Category Archives: Uncategorized

Project 1 The language of photography

Before you read any further, look carefully at Erwitt’s image and write some notes
about how the subject matter is placed within the frame. How has Erwitt structured
this image? What do you think the image is ‘saying’? How does the structure
contribute to this meaning?

Elliott Erwitt, New York, 1974. Copyright Elliott Erwitt

**Elliott Erwitt, New York, 1974. Copyright Elliott Erwitt

The subject matter is placed centrally within the frame of the image with a low viewpoint, suggesting the photographer was either crouched at the height of the little dog or that the original image was larger and has been cropped. There are 3 subjects within the frame but we only see the face of the small dog, which gives visual weight to this particular subject; its importance is more significant. 3 is kind of a magic number in photography, a so called ‘rule of odds’; 1, 3, 5, 7. It is more visually pleasing to the eye.

All of the subjects are placed in the bottom third of the image with the small dog sitting perfectly on the bottom right hand side following the ‘rule of thirds’ or earlier known as ‘the golden section’. So if you were to draw the rule of thirds over the image, the image would sit snugly into the three distinct sections. The visual weight of the image is in the central third of the image.

On first glance at the image I assumed it was 2 people and a little dog but on closer inspection you I noticed it was a dog and I assumed that the 2nd larger dog may be on 2 legs. My final thought is that the larger dog is only partly in the frame with the front legs in the image and the rear legs off to the left of the image, as you are looking at it.

The image did make me laugh the first time I saw it, what’s with the little hat on the dog as well?! Its funny and a bit daft! I was then drawn to the significance of this little dog as the main character within the frame. We can’t see the face or body of the owner (assumed through the lead on the dog leading out of the frame) or the other larger dog. If they had been included within the frame the smaller dog would not have played the staring role in this image but as it stand it does. It is essentially, physically,  the smallest subject but the framing and composition of the image makes it the most important part.

John Berger makes some interesting observations about our fascination with looking at animals in his book ‘Ways of Looking‘ which I feel are relevant:

‘With their parallel lives, animals offer man a companionship which is different from any offered by human exchange. Different because it is a companionship offered to the loneliness of man as a species.’  (Chapter 1 ‘Why look at animals?’ from Ways of Looking’)

On viewing the picture of the dog we would like to assume what the dog is thinking, ‘did she really drag me out of the house wearing this ridiculous hat?’ but we can only assume to know. The owner has almost tried to humanise the dog by dressing it up in clothing but it’s essentially an animal and we can’t ever know what its thinking.


**Featured image: Elliot Erwitt New York 1974


Exhibition Visit – Gillian Wearing 4th May 2017 National Portrait Gallery, London


Rain on the window from our hotel room


We also went to see Les Mis on the Wednesday. It was amazing!

We arrived at the National Portrait Gallery on Thursday afternoon. I was excited to visit, I had never been before. We didn’t have lots of time on this visit so decided to check in our bags and go straight to the Gillian Wearing expedition, we paid for our tickets and headed to the exhibition.

In the entrance we saw the newly acquired portrait of Ed Sheeran by Colin Davidson. I’m not a big fan personally, I don’t particularity dislike him either but my wife likes his music. I must admit the portrait is incredible.



Ed Sheeran by Colin Davidson

As we entered the exhibition I was in high spirits, ready to document my visit for the learning blog on C & N. Unfortunately as I started to take some snapshots as a record for my blog I was rudely approached by a member of staff and told something along the lines of ‘there is no photography in the photography exhibition’ I must admit I was taken aback initially and also contemplated the irony of the statement. I tried to explain I was a student but before I could say anything else, I was told it didn’t matter and I wasn’t allowed to take shots on my i-Phone. For the entire remainder of our visit around the Gillian Wearing exhibition we were followed and observed by staff from the gallery, making us both feel really uncomfortable. I’m not that great socially at the best of times and it took a lot of effort and courage for me just to get to the exhibition in London with so many people but it just made me feel horrible and not welcome in the slightest. I also find when I get anxious I struggle to remember things so the snapshots usually help. The whole experience left me with a bit of a foul taste in my mouth but I tried to take in some of the photographs on display as best I could.

The bad experience had me contemplating what the artist would have thought, what her position would have been and also what my own thoughts would be if I were displaying my work in an exhibition and someone was taking snapshots. I mean, I wasn’t looking to steal the artists work….all of the images are available to view on line anyway if I really wanted to, there are countless images of the exhibition online elsewhere under the hash-tag #wearingcahun. I only wanted to document my visit visually.  Was I asked permission to be filmed whilst I was attending the gallery? No, however I was…should I have protested being filmed without my consent? I have now visited a number of exhibitions and I’ve never had a problem with taking shots for my learning log. Some probably think I am making a big deal about this but I feel it’s a really important issue.


I have no other images to support the visit. I viewed the work by Claude Cahun but I was more interested in the images by Gillian Wearing, I was interested to see some of her work as it has been covered in this unit of my degree, ‘Context and Narrative‘.

I enjoyed seeing the Family portraits series Album in large scale print, they just make more sense in person seeing them so big on a wall rather than in my study books. I find the use of masks quite creepy and unsettling but its a really inventive way of doing self portraits. It’s amazing how she takes on the role of the other family members. It questions identity, gender and roles within families but also the links that connect the family chain. My wife observed how the faces looked different yet you can see the link of the same person through the eyes (my wife didn’t initially know about the masks but she spotted the eyes) she said ‘these eyes look like a younger persons eyes’ when looking at the image of Wearings father. There was also a fascinating series of Polaroid shots of Wearing taken over a number of years starting from the 1980’s up to 2005, all compiled together in one display, I found it was good to see the visual development of the artist over a long period of time, they are essentially all ‘selfies’. There were also images Wearing had ‘recreated’ of some of her ‘idols’ again using masks.

I must admit I went into the gallery not really being a fan of the artists work but I left feeling I had a better understanding, appreciation and respect for her work.

There were also some great portrait images on display at the gallery by David Gwinnutt ‘Before we were Men’.



Trying to collect my thoughts after the gallery visit


Experimenting with the 360 panoramic feature on the i-Phone

Its definitely worth a visit to see this exhibition, its on until 29th May 2017. I hope next time its a more enjoyable experience.


National Portrait Gallery London

Part 3 – Project 3 Self-absented portraiture


Go to the artist’s website and look at the other images in Shafran’s series.

You may have noticed that Washing-up is the only piece of work in Part Three
created by a man. It is also the only one with no human figures in it, although family members are referred to in the captions.

Did it surprise you that this was taken by a man? Why?

I had observed earlier in part three of C & N that the images presented were all taken by women.

No it didn’t surprise me in the slightest that these photographs were taken by a man. I am married to a Chef, she uses every possible utensil in our kitchen when she cooks, so I feel the pain!  I want a dish washer. I am of the belief that it’s an outdated and other generation perspective that women do the washing up and men don’t.

In your opinion does gender contribute to the creation of an image?

Perhaps gender can affect the way you see things in the world around you but it’s just like a whole bunch of different factors and possibilities. Your background, cultural beliefs, political thoughts, sexuality, religious or non-religious beliefs, etc, etc. It’s a melting pot of different things, for me it’s not one isolated factor, that is unless you intentionally want to make it an important factor with in your work, its part of your message.

What does this series achieve by not including people?

I think the exclusion of people within the images, leaves the viewer open to interpret the lives of the people we are peering into, through the objects which are included within the frame. I question the relationship, if there is one, how many people live in this household? Are they a couple? Are they married? Why don’t they buy a dishwasher? My OCD inclinations want the dishes washed up and put away. So I guess in one way the images are creating tension for me.

The images do give you a sense of time and place. A meal is being created, or has taken place, shirts are being washed in the sink, the recurring placement of a paint brush, some images imply multiple people have had a meal whilst others suggest only one solitary diner.  There are suggestions of seasonal shifts in time throughout the images, through the different ‘props’.

Do you regard them as interesting ‘still life’ compositions?

No on the surface layer I think they are really very boring to be honest, it’s not really my cup of tea, I can’t say I’m that interested in them at all.

If I try to delve deeper to interpret the images I can draw some interest from them as an observer. I don’t find them visually or compositionally stunning or interesting, although they do use lines to lead the viewer through the image and the use of some bold colourful objects in a rather drab background. The blurb at the start of this exercise mentions captions to the photographs but I can’t see any captions on the photographers website accompanying the images when I looked, maybe that would have helped.

The interest for me comes from trying to understand the story behind the images and through the absence of people, use the objects placed within the images to pull that story together.


Nigel Shafran Website – ‘Washing Up’ Series

Assignment Three: Initial thoughts and planning ahead

I am making a start on section 3 now and I have kept a diary for 2 weeks with some of my daily activities and my thoughts. It has been a cathartic experience. I am considering reflecting on the life of me as an introvert. Perhaps relating images directly back to the daily activities within my diary is an idea i.e. a shot to summarise the day but that would leave me with 14 shots….which may not be a bad thing and I have already started to capture some shots around this.

Another idea I had was to explore my life through 1st person perspective, a little bit like a first person computer game (if that makes sense), so the camera directly becomes my eyes, the viewer would be seeing through my eyes.

A third idea was spinning off the back of the introvert idea and creating a set of images, i.e. just a single day in the life of an introvert.

These are all ideas and my brain is still doing some sub-conscious processing that I need to jot down on paper and spider diagram.

Assignment Two: Tutor Feedback and my thoughts

Tutor Report Assignment-2-cn-formative-feedback-craig-sinclair-515221

It was a great idea to meet with my tutor face to face on Google Hangouts. It definitely makes it feel more real and I am very grateful for the feedback from my tutor, sometimes the difficult part for me is to know what to do with the feedback constructively afterwards. My negative chimp brain sometimes takes over. I tend to need time to process feedback and I know I am a thinker; better at writing down my thoughts than speaking them aloud but I’m better when I get to know/trust someone.

Good point, I will go back and update my referencing for the assignment.

I’m quite happy with the shift in tempo for the series, the 3/5 balance, it illustrates the shift in thought process for the character but I will give it some thought, I appreciate it is balanced heavy towards the ‘act’ itself. The strongest image for me in the set was also the face in the cereal bowl image so I was interested to hear the same from my tutor. It took a lot of different angles, drinking of milk and attempts to get that shot right! It was fun despite the subject matter!

I take on board the good points raised from my tutor about the lighting and experimenting with the flash. I may go back and reconsider the lighting for the 1st photograph with the character on the bed. I was looking to expose for the lamp on the bed side cabinet, which I initially blew out on previous shots.  So I have a nicely exposed lamp but poorly exposed/lit character; the trousers are dark and the shirt very light so need to find a balance. I’m happy to experiment with flash. I find one of the challenges with open learning is it would sometimes be nice to have a teacher/tutor there in person to say, try this or that, have you considered this, etc. I don’t have a plethora of photography friends at the moment to lean on but I do reach out to other students, books and of course You Tube on occasion.

I feel happy with the composition of the shots and the concept/idea behind the set. Overall I was looking for a really plain/drab colour palette but I take on board my tutor’s comments about the images needing to be ‘visually strong, even extreme’. I will work on this. Again it’s about finding a balance with the subject matter and delivering that visually in a way I think is honest to me. I take on the valid point that your work needs to stand out against the sea of other photographs out there.

Good point about the London visit, reflecting on the different spaces. I will go back and add some thoughts on that.

Image and Text Exercise 2

Choose a poem that resonates with you then interpret it through photographs.

Don’t attempt to describe the poem but instead give a sense of the feeling of the
poem and the essence it exudes.

‘There is a pleasure in the pathless Woods’

‘There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
There is a rapture on the lonely shore,
There is society, where none intrudes,
By the deep sea, and music in its roar:
I love not man the less, but Nature more,
From these our interviews, in which I steal
From all I may be, or have been before,
To mingle with the Universe, and feel
What I can ne’er express, yet cannot all conceal.’

– George Gordon Byron



There is a pleasure in the Pathless Woods

The images have an intentional repetition. I used the compass from my i-Phone standing in one spot within the woods taking 5 photographs; to my North, to my East, to my South, to my West and finally to the Universe. I am deep in the woods and I am surrounded by trees everywhere, as far as my eye can see, in every direction. For me this reflects how I feel about the poem. To remove a photo would not give the sense of being surrounded deep in the woods at one with nature. I had considered a sixth final image of my feet with the leaves and fauna of the woods but I decided not to go with that in the end. The viewer and the poem is essentially the sixth image, if that makes sense?!

If I had to pick just one image out of the selection it would be the final one but I prefer them as a set. It gives a real sense of place but looking out towards the universe. You get the feeling you as the viewer are in the woods. Although enclosed in this cocoon of nature in the woods seemingly so confined, you look up to the sky to the universe and realise how insignificant we are or society is.   At least that’s how I feel. I’m alone but I’m not lonely, I’m surrounded by friends.


To the Universe

Project 2 Image and Text Exercise 1

Cut out some pictures from a newspaper and write your own captions.

Try the same exercise for both anchoring and relaying. Blog about it.

I read through both ‘The Death of the Author’ and ‘Rhetoric of the Image‘ essays by Roland Barthes. I must admit I found them both a little heavy going but I persevered through both pieces, thought provoking stuff. I found ‘Rhetoric of the Image’ a little easier to digest although still, I admit, tough! It was interesting to read about the link we place between text and image through, Barthes does this by breaking down what we see in an advert for Italian food, the symbols, stereotypes and associations we place on object, colours and shapes to make us interested in a product or to try and sell us the product. Barthes breaks this down further into 3 sections focusing on linguistic message, denoted images and connoted image. I found the quote below from Rhetoric of the Image helpful in trying to understand the difference between ‘anchorage‘ and ‘relay‘:

Anchorage is the “most frequent function of the linguistic message and is commonly found in press photographs and advertisements. The function of relay is less common and can be seen particularly in cartoons and comic strips. Here text and image stand in complementary relationship.” 

Quote from ‘Rhetoric of the Image’ by Roland Barthes

My understanding of ‘The Death of the Author’  is that it challenges the idea of authorship between creator and the thing they create be they writer, artist, photographer. The creation is not solely down to the author but of the influences from society and culture, beliefs that seep into the creation. So everything you have seen, read or done in life has influenced your creation. I remember John Berger also speaks of this in some of his books I have read. Your creation is then interpreted subjectively, differently by each individual who consumes it, everyone gets something different out of it.


For this exercise I cut out pictures from The i Paper and from The Times paper dated Monday 6th February 2017 and took a snapshot on my phone for my Learning Blog.

How do the words you put next to the image contextualise/re-contextualise it?

This was a bit of fun exercise to do. I think I slipped a little into satire with my alternative headlines, its all in good humour though. I found it really interesting how different text can easily change the perceived meaning of a photograph. I can see how easy it would be to create propaganda and I think that’s where the ethical side needs to come into photography and journalism with some form of checking fact from fiction. Also trying to attach some idea of time and place are really hard from just looking at a photograph without the date of the newspaper or the caption below it to give it context.

How many meanings can you give to the same picture?

I managed to come up with a variety of different meanings for the photographs, some were easier to come up with alternative meanings/headlines. All total nonsense though really and no relation to their original meaning. I was a little cautious how far to take it though, this is just an exercise.

I think I probably flipped between Anchor and Relay in my captions below. Some of the pictures were so open to different interpretations really. In particular the first photograph of the President for the United States. I thought the original heading had very little relation to the photograph, there are the the 2 flags (US and UK) behind the president but apart from that the facial expression of the president left it far too open to interpretation without a definitive heading. The image of Le Pen was a little unfortunate. The clowns were a great image, without the original heading you would have totally no idea what this was about, it was fun creating alternative heading for this one. The final image of the Royals also a fun action shot, which I guess was the easiest to link into some form of athletics event and for such high key figures to be involved you would think it was something to do with the Olympics.


capture“President invokes the presence of Elvis in latest Speech”

“President starts war with Terminator on Social Media”

“I am your president and there is nothing you can do about it”

“President sees own reflection in mirror”

“President bemused by latest Fake News”

“Take me to your leader, oh wait that’s me”

“I just farted”

“You’re fired”

“President has a face off with four year old, President wins”

“President gets through to 2nd round of Britain’s got talent”

Original Headline was “MPs threaten to boycott Trump at Westminster”


“Don’t worry, we are not a fascist political movement”

“The Fire Exits are here, here and here”

“High Five anyone”

“Le Pen left hanging”

Original Headline was “We’ll follow Britain to Freedom, says Le Pen”


“World Leaders meet for Climate Change talks”

“Trump announces 3 new executive officers”

“Teresa May announces 3 new Cabinet Member appointments”

“Boy band reunites for comeback tour”

“David, George and Boris at Eaton reunion”

“Auditions take place in London for new Stephen King movie”

Original Headline was “A celebration of Clowns”


“Princes compete for cheekiest grin”

“Royals run on thin air”

“Harry challenges William to a race to the throne”

“Training for the next Olympics begins at the Olympic Park”

“Harrod’s announces 50% off sale”

Original Headline was “Royal Line: A competitive Prince Harry beat his brother and sister-in-law at the Olympic park yesterday in an event for their mental health charity Heads Together”


Images re-used for educational purposes as part of OCA course. General Satire.

Images taken from The i Paper and the Times Paper on Monday 6th February 2017.

‘The Death of the Author’ and ‘Rhetoric of the Image’ by Roland Barthes

‘The Death of the Author’ Simplified (Roland Barthes)