Research List


Part 1

Project 1, Eyewitnesses?

  • Dorothea Lange
  • Martha Rosler’s 1981 essay ‘In, Around and Afterthoughts (on documentary photography)’
  • Lewis Hine (1874 – 1940)

Project 2, Photojournalism

  • La Grange, A. (2005) Basic Critical Theory for Photographers. Burlington, MA: Focal Press
  • Martha Rosler
  • Susan Sontag
  • Abigail Solomon-Godeau

Research point
If you’re interested in the critical debates around photojournalism, try and make time to find out more about at least one of these critical positions during your work on Part One.  

Here are some questions to start you off:

(extract from Photography 1 Context and Narrative, page 27)
  • Do you think Martha Rosler is unfair on socially driven photographers like Lewis Hine? Is there a sense in which work like this is exploitative or patronising? Does this matter if someone benefits in the long run? Can photography change situations? 
  • Do you think images of war are necessary to provoke change?  Do you agree with Sontag’s earlier view that horrific images of war numb viewers’ responses? Read your  answer again when you’ve read the next section on aftermath photography and note  whether your view has changed. See also:
    when-photographs-of-atrocities-dont-shock/#1 [accessed 24/02/14]
  • Do you need to be an insider in order to produce a successful documentary project?
  • Roger Fenton
  • David Campany
  • Joel Meyerowitz

Project 3 Reportage

  • Eugene Atget’s frontal views of Parisian buildings and their inhabitants
  • Nan Golding

Research point
Do some research into contemporary street photography. Helen Levitt, Joel Meyerowitz, Paul Graham, Joel Sternfeld and Martin Parr are some good names to start with, but you may be able to find further examples for yourself.

  • What difference does colour make to a genre that traditionally was predominantly black and white?
  • Can you spot the shift away from the influence of surrealism (as in Cartier-Bresson’s work)?
  • How is irony used to comment on British-ness or American values?

Project 4 The gallery wall – documentary as art

  • MoMA 1967 – John Szarkowski
  • Tate Modern, Cruel and Tender, 2003
  • Tate Modern, Street and Studio (2008)

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: [accessed 24/02/14]
  • 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
  • Sarah Pickering, Public Order, 2004
  • Alessandra Sanguinetti, The Adventrues of Guille and Belinda and the Enigmatic Meaning of their Dreams

Project 5 The manipulated image

Context and Narrative Introduction

“I think it’s certain that one doesn’t only photography with the eyes but with all of one’s intelligence.”

Brassaï (interview with Tony Ray Jones, 1970, quoted in Brittain, 2000, p.39)

Context: noun (oxford English Dictionary) – the circumstances that form the setting for an event, statement, or idea, and in terms of which it can be fully understood.

We are to think about who, what, why, where and how we create and communicate our work. To take a critical approach to other photographer’s work as well as our own and be alert to the messages contained with our own work whether or not they were intended.

Judith Williamson’s ‘Advertising’ articles in Source give some examples of this approach:

in this article, Judith critiques the content of the image and the text with the realities of the production of the tablets.  My observation is that she also brings her life view and opinions to this critique. So not only must you read the image in the context of your own experience, but also Judith’s view.

Souce:  [accessed 06.10.18]

Joachim Schmid and Erik Kessels have both gathered much research and work into why people love to take the same images and tell stories.

I found ‘An Interview with Joachim Schmid’ an interesting article: Not only has he evidenced the fact that we all take the same images, but that they mostly tend to be photos of the world being ‘just fine’. He makes the conclusion that “it’s more comfortable to base your life on the assumption that things will be all right”.  As someone who has now photographed a number of weddings and family events, this resonates with me and I wonder if having images of us doing the same thing as our ancestors is something that also gives us a connection to our families but also to the wider human race.  I know i didn’t feel as comfortable when I wanted to take a photo at my father’s funeral it wasn’t so acceptable, but that one photo remains one of my most personally memorable photos. 

source:    [accessed 06.10.18]

Erik Kessels’ on the other hand downloaded and printed every image uploaded to Flickr during a 24 hour period in 2013.  He then created an art installation with them 

Erik Kessels, 24 hrs in photos, Arles 2013

The comment being made is one of volume and how much our private lives are made public now.  We all have access to so much information, should we? why do we as photographers continue to take photos knowing this?

Narrative: noun (Oxford English Dictionary)

• a spoken or written account of connected events; a     story: a gripping narrative
• the practice or art of telling stories
• a representation of a particular situation or process

We are asked to think about the elements within the frame that add to the story of the image. The author argues that in order to deconstruct a narrative you must first understand how the story holds together. Even elements in documentary images will be held up for critical review at some point as everything in the image and outside of the image adds to the story it conveys, but the context in which it is taken may alter the meaning to the viewer.

Finally we are asked to reflect upon some of the conceptual myths about photography, such as ‘the camera never lies’ or ‘fact is stranger than fiction’.