Final Photos


This will be the conclusion of this photo series that I have yet to name. The series consists of seven photos, this was originally going to be six, but I added a self-portrait as I think it is important to show the artists interpretation of his/her own self.

The seven portraits are: Friend, Linguist, Traveller, Musician, Memory, Emotion, and Photographer.

For each subject, I asked a series of questions relating to my topic, music. This gave me the ability to chose the best photo of them for this project and layer meaning that was relevant to them through editing.

To achieve this similar visual style, I used a shallow depth of field to focus the image on the face of my subjects while having a blurred background. I also have used light to highlight my subjects faces, this is also required to create the edited text-effect. For this, all but one of my images were shot indoors where I could control the amount of light on my subject. The one portrait that I shot outdoors was more of a struggle but the background directly related to the subject’s relationship to music. As my subjects were all still, I was not limited by shutter-speed so could get more light.

The Questions

The questions I asked were as follows;

  • Favourite song (and why)
  • Favourite genre (and why)
  • What music means to you
  • Why do you enjoy listening to music
  • Favourite artist
  • Favourite lyric
  • How did you get into music

These questions I hoped would give me variation between each subject and helped me construct a narrative behind each image.

Trial and error

I began this project by taking photos of items that ‘visualised’ music by showing its consequence, eg the chips on the drumsticks indicate they have created a lot of noise.

Sticks 1 - Final

These photos ended up appearing more as product photography and I thought it was impossible to convey what I wanted using this style. I wanted to show music’s power and thought a better way to do this would be to use people and show music’s effect on them. That is when I decided to change my approach to this project, and focus on how and why people enjoyed or even depended on music.


I wanted to have a portrait with direct interpolation and a blank facial expression. This is a technique I learned in week three whilst doing portraits, it gives power to the viewer as the facial expression is another method of layering meaning onto a photo.

I had tested out using different facial expressions but quickly decided against it.


The straight-faced style seemed to give a more serious and thus genuine feel to the photo and conveyed a relationship to music that was more than simply enjoyment.

I shot these images with a focus on the highlights of the face. For the effect you work, a lot of light needs to be on the face of the subject to this was imperative. I shot with a wide aperture to give the most light in the image, using natural lighting from windows in each photo, and a 1/60 shutter speed. This is slow enough to give a decent amount of light without blurring the image. After taking the photos, I edited them first in Camera Raw CC to ensure I had a well-exposed shot so the effect of layering text into their skin worked as well as it could.

I took a number of alternative shots for every subject I photographed in order to have a number of options to choose from.



For each subject I created a brief based on their answers to my questions above.

Name of the song

Title of photograph

Description of the image.

Fly Away With Me


The Linguist learns a new language through music. The barrier of language is broken through music. Her favourite song is about overcoming fears, and this she has done through music.

The Predator


The Traveller’s favourite song is one based on truth. His genre, Hip-Hop, is based on truth. Music to him means safety, it means a home where he has none. To him, music is a method to access memory and the/his past and a friend when he is alone.

Pulaski At Night


To The Musician, music is a place for family comfort and a method of interaction. She has played the piano and saxophone from an early age. Her Father has played all of his life. Music helps her interact and feel closer to those she loves.



Music to The Emotional is a universal tool. All people can enjoy one art form and all can express themselves and understand others expressions. An emotional release and an avenue to spend time focussing on herself is achieved through music.

Good times


The Memory uses music to remember better times, to remember summer and to remember home while she is away. She plays music to connect with others and to fill a silence. She is kind and uses music to connect with others and to connect with the past.

High Hopes


The Friend uses music socially. She is able to blend in with a crowd and communicate using music. Where she would be stranded, music offers her a bridge to communicate through.

and finally,



The Photographer has played music, spread music on the radio and learned through music. He expresses himself through music and is influenced and educated by what he hears, not just what he sees. Music to him is a tool to inspire, a friend when he is alone and a necessity to maintain his drive/motivation.



In Conclusion

This series shows how music affects people, how it defines them, how it assists them and mainly how it helps them. Music is a very personal entertainment, people can enjoy the same style of music or even the same song for totally different reasons. I have always been fascinated by music’s power to unite and to empower and being able to visualise this phenomenon in these subjects has been a challenging by rewarding experience.

Going on from this project, I want to focus on how people can enjoy music in alternative ways. This spawns from my original idea of how music can be ‘seen’ but with a focus on the people who are enjoying music, not the objects making the music as I began with.


Updated Idea


I have decided that I will instead do this ‘text effect’ for my project

This text effect edit was a private project of mine but I have realised it is a perfect medium to convey my photography project. I will be taking portraits of musicians I know or friends to whom music means a great deal, and interviewing them on how music has helped or affected their lives.

One key idea that I am keen to pursue is asking each subject for a song that they love or means something to them, a significant song, and then using the lyrics or sheet music for that song to create this effect.

Researching this idea

I have found a number of variations of this same idea that all look slightly different.

Screen Shot 2018-04-10 at 11.14.44

This first portrait is interesting in its difference to my own photo. It does not have the layering or depth that I have gone to, but it coats the subject closer to a tattooed man. This photo reminds me a Diane Arbus photo recommended to me when I decided for my project to take this turn.

Diane Arbus Circus

This is also similar to the next photo edit I looked at in relation to this new project.

Screen Shot 2018-04-10 at 11.16.04

These two photos have something that I want to capture in my project that I did not do in my original test shot, direct interpolation. This makes the person in the photo appear to be addressing the viewer of the photo. This adds layers of meaning in terms of representation and gaze and is a feature of these photos I want to carry into my own work.

Screen Shot 2018-04-10 at 11.17.14

This shot of John Lennon is quite different to the other photos in the series and provides an interesting concept. His face is only half made up of words and half his own, unedited face. The effect is less his face being made up of words, and more his face can be seen in the words. Again, this shot uses direct interpolation and has the effect of making the words seem more directed at the viewer.

These last few shots are black and white, the first is not, but I believe this lack of colour gives more meaning to the words and creates a better overall effect.

In Conclusion

I am going to continue this line of photography for my project as I believe it better relates music’s effect on people and it is a line of photography that I am interested in, editing to make an impossibility, possible.


Further Research into my Idea

Jared Ficklin is a designer and has a passion for visualising music. My idea revolves around being able to visualise music and capture that in an image, so I have researched into Ficklins work.

For more on Ficklin see and his website )

New ways to see music (with colour! and fire!)

Ficklin’s presentations shows different ways to ‘see’ music and sound. First he uses a Rubens tube. This is a long tube of metal with holes bored into the top, connected to a tank of propane. When different frequencies are played through the tube the fire from the holes adjust to the sound.

Rubens Tube

(See and for more)

He goes on to use a similar product, a flame table. This shows sound and frequency in a different way. Instead of just showing just amplitude and frequency it is more articulate in its representation of sound.

Flame Table

Rendering songs

He began by rendering the frequencies of one band’s song and then the rest, he then compiled these into one visual impression;

Redering Smells like Teen Spirit

Just by looking at other song’s sound waves, it can be identified which song a Nirvana fan would enjoy just based on how the waveforms look.

Video opening

He finishes up this presentation by talking about the TED talk opening. Just by having the sound waves seen in real time, even without hearing anything, separate parts of the audio can be seen.

TED talk sound waves

This final idea comes into what I wanted to capture in the radio recording booth with the various audio levels in the studio. Ficklin thinks this concept is exciting, as he says, “You can get the tone and the timbre and the pace of the speech, things that you can’t get out of closed captioning.”

Visualising sound is another way to enjoy it and this is what I want to capture in my final project. 


Ideas for my final Project

This was the hardest part of the documentary module I did last term, finding an interesting subject to shoot and adding my personal original take on an old concept. I believe this term however, I have an interesting idea.

My idea

I am going to visualise music. What I mean by this is I am going to attempt to put images to the experience of playing and hearing music, a sort of bridge between audio and visuals. I have played the drums since I was 13 and currently have a show on the radio, this means I will have access to a lot of equipment relating to playing music and enjoying music. I have a number of connections to musical artists and so getting the instruments shan’t be an issue for this project. In addition to this, the documentary I filmed last year was in the GAK (Guitars, Amps & Keyboards) shop in Brighton and so I can easily talk to the owners about shooting in their shop as I already know them.

My current plan of photos 

(This will be subject to change).

  • An around 2-second exposure of a guitar string(s)

I am hoping to capture the vibrational movement of a string and thought a relatively long exposure would be the ideal method to capture vibration without shooting video

  • Paint in an upturned sub-woofer speaker

I have seen this effect in high-speed photography, ( and ), and thought this was a good way to almost see sound. This I think would make for an interesting image, there are a few issues I may run into however, in trying to shoot this photo (I have listed them below).

  • Rice/sand on a cymbal

For this, I would either upturn a large crash cymbal or use a China cymbal. What I am hoping for is similar to the paint in a sub-woofer idea, that the ‘crash’ would raise the rice or sand leaving it suspended in the air. This would show sound in a photograph.

  • A needle on a vinyl record

For this, I would use a very shallow depth of field and get in really tight, hopefully with a macro lens, so the ridges of the record are seen with the vinyl going out of focus very quickly. This is another aspect to music, the evolution, that fascinates me as I was born in the 90s and have only ever recreationally used records (as weird as that sounds).

  • Meters on a broadcasting unit

This shows the other side to music evolving. I have access to the studio in which I record and broadcast my radio show and I hope this shot would shot how music can be shared with everyone.

  • A deaf person’s hand on a speaker

Years ago a saw a drummer live who was deaf. She felt the vibrations of the drums sitting on stage through her bod and was able to construct songs while not being able to actually hear the music. The performance was inspiring and it shows another way in which music can be enjoyed, another way to ‘listen’ to music even if that person is deaf.

  • A dancer in action

Similar to the deaf person hearing music in a different way, a dancer visualises music through his/her performance. The medium is visual but it is another way for someone to enjoy music.

  • An open piano

This is my least favourite idea in the series so I will probably not use it even if I shoot the photo but I felt it a good idea to include in this list as it shows my thought process. There are a few reasons I do not like this idea;

  1. It came to me immediately, this does not make the idea bad in itself but I feel as if it is underdeveloped
  2. I have defiantly seen this photo before, I think one of the reasons I thought of it so fast is that It is a shot I commonly associate with musical photography
  3. I don’t have direct access to a large stringed grand piano
  4. I don’t know how to make the photo artistic, I cannot think of an easy way to layer in added meaning to a shot I feel has been done 1000 times or more

Issues I may run into

The main issue I would run into I think would be the paint in the subwoofer of a speaker. The rest of the photos are attainable, some will require a little more research. But the paint in the speaker would require me to take the front off of a speaker, large enough to create an effect with the paint, which would break the speaker. I do have some speakers large enough but they come at considerable cost. The only way I could get this photo is either spending the money or seeing if acquaintances have an old speaker with a sub-woofer large enough to create this effect, which they would not mind me breaking.

A lot of these photos can be shot in a studio where I would have full access to the light source and can shoot at my leisure. The photograph of the record and of the audio levels however, both need to be shot in the radio studio where this equipment is and so light may be an issue for these shots. There is no natural light in the studio as with all audio recording booths, and the studio is small. This means bringing in lights may be an issue. I shouldn’t need a lot of light however as I will be using a very shallow depth of field for each shot.

The only other issue that I can see so far for my photos is that I do not know any dancers since I have moved. Either I will meet a dancer or group of dancers and take their photos, or I shall get a non-dancing friend and attempt to capture any grace they may have, in a photo.


Going into Photography

I thought it would be a good idea to introduce this blog by setting my prior knowledge of photography, and what I will be using this blog for.

Prior knowledge

I have worked a lot with film cameras and so have a good understanding of shutter speeds, ISO, aperture etc. and the effect of these on how a film looks, however I have not studied their effect on a still frame in as much detail. I have shot photos on my phone up to this point, mainly for my own desires, never being paid.

The main reason I wanted to take this course was because I have always had an interest in the editing of photos, more of this can be seen on my personal photography blog: I have for a while wanted to take better photos for the purpose of making more complex edits in Adobe’s Photoshop and other editing softwares.

I also wanted to have a better knowledge of cameras for the making of films. I have mainly learnt through trial and error up to this point and don’t want to have holes in my knowledge of cameras for filming. If I can make my photos better I will have the ability to make better-looking footage.

Finally, I am a Film Studies student and thusly all of my other modules are theory based, I wanted to make my hobby my elective and so I chose Photography.

Blog Contents:

This blog will cover the following;

as well as be a reflection of the readings each week, how they influenced my photography knowledge, any updates to my ability to take photos and any concerns or issues I face in this module.

Practical knowledge that I will cover:

  • Camera handling – How to hold, and adjust controls, on the move
  • Using camera in M mode
  • Changing shutter speed
  • What shutter speed to select and why. Minimum recommendations
  • Changing aperture
  • What aperture to select and why
  • Manually focusing
  • The impact of shutter speed: motion blur, avoiding shake, jumpology
  • Controlling exposure using shutter speed and aperture
  • Lens angle
  • The effect on Depth of Field of aperture, lens angle, point of focus
  • Depth of field blurring and how to control it
  • Why to change ISO
  • Changing ISO
  • The impact of ISO
  • Auto-focus
  • A mode
  • S mode
  • RAW: why to use it and how
  • RAW editing dialogue
  • The significance of resolution. What is DPI?
  • Photoshop basics
  • Creating a contact sheet in Photoshop
  • Histograms and their uses
  • Data bending
  • Flash basics
  • 3 point lighting basics
  • Search / advanced search / reverse image search
  • Composition principles, rules of three
  • Lighting principles
  • Other design principles

Other updates:

I will also be showing my photographic progression in photo posts, as well as any techniques I will be trying out.

Authorship and Circulation


This presentation was a lot shorter so there are very few notes.

Richard Hamilton

Richard Hamilton was one of the first artists to create ‘Pop art’. This bulging expressive style highlights a ‘cartoony’ style of art came to challenge ‘fine art’ as it was then, in the 1980’s, “Keen to embrace certain types of technology within his art, Hamilton began creating computer-generated works in the 1980s.” (From: )

His style is another of collating images to make a point, in a similar way to Joachim Schmid and Penelope Umbrico, and this is something I am going to have to consider for my final series.

We are required to produce 6-8 images for our final piece as this will give a running trend throughout the work. An image has added meaning in comparison to what was before it and after it and so I will have to be specific in the ordering of my final images. A single image on its own can convey a very specific meaning but a number of photos, all altered in a similar way will also give meaning to each image.

Michael Wolf

Michael Wolf’s work seems to be similar to a photographer I mentioned in my first post, Kevin Cobos.

Michael Wolf seems to be interested in the uniformity of buildings. His works highlight how identical buildings in the modern and 3rd world are. This could purely be an aesthetic appreciation, but his photos have circulated based on his specific style of shooting. He is in a certain way, an auteur. He designs all aspects of his images to create a specific effect that he conveys using his photography.

In Conclusion

These two photographers have used their art in very specific ways to create a new aspect to art. Their development of visual style have labelled them authors of their own unique style of art and have lead to more people exploring their particular brand of art. Richard Hamilton for example can be said to have been an influence for artists like Andy Warhol, Gary Grayson and Ahmad Nusyirwan. (This is just an example, these artists may not have been influenced by Richard Hamilton’s work). Further circulation of artists work will lead to a wider appreciation for the different style of photography and art as spreading images and ideas is being made easier by technology.

Web 3.0 & Ubiqutos photography


Again, I do not have the presentation to hand and so am going to work off of my notes made during the presentation.

Semantic Web

According to the W3C, “The Semantic Web provides a common framework that allows data to be shared and reused across application, enterprise, and community boundaries” (from: )

This links to the proliferation of social media, as discussed in week 9’s reading log, as it is now faster and easier to spread images all over the world. The continuation of developing technologies leading to faster internet services will further the spreading of images online.

Artificial intelligence

This is not a full reality yet as ‘intelligent’ AI will be able to think for itself, however, this term is used here to talk again about the development of digital technologies and spreading of data.

Ubiquitous web

Ubiquitous. [adj]

1. (seemingly) present everywhere simultaneously.
2. often encountered [Latin ubique everywhere]

Oxford English Dictionary

This is the crux of internet technologies in terms of spreading data. To have data instantaneously all over the world will lead to faster spreading of one’s own ideas and receiving data from others such as popular influencers. For instance, if Kanye West sends a tweet on ‘Twitter’, all over the world his million followers can instantly read or see what he wants them to. This is a powerful tool for someone in a position such as Kanye West is, but it is also important for everyone else. If an aspiring photographer, for instance, wanted to promote her/his work they would be able to do so online through various picture and video sharing sites.

This leads on to the second section of this presentation on ‘Ubiquity in Photography’, which focus’ on artists.

Ubiquity in Photography

José Van Dijck

This section began with discussing José van Dijck’s 2013 book, ‘The Culture of Connectivity’. (This was the set reading for week 9 and thus I have discussed a lot of the ideas he goes over in this reading log post). This reading focussed on the spreading of images by celebrities and all other people and artists ability to collate these images as all are available to them. He referenced Tumblr for this example, however, nowadays there are many services that offer this same ability.

Erica Scourti

“She is interested in the patterns that structure language in the Web and their capability to influence the self-determination of the users in a complex context of an individual but networked experience.”

(From: )

Erica Scourti is an artist that uses network, language and community to connect to people around the world in an effort to share new ideas with a wide demographic. This would not be possible without the ‘ubiquitous web’.

Martin Hand

Martin Hand has written a book called ‘Ubiquitous Photography’ as well as one on ‘Making Digital Cultures: Access, Interactivity, and Authenticity’.

As  puts it,

“Events, activities, moments, objects, and people are ‘captured’ and distributed as images on an unprecedented scale. Many of these are shared publicly; some remain private, others become intellectual property, and some have the potential to shape global events. In this timely introduction, the ubiquity of photography is explored in relation to interdisciplinary debates about changes in the production, distribution, and consumption of images in digital culture.”

He talks about the relationship between the immediacy of taking a photo digitally and sharing it publically all over the world. He also goes on to discuss how this will and has lead to a shift in society and how ideas are spread. The ability to have a large audience all over the world see an image at once gives a person with a large following power in what they show.

Penelope Umbrico

Penelope Umbrico’s work has appeared before in José van Dijck’s 2013 book, ‘The Culture of Connectivity’.

Suns from Sunsets from Flickr, 2006 – ongoing

Suns from Sunsets from Flickr - 2006

Penelope Umbrico is an artist that uses social media and the spreading of images online in her work. She collates images that are similar in visual style.

Screen Shot 2018-04-30 at 16.51.51

This shows perhaps the human’s collective enjoyment of one thing, for example a sunset, or it shows a culture of excess, where having more of something is just better, or perhaps it shows how similar humans are in their use of modern technologies.

Joachim Schmid

Joachim Schmid is similar to Penelope Umbrico in that he uses these new technologies to collate images, however, he is very specific and does not show excess in his work. His main/most well-known works are those of splicing two portraits together to create a new person.

The effect created is one that is eerie and applies most to my own photography series. In my work, I want to layer lettering on to portraits that I have taken to add meaning. My work is similar to that of Joachim Schmid’s in this way, altering a photo to make a ‘new reality’ that falls within the ‘uncanny valley’ for people to look at.

In Conclusion

The continuous development on the web, leading to faster spreading of images, is becoming and will continue to become a major part of photography, as well as the general spreading of ideas and information. For photographers, the ability to take an image and instantly put it online for millions to see is imperative. They reach a larger audience, and this system makes it easier for the public to view a wide range of images. This encourages photographers, artists and common people to spread creativity and ideas and it is all made possible by the proliferation of online technologies and smart phones, so people can access the web from whereever they are.

Practical Knowledge

All of these are topics of photography that I need to know. I will add to this page as I learn:

Camera handling – How to hold, and adjust controls, on the move

This was covered in the first photography workshop where we were told to expose shots correctly. These features change for each camera but on the Nikon D7000, the back dial alters shutter speed with the front dial altering F-Stops.

Using the camera in M mode

The mode dial on the left side of the camera switches the camera into M-Mode (Manual Mode). This means the camera will not assist the user in exposing a shot correctly etc.

How to change shutter speed and why

The shutter speed is how fast the shutter moves, in a DSLR, which changes how long light is allowed onto the sensor. This has a dramatic difference on how bright the shot is and the amount of motion blur in a shot. A relatively long shutter speed, say of 5 seconds, will have a lot of motion blur as every second of the exposure, light is being accepted onto the sensor. This will create a very bright image. However, a short shutter speed, say of 1/1000 of a second will produce a very crisp image, good for shooting a fast-moving subject, but will give a dark photo as light has only been allowed onto the sensor for 1/1000 of a second.

How to change aperture and why

The aperture is how wide open the lens is and this changes the length of focus in a shot. This can direct attention in a shot, to make the viewer see something in a different way, for example having the entirety of a background blurred. This larger the aperture, the more light is being let on to the sensor and thus the image is brighter.

( From: )

Manually focusing

I have used video cameras where auto-focus is a tool required for the shoot, so manually focusing with a ring on the lens is somewhat of a new skill. This is basically a box of focus that can be moved toward or away from the camera, the aperture changes the size of this metaphorical box.

Lens angle

This can be changed by the amount of zoom used and distance from the subject. See more in Week 4: Portraits, ( )

Changing ISO and ISO’s Impact

ISO is digitally boosting light in an image, sensor gain. This makes a brighter image but adds noise and grain to the photo. For this reason, it is best to have the smallest ISO possible to have the least amount of noise in an image, however for particularly dark surroundings, it is sometimes necessary to use this feature.

A mode

Or Aperture Priority is a type of automatic mode, where the aperture is the focus of the camera. This means that adjusting shutter speed is no longer in the hands of the photographer, the camera does this automatically to get the best shot.

S mode

The is the same as aperture priority (see above), but for shutter speed.

Flash basics

The main complication with using flash is to not over-expose any part of the image. Using a flash gun can give two exposures, the subject and the background both being correctly exposed, and techniques such as rear curtain flash can give motion blur to a subject showing the speed that they are travelling at. Using a larger flash bulb can produce a very different effect. A subject can be in perfect light with an entirely black background. Knowing how to use flash is an important part of portrait photography or product photography.

(See more in my post for Week 5 Reading log; “David Präckel: Basics Photography Lighting” and Lighting Week 5).

RAW: why to use it and how

RAW is a photo file format. It codes each pixel as an individual colour and because of this RAW’s have upsides and downsides. One major downside to shooting in RAW is that the file size is very large, colouring each pixel individually means each photo is a lot of data. For this reason, a lot of photographers shoot ‘RAW + jpeg’ so they have access to a smaller file of the same image to either send to a client or post on a blog where a lower quality image is not a huge deal. A jpeg compresses the file size by bulking very similar coloured pixels together instead of colouring each pixel individually, this leads to a lower quality image. Another upside to shooting in RAW is editing.

RAW editing dialogue

Editing a RAW file can be done in certain programmes such as Adobe’s Camera RAW. This programme allows the photographer to use histograms to gain a correct exposure of an image, possibly saving it if the photo is majorly under or over-exposed.

The significance of resolution. What is DPI?

DPI (Dots Per Inch), is the number of or pixels that are in one inch on the screen. A higher DPI is a higher resolution image as it allows for greater detail.


(See more and image from: )

Photoshop basics

Using Photoshop is how I became interested in photography. I have used this programme for a number of years and so already knew the basics. To get started with Photoshop, what you need to know are: Layers, cropping, adjustment layers and a few of the basic tools such as transforming and masking.

Layers are each image you are working with. This allows you to alter an image in any way and always have the original. It also allows you to add or take away effects from your image without damaging it.

Adjustment layers are used to control how the image looks. There are adjustment layers for contrast, levels, colour reduction, brightness etc. These can also be turned on/off or have their opacity reduced so the effect is not fully visible.

Cropping and transforming are used to get the right canvas size for a project you need and having the right size of any other photos in your composition.

These are the basics of Photoshop but there is always going to be more.

Histograms and their uses

Histograms can show how much of each colour is in a shot, and the spread of light to dark. If an image is correctly exposed, the graph will not stray outside the left or right of the histogram.


This histogram shows a well-exposed image.


The top graph shows an under-exposed image whilst the bottom graph shows an over-exposed image.

Histograms are used to correctly expose an image whilst shooting or editing an image file.

(Images from: This site explains histograms very well)

Data bending

Data bending is a process of altering a photo by changing its code. More of this can be seen in Lofi Rosa Menkman – A Vernacular of File Formats, reading log week 8. The effects created are varied and unpredictable. In the past, I have spent great time and effort editing photos to make them appear to be corrupted, but altering the data of the image to create a random and interesting effect is not something I have done, until now.

3 point lighting basics

I have studied this in relation to studying cinema. This is a style of lighting composition used to create various effects. (To see an in-depth study of lighting read: Bordwell, David & Kristin Thompson, “The Shot: Mise-en-Scene.” p.191-8, and Phillips, William H., “Cinematography,” in Film: An Introduction (3rd Edition) p.70-78).

(From Bordwell, David & Kristin Thompson, “Style as a Formal System,” Chapter 10 of Film Art: An Introduction (7th Edition) p. 128)

This is where light is fully in control by the photographer. There is a key light, a back light and a fill light. The manipulation of the intensity of each light, along with the camera’s position can drastically alter how a photo is perceived.

For example:

These photos are all of the same subject but just based on the change in 3-point lighting, each photo conveys different connotations. I will have to keep this in mind as all of my photos are portraits in this style, I would not want to layer meaning through the lighting if I did not intend to as someone could misread the image.

Composition principles, rules of three

This is the basic rule of thirds. The top two points at which the vertical and horizontal lines cross are focal points, the human eye is drawn towards them. For my final series, I want the viewer to connect with my subject so I am having the eyes of my subjects on the focal points. This will create an instant effect on the viewer as the subject is looking directly at them. Compositional principles apply to all styles of photography, not just portraits.

In Conclusion

I began this photography course with very little knowledge how to physically take a photo, my main interest in photography had been in editing. However, throughout this course, I have learnt about all the aspects to think about when taking a photo to best convey one’s own purpose and have applied them to my own photography.

Gillian Wearing

More Solo-Research

I have been looking around online to try and find photographers and artists who have had similar projects to mine in the past, so I am able to see how they have used similar conventions to me to convey meaning. Gillian Wearing was suggested to me as a photographer who has used a similar technique I am using to convey meaning.

Gillian Wearing has a photo series of people, ‘social outsiders’, holding up signs with statements the subject has made on them. This gives a voice where perhaps these people do not have one, to reach an audience and be heard in a society where they are oppressed for whatever reason. These photos were taken between 1992-3.


'I'm desperate' 1992-3 by Gillian Wearing OBE born 1963
‘I’m Desperate’


This first image is the most interesting to me due to its paradox. The facial expression shows a happy figure, content with his situation, and body language that shows confidence and pride. However, the sign he is holding up tells a different story. This sign, that states “I’m Desperate” could signify how this subject feels inside. The photo has been taken on the street in the public, as this signifies he is not an outlier, that this is a ‘common’ man that has this conflict between his presentation and his emotions.

This is a powerful image to me because it is addressing a ‘taboo’. To appear desperate is often seen as a sign of weakness in society, so this man is unique in the addressing of his own desperation, but this presentation is paradoxical due to his strong, confident representation in this image.

These images by Gillian Wearing are significant to my series of images as I am going to layer in information to my portraits by using text. Adding wording is another denotation in my work that I will use to convey each subject’s relationship to music. I will use a straight face, straight body language and the background to create meaning in my images. This will help the viewer add her/his own interpretation of the subject’s connection with music.

Week 9 Reading Log

Culture of Connectivity – Jose Van Dijck

From reading the introduction to this piece it is a few years out of date (2010), so I shall update the information where I can.

Jose Van Dijck is talking about the rise of images on social media as a method of expressing one’s self and sharing photos that you have taken. I remember reading an article about a man who was required by the FBI to take photos everywhere he went and to document his everyday life. He said it was irritating, stressful and exhausting to dedicate his time to such a trivial task. This was a number of years ago, and now people do this for fun. The rise social media sites such as; Facebook, Twitter, Flikr, Tumblr, Instagram etc. has allowed people to easily document everything that they do.

“Individuals articulate their identities as social beings by uploading photographs to document their lives” p. 2. These sites don’t just collate your information but archive it, and from that, can build an incredibly accurate profile of any person using them. As Dijck states, “Flickr does not simply enable but actively constructs connections between perspectives, experiences and memories” p. 2. Dijck mentions, “Hoskins’ theory on connective memory as part of a more general culture of connectivity – a culture where perspectives, expressions, experiences and productions are increasingly mediated by social media sites” p. 2.

His main argument of this piece is talking about his concept of the culture of connectivity. This is one application of uploading images instantly online to share, but there a number of other applications to instantaneous access to an audience or access to millions of images.

Culture of Connectivity 

He opens this subject by asking, “how ‘collective’ views, experiences and memory can be accounted for in terms of connectivity” p. 4.

And then comes on to something I mentioned earlier, “Flickr’s metadata and statistical analyses are not simply meant to track users’ preferences, but this information may be used in turn to stimulate users into engaging in particular group behaviour or group formation” p. 4. Social media sites are amazing and building a profile of a person or group based on, what they look at, for how long, if they share it with people and if so who etc. This data is powerful and is a double-edged sword. For one it is good! As a user, works and photographs you are likely to enjoy are promoted to you. You get more of the content that you want to consume based on what you have liked previously and your trends, eg. instagram’s discover page. However, this means you’re information is spread, making you an easier target for advertisers for example.

Collective Memory

This is an aspect of the proliferation of social media that I had not considered in depth. Everything on the internet is logged away and saved forever, archived. This is a fascinating concept to think about. Where archaeologists have been digging in remote parts of the world for knowledge of what the past was like, archaeologists of the future will be able to ‘cmd+F’ any information they need about the past.

It is also the best method of spreading information, for example, I’ve never been to America but,

Screen Shot 2018-04-23 at 16.38.29.png

that’s what it looks like.

In an odd way however, sites such as Flickr become almost mediators of content. Those that run the site, such as moderators and administrators, have the power to remove images as they please. This leads to the policing of images at the will of others and could force those uploading photos to control their creativity. For example, a lot of these picture sharing sites are not comfortable with sharing images of people naked. This could be positive for people sharing naked images of other maliciously, but for photographers appreciating the naked human form, their type of art may be rejected.

In Conclusion

Social media sites are perfect for sharing your own images with an audience and finding artwork that you enjoy as a consumer. They are also dangerous in that as a user of these sites, you are giving others your own information, even just viewing images can build a profile of yourself which people such as advertisers may be able to exploit for profit. However, overall the continued proliferation of social media sites are positive in photography for interacting with an audience, interacting with friends, for collating images, being inspired and having the ability to share with the world, creating a culture of connectivity.

Reading Log Week 7

Stuart Hall: The Work of Representation

I have studied Hall’s work previously, his reception theory which was related to representation, so I am interested to learn more about his work. I was not intending to include people in my work at all, but I have been considering a project that might include people so hopefully, this reading will help me with this endeavour.

As Stuart Hall says, “representation is the production of meaning through language”. I feel this summarises this reading.

He says that language shapes representation and representation is formed by category. To categorize something is to give it a named representation and this is shaped by the relationship, in this case, of a photos denotations. This could be composition, lighting, contrast, colour, lack of colour and subject. These signs convey a meaning that are in turn interpreted by the ‘reader’ of the image.

For my images, meaning will be interpreted through a number of specific denotations.

  • Each subject’s facial expression
  • The lyrics on each subject’s face
  • The colour I have used for each photo
  • The length away from the person’s face in the photo
  • The background of the image around the subject
  • The subject looking down the lens

The next Chapter is called:


Hall opens with,
“For Saussure, according to Jonathan Culler (1976, p. 19), the production of meaning depends on language: ‘Language is a system of signs.’ Sounds, images, written words, paintings, photographs, etc. function as signs within language ‘only when they serve to express or communicate ideas. … [To] communicate ideas, they must be part of a system of conventions …’ (ibid.).” p. 16

Also adding,
“There was, he argued, the form (the actual word, image, photo, etc.), and there was the idea or concept in your head with which the form was associated.” p. 16

This was a theory that I learned in school, the signifier and what is signified, these are basically denotation (signifier) and connotation (signified). He talks about the relationship between the signifier and what is signified and says how in language, this link is permanent. I would agree with this. I would argue that as cultural signifiers develop and language develops, old signifiers meanings can change. Some stay the same, for example, the colour red signifying danger, but a lot of signifiers change as society does and the same signifier can mean different things to different people, for example;


This image has a lot of connotations to different people. For some, it is a symbol of new order, of taking control of their country, for some it a symbol or racism and oppression. These two opposite views come from the same simple signifiers, so I would agree with Saussure,

“the relation between the signifier and the signified, which is fixed by our cultural codes, is not – Saussure argued – permanently fixed. Words shift their meanings.” p. 18

Hall (p. 20) summarises Saussure’s theory, “the intentional theory reduced representation to the intentions of its author or subject. The constructionist theory proposed a complex and mediated relationship between things in the world, our concepts in thought and language.”

Hall goes on to talk about denotations and connotations (p. 23), and then on to discourse.

“Models of representation, […] ought to focus on these broader issues of knowledge and power.

Foucault used the word ‘representation’ in a narrower sense than we are using it here, but he is considered to have contributed to a novel and significant general approach to the problem of representation. What concerned him was the production of knowledge (rather than just mean- ing) through what he called discourse (rather than just language).”


In Conclusion

Representation is created by a number of factors used by the author of a photograph and how the reader of the image interprets these signifiers. Each aspect of a photo combines to make the photos meaning.