Research Task – Identity

What does it mean for me, to be myself.

I have and have had many identities through out my life so far:

  • Female
  • Daughter
  • Sister
  • Mother
  • Nana
  • Wife
  • Divorcee
  • Single Mum
  • Married
  • Step Mother
  • Secretary
  • Charity Worker
  • Business Owner
  • GP Practice Manager
  • NHS Project Manager
  • NHS Quality Manager
  • Photographer
  • Camper
  • Motor Homer
  • Home owner
  • Renter
  • British
  • English
  • Student
  • Driver

I’m pretty sure there are many more that I’ve forgotten as well. I deliberately haven’t added any of my physical attributes with the exception of being female. It seems that we do like to put labels on people, Why?

The first ever identity I was given was that of “it’s a girl”. This is something, that for me, I’m ok with, and am happy to identify as, but that very first identity bestowed upon you, has and does cause a life long problem for some people. Not only does it influence the name you’re given, but also the clothes you wear, the toys you play with, your position in the family. It must be so difficult if you don’t identify with that defining identity.

I feel that I have a good sense of self within my personal life, but sometimes find that within my professional life, once people have decided who they think you are, that persona is very difficult to shift. This has led to me having to move jobs to reaffirm myself. I currently work with a number of clinicians who struggle with the fact I am not a clinician doing the same job as them. This I think, is more of a challenge to their own sense of identity, than it is to mine.

Saying Hello to my Tutor

Started as I mean to go on, by having a ‘hangout’ conversation with my new tutor. I immediately felt comfortable with him, which is a great positive start to the new course.

He had already had a look through my flickr feed which was a bit daunting, but at least he could see the breadth of my photography work and realise that I’m happy to have a go at all genre’s.

I gave him an outline of my initial ideas for the first assignment and was encouraged by the fact that he thought this could be interesting, he also suggested some ideas for enhancing the concept. This is great, I’m definitely going to work through this idea and see if I take it forward.

In the meantime, I need to keep working through the coursework, don’t run before you can walk!

Night Moves: A Dark Look through the Lens

15th February 2020 – attended Jerry Webb’s workshop:

A different look at photography. This workshop will take a darker look at life using techniques and ideas that reflect that and provide you with drama and tension in your photographs. How to work in low-light, bright light, twilight and darkness, using a number of different techniques including motion blur, contrasting exposures plus a host of ideas that give you moody, atmospheric and sometimes tension creating images. We will be using varied environments, from wide open spaces, to streets, dark corners and car parks. You will be shown camera set-up and some processing procedures, ultimately demonstrating how you can take dark or moody photographs.

The afternoon will be followed with a photo-walk where you will be tested on these skills, given simple tasks and followed afterwards by an informal review of your work either online or via email.

In the midst of storm Dennis, I expected this workshop to be a complete washout, but it turned out to be really interesting. What’s more I came to the realisation that a lot of my images err on the side of the dark / film noir style. Assignment 4 of Expressing your vision, and Assignment 5 of Context and Narrative to name but two.

Jerry introduced us to a number of different photographers, some of which I have come across before such as Brassai, Cindy sherman, Erik Johansson, as well as fair few I hadn’t.

Film Noir or Dark images were described as having the some or all of the following characteristics:

  • shadow
  • concealment / hidden
  • tension
  • drama
  • enclosed spaces
  • veils
  • cropping faces
  • hidden context, (can’t see what someone is doing)
  • hidden eyes or mouths
  • silhouette
  • moody and atmospheric
  • masks
  • empty spaces
  • blur

People in these kind of images are often, alone, vulnerable, either a victim or perpetrator.

Create drama, by taking images from angles other than eye level, i.e. either looking down, or up. Keep subject simple, lots of contrast and only one light source.

List of Photographers to invesitgate

  • Donald Cameron
  • Bruce Davidson
  • Mark Morrisoe
  • Dennis Oppenheirm
  • Patsy Smith
  • Lindsey Addario
  • Daido Moiyama
  • Trent Park
  • Ben Clera
  • Tsim Sha
  • Wing Shya

“darkness is always visible”

Don McCullin

Following the workshop we undertook a photowalk, with a view to creating ‘dark’ images with the following headings:

  • confusion
  • surreal or double exposure
  • something concealed
  • light in a dark place
  • empty space
  • blur or distortion

As it was incredibly wet we only spent about an hour doing this, but below are some of the images, I’ve taken:

Getting Ready:

Exercise 1:

What do you want / need from the course  unit?  At HE Level 4, the course unit aims to introduce some of the main ideas and practices of your creative discipline, and for you to begin to explore how you can creatively and critically respond to these. Level 1 is very much about exploration, so it’s a good starting point to consider what you might want or need to explore. To help you think about this, consider what you want and what you might need from the course unit? For example, whether there are areas you are keen to explore for the first time, gaps in your knowledge you would like to develop, areas you would like to expand, or study skills you would like to brush up on.

Write a short paragraph or around 5 bullet points identifying what you want and what you might need from the course unit. To help support your learning it’s also useful for your tutor to get a sense of your own creative background, your expectations of the course unit, motivations for this level of study, and any other information you‘d like to share. Write a short  paragraph or 5 bullet points summarising what you’re bringing to the course unit.  

Tip: Sharing your needs  Exercise 1 may be a good opportunity to consider any personal or health issues that might impact on your ability to study. Contact Learner Support to make them aware, and to access guidance and support: []

This is a difficult thing to quantify; what do I want / need from this course. My initial thoughts are:

  • I need to finish and pass this course, so that I can continue on to the next levels.
  • I want to improve my confidence especially around approaching strangers to make portraits.
  • I want to approach this in a more organised way.
  • I want to embrace my love of editing as an integral part of photomaking
  • I want to get better at referencing my reading and research.
  • I want to work at doing more reading from reference books and critically reviewing them.


I was surprised by the hard copy of the course arriving today. It’s nice to feel the paper and flick through it, feels more real in way.

Spent the evening, flicking through the Introduction and the Assignments and have set up my new journal, which I aiming to use to keep my note taking and planning more organised during this course.

With that and the blog all ready, I feel like I’m ready to get going. Already got some ideas for Assignment 1, but want to try and reign myself in to work through Part 1 properly.

My first goal is to submit my first assignment by 31st March 2020.


“A person’s identity is not to be found in behaviour, nor – important
though this is – in the reactions of others, but in the capacity to keep a
particular narrative going. The individual’s biography, if she is to
maintain regular interaction with others in the day-to-day world,
cannot be wholly fictive. It must continually integrate events which
occur in the external world, and sort them into the ongoing ‘story’
about the self.”

Giddens, A. Modernity and Self-Identity: Self and Society in the Late Modern Age (1991)
Oxford: Polity Press. Pg 54.

Hello Identity & Place

So here we go again, another year, another course and hopefully the completion of my Level 1 courses.

This course is looking really interesting.  As someone who loves people photography, I think this will really suit me.  I’ve had a quick look through the course book and am excited by some the assignments.  I think they will challenge me in as much as I am used to taking pictures of strangers at events, such as weddings and charity events, but I think Assignment one particularly will force me to have a more intimate exchange with the person, which I both crave and am paralysed by in equal measure.