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Month: October 2020

Initial tutor discussion

Keith Roberts is my SYP tutor – I specifically requested a tutor based in the North of England, who has direct experience of that cultural environment. It is apparently unusual to swap from existing L3 tutors – my BoW tutor is London based and my CS tutor (doesn’t tutor SYP). However, I consider the advantage of a tutor who is familiar with the local practice environment outweighs the potential disadvantage of a lack of familiarity with my BoW. Keith’s own practice is based around portraiture and people’s stories so there is useful common ground there too.

Keith tutored me on the level 1 course, Context and Narrative, which I completed early June 2016, over 4 years ago. We caught up over Zoom on 21 October to reintroduce ourselves and talk about a forward plan for SYP.

I note a couple of points from our discussion, excluding the general small-talk and the eternal league vs union discussion.

  • I explained the status of my BoW and CS and that I would mainly be focussing on wrapping that up over the coming month or so, before starting SYP in earnest. We agreed that I would submit A1 when ever ready and that there was no particular rush (I’m working to the original 2 year SYP timeline – though hope I won’t need it all).
  • I briefly talked about my BoW and CS topics and agreed to send the completed works to Keith when done. He suggested looking at the work of Lawrence Cassidy (, on the gentrification of Salford and talked about his subversive exhibition in the Lowry Gallery, where he pasted the images of the traditional locals to the gallery walls with the intention that they shouldn’t be removed (a wall-papery reminder!). I’ll look at this separately as it seems to resonate with the loss of working class culture along the canals.

It was good catching up and I’m looking forward to working with Keith on the final stage of the degree!

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Photoworks festival: Dayanita Singh

On 7th October, I joined Photoworks’ zoom discussion with Dayanita Singh, a photographer with strong views on the dissemination of photography and challenger of the conventionality of curators and galleries. Her website is here:

Museum Bhavan © Dayanita Singh, source:

Some thoughts on what I found to be an interesting and thought provoking session:

  • DS expressed frustration that despite the versatility of photography, the display/sharing of it has not significantly changed and is still often about large museum or gallery prints. She argued that dissemination in its multiple forms is perhaps more important than the capturing of the image itself. Without it the image remains unseen.
  • DS likes her work to exist in different forms in many places and questioned, ‘how did photography get so fixed and limited’. She has spent much of her career challenging the structure of the museum and suggests that it is up to photographers to determine what changes they would like. She commented that while photography is very tactile, there is often little opportunity to physically engage with it.
  • DS talked about the idea of the book as an exhibition object and her work in this area. A full discussion is available in her recorded interview with hyperallergic ( Interestingly, she created a frame that would allow the book to displayed as an object in the Tate but this had taken quite some persuasion on her part and had conditions attached.
  • She expressed annoyance with ‘photo festivals’ in that they restrict access to art to those who can pay and tend to be limited to specific sites, rather than made accessible. DS believes that accessibility to work is an important aspect of dissemination. Adding that ‘nothing is for free’ – she doesn’t give away any of her physical works.
  • Instagram – DS was surprisingly enthusiastic about IG given her love of the tactile. However, she explained that she uses it more as a publicity machine for her book objects rather than making work specifically for IG (though she commented that she may do this sometime).

Listening to DS has encouraged me to think of my work in multiple-forms, rather than as one thing or the other. The dissemination as a significant additional part of the process that begins with image capture, continues with post-production, and finishes with dissemination. Photography is not simple.

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Erik Knudsen – ‘portfolio’ discussion

RedEye network emailed members advanced notice of 30 minute portfolio discussions with renowned practitioners. Free for members. Erik Knudsen is one of those practitioners ( – a film maker and photographer and professor of digital culture at UClan (

From the Doubt Project ©Erik Knudsen, source:

I’ve been lucky to book one of the few available 30 minutes spots with Erik on 5th October and record the process and outcome in this post.

  1. Erik’s own work. I spent time browsing his website this afternoon. What attracted me to having the discussion the focus of his photography and film on the ordinary, along with a feeling of psychological tension – perhaps the anticipation of change or the downtrodden acceptance of slow change. His work ‘Doubt Project’ is described in the context of doubt being part of his creative and spiritual development – something he has learned to recognise an embrace. There is always doubt in art, perhaps an equivalent to doubt or anxiety when putting one’s own children out into the world. I feel doubt, but I tend to brush it aside rather than embrace it.
  2. Questions for Erik. In between my tutorial for A4 BoW and the session with Erik, I managed to update my film for to reflect the suggestions from my tutor – mainly to reconsider a few of the images and to re-sequence the images so that they connected with the narrative in the film’s timeline. This resulted in edit 3 of my film and the one shared with Erik. There were two aspects I hoped to get Erik’s feedback on: a) critique of the work as a short stills film and, if time allowed, ideas for publicising the work.
Edit 3 of film
  1. Outcome of session.
    • Process – the technology/communication hosted by RedEye didn’t go as smoothly as it might have done. There was miscommunication of start times (luckily too early rather than late) and the link I shared with them to pass onto Erik had not been passed onto him. It was also not possible to share my own screen from RedEye’s Zoom break out room, so I ended up sending a link in the comments. However, I’d walked through potential problems before the session so didn’t find this as distracting as it could have been.
    • Comments – Erik watched the 7 or 8 minutes of the film up to the end titles and I waited in silence. He said that he enjoyed the film and asked a little about why I’d chosen that medium. He felt that the images were strong and very evocative of the place. Our discussion then focused on the sound. Commented that while I’d started to bring in some ambient and background sounds, there was potential to develop that area much further. He encouraged me to think about conveying the narrative through the sound – to imagine doing that without the narrative. Observing that a simple narrative would have a beginning, middle and end. Perhaps even ending in silence. Erik said that people remember emotions more than words and the images and sounds are the most powerful way of carrying emotions. Could the sounds be used to evoke the past – what was once the artery of the industrial north is now a marginal space? Put my own feelings about the place at the centre of the narrative – a melancholic, abandoned empty place. Perhaps consider the idea of the journey, from inland Leeds, opening out into the world through Liverpool.

      We didn’t have time to properly resolve our session as RedEye technology undid us once more. However, I thanked Erik through Instagram and he asked me to let him know when the work was finished.
  2. Next steps – the sound track will be worked on further for BoW A5. I’ve begun searching sound archives for suitable raw materials. Once, finally done I’ll send a link to Erik.
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Website design choices

Screenshot of website:

I’ve bookmarked websites of photographers that I’ve found interesting throughout my OCA studies. I tried to clear my head of my own preferences for website layouts by spending an afternoon browsing through my book marked websites. However, in the end I still came back to my preference for clean minimal portfolio sites where images can be the main focus for the viewer. I feel that the more intricately designed sites can work well to show case and complement a specific work; for my purposes they would tend to be microsites, housed on a simple platform like Adobe Portfolio. For my portfolio site however, I am drawn to the flexibility of with its themes, plugins and widgets.

A couple of design considerations seem important to me. Firstly, the placement of the website header. Traditionally, they are at the ‘head’ and contain signposts to allow navigation around the site. However, for an image focused site I think they are more effective placed down one side so they are not always in sight, standing over the photos. Another consideration is the availability of tools to display images as slides or in some kind of carousel. Manually scrolling down a page of images generally feels like a second rate experience. Grids seem a popular approach but I can find myself distracted by this type of layout, not being able to see the wood for the trees.

Examples of a few websites I looked at were:

Laura El Tantawy – I enjoy for project specific sites but find the portfolio site design overwhelms the photography

Tod Hideo – I’m an admirer of the images but find the relentless use of grids and lack of signposting confusing. It is perhaps intended to be this way.

Stephen Shore – neat and minimal, giving the impression that the photographs are what’s important.

James Morris – feels like a contemporary design on the same principles as Stephen Shore’s and includes an effective side-menu rather than top menu.

Mark Power – I like the clarity of the website but again find the extensive use of grids overwhelming.

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