Hearing is believing


Record a real conversation with a friend. (It’s up to you whether you ask permission or not!) Before listening to the recording, write your account of both sides of the conversation. Then listen to the recording and make note of the discrepancies. Perhaps there are unfinished sentences, stammers, pauses, miscommunications etc.

Reflect upon the believability of re-enacted narratives and how this can be applied to constructed photography. What do you learn from the conversation recording process and how can you transfer what you learned into making pictures?

I often record meetings I attend, so that I can listen again, if I can’t quite remember what has been said. especially if I have to write up points made afterwards. Often sometimes later. What I find is that I hardly ever actually listen to them again and what I write down is the essence of the conversation. It’s a like a summay, my understanding of the conversation.

I think that a photograph is something similar, what you bring to it as the photographer isn’t a precise record of the event, but capturing or creating the feeling of the moment. Trying to tell the viewer, what it is that the scene meant to you and how it made you feel.

I think you can transfer, the lighting, the feeling and the ambience of the moment as it felt to you. Trying to recreate the context in which it was taken is also important in conveying the story.

Project 4 – Exercise

Sarah Pickering – Public Order


Look at some more images from this series on the artist’s website.

• How do Pickering’s images make you feel?

• Is Public Order an effective use of documentary or is it misleading?
Make some notes in your learning log.

resources used to complete this exercise:

http://www.sarahpickering.co.uk/Works/Pulic-Order/workpg-01.html [accessed 18.11.2018]

https://www.tate.org.uk/art/art-terms/d/documentary-photography [accessed 18/11/2018

Sarah Pickering, Denton Underground Station, 2003
google search of Sarah Pickering's images

how do these images make me feel?:

Well I think they are a bit unsettling. At first glance they looked ‘not quite right’ but as I looked at the them it is obvious that they are fake.  Then I became interested in looking at the marks on the walls and wondering what scenario was being played out in the exercises being played out there

The images work well together and you get a real sense of the story, but individually I don’t think they say much.  

Is Public Order an effective use of documentary or is it misleading?:

The Tate website describes ‘Documentary Photography as: 

“Documentary photography is a style of photography that provides a straightforward and accurate representation of people, places, objects and events, and is often used in reportage”

At first I wasn’t sure this is documentary photography, but I suppose that if you take the images as their reality and not the set they are portraying then it could be.  with no action actually taking place, you are left to imagine what might happen here and therefore, I think it’s a bit misleading

Paul Seawright – Sectarian Murder

Research point

Look online at Paul Seawright’s work, Sectarian Murders:

  • How does this work challenge the boundaries between documentary and art? Listen to Paul Seawright talk about his work at: http://vimeo.com/76940827 [accessed24/02/14]
  • What is the core of his argument? Do you agree with him?
  • If we define a piece of documentary photography as art, does this change its meaning?

Video accessed 27.10.2018

Seawright describes himself as a  photographic artist and is talking about his images as art rather than journalistic.  He describes a balance between it being too explicit and leaving some room for the viewer to access the meaning.  

He is wanting his viewer to take time to look at the images and learn more from them and their context in taking that time.  He compares this to journalisic images which he says need to give up their explicit meaning quickly, so that the viewer can keep turning the page.  

In both Seawright’s sets of Sectarian Murders (Above) and Hidden (below), he hints at previous aggression and conflict, by showing what is left in the places where it happened.  That coupled with the factual text under the images allows the view to look around his images as he describes in the video.

All of images in Sectarian Murders are complex and you see different things each time you look.  However, they are much more than just a documentary images, there is an artistic quality to the composition.  It appears that he has tried to give a feel of area and from a person’s point of view.

I think I do agree that presenting documentary photography as art it does change the meaning.  Seawright’s images definitely take on the ‘aftermath’ aproach showing us the place where something HAS happened.  The viewer has to react to the context and or narrative that goes alongside the image.  It makes you look for the meaning in the photo

Had these images just been shown in the media, they would have been looked over quickly.  I kind or relate it to the annual poppy festival, it’s a way reconnecting people with things that have happened so that they don’t happen again. 

Palestinian Protester

Captured on October 22 by Mustafa Hassouna of Turkey's Anadolu Agency (Getty Images)

This image just came up in my facebook feed: it was taken just a few days ago by a photojournalist in Gaza, Palestine.  I think this demonstrates beautifully the distinction between photojournalism and art.

The image went viral on social media, such as twitter because of is likeness to a famous painting by Delacroix’s, Liberty Leading the People.

Eugene Delacroix’s Liberty Leading the People

The first article I read about this focused more on the asethics of the image and likeness to the artwork than the real story and context in which this image was taken and that shocked me!

But having researched more, it seems that the argument about art versus reality is allowing other writers to push forward the realities of this very real modern day struggle.

Another article by the Independent argues that we should not be romanticising about this and gives a more balanced report.

The Aljazeera News told how Laleh Khalili, a SOAS University professor person, who posted the image on twitter also linked it to Delcroix’s painting generating agreement from other users and ‘creating the narrative’.

google search for Palestinian Protesters, showing less iconic images, which over more context and reality

Like Dorothea Lange’s migrant mother, the man in the image, Aed Abu Amro, may not personally benefit from this image, but he may indirectly bring the situation to a wider audience.

As it was reported that this idea of ‘liberty’ has been floated before in Gaza, one one wonders if like Lange, the photographer was sent out with list of images to get.  After all it is quite clear from the google search that many people carry flags whilst they are protesting!

Project 3 Exercise

Find a street that particularly interests you – it may be local or further afield. Shoot 30 colour images and 30 black and white images in a street photography style.

In your learning log, comment on the differences between the two formats.
What difference does colour make? Which set do you prefer and why?

I found this a very interesting exercise.  I like black and white photos, but usually just convert them from colour.  So actually taking them in black and white gave it a new perspective.

In order to take photos in black and white I had to learn how to set my camera to Monochrome in the shooting menu and then because I use a DSLR,  I had to use the live view on the screen rather than the viewfinder, which obviously doesn’t change.

I chose this village street, because it had a number of different elements that I thought might be interesting. Ultimately though, the time of day and the lighting didn’t add much value to the images.

I decided to take the colour photos first and then take black and white ones, as I didn’t want to mix them up.  This turned out to be a good plan because as I had taken them in RAW, Lightroom subsequently converted them all back to colour when I downloaded them.

For the purposes of this exercise, jpgs would have probably been sufficient.

As it was a very ‘bland’ day, lighting and weather wise , the colour images are only enhanced where there are blocks of green or dashes of colour to lift them, but they do give a feel of the time of year and almost deserted streets.

The black and white images however, don’t offer the same information about time of year.  They could have been taken at any time.  I also found that they are much more structured and detailed.  There are not some many images of the trees and flowers and more of buildings and items where there is a greater contrast between the elements of the image.


I’m not sure I really have a favourite set of these images. They both do different things.  I think on balance I prefer the colour ones here.  Only because you get a better sense of time of year.

Project 1 Eyewitnesses? – Part 3

Having asked about finding examples of citizen journalism on the CAN forum, one of the students mentioned that he had been involved in the ‘Umbrella Movement’ in Honk Kong in 2014.  When I looked it up I found both the story and images really interesting.

The umbrella movement were a series of sit in protests led by students against the Chinese governments decision regarding reforms to the Hong Kong electoral system.  The protesters who numbered into their thousands totally blocked main roads in Hong 

Peter said that the umbrellas were used to protect people from the pepper spray being used by the police and yellow is symbol of the pro democracy movement in Hong Kong.  

screenshot of conversation with Peter

With lots of people there having camera phones it means there are lots of images of the same incident from different perspectives. This means you’re not getting just one persons view of an event, but many.  So whereas one person’s image may be misleading or misread, the existence of many images of the same thing a more honest view of the event.

Project 1 Eyewitnesses? – Part 2

So having taken the advise of my course colleagues I looked again for examples of ‘citizen journalism’. Almost immediately during a trawl of the bbc news site, I came across this article:


Arlène Agneroh; the lady in the image, is a 33 year old single lady from the Democratic Republic of Congo. She is successful, educated and attractive. 

However, “In a predominantly Catholic country where many women are still confined to the household, marriage is widely seen as a necessary rite of passage”.

Arlène says she was saddened by the fact that this image posted on social media led to friends automatically concluding that she had got married, without asking any questions or checking the facts.

This a perfect example of citizen journalism highlighting a social issue.

The couple posed for picture above after this  image of the two of them together was misconstrued as them being a married couple.

It is an example of images that, when taken out of context can lead to a misleading viewpoint.  However, in doing so it has inadvertently highlighted an issue for women living in the Congo.

The fact that it is now being reported on the BBC shows traditional journalism is picking up on stories from social media and is able to add a more balanced view.

Project 1 Eyewitnessess?

The point of view of any event or scene gives us the momentarily belief we have witnessed this scene.  But in actual fact we have not, only the photographer has and therefore, we don’t really know what is real or not.

In this era for webcams and drones, even the photographer doesn’t have to be there!


Find some examples of news stories where ‘citizen journalism’ has exposed or highlighted abuses of power.

How do these pictures affect the story, if at all? Are  these pictures objective? Can pictures ever be objective?

Write a list of the arguments for and against. For example, you might argue that these pictures do have a degree of objectivity because the photographer  (presumably) didn’t have time to ‘pose’ the subjects, or perhaps even to think about which viewpoint to adopt. On the other hand, the images we see in  newspapers may be selected from a series of images and how can we know the factors that determined
the choice of final image?  Think about objectivity in documentary photography and make some notes in your learning log before reading further.


Citizen Journalism (Oxford English Dictionary): – noun:

The collection, dissemination, and analysis of news and information by the general public, especially by means of the Internet –

source: https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/citizen_journalism     [accessed 6.10.18]

Although I found many many articles and twitter and Instagram accounts dedicated to Citizen Journalism, what it is and what it has achieved, it’s very difficult to find recent images that have been shared which expose abuses of power.  It seems the Citizen Journalism, which first appeared in the early 2000s and was heralded as the movement that would change the face of journalism for ever.

It seems that in a way it has, but with ‘Fake news’ currently being in the spotlight it would appear that citizen journalism has had it’s day.  Ordinary people had an opportunity to show events from their own perspective, but unlike traditional journalism, what they say is not subject to the ethical scrutiny which means that some question the validity / truth of the comments being told.  Having also looked a number of newspaper sites, it is clear that traditional media now uses much more footage shot by ordinary citizens 

Study.com defines Citizen Journalism as “the collecting and reporting of information via social media, plubkic platforms and traditional new outlets, either by non-traditional sources or the public”.  Although it is widely thought of as a modern phenomenon there are examples as far back as the 1960s.