Independant Reflection – Week 1 – Understanding the client

It is great to be back in action with the next module. Perfect start to the week with a stimulating and inspiring visit to Unseen19 in Amsterdam. Showing works that have been produced in the last two years there was a lot of food for thought. Different perspectives and different materials (an outbreak of cyanotype this year versus canvas and thread two years ago). It also helped me look at the many ways of presenting a visual narrative.

There were two parts to this week. The first was reading and a wonderful podcast by Lydia Pang on the importance of researching for your work. The second was listening to the brief’s from Oxfam, City ID and Headstart for work they want to do and starting to understand our client.


For my project ‘The Truth & Beauty of Me’ I have been researching other photographers to see how they have approached the task of using self as the vehicle to tell a visual story. Sally Mann, Elena Brotherus and Nan Golding are amongst those I have looked at. I have also been interested in the work of David Heath and Alec Soth for the way they express mood and feelings. I have also been researching pyschological material through Daniel Khaneman and others to understand some of the mechanisms by which people project on to an image presented to them.

An idea that needs further work by me comes from Shirley Read’s question ‘what is the core of my work’? (Read, 219). Before the MA my core was trivial aesthetically pleasing derivative landscape and place photography. My short description of my current practice is ‘Seeking to explore the relationship between a surface image and what is going on beneath the surface. For images of faces this is understanding the emotional and sensory activity that goes with the surface image. For a place it is an exploration of the story behind the surface image.’

My project Forlorn on the Falmouth Landings exhibition is the latter and my project The Truth & Beauty of Me is the former. I have a lot more work to do to flesh out this core idea and relate it to what it’s audience is and what is authentic about my work. I also have a lot of work to do on what media I intend to use and why. Looking at work in Amsterdam and earlier this year Madrid and Arles is informing my own research process. At the moment there are many questions and the remaining months are the time to find answers.

I will look more at Georgina McNamara’s work as she describes her interest in ‘the gulf between who we are and how we want to be perceived by others…..and … current work revolves around ideas of revealing or concealment to explore how the mood of a person can be physically or metaphorically masked.’ (Read, 220).

In terms of where I am heading with the project I like the George Dyer quote ‘you don’t have to know what kind of book you are writing until you have written a good deal of it, maybe not until you have finished it – maybe not even then. All that matters is that at some point the book generates a form and style uniquely appropriate to its own needs.’ (Read, 222).

Lydia Pang’s podcast is a real pleasure to listen to. My bottom line for it is anything goes and this is the most exciting time to live for creative visual narrative. Some notes I took

  • What am I about?
  • Print has gone to digital (my own observation though is that print also has its place still)
  • Personal projects
  • Tactile experience…make things with your hands
  • Brand yourself on multiple platforms
  • Every link is created equal (love that one!)
  • Point of view on the world
  • Shoot something that nobody else can shoot
  • Be brave look inwards
  • Creatives collectives collaboration
  • Aesthetic, mission, kpi’s audience…in ref to Refinery29 work
  • Images give a stage
  • Do not fear the landscape.
  • Creativity for world change.

Researching the Client

I am in a great group for the pitch to Oxfam A. Hilde, Chris, James and Clodagh. Powerful and diverse team. I have read the briefs. I had some trouble with taking on Oxfam because of the bad press they have had over their handling of sexual abuse by members of their team. Part of my research will be to see the status of this and ensure I am comfortable they are handling the issue with integrity.

My approach to this pitch will be consistent with my own approach to anything in which I want to see change. Whatever we recommend in our pitch needs to be something I am willing to do myself.


  1. Author: Shirley Read And Mike Simmons. Pages: 289 Size: 28.94 MB Format: PDF Publisher: Focal Press Published: 19 December, 2016
  2. Lydia Pang podcast. accessed sept 28th, 2019.

Categories: Coursework 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.