Revisiting Assignment 2

Revisiting Assignment 2 : Photographing the Unseen

In my post “Preparation and Planning” here I described  beginning thoughts on themes to explore. However,  a photograph taken at the Brighton Festival in November 2014 – at night and blurred – had stayed in my mind. I decided to create a project around the theme “I thought I saw you the other day”. My idea was to write about the ending of a relationship, with the young man involved not ready to accept this was so. I named him “Paul Dumont” devised a biography for him so that I could enter more into how he was thinking and created a fictional blog that incorporated photographs ‘taken’ by him (but by me) , videos he enjoyed watching where he could record his thoughts and a poem “Laura” had written for him (written by me). He also has an email account.  The blog was private at first whilst I explored how it would develop but I then asked for feedback from two fellow students who encouraged me to continue. I named his ex-girlfriend “Laura McKinley” .

When I emailed my tutor about this concept he responded that this sounded very interesting but was concerned such a piece of work might take time to develop fully and merited dealing with at a more advanced level. However, as I was so caught by the concept, we agreed that I would explore it at this stage. After sharing my idea at an OCA Thames Valley Group meeting, where I was again encouraged to continue. I made the blog public, although without a comments box because, despite knowing other artists, such as Sophie Calle,  had created fictional lives, I was wary as a student of ‘fooling’ other people by entering into a fictitious dialogue with them. Fellow students have commented on my own blog though to give me feedback on how realistic (or not) it is.

My post on “Context, Influences and Research” for the assignment is here  – describing the family name connection, film/video, music, novels, and photographer influences, including still-life/created images. Amongst reference material my physical Assignment Preparation folder contains:-

  • The original photograph providing the inspiration
  • The biography
  • Diary pages I kept to keep notes of ideas etc
  • A letter from “Laura”
  • Printed email from “Paul” to “Laura”
  • Two postcards from “Paul’s” boss, a Professor
  • The poem How does he feel? written by me
  • Printed lyrics to Frank Sinatra and Ed Sheeran songs referred to in “Paul’s blog.
  • 2 prints of the two sets of images in square format (see below)

I found I was getting drawn into “Paul’s” story, even becoming quite melancholic and so I devised a supportive strategy where I played different types of music according to whether I was being “Paul”, or a follower of his blog and this worked. My intention was that, apart from photographs taken for “Paul’s” blog, I would create further images as a response to that blog – as its reader. Those photographs were intended to portray his continuing obsession with, and searching for, “Laura”.  As I began this I realised that a second process was occurring because I was wanting to evoke images of “Laura” as an ‘object’ –  fragile, beautiful, offering her ‘letter’ of goodbye but in a delicate non-assertive way.  I realised that I was, in a sense, going back to Assignment 1 and two sides of a story. I was conceptualising thoughts about relationships and how the search for an ideal relationship can miss the reality of the actual person who becomes the object of adoration, so that relationships and communication become skewed and a soft “No” is heard as “Yes, maybe …”.

The Assignment write-up itself is here and the link to “Paul’s” blog is here  in the default WordPress format or here  in chronological format.

My response to my tutor’s feedback is here . I adjusted two photographs on “Paul’s Blog” and still-life image 2 as suggested. I had commented on the problem of putting the two sets of images together – one being in landscape and the other in portrait format and with differing subject matter.  My tutor suggested I make them all square and I have experimented with this. However, square format doesn’t fit either of the sets as they both look very compressed. I have therefore not included them in my Assessment portfolio box, but they are in my physical Assignment Preparation folder.

It occurred to me that having two sets of images that are so separate is actually mirroring the incompatible relationship between “Paul” and “Laura”. I talked about this at the meeting of the OCA Thames Valley Group on 21st May and how I remember that my mother sometimes had a habit of cutting-up photographs to exclude people she no longer wished to see. To me the tearing of a photograph Is more tactile than using scissors. It still signifies the ending of a relationship but is somehow less brutal than cutting.  In his feedback my tutor had suggested I create another set of still life photographs, including perhaps a ripped photograph. Instead, I have represented this in a more physical way and the result will be included in my Assessment portfolio box.

Some fellow students have asked why I haven’t continued writing Paul’s blog because they enjoyed reading it.  I had decided that I wouldn’t continue because I thought I would lose the spontaneity of ‘being’ him and become more measured, maybe narrate  his continuing search for love. Having decided that, though, I’m aware that the relationship theme followed me through into Assignment 5 so I’m wondering if reflections on relationships might continue in my photography.

Response to tutor feedback on Assignment 2 of Context & Narrative

I was pleased that feedback arrived so quickly, but have taken time to absorb it before writing up my response for this blog post. The feedback is very positive overall

As per our email correspondences this project has come across with depth and
strength with an emotive underscore. This type of dual constructed narrative has
been pieced together effectively, yet more time would have yielded a tighter
resolve. There are elements that could do with minor adjustments, but overall it is
a very competent and successful piece.

 In a way, this project has touched on both the ‘Photographing the Unseen’ and
‘Using Props’ headlines in quite a unique approach, in that it touches on the
periphery of vernacular and constructed visual narratives. An excellent learning
log supports this project, where the strength of your exploration lies. The images
are technically proficient with a couple that would benefit from stronger
compositions and/or cropping and a few that could afford to be edited out of
the final set.

 I have already been in email contact with my tutor concerning the feedback. He has agreed to my including the whole of it here

CatherineBanks Feedback for ASs 2

and so I will only make reference to particular comments and/or suggestions under specific headings.

 Technical and Visual Skills


  1. “Paul’s” Blog

Wednesday, 1st April – Subtle edit suggested to straighten the Shaftesbury Memorial Fountain image and crop slightly on the right hand side to remove the red façade element on the building.

_DSF0288 6x4 web

Sunday, 5th April – “Although they are integral to the text the soft-edged image of tulips doesn’t fit well with the other two landscapes”

_MG_7245 9x6 web

Thursday, 9th April – “The image of the postman although integral to ‘Paul’ story comes across a little too engineered and reads as a secondary component. The mist and the notion of moving home, has more scope for some abstract interpretations.

_MG_7299 9x6 web

I have to admit that, to begin with, I felt some resistance to making alterations until I realised that I was reacting as if “Paul” was a real person and I was interfering with his blog! I then thought again in terms of being a writer and how many edits there must be, just as there are in my own work. All suggestions have been followed now . Edit made to Shaftesbury Memorial Fountain image; garden tulips removed and another image taken before the postman arrived has replaced the postman himself (who didn’t know he was being photographed by the way).

  1. Still-life images (two sets of four) submitted

The still-life images shot on the white backdrop would benefit from some cropping or reshooting with a different angle/composition. The foreground of the table edge in image No. 2 breaks up the flow with an unwanted line. Also the position of the negative space through using a portrait format adds to an unbalanced design in them all. Perhaps shoot these again, this time overexpose by about 1-2 stops to allow for a much brighter scene. Also compositionally, explore Letinsky’s work further, in particular her placement and somewhat destructive approach.

I had thought of re-shooting image nos. 2, 4, 6 and 8 (on the backdrop), maybe with a wide angle lens as it looks to me as if this is what Letinsky uses, probably on a larger format camera. Also, her images are landscape format which is the dilemma I had. I wanted the backdrop images to be in spatial opposition to image nos. 1, 3, 5, and 7 (which are landscape) which is why I thought of portrait aspect. I queried wide-angle lens with my tutor and his response was that he thought she probably used a standard 50mm, with a much larger backdrop and scene to work with and to get the distance. He also suggested “How about as opposed to a landscape/portrait balance crop them all as square”.

See further thoughts below.

Quality of Outcome

My reading of the first part of the feedback here was that my tutor was seeking further clarification on how those still-life images fit into the narrative, including images, that is contained on “Paul’s” blog. He further referred back to Letinsky’s work suggesting I produce another set of eight images,

[….] this would be a highly effective and almost evocative stylistic approach, this time just using the white table top scene and forego using the laptop, clothing books etc. Look on the lines of a ripped photograph, tulip bulbs, autumnal colours; this is where the series could take on a much stronger resolve.

I emailed my tutor thus:

I think I need to add clarity to my explanation regarding images in the blog and the still-life images. I was using the blog as a vehicle to put myself into the character of someone experiencing a relationship breakdown, albeit at an early stage. “Paul” is not good at expressing his feelings and so the photographs ‘he’ posts serve as illustration for him. Creating all this aroused certain responses in me and so I had the idea of ‘responding’ to the blog by creating another set of images that portrayed my responses.

What was coming through to me was the obsessive nature of Paul’s yearning and search for “Laura” – re-reading her letter; emailing her; thoughts consumed by her and trying to work it all out. Alongside all this, I was also feeling a fragility and something else, harder to describe but, being fanciful, would be the spirit/essence of “Laura”. Feminine, delicate, trying to be sensitive in writing the letter, and this is where the other images came in as a counterpoint.

I want to keep those two sets of images because, for me, they bounce-off each other. The images containing the letter, email, stills from the film ‘Laura’ act as text for the still-lifes on the white background. However, I do want to experiment with images referencing Letinsky’s work and so I will improve the current still-life objects on the background and also do a separate set, referencing Letinsky, thinking about other subjects.

In the meantime I have adjusted image 2 so that the table edge is less obvious

From this



to this

_MG_7342 v2 web

Demonstration of Creativity

A question asked by my tutor was:-

Going by your research into Calle and Michals, how would you describe the relationship between the main elements of your work? Does the text support the images or does it guide them; is it ‘text and photography’ or ‘photography and text’. They both work harmoniously yet the process employed could be read a number of ways.

In “Paul’s” blog the images support the text and add more emotionality whilst the text provides coherence to the images as the latter couldn’t stand on their own without the text.

“Paul’s” blog contains the backstory. I think that the still life images, in their two different aspects, can stand on their own without the blog because those with the books, clothing, laptop etc contain text within themselves.

I forgot to mention the work of Johanna Ward in my write-up. Her backstory is in her artist’s statement and there are few words within the books. Her images are varied and dissimilar and yet, somehow, even without knowing the backstory, I made a connection with sadness and nostalgia. I also forgot to refer again to the day Seminar I went to (and wrote about on my blog) on Photography and Narrative. One of the speakers there talked about multiple layers in narrative and I think that my own work in the Assignment is aiming to make a small beginning with this.

Learning Log & Contextualisation

Although they are few, I would recommend not to use Wikipedia references; they are OK for quick referrals and to get some clarification on data, but they are not ideal for academia; more so when writing essays.

Point taken. I normally do try to keep this to a minimum anyway and certainly wouldn’t use it in an academic essay.

Suggested reading/viewing & Pointers for the next assignment

Suggestions were to start by looking at the self-portraits of Vivian Maier and I might be interested in the work of Cindy Sherman whose work is about identity and representation. Also to perhaps explore my line in Assignment 2, “I’ve also wondered what I would be like if I were born a male”, and document the process.

Regarding Assignment 2, my tutor asked if I had explored the work of Joachim Schmid (found and vernacular images) and Erik Kessels (found and constructed falsehoods). I had looked at their work and written about this in other posts but hadn’t made such a connection with the work I was creating for Assignment 2.

An afterthought from my tutor was to continue investigating reciprocal projects and even to:

(…) take characters from popular culture/literature, create variations on their backstory and purpose; then you step into their shoes to become another persona creating the stimulus for you to then work upon once you are Catherine.

I’ll admit, reading that back, it does sound too much for the photography assignments, but not too far-fetched or ridiculous as a method for representing different alternatives of the self.

That all sounds so tempting, and I immediately thought of Red Riding Hood’s Grandmother! However, I do need to hold myself back and have decided that I will work through the exercises etc in Part Three before leaping into something straightaway.


Not conclusions exactly as my tutor has given me so much more food for thought and I was delighted that he was generally so positive about the Assignment and generous with his ideas/suggestions for further work. I’ve done the immediate work of amending images etc and clarified my intentions for Assignment 2, although I think there’s more work to be done there. In the medium term I will also discuss the Assignment and feedback etc at the next meeting of OCA Thames Valley group which is on the 16th May.


12th May 2015









Assignment 2 : I Thought I Saw You The Other Day

The two previous posts outlined my initial impetus for the Assignment which was the blurry  DSCF1251-web

night photograph taken in Brighton and the journey during which I creating an imaginary couple “Paul” and “Laura” whose relationship had ended and a separate blog for ‘Paul”. I have also already outlined the contextual background. “Paul’s” blog has an eclectic mix of images that reflect and expand his mood of the day . In this sense the images are visually consistent with the blog posts, as per the Assignment brief. However, what I have also been aiming for is to see if I can produce a set of images that in themselves are visually consistent, whilst reflecting the mood of the blog as I am perceiving it as a “viewer”. It makes sense to me and I’m just hoping that it will make sense to my tutor and eventually the Assessors, as well as others who read my blog.


“Paul’s” Blog

So far I have posted 15 images to “Paul’s” blog all of which are mine and mostly from either my iPhone or my smaller digital camera.
Images on Pauls blog ContactSheet web

Additionally I have posted two links to YouTube videos – a Frank Sinatra song and a video film from the Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows. I also created a separate email address for “Paul”. Paul’s blog can be read here  in the default WordPress format or in a chronological format here .

My response as Viewer

When reading the blog posts I felt a need to represent the obsessive nature of “Paul’s” yearning for “Laura” but, at the same time, also felt a need to create some still life images. I believe this was through a parallel impulse to achieve more of an objective distance from this yearning whilst trying to capture some essence of “Laura”. I decided to create the still life photographs in both landscape and portrait format to see which would fit best with the other images. I used my Canon 60D for these images, on a tripod for stability as I have made use of ambient light. I used some props – a cake stand, small Japanese statuettes, tulips and some artificial daffodils and also acquainted myself with origami. In all I made 138 photographs and as a first selection starred 41 of these in Adobe Bridge to work on. I chose 31 to convert to PSD/PNG and then narrowed this down to 24. Contact sheet for these is below

My fourth selection comprised 17 images

I also decided to have a look back at images used in “Paul’s” blog and selected five of these

First Selection from Pauls blog ContactSheet-001 web

Decision Process on Final Selection

There were four that really appealed to me (two of them from “Paul’s” blog),

Unfortunately they weren’t sufficient on their own and didn’t fit with any of the others. I don’t know what it is about them that I like to look at even though I’ve pondered this for quite some time. In the event, I’ve have chosen eight images as a final selection:-

Final Selection of 8 images


I’m aware that the first and seventh images are similar, as they both contain a laptop, but the message is different. One of the queries in my mind arising from the blog has been to what extent “Paul” actually sees “Laura” as a real person. Is it really her he is obsessed with or is he obsessed with the idea of her? Had he reached a stage where he had decided he wanted ‘to settle down’ and then looked for someone who would fit his vision? That’s where the question “Who is Laura” can be seen on his laptop. Maybe he is now coming to grips with that and it’s something that he might bring up in his therapy group. How much does that distinction between the real and imagined person come into every intimate relationship between two people? We all have a feminine and masculine side of us – anima and animus – and one realisation that struck me with some force is how much of a feminine aspect had crept into my subconscious and then revealed herself in the still life images. It’s as if “Laura” was attempting to reveal herself and express her point of view. It looks delicate and fragile and I felt irritated about this at first. Where was the strong assertive woman? It’s as if she said “No” to the relationship, reinforced it in writing, and still “Paul” won’t accept this. I chose portrait aspect for the still-life images. ’m not sure about the space around the objects. Should there be more at the sides, are they too compressed? Another question I ask myself is how would I present the images? A set of diptychs like this

Experimental Diptych web

or on separate pages, say in a book. Do I make them equal or do I have a fold-out page where the still life takes up a third and the ‘real life’ two-thirds; what about proportionality? I’ll play around with some ideas whilst waiting for feedback from my tutor.

So far as the Assessment Criteria are concerned

Demonstration of Technical and Visual Skills

I think I’ve met this so far as the images themselves are concerned and creation of “Paul’s” blog.  I want to improve my design skills in terms of physical presentation – how to choose the most appropriate format and how to edit images into a book. There has been recent discussion concerning this on the WeAreOCA blog on 14th April and I hope that something comes of the idea of some additional input into creating and editing photo books.

Quality of Outcome

Comments on my previous blog posts have reassured me that, at least for those readers, I have been able to communicate my concept for this Assignment and the process I’ve followed. I’m still slightly unsure regarding that mix of real and still-life images so will await feedback on this.

Demonstration of Creativity

I took a risk with this project and needed to convince my tutor that I would be able to carry it through without getting myself too mired in complexity. I’ve aimed to follow his advice to make it an exploratory piece of work. It’s certainly been experimental and I’ve learned a lot from it. I also sought initial feedback on “Paul’s” Blog from two fellow students on the more advanced Levels before I made it public, and then sought feedback and advice from members of the Thames Valley OCA group.


I wrote a comprehensive piece on this here  that evidences the firm ground on which the project rests and the variety of influences and sources that have informed my thinking and progress.


I thoroughly enjoyed working on this Assignment. The suggested reading was inspiring and encouraged me to research further and I gave myself a wonderful opportunity to try out a variety of approaches and also include some of my own poetry on “Paul’s” blog. I’m looking forward to feedback from my tutor to see where I need to improve and how I can develop this concept further.

20th April 2015

Links to “Paul’s” Blog

WordPress default format:

Chronological format :

Assignment 2 : Context, Influences and Research

I described in the previous post how the idea for this Assignment I Thought I Saw You the Other Day, came about. The blurry night photograph I took in Brighton, a title, and my idea to portray the ending of a relationship through the blog of the young man.. I wrote myself a biography for him so I could ‘get into character’ and hopefully be more authentic. I also had an idea about the girl, but I didn’t want to get myself too involved with her. If I had she would have started to express her own point of view and then I’d be betwixt and between. By the time I created the first new blog post from “Paul” I was beginning to wonder why I chose a male subject and why those particular names.

Why a Young Man?

I was an only child – at least until I was nearly 19 –  and, as both parents worked, spent quite a lot of time on my own. I never got really lonely but often wished I had an older brother. Now I know that when I was 13 or so part of my thinking was that he would bring his friends home with him but it was also to do with having someone close who was like but not like me. He would understand my way of thinking and stand up for me when necessary. Someone to look up to; similar, but different enough to be interesting.  A  reflection of me in a slightly distorted mirror. They used to say I was a bit of a tomboy! Fortunately there were a few boys, a bit older than me, who were happy for me to tag along sometimes, watch them play tennis, and listen to bicycle talk. I’ve also often wondered what I would be like if I had been born male. What kind of man would I be? Here was a chance to begin an exploration.

What’s in a Name?

The surname Dumont belonged to one of my great-grandmothers before she married. I think my grandfather Chattle (the original name was Chattell) must have been ahead of his time and wanted to honour his mother because he gave his oldest son the middle name of Dumont, and then the tradition continued to one son from each of his children. I have lots of questions around this but that’s another story. I played around with first names in my head and out came Paul Dumont. I needed a name to suit a girl with red-gold hair and dark hazel eyes. Laura seemed to fit as did the surname McIntyre. There must have been something rumbling around in my subconscious because then I remembered a film from long ago.


Laura (1944) is an American Film Noir Thriller. The young detective, Mark, is investigating the murder of a beautiful advertising executive, found dead with a shotgun blast to her face before the beginning of the film. Mark gets to know her through the testimony of her friends and reading her letters and slowly begins to fall in love with her. I must have seen it on TV as an adolescent and remember being enthralled by the story, Gene Tierney’s beautiful face, and the music to the film. The novel from which the film came was written by a female author, Vera Caspary, an early feminist I think – “… her novels effectively merged women’s quest for identity and love with murder plots. Independence is the key to her protagonists…..” (Wikipedia) 

The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows is a Website  and YouTube series  by John Koenig who invents and portrays new words to describe emotions that have no words.


Paul’s theme tune could only be Frank Sinatra with Goodbye from his 1958 album Frank Sinatra Sings For Only The Lonely. Paul can’t understand why Laura likes Ed Sheeran but Photograph the song he wrote reminds Paul of her.


A friend introduced me to the novels of Ruth Ozeki.  A Tale for the Time Being is a story in counterpoint. One of the characters, Nao, who is Japanese, is never seen but we read her story through her diary which is washed up, contained in a Hello Kitty lunchbox, on a small Canadian island and found by Ruth. We don’t know if the diary is fact or fiction and weave backwards and forwards between Nao (pronounced “Now”), Ruth, past and present, Japan and Canada. See here also:- There is such congruity for me here because the OCA Photograph Student project is The Nearest Faraway Place, and our individual images have been weaving backwards and forwards across the world for around eighteen months, safely contained in a Hello Kitty lunchbox.

My daughter and I exchange books and a while ago she gave me Us  by David Nicholls. I didn’t actually read it until last week and there was a shock of recognition because the novel is about a couple, Connie and Douglas, who could well be Paul and Laura if they had stayed together, got married, had a child and then, twenty-five years later, Laura decides she wants to end the marriage. “Better it’s ended now” says Paul as he looks at this book that Laura has left behind, “Maybe Laura made her decision after reading this”.


Basic foundation

In Assignment 2 I am seeking to portray an obsessive search and yearning for an absent person and also to evoke this through Paul’s short blog posts and the images ‘he’ uses to convey his difficult to express feelings. I’ve written about Duane Michals and Sophie Calle here  . What’s interesting to me at the moment is the extent to which they both use text. Duane Michal’s handwriting, often within the image, is usually brief – “Captions tell you what you are looking at, but my texts tell you what you can’t see” (Interview 2013 in SelfSelector).   “This photograph is my proof” raises so many questions regarding fact and fiction; memories true or false.

Conversely Sophie Calle often seems to use images as illustrations to the text so the process is reversed. I’ve just been looking at an earlier book of hers – True Stories (1994), 46 short stories, more like vignettes, each with one image. All contained in a small 4×7 ½ book which is good to hold and leaf through. Because the stories are all different so are the images so there’s no need for coherent sequencing of the stories. The images have equal weight with the stories.

Other Photographers

When I first contacted my tutor with my idea for this project he reminded me of the work of Laura Stevens. In her series Another November  Stevens explores the experience of losing love by directing other women to portray the evolving circumstances and stages of adjustment. There is a lot of shadow in the images with the women’s faces subtly lit to show their expressions. Much of her work has an autobiographical sense even without self portraits. I admire her work but, at this stage (and given my lack of enthusiasm for portraiture) I am seeking to evoke a mood/atmosphere in other ways.

Uta Barth –  Her work is about the act of seeing and to achieve this she removes the subjects and sets the image in an anonymous yet familiar setting. In her earlier works such as Field (1995-1998) and Ground (1994-1997she focuses on where the subject would be, clears away anything personal to herself from which the viewer can construct a narrative and leaves the background which is usually blurred. In a subtle way, Uta Barth uses that blur to ask the viewer a question: is the world around us only important because it is around us? Is our physical environment only worthwhile as a backdrop for ourselves, or the things we want to focus on? By drawing our attention to the blurred foreground and background and away from what would be the clear subject, Barth is reminding us that the world and everything in it exists independent of us and independent of anything to do with us. The world is NOT just our background. (Greg Fallis on Utata ) .

I don’t think I’m yet an experienced or sophisticated photographer to achieve this kind of work but if does fascinate me and remains at the back of my mind. It’s a way of using the camera as seeking to focus on something unclear to make it come into view. I am a person who seeks to simplify complexity to bring clarity and meaning and so Barth’s work really challenges me because I keep on looking. My fellow students John and Stephanie create work that reflects Uta Barth for me.

Still-Life Photography:

There was something about Paul’s blog that evoked an unexpected response in me. I wanted to create still-life photographs to somehow fix the memory of Laura in my mind. It’s been quite a long time since I photographed still-life and, to remind me I obtained the book Stilled : Contemporary Still Life Photography by Women (Ed Newton & Rolph, 2006). This is the third publication in a series by IRIS a research centre at Staffordshire University that focuses on projects within the field of contemporary women’s photographic practice. I found this book a wonderful source of inspiration and re/discovered photographers such as Sarah Lynch (the starkness of objects suspended from wire in Circles and Suspended Realities) , Laura Letinsky (pale pastel fruit, remains of a gentle feast, from her series Hardly More than Ever) and Martina Mullaney – one of whose recent series is Dinner for One looking at the loneliness of dining alone see here . Additionally I looked again at the work of Alison Bettles  and Alison Stolwood  whose work I saw at the Brighton Festival last year and wrote about here . They both set their subjects (from nature or man-made objects) in studio backgrounds and create portraits of them.

Some interim thoughts

There were other photographers I looked at and have recorded on my reference list, but those above were a major influence for me. I certainly don’t think that anything I have produced can approach the work of any of them at this stage, but it was the idea of their work, and that it was something I might be able to achieve in time that enthused me. I am also interested in the fact that all but Duane Michals are women photographers and so the feminine aspect has crept into the Assignment as a counterpoint to Paul’s blog. I will write more on this when writing about the Assignment images next. I am still pondering upon the relationship between text and image and how the balance is achieved in respect of the aims of a project. It also occurred to me that I have rarely looked at any photographs without knowing something about the photographer from their artist statements, journal articles etc. this leaves me with the question of the sense that the viewers make coming to images cold as it were – no text or explanation.

18th April 20153


Calle, S True Stories (1994) Actes Sud
Ozeki, R A Tale For the Time Being, (2013) Canongate Books Ltd
Newton & Rolph (Ed), Contemporary Still Life Photography by Women, 2006, Ffotgallery Wales Ltd, Cardiff
Nicholls, D, Us, (2014), Hodder & Stoughton

Laura (1944) Film, Directed by Otto Preminger, USA 20th Century Fox in Source Magazine

Assignment 2 : 1. Preparation and Planning

Preparation and Planning for Assignment 2

I enjoyed all the reading and referencing of photographers towards this Assignment – many of whom I had already researched. I’m very interested in the relationship between image and text – how they interact and inform each other towards developing a narrative.

The brief for the assignment is quite open, giving us a choice between photographing the unseen or using props. I have experimented with photographing the unseen previously (see earlier post here   ) and decided I wanted to continue along these lines but maybe use props as well. I had three main ideas.

A. My Father’s letters.

I have long wanted to do a project around these letters which were sent to me from Egypt when my father was there in the Army after WWII. They are infused with love and also with ‘messages’ about ‘being a good girl’ and ‘taking care of my mother’. These letters were still in the original envelopes, crumpled and showing their years. I had them ‘restored’ and also scanned them. Unfortunately I put them in a safe place when we moved house last year and haven’t been able to find them. I have the scans still of course but they aren’t as real to me so I’ve postponed this project until I find the letters – I’m sure I will.

B. Re-connections

This is again about re-connecting with my childhood and the places where I played. It’s a story I need to tell myself I think because it’s about memories and how they survive and change. I already have the photographs but might need to go up North again to revisit.

C. A story about my Great-Aunt

I did have great-aunts but this is a different one who lives in my head. The one I might have had. This idea was sparked by two photographs I bought at a vintage fair. I have also acquired some old negative glass plates and photographs, plus some handkerchiefs. This story is again about the way in which ideas and interests can be passed on sometimes by a kind of osmosis that isn’t recognised at the time.

I’m very interested in those three but then something else came along that became much more figural as a result, I think, of all the reading and researching for Part 2 of Context & Narrative.

I Thought I Saw You the Other Day

In November last year I spent a weekend, with the OCA in Brighton at the Brighton Festival. The work of Johanna Ward was an inspiration for me (see here ) portraying emotions around divorce and change and it lingered in my thoughts. On the Saturday evening I took a photograph of a girl amongst the crowd at a night showing of films on a constant loop in front of the Library.


The photograph is hazy and full of noise, but there is something about it that draws me. I started to think about times when you’re in love or a relationship has ended and you keep thinking you can see that person. Walking along the opposite side of the street; riding on a bus or in their car. Their face haunts you in your dreams but you just can’t reach or touch them. The phrase that came to me was, “I thought I saw you the other day”.

This stayed in my mind and I even gathered some other images together but they just didn’t seem right until I woke up the Saturday before the Thames Valley OCA Group  meeting for March with an idea in my head. I would write a story about a relationship that has ended. It lasted all too briefly for the young man, Paul, and he can’t accept this. I created a blog he was writing for his therapist and an email address for him. I had checked this out with my tutor who thought that the idea sounded in depth and quite interesting but was concerned that it was quite a deep and emotive piece of work that needs some time to develop fully and maybe merited dealing with at a more advanced level. This concept is urging me to continue with it though and so we agreed that I would explore it now as a little foray into the idea.

I explained the concept at the TV Group meeting on 21st March. It was important to me to share it because, although I had already created the blog, I hadn’t made it public. Acknowledging my idea gave it legitimacy and an existence in the world. Also I know that although members of the group are supportive they weren’t likely to be too ‘soft’ on me, and would be honest in expressing their views and opinions. They all agreed that it sounded very interesting, and Jesse , our presiding tutor that day, similarly advised to contain it somehow in its creation due to the many possible ways of exploring it.

The couple are Paul Dumont and Laura McKinley.

Links to Paul’s Blog

This one takes you to the default WordPress blog which is in reverse chronological order here

However, if you follow this link you can read in the correct chronological order to gain a sense of the developing story here

The About section also gives further information on Paul.

Comments are disabled there as, of course, it’s a ‘private’ blog, but any feedback will be very welcome here on my C& N blog.

I found that as the blog developed I was beginning to feel quite melancholic and so I decided I needed to build in some safety for myself. I’ve achieved this by keeping my own separate diary (which will also take me into C&N Part 3 which asks for this) and also playing different music according to whether I am being Paul, a reader of the blog, or myself. This has worked well and helps to slow down my thoughts and stop them from darting all over the place. There are images in the blog itself, but I have decided that my assignment images will be created from my response to the blog as ‘a reader’.

My next post will concern influences – photographers, literature, films and music.

6th April 2015