Assignment 2 – Preparation

To prepare for the undertaking of this assignment I had to ensure that the props I needed had been obtained and the people I was using were available.

As I chosen to use a prop, in this instance, a white handkerchief, I set about sourcing one through family or friends.  To my surprise I couldn’t find anyone who owned a white handkerchief.  My father who sadly passed three years ago always had a white handkerchief in his pocket.  It’s odd the things you miss about a person!  I then tried purchasing white handkerchiefs from the shops in town but it proved fruitless.  Eventually I succumbed to the mass domination of Amazon Prime and the next day, I had my prop ready and waiting.

In the mean time I scheduled a visit from a male family member who would act as my model for some of the photographs in the series.

The one thing I couldn’t plan for was the weather!  Three of my planned images needed a good downpour of rain as a backdrop and an important part of setting the mood.  Looking at the weather forecast, not only were we forecast no rain for the coming week, we were to experience a heat wave for the weekend.

I decided to stick to the date I had arranged for my model to be available in the hope that the weather forecast was wrong.

Unfortunately, it was absolutely spot on.

As my shoot location was close to my house I was able to extend the water hose out to the road and spray it as far as I could reach, giving the effect of rain.  Also, as I live in a valley I knew that as long as I carried out the rain photographs in the morning, there would be lots of dull shadows stretched elongated across the road and pavement with muted ambient light.

My model was instructed to be wearing a suit which was required for three of the photographs.  He was also wearing a wedding ring that he had never taken off in the ten years he’d been married so I had to direct the hand shots to keep this out of sight given the narrative.

With everything in place I spent most of the day at different times (in the interest of appropriate lighting) shooting the set.

Research and planning for Assignment Two – Photographing the unseen

I began my thought process by revisiting everything I covered in Part two of this course to reflect on what I’d learnt and hopefully construct it all into a cohesive understanding.

Guidance notes from Part Two (Narrative) in preparation for Assignment Two

When looking at Part Two as a whole I could see that a lot of guidance was given in terms so of how to tell a story in images which left enough scope to develop my own ideas.  Its important to note that a story can be successful not just by what you choose to include but also by what you choose to omit.

I then engaged with other students via the forums, reading about what other people were doing or how stuck for ideas they were.  I got thinking about my own ideas and wrote a list of emotions to portray:

Sadness – what makes us sad?
Happiness – what makes us happy?
loneliness – a day in the life of a lonely figure
Despair – Portrayal of a tortured soul
Anger – Beginning to end

All quite boring and predictable!  I went back to the drawing board
When I’m trying to think of ideas for a theme, the thinking takes place at every opportunity, walking to school, shopping, editing photos, talking to other people, it’s incredibly consuming.  My inspiration came from a conversation with a long term friend who struggles to maintain relationships and we were discussing at which part in the process she feels it goes wrong.  We then discussed the process relationships go through and the associated feelings and so I thought to myself I can make a story out of that idea. I then needed to think how I would go about it and by using the student forums I noticed that the option of using a white handkerchief was highly disregarded so I put the two together and drew up a story board.

Assignment Two story board

I need a rainy day and sunny day to complete this set of images so it may take time to complete.  In addition I’ll need to enlist the help of a man to use as a model in carrying out four of the scenarios.

I’m trying to decide whether to add text to images and have a loose idea of using hashtags.  The reason for this is that relationships are very often played out on social media and people make use of hashtags to demonstrate how they’re feeling.  I need to think carefully as to how damaging this could be in terms of telling the story rather than suggesting one. As I’m favouring a postmodern approach, I  want the viewer to think about what the handkerchief has been through and maybe consider it’s feelings despite it being an inanimate object.

Guidance notes from Part Two (Narrative) in preparation for Assignment Two


Telling a Story

Linear story lines – telling a story chronologically from an insiders point of view.
W.Eugene Smith – Country Doctor
Photo Essay – Briony Campbell, The Dad Project
Contextualising photographs with accompanying text or other media

Using Pictures to Tell a Story

Differences between picture essay and picture story
Picture Essay – A group of images in which each picture is supporting and strengthening all the others.
– A guide from beginning to end point.
Sequencing gives order to the unfolding of the narrative.
– Unlike written stories, the viewer has control over the order in which they view the images.
– Viewers see parts of a picture in different ways and at different speeds, sometimes overlooking the main focus.
– Picture narrative a lot looser than a literary one.

Points to Consider

  • Do the pictures have a consistent theme?
  • What elements back up my central theme?
  • What disrupts it?
  • Are there good reasons for the disruption?
  • Do the images have a visual consistency that holds them together as a recognisable set?

Postmodern Narrative

Roland Barthes, ‘The Death of the Author’ – separating a literary work from its creator in order to liberate the text from interpretive tyranny.

Image and Text

Roland Barthes, ‘Rhetoric of the Image’ – This essay is a classic semiotic text where Roland Barthes analyses an advertising image and uses it as a means of teasing out how different messages are conveyed by a system of signs.

  1. Anchorage – images are prone to multiple meanings and interpretations. Anchorage occurs when text is used to focus on one of these meanings, or at least to direct the viewer through the maze of possible meanings in some way
  2. Relay – the text adds meaning and both text and image work together to convey intended meaning e.g. a comic strip.

Selecting a subject

David Hurn, the difference between a photographer and someone who is interested in photography.  The person who becomes a photographer is not interested in photography as an end result but used photography to pursue an intense interest in something else.

Photographing the unseen

Case studies:

Peter Mansell
Dewald Botha
Jodie Taylor

‘photography is a tool for expression’


– The best work is personally driven.
– Course assignment guidelines are not prescriptive.  Instead serve as a catalyst to build my own interests.
– Develop my contextualisation and research and look at photography that inspires me, so I can gradually discover how to choose the right subjects for me.
– Move away from showing, not telling.  Shift from literal scope to more evocative into the realm of the arts.
– Think about what interested in as a person rather than a photographer.




Context and Narrative – Marie Short

Photography, A critical introduction – Liz Wells

Art Photography Now – Susan Bright

Photography – Stephen Bull

The Photo Book – Phaidon

Duane Michals

An American photographer who makes good use of postmodern narrative by using text in close relation to his photographs.

duanemichals01This Photograph is my proof

In this photograph, Michals has used a postmodern relay narrative and added text underneath.  The addition of the text give more depth into the meaning of the photograph.  The text isn’t very legible in this example however it reads:

This photograph is my proof. There was that afternoon, when things were still good between us, and she embraced me, and we were so happy. It did happen, she did love me. Look see for yourself!

The addition of the text tells us more of the story even beyond the photograph.  This photograph has also been given a title which goes some way to giving it narrative but the additional text tells the story further than a moment in time.