple of pieces of my own work and I like the aesthetic that it gives. I have found that I am being drawn to a more abstract style of photography in a sense that I am enjoying creating images where there is absolutely no way of telling what the image is.

Kirsty Logan Photography
Through the viewfinder of another camera

They above is an images that I have created this week and I think this can be shown as similarities of Barth’s work where focus or lack of focus is not necessarily on the area it would have been conventionally in a photograph. This is something that really intrigues me and I would like to explore further.

With the work from this week I applied some of the readings/presentations to my practice – I agree that photography is an art form of its own, I also agree with the statement that “the human eyes sees differently from the camera lens” – Uta Barth. There is a perceptual relationship which goes hand in hand with what/how we see.

A point that really got me thinking was regarding constructed reality. In my practice whilst the items I photograph are real – they are not always in their natural setting, therefore it is a constructed reality but I am not necessarily capture reality as in events etc.

With Shore’s visual grammar – Flatness, Frame, Time & Focus. I understand that an image is 2D but this does not necessarily mean flat. I try to create depth and texture within my images to make them more interesting to the viewer and excite them with what they are seeing. I did agree with the point that the image creates its own world.

With my practice I relate most to Szarkowski – the thing itself being key to my work as it is of ‘things’. In some ways it is like a record keeping process of an item. The detail is also relevant especially when described as fragmented/discreet details. This is exactly what I am doing when capturing the world with my macro viewpoint. In my work the frame is also important as I want to have a limit to what the viewer sees to make them more inquisitive. Being involved in still life the time part of the analysis is possibly the least relevant, although when attempting to use natural light time is also of the essence. Vantage point to others may well have a different meaning to what it does for my practice I look for a different vantage point of a small object rather than a large vista for instance.

My favourite quote from this weeks work was from Alec Sloth

“The best photographs inspire curiosity”

This is something that I strive to achieve within all of my images.


John Szarkowski (1966) The Photographers Eye, New York: Museum of Modern Art

Stephen Shore (1998) The Nature of Photographs, Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press

Aaron Schuman (2004) ‘The Mississippi: An Interview with Alec Soth’ In Seesaw Magazine –


Sustainable Prospects: Week 11 Reflection W/C 1st December.

Most of the week this week had been spent preparing for the hand in dates.

I have spent a great deal of time this week pondering where I want to see my project go. I always had in the back of my mind that an exhibition would be unachievable, even though I would really love to see my images presented in that way. I did some research this week and found that Newcastle City Library has an exhibition space. As part of my project is looking at how people see differently and how looking and identifying is a learned behaviour it seem like a pretty good combination.

I had a review of my work in progress and there has been a further cull. What I did notice that I hadn’t before is that I am able to group my images into mini collections within my WIP. I found this really interesting, it kind of fit in with the video of Felicity McCabe and how she explained she had started to pair her images together after looking at historical paintings. My fit into trios and I really like how they sit together, it gives the flow of my practical work much more meaning. I also made a new edition which I am pleased with. The WIP is going to received one more review and then it is going in!

Pins and needles

The peer review of our CRJ’s didn’t go too well due to my own technical issues meaning I could only listen to everyone, but I have received some positive and also helpful points on the forum which I am going to take into account and act upon. I want to also spend some time contributing in the forums as this is an area that I have neglected this module due to not feeling I had enough time.

After reading Grant Scott’s Chapter – The Power of the Personal Project I have decided to act upon an idea that has been with me for a while and I think it will ignite the feelings that I had when I first started out in photography. I don’t want to make this an expensive task as it is a really simple idea.

I have worked really hard on my online presence this week. Both my CRJ and website have had a lot done to them. I have attempted to clean them up and make them more relevant to my practice. I think my website is going to be where I put my new personal project. I think some work still needs to be done on the menus, but overall I am very happy with what I have achieved.

Now just to complete the oral presentation.


  • Scott, Grant, 2015, The Power of a Personal Project [IN] Professional photography: the new global landscape explained, Focal Press, Burlington Massachusetts/ Oxfordshire England