Tag Archives: relationship


Redeye Talk: New Mindsets on Photography

Last night I attended a Redeye talk on “New Mindsets on Photography” delivered by Jonathan Shaw of Coventry University.  He’s a photographer, as well as being associate head of their media department (from the “blurb” – “Innovation, Profile & Research”) he works with the Centre for Disruptive Media – and his talk was about his work with them, experiments with social media and open education and co-founding open photography classes picbod and phonar.  He also talked about his upcoming “open access” book.

The talk, at it’s core, was about new approaches to education through an “open” approach – engaging people through digital and talking about alternative methods for educators; I suspect much of it might be more to my brother’s interests.  However it did talk about the student experience – talking about how Massive Open Online Courses lack the mentoring from direct contact which is essential when learning a “craft”.  It talked about the role of a photographer which included being an educator – and how social media can be used to gain recognition and be a “hub” of knowledge and experience.

It naturally involved use of social media, but talked about the decreasing usefulness of it as more and more people engage with a conversation.  That’s something that’s plainly apparent to me whenever Wil Wheaton posts anything on Google+!  Look at the comments on a thread and the conversation quickly falls apart, drifting into repetition of the same point with people paying little-to-no attention to what’s gone before.  I suppose it’s akin to an out-of-control meeting where it splinters into different conversations; only on a much grander scale and much harder to get control of.

The “hub” aspect, therefore, is essentially about engaging with a small number of people to maintain more personalised conversations.  That reminds me of the “monkeysphere” or Dunbar’s number - which I’ve read about when researching social networking; the theory that we can only handle and maintain stable social relationships with about 150 “real people”.

What particularly struck a chord with me – because I’m guilty of it – is how those studying MOOCs can fail to get the most out of it because they’re not engaging with other people/photographers.  While the OCA course isn’t a MOOC, I am definitely failing to get involved in communities and with other photographers.  I tend to work through the course material, do some reading, but generally am not doing much outside of what the course dictates.

One thing I got out of the talk today was a reinforcement of the need for me to do more – and I think some interesting starting points I could look at; including Coventry University’s iTunes U materials and the sites listed above.  There is of course the OCA’s own forums to look at; which I haven’t checked out in some time – previously it’d been recommended I look at the OCA Flickr group but frankly I find Flickr a terrible platform for communication beyond commenting on individual images – I don’t feel it does “community” well.

You can view the slide deck and a bit more info here – on Jonathan Shaw’s blog post on the talk.

DPP: Part 1 – Workflow: Assignment 1 – Workflow: Conclusions and reflection

This post concludes assignment one, and collects my thoughts on the workflow I carried out, compared to what others may follow, along with reflections in the context of the assessment criteria for the course.

Workflow Comparison

The assignment brief asks how my workflow might differ from that of other photographers.  I’ve taken a look around a few sites found through search on Google and found that the “ideas” stage is very much a part of a still-life photographer’s workflow.

Peter at Prosophos (I’m unsure if that’s his surname) details what he keeps in mind at this stage as follows:

  1. Inspiration
  2. Infusion of self
  3. Illumination
  4. Inclusion/Exclusion
  5. Intelligence/Iteration

Some parts of that I went through anyway, prior to starting my published workflow, but I didn’t include it (which I have noted previously in my workflow write-up post).  Certainly I was “inspired” by a theme and at some level there was an “infusion of self” in terms of my sense of humour being reflected in the original idea and “story” I created.  I couldn’t claim that was on a wholly conscious level, however.  Thinking back on feedback from my tutor for The Art of Photography, on putting more of “Phil” in my images, perhaps an inclusion of that concept in my workflow and planning may be a good way to practice at that.

On “Illumination” and “Inclusion/Exclusion” I’ve no real idea what Peter is talking about – and his post isn’t, ironically, particularly illuminating on what he means there.  ”Intelligence/Iteration” is fairly clear though – and while I made small changes, I didn’t really go through much of an iterative process.

At the start of this video by Julieanne Kost on Adobe TV, she shows the iterative process as part of her workflow; experimenting with different ideas and – even having found an image she was happy with – continuing with further ideas.  That wasn’t something I did – though perhaps the fact I had a reasonably clear idea of the result I wanted made that kind of iteration less applicable.

Comparing my actual “practice” workflow, I’ve seen a few examples where photographers backup images prior to processing.  This workflow posted by Thomas Hawk is an example.  I’m not convinced that’s a good option as – prior to the technical edit – it represents a lot of storage (for RAW files) being used for images that I already know should never see the light of day.

Thomas’ processing step is more rigid than mine – with images flagged first and processed later.  However, his work is generally travel photography – where images are taken more “in the field”, whereas in my assignment I was performing basic processing to determine whether to revisit a particular image idea before moving on to the next – I had full control over what I was shooting, and was making a decision based on a better idea of the final result.

Key-wording is also completed later in Thomas’ workflow – though I noted in my write-up that, on reflection, I should probably have done this later.

Conclusions and Reflection

I will look to include my preparation and “ideas’ stages in my future workflow as I think I am missing an opportunity to think about what I’m doing and why – as well as risking some forgetfulness - e.g. not having enough batteries!

A flexible approach was needed to the workflow – particularly around processing – but that was more specific to the type of subject I chose, which is why this element differed from other workflows I’ve researched.

A new element of this course is the reflection in relation to the assessment criteria; so hopefully I do it (and myself) justice here:

Demonstration of Technical and Visual Skills

  • I’ve set up a high-key “studio” set up and feel I’ve got my desired result from this.
  • As the subjects are close-up I’ve made appropriate choices to maximise depth-of-field (except when I haven’t wanted to, for deliberate effect).
  • I’ve improvised with the lens choices available where necessary – aware that I’d get what I needed through processing.
  • I’ve “designed” the images in terms of object placement and composition to create a sense of relationship between them, and “action”

Quality of Outcome

  • Overall I’m satisfied with this – though presentation hasn’t been something I’ve thought about.
  • The images to, in my mind, clearly communicate an idea and the “story” I had in mind at conception.

Demonstration of Creativity

  • While the images fit with my sense of humour I wouldn’t claim they are especially imaginative or innovative.  I couldn’t find images on an identical/similar theme, but the photographic style – and even the “quirkiness” – is far from unique.


  • I’ve researched other workflows in the context of what I chose to do for this assignment, as well as looking for information on high-key photography.  Iv’e also looked at images of others for additional inspiration.
  • With this assignment I have reflected critically on my work far more than previously – both in my  methods and conclusions – within the workflow write-up and in this post; and particularly when comparing my workflow to others.


  • Peter Prosophos. (2013). My Photography Workflow, Part 2. Available: http://prosophos.com/2013/01/07/my-photography-workflow-part-2/. Last accessed 18th February 2013.
  • Kost, J. (2013). Cyclical – The Creative Process. Available: http://adobe.ly/V4Cram. Last accessed 18th February 2013.
  • Hawk, T. (2011). My Photography Workflow 2011. Available: http://thomashawk.com/2011/08/my-photography-workflow-2011.html. Last accessed 18th February 2013.
  • Johnson, J. (2010). The Complete Beginner’s Guide to Shooting High Key. Available: http://photo.tutsplus.com/tutorials/lighting/beginners-guide-to-shooting-high-key/. Last accessed 18th February 2013.

TAOP: Assignment 5 – Applying the techniques of Narrative and Illustration: Summary

I’ve enjoyed this assignment and created some images I really love – although in some ways it’s felt rushed as I’ve needed to do everything before my extension finished. With a bit more time I might have shot a couple more images and replaced the ‘Sober’ image with something that fits better.

Through this section and assignment I’ve definitely understood more on the power of photography to tell a story. My reading (particularly a couple of useful articles in The British Journal of Photography) has helped add to the course text too – and ultimately led me to think more on the images telling a narrative between them that’s enhanced by the words – rather than just simply illustrating the words.

As with previous assignments I have tended to use studio and portable flash gear for this – mainly with two light setups. However I’ve also combined flash with natural light too – where it’s suited the images. The use of coloured gels obviously meant artificial lighting was a necessity for the images I’ve created.

I feel the assignment does successfully demonstrate what I’ve learnt across the course – without ‘forcing’ anything through the images. There is contrast in terms of colour on the first page, and in a more abstract sense of tone and meaning between the cover and final page image. I’ve arranged items and composition to illustrate relationships between them, and to lead the eye around images. I’ve also used a combination of lighting techniques, as noted above.

TAOP: Part 5 – Narrative and Illustration: Exercise – Juxtaposition

The aim of this exercise was to produce either a still-life, or a larger scale shot, to demonstrate juxtaposition.  I’ve chosen to do a still-life illustration for a book cover – which should use two or three relevant elements.

I selected a few books and thought of one or two ideas for each:

Douglas Coupland – Girlfriend in a Coma

  • A bouquet of wilted and dead flowers in a vase, next to a sun-bleached valentines card on a hospital-esque beside table.

Iain Banks – Complicity

  • A folder, stamped ‘classified’ beneath of of those green desk lamps; bloody fingerprints on the sides of the folder.
  • The same folder, a used needle on top, and the palm of a hand facing up – spread next to it.

Michael Marshall Smith – Spares

  • A smashed bulb, with a set of intact bulbs behind them.

Practicality meant I opted for ‘Spares’ as propers were much easier to come by!

Click to see large on Flickr

I think this works reasonably well to show a relationship between the smashed bulb and the intact bulbs.  When the title is included I think it’s clear what is meant – but I’m not sure the meaning would be fully understood without it.  I think as a book cover that’s acceptable – but as a standalone image it’s open to interpretation as to what the relationship between broken and intact is communicating.

I do like this as an overall image though – and I enjoyed the exercise of choosing appropriate symbols; that may be an area for me to work on though.  I’ve demonstrated that in the past at work when I’ve used a black cab in a presentation to illustrate ‘knowledge’; it was a reference that only a few got.  Lets see how I do on the next exercise: rain.

TAOP: Part 5 – Narrative and Illustration: Illustration – Project Introduction

It’s essentially a luxury to use several images to tell a story – and a single image can also have more impact and be more memorable.  Illustration is largely a matter of telling a story in a single image.

Examples of stories that can be put across in a single image include relationships between things in the photograph, or a hint of something happening.

The course material demonstrates this with a still-life arrangement showing materials used by da Vinci, as though he had just been using them (albeit, stylised), as well as images showing people posed to show social issues (Lewis Hine – Boys working in Cannery) and fear and suffering (David Seymour – Air Raid over Barcelona).

The exercise for this first part calls for an illustration of ‘evidence of action’ – showing something has happened.  It suggests including something that has either been broken or emptied.  I shall put my thinking cap on (Phil takes another sip of wine).