Martin Parr – Book Review

The first thing to comment on this book is the size of it. It is approximately 6 x 5 inches and not the best size when viewing images taken on a medium format camera.

There is a very interesting introduction talking about Parr’s life and his house moves from being born. It talks about how career, his studies, his family and his influences and chronicles his work. It is well written and with some new information coming out of this for me. BUT the rent is very small.

The book then starts with his black and white photographs moving into the colour ones. The images are all titled and come with some excellent commentary.  The majority of the images are on single pages but there are some double spreads too.

The images are Parr’s observations and are narratives in their own right. Some are part of a series, which are all coherent parts of that series. The comments and titles do give them captions which help place the image in the intended context, which is important for students such as myself. The image of the sausages does not make sense to a causal viewer, but with the commentary you can further understand what this is telling us.

I am glad I have bought this but, but let the buyer beware. The images/book are too small to gain a full appreciation of these documents. I have found using the book in conjunction with the book helps gaining a better sight of the images.



Project 5 The manipulated image continued

Does digital photography change how we see photography?

This is a really interesting question and one that cannot be answered with a yes or a no, even though the question leads us to use either of the two words. My first thought and that of other people I have asked this question to is YES, but is that the case.

In order to answer this fully we have to look at the earliest photographs.

One point about the earliest photography we need to consider is the long shutter speeds that were given to the earliest images. Street scenes would potentially lose people, moving rapidly our of shot as in this example They would be erased with the camera’s in-built clone tool i.e. its’ slow shutter speed . How many people are in the image really? How many  would have been visible at 1/125 shutter speed? Is this a true representation? Does it class as manipulation and is it a naturally early “photoshopped”  image.


Image taken from Wikipedia (Not known) Street photography, Available at: 30/03/2017).

Digital technology certainly makes manipulation easier and its’ applications are way beyond the slow shutter speeds of Daguerre’s age.

Definition of truth (taken from Merriam-Webster, Incorporated (2017) Truth, Available at: (Accessed: 30/03/2017).) ; –

  • the property (as of a statement) of being in accord with fact or reality
  • sincerity in action, character, and utterance
  • the state of being the case
  • the body of real things, events, and facts

I feel that the term “photoshopped” is now so commonly used, even by my own children and its’ understanding are such they people now feel all photographs are manipulated. This can be evidenced by the selfie craze that has swept through social media, where ,most photos are filtered and altered prior to their sharing. This is much so that certain campaigns have been launched with many people deciding to show real/truthful images just to show people are not perfect.

Into this argument the photographer also needs to take centre stage. What I mean by thesis their position, both real and political, my affect the truth in an image that is unaltered. In the early days of photography, most portraits were staged, with props added so the images mirrored the classic paintings. Therefore this detracts somewhat from the reality or truth of an image.

Can the truth really be seen. Are there any neutral photographs out there? Every image was taken or set up by someone with a purpose in mind and their representation of the truth from one angle may be different to another observer of the same vent from a different angle or time.

The black and white medium was seen as truth in photography as was photography in its’ origin and myself and other artists have converted to black and white to show the truth. But this is in itself a manipulation and therefore a dilution of the truth as our sensors now record in colour. Black and white film would be closer to the truth than a desaturated image from a modern digital camera.

Montages were common place prior to digitization and double exposures were common once this was invented and the Victorian were great exponents of this as in this image below. ghiost.jpeg

Image taken from Jeff (2014) Oh, by the way, Available at: 30/03/2017).

True/Not true?

This muslim lady was slammed for not caring after the terror attack in London March 2017. This was a disgusting racist slur on her, but it does show how photographs can give you different truths!

Please see the image below this one that gives this image balance. The images show the power of photography and show how truth can be used. This will also be depending on the context and the narrative people want to tell. Neither image from my understanding have been manipulated, other than via a crop, but even a crop can alter the meaning.



I feel so sorry for this lady as she has received so much abuse, due to photography mixed with political feelings, racism and pure ignorance.


Images taken from The Sun (2017) SHE WAS HORRIFIED, Available at: (Accessed: 30/03/2017).

Every photograph is taken from one point of view, but there other points of view that need taking into account. The whole truth cannot be told by a single image, even if un-manipulated as there have been personal decision made about, things such as what, why, when, how where who. These will all have a baring on the narrative and the context given to each image will affect how it is read.

There differences between reportage and documentary photographic style are very blurred as the both aim to capture an event or moment. Reportage is more allegorical than documentary, which is more neutral but the boundaries for me are blurred and overlap.

Photojournalism is more about collecting photos for a news story and editing them to fit a narrative, even if this is different to what the photographer originally intended. Similar to documentary and reportage but the photographer really lose control of their work, which can lead to a different narrative being told when compared to the photographers original intention.

Art photography does not have a clear defined definition but this is down to the creative decisions made in camera. Art photography is a contrast to documentary style, which aims to show a specific account of a specific event. It should express the emotion and the perception of the photographer. It should promote various aesthetic values.

Defining the above styles is not easy and the experts have been trying to do this since photography was accepted as an art may be as far back as Alfred Steiglitz work in 1892 in his series Winter, Fifth Avenue.

1858 may have been the year of the first photographic exhibition,which took place in the South Kensington Museum in London.

My idea of documentary photography was originally any photograph that showed as scene that was real. I now understand that real and truth are interesting words and think about this differently. For me the boundaries in photography are blurred and may be all boundaries are blurred e.g fiction and non fiction in books. Some non-fiction to me is fiction as it is written from a different political perspective. I am now asking myself the question is the truth out there, in a slight X-files way? I am now not only more critical of work, deeper thinking, analytical, but also sceptical in my search for the real, the facts or truth behind any image.

Very interesting open set of exercises that have introduced me to context and narrative in photography.



Project 4 The gallery wall – documentary as art

John Szarkowski

“This is the man who taught us how to look at photographs. Szarkowski held the position of director of photography at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, from 1962 to 1991, succeeding Edward Steichen in that role. MOMA produced 160 exhibitions of photography under his leadership. He championed the careers of many visionary photographers, including Garry Winogrand, Diane Arbus and Lee Friedlander. He also authored a number of books, including the classic work Looking at Photographs: 100 Pictures from the Collection of the Museum of Modern Art, published in 1973.”


Image and words taken from Casper, J (Not known) John Szarkowski Photographs Old and new photographs made by the legendary curator and critic., Available at: 28/03/2017).

New York, Museum of Modern Art Mirrors and Windows

“Rather than being an encyclopedic survey of the achievements of individual photographers, the exhibition shows pictures that exemplify the range of concerns of recent photography. Among those whose work can be seen in MIRRORS AND WINDOWS are Diane Arbus, Paul Caponigro, Mark Cohen, Judy Dater, Bruce Davidson, William Eggleston, Elliott Erwitt, Lee Friedlander, Ernst Haas, Robert Heinecken, Les Krims, Ray Metzker, Joel Meyerowitz, Tod Papa- george, Robert Rauschenberg, Ed Ruscha, Stephen Shore, George Tice, Jerry Uelsmann, and Garry Winogrand.

Lee Friedlander”. Text taken from a press release MoMA (Not known) Mirrors and Windows FORIMMEDIATE RELEASE American Photography since 1960, Available at: (Accessed: 28/03/2017).

windows and mirrors.jpeg

The above is an extract from the Windows and Mirrors catalogue MoMA (Not known) Mirrors and windows : American photography since 1960 John Szarkowski, Available at: MoMA (Not known) Mirrors andWindows FORIMMEDIATE RELEASE American Photography since 1960, Available at: (Accessed: 28/03/2017). (Accessed: 28/03/2017).

Diane Arbus

She mainly photographed people who did not fit and were marginalised for whatever reason. Her images polarise viewers, some are disgusted, whilst some are compassionate, and sympathetic. She is at very least brilliant, tinged with a good serving of controversy. She also used square images which is very unconventional and unusual.


Image taken from Robert Klein Gallery (2017) Triplets in Their Bedroom, 1963, Available at: (Accessed: 28/03/2017).

Garry Winogrand

“Winogrand photographed the visual cacophony of city streets, people, rodeos, airports and animals in zoos. These subjects are among his most exalted and influential work. Winogrand was the recipient of numerous grants, including several Guggenheim Fellowships and a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship. His work has been the subject of many museum and gallery exhibition, and was included in the 1967 “New Documents” exhibition, curated by John Szarkowski at the Museum of Modern Art, New York.”


Images and text taken from Cascone, S (2017) GARRY WINOGRAND, Available at: (Accessed: 28/03/2017).

Tate; – Cruel and Tender

“What is the place of documentary photography in art? This is the central question raised by Tate’s first major exhibition devoted to photography, which includes an axis of the most highly acclaimed American and German image-makers of the past century.” Then from Ratcliff, C (2003) Cruel and Tender | Tate, Available at: (Accessed: 31/03/2017).

August Sander

“August Sander (17 November 1876 – 20 April 1964) was a German portrait and documentary photographer. Sander’s first book Face of our Time (German title: Antlitz der Zeit) was published in 1929. Sander has been described as “the most important German portrait photographer of the early twentieth century.”


Image and text taken from Unknown (2017) August Sander | The life, history and work of August Sander, Available at: (Accessed: 31/03/2017).

Lewis Baltz

” Often displayed in a grid format, it is important to Baltz that his pictures be seen collectively as a group or series. The series format suits his desire that no one image be taken as more true or significant than another, encouraging the viewer to consider not just the pictures but everything outside of the frame as well, emphasizing the monotony of the man-made environment. The pictures themselves resist any single point of focus, framed as they are to present the scene as a whole without bringing attention to any particular element within.”Baltz.jpeg

Image and text taken from Columbia College Chicago (2017) Museum of Contemporary Photography, Available at: (Accessed: 31/03/2017).

Philip-Lorca DiCorcia

The following is a famous quote and is very apt for this module ““I think it’s a sense of disappointment after realizing that most of the time they’re being lied to,” diCorcia has observed of his audience’s reaction to ambiguous nature of his photographs. “And what medium has a stronger relationship to people’s idea of the truth than one that is supposed to be an accurate representation of reality?”


Quote and image taken from Artnet Worldwide Corporation (2017) Philip-Lorca diCorcia | art net, Available at: (Accessed: 31/03/2017).

William Eggleston


Image taken from Eggleston, W (2017) WILLIAM EGGLESTON, Available at: (Accessed: 31/03/2017).

Eggleston is perhaps the photographer who can be mainly credited with mantle of being responsible for the increase in colour photography per se

Tate –  Street and Studio

“Street & Studio brings out the contrast between the photos taken in the carefully orchestrated studio, and images captured in the changing and uncontrollable street, whilst highlighting the crossovers between the genres and their influence on each other.”  Quote taken from Tate (2008) Street & Studio | Exhibition at Tate Modern | Tate, Available at: (Accessed: 31/03/2017).

Paul Seawright – Sectarian Murders Plus

“Sectarian Murder revisited the sites of Sectarian attacks during the 1970’s close to where Seawright grew up in Belfast. The texts are from newspaper reports at the time and document the murders of innocent civilians, killed for their perceived religion. Reference to Protestant or Catholic background was removed from the text. Exhibited in more than 20 countries, most recently in Planet Parr in Munich and Paris, The Troubles Archive – OBG Belfast and the British Council Collection exhibition at London Whitechapel Gallery.”


Quote and image taken from Seawright, P (Not known) Sectarian Murder — Paul Seawright, Available at: (Accessed: 31/03/2017).

There is a research point, set by the course on the following video and my response f[will follow the link. Imperial War Museum (2014) Catalyst: Paul Seawright on Vimeo, Available at: (Accessed: 31/03/2017).

Firstly the clip is extremely short in length but contains a number of interesting points.

  • without context the images from the Section Murders series do take on a different meaning. Once he context is known, this cannot be unknown and brings a whole new perspective to the series and yes I agree with him that from this series the context is paramount.
  • he also feels that the viewer must be able to make his own mind up as to how to view the image. I can partially agree with this but I also feel that this is somewhat contradictory with giving an image a caption. Yes the caption gives the context, but it then guides you how to partially read the image.
  • there is no longer (if it ever existed thoroughly) a clear boundary between documentary and art photography. the boundaries are now blurred and I feel this is demonstrated somewhat in the Tate exhibition where boundaries/genres are crossing over.
  • art and documentary photography are two different genres but I am not convinced there is any problem with how we define a piece of work. Both types of work are now displayed in galleries and museum and it is down to the viewer to decide what to read and how to read it. For instance my wife would not be interested in genres and definitions , but she would be interested in what the image says to her and  if she likes it. We sometimes are too snobby about this which puts people off such courses as this and some people simply want to enjoy images irrespective of meaning, boundaries and genres.

Sarah Pickering ; – Public Order


Image taken from Pickering, S (2016) Sarah Pickering, Available at: (Accessed: 31/03/2017).

Having looked at the works on Pickering’s website, I feel the images (as seen above) make me feel uneasy. The image above could be a post apocalyptic image. Where are the people, who created the mess, when did it happen, what year did this happen. When you add the context to the images my feelings change and I see this as documenting an area of life I have never seen before. In my opinion the narrative of the series is clear, once the series is given context and is not misleading. It may be thought-provoking and that is what good photography should do.

Alelessandra Sanguinettie

“As with her previous, much-acclaimed monograph On the Sixth Day [Nazraeli Press, 2006] this work is far more than straight documentary. To witness the evolving relationship between Guille and Belinda is to be privy to a touching, entertaining and utterly captivating interaction. At the same time there is the subtle awareness of a second relationship, that of this delightful pair and their photographer. The Adventures of Guille and Belinda and the Enigmatic Meaning of their Dreams follows the cousins for five years, from pre-teen to adolescent, as they play, dream and unwind their way through the secret enchantment that is childhood.”


Quote abd text taken from Magnum Photos (2017) The Adventures of Guille and Belinda and The Enigmatic Meaning of Their Dreams, Available at: (Accessed: 31/03/2017).

My thoughts on documentary photography and what characteristics it should have are listed below. However the boundaries are now more blurred than in the day of August Sander in 1914.

  • photography that freezes a part of reality
  • displays and message that holds meaning
  • documents what is happening in certain parts of the world
  • in order to convey a meaningful message about what is happening in the world
  • neutral
  • has context
  • objective

My thoughts on  art photography and characteristics are below.

  • personal
  • atmospheric
  • not neutral
  • creative vision on behalf of the photographer
  • makes you think inside and outside the frame
  • it’s reading will generally take more time than documentary photography
  • subjective
  • you can create the narrative


Project 3 Reportage research continued…

I have decided, that when looking at research, I am better off adopting a broad brush approach and looking at as many artists as possible. I will therefore only write a few lines on each one. Going in-depth into one photographer’s work may lead me down an alley, and I would rather gain a wider perspective on numerous people’s work.

Martin Parr

A mixture of a photographer and an artist. He works predominantly in colour but there are a number of black and white photographs on his Phaidon book entitled Martin Parr.

Gmb Akash



Rui Palha

“Photography is a very important part of my space… it is to discover, it is to capture giving flow to what the heart feels and sees in a certain moment, it is being in the street, experiencing, understanding, learning and, essentially, practicing the freedom of being, of living, of thinking…”


Quote and image taken from Palha, R (Not known) Rui Palha Photography, Available at: 28/03/2017).

Vineet Vohra

His work is similar in appearance to Steve McCurry and has a touch of the Elliott Erwitt about it. See the image below for the Erwitt connection.


Image taken from The Street Collective (Not known) Vineet Vohra – The Street Collective, Available at: (Accessed: 28/03/2017).

Eric Kim

Wonderful black and white work with stunning portraits and amax=zing tone.H also has a blog which is intended to assist photographers.



Image taken from Kim, E (2017) Erik Kim, Available at: (Accessed: 28/03/2017).

Bruce Gilden

His “faces” work is amazing. A touch of the Arbus mixed with McCurry. Bruce Golden is a Magnum Photographer. I have emailed him with a couple of questions. Let’s see if I get a response!


Image taken from Gilden, B (Not known) Bruce Gilden, Available at: 28/03/2017).

Valerie Jardin

Amazing black and white work, with a great section on humour.


Image taken from Jardin, V (Not known) Valerie Jardin, Available at: 28/03/2017).

Robert Frank

A Swiss barn photographer concentrating on black and white images. Who wrote the Americans, a book I do not own, but want to do so, if it were not so expensive.


Images taken from (Not known) Robert Frank / Biography, Available at: (Accessed: 28/03/2017).

Elliott Erwitt

I have his book personal best, and the clue is in the title. Great black and white works with lots of humourous images of dogs. One of my all time favourite photographers.


Images taken from Magnum Photos (2014) Magnum Photos Photographer Portfolio – Elliott Erwitt, Available at: (Accessed: 28/03/2017).

Reportage research

Contemporary street photographers used for research purposes


Helen Levitt



  • worked in poor neighbourhoods
  • photographed mainly children
  • “Since I’m inarticulate, I express myself with images.”

Images and quote taken from (2014) Helen Levitt / Biography & Images – Atget, Available at: (Accessed: 27/03/2017).

Joel Meyerowitz

  • “He is a “street photographer” in the tradition of Henri Cartier-Bresson and Robert Frank, although he now works exclusively in color. As an early advocate of color photography (mid-60’s), Meyerowitz was instrumental in changing the attitude toward the use of color photography from one of resistance to nearly universal acceptance. His first book, Cape Light, is considered a classic work of color photography and has sold more than 150,000 copies during its 30-year life.” Quote taken from Meyerowitz, J (2015) JOEL MEYEROWITZ, Available at: (Accessed: 27/03/2017).

  • “Meyerowitz  was the only photographer to be given unimpeded access to Ground Zero in the wake of 9/11. The images he captured have formed the foundation of a major national archive, and an exhibition of selected images has travelled to more than 200 cities in 60 countries.” Quote and 2 images below taken from Howard Greenberg Gallery (2017) Joel Meyerowitz – Artists, Available at: (Accessed: 27/03/2017).M2Meyerowitz

  • “He soon discovered that he enjoyed the thrill of shooting in color, with the relatively slow ISO 25 film at the time. It forced him to be slower and more meditative with his work– making him also take a step back and trying to combine more elements and action into his frames.” Quote fromKim, E (2017) 12 Lessons Joel Meyerowitz Has Taught Me About Street Photography, Available at: (Accessed: 27/03/2017).


Paul Graham


Image taken from Graham, P (2014) Paul Graham Photography Archive, Available at: (Accessed: 27/03/2017).

  • He was mainly a colour photographer and most of his work consisted of work in the UK and Northern Ireland, with some interesting work on and around the troubles.

Joel Sternfield

  • “Joel Sternfeld is well known for large-format color photographs that extend the tradition of chronicling roadside America initiated by Walker Evans in the 1930s. Sternfeld’s projects have consistently explored the possibility of a collective American identity by documenting ordinary people and places throughout the country. Each project he embarks on is bound by a concept that imbues it with subtle irony, often through insightful visual juxtapositions or by pairing images with informational text. Another characteristic aspect of Sternfeld’s work is that color is never arbitrary; it functions in highly sophisticated ways to connect elements and resonate emotion.” Quote and image taken from J. Paul Getty Trust (Not known) Joel Sternfeld – Artists – Luring Augustine, Available at: (Accessed: 27/03/2017).





Project 3 Reportage

First of all I will give some context to this set of images. There is not intended to be any narrative within this project, but having reviewed them, I feel there may be is a story developing of a local area and its’ lack of people.

I live in Rotherham, South Yorkshire, which has become infamous for its’ lack of ability to deal with child abuse, which has led to hundreds, if not thousands of young people being subject to sexual abuse and much police inaction. As a result of this, the town’s people are somewhat suspicious of anyone waving a camera about, (even acting as a flaneur) and I have been asked on numerous occasions by the police, residents and other people not to photograph in the street. I therefore wanted to challenge myself and do exactly the opposite of what I have been asked as there is nothing wrong in street photography.

The day was cold, grey, overcast with no visible cloud. Simply a grey mask formed the basis of the sky. I armed myself with my Fuji Pro 100x, as a opposed to a DSLR and decided to photograph Bawtry Road, my chosen street. It was apparent within the first 15 minutes I had not only made a mistake with the street, but also the day would not be good for photographing people. The street was wrong as it felt empty and was too open. I could not melt into the background, in spite of my chosen time and camera. There were too few people around and in one image the shop’s  dummies outnumber the people in the shot.

Anyway I decided to pass on and to see what would happen as this would add to my challenge. I have shot 30 images and then have decided to desaturate them as I feel this will give me a true comparison between colour and black and white. Reflecting on some of the images, I also feel that they do not have a purpose, maybe they are even a snapshot! I have added my contact sheet below the individual images which includes basic EXIF data.

I have chosen not to title my images due to the number of them. If there were ten images I would have captioned/titled them.

What is the difference between the colour images and the black and white images. Black and white was seen as the way to go for street photography, even when colour film had been invented and is still seen as the format for many street photographers. I also enjoy images in black and white, when the tonal variations are good, but does converting/desaturating not detract from what street photography should be and that is unmanipulated. Colour can maintain the reality of the image and remain true. This “truth”was assocaited with black and white images in the past as that was the only way images could be recorded but times have changed and there have been so many advances in technology.

In my set below, I actually prefer the colour images. They have more of a realistic feel to them and are unchanged from as shot in camera. colour also shows what I saw and in some images, the colour contrast was what drew me to the image, as in the open drive way with the beautiful orange foliage, set against the mundane backdrop of the fence. This contrast has disappeared in the desaturated image. If I were to shoot in black and white, I would have to go out with the intention of doings so, giving more thought to the tonality of the image and specifically what this would look like in black and white. I have thought and seen in colur and that’s how this set should remain.

Black and white is not wrong, for me. but in this example as refelcted upon above, my choice is colour.


Contact Sheets with Exif data

contact sheet-1contact sheet-2contact sheet-3

Elements that can be present in street photography

  • Street photography should be free from social and political motivation
  • It is an in the moment art that relies upon timing
  • Generally speaking any subjects in it should be unaware
  • The Flaneur style
  • They should be free from a narrative
  • Should be subjective
  • The subject and the location define street photography
  • Un-manipulated
  • Non interventional i.e. the photographer does not interact with its’ subjects (people)
  • Its’ photographs should be unedited and in a public place
  • Does not have to contain people
  • Should be a true mirror image of the scene
  • It is about the phototaphers’s reaction and observations

Street photography started to change from surrealism, in my opinion, just after the second world war, but this sub-genre can still be found today, albeit not en-masse. Maybe the emergence of organisations such as Magnum also had an impact upon this. However defifnitove evidence is hard to find as surrealism is still being used today. This sub-genre can be demonstrated well by Giacomo Vesprini.  Vesprini, G (2016) Giacomo Vesprini’s Beautifully Surreal Street Photography, Available at: (Accessed: 27/03/2017).

Irony in photography

Irony is used to comment on values in different ways and there can be many examples found. It is not hard to find such examples as hoghlighted below. Images taken from Lee, G (2014) 19 Delicious Examples of Irony In Photography, Available at: (Accessed: 27/03/2017).






Part 1 research continued

Jacob Riis

His work made him feel that there was a need for his images to communicate the need for social reform. He was one the first photographers to use his images with the aim of gaining social change. Sadly it was only really after he died that his work gained great prominence when his negatives were found and subsequently displayed by the Museum the City of New York in 1947. The context for his work could be summed up simply as slum reform. His narrative was aimed at shocking the viewer, as the poor had usually been portrayed in a sympathetic manner. This image works well as a stand alone one, but fits neatly into his series entitled How The Other Half Lives.Riis

The above image was taken from International Centre of Photography (2017) Jacob Riis | International Centre of Photography, Available at: (Accessed: 22/03/2017).

Lewis Hine

he developed a wish to become and documentary and sociological photographer following a projet he was involved with about Ellis Island, in America. He became a photographer for the National Child Labor Committee. His context was showing things which needed to be corrected, his  narrative involved the photography of the people whom he felt needed help. His style was to  use his subjects in a way that they were photographed head on and posed for the camera usually with interesting facial expressions that give the impression something is missing, or may be even a tinge of anger and desperation.Hine

Image taken from The J. Paul Getty Museum (Not known) Lewis W. Hine | Getty Museum, Available at: 23/03/2017).

Bert Hardy

Interestingly he was self-taught and he became famous for his work with Picture Post, where he worked from 1941 until it closed in 1957. The context of his images was varied from people kissing in Piccadilly to many examples of conflict photography. His narrative though was usually hopeful and some feel “romantic”, despite some of the subject matter he was photographing.

Kurt Hutton

Worked at Picture Post, like Burt Hardy. He is probably best known for his work on the Blitz during the second World War. His work appears to contrast with that of Hine as Hutton’s images contains smiling people, have a humorous and  romantic narrative with natural non-posed, people in everyday contexts.


Image taken from Vintage Everyday (2012) vintage everyday , Available at: (Accessed: 23/03/2017).

George Rodger

You must feel an affinity for what you are photographing. You must be part of it, and yet remain sufficiently detached to see it objectively. Like watching from the audience a play you already know by heart.” Quote taken from Magnum Photos (2014) Magnum Photos Photographer Profile, Available at: (Accessed: 23/03/2017).
I am particularly interested in his work from Bergen-Belsen as I have an up and coming trip to Auschwitz. In saying that I am not going to show any images as I feel they may not be appropriate for viewing. Therefore I am acting as a censor due to the context and the narrative!



Part 1 Research



“These photographs are very different from Cartier-Bresson’s as they are theatrical performances rather than decisive moments. Brassaï’s subjects are not only aware of the photographer, they collaborate with him. Brassaï’s unique style gave Paris de nuit its distinctive intimacy and led to its huge public success.” Image and text taken from Meltzer, S (2014) The piercing eye of Brassai: the stunning work of a master French photographer, Available at: (Accessed: 22/03/2017).

I have come across the work of Brassai before and I feel this collection of Paris By Night embraces something new in photography for the age and that being night-time photography. He appears to have intimate relationships with the buildings, areas and the people in his images. He is not distant as was Cartier-Bresson he appears to know the subjects well and having read much about him, I believe some of his subjects were well-known to him.

Henry Mayhew

He was influenced, apparently, by an outbreak of cholera, which seems unusual these days, but was a common occurrence during his lifetime of 1812-1887. He was a great social reformer and he wrote many articles on the poor and was criticised heavily by the right-wing press of the time. It’s nice to see something never change.

Matthew Brady


Image of Abraham Lincoln taken from Morgan, K (2004) Matthew Brady, Available at: 22/03/2017).

His work was very interesting and he was the first photographer to record the American Civil War. The pose above is a very stable photograph giving off an aura of power and self-confidence,  with interest being added by the desk to the right hand of the president.

His photographs of camp life during the Civil War, were interesting as it was clear from them how the different classes of people were treated and how black people were shockingly dealt with and treated in that period too. The officers’ photographs were given great prominence and there surrounding matched their ranks, where as a photograph of a black cook, shows rubbish and other detritus at his feet and is in stark contrast to the images containing the white officers.

Reflection of the above three people.

Brassai’s storytelling methodology is very different to that of Brady, but then the developments in the art were significant in the two different ages of photography researched here. Both used posed images, but the context of the narrative is very different in approach. Brady’s images are daytime, maybe due to technological issues, where as Brassai uses the cloak of darkness to emphasise the mood in his images. Brassai’s images for me, create a feeling of movement and being in the scene, where as Brady’s images make me feel I am looking at a photograph and I am not party to the scene but merely an observer. The context of the images of both artists can easily be read, but what is excluded from the frame in Brassai’s images make me think more deeply about the setting than Brady’s. Brady’s images show a gulf in classes between different subjects, where as Brassai’s subjects all seem to be night people.



Reflection on Projects 1 and 2

Context – definition (Outside the frame)

The circumstances that form the setting for an event, statement, or idea, and in terms of which it can be fully understood. ‘the proposals need to be considered in the context of new European directives’

Definition taken from . accessed 21/09/2017

Narrative – definition (Within the frame)

A spoken or written account of connected events; a story. ‘a gripping narrative’

The practice or art of telling stories. ‘traditions of oral narrative’

A representation of a particular situation or process in such a way as to reflect or conform to an overarching set of aims or values. ‘the coalition’s carefully constructed narrative about its sensitivity to recession victims’

Definition taken from . accessed 21/09/2017

Citizen Journalism and Photojournalism will have both Context and Narrative for images to work, either a series or as a stand alone image.

The representation (Narrative) of the image(s) will take a variety of forms. Certain forms will be in vogue, whilst others will have fallen out of fashion i.e. atrocity versus last war photography. Neither representation will be wrong, but some will be current and some will not. It is also possible to buck this trend and do something different as long as you justify why. There have been may an expert who will offer view and opinions, such as Sontag and Rosler, but no one expert will be 100% accurate. The narrative will depend on the context, including the audience and what such audiences have seen and will understand. It will also depend on the context in which you would like the narrative to be displayed. Some exponents of the art will have one way of photographing and will never change. Are they wrong to remain constant if their work is successful or could they have been more successful with a change of what is displayed within the frame.

Trends need to be understood and embraced, but they are not the definitive. The definitive way on conveying the narrative needs to be left to the artist. If this is dictated to be other experts in the field are we not falling into the realms of censorship.

Reflecting upon this has cemented my view, that there is not one answer to the C and N debate, and that each photographer’s style can have both positive and negative elements to it. What I want to discover is how to combine the best of the best and to use this to my advantage.

Key to understanding this is to look further into the work of a multitude of artists and expand my horizons further. I will do this as I progress and evidence of this will be in my progression and my reference lists, which will be comprehensive and demonstrate my thirst for knowledge.

Project 2 Photojournalism

Research point.

First of all, I have ordered another book, Basic Critical Theory for Photographers by Ashley la Grange. I will add a book review once this has been read.

Next. I have spent some time researching the point of atrocity photographs losing their impact. In May of this year I plan to visit Auschwitz, Poland and I have already done significant research for this visit. This has included reading and listening to accounts from inmates and the SS guards at the camps. The inmates who had to do the most unimaginable “things”to their dead friends, family and country folk clearly became desensitized to the death, torture, the sights, sounds and smells from all around them. Some of them who had to load the bodies in the crematorium, freely admit the sights and smells etc., did not bother them after a time. They did switch off. Therefore, logic states that if we, as the general public are constantly saturated with images, displaying death and violence, then the images will lose their shock horror impact. This has already been discussed by me, partly in Part one, where I have talked about how the UK’s images on Syria are very much censored, in comparison to those in Arabic countries.

Rosler does have a point, but this is an opinion and not a fact and photographers such as Hine, and my ex-tutor Les Monaghan, who highlight social issues, may reinforce the gap between the rich and the poor, but I feel their work is worthwhile (essential), as such images need to reach the public. Without such work, some (most) of the population may never get any exposure to such social issues e.g. extreme poverty in the UK and therefore the good surely outweighs the negative impact.


Image taken from  Monaghan, L (2017) Relative Poverty, Available at: 21/03/2017).

Sometimes we change our views, as did Susan Sontag regarding immunity of the shock value offered by images. This is not a bad trait to have and by changing our viewpoints , we can demonstrate evidence of further learning and education.

As photographers, we need to change our methodology, as to employ one single method of portrayal forever will cause problems of boredom in the viewer, desensitization, lack of interest and the accusation that we are approaching problems in a single-sighted way.

If we ignore the things in life that will shock and upset us, they will remain hidden and buried away forever, but we need to strike a balance between shock tactics and being tactile and thinking of ways to deliver the message we want to.

To be a good documentary photographer, you do not necessarily need to be an insider, but topical research would be essential to allow you to better understand the subject, culture and the issues at hand. Any photographer will have an opinion on the subject they are photographing, in some way, to be able to recorded the series with feeling. Without any subjectivity, the work will appear bland and featureless. Knowledge is power.

There is a place in war photography for different styles, i.e. late or atrocity and many more,  as in the work of Frank Cappa whose blury images have been copied in Hollywood films such as Private Ryan and the latest film Hacksaw Ridge.


Image taken from  Chillee (2009) photo from Omaha, Available at: (Accessed: 21/03/2017).

There is no one size fits all answer. If this was the case, we would all shoot the same way and no one would get bored with that method. If that were the case we would all be automatons. As it is we are human and have human traits, which evolve and change with time.

I will continue and expand upon my thoughts throughout this course with reflection upon these initial thoughts.