Emotional Projects

As I proceed with THE TRUTH & BEAUTY OF ME I want to explore how some other photographers have approached emotional projects. I am looking to understand how different forms of narrative are used to guide the viewer. What is the role of words? Are moving images part of the package? What other techniques are being used.

Small Town Inertia – J A Mottram


Market Town : David : As cold as clay.

Mottram tells the story of his subject, David, by starting with a summary of his situation in words. This is supplemented by quotes from David in to which images of David are added. The combination is moving and comprehensive. The words lead in to the images which raise further questions which words then give some hints of answers. All images are black and white with consistent contrast and lighting. Much of the story is told with the expressions in the faces of the subjects.

Market Town : Tilney1 : Mixed Media Protection Cocoon

In Tilney1 Mottram starts with a quote from Tilney “When I was completely and utterly depressed, but, like a nice depression, I was still able to take films in, but, I was watching them all on my own.”. He then provides prose to create an impression of Tilney’s condition. A mixture of quotes, Mottram prose and images then work on each other.


The combination of prose, quotes from the subject and images work powerfully on each other. Mottram grabs attention with all three. The quotes are haunting but connect me with the subject. The prose is concise and relevant and merge with the images. The images are a language of their own added to by the surrounding words on the page.

Consistency of images is important. In this series facial expressions tell a lot and lighting is similar.

Steve Pyke : Jack and Duncan


Pyke presents a series of images of his children as they grow year by year. Above is the beginning middle and current end of his series on Jack. There are no words with the images other than the dates. A narrative unfolds in my own mind from the images. It can’t be true as it is all based on my projections on to the images from the poses and expressions in each of the images. However, it feels true to me.

Pyke also presents them as aged and not quite perfect photo album shots in black and white.


The same subject at different times presented in a sequence creates a narrative. The viewer creates the narrative from their projections. It would be a very different experience if a summary of Jack was given and quotes. The images as presented are a powerful experience. Adding prose and quotes could be as powerful in a different way if they can merge with the narrative of the images in a meaningful way for the viewer.

Alicia Bruce : Menie, Trumped


In this work Bruce starts with a description of the issue. Donald Trump is going to build a golf course in the Menie Estate in Scotland.

‘Alicia Bruce’s photographic portraiture retells the stories of the Menie residents, not to monumentalize or misrepresent them but in order to fix their message more securely in the cultural imagination. By restaging compositions from celebrated paintings (the majority of them in the permanent collection of the local Aberdeen Art Gallery), Bruce eloquently carves out the residents’ place in Scottish heritage.’ Text: Dr Catriona McAra, University of Edinburgh, 2010 on above referenced Bruce website.

The images of the residents of Menie are accompanied by quotes from those residents. The changing of the land use has no quotes with it. You the viewer can make up your own mind from the words and images of the residents and images without words of the impact the change is having on the landscape. It works very well.


Here is the power of what is said and not said. Providing a description of the issue primes the jury. Evidence is then provided with images of residents and quotes to give you a view. Then you get images without words on which you the viewer can make your own judgements based on the inputs you have been given and any prejudices you have. Very effective.

Peter Dench – Alcohol and England


Peter Dench considers the English relationship with alcohol. In his website for this piece he outlines the issue and poses some questions as to why this relationship is so strong and so dangerous. There are no words with the images on his website but there is a very strong narrative from within the images. Each image tells us something we all can recognise from living in England and an overall message comes across. He has published the images in a book which I have not yet seen.

On his website each of the images is butted up against the next and slide along side by side. The effect of this is for the eye to rove across images.


The viewer is primed with the brief and then can make their own judgements from their projections on to the material they see. The choice of one image at a time or a sequence of images side by side needs to be intentional. Both can work but it is important to ask the question what is my intent.

Less text means more interpretation is left to the viewer.

Marcus Bleasdale – Unravelling Gallery


Marcus provides a brief of the issue of the Seleka rebels going from Chad into Central Africa Republic. He then gives a caption with each image. Each image is shown on its own and a story unfolds as you the viewer goes through the images in sequence.

Categories: Contextual Research SP, Project Development SP, Sustainable Prospects


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

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.