Category Archives: ASSIGNMENTS

Assignment Five: Making it up


For the final assignment on Context and Narrative I decided to create a standalone image. The image is a reflection on the book ‘Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde’ by Robert Louis Stevenson (also known as the ‘Strange case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde’) but it’s also a reflection on the duality we all have within us and the dissociative state we sometimes find ourselves in. Recently I have found myself feeling disconnected from my surroundings, as if I am watching myself and my life in a movie, as if I am the camera observing my own life from the sidelines.

Looking back at my first assignment for Context and Narrative I touched on some of my thoughts about Social Media; the duality of our real and on line life’s, the on line persona. In many ways you could say we are all a bit like Jekyll and Hyde. I also feel it is a reflection on mental health and the way people try to hide it, even today mental health problems can be frowned upon by some parts of society.

In my interpretation of the story, Mrs Hyde has drugged Dr Jekyll with a of cup tea full of sedatives. Hyde sits smiling drinking whiskey with a large knife. Dr Jekyll is asleep on the left of the frame, bathed in light, Hyde is in the shadows on the right of the frame, the positioning of the characters is intentional, you could say a nod to the way I interpret the current political climate. I also thought it was important as a visual aid to the viewer reading the scene, in the west we read left to right and the story develops throughout the frame from the left to the right.

DSC_6730 Blend 4 and shadow exposure editing

Dr Jekyll and Mrs Hyde, 2017

Thinking of and developing ideas

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One of the biggest challenges was settling on an idea. I had noted down a number of ideas, sketched out some stories and visited a location for the assignment. I managed to cut the ideas down to the following:

  1. a mystery forest shot :IMG_3422
  2. a garage murder mystery scene using my own garage:FullSizeRender 6
  3. a dream like theme (I had done some reading about dreams, notably trying to interpret what dreams mean) similar to my final shot but of a person asleep dreaming of multiple versions of themselves playing cards around a table:FullSizeRender 4
  4. the duality of Jekyll and Hyde

I tried out a couple of the ideas with limited success; I either went off the idea, the logistics were a nightmare or I just couldn’t get it to work. Most notably option C with 5 versions of myself started to get really complicated when I started to incorporate the lighting in the scene. Blending 5 images into one composite was too much. One of the biggest challenges was lighting and the resulting shadows that are created, it just seemed to create endless problems especially with the entire set having to stay exactly the same. I would like to come back to the idea at some point in the future once I have worked it out. I think a proper sound stage would work better than my front room.

The final image

The final idea didn’t fully come to realisation until I started working on option C. As I discovered that option C wasn’t working I started to see the possibilities for option D. I had originally intended to be the subject but I spoke with my wife and she was happy to take on the role of both characters. I thought this was an interesting twist on the typically male associated role. This was good as it freed me up to focus on framing and directing the shot from behind the camera. It was also helpful as my remote triggers decided to stop working!

The photograph is shot in my house. This gave me the maximum opportunity for moving props and furniture around and also playing around with lighting. I had to clear quite a bit from the room. I used a number of key props to add to the story telling; an old cup and saucer with liquid in it, a book (Jekyll and Hyde), a desk lamp, bottle of whiskey and whiskey glass, knife, clock, chair and stool, table and chairs, cabinet and plant on the cabinet and clothing.

FullSizeRender 3

I specifically didn’t want to pin the image down to any particular period in time, a bit like the exhibition I recently saw by Gregory Crewdson’s ‘Cathedral of the Pines’, it feels familiar but you couldn’t say exactly when it was. I didn’t want to fill the image with modern technology or intentionally set it in the past.

The main source of light comes from the green lamp used to light Jekyll on the left of the frame. I have used the light from the cabinet as some side lighting. The remaining light source comes from the two large candles, one placed near Jekyll with the clock and cup the other placed next to Hyde to create more of a sinister mood, it also acts as a visual device to split the frame into two halves. I had experimented with a light off the frame to the right but it didn’t look right and created a lot of strange shadows. The light acts as a way of distinguishing good from evil, light from dark. On the night we took the shots there was a terrible rain storm outside which seemed to add to the atmosphere in the room when we taking the shots. It felt quite eerie.

I set up my camera on the tripod as high as it would go in order to get the perspective I wanted looking down from above. I then had to stand on top of a chair to take the shot and see the back of the camera. I spent a lot of time in the room trying to find the right angle and viewpoint. If I remember correctly I used live view on my camera, most if not all the time. Unfortunately I didn’t have a wider lens to use and I couldn’t step back any further, I am literally leaning on the wall of the room.

FullSizeRender 2

The images are shot on a Nikon D610 with a 24-85mm lens. The final image is a composite of two shots. The first shot of Dr Jekyll is the base for the entire shot. I then blended in Hyde on the right of the frame using Photoshop. I photographed all of the images in RAW.


Image 1



Image 2

I felt the direction went well. I think if I had more time and resources I would have liked to explore different lighting options but I used the lighting that was available to me at the time. It is quite hard to be objective directing and it was only the two of us, it would have been nice to maybe have some collaboration or support guiding me with the lighting setup. I think I did well with the resources I had available to me.

I think the use of props really helps you to create another world or reality and tell a story visually. I have learned that the placement of subjects and objects plays a key role in their significance within the frame and in the story.


  • Freeman, Michael. 2007. The Photographer’s Eye. Composition and Design for Better Digital Photos.
  • Gregory Crewdson exhibition ‘Cathedral of the Pines’ at The Photographers Gallery, London.
  • Morningstar, Sally. 2003. Divining the Future.
  • Stevenson, Robert Louis. 1886. Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.


I found the challenge with this assignment was having too many ideas. At the start of my planning it seemed to swamp my thinking process and I found it hard to find focus, it overwhelmed me. I don’t think my problem is having no thoughts/ideas, its having too many all at once. I really had to start taking actual photographs to get my thought process working correctly, writing down ideas and planning has some real benefits especially logistically and I can see that now 100%. However for me I have learned that my ideas often take an organic, fluid development when I start taking photographs. I guess what I am trying to say is you can plan until you are blue in the face but a lot of the creative element comes when I actually start taking photographs.

Some of my other frustrations came from having ideas but not being able to get them off the ground for a variety of reasons. Some of these are technical issues, like not fully understanding lighting. What I did find helpful was actually, physically moving around the lights and seeing how that changes things in the scene. YouTube videos and lighting diagrams in books are all fair enough in supporting learning but actually doing things in real life is much more beneficial to me as an individual for retaining new skills and new knowledge. It is a shame the OCA doesn’t have some way of incorporating learning in a photography studio or a study visit to a studio to learn about lighting and other aspects of photography.

Craig Sinclair


Assignment Four: Tutor Feedback and my thoughts

Tutor Report Assignment-4-cn-formative-feedback-craig-sinclair-515221

It was nice to get some positive feedback from my tutor for assignment four along with a couple of pointers for further reading and fine tuning.

I will go back and re-read the Harvard Referencing document again. I think I’m nearly there with my referencing I just need to make sure its on point and fix the direct quotes.

My tutor makes a good point about the header image on the blog! I was messing around with the header image recently and admit I want to change it, so agreed, a valid point. I will look to find something more suitable/relevant.

I am just making my way through the suggested reading from my tutor ‘ Aesthetics of Affect’ by Simon O’Sullivan. I am enjoying all of the reading on the course, seeing work from different artists/photographers and soaking up new information from multiple sources. I find it fascinating. There was a point when I started at the OCA where I was unsure about viewing lots of other photographers work, in my ignorance I couldn’t really see the point, just give me technical know how. I think now I’m starting to get it. Technique is very important but there is so much more to photography than that. You pick up the relevant technical abilities as you are going along, there is no point trying to learn it all at once. At times it can be a little overwhelming or confusing but that’s usually at the point where I need to go out and get some fresh air, then come back to my studies.

I have read ahead through section 5 and the final assignment for Context and Narrative. I have a couple of ideas bubbling away in my brain but not at the point where I want to share these just yet. I will do some brainstorming. I like the idea of something with psychological tension, just one image, staged using props. I will get the next assignment to my tutor in August, I have some time off here and there along with my Fridays and a clear diary! I am submitting for the next assessment for November, so I want to spend September wrapping everything up, making any adjustments and getting prints done.

I went up to London on Friday to visit the Photographers Gallery again as they have an exhibition on by Gregory Crewsdon. Having read ahead I can see this will be helpful and relevant but I will talk about the visit more in a separate blog post.

In other recent good news I finally got my flash trigger to work with the soft-box! It needed to have the flash in manual mode and I think I had the receiver and transmitter the wrong way around. Wo ho!  I also picked up a manual on using flash. As you can see I was a little excited, forgive the terrible highlights and the glowing halo… no cameras were harmed in the making of this photograph!


Craig, 23/07/17

Assignment Four: Reflection

Looking back at the assignment in reflection I am pleased with the end result. I feel I applied myself to the essay and the research behind the photograph and the photographer. I am sure my tutor will come back with some good constructive feedback and suggestions to adjust the essay.

The part I found most difficult was keeping the word count down and I did go over the 1000 word essay. I’m not sure if this will be a major problem or not but I will see what feedback my tutor gives. I feel I could probably develop the essay further and go deeper if I had lots more time but I do have some constrictions on how much time I can apply to the one essay.

I pulled my research from multiple sources which I feel gives a good balanced and unbiased approach. Although I admit I was already intrigued by the image originally I feel I have been able to give an objective point of view due to my research. I have also been able to incorporate some of my own personal feelings about the image. Reading from multiple sources has given me a wider awareness of the work.

I think I have given a balanced essay analysis, giving context, some background about the photographer, posed some questions, some answers and de-constructed the image before pulling together my thoughts and conclusions.

One thing I did find hard was finding any well written constructive criticism of Crewdson’s work. Now, that could be because there is simply none out there or I just couldn’t find any. All the books and research I did praised the work, no one had anything bad to say about any of it. I would have been interesting to have read or discussed with someone who doesn’t like his work. I must admit subjectively I think his work is of the highest quality and from what I have seen he has really forged a new direction for contemporary photography along with the likes of Jeff Wall, they have opened up the physiological door for photographers to explore deeper. I think this has helped to given contemporary photography a strong basis as an art form rather than just a method of visual recording.

I am doing a lot of reading to accompany the course and I am also looking at a lot of different photographers work. I think this is helping me to be more open to different possibilities within photography. I really like the staged/tableau photography so I am looking forward to assignment 5, I hope I haven’t just jinxed myself!



Assignment Four: “A picture is worth a thousand words”

Write an essay of 1,000 words on an image of your choice.

The image can be anything you like, from a famous art photograph to a family snapshot, but please make sure that your chosen image has scope for you to make a rigorous and critical analysis.

If you choose a well-known photograph, take time to research its context – the intentions of the photographer, why it was taken, whether it’s part of a series, etc. Add all this information into your essay to enable you to draw a conclusion from your own interpretation of the facts.

It’s not enough to write an entirely descriptive or historical account of your chosen image. You must use the facts as a means to draw your own conclusions about what the picture means to you. You may wish to apply what you’ve learned in Part Four regarding translation, interpretation, connotation, signs, punctum, etc., but be sure you get the definitions correct.

Follow thought associations and other images that relate to the discussion, directly or indirectly. Look at the broader context of the image and its background and specific narrative as well as your personal interpretation of it and what thoughts it triggers for you. Follow these associations in a thoughtful and formal way. Allow yourself to enjoy the process!

There are many good examples of writing about single images (e.g. Sophie Howarth’s Singular Images), which you may find helpful to read before attempting your own. Take note of the level of critical analysis and aim for a similar approach in your own writing. You may write about personal connections but ensure you express yourself in a formally analytical and reflective manner.

Gregory Crewdson – ‘Ophelia’


*Untitled (Ophelia) 2001 by Gregory Crewdson b. 1962

I was first introduced to the photographic work of Gregory Crewdson as a recommendation by my tutor, whilst studying ‘Expressing Your Vision’. I picked up a copy of the book ‘Twilight’. I put some of my thoughts on the Twilight series in a blog post here. I have decided to pick the photograph ‘Untitled 2001 (also known as Ophelia)’ from the Twilight series to critically analyse.

Gregory Crewdson (b. 1962) is an American photographer, best known for his tableau/staged photographic work, often portraying tense psychological scenes that wouldn’t go a miss as a still from a science fiction movie by Spielberg or an episode of Chris Carter’s X-files. Crewdson links a lot of his influence to over hearing the sessions his father would have in the family home as a Psychoanalyst, sowing the seed of interest in the unconscious mind. Other influences on Crewdson include the art of American realist painter Edward Hopper, Crewdson relating a ‘similar emptiness’ in Hoppers work to his own. The American Photographer Walter Evans is another influence, in ‘Capturing a Movie Frame ‘ Crewdson speaks of Walter Evans’  ‘interest in the American vernacular of ordinary life…of indigenous architecture…’ going on to say ‘I feel in my work I have a similar thing that’s kind of controlling aesthetic, to make a perfect façade and then then..sort of…the deep undercurrent of that, what exists beneath the surface.’

In 1998 Crewdson started his work on the Twilight series. This would be a shift from his earlier work, moving into more of a directorial role, working with a large team, akin to a film crew for a major movie. The series has a powerful psychological narrative throughout, often depicting dramatic paranormal scenarios, in many ways the photographs are left open to interpretation by the spectator. The series was shot on a large format Sinar F1 8 x10 Camera with a mix of 300mm and 210mm lenses.

The question I find myself asking with this work is, despite knowing it is staged, is it meant to portray a version of reality, the truth or is this some form of dreamlike, otherworldly interpretation on reality, is this a snapshot of the unconscious mind?

The image Untitled (Ophelia) 2001 from the series Twilight shows the scene of a flooded ground floor, it looks like a living room/lounge. Central within the image is a woman in a night gown, she is floating on her back on the surface of the dark, murky water. Her skins is pale blue, she looks dead, cold to the touch. Her eyes are open but she looks vacant in a transcendent state of mind.

The photograph is influenced by Ophelia from William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, found dead in a brook “incapable of her own distress” following the death of her father Polonius and a love denied. In ‘Photography the whole story’ Juliet Hacking references the 1851-1852 painting Ophelia by John Everett Millais as an example of this reoccurrence in art of the woman in the water.

As I deconstruct the image I can see to the left of the woman a coffee table with a glass of water, a bottle of pills, a romantic novel by Nora Robert titled Inner Harbour (1999), there is an ashtray with cigarette butts and what looks like a glass ornament in the shape of a lotus flower. Could this be a suicide or an accidental overdose? Perhaps these pills are sedatives and this isn’t reality, she is dreaming, weightless, motionless upon the water. The sofa behind looks disrupted, a blanket and a couple of pillows lie on the sofa as if someone has been sleeping there or reading a romantic novel wrapped up under a nice warm blanket.

Moving through the scene my eye is then drawn to the clock on the bookcase behind, the time seems to indicate 5:05, my eyes are then immediately drawn over to the right to the windows, is this 5am or 5pm? Then I’m reminded of the title of the series, Twilight so my assumption is this is 5pm but it could just as easily be 5am. A catastrophic event has happened here. The room is flooded so how are the lights still on? Why have they not short circuited? Upon the book case are a selection of books but I can’t see the titles of the books from the print I have, there’s a record player with a selection of vinyl. Upon the top of the book case is a wedding photograph, could this be the love lost?

From the book case I move through the scene in a clockwise manor and I’m presented with the stair case, to which my eye leads me down the steps. It’s at this point I observe the mould and decay on the back wall below the stairs, has this water been here a while? How long has this lady been lying here? Why has no one found her yet? Does she have any friends or relatives that care for her?

Above the stair case is a series of 3 photographs; 2 of women and 1 of a man, placed centrally. The image of the man seems to bear stronger significance, it looks illuminated, is this a father or a husband perhaps? Could this be a reference to Polonius from Hamlet? Moving down the stairwell I see a pink dressing gown draped over the banister, a window above is bathed in golden light, a side cabinet lies on the landing of the stairs, a red torch sits on top of it. Why would the lady need a torch if the lights are on? On the step below is a slipper, followed by the second slipper on the step below that.

To the right of the stair case there appears to be a lampshade in the water. I wonder if this could this be the source of the ladies demise. Did the lampshade drop into the water, did she get electrocuted upon entering the water? There is an open window above, the wind may have knocked the lampshade over. Or is this just a red herring? There are a series of coats on the wall to the right and the windows of the front door again show golden light shining through.,

Coming full circle I am drawn to the old telephone and battered armchair, half submerged in water then back to the motionless woman on top of the water.

Reflection plays a primary role within the whole construction of the image. The water acts as a psychological mirror, its dark blackness gives a sinister emptiness to the entire shot. The water could have been clear or clean to signify purity but the darkness feels intentional, lucid, the blackness of the soul. For me, this is what stings me, this is what Roland Barthes calls the Punctum. The dark reflecting water acts as a means of self reflection, looking deeply inwards at the soul, it draws me back to the image to ponder my own existence.

With such an image as this it is hard to find a definitive conclusion to the storytelling within the image, there is an underlying mystery which I think asks the spectator to form their own conclusions rather than have the photographer (‘the operator’) provide all of the answers within the image. Having watched various interviews with Crewdson this seems a likely conclusion, he likes to put clues within the frame but leave the mystery of the solution to the viewer and to interpretation.  For me it poses more questions than it answers, partly this infuriates me but for the most part I absolutely love it for this very reason. I think it’s this emotional conflict or tension that makes this such a fascinating image.

This draws me back to my original query, dream or reality? I am split on how to interpret the image. On the one hand, like a detective I can see the clues/signs within the image to make me come to the conclusion this could be an accidental death or a suicide. However, I prefer the idea that she is dreaming. She walked down the stairs and kicked off her slippers, took some sleeping pills and started to read a book, huddled up under a blanket on the sofa she slowly drifted off. What we are seeing is a mix of reality and her subconscious mind, trapped between the spaces of reality and another dimension.

Word Count: 1396

Craig Sinclair



Twilight Photographs by Gregory Crewdson my thoughts whilst studying the OCA Unit ‘Expressing Your Vision’:


  • Barthes, R, 1980. Camera Lucida.
  • Cotton, C, 2014. The Photograph as Contemporary Art (World of Art). 3. Thames & Hudson.
  • Hacking, J, 2012. Photography: The Whole Story. 0. Thames & Hudson Ltd.
  • Higgins, J, 2013. Why it Does Not Have to be in Focus: Modern Photography Explained. Thames & Hudson Ltd.
  • Howarth, S. 2005. Singular images: essays on remarkable photographs. 1st Ed. Tate Publishing.
  • Kirstein, L, 2012. Walker Evans: American Photographs: Seventy-Fifth Anniversary Edition. Anv. The Museum of Modern Art, New York.
  • Moody, R, 2002. Twilight: Photographs by Gregory Crewdson. First. Harry N. Abrams.
  • Shakespeare, W, 1997. Hamlet (Wordsworth Classics). Annotated edition. Wordsworth Editions Ltd.

Web research:

*Image of Untitled (Ophelia) 2001 by Gregory Crewdson b. 1962 reproduced for academic purposes. Copyright belongs to the respective owner.

Assignment Four: Prep


For this assignment I pulled together research from multiple sources including books, websites and interviews on Youtube with the photographer Gregory Crewdson and others reflecting on his work, in relation to the Twilight series but also his work more generally.

As well as reading books relevant to the photographer and the photograph I also picked up a copy of ‘Singular Image: Essays on Remarkable Photographs’ by Sophie Howarth. It was pretty expensive! I read the essays for Jeff Wall, Diane Arbus, Hiroshi Sugmimoto and Bill Brandt in particular but I will finish off reading the other essays as well. This gave me a good feel for constructing an essay and critically reviewing a single photograph.

I re-read ‘Camera Lucida’ by Roland Barthes again, this time accompanied by the Critical Analysis in the book ‘Basic Critical Theory for Photographers’ by Ashley la Grange. Along with the OCA course book for Context and Narrative this helped to explain some of the terminology/language used. I also had a lengthy discussion with my mentor (who has studied languages) about language more generally and some of the terms used academically.

At the start of section four I emailed my tutor some ideas of photographers I was interested in looking at. These included Ansel Adams, Jeff Wall, Sebastiao Salgado, Gregory Crewdson and Simon Marsden. My tutor suggested I steer clear of Ansel Adams unless I was prepared to be critical. I decided to go with Gregory Crewdson as the image I picked fascinates me and I could find some good reference material. He is also more of a contemporary photographer than Ansel Adams for example.

I spent a couple of solid days making notes and researching the photographer and the photograph before starting on my first draft of the essay. In the end I wrote 3 drafts, the one I have submitted being the final draft.

I have seen recently that the Photographers Gallery in London has some of Crewdson’s work on display so I am hoping to get back up to London if I can, it may not be until after I have completed this unit and started the next unit.


Assignment Three: Tutor Feedback and my thoughts

Tutor Report Assignment-3-cn-formative-feedback-craig-sinclair-515221

As ever I am grateful for the formative feedback from my tutor for assignment three. I like to take a couple of days to think it over.

I don’t currently have the equipment to produce decent prints from home. I would like to look into getting a printer for the future but its weighing up the cost of both the printer and the ink cartridges at the moment. I emailed around the C & N student community for some thoughts on printers and printing from home in general. The general consensus was that printing from home can be expensive, the main issue being the price of the ink cartridges. Another issue was around colour accuracy. Some students suggested a colour calibration device as well. I’ve never done prints in a dark room, I would love to see how it works, the closest thing I have is my newly acquired Polaroid camera but its not the same thing really.

I looked for the print submission guidelines but I can’t seem to find them. I’ve asked student support if they can point me in the right direction. I like the borders but a wider border may give a better separation and framing.

I take on board my tutors feedback about being rigorous with selection. I had cut back a number of images from my selection but I guess I could be a little more ruthless with my final selection. There are a couple images I may consider dropping from the selection. I was a little disappointed my tutor wasn’t keen on the concluding image, its one of my favourites and I think it conveys in summary what I was trying to say. I had toyed a little with dropping all the other images and just submitting a version of the final image. I could see a series of 8 images may sit better that than the 12 images plus the final concluding shot.

I will consider emailing around a link to my fellow students on the course for some feedback and think about my privacy in regards to the blog.

I enjoyed doing the masquerades exercise with my father. I guess the final photograph is what ultimately matters the rest is all noise. It was a little tricky trying to explain everything to my Dad and construct the shots at the same time. I’m glad I went with this idea though. I feel this unit is really challenging me in a positive way to experiment, even if the end result isn’t always perfect, I feel I am developing as I’m going along. I’m less worried about trying and failing. My mentor recently gave me some advice when I was struggling with a bit of a mental block, she said “get the ideas out of head, try ideas out, just do it!

I’m really enjoying the reading on the course. I feel a bit like a sponge, the more I read the more I want to read. Photography is so much more than being just about photography, for me it encompasses everything in life.  The more photographs and exhibitions I go to the more I want to see. The more photographers I here about the more I want to learn about them and their work. I’m quite hungry for consumption at the moment, which feels refreshing. I recently had some feedback from the NPG in London and they explained the reasons for no photographs in the particularly exhibition I went to, so I can see their point of view (I don’t agree but I appreciate what they said!) and they hoped I would be back again soon, so that was really nice. I’m looking forward to getting back to London sometime soon, I’m nervous with everything that’s been going on in London but you can’t let these things hold you back.

I will have a look at stylisation around the thumbnails. Not 100% I can change this or how but I will have a look. I quite like the shadows and borders on the thumbnails though.

I will have a look at the work of the level 3 student as suggested by my tutor.

Looking forward to working on the essay for my next assignment. I enjoy writing. I will give it some thought about which image I want to write about. I think this will develop as I work my way through part 4 of C & N.

-Craig, 12/06/17

Assignment Three


Following the creation of my 2 week diary I used it as a springboard to explore and say something about my own mind, nature and landscape. I found in my diary I spent a lot of time reflecting inwards and spending time in the woods. I like to think of it as a journey through my mind both physically and psychologically. There are some metaphors and symbols. There are 12 shots, like 12 steps, with a final concluding shot. The captions lend to the journey. I think of a journey on a trail a bit like walking through your own mind. I have found in life if I’m feeling lost, my mind is cluttered or I’m really anxious I head out on the trail, into the woods and I rediscover myself. I am centred again.


I had viewed a number of images by Vivian Maier in the book Self Portraits. I liked the way she explored her mind in the images. She had a unique way of putting herself in the frame in different ways. There is something uneasy and unsettling. In some of her images she used reflection or her shadow and sometimes a sort of double exposure effect which really interested me, exploring the multi layered aspect of the mind. This led to me creating that final shot which is a layered composition of 2 shots; a portrait shot layered over the top of a shot looking into the woods.

I have also touched on a really great self help book, which has helped me over the years by Susan Jeffers called ‘Feel the Fear and Do it anyway. When I feel uncertain I often refer back to the book for hints and tips but the overarching title just sums up that it’s OK to feel fear, you embrace it and you do it anyway. There are hints and nods towards this ethos in the series of shots, particularly the first shot and the shot where I’m looking at the tower.

Reflecting back on the images I think there is an unconscious philosophical element to the series of shots too. I find the links between the mind and nature, mother earth really powerful. We are so disconnected from nature in our busy life it’s really important to reconnect with the earth.


I thought a lot about composition within the frame, what to include and exclude were really important within this assignment for me. Its about me but the landscape and environment are the other subjects of the photos.

I read the book Understanding Composition’ by Bryan Peterson which gave me some tips on composition and technique.

I have experimented with a number of different viewpoints within the assignment and really looked to explore who I am and what I want to say as an individual. I wanted to say something about myself but not make it blunt and direct. I want the viewer to think a little and work for it but still try to deliver a message using the visual language of photography.

I did question the boot shot a number of times – all the other shots are landscape orientation and the boot shot is portrait. I’m still a little unsure to be honest if it works or not, hopefully my tutor will give me some feedback on this. I have heard some people say for a coherent story all of the shots should be of the same orientation but I’m not sure I really agree with that myself.

I’m aware there are quite a lot of shots in the series, 13 in total. I am curious what my tutor thinks about this, are there too many shots? I will be interested to hear what he thinks.

One of my favourite shots is the vertigo shot looking up the tower. This took a number of attempts but it was created by looking up the tower from the inside and by twisting the focal ring either forwards or backwards. I like the way it turned out.

I did drop a number of shots which I had taken in Black and White and a different layered photograph. I like the shots but I didn’t really want to mix B & W with colour shots.

I do like my final prints but if I’m totally honest I’m still not 100% sure I know what I’m doing with prints. Maybe my tutor can give me some pointers? I used a company on line where I could upload my images and view them before sending them off. I have found my local printers are just far too expensive. This experience may come with time along with trial and error.

I feel I have again stepped out of my comfort zone with this assignment and explored new possibilities for me.

My favourite image is the last photograph, I feel this worked really well and I like the way the two images blend together to summarise the whole set.

I really enjoyed this assignment, it was a lot of hard work and took longer than I had planned but it was fun to experiment with ideas that I would never have normally photographed.


  • Bright, S, 2010. Auto Focus: The Self-Portrait in Contemporary Photography. 0. Thames & Hudson Ltd.
  • Jeffers, S. 2007. Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway. Revised edition. Vermilion.
  • Maier, V. 2013. Self Portrait.
  • Peterson, B. 2012 Understanding Composition Field Guide: How to See and Photograph Images with Impact. Amphoto Books.

Individual images:


1. I feel trapped like I’m in a self constructed prison. I need to get out of here today. I’m scared if I step outside I’ll get sucked off the earth. What was it Susan Jeffers said “Feel the fear and do it anyway”

2 Time for the well worn trusty boots DSC_6934

2. Time for some courage and the well worn trusty boots


3. Getting on the trail. Am I alone here or is there someone else?

4 There's been a murder here, they killed the trees DSC_7026

4. There’s been a murder here, they killed the trees. Like stolen memories.

5 I wish you were here today my love DSC_7039

5. I wish you were here today my love, to keep me company

6 But I don't think you're real

6. But I know you’re not real. I’ll see you tonight.


7. The tortured and the slain like old memories cast aside.

8 Onwards DSC_7041

8. Sometimes the only way out of your mind is straight through.

9 I need to climb up this bastard but I'm shit scared of heights DSC_7199

9. I need to climb up this bastard but I’m shit scared of heights, I’m shit scared of so many things. Fear is just a thought process. Every day is a challenge but you have to keep moving forward, looking up and never giving up.

10 Inside the tower I look up and I'm overcome by vertigo but I need to do this DSC_7177

10. Inside the tower I look up and I’m overcome by vertigo and fear but I need to do this. Transformation is a multi layered transition through time and space.

11 Triumph, from up here I can see everything clearly DSC_7161

11. Triumph; from up here I can see everything clearly. I can see everything behind me and everything in front of me. I can see where I have been and where I’m going.


12. In reflection it wasn’t that bad after all, the fear of something is often worse than the thing itself.


Conclusion Self Portrait: The woods are like a construct of my mind where I go to find myself again.

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