Assignment Three – Mirror

Assignment Three

Choose one of the following:

a. ‘Mirror’

  • Choose a community that you’re already a part of. Something that takes up a substantial amount go your interest and time. Create a photographic response to how this group informs who you are as a person. What aspects of this group or community reflect on you? What do you share? How does it function as a mirror reflection of who you are? 

b. ‘Window’

  • Use this opportunity to find out about a community that you don’t know much about and tell their story. Get to know them and talk to them; learn by listening and understanding. Your aim here is to become an insider. You’re beginning as an outsider so it is important to choose a group that you can spend a lot of time with. Negotiation skills and respect are intrinsic to working well with our subjects and are invaluable skills for your development as a photographer. Be clear about you intentions and involve your subjects in the process in order to obtain the best results. What wind into this world can you access through your role as photographer? 

In either case you can create as many pictures as you like but, in your reflective commentary, explain how you arrived at the final edit. The set should be concise and not include repetitive or unnecessary images. Be attentive to this aspect of production. Spend some time researching how other photographers seem to edit series of works. 

When I first looked at this assignment, I made a list of communities that I belonged to and those of which I didn’t. I then narrowed down the list by looking at each and thinking of the possible images I could capture to represent that community. Some I found would be difficult to represent but then this is the sort of challenge I wanted to overcome.

The problem I found with the majority of communities was the availability and diversity of the images, for example if I were to photograph a gym community there are only so many images that can be shown, I found this was a problem with the majority of communities.

I got my list down to three possible communities. The first being a baking club that I am apart of, and also a poker club. Another idea was to photograph a monastic community near where I live, as the community I am not apart of. I decided to visit the monastic community first, and I was disappointed with the images I got. The monks were not around in the public areas much, there mainly stayed in the private areas, and photography was not allowed there or in any of the buildings. Which I felt was fair as it respects their privacy but did represent a huge challenge for photographing this community. So I decided to choose another community, I choose the baking club.

I photographed the club over a couple of weeks to get a diversity of images. I took hundreds of images and then had to narrow them down. The problem I found with my images was the cramped spaces. Being in a kitchen environment, meant I couldn’t get wider shots with a lot of people in it. Whilst I believe my images do represent the baking club community, the images I found are more individual portraits or images with a few people in.

I wanted to show the people working and actively participating to show the workings of the community. I believe this represents me as a person as it shows a sense of community made up of family and friends. We all share an interest in baking and we are all more like family than friends. It represents me as it shows my interests and my community.

I used manual mode, on my Olympus EM-1 and my Nikon D610. I wanted the shutter speed higher than I would usually have it, in order to capture minuscule moments showing emotions and actions, so I raised the ISO to compensate. I used natural lighting from windows, overhead lighting and also a flash to provide enough lighting. I did have problems with the flash images, which I corrected in post-production.

Nikki S. Lee inspired me, for this assignment as she immersed herself in various communities and got to know the people and adopted their traditions in order to photograph them successfully. I was also inspired by Josef Koudelka and his work ‘Gypsies’, where he lived with a gypsies community in order to become one of them, he stated how he got images that an outsider couldn’t have got but as he lived with them and became one of them he was able to capture certain images.

In post-production, I changed the images to black and white. I did this as I find black and white images convey emotion better and I wanted to show the actions and emotions and interactions of the people.

I used various angles to capture the people, but also reflections, which can be seen in the images with the mixer, you can see the reflection of the people in the bowl. I wanted to try this to be creative.














Exercise 3.4

Project 2: Windows: Memory and the gaze

Exercise 3.4: The Gaze

This exercise gives you the opportunity to explore the image as a window with which to trigger memory. The objective here is to produce a series of five portraits that use some of the types of gaze defined below. The specifics of how you achieve this are down to you; you choose which types of gaze you wish to address and who your subject might be in relation to this decision. What you’re trying to achieve through these portraits is a sense of implied narrative, which you can explain through a short supporting statement. Don’t try and be too literal here; the viewer must be able to interact with the portraits and begin to make their own connection to the work, aided by the type of gaze you’ve employed. Write down any thoughts or reflections you might have regarding this exercise and include this in your learning log or blog. 

Different Types of gazes and views:

  • The Spectator’s gaze – the look of the viewer at a person in the image
  • The internal gaze – the gaze of one depicted person at another wishing the same image
  • The direct address – the gaze of a person depicted in the image looking out directly, as if at the viewer (through the camera lens) 
  • The look of the camera – the way the camera itself appears to look at people depicted in the image (the gaze of the photographer) 
  • The bystander’s gaze – the viewer being observed in the act of viewing
  • The averted gaze – the viewer being observed in the act of viewing – the subject in the image deliberately looking away from the lens
  • The audience gaze – an image depicting the audience watching the subject within the image
  • The editorial gaze – the role ‘institutional’ process by which a proportion of the photographer’s gaze is chosen and emphasised. 

I choose five types of gazes from the above list and tried to create images suitable for the gaze.

I choose the Audience gaze, the look of the camera gaze, the bystander’s gaze, the averted gaze and the direct address.

The Audience Gaze


The Look Of The Camera Gaze 


The Bystander’s Gaze


The Averted Gaze 


The Direct Address Gaze 


Exercise 3.3

Project 1: Mirrors

Exercise 3.3

Write a reflection in your learning log about some of the ways in which marginalised or under-represented people or groups could be badly or unhelpfully portrayed. How might being an insider help combat this? 

Portraying any group as an outsider may incur some problems. Without even realizing the outsider may start to judge the people, which in turn can lead to the misinterpretation or misunderstanding of them. Personal opinions could start to show through the outsides work. Being an outsider also means that it is possible that you can or will never fully understand the group. On the other hand there can be some advantages to being an outsider. For example, it is easier as an outsider to be objective. An outsider may see things that an insider is oblivious too. Often an outsider is in a better position to interact and connect with the group. Being an insider may help combat this as an insider has a better understanding and acceptance of the group they are already apart of. They can represent the emotions of the group easier and provide a fairer representation of the group. But as with being an outsider, being an insider has it’s disadvantages. Their views can be limited and one sided and even cause more damage than good.

One photographer called Josef Koudelka spent nine years photographing Gypsies. Gypsies are an under-represented group of people which outsiders have formed opinions on. Koudelka started out as an outsider but from 1962 to 1971 he lived and travelled with a group of gypsies around France, Spain, Hungary, Romania and Czechoslovakia. Koudelka stated that he decided to photograph and travel with the gypsies because, “I loved the music and culture. They were like me in many ways”. So whilst being an outsiders he felt he has a connection with them. Koudelka has shown emotion in his photographs. The whole book has a narrative. I believe that he has successfully represented the gypsies; he shows that they are not tricksters or swindlers; instead his photographs show them as a group of people who are happy and have a strong sense of community. I wasn’t able to buy a copy of Koudelka’s book as it is very expensive, but I was able to see a copy at a library. Even though Koudelka was an outsider that effectively became an insider his photographs portray the true gypsies. It doesn’t really matter whether you are an insider or an outsider, what is important is how you approach the subject.

Koudelka, J & W. Guy. Koudelka Gypsies. Thames and Hudson Ltd, 2nd edition, 2011.

Kim, E. Book Review: “Gypsies” by Josef Koudelka. [Online] <> [Accessed: 29th of March 2016].


Exercise 3.2

Project 1: Mirrors

Exercise 3.2

Make a list of some aspects of your personality that make you unique start taking a few pictures that being to express this. How could you develop this into a body of work? 

When I first looked at this exercise, I didn’t know what I was going to photograph. I was thinking, how can you photograph aspects of your personality. How could you convey things that make you unique through images. I was really struggling with this exercise. So I wrote down several personality traits, and thought about how I could photograph them.

I decided on the following, Creative, Logical, Punctual, Friendly, Curious, Precise, Bookworm, OCD and Organized.

I then wrote down activities that could be associated with the traits. For example for creative, I thought of painting, drawing, and composing.

I believe this exercise can be made into a series of work. As there are many aspects of personalities which everyone has and some that are unique. By photographing them you can showcase, aspects of being human, which I believe could create an interesting series. The possibilities are endless.

















Research Point 1

Project 1: Mirrors

Research Point 1

Watch this video of a talk Elina Brothers gave about this work to OCA Students on the Student Website. 

I watched the talk Elina Brotherus gave to some OCA students. It began with Brotherus introducing herself. She is a finish photographer, who went to the university of art and design, and afterwards did a residency in France. Before she went to France, she couldn’t speak French at all and to learn she used a post-it note system, this would later become a body of work for her. She got offered a residency over twelve years later, she said that she would only accept it if she could have her old room. She saw it like a human experiment; she wanted to see the emotion, which would be involved when she went back to her roots. She took photographs of the French post it notes that she used to use. She found that because she could speak French properly then she found it better to express herself. Some of her photographs feature statements in French on the post it notes. I found some of them quite depressing, as she mentions seeing her future death through her images, but her aim was to show emotion to the viewer, which I believe she has achieved. The only problem is that the post it notes are in French, so if you don’t speak it you can’t understand it.

Then she goes on to look at her other work, including landscapes. I personally like her landscape photographs. She has taken a lot of her landscapes with fog or mist in them and I love the effect this produces. I noticed that she often has a person in her landscape, mainly herself. But the person is facing away from the camera, so it doesn’t distract the viewer too much from the surroundings.

In the Q&A sessions during the talk, one of the students asked where she would put some else in the picture instead of her self. Her answer was no, because she is telling her own story and it wouldn’t work with some else. She uses an example of when she was having IVF and took a photograph of the pregnancy test; she said it just wouldn’t work with some else. This also gave me the impression that all her photographs are personal and emotional. She also talked about what equipment she uses. She used to use film but found that when she got them develop they were often bad. She then used a large format analogy camera. But she likes that you can edit with digital photographs. She also uses a camera release, as a lot of her photographs are self-portraits. The cable can also be seen in many of her photographs, she stated that she never wanted to or thought about hiding it or removing it in post-production.

During the talk she gave some useful tips to the students. She says that you shouldn’t rush things. She might take a series of photographs and then leave them for six months and then she looks at them. She stated that you “should use the luxury of time”. One of the students asked her about emerging artists and having a style, and her answer was that you shouldn’t worry about having a theme or a style “as long as you work in a sincere way”. She also says that is better to work more, and take more photographs and then think later about them. She uses old photographs and new ones to create a body of work, and she finds it works. She says that her most recent work is often years old. She sees forming her work into a project like building a puzzle.

I find her work very revealing. She states that she finds it as a way to distance herself through her photographs, but I find they have a way of connecting with the viewer; as many of the subjects and emotions she shows are things we all face and can all relate to.

OCA. Forum. [Online]. <> [Accessed: 15th March 2016].


Exercise 3.1

Part Three – Mirrors and Windows


Exercise 3.1

Go through your photographic archive and select around ten pictures. Separate them into two piles: one ‘mirrors’ and the other entitled ‘windows’. What did you put in each pile and why? Did you have any difficulties in categorising them? You may like to repeat the exercise with some different images and record your responses. It would be interesting to see you place the same image in both camps and review your reasons for doing do. 

For this exercise I was required to choose approximately ten images from my photographic archive and arrange them into two categories, ‘Windows’ or ‘Mirrors’.

The definition of Windows is, a community or group that you are not already a part of. The definition of Mirrors is, a community or group that you are already a part of.

I organized the images into these categories as I believe they fit best into that one. I found this quite difficult as I found some images could be put into both categories, which I found could be quite hypocritical and confusing. I did find this exercise quite difficult in terms of organising the images.



Assignment Five – Making It Up

Assignment Five

Making It Up

Construct a stand alone image of your choice. Alternatively, you may choose to make a series, elaborating on the same theme. 

For this assignment, I was required to ‘make-up’ an image. I began by looking at the works of Jeff Wall and Gregory Crewdson and seeing how they construct an image. Their images have a deeper meaning, verging on psychological and going into the unknown. I wanted to produce an image that made the viewer think and maybe connect with the message of the image. I didn’t want an image that was too complicated, for example both Wall and Crewdson’s work contain a lot of detail, a lot of props and a lot of space. I find sometimes this works but I do prefer an image that is ‘uncluttered’.

I looked at their images and they all had something that you could relate to, something psychological, even if it was a feeling that the viewer could relate to. I wanted to explore an emotion or a feeling that people could relate to.

I began looking at Gilliam Wearing’s images and I liked that idea of the use of masks. This got me thinking that everyone put on a ‘mask’ to others. You cannot tell what the person is going through if they don’t show or tell you. A mask could be in the form of make-up or just smiling even when you’re hurting inside. Many people go through depression or anxiety but some hid it, they hid behind a mask, a mask visible to the world around them.

I looked at Francesca Woodman’s images, in particular the Space2 series. I liked the idea of using mirrors, and showing two sides of the person, one in the reflection and on in the person. I decided to use two images to do this, and make a composite image.

The setting I used was a bathroom, I chose this as many people use the bathroom to get ready in and it is somewhere that they could be on their own, and not somewhere where they have to pretend but somewhere where they make the transition. Bathrooms tend to be fairly clinical looking, from the colours to the lighting. The colours are bright white and sterile, from the tiles to the bath. The only lighting used was from the window behind the bath and the overhead light. I also noticed the shapes, from the lines on the tiles, to the lines on the wall in the reflections, to the shape of the mirrors.

For the first image, I wanted very little in it, so all you can see is the bath, the mirror and the person. It also gives the impression of being claustrophobic and alone, a feeling that many feel. The person is me; this was effectively a self-portrait. I choose to wear a dress, with my hair done and make-up on, showing that perhaps I was going to a party or a formal event, something that should make you happy and excited. In contrast, the reflection has no make-up on, my hair is not done, and I am wearing normal dark clothing. The positioning on the floor shows something is wrong; my head is cast downwards slightly, emphasized by the angle of the camera. But the reflection shows the feeling.

The next two images, I take the image face on with two different mirrors. One has a reflection of me with my back towards the camera; Woodman’s image was definetly a big influence here.


The last features a round mirror, with the reflection facing the camera.

I decided to do three images, as I was inspired by Triptych, where three images work together, usually a main image in the center and two either side.

To capture this image, I set my camera on a tripod and used a remote to take the image. I decided to change the image to black and white as it shows more emotion and I find that sometimes colour can be a distraction.

Here are my final images.

The Archive – Exercise


Record a real conversation with a friend (It’s up to you whether you ask permission or not!). Before listening to the recording, write your account of both sides of the conversation. Then listen to the recording and make notes of the discrepancies, perhaps there are unfinished sentences, stammers, pauses, miscommunicates etc. Reflect upon the believability of re-enacted narratives and how this can be applied to constructed photography. What do you learn from the conversation recording process and how you can you transfer what you learned into making pictures? 

Record a real conversation with a friend (It’s up to you whether you ask permission or not!). Before listening to the recording, write your account of both sides of the conversation. Then listen to the recording and make notes of the discrepancies, perhaps there are unfinished sentences, stammers, pauses, miscommunicates etc. Reflect upon the believability of re-enacted narratives and how this can be applied to constructed photography. What do you learn from the conversation recording process and how can you transfer what you learned into making pictures?

I record a conversation with a friend. I wrote down what I believe the narrative was, to me it seemed pretty easy to recall. When I listened back to the recording, I found several things that I didn’t register before listening.

I found that my friends seemed to say ‘you know’ a lot, whereas I said ‘like’ a lot, I didn’t even realize I did that. Several times I would start a sentence and my friend would cut me off, one instance was I was beginning to say “But”, then she cut me off. During the conversation we talked over each other a few times. My friend seemed to talk the longest, whereas my sentences were fairly short in comparison, something I didn’t recognized from the earlier recall. I felt fairly confident in the recall I wrote of our conversation but on reflection I got the general jist of the conversation but missed all the discrepancies. Most of these I didn’t even realize where happening.

Going from this experience I believe it would be very difficult to accurately re-enact a narrative for the purpose of a constructed photograph. The main reason being even if you think that you’ve remembered everything, the chances are you have forgotten something. I was surprised what I missed from the conversation, it makes you think what else have I missed?

Roland Barthes believes that ‘there is no human experience that cannot be expressed in the form of a narrative’, “Narrative is present in myth, legend, fable, tale, novella, epic, history, tragedy, drama, comedy, mime, painting (think of Carpaccio’s Saint Ursula), stained-glass windows, cinema, comics, news items, conversation. Moreover, under this almost infinite diversity of forms, narrative is present in every age, in every place, in every society; it begins with the very history of mankind and there nowhere is nor has been a people without narrative. . . Caring nothing for the division between good and bad literature, narrative is international, trans historical, transcultural: it is simply there, like life itself.”

Narrative is everywhere, so narrative can be present in photography but care must be taken when ‘reenacting’ it, similar to the conversation exercise. It can be seen as a game of Chinese whispers, it starts as one thing but as it get transfer and passed along it can change to another thing, the meaning is totally different from the start to the finish.

Jovchelovitch, S & Martin W. Bauer. Narrative Interviewing. [Online]. <> [Accessed: 25th September 2016].


The Archive

Project 2: The Archive


Question for sellers re-situates images in a different context and in so doing allows for a new dialogue to take place. Reflect on the following in your learning log?

 Does the presence on a galley wall give the image an elevated status?

– Where does their meaning derive from?

– When they are sold (again on eBay, via auction direct from the gallery) is their value increase by the fact that they’re new ‘art’? 

Before looking at the value of photography in art galleries, I will first look at whether photography can be seen as art. The debate surrounding photography and art has been going on for over 180 years. In 1853, members of the Photographic Society of London stated that photography was “too literal to compete with works of art”. During the 1960s there was a shift in the way of looking at photography. The idea came around that photography could capture depth and not just what appears. Many people have compared photography to paintings, as both have to be ‘artificially constructed’, for example, they have to be lit, composed and created. Some saw that photography had an advantage over paintings and pother art as it could capture “the affidavits of nature to the facts on which art is based”. Recently there has been a debate among the art correspondence at The Guardian newspaper as to whether photography is art. Jonathan Jones believes that there is no way that photography could be considered to be art. He believes that it looks ‘stupid when a photograph is framed or backlit and displayed vertically in an exhibition, in the way paintings have traditionally been shown’. He described photography in a gallery as ‘flat, soulless, superficial substitute for paintings’. He believes that whereas paintings have a multi-layer to them, photographs have one layer of context. Sean O’Hagen, who is another Guardian art correspondent, disagrees with Jones. He states “Photography is art, and always will be”. He goes on to name several artists who use photography, such as Gillian Wearing, Jeff Wall, Cindy Sherman, Edward Steichen, William Eggleston, Robert Frank, Diane Arbus, and Hiroshi Sugimoto. O’Hagen believes the problem stems from people believing that photography is competing against tradition paintings. But this is not the case. He ends his debate by using an image by Awoiska Van der Moten. The image is a long exposure of Le Gomera and La Graciosa, which are volcanic islands. He states that these images show what photography, as art is all about as they are so vibrant that other works of art ‘seemed muted’. I personally believe that photography can be art, it is just different from ‘traditional’ art, but that doesn’t make it any less viable to be hung on a wall in a gallery.

I believe that the presence of a gallery wall does give an image an elevated status. Being in a gallery gives the impression that there is something special about the image; some has made it worthy to be hung as art in a gallery. It makes it look as if it is something different. Depending on how it is mounted it also catches the viewer’s attention, such as Jeff Wall’s image, which as mounted with, backlights.

Their meaning can derive from what the photographer is trying to achieve, but the actual meaning and the perceived meaning are two different things. It is all down to context and how the viewers read the image. Maybe the photographer was trying to achieve one thing but the viewers see it as another, it changes depending on circumstances and who is viewing it.

I believe labeling a photograph as art does increase its value, all you have to do is look at images that have been sold and the figure they have sold for. For example Andreas Gursky’s image of the Rhein sold for $4.4 million in November 2011. Photographs regularly sell for over a million. Photography as art can be an expensive business.

Jones, J. Flat, Soulless and Stupid: Why Photographs don’t work in art galleries. [Online]. <’t-work-in-art-galleries&gt; [Accessed: 7th of September 2016].

O’Hagen, S. Photography is art and always will be. [Online}. <; [Accessed: 7th of September 2016].

Prodger, M, Photography is it art? [Online]. <; [Accessed: 7th September 2016].


Setting the Scene – Research Point

Research Point 

Look up the work of Gregory Crewdson online. Watch this YouTube video about Gregory Crewdson and his work and consider the questions below. [Accessed: 24/02/14]. 

  • Do you think there is more to this work than aesthetic beauty?
  • What is your main goal when making pictures? So you think there’s anything wrong with making beauty your main goal? Why or Why Not? 

Gregory Crewdson is an American photographer born in 1962. He is well known for his images of suburban life. He went to the State University of New York, and earned a BFA, he then went onto the University of Yale where he earned a MFA. He plans his images down to the last detail, each one is staged and Crewdson uses actors in his images. Crewdson uses a large format camera and could have as many as fifty people working on one image, it takes time to plan and execute just one image. His work has featured in many galleries across the world but has also featured in the television series Six Feet Under.

The appearance of Psychology in photography is becoming more and more apparent. Photography is about communication, communication between the photographer and the viewers. The majority of images have a narrative, an ability to tell a story, which is visible depending on its context. Everything that makes an image up contributes to its psychology. For example, the depth, the colours or the complexity. A viewers response to the image depends on their own personal preferences, their life, their experiences, it all comes together to form an emotional response. Sometimes we don’t realise that we are effected by an image, but our consciousness registers it, and we start to look deeper at the images. You are more likely to have a response to an image if there is something familiar about it, something the registers in your brain and associations are formed. Some believe that this way of responding could originate from our ancestors. As we are ‘hard-wired’ to perceive danger and react, the same could be said for any feeling.

Crewdson’s work is done in a cinematic style, which adds to the psychology of the images. The response relies on the visual impact of his images. Everything is there for a reason in the images; it is controlled and is able to draw the viewers’ attention to certain aspects subtly.

When I first looked at Crewdson’s work I did not concentrate on the ‘beauty’ of the image. I immediately found my self wondering, trying to find the context and what the image was about and how it made me feel. I do not think that the aesthetic qualities of his images are the point; it goes a lot deeper than that. I’ll admit when I first looked at his image I felt uneasy. His work goes deeper than aesthetic beauty, according to the video, he plans everything. Everything is present for a reason, he ‘directs’ the image. The images are created, not just taken. It takes a lot of time, money, and personnel to make these images possible. He could have at least 60 people working with him. I believe there is a underlying psychological feel to his images.

I believe that Crewdson does succeed in making his images psychological. The make-up of the images alludes to this. His ‘models’ don’t move, they are posed often in slightly odd ways. The backdrops are suburban neighbourhoods, which the whole scene could be described as banal. Crewdson stated that he is trying to produce the sense that there are dark undercurrents just beneath the surface of his images, and that the picture we see is almost a façade, being overlaid on top of the seething emotions below. It is obviously that he is creating a psychological imaging. His background has psychological elements to it as his father was a psychoanalyst. His images are ‘the abundance of detail balanced with a striking lack of information’. Crewdson wants to create the perfect image, but even for him he fails, and this is what drives him on, he is ‘fuelled by his disappointment’.

My goal when creating images vary as to what type of photography I am doing. If it is landscapes, I tend to look for different angels to show that beauty, whereas with portraits I like to show emotion. I don’t think any image is purely concentrated on beauty, there is almost always an underlying context that may not even be apparent to the photographer.

ArtNet. Gregory Crewdson (American, Born 1962). [Online]. <; [Accessed: 10th of September 2016].

The American Reader. In Conversation Interview with Photographer Gregory Crewdson. [Online]. <> [Accessed: 25th of August 2016].

Thein, M. Photography and Psychological: It’s All a Mind Game. [Online]. <> [Accessed: 23th August 2016].

Thein, M. Photography and Psychology, Part Ti: How we View Images. [Online]. <; [Accessed: 25th of August 2016].