Assignment Two – Research, exploration and development

Research, exploration and development

As this is a fairly long post I have added Anchor Points:

Initial Ideas
Research One
Research Two
Research Three

Moving swiftly on from Assignment one to look at Assignment Two… I need to revisit Chapters 4 and 5 in Creative Photography:Context and Narrative as a preparation for this assignment.

A brief recap would be that the images in a set body of work should have the same visual narrative, the same frame of reference and context, a ‘sense of rhythm’. (Short 2011, p.96) The narrative does need to work in a linear sense and can have single frame images that will stand alone and still convey meaning but cross reference with other images within the set. The method of presentation will also give the audience visual clues to inform of intention and meaning. (Short 2011, p.102)

Post 1970 ‘the single most important influence on British documentary came from the new ways in which photography was theorised [with] semiological analysis’ looking closely at the ‘components of sign systems through which meaning is structured’. (Wells. 1997, p.95)

Assignment Two – Single image narratives

The brief

To produce eight images that individually have a narrative and convey a specific idea, this needs to be based upon a concept, preferably abstract i.e. ideas, feelings, qualities or characteristics such as love, hope, happiness, fear, jealousy, pride, exploitation, freedom or greed…there are obviously many more. I do not have to focus within my immediate surroundings in order to capture these images.

It is optional to produce this assignment in B&W or colour. As per usual I need to provide a short commentary of approximately 200 words explaining my ethos and rationale….I’m never rational ;o)


Unlike the previous assignment the images do not need to be printed, but published to a blog page with thumbnails linking to high resolution images.


The main aims are to help build my ability to conceptualise my thoughts and visually communicate these ideas; the emphasis is upon the translation of the conceptual to the visual.

Once completed I need to reflect upon the rubbish produced and justify its existence…has it met the brief/the aims/assessment criteria? If so, how effectively?

Assignment Two: Research, exploration and development

My initial thoughts are: if this section focuses on the B&W image then I could be tempted to do just that, but am guessing that would depend upon my chosen theme. Widening the scope to a wider environment allows for creative exploration, which could prove useful. I will have to sit and ponder upon different ideas and how they could be visually represented. My initial ideas were:

  • personality/identity
  • hidden personality
  • hidden fears
  • a personal journey
  • feeling lost
  • monsters within

Idea One

At first I thought of investigating the different aspects of people’s identity. Sander’s portraits suggested an ‘almost hidden sense of self’ (Clarke, 1997, p.114)  and ideally I would incorporate the idea of how photographs are everywhere we look; the opportunities to have them displayed/printed has grown exponentially. A point that Eric Kessels made in his 2013 Arles installation piece 24hrs of Photos.  He printed every image uploaded to Flickr in a 24-hour period, ‘filling a room with an avalanche of vernacular imagery’.


24hrs of Photos  Eric Kessels – Arles 2013

These multitudinous images have become a commodity, especially portraits. John Tagg described photography as a ‘model of capitalist growth’ and that it has been strongly influenced by ‘social and economic context.’ (Tagg 1988, cited in Wells, 1997, p.37)

The concept of exploring identity is also a fairly common one and to think of an original way to visually display this could be tricky. I was contemplating combining elements from a person’s identity with, as Marx would put it, the ‘fetishism of commodities’. For example, a friend of mine owns ferrets and runs a t.shirt stall in Camden Market, therefore the premise would be: photograph his ferrets, print them on a t.shirt that would then be artistically draped/screwed up/hung/who-knows-somewhere in Camden. Or, another example, my cousin does scrap-booking as a hobby and drinks loads of tea…so I’d photograph a scrap-book page, print it on a mug and photograph it on a pile of discarded crafting scrap. Businesses such as Vistaprint  supply a plethora of printed products.

As much as I liked this idea it wasn’t feasible due to the time it would have taken travelling to the various places, and cost of getting the items printed. Whilst the concept could be fun to do, it didn’t resonate that much on a personal level, nor make me feel passionate/excited about shooting it.  Also, it was a bit too much of a still life project, similar in that respect, to my assignment one; I wanted to do something a bit more challenging and out of my comfort zone. Still liking the idea it might happen at some stage as a personal project! I dismissed it and moved on.

Photography Two Documentary
Assignment Two Single Image Narrative

Some images from the Drift Exhibition visited last year used some simple Photoshop techniques etc and gave a germ of an idea of how a different project on hidden feelings/ our inner monsters, could be approached, but they did appear to be very basic. I was also inspired by the surreal montages made by several of the photographers at The Psychic Lens: Surrealism and the camera exhibition at the Atlas gallery. As per usual I did a lot of mind-mapping and research to get my initial ideas whittled down to one or two.

back to top

Idea Two

Wanting to experiment with a genre not usually undertaken personally, and by using mixed media I hoped to challenge myself artistically/creatively as well as photographically/creatively. Having touched on the surreal and on reading up about Vivian Maier, Garry Winogrand,  Moriyama and other street photographers, an email was sent to Russell:

I was thinking of capturing some street photography of various people, doing various things, of various ages and superimposing over the top their ‘inner self’ for example a person sitting in quiet contemplation with a raging monster over the top…or a group of friends laughing overlaid with an image depicting isolation illustrating that the public persona isn’t always the same as the inner… I’d like to try various techniques to see what worked the best…my camera apparently does allow for double exposure so something to explore, or I could shoot through glass with other images stuck to it…or decoupage and rephotograph the final composition. I’d prefer to try these methods before resorting to just using Photoshop techniques.

Let me know your thoughts before I waste too much time planning for a set of images and running with an idea you feel is totally pants!

His response didn’t pour cold water all over it…

The ideas sound like a good start to A2. Working with a physical approach to combining images is a good if challenging idea – I agree the reflected work you linked to was a bit simplistic (underworked), but demonstrates potential. I’ll look out for some examples as well. Here’s a link to Gerhard Richter’s painted photographs – interesting technique

Research One

In my assignment one feedback I had been advised to look at the work of several photographers and artists, which I have done: links to these research posts can be found for:

Garry Winogrand
Louise Bourgeois
Edward Kienholz
Edward Hopper
Gregory Crewdson
Martin Parr

Each one was very useful for working towards assignment two and giving a broader perspective to photographic techniques and approaches. I reflected on the reasons ‘why’ on each post, but a summary would be: their use of signifiers and signified, style of photography, use of lighting/staging, use of colour, use of black and white, intimate knowledge of their subject, drawing upon personal experiences/pain, and passion for a topic reflecting in their work, surrealism – be it subtle or overt, and use of metaphors and symbolism.

Research Two

I then looked at photographers who used mixed media or different techniques to create their final pieces:

Gerhard Richter – over painted photographs

Annegret Soltau – stitching and montage

Laura Letinsky – re-photographed montage/collage

John Clang – ripped and overlaid images

Stephen Gill – Layering – you name it, he has tried it…I just love his creativity.

Subway Doodle/Ben Rubin– artist who draws monsters on the Subway…

David Tress landscape artist – abstract, impressionistic, uses mixed media and impasto to gain texture.

I still hadn’t quite decided how to introduce the monster idea…one thought was to employ Richter’s technique of smearing oil paints with a palette knife across the page whilst trying to shape it as a monster, or alternatively make some laser cut stencils and smearing the oil paints over the top. Another option would be to draw the monsters first and then thinly apply paint over the top.Sketches and some very rough mock-up/test pieces were created…all I had to do now was take some photographs.

The plan was to take numerous images whilst in town, trying to spot people/activities/reactions/symbols that could later be used for this idea. Both Garry Winogrand and Daido Moriyama were fairly relaxed about shooting and took vast amounts of photographs at a time, making use of careful editing to secure their chosen narrative, therefore I decided that this would be my approach; be on the look out for scenes which resonated, possibly contained some surreal elements/signifiers to the mood I wanted to convey and may be have negative space, or insignificant detail that could be over-painted. I chose to photograph the city as Clarke (1997) states ‘street-level both engages with the clutter of the city, its chaos…celebrates its multiplicity, difference [and] suggests a human dimension…’ all of which I hoped to capture.

I still hadn’t fully decided if I was going to make the finished images black and white/colour/selective colour with the colourful painted monsters, but was erring towards colour. The monsters themselves would hopefully colour co-ordinate with the subject matter and reflect the mood based on traditional Western colour psychology e.g. red=anger, danger/ passion, white=purity, blue=cold/depression, yellow=happiness. Although I was leaning towards colour the final decision would be made when editing.

back to top

Planning the photo-shoot

Usual pre-camera checks – fully charged batteries, clean lens, empty card. Lens choice was 50mm prime: it is small, unobtrusive, light to carry, makes me get in closer and walk round/into the subjects rather than zooming as when using a 24 -70mm, same focal length would also add visual coherence to the images.

Weather forecast checked, train timetable checked…off I went snapping at anything that grabbed my attention on the way, whether or not it made a good composition or would appear interesting to others at this point didn’t matter. I wanted to get into ‘snapping away’ relaxed and feeling at one with my camera.

The weather was more grey and overcast than I had hoped, despite the low cloud cover giving a soft uniform light, meaning no harsh contrasts, it reduced the world to a very monotonous grey, which was not conducive to my requirements. It was not warm enough for people to gather outside, nor was it raining enough to produce interesting reflections, or for people to have bright colourful umbrellas. My first few snaps looked flat and uninspiring so I started to photograph anything I could find that looked bright, colourful or surreal within this grey landscape.

Idea Three

On the train journey into town I had been deliberately experimenting with long exposure shots of the scenery through the train window and decided to continue in the vein of Moriyama – capturing out of focus images with lots of motion blur, over and under-exposure. Some shots were taken manually, others on auto-focus but intentionally moving the camera randomly, either horizontally or vertically. On looking at some of the results I was amazed at how disorientated I felt and  I could associate these jarring images with the pain of migraine. Over the past two weeks I have had severe migraines at about 2am. with associated visual disturbances and sensitivity to light.

Having researched Louise Bourgeois, who symbolised emotional pain within her images, I thought I could try to create images that represented hidden physical pain. Like Bourgeois, Kienholz and Soltau I could channel my personal experiences into my photography. It may push the boundaries of documentary but as Sekula stated ‘Documentary is thought to be art when it transcends its reference to the world, when the work can be regarded …as an act of self-expression on the part of the artists.’  (Sekula, 1978, cited in Wells, 1997, p.236)

Research Three

Having changed direction I then did some brief research into other artists who chose to artistically represent pain/emotions in some form or another.

Tracey Emin – was raped at 13 and had a nervous breakdown.

Using experiences from her own life, Tracey Emin often reveals painful situations with brutal honesty and poetic humour. The personal expands to the universal in the way Emin takes a feeling about her life and forms it into a genuine expression of a human emotion.

Emin and Bourgeois actually collaborated on some work where Emin overpainted some of Bourgeois work in Do Not Abandon Me

‘Do Not Abandon Me’, a collaboration between Louise Bourgeois and Tracey Emin consisting of sixteen intimate works made over the past two years. These drawings articulate physical drives and feelings, candidly confronting themes of identity, sexuality and the fear of loss and abandonment through joint expression.

‘Do Not Abandon Me’ originated with Bourgeois, who began the works by painting male and female torsos in profile on paper, mixing red, blue and black gouache pigments with water to create delicate and fluid silhouettes. Bourgeois then passed the images on to Emin, who later confessed: ‘I carried the images around the world with me from Australia to France, but I was too scared to touch them’. Emin overlaid Bourgeois’s forms with fantasy, drawing smaller figures that engaged with the torsos like Lilliputian lovers, enacting the body’s desires and anxieties. In one, a woman kisses an erect phallus; in another, a small fetus-like form protrudes from a swollen belly. In many, Emin’s handwriting inscribes the images with a narrative, putting into words the emotions expressed in Bourgeois’s vibrant gouaches.

This suite of prints was one of the last projects Louise Bourgeois completed before her death. They were then printed at Dye-namix studio in New York with archival dyes on cloth in an edition of 18 sets with 6 artist proofs.

Edvard Munch – strong mental anguish was displayed in many of his pieces.

A majority of the works which Edvard Munch created, were referred to as the style known as symbolism. This is mainly because of the fact that the the paintings he made focused on the internal view of the objects, as opposed to the exterior, and what the eye could see. Symbolist painters believed that art should reflect an emotion or idea rather than represent the natural world in the objective, quasi-scientific manner embodied by Realism and Impressionism. In painting, Symbolism represents a synthesis of form and feeling, of reality and the artist’s inner subjectivity.

A friend of my daughter, Mia-Jane Harris has built quite a few bodies of work inspired by her own disability.

I found a very interesting organisation PAIN Exhibit, Inc. It was created in June of 2012 as a non-profit organisation whose mission statement is: to educate healthcare providers and the public about chronic pain through art and to give a voice to the many who suffer in silence. A link to the galleries can be found here. In particular I was drawn to 4 images which can be viewed here migraine-pics

The main symptom of a migraine is usually an intense headache on one side of the head.
The pain is usually a moderate or severe throbbing sensation that gets worse when you move and prevents you from carrying out normal activities.

In some cases, the pain can occur on both sides of your head and may affect your face or neck. Other symptoms are nausea, vomiting, increased sensitivity to light and sound, sweating, poor concentration, feeling very hot or very cold, visual problems – such as seeing flashing lights, zig-zag patterns or blind spots, numbness or a tingling sensation like pins and needles–which usually starts in one hand and moves up your arm before affecting your face, lips and tongue, feeling dizzy or off balance, difficulty speaking.

Migraines often develop in distinct stages, although not everyone goes through all of these:

1. Prodromal (pre-headache) stage –changes in mood, energy levels,poor concentration, behaviour and appetite that can occur several hours or days before an attack
2. Aura – usually visual problems, such as flashes of light or blind spots, which can last for five minutes to an hour
3. Headache stage – usually a pulsating or throbbing pain on one side of the head, often accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and/or extreme sensitivity to bright light and loud sounds, which can last for four to 72 hours
4. Resolution stage – when the headache and other symptoms gradually fade away, although you may feel tired for a few days afterwards

In all these images there is a mix of soft focus to suggest confusion and disorientation, zigzag lines, for visual disturbance, sharp points and outlines representing stabbing searing pain, bright white points the aura, red to symbolise the intense throbbing, pulsating pain. I wanted to incorporate as many of these signs and symbols as possible within my final images.

In choosing to use mixed media and to scrape paint beyond the image I want to push the boundaries of the photograph itself, take the symbolism beyond the printed format and the idea that ‘we can go no further than what the photograph allows us to ‘see” with the colours chosen reflecting  ‘the act of interpretation rather than recording.’ (Clarke, 1997)

back to top

First Edits

Second Edits

On editing the final 8 images they had to fit the brief, that they could stand alone to provide a narrative, yet fit within a body of work that was conceptual and abstract.I strongly believe that this selection fulfill the brief of the coursework and my personal challenges to be more creative, explore an aspect and style of photography not undertaken before, whilst taking inspiration from Daido Moriyama and his interpretation of Wabi-Sabi – making something imperfect, or in this case painful – beautiful. The final shots successfully  reveal the concept of something I feel, yet has no physical appearance.

The term wabi sabi consists of two kanji (Chinese characters) shared by Japanese and Chinese. Originally, wabi 侘 means ‘despondence’, and sabi 寂 means ‘loneliness’ or ‘solitude’. These are words for feelings, not for physical appearance of objects.

Final Photographs

Eventually the final 8 were selected, two for each stage. The intention was to create images that were disorientating yet were clear enough for the meanings to be read by an audience. The influence of Moriyama is clear within the blurred and out of focus shots, although they were not as off kilter as some of his. The fairly ‘straight’ composition was to demonstrate how migraine sufferers still try to cope with ‘normal’  day-to-day routine despite the constant nagging pain. Colour was an important aspect of these images and this is where I also deviated from his work. If I did this work again I’d possibly experiment with angle slightly more.

I was pleased with the variety of techniques used: over exposed, deliberately blurred using manual focus, blurred by moving the camera horizontally, vertically or diagonally, shooting during the day, at night, internally and externally and managing to capture some chiaroscuro.  I shot close to subjects or at a further distance and from different vantage points.

Prodromal #1

Photography Two Documentary

Everything feels out of focus you can’t concentrate, your head feels heavy and full of cotton-wool.

Prodromal #2

Photography Two Documentary

Everything feels out of focus you can’t concentrate, your head feels heavy and full of cotton-wool.

Aura #1

Photography Two Documentary

Usually visual problems, such as flashes of light or blind spots, sensitivity to colour, zigzag patterns.

Aura #2

Photography Two Documentary

Usually visual problems, such as flashes of light or blind spots, sensitivity to colour, zigzag patterns.

 Headache #1

Photography Two Documentary

Usually a pulsating or throbbing pain on one side of the head, often accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and/or extreme sensitivity to bright light and loud sounds, which can last for four to 72 hours.

Headache #1

Photography Two Documentary

Usually a pulsating or throbbing pain on one side of the head, often accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and/or extreme sensitivity to bright light and loud sounds, which can last for four to 72 hours.

Resolution #1

Assignment Two Single Image Narrative

When the headache and other symptoms gradually fade away, although you may feel tired for a few days afterwards

Resolution #2

Photography Two Documentary

When the headache and other symptoms gradually fade away, although you may feel tired for a few days afterwards.

Peer feedback on some of the images:

Love it so far, I got a real sense of queasiness and weirdly, had to turn my phone brightness down. Looking forward to seeing the finished work .

Looking at them … I’m getting a migraine… You’ve captured the feeling !

Does the trick. Getting a headache just looking at them. Forgive me if I don’t study them too closely….

Great stuff Jan, perfect imagery. I get the blurriness & flasing & sensitivity to light. Only a dark room, peace & strong drugs normally help. At times it can last a couple of days. Good work.

I don’t agree they stand alone but as a panel of pictures, they capture the concept excellently. Yes, I’d need guiding as towards what the photographer was going after but that’s not a bad thing. This is a well thought out panel that challenges the viewer to consider an emotion that he/she may or may not be conversant with. Great work

This person didn’t agree that they stood alone but worked as a set, but I have yet to ‘play’ with them.

Really like this one, it’s that big bold red image that I associate with the migraine. Predominant & impossible to escape. It’s all I feel & see.

Just looking at the red square is making my eyes hurt. Don’t know if it’s just me but, I can see it pulsating. Quite a nasty sensation. Going to go and look at a nice picture now.

Can really relate to this image Jan. Seeing the light & feeling like the burden has been lifted. Hard to describe but sums up the feeling perfectly.

Does indeed. I don’t know about tired. I normally feel totally cattle-trucked for the first 24 hours. Then my feet feel like lead weights for the next 24. All in all it can take me a whole week or more to fully recover. Thank Christ I don’t get too many. Only 2 or 3 per year…..

Issues and further development

I had some issues meeting the deadline set, this Sat just gone 21/01/17, due to very heavy work commitments and the tough decision as to whether or not my free weekends should be spent doing the coursework, taking photographs or visiting exhibitions, talks and study days, which are all essential elements to learning. Changing my mind mid project was a minor blip as I then had to complete a little more research and then, because I wanted to mount my prints onto acrylic backing paper, this had to be ordered and the delivery was delayed. Added to that I decided to teach myself a little HTML to insert some jump links/Anchor points into my pages. If nothing I like to make my life a little challenging!

The intention is still to use mixed media or a different technique to present my images but as I stated on my post about Richter I’m not really an artist so it may all end up in a huge mess and I might move on to something else. If using his technique since changing my theme I may cover up elements within the photograph that hint at the meaning I am trying to convey.


As per usual life and a plethora of false starts has delayed my final pieces however I eventually got here!

My first experimentation’s into using paint/mixed media were not as successful as I had hoped. Although I gained positive feedback on some of the techniques I had attempted my concern was that I didn’t want to obscure the original photographs too much, didn’t want to be seen to be merely copying Richter nor did I want to use the same technique on each image.

Here are some test techniques, the colours of the acrylic paint used were chosen either as they reflected colours within the image, were a contrast, or just so I could see the effect, I used smearing techniques with a palette knife, spatters with a brush and dragging with a serrated scraper.

Photography Two Documentary

Dragging/blending colours with a brush and stippling with a sponge.

Photography Two Documentary

I then applied these, and other techniques, to some small test images. The first image was dry brushed with a stiff plastic washing up brush and the second hit with a skewer dipped in acrylic paint. I quite liked these two as the photographs themselves were not that covered over and fulfilled the criteria that I had set myself that the ‘pain’ would go beyond the frame.

Photography Two Documentary

The next images used the serrated scraper, which I loved the effect but felt it covered too much followed by the spattering technique where I placed pieces of paper randomly onto before spattering to create voids. I didn’t like the colours chose and wasn’t convinced any of these images were producing the effects I wanted.

Photography Two Documentary

So I went back to the drawing board and my research, had a closer look at John Clang, did some more test pieces and decided that this was the route I would take. Images were ripped, cut, duplicated and overlaid. All final images were used creating mixed media with the intention to show how each phase of a migraine unfolds and impacts not only within the confines of your mind.

As I completed more experimentation or finished test pieces I developed the ideas further, some were quite fiddly/complex to complete or I had to order yet more elements delaying the project even more.

Close up detail of final pieces

Final Pieces

Prodromal #1

Photography Two Documentary

This was created using mixed media by printing the image then cropping to ensure the image went right to the edge of the frame, this was then mounted on heavy acrylic paper. Another image was printed on tracing paper ripped in a random yet deliberate fashion which was placed over the top and stuck just along the top and bottom edges, this emphasises that everything feels out of focus, you can’t concentrate and your head feels heavy and full of cotton-wool. The jagged edges represent the pain.

Photography Two Documentary

Prodromal #2

Photography Two Documentary

This was created by printing three versions of the images, one on semi-gloss photographic paper, one on tracing paper and one on acetate. These were then mounted one on top of each other, slightly offset, to yet again emphasis the blurry out of focus sensation experienced during the prodromal phase of a migraine. The layers are separated/held together by 5×1 mm. magnets. Magnets were used as I did not want to just glue the images directly on top of each other as I wanted to create a sense of depth and space and a slightly interactive image which can be made more of less blurred depending on how and where you place the overlapping images. It also increased the different media I was working with although this further increased the delays as I waited for acetate and magnets to be delivered or to be collected from the sorting office.

Photography Two Documentary

Aura #1

Photography Two Documentary

This image was created by cutting the photograph into narrow strips and mounting onto a differing number of 5 mm foam board strips cut to size. by moving the strips up and down and having a variety of depth emphasises the visual problems, such as flashes of light or blind spots, sensitivity to colour, zigzag patterns. The 3D aspect is to also show how migraines impact beyond what goes on inside our head. I had to use a very sharp scalpel and metal rule to cut the foam board which was very time consuming and had to be very careful when sticking together and mounting that I didn’t spoil the image strips.

Aura #2

Photography Two Documentary

Similarly with image Aura #1 the photograph was cut into strips, this time not so narrow, and mounted onto foam board. Some strips were then cut diagonally across, varying sizes and mounted onto the backing board. Once again this moving of the strips up and down, and having a variety of depth, emphasises the visual problems, such as flashes of light or blind spots, sensitivity to colour, zigzag patterns, with the 3D aspect showing how migraines impact beyond what goes on inside our head.

Photography Two Documentary

Headache #1

Photography Two Documentary

Headache #1 was created by printing and trimming the original image and mounting it onto the backing paper. I then printed the second image on acetate, duplicating the layers in Photoshop and slightly offsetting them before printing.  Once again I used magnets to separate the layers to underscore the visual distress, disorientation and how a migraine can overwhelm the senses.  The over exposed image illustrating the noise, hustle and bustle of city life, which in turn emphasises the pulsating or throbbing pain experienced and the extreme sensitivity to bright light and loud sounds, which can last from four to 72 hours.

Headache #2

Photography Two Documentary

Headache #2 was created using alternate layers of the image printed on either semi-gloss photographic paper and acetate. This is my least favourite image of the set. I am not totally convinced that it creates the feeling of a throbbing headache. Whilst I felt that the original uncut image, with the pulsating red square  did represent the pain felt I think the final edit detracts from this. It could be that the organic shapes still appear too regular and the flower petal like protrusions create an atmosphere of calm rather than of pain. Maybe it would have worked better with more layers…Unfortunately, due to time and material constraints I ran out of time for further experimentation. If I were to make this image again I would either change the shape of the cut outs and possibly use a laser cutter, as my skills with a scalpel were not precise enough for such an intricate design – several of the edges are a little jagged and did not follow the required shape! However, when asking for feedback one person commented that this was their favourite.

Photography Two Documentary
Resolution #1

Photography Two Documentary

Resolution #1 was the simplest to create in terms of using different media, it was simply cut into sections and mounted directly onto the backing paper. When the headache and other symptoms fade away the world gradually comes back into focus and you no longer feel literally ‘in pieces.’ I chose the smaller figure, on the left, as the central focal point and cut sections into large triangular sections, the almost touching points denote the world slowly coming together. These triangles I then cut into random geometric  shapes which, although scattered were placed in a uniform and deliberate configuration to reveal the whole picture.

Photography Two Documentary

Resolution #2

Photography Two Documentary

Resolution #2

The original photograph was printed twice and cropped so that the image went to the edge of the frame. The first copy was mounted onto the backing paper whilst the second was ripped from the centre out. The ripped edges were curled outwards suggesting an entrance to a cave/tunnel. The original blurred image is of a person walking down a darkened corridor towards a brightly lit room beyond. This represents the headache fading away, the light at the end of the tunnel relief you feel as normality returns, but also underscores the fatigue that may be felt for a few days afterwards.

I really enjoyed completing this assignment despite some of the issues faced whilst working through it. These ranged from personal issues such as a flu bug which took ages to clear and brought on other issues such as a bout of vertigo, waiting for materials to arrive, a few false starts with ideas on using mixed media, the time it took to actually complete some of the more intricate designs and finally photographing the completed images. I have ongoing building work in my bathroom and the dust and mess in my house is horrendous. No matter how much care I took with the completed images, and dusting them off before photographing them, when looking at them on my PC some were still covered in dust not noticeable to the naked eye. I had to re-shoot them, especially the images that employed acetate layers.The added issue with the acetate images was the reflected light causing unwanted reflections. These I eventually overcame by shooting only during the day using natural diffused light, long exposures and the camera timer. This again was very time consuming and caused even more delays.

The brief asked for 8 images that individually had a narrative and conveyed a specific idea. In my opinion the 8 final edits fulfill this criteria. The chosen photographs are definitely abstract and conceptual, made even more so by the decision to use mixed media to present them. The project could have been in either B&W or colour but I decided that the subject matter needed a reliance on colour to convey the idea of pain and disorientation associated with a migraine. This was a very interesting project to complete despite the issues encountered. In reviewing the course criteria I think I can tick off the box with regards to a demonstration of technical and visual skills. I am also fairly confident that I have presented my work in a coherent manner, have conceptualised my ideas and communicated my though process and inspirations throughout. I have definitely been creative and inventive with my ideas, reflected on each aspect of research, experimentation, recognising when I needed to leave an idea behind, justifying why and also recognised images that may not be as successful as others. I have commented in more detail on the actual assignment page.


Following tutor feedback and further experimentation I decided to revise two of the final images: Headache #2 and Resolution #1.

Headache #1 feedback was :

I agree with you that this is perhaps the least successful image in the set. I prefer the original, which looks like a Rothko gone feral.  I think it is the pattern that is too defined, inviting the viewer to make some figurative interpretation and narrative connection. But the vivid colours, and the cutaway pattern draw the viewer’s attention.

I therefore lost the overlays agreeing that the pattern was a step too far. Although the cutaway did draw attention on printing out the original image I decided the vibrancy was sufficient to give the impression of a throbbing headache, unfortunately I did not have any more acetate sheets left otherwise I would have liked to have experimented with a plain overlay to see if this would have made the colours pop even more. However, I left it as this:

Photography Two Documentary

Resolution #1 feedback was:

I think the same applies too R1, the surface pattern created by the cutout is highly defined with too much contrast and conflict with the lower image. Maybe this would work better as a 3d image where the individual elements can be tilted and shifted to adjust the focus and depth of field?

Whilst I like the cutout pattern I do think I lost too much definition and detail from the original image. Also that it did not tell the narrative of the headache fading and everything gradually coming into focus. The dark image against the lighter mounting board did give too much contrast. I therefore went back to the drawing board, experimented more and used a similar idea to the second Resolution image of mounting one identical photograph on top of the other. This reduced the contrast between the cutouts and the background, provided more visual as it has become 3D with varying depths. The overlays continue the theme of spreading beyond ‘the frame’ with the edges cut in a soft, gentle wave. The contrast between the sharp points and these soft edges provide the narrative of a fading headache that is still giving some symptoms of discomfort. The brighter patch seems to suggest the light at the end of the tunnel which links to Resolution #2. Once again the final A4 montage was mounted on an A3 mounting board.

The final result is this:

Photography Two Documentary

Tutor feedback was positive, my response is here.
Tutor Feedback PDF
Final set of images for submission can be found here.


Clarke, G. (1997) The photograph: A visual and cultural history. New York: Oxford University Press.

Short, M. (2011) Basics creative photography 02: Context and narrative. Lausanne, Switzerland: AVA Publishing SA.

Wells, L. (ed.) (1997) Photography: A critical introduction. London: Routledge.

Wong, T. (no date) Wabi sabi – learning to see the invisible. Available at: (Accessed: 20 January 2017).