Week 8: Reflection

After the webinar, I have a clear sense that I need to develop my narrative and sequencing skills in order to better translate my project into a coherent series. If my aim is to present the work without the information initially, then it is important to get a clear sequence of the images to tell the story I am trying to communicate. The amount of images is crucial, too. I have so far put together 20 images in my gallery, however others have many more. I need to consider how many images will make an effective narrative and how many would ultimately start to reduce the impact of the work.

The feedback, although positive, narrative was a key area to look at. People liked the display of the work and the minimal gallery and page. I am happy with this, although there are some areas I would like to develop given the time to do so. For example, the native WordPress slider has a grey background that I am unable to change without looking into detail the CSS coding to change it (I will have a go at this at some point!). The page of my gallery also features a number of tags and keywords, which function for SEO purposes but do not provide a clean looking design. Overall, these are niggles and can be looked at over the period of the course.

To start looking at narrative, I have returned to Lewis Bush’s article ‘Photographic Storytelling: A Poverty of Theory’ (Bush, 2019)​*​ discussing how photography overlooks the power of narrative in photography and often misunderstood by photographers. 

In the article, Bush also states that Narrative and story are different but often confused. 

“One Story can spawn many narratives”

(Bush, 2019)

It is clear that the sequencing of my work will have a fundamental impact on how it might be read, which leads me back to the ‘Authors’ vs ‘Readers’ debate referenced in this weeks readings and Barthes ‘Death of the Author’ (Barthes, 1977)​†​ It feels that the emphasis is still on the reader of the work, however I can still maintain the control of the initial experience of the work.

Looking to develop skills in Narrative, sequencing, and the edit of my work, I continue to explore Bush’s article, and looked at the discussing that Bush was having on Twitter. There are a number of reference by Bush to ‘Narratology’ which is the study of narrative structure and how this can inform our perception. The article also discusses the strength of cinema in employing photographic theory in creating a strong narrative. These are areas that will continue to explore.

I have identified some further reading:
  • Relationships between Text, Narrative and Image – An Introduction
  • Gérard Genette : Narratology / Signo – Applied Semiotics Theories
  • Basics creative photography 02: Context and narrative
  • Image, Music, Text: Roland Barthes

Overall, I am going to keep the style and layout of the gallery that I have presented, maintaining the link that I have set up, and now focus now on the sequencing and amount of images that I am presenting, supported by the information.

  1. ​*​
    Bush, L. (2019). Photographic Storytelling: A Poverty of Theory. [online] Medium. Available at: https://witness.worldpressphoto.org/photographic-storytelling-a-poverty-of-theory-2def0ba48031 [Accessed 15 Nov. 2019].
  2. ​†​
    Barthes, R. (1977) “The Death of the Author.” Image / Music / Text. Trans. Stephen Heath. New York: Hill and Wang.

Week 8: Work in Progress Portfolio

Working on how my work is presented after reading the Kitchen from ‘Ways of Curating’​*​ (Obrist and Raz̤ā, n.d.) and ‘Context as a Determinant of Photographic Meaning’​†​ (Evans and John, 1997) I have started again to consider that context and how my work is read is somewhat out of my control. The readings reference the essay by Barthes ‘Death of the Author’​‡​ which also starts to place the most value on the ‘reader’ as opposed to the ‘author’ of the work. I have discussed Barthes’ essay before and although I do agree with this statement, I question his argument for completely removing knowledge of the author of a work as this is not something that can be easily done, and once known, it does change how the work is read.

Figure 1. Example of my web galleries in the ‘mosaic’ format. (Hill, 2019) ​§​

With that said, I have looked at presenting my work as minimal as possible on my website. Previously, I was utilising the mosaic format (Fig. 1), where the work is shown in full and on quite a busy page, together with any supporting information I felt should accompany the images. After considering the readings, and conducting some research into how other photographers are presenting their images online, I have made the decision to present the work in the form of a slider (Fig. 2), where the images are viewed individually (or in the case of my series ‘Four Prefectures of Japan’ which I have since edited into a slider, a juxtaposition of images). The information is initially hidden on the page and can be revealed as an option to the reader (Fig. 3 & 4). This, I hope, will allow viewers of my work time to assimilate it and form their own narratives before they consider the information and background to the work. That said, I still maintain a control of the work in the form of the sequencing and the display. Once the information has also been taken into consideration, the images may also change their meaning to the viewer and creating an enhanced experience.

Figure 2. Updated gallery to show in a slideshow format. (Hill, 2019).
Figure 3. Information and thumbnails revealed. (Hill, 2019)

Considering the work of others
Zed Nelson
Figure 4. Screenshot from Zed Nelson’s website and project ‘Love Me.’​¶​ (Nelson, 2019).

Zed Nelson displays a lot of content on his website from his various projects. I looked in particular at how the project ‘Love Me’ is displayed (Fig. 5). There are 50 images in this gallery and are displayed individually with a click through button. There is a caption to accompany the work, together with a link to additional material such as the book, the information, and the thumbnails. The work here is presented well, however Nelson’s website is quite complicated to navigate with a lot of clicks and inconsistent with the menus. The overall feel of the site is good however with the images presented on a white background.

Laura El Tantawy
Figure 5. Laura El Tantwy’s website and project ‘In the Shadow of the Pyrimids’​#​ (El Tantwy, 2019)
Figure 6. Laura El Tantwy’s website and project ‘In the Shadow of the Pyrimids’​#​ with a single image and information on display (El Tantwy, 2019).

The work here is presented on a white background with a clean menu to the left of the images providing a good navigation through the work and the site. When a project is clicked on, the work is first presented all together, serving the function of the thumbnails (Fig 5). When an image is selected (Fig. 6), you are able to view the images one at a time and click through at your own pace. El Tantawy’s information is hidden with a button to click and view the written justification of the work. El Tantawy’s work is very much open to interpretation, and this I feel lends itself very well to that notion of the ‘reader.’

Audio and images

I spent some time collecting audio at some of the events that I have been photographing. I want to experiment and create some kind of experiential part to my work that gives a sense of the spectacle that these Carnivals present. To explore this further, I created a quick gallery (Low Resolution) of the abstract light images that I took in Frome and added the raw audio as an option to click and listen to whilst the images are transitioning through the set. The audio is an option to enhance the experience of viewing the images.

Exploring PDF presentation

As a hangover from my freelance days, I have also started to experiment with creating a PDF version of the project as a kind of book dummy/zine. I have created these in the past when I would use a PDF to promote my commercial practice. As another way to present the work, it is quite useful to start experimenting with different typeface and design elements. 

I looked at how I could represent the work using design and created a series of experiments, playing with the typeface and the colours of the carnival.

As we are expected to produce a simplified PDF of the images presented in the work in progress gallery, I am not sure if I will include these design element. Moving forward though I aim to continue exploring this as a promotional tool for the work.

  1. ​*​
    Obrist, H. and Raz̤ā, A. (n.d.). Ways of curating. London: Penguin, pp.81-87.
  2. ​†​
    Evans, J. and John, W. (1997). The Camerawork essays. London: Rivers Oram, pp.52-63.
  3. ​‡​
    Barthes, R. (1977) “The Death of the Author.” Image / Music / Text. Trans. Stephen Heath. New York: Hill and Wang.
  4. ​§​
    Hill, P. (2019). Polo Hipster, Western Australia. | Phil Hill Photography. [online] Phil Hill Photography. Available at: https://www.philhillphotography.com/portfolio/polo-hipster-western-australia/ [Accessed 14 Nov. 2019].
  5. ​¶​
    Nelson, Z. (2019). Zed Nelson – photographer. [online] Zednelson.com. Available at: https://www.zednelson.com/?LoveMe [Accessed 14 Nov. 2019].
  6. ​#​
    El Tantawy, L. (2019). [online] Lauraeltantawy.com. Available at: http://www.lauraeltantawy.com/ [Accessed 14 Nov. 2019].

Week 7: Reflections

Liquid Image - Micro Project
Figure 1. Balsamic Vinegar and Water Liquid image from the week 6&7 Micro Project. (Hill, 2019).

I enjoyed producing the images for the micro project. It was a complete departure from what I have been shooting for my current work in progress portfolio, focusing on an abstract series of images as opposed to the location portraits I have been photographing.

Where I feel that the images could have been improved was how distracted with the production of the oral presentation I have been and not taken the care and time over the images that  might have done if I was completely focused on it in the same way that I am for my main practice and project. The feedback received for the set has been generally good and I had much encouragement to continue the series and create something with the minimal nature of the water image. Sequencing was the main area of development that I should consider. This is an area that I feel needs much refinement over the whole of the MA as selecting and editing my work has never been my strong point. I feel that when presenting my wider project ideas it may become crucial to seek the support from my peers and tutors.

At the moment, the images sit somewhere in the experiment category, as I know that they are created with simple liquids, I do not feel that there is enough depth to the set in order to take it any further as it stands. That said, during the webinar with my peers and Paul, some other photographers and artists who work in a similar way were suggested to me and I could now start to see how a project with these images may develop. I do feel that given the time, I would like to explore the concept and see where it could lead with a style and type of photography that I have never done before.

I have been working fairly consistently on my research project, continuing to shoot carnivals. Salisbury on 24/10, and have reflected on these images here.

Work In progress portfolio

To support the practice I am also working my way through ‘Bowling alone.’ I am finding this book on the subject very much based on the economics of the subject and how it ultimately impacts the productivity of a society. Interestingly, I do find that our world tends to be defined the economics of it and the capitalist nature of our culture. Putnam also notes that civic engagement has decreased as education has risen over the past 30 years (as written in 2000). People now have the skills to function within a society that historically would have been nurtured through clubs, organizations and associations. I am also interested in Putnam’s reference to social philosophy and will look into this side of things to support my project.​*​

  1. ​*​
    Putnma, R. (2000). Bowling Alone. New York: Simon & Schuster, p.60.

Week 7: Contact Sheet

Salisbury Carnival 24/10

I photographed Salisbury Carnival with the intention of capturing some of the big carts that are at their most spectacular when lit up at night. Unfortunately, the weather meant that many of the participants of this carnival stayed away and it was raining heavily during the time that I was shooting at the event. Of the images I did manage to capture, I am wondering how these will fit into the wider narrative of the project so far. The night shooting meant that I had to light the subject and this meant that I had some strong shadows to deal with which are a departure from the other portraits that I have been shooting.

I was fairly happy with the shot of the girl by the lorry and could see how more in this sort of style could work with the rest of the images.

Middlesbrough Dance Group 29/10

As an experiment into other ways of representing communities, I decided to take a studio kit on location whilst in Middlesbrough last week. These images are of a group of retirees who come together in Middlesbrough Library to a dance class in an attempt to combat the loneliness of this time.

Week 6: Peer Commissioned Micro Project

This week I have paired with Kimberley Barry to set each other a micro project. Looking at the delivery for this week, I consider how to include elements of constraint and serendipity into the project brief that I set Kim:

  • Using the 2 hour time constraint.
  • I want you to take a walk. Somewhere you walk often but do not stop to consider the environment.
  • Take one image every ten minutes along the route until you have 6 images in total (taking half the allotted time).
  • Reflect and review the images that you have taken. Consider which ones might work well together.
  • Go back and aim to refine/improve these images to submit for your project

This is the project brief that I was set by Kim:

  • Choice of constraint was distance. 
  • Using a 50mm or less lens take 6-8 images using liquid. 
  • The choice of liquid is completely down to you (oil. Water) be as creative as your want. 
  • Use lights, surfaces, gravity.
Looking at photographing liquid – Mood board

I am thinking that I would like to explore this micro project in a similar way that Wolfgang Tillmans did in his ‘Paper Drop’ series

Figure 1. Paper Drop (Star) by Wolfgang Tillmans
The Result:

I liked the idea using Kim’s constraint of ‘Distance’ and used liquids that do not really mix: Water, Oil, Balsamic Vinegar, Wine, Milk. The images were shot on a flat surface and carefully put together. I back lit these using my speedlite.

I am quite pleased with the result. I especially liked the thin highlight running along the edge of the liquids surface tension.

Week 5 & 6: Oral Presentation and Tutorial feedback

2nd Draft Oral Presentation used in the webinar with Michelle. (Hill, 2019)
22/10 Oral Presentation feedback reflections

This week we were giving each other feedback on our oral presentations. I have been quite happy with how my oral presentation has been coming along. I have received generally good feedback when we discussed this in a peer critique on 22/10. One of the main points was that potentially, I was aiming to cover too much in my presentation  and I should consider getting into the topic of my research project sooner. 

I aimed to create my presentation in chronological order, looking at my former practice and how I have come to question my what I did and how this relates to debates taking place within photography today. Primarily, the role of privilege and the idea of decolonization. It was suggested that I could also work more to allow my images to do the talking, and referred to the presentation guidelines that point to not using it a story of me, or the history of art!

Although this is an important consideration, I feel that when I refer to the assessment criteria of the assignment that states:

Apply a critical awareness of the diversity of contemporary photographic practice to the development of your own work, and inform your practice through historical, philosophical, ethical and economic contextualization.


Make personal observations and form critical opinions to analyse and appraise your own work, as well as the work of your peers and other practitioners.

It is important to look at my images throughout my career up to this point to show a critical awareness of how I have come to question my role in photography and how I can attempt to move on. I also chose to focus more of my previous practice and not so much on the research project as we will have the opportunity to add more detail and write a specific assignment related to this later on. I also have looked at the development of my work and this is important to contextualize where I am now, about to start my research project

31/10/19 Draft Oral Presentation.

After a webinar with Michelle, it is clear that I have some improvements to make in my presentation. Most agree that the ideas that I am aiming to discuss in relation to my work are good. The issues are that I am trying to cram too much into the presentation and this has had an impact on the flow and content. It has become too busy, with a large focus on my prior practice.

Another key area to develop is how I am using the quotes in my narration. At the moment I am using quotes to support and justify my points, where is would be more beneficial to discuss them in greater depth and in relation to my work, and the work of others.

Michelle also noted that the middle section had become confused with what I was aiming to say and that I should focus on the key ideas over the quick look at the chronology of my career.

Key Areas to Focus on:
  • What has meaning and why it has meaning to me
  • Look at reducing the projects that I am covering down to 3/4 so that I can go into them in greater detail.
  • Move past my prior editorial practice quicker to get into the discussion
  • Used links to support point instead of ‘unpacking them’ more fully

Week 5: Power and Responsibility

What ethical questions do you think this image, and how it was used, raises?
Figure 1. Refugees cross from Croatia into Slovenia in October 2015 (c) Jeff Mitchell/Getty Images​*​

Jeff Mitchell makes the comment in the article:

“My job – telling the story of the migrants – had been done. It’s just unfortunate how it’s been picked up. It’s difficult for any agency – Getty, Reuters, AP – that circulates photographers’ images. They’re out there. And it’s not just Ukip. Newspapers also use shots in the wrong context. It depends on the political slant of any organisation.”

(Mitchell, 2016)​†​

Although Mitchell goes on to criticise the use of the image by UKIP and how “The people in the photo have been betrayed by Ukip, rather than me personally” (Mitchell, 2016)​ In a sense, he is saying that he is the tool not the hand and is distancing himself from the responsibility of how the image was used.

As a photojournalist, Jeff Mitchell would have been well aware of media bias, and political allegiances that particular newspapers have and even how his image would go on to be distributed. For example, the Guardian has worked to contextualize the refugee crisis as a human one, people fleeing conflict zones is not something that we can ignore (Trilling, 2019).​‡​ Whereas, The Express have used the same image to highlight the sheer number of refugees coming into the Eurozone and consider it something that should not be ignored, depending on your personal viewpoint (Sykes, 2019).​§​ 

Story and narrative are two very different concepts, Lewis Bush has discussed this in his article ‘Photographic Storytelling: A Poverty of Theory’​¶​ (Bush, 2019) where a single story, or in this case an image, can spin many narratives.

Furthermore, Roland Barthes, in his essay ‘Death of the Author’ (Barthes, 1977)​#​ asserts that the meaning drawn from a work is primarily from the reader of it. However, this does not consider the background and the context in which that work was made. In this case, photographer Jeff Mitchell may wish to re-engage with the use of this image and consider what it was he aiming to show when he took the image.

A counter argument to this, however, must be to point out that it should not necessarily be the job of the photographer, or indeed the agencies that distributed the image, to make those judgements. The image has been used by both sides of the debate, and should be a point of discussion to reach consensus.

Responsibilities you have within your own practice?

I have been considering some of this for my oral presentation. I am a white male and question what contributions I can make to photography, knowing that white men are ubiquitous and much of the time do not allow for other contributions – the apogee of ‘privilege’ is the white male one. Furthermore, I have read texts, such as Mark Sealy’s ‘Decolonising the Camera,’​**​ which discusses the notion that our view of the world through photography is primarily one of the Western European, especially when representing ‘the other.’  Sealy asserts however, that although an important consideration, we should not shy away from photographing subjects that are different from our own set of circumstances, after all, the viewpoint from an outsider’s perspective can also be a valid one. Sealy also is quoted as saying:

“I think a plurality of cultural voices amplified in the world helps us all work towards a greater understanding of the different ways of being and signs of recognition.”

(Sealy, 2019)​††​

It is this consideration of my subject that I am aiming to inform how I am  representing others – Engaging with my subject is key.

  1. ​*​
    Mitchell, J. (2015). Refugees cross from Croatia into Slovenia in October 2015. [image] Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2016/jun/22/jeff-mitchells-best-shot-the-column-of-marching-refugees-used-in-ukips-brexit-campaign#img-1 [Accessed 19 Oct. 2019].
  2. ​†​
    Beaumont-Thomas, B. (2016). Jeff Mitchell’s best photograph: ‘These people have been betrayed by Ukip’. [online] the Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2016/jun/22/jeff-mitchells-best-shot-the-column-of-marching-refugees-used-in-ukips-brexit-campaign [Accessed 19 Oct. 2019].
  3. ​‡​
    Trilling, D. (2019). Five myths about the refugee crisis. [online] the Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/news/2018/jun/05/five-myths-about-the-refugee-crisis [Accessed 19 Oct. 2019].
  4. ​§​
    Sykes, S. (2019). Europe could take MORE migrants from Syria, says UN refugee agency head. [online] Express.co.uk. Available at: https://www.express.co.uk/news/world/637610/Europe-could-take-more-refugees-EU-Syria [Accessed 19 Oct. 2019].
  5. ​¶​
    Bush, L. (2019). Photographic Storytelling: A Poverty of Theory. [online] Medium. Available at: https://witness.worldpressphoto.org/photographic-storytelling-a-poverty-of-theory-2def0ba48031 [Accessed 19 Oct. 2019].
  6. ​#​
    Barthes, R. (1977) “The Death of the Author.” Image / Music / Text. Trans. Stephen Heath. New York: Hill and Wang.
  7. ​**​
    Sealy, M. (2019). Decolonising the camera. 1st ed. London: Lawrence & Wishart.
  8. ​††​
    Molloy, C. (2019). Mark Sealy | 1000 Words. [online] 1000wordsmag.com. Available at: http://www.1000wordsmag.com/mark-sealy/ [Accessed 20 Oct. 2019].

Week 4: Collaboration

Figure 1. from ‘Photography Exists of Collaboration’​*​ (Click to view full size)

This is something that really resonates with me as I consider my former practice.

I have to question my role in photography as a white male. What contribution, if any, can I bring? This is fundamental to why collaboration is a vital to photography.

Figure 2. Clementine Schniederman Lecturing about her work ​†​

I decided to look at the guest lecture of Clementine Schniederman. I really liked her work as it resonated with my research project ideas on community. She also discussed a way of collaborating with the community by sharing the project in the form of a small magazine distributed in the local paper. This is something I might consider to do at the end of my Carnival series.

Collaboration Mini Project: Adapted Environments

Figure 3. Man wearing Cowboy Hat waiting to cross the road. Peterborough, Ontario, Canada. Image by Phil Hill​‡​

This week, we are being asked to collaborate with our peers on a mini project that we set ourselves. On the forum, I decided to post an image that I shot a few years ago in Canada (Fig. 3), together with some ideas from Geoff Dyer’s book ‘The Ongoing Moment’​§​ And his discussion about ‘Cultural Signifiers’ and how objects such as hats can inform us of the subject and the context of the image, even when you can’t see that subject completely.


After a brief discussion on the forum, I have teamed up with Ross, and Andy as we had a lot of similar ideas regarding how we could approach this mini project. In particular, Ross discussed the notion of ‘Desire Paths’ and from that we decided to look at how the environment could be adapted in our local areas.

First Shoot 15/10

I headed to out with the intention of capturing adapted environments local to me. I came across some shopping trolleys that were no where near their original intended use and had been used to transport objects away from them. I liked the idea of this being an adaptation of the environment in the sense that the person who moved the trolley potentially needed to transport something that they were unable to do by hand.

2nd Webinar 16/10

Once we had all taken our initial shots, we go together to discuss the project during another conference. We all had overlapping themes even though we were shooting in isolation, which worked quite well for the final edit and sequencing of the work.

We decided to put the images together as a PDF and write a short introduction to the work.

  1. ​*​
    Azoulay, A. (2016). Photography Consists of Collaboration: Susan Meiselas, Wendy Ewald, and Ariella Azoulay, 31(1 91), pp.187 – 207.
  2. ​†​
    Schneidermann, C. (2018). Falmouth Flexible guest lecture.
  3. ​‡​
    Hill, P. (2015). Man wearing Cowboy Hat waiting to cross the road. Peterborough, Ontario, Canada. [Photograph] Online: https://www.philhillphotography.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/CNV00006.jpg (Links to an external site.)
  4. ​§​
    Dyer, G. (2007). The ongoing moment. London: Abacus.