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.

Week 3: Reflection

Consider how professions of photography are viewed by non-photographers and the general public.

Drawing on my personal and professional experience, I have found that photography has been considered an ‘easy’ profession and requires little work to perfect. I have, for example, been asked to photograph at friend’s and relative’s weddings, despite not being a wedding photographer, as I am well known for being a photographer. Interestingly, in many of the approaches to shoot these events, there was a tendency to add the comments ‘When I searched for photographers, they all charge too much, would you do it instead, Phil?’ Although never malicious, the comments primarily de-value my images, financial reasons being the primary motivation for asking me to do it, regardless or whether I could actually deliver a good job. The other issue I have always found with asking me to shoot these events for friends and relatives, once agreed, is I stop being a guest at the wedding and am in a sense now an ‘employee’ of the event without an acknowledgement of that fact.

Figure 1. Acid Mine Drainage image used as the cover for a Text Book. Cover image by Phil Hill​*​

Another interesting exchange I have experienced was from a series of images that I shot in Kenya that highlighted a kind of pollution known as ‘Acid Mine Drainage’ (Fig. 1). I was contacted by a South American website who wanted to use my image. I raised a standard usage license and the reply I received was an angry “What! I can’t believe you sent me an Invoice” with the rest of the email outlining his annoyance of being asked to pay for this kind of content, and then questioning how much I cared about environmental issues. Images from this set, have been used for a book cover, Science Photo Library, and on the BBC illustrating Acid pollution, and illegal Gold mining that was happening on the site who had no issue at all in paying for the images.

Considering this from another viewpoint, Simon Norfolk discussed in his Small Voice podcast interview​†​ about how photography in certain circles is very self-congratulatory, and the obsession with turning grand socio-documentary projects into photo books only to be viewed by the 100 or so other, predominantly white middle-class, photographers that buy it. This esoteric approach to photography can only exacerbate the issue of a wider audience understanding what photography is and the value of it.

Do you think this has any impact upon how you conduct yourself as a photographer, or influences your practice in any other way?

Continuing from above. That being said, starting my carnival project, I have found that on approach of the subjects, they assumed a cliche pose, presumably for the local press photographers that were also marauding in the background (Discussed in my week 2 reflection). This actually gave me the opportunity to ‘Break the ice’ and then re-position the subject to capture the images I was looking for. I have questioned the representation my subjects, however after continued discussion, I feel that there is an amount of conditioning that needed to be removed from the ‘performance’ of the subject, allowing me to capture something more. People seem to have an assumed idea of what a photographer is, through the photographers that they have most contact with such as school, wedding, local press, all of which are looking for a particular type of image and pose. It is therefore important to try and work past this, and capture a more authentic image.

Think about and describe how you have responded to changes in technology in your own practice.
Figure 2. Insta_Repeat Instagram profile shows how people are starting to create the same imagery on the platform​‡​

Social media and the internet continues to shape and accentuate this kind of social conditioning, especially as we are more frequently served the same kind of images and information of via algorithms and artificial intelligence learning of our behaviour online. This has been highlighted through instagram accounts such as Insta Repeat (Fig. 2).

Week 3 webinar reflection 10/10/19

I am pleased with the images that I have shot so far for this project, despite some technical issues. After adding an edit of the work on this week’s forum, I have received a positive response for my work, especially the portraits which come out as the strongest part of this project. I was given Photographers, such as, Margaret Mitchell​§​ to look at and found her work to be really useful in Identifying ways in which I can develop the work. Margaret has a real sense of the locations and environments in her work, which really helps to contextualise it. Paul also suggested that I look at clémentine schneidermann’s​¶​ work, and the series she did ‘I called her Lisa Marie’ (Fig. 3 & 4) which again serves to really place the surreal elements of these Elvis Presley fans in a Welsh setting. 

Figure 3. ‘Liz and Steve’ from I called her Lisa Marie by Clémentine Schneidermann​#​
Figure 4. ‘Little Elvis’ from I called her Lisa Marie by Clémentine Schneidermann​#​

After discussing the work on the forum, I decided to experiment with putting some of the images together in a variety of diptych layouts to see how this might change the way the individual images are viewed (Fig. 5). It was suggested that I might look at also creating triptych layouts of the work. Although these were well received during the crit, the way that I have been approaching this project so far is to separate environments, the details, and the portraits. The feedback has highlighted the need to bring some of those elements together where possible. In a sense, this would be useful when viewing each of the images in isolation of one another.

Figure 5. Experiments with Diptych layouts using the images from my Carnival shoots so far. Images by Phil Hill.

Michelle also followed up with this feedback:

Great to see the access you have and the ease with which you are able to work with them. It may be helpful now to consider what narrative you want to explore and whether you can combine the positioning of the figure within the urban and rural landscape  to illustrate something about the individuality of these people? Alec Soth/Anna Fox/Katie Grannan/Lauren Greenfeld all good possible sources of research.

Michelle Sank​**​

Clearly an area that I should be focusing on for future shoots. I also need to consider the narrative that I intend to portray. This is an area that I feel needs much development. I have approached the project so far with a basic knowledge of ‘Social Capital’ and continue to read Robert Putnam’s book ‘Bowling Alone’​††​ on this subject to hopefully begin informing and developing the narrative this way. Paul has also suggested that I read Peter Kropotkin’s book ‘Mutual Aid: A Factor in Evolution’​‡‡​ which considers the idea of collaboration within societies. A potential area for the narrative to work with my images might be through the lack of communication between newer elements of my home town of Frome moving in and ‘Gentrifying’ the area without thought or consideration of the people who have lived there for generations, the same people who are involved with the carnivals.

  1. ​*​
    Ryan, P. and Hill, P. (2014). Environmental and low temperature geochemistry. Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell, p.Cover.
  2. ​†​
    Smith, B. and Norfolk, S. (2019). A Small Voice Podcast – 107 – Simon Norfolk. [online] Ben Smith. Available at: https://bensmithphoto.com/asmallvoice/simon-norfolk [Accessed 11 Oct. 2019].
  3. ​‡​
    Instagram.com. (2019). Insta Repeat (@insta_repeat) • Instagram photos and videos. [online] Available at: https://www.instagram.com/insta_repeat/?hl=en [Accessed 11 Oct. 2019].
  4. ​§​
    Mitchell, M. (2019). In This Place — Margaret Mitchell. [online] Margaret Mitchell. Available at: https://margaretmitchell.co.uk/in-this-place [Accessed 9 Oct. 2019].
  5. ​¶​
    Schneidermann, C. (2019). I Called Her Lisa-Marie. [online] Chosecommune.com. Available at: https://www.chosecommune.com/book/icalledherlisamarie/ [Accessed 11 Oct. 2019].
  6. ​#​
    Schneidermann, C. (2019). I Called Her Lisa-Marie. [online] Chosecommune.com. Available at: https://www.chosecommune.com/book/icalledherlisamarie/ [Accessed 11 Oct. 2019].
  7. ​**​
    Sank M. (2019) Week Three Webinar: Work in Progress. Falmouth Flexible
  8. ​††​
    ​Putnam, R. (2007). Bowling alone. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster.
  9. ​‡‡​
    Kropotkin, P. (2016). Mutual aid. [Charlestown, SC.]: [Createspace, Inc.].

Week 3: Work in Progress

This is the first edit of my ‘Carnival’ series, drawn from 3 shoots. Shoot 1 / Shoot 2 / Shoot 3
Reflections on webinar feedback

People have really responded well to the portraits that I have been shooting. I too, think that these are the strongest of the series and feel that I want to expand on this for future shoots. Considering ‘Interdisciplinary Practice’ from week 2, I want to start collecting more stories and quotes from the subjects to really get a sense of who they are beyond the person in a costume. A couple of times now, I have discussed through critique and tutorial, the importance of getting past the outward ‘performance.’ It is important to continue photographing subjects either before, or after the event.

Margaret Mitchell, In this Place
Figure 1. Image from ‘In This Place’ by Margaret Mitchell.​*​

Paul suggested in the forum that I look at the work of Margaret Mitchell which I have not seen before. After reading the synopsis of the project ‘In This Place’​†​ I am keen to also show “family and home, connections and place.” What I like about Margaret’s work is there is a real sense of the environments, even when the image is predominantly of a person (Fig. 1). Initially, my intention was to create portraits and edit the work together with the environments and detail shots forming diptychs of the work. However, a more focused approach of environmental elements showing in the portraits is something I am keen to expand.

Next Shoot
Figure 2. My aim was to give a sense of the ‘spectacle’ and light show during the Frome Carnival without showing it in a straight forward way. Image by Phil Hill

I am planning another shoot at the Salisbury Carnival on 25/10. I won’t be able to get to the location until after dark, so was originally planning to capture more of the abstract images captured during shoot 2 (Fig. 2). However, after considering the forum comments and the work of Margaret Mitchell, I will aim to shoot some night portraits (Fig. 3) that blend the abstract images into the background, or more of an ambient approach to combining the two approaches (Fig. 4). This is with the aim of including a sense of the carnival and the spectacle of the light show, together with portraiture. These examples are purely technical explorations at this stage with the hope that it will start to support and develop the contextual, narrative elements of this project in the future. Although, I could see the images taking on a similar aesthetic to Laura El Tantawy’s ‘In the Shadow of the Pyramids’​‡​ series (Fig. 5).

Figure 3. Example of night time portrait with off camera flash and ambient light abstracted in the background. Image by Dunja Djudjic​§​ 
“The Square I Remember” from “In the Shadow of the Pyramids” by Laura El-Tantawy 2005-2014​¶​
Figure 4. Example of Night Time Ambient portrait: ‘Daniel in Times Square.’ Image by Gaby Deimeke​#​

  1. ​*​
    Mitchell, M. (2019). In This Place — Margaret Mitchell. [online] Margaret Mitchell. Available at: https://margaretmitchell.co.uk/in-this-place [Accessed 9 Oct. 2019].
  2. ​†​
    Mitchell, M. (2019). In This Place — Margaret Mitchell. [online] Margaret Mitchell. Available at: https://margaretmitchell.co.uk/in-this-place [Accessed 9 Oct. 2019].
  3. ​‡​
    El Tantawy, L. (2019). In the Shadow of the Pyramids. [online] Lauraeltantawy.com. Available at: http://www.lauraeltantawy.com/in-the-shadow-of-the-pyramids/ [Accessed 9 Oct. 2019].
  4. ​§​
    Djudjic, D. (2019). Here’s how to take awesome night portraits with off camera flash. [online] DIY Photography. Available at: https://www.diyphotography.net/heres-take-awesome-night-portraits-off-camera-flash/ [Accessed 9 Oct. 2019].
  5. ​¶​
    El Tantawy, L. (2019). In the Shadow of the Pyramids. [online] Lauraeltantawy.com. Available at: http://www.lauraeltantawy.com/in-the-shadow-of-the-pyramids/ [Accessed 9 Oct. 2019].
  6. ​#​
    Deimeke, G. (2019). Blog – gaby deimeke photography – Daniel in Times Square. [online] gaby deimeke photography. Available at: https://www.gabydeimekephoto.com/blog/daniel-in-times-square [Accessed 9 Oct. 2019].

Shoot Three: Contact sheet

Gillingham Carnival 5/10

I have spent an afternoon photographing another carnival in the Somerset Carnival circuit. Initially, I felt I was getting some really strong portraits for the series. I have started to better engage with the subjects and get a sense of why they are involved in the community event. For example, Jennie Bowie (fig. 1) had been doing carnivals since she was 16 in the 1960s. The commitment shown by the people that I have spoken to is quite impressive.

Fig 1. Jennie Bowie ‘Road Warrior’ with some of the technical issues I experienced on the day.

Unfortunately, I was not careful to check that my camera settings were correct during this shoot and found to my disappointment that I had been shooting in Large JPEG together with the sRGB colour space. Out of the 244 images that I shot during the afternoon, I have managed to salvage 10, not including some of the strongest of the set. Of the images that I don’t think I will be able to use, is the portrait of Jennie Bowie (Fig 1). This is due to complete highlight clipping on her hat. Overall, I am pleased with the saved shots. However, depending on the final output, it may put a limit on using them.

For future shoots, I will need to consider creating a pre-shoot checklist with the aim of safeguarding against easily avoided mistakes, such as this.