Positions and Practice – Review

I can’t believe how much I have shifted my understanding of photography as a discipline since the start of this module. I entered the Masters enjoying photography but being unclear about why and where I wished to take it in the future. I already have a much clearer understanding of both. At first it hurt realising that much of my work to date could be considered trivial in the sense it is derivative of what has been done before. I make beautiful photographs following long established methods of the past but have given little thought to the truth I am conveying and the meaning of my photographs. I now see this insight as a significant breakthrough.

The journey began looking at the global image and considering how fast the spread of photographs has been over the last century and a half. Photographs are now an essential part of our everyday life from taking, sharing, looking at and being photographed. As Hefferlein says Photography Changes Everything.

Interdisciplinary practice showed us the many uses of photography from scientific, through government, through social media and propaganda and news.

Rethinking photographers made us think about the citizen photographer, photojournalism and the amateur photographer. Everyone can now be a live reporter at an event as it happens. Similarly it all comes and goes in an instant as the world rapidly moves on to the next story.

Collaboration had a big impact on me realising the level taking place even if you act as an individual. Already we are using what has been decided for us by camera manufacturers. I am excited now about the possibilities of wider collaboration. For some projects a number of heads is very likely to produce something much more interesting than just my head alone.

Power and responsibility really made me think. There is a moral responsibility in what I photograph. It also became clear that it is almost impossible to control how an image I have taken will be used by others. Thinking through whether it was a good or bad thing for the Alan Kurdi image to be taken was painful and instructive.

The oral presentation in methods and strategies seems so long ago. What a painful process it was. I put together an oral presentation which now looks incoherent and poor. I have struggled through the module to work out what I wanted to do with my camera and I can now see that at this stage I was very unclear and confused. I am still confused but getting a clearer image of what might work.

There is no meaning without context was a powerful lesson. Peer review of my own work and peer reviewing others was very instructive. It has changed the way I look at my own work and helped me look with more interest at the work of others.

Criticality has further informed my ability to look at images. I realised I had a very naive capability to analyse photographs. Reading and reviewing with others is building a language for me. Gaining understanding of what is in a photograph before going in to critical analysis. 9 stages of understanding followed by 6 approaches to analysis really gives weight to an opinion on a photograph rather than the easy personal opinion I would have used before.

So here we are at the end. I have a proposal in draft. Cemre has been a star pushing me out of my comfort zone and letting me know when I am being unclear and confused. I have realised that a good photograph starts with me feeling something about what I am photographing. My previous work will continue and I will make beautiful pictures but I will also seek to understand what truth I am presenting and what my work is supposed to mean.

It feels like the next two years is going to fly by. Can’t wait for the next module and to go to Madrid, Arles and Paris to see what is going on in the world.

Categories: Positions and Practice

LEN

I am a Photographer. As well as taking many photographs I am currently studying for an MA in Photography at Falmouth University. I will direct my attention through the lens of my camera for the next couple of years and see what shows up. I see a photograph as a little bit of magic capturing a moment in time. If successful it surprises and engages your emotions. It tells a story about the wonders of being alive or tells us what we need to change to make it a better world to live in. That is enough for me to get going and then like walking a 1000 miles, which I did across the UK in 2010, or walking 200 miles across Cyprus, which I did in November last year, it is one step at a time.

I was a writer. The title of my unpublished book was ‘You Would Have Done The Same.' It is about a successful guy in love with his wife who lets her die when he discovers her in the process of committing suicide. The title gives a clue as to what I think you would have done. The book is 200 pages long. I found it cathartic to write it but after two years of work and reviewing with agents decided it probably needed another 2000 hours to get the whole book up to the standard of some of the pages. Writing is great but it is a lot of sitting down so I decided to get out and walk, play tennis, play bridge, go birding, watch football at Nottingham Forest, Arsenal and Valencia and anywhere else if I can, meditate, cook and eat. I was a writer who has so far failed to become an author.
I was a young man who loved Mathematics and thoroughly enjoyed getting a BSc at Liverpool University. While there I went often to Anfield and the Philharmonic Hall. I was all set on doing a PhD until I went for interview practice at BP and got seduced by the excitement of an International business career. BP was a great adventure building trading teams and businesses in London, Antwerp, Cleveland Ohio and Singapore. Fabulous people and some great challenges and also very hard work, constant jet lag and lots of fun along the way. I married Karen, my stunning wife, and had the most amazing time with her and our three boys Alex, Tom and Dan. She has multiple sclerosis and we have taken on many challenges together but somehow keep creating a new normal against the horrors thrown our way. She is the love of my life.

After BP I decided to coach senior executives and quickly realized I had a lot to learn
about what makes people tick. I had a fantastic 18 months on the International Programme of the Cleveland Gestalt Institute. A great faculty and a
wonderful group of people on the programme. We studied and worked in Dingle, Singapore, Holland, Cape Town and
Lisbon. This also got me interested in the way we think and make decisions so I studied for an MSc in Psychology atUniversity College London in 2010. The
Masters was in Cognitive and Decision Sciences and I found it fascinating what
we do know but also how much we don’t know about how we think and make
decisions.

I loved coaching and making a difference. I got a number of people to hear themselves, remove some of their own chains and free up the way they thought about the world. I remain fascinated by how people react to and engage with the world. My Masters thesis was why do two people given the same information make different decisions? Put simply, it is because each of us are unique in the way we are constructed.

Since returning from Singapore I found English winters tough so moved to Spain where I now live. The people are lovely, the scenery amazing, food delicious and the sun shines all the time. Almost.

All of these experiences will feed in to my time now as a Photographer. Three motivations I am lucky to have are enthusiasm, curiosity and a continuous interest in learning. All the time I look forward to meeting old friends and making new friends and experiencing this wonderful life together.