A bit about my photography and me

I have been interested in photography for a number of years. Until last year I used my camera on Auto. I hesitated to use any of the other modes because I didn’t understand them.

Last year I stepped outside my comfort zone and took an evening class in photography which challenged me to produce a set of 6 photos on a theme, mine was dance. At the end of the course a selection of the images I produced were included in the college end of year show, along with a couple of the other students on the course.

At the start of this year I returned to college and took a further evening class on black and white film development.

Both courses increased my enthusiasm for photography and pushed me to explore what I was able to do.

Interaction with the audience, Hoots n Hooters, 37 Club, Puriton Somerset – 8th April 2017 (Nikon D7200 ISO 6400 1/30 sec, f/1.8 50mm)

I considered doing A Level Photography at the local college but it’s during the day time so would mean juggling work. Then I discovered the OCA and gave serious thought to doing a photography degree. It’s still what I would like to do but discovering the Foundation course gave me the chance to try out studying again and see how I get on. With luck at the end of the course I’ll be ready to go on and do a degree.


Thoughtful Snowy
Thoughtful Snowy (Nikon D7200 ISO 400, 1/640 sec , f/2.8, 40mm)


I have plenty of subjects that are willing to let me take their photos and I live in Somerset so have a lot of wonderful countryside to explore with my camera.

Camera equipment wise, I have a Nikon D7200 with a number of lenses, and a Nikomat EL 35m which I’m still getting used to; the set of photos I had developed from it had some flaws which might be due to the cameras age and condition. I also have an electronic flash, some filters, tripods and a monopod. Oh, and last year I had a portable camera studio set up for my birthday.

So to end who am I?

Well I’m a 50 year old married woman with a grown up son, who has terminal cancer. He is my inspiration in life. I work full time as a computer consultant, photography is one of my main creative outlets; that and the occasional bit of writing and dancing (burlesque and hopefully soon pole). Being able to photograph my friends who dance, and even other performers, to a high standard is one of the places I want to get with my photography.



Diane Arbus Revelations

Diane Arbus Revelations (2003). Exhibition Catalogue. Random House Publishing Group.

This book accompanies the exhibition of Arbus’ work by the same name that occurred between 2004 and 2006 in the U.S.A, Germany and London.

The book can be broken down in to three main sections and contains  illustrations based on many of her photos, as well as extracts from her notebooks and correspondence.

The main part of the book is almost an autobiography as it includes extracts from Arbus’ correspondence with family, friends and colleagues; including some of the most renowned photographers and editors of her time. This section covers from 1923 though to her suicide in 1971.

The other main parts of the book are an essay concerning the significance of her work and a description of the techniques she used and the attempt to replicate these by Neil Selkirk following her death. This replication was done as part of producing a book and exhibition that followed her death.

The exhibition held at the Museum of Modern Art in San Francisco in 2004 contained roughly 190 of her prints.

Diane Arbus was fascinated by people, particularly where there was something different about them. The body of her work clearly shows this, with very few landscape or still life images. I can’t imagine myself producing work likes hers, simply because of the amount of interaction that would be required with individuals and groups of people.

For me the best part of this book is the opportunity to read Diane Arbus’ own words from postcards, letters and notebooks. Reading what she wrote gives an insight to her mind and personality. Something that hasn’t been as apparent from other works I’ve read about her. The opportunity to read her words provides a chance to try to understand the thought processes and urges that drove someone very important to photography. Being able to do this without going through other people’s filters gives a different perspective.

The other part of the book that I found interesting to read was the extract from her autopsy report. Reading this adds another dimension to her story, something that has been missing from other books and articles.

Seeing the autopsy report contrasts with reading her words in that it turns Arbus into an anonymous female and then into a pile of human organs, devoid of any individuality or personality. It brings home the fact that, regardless of who we are, how wealthy we are, how talented we are; we are at the heart of it a bag of skin that keeps a jumble of bones and organs from flopping all over the place. An organic mass that when animated allows us to move about, manipulate things and shape the world around us; as well as allowing us the chance to document that world through a variety of means that link to our senses.

Feedback on Assignment 4

Demonstration of technical and Visual Skills, Quality of Outcome, Demonstration of Creativity

You’ve identified a topical theme (plastic waste) and approached it in a consistent and methodical manner.

From the contact sheets I can see you’ve tried moving the image around in the frame and settled upon a central composition which firmly situates the object but leaves little room for the eye to move around the scene. Whilst this can be a strategy within your work, consider how changing the angle of view might have led to a different relationship to the object.

I’m thinking here of Andy Hughes’s images of waste from beaches around the world. In one image, a lighter is discarded and left upright in the sand, shot from ground level looking up towards the lighter it becomes a kind of monolith and has an impending sense of doom which echoes Hughes’ concerns as an environmental advocate.

The image of the dead bird is very striking as are some of the more abstract compositions of waste from the beach. It would have been good to change the set up a little and add some visual interest to the series by including some of these.

The dead bird was something I would have liked to use but I didn’t think it would fit in with the theme, especially with the number of images we were able to use. I had been contemplating using it as part of a series on dead wildlife/road kill. However, by changing the emphasis on the project to things that are abandoned means I could utilise the images of the bird as well as some of the images of feral cats that I took in Cyprus.  Contrasting things that have been abandoned by man with things that have been abandoned naturally through death, like the bird, or allowing things to get out of control, like the large number of feral cats.

Some of the images look a bit on the dark side and could benefit from some brightening – consider applying a curve and cleaning up some of the yellow/brown tones that spread across the set.

Curves are a really powerful tool for doing this in Photoshop. Have a look through some of Adobe’s online tutorials (beginner > advanced) and find one suitable. Start practicing the application of curves and keep track of before and after shots to see how much better your images becomes once you learn to use them.

The changes I make to images using the curves tool in Lightroom are quite basic so I really need to look at getting more proficient with using tools like this if I’m going to get the best from my photos.

Have you thought much about how you might present or showcase this work and what format would best suit it?

I’d not given thought to how to showcase this work. Contemplating how to showcase it I think I’d want to go down the exhibition route. At the moment I have two sets of images, one from Norfolk, the other from Cyprus. I think it would be good to have another couple of sets of images from other places, preferably countries in order to highlight the global scale of the issue. I also think that continuing with the link to bodies of water: the sea, lakes and rivers, would be a good way to link them together. Taking into account the suggestions above about changing perspective and composition there would be an obvious progression to the images produced.

I also intend to complete a PADI open water diving qualification over the summer and following on from there a 2 day Underwater Photography course, when it’s next run at the diving centre. Diving is something I’ve not done since I was at Polytechnic but it was fun and I enjoyed it. Combining that with my photography seems like a great way to take things forward and add a new element to my work.

Learning Logs


It would be good to see reference to some contemporary examples of photographic work (see recommendations below) and your thoughts in response to it. Beware of reading too many technical/how-to style photography books. Whilst these are helpful in mastering technique, they rarely discuss the wider context of the work produced or the language of photography itself.

I’ve noticed that in recent months I’m picking up more books that highlight the work done by various photographers as well as giving some background to their lives.

I’m currently working my way through Diane Arbus – Revelations, which in addition to a chronology of her work based around her notebooks, letters and other writing, also includes essays concerning the relevance of her work and another on the techniques and methods that she used. This carries on from my earlier interest in Arbus and her work.

I’ve also  just finished reading Women War Photographers: From Lee Miller to Anja Niedringhaus, something I picked up after coming across the work of Gerda Taro. I have books about Taro and her relationship with Robert Capa on my current reading list.

Also just added to my reading list is the exhibition catalogue for Mandy Barker’s Altered Ocean exhibition, which I didn’t manage to visit when it was on in Bristol. In September I’ll be visiting the Cindy Sherman retrospective at the National Portrait Gallery as I have to be in London for a workshop related to my day job.

Suggested reading/viewing


Andy Hughes – http://www.andyhughes.net/

Looking at Hughes website and the particularly the projects page (http://www.andyhughes.net/site/projects-2-2/) there are a number of images that leap out at me.

The first is the image of the figure that is surrounded by orange paint splodges. The splodges remind me of caterpillars or millipedes. Looking at this image it reminds me that no matter how great mankind thinks it is, even the smallest of creatures will overwhelm us eventually. We might be able to shape our world to suit us but we all face the prospect of being “worm food” eventually.

The second image that leapt out at me was of the discarded condom. Looking at it reminds me of Lampreys. The abandoned condom could be seen to symbolise how mankind attaches itself to the planet and feeds on it. If we are careful we won’t destroy our host, if we aren’t then we could kill it and then have to find another host to latch on to. Except in our case, we don’t have another host to move on to.

Like the lighter image mentioned in the feedback above, the image of the lightbulb (http://www.andyhughes.net/site/portfolio-2/uncategorized/italy-cities-cultural-heritage-digital-humanities/) shows how changing perspective alters how things appear. I love the way that the curved shape of the bulb mirrors the curved ceiling.

Finally I love the images where Hughes as placed an upside down bottle on a object, like a stick, giving the impression that something is pouring out of the bottle.

I think Hughes’ book Dominant Wave Theory will be something I add to my reading list.

Edward Burtynsky  – Anthropocene Project: https://www.edwardburtynsky.com/projects/the-anthropocene-project/

The trailer for Anthropocene: The Human Epoch is interesting and brings the effect that we are having on the world around us, and the creatures that inhabit it with us, home. The final show of the piles of elephant tusks being burned is particularly shocking. How many hundreds of elephants perished just so people could have the ivory from their tusks?

Mandy Barker – Altered Ocean: http://www.rps.org/exhibitions-and-competitions/mandy-barker

 I can’t really comment on Barker’s Altered Ocean exhibition. From the little I’ve seen of it, image-wise, it looks impressive. I’ve ordered the exhibition catalogue and am looking forward to viewing the work that she has produced that way.

Dead Bird

I had a bit of time to take another look at the images of the dead bird. In the end I decided that only one of the ones I’d originally used I still liked and two of the images that I’d rejected I preferred.

I’ve included these below.

Assignment 4 - Bird-7917

This is one of the original images I considered using but didn’t include in the final selection. I’ve adjusted the image so that you can see some of the markings.

Assignment 4 - Bird-7915

This image was one I rejected initially but on revisiting decided it was better than the full body image. I like this image because it has the whole of the birds head and you can just about make out some of the ants that were crawling on the dead body. Again I adjusted the image so that the white and black flecks are visible.

Assignment 4 - Bird-7916

If I was to select one of these images to use then it would be this one. Although it doesn’t have the full beak and one of the ants from the previous image has moved out of shot, you can still see other ants, particularly the ones that are crawling over the eye area. You might have to look closely to see them, black ants on black feathers don’t stand out massively.

Once again I adjusted the image so that the white flecks among the black are visible. I think the level of detail with the feathers and the inside of the beak are something I’m really happy with and if I was to display this as part of an exhibition then I’d want it to be at least A4 size in order to allow for some of the details to be seen clearly.

Comments on other people’s work

Here are links to some of the comments I’ve made on other student’s work, courtesy of WordPress “Comments I’ve Made” feature. I’ll aim to build on this as I comment on people’s work or find other comments I’ve made that WordPress isn’t showing me.

A Question on Gender and Identity

Narrative – Exercise 3.3 – Sequence

The Pain of Making Self Portraits

Assignment one – Square Mile: rework final images

My Anorexia Recovery and Self Care


Ideas – a personal project

Right now I’m in the middle of part 3 of the course but as part 5 could easily be on me before I realise it, depending on progress with parts 3 and 4, I thought, and following the example of one of the other students, that I’d make a start thinking about the project.

I’ve broken this entry down along the lines in the course notes and as I think about things will fill each bit in. Hopefully as I think about this project things that I need to practice may come up and I’ll be able to make use of the exercises in the early parts of the course to learn and practice those skills.

Your personal project


Of all the different subjects and approaches you’ve worked on and read about during this course, which attracts you the most?

Which feels most natural to you?

Photography where I don’t need to direct people in how to behave, where people are behaving naturally.

Which feels the most challenging?

The thing I find most challenging is portrait photography, particularly more formal styles.


You’ll need a spark, an idea, subject matter, a place or some ‘lead’ to start you off.

  • Do you already have ideas you want to pursue?
    • When Rhys died in 2017 I had just submitted my first assignment for the course. In the course of preparing for his funeral I went back through all of the photographs that we’d taken of him over the years and got a friend to put together a photo montage that was played at the funeral. I also produced a separate montage using a much larger set of photos that was played at the wake.
      I also produced two folders with photos from the last 6 months of Rhys’ life, showing some of the things that we’d done.
    • Shortly after the funeral I decided that I wanted to turn some of those photos into a photobook that told what it was like to live with a terminal disease, and to show that it’s still possible to have a life, even when faced with death.
  • Can you clarify them by defining them?
    • The idea for the book developed from just a selection of photos into telling Rhys’ story in such a way that it was as if he was telling the story. Each image used was accompanied by some words that explained what was happening at that point in time.
    • Early on in the development of the book, I had the idea that I wanted friends who are artists to turn the photos into drawings. Although I had three artists lined up, I never went down that route in the end.
  • Could you ideas be best developed through visual or intellectual research?
  • Have any genres, subjects or areas of visual experimentation interested you more than others throughout the course so far?
  • Are there any skills you want to hone in your final assignment?
    • Book production.
  • Is there a theoretical notion connected to photography (e.g. an ideas-motivated series of pictures) you want to explore in more depth that could result in both written and practical work?
  • If you’re struggling, set up a brainstorming session with your family and friends to get the creative juices flowing.


Mulling it over

Talk about you ideas with friends, family and your OCA peers.

  • What is the possible visual outcome? Remember that your aim is to make photographs, so your ideas need to be visual or you need to find a way to visualise them.
    • The outcome of this project is the production of a photobook that gives a flavour of the last 6 months of Rhys’ life.



  • Investigate photographers who have done work in a similar genre or with the same sort of subject. Or just investigate photographers and artists you want to learn from.
  • Research the subject itself. For example, if it’s a photo project about an elderly couple, you could do some research on the changes age makes to people’s lives. You may want to investigate the visual milieu of the elderly, the sorts of things they like to have around them, or the things they need to use because of frailty. Be observant; identify character traits and physical gestures – and the responses of young people to set up a contrast.

All of this should give you some ideas for photographs, e.g. an old lady in her high-backed chair surrounded by memorabilia from her life and photos of her grandchildren; an old man carefully getting into a car; an old lady in a mobility scooter in a crowd of teenagers. you may or may not be able to realise your ideas, but it gets the imagination running to think of them.


Preparing to shoot you assignment

Access and permissions

This is probably the No. 1 difference between amateur and professional photography: gaining access by asking for permission to make photographs frees you up to get on with the job of making pictures.

For example if you want to make a cutting-edge police documentary, you’ll need to ask the police for permission and investigate the legal requirements around photographing offenders who may or may not want themselves photographed.

Photography often gives the viewer a ‘privileged’ view of some event or phenomenon. Research Taryn Simon’s An American Index of the Hidden and Unfamiliar at tarynsimon.com/works_americanindex.php. A work like this can’t be made without extensive research and co-operation.

This means:

  • contacting people
  • explaining your circumstances as a photography student
  • explaining your project and requirements.



Think about how you want the project to be presented.

  • Prints, slideshow sequence, postcards, book?
  • If prints, then how big? What shape?

The work will be seen on your blog this time, but think about other options:

  • Gallery, website, café, etc.

The project takes the form of a photobook.

Who will see it?

  • This time you’ll be showing your work to your tutor and to your peers. But you can think very specifically about this if you aim to make a work for a particular group, for instance the police or newspapers in the above example.
  • A lot of photography is produced for special interest groups, some is more commercial and some is aimed at gallery type spaces.

Think how you will present the work most effectively. Even if you’re making photos of your family on holiday, no-one will see them unless you consider how to make them available.

I produced the book using Microsoft Publisher and then converted it to PDF before uploading it the Blurb and then getting 20 copies of the book produced by them. Copies of the book have been given to family and friends as presents to say thank you for all  the support they provided Rhys and us over the years. I also gave a copy to St Margaret’s Hospice as a thank you for their support in those last weeks.


What equipment will you need? Consider the kind of photographs you want to make and the circumstances you’ll be shooting in.

  • Will you need a tripod to keep the camera steady for long exposures?
  • Will you need a wide-angle lens for shooting cramped interiors?
  • Or should you test the results of using a small camera (like a mobile phone camera) for candid street photography?

Make a list of the ‘ideal’ equipment you’ll need for the assignment but be realistic about what you already have.

If you’re missing  vital piece of equipment, try to borrow it or hire it from a photographic supplier like Calumet.

I didn’t need any more equipment than the camera and lenses I already had. I used the standard kit lens for my Nikon as well as a 40mm fixed lens that allowed for macros shots.

None of the photos were taken using a tripod.

Skills and practice

Consider the skills you’ll need to make your final assignment:

  • Will you need to practise you’re fill-flash skills if you’re planning a reportage project? You can look up online tutorials on many technical practices and Photoshop skills.
  • Do you need to know how to make High Dynamic Range 32-bit images for a landscape series?
  • Are you confident you can find strong compositions of your subject? Do some research into other photographers who have covered the same topic and analyse how their compositions work.
  • Contact your tutor if you think there are skills you lack for the assignment and he or she will guide you to suitable resources.

Practise your skills!

Think of a pianist in the weeks before an important concert; he or she will practice that concerto that they’re confident they can perform on the night.

The majority of the skills I needed I already had from previous photographic experience. The new skills I worked on and developed were around producing a book.

These skills involved learning how to use Microsoft Publisher to create a book, add photos and images and manipulate these until I’d produced something I was happy with. I also developed editing skills as I proofread the text, spotting typos and correcting grammar, while trying to maintain the appearance that it was Rhys who was speaking.

Early on in the course I attended a book binding workshop run by the South West student group. From this I was able to produce the first drafts of my book which were hand bound using a stab binding technique.



Post-production is a film industry term that is now widely used in photography. It refers to everything you do after shooting the photos to arrive at the finished result. This may be very little other than basic editing, printing and mounting; on the other hand, it may involve composites or special processing to achieve a certain ‘look’.
Post your final assignment on your blog under the category: Assignment Five.

A copy of the book is linked to in the post The Final Journey.
• After posting the images, write about the process you’ve gone through to make this work, and summarise what you learned from the course that helped you with it.

The process I went through with this project has been described above.

The things I’ve learned during the course that helped with this project are how to compose an image, how to edit photographs with Lightroom, choosing the right camera settings for the photographs you are taking and patience; the need to take a number of photographs in order to get the one you want, and also pragmatism; knowing when to accept that you’ve got the shot and aren’t going to improve on it by trying to take it over and over.

• Now spend time looking at other student blogs, in particular their final assignment. Make comments on their blogs and invite comments on your work by giving them your blog address. Be sure to post links to your comments in the OCA student blogs section under Research & reflection.



Sophie Calle

Sophie Calle’s work exists on the borders of photography and conceptual art. Her work is rarely aesthetic in the pictorial sense, but setms from her curiosity at realising an idea or action.

At the core of Calle’s work is a child-like curiosity with life and people. It’s not so much about making art as allowing herself to be taken on an adventure by an idea.

  • Her work sometimes raises ethical issues related to privacy, and in return she is very open about her own life.

I think that if you are going to intrude on someone else’s privacy, even if you are doing that in a public setting like a street, then you have to be prepared for other people to do the same to you.

  • What are your moral feeling about following a stranger to make photographs of him?

I feel that following a stranger and taking photos of him is something that I would not be comfortable doing.

Taking photos of people without them realising it, is the basis for Street Photography. Actively following someone in order to take photos of them borders on stalking them.

If you worked for a newspaper or magazine then taking photos of people without their knowledge is part of the job but for someone who doesn’t work in that profession or following someone who is ordinary, is an intrusion on their privacy.

It’s something that I’d feel morally uncomfortable doing.

  • Can you think of an adventure you could go on – however banal it may seem – that would put you in a different position than you are accustomed to when making photographs.?

In a few weeks time I will be travelling to Finland and staying in Lahti in the Lakeland area. After I’ve finished the triathlon I’m there to do I’ll have a chance to explore a bit of the area by taking a boat trip. Taking photographs while afloat isn’t something I get a chance to do on a regular basis.

  • Is there a job you could take that would give you access to a certain kind of subject that you wouldn’t otherwise have access to?

At work our communications department make use of photographers for some publicity work. Changing role and taking on one in that area would provide me with access to aircraft, ships and other vehicles, at various stages of development, that I wouldn’t normally have access to.

101 Days

For the final post utilising the techniques in exercise 5.2 and 5.3 I’m using a final series of photos from when Rhys was in hospital.

At the time we were going into hospital, I’d come across a photography challenge called 101 Days. The idea behind the challenge was to take a single photograph each day that summed up how that day went. With nothing better to do we settled down to take at least one photo from when we started our stay. There were a few days that we didn’t manage to take a photograph for one reason or another, but we managed to capture something for the majority of them.

One of the restrictions on bone marrow transplant patients back in 2008 were that you could only have four named visitors while you were in hospital. We chose Tracey, her Mum, my Mum and myself. Of course Rhys being Rhys, he managed to get an extra few visitors. Tracey’s aunt was one of the hospital friends and so could pop in and see him when the rota scheduled her to be on. In addition to her, Rhys also had visits from a couple of the nurses that looked after him in Yeovil, when they happened to be in the area. The hospital school teacher, chaplain, play specialist and a music therapist also visited. Some days it was like Picadilly Circus in his room.

One Rhys left isolation and was able to leave the hospital, even if only for a short while, the number of people that could visit him increased.

The entire experience was blogged about from before we went in, to the time he got home. Rhys’ Treatment Blog can be found at: https://treatingrhys.wordpress.com/

Transplant Day

Exercise 5.1 – Set up a blog has been covered since day 1 of the Foundations in Photography course as I needed to set up this blog as my learning log.

Exercise 5.2 and 5.3 have been done a number of times throughout the course as I’ve needed to re-size images, uploaded them and create blog posts for the exercises, assignments and research points.

To complete the Exercises in Part 5 of the course I’ve decided to create a series of posts that use the steps from exercises 5.2 and 5.3. This is the first of them.

The photos below were taken a number of years ago when we were attending Bristol Childrens’ Hospital while my son was undergoing a bone marrow transplant. These photos are some of the ones from the day of his transplant.

Self reflection

Throughout this course you’ve been introduced to the work of different photographers to
help give you an understanding of the creative potential of photography. Now it’s time to
question your own work and identify anything you think is lacking. You don’t have to be
over-critical, just honest.

Write down any areas in photography you need to develop. (Your tutor reports should
give you some clues here.)

Research – online research about artists and different styles of photography, reading books about different aspect of photography as well as biographies, writing up the results of my research on my learning log.

Technical skills e.g. use of flash, lighting

Photo editing

Experimenting creatively

Write what sort of photographs you want to take. Just note down keywords.

Candid, Street

Now look through a book like Hacking, J. (2012) Photography: The Whole Story, or Cotton, C. (2014) The Photograph as Contemporary Art (3rd edition) (both London: Thames & Hudson) and try to identify some photographers who have exactly the key elements that you want to attain or just things that interest you. It doesn’t matter if the photographer is contemporary or historic.

Make a note of these key elements.

Now research these photographers online and choose one key photograph to use in the
next exercise.

Researched Photographers

Addario, Hicks and Mieth are all photojournalists. Addario and Hicks, like Robert Capa, have spent time photographing in areas affected by war and conflict. Mieth documented life in the Depression and post-Depression era United States of America. All of these photographers show in their work, things that I aspire to achieve in my own work one day.

Lynsey Addario



Tyler Hicks



Robert Capa

Capa is famous for his war photographs. The links below tell more about Capa the person and also highlight some of his work.





While researching Capa Ilearned about Gerda Taro, his lesser known partner and collaborator. As a result of this I’ve started to read up about her and the work that she achieved in a short life, including inventing the person that would become known as Robert Capa.

Hansel Mieth






Don McCullin

McCullin is someone who has photographed a wide range of things. He is most well known as a war photographer. Since starting the Foundations in Photography course I’ve been building up my library and it now contains a number of books about Don McCullin and his work.

I’ve read Unreasonable Behaviour his autobiography, as well as well as the books Don McCullin and Don McCullin In England.

Selected Photographer

In the end the photographer I selected was none of the above. I decided that I was going to look at someone whose work would force me to experiment in order to achieve what I was aimging for. I chose Irving Penn. The research I did about Penn can be found in Exercise 4.11 along with the results of my experimenting.



Juxtaposition in photography can be as simple as placing two photographs side by side.
But juxtaposition can also be said to happen within the frame in still life when objects are purposely placed together. In photomontage rougher and often amusing juxtapositions result from sticking bits of pictures together. Have a look at the work of John Heartfield and Hannah Höch to prepare for this exercise. Heartfield’s photomontages are politically charged images designed to express social ills: www.getty.edu/art/exhibitions/heartfield For more advanced contemporary examples, search for Beate Gutschow’s ‘S’ series.
1. Get a few old magazines or newspapers.
2. Decide on a background picture – for example a large view of space or any place.
3. Now add to it a figure or at least the head and shoulders of a person.
4. Now find some other images that you can substitute for the person’s head (for
example a cabbage) or their eyes (telescopes) or mouth (a pothole). Stick them on
the face.
5. Photograph the result.
As you can see, the process tends to result in bizarre combinations. But there is a deeper
meaning to this process. By cutting and pasting fragments of images, you’re choosing
how a picture should be made and offering an interpretation of the different subjects you choose. You’re also constructing an image in a way that would be impossible to construct in reality.


As research for this exercise I looked at some of the work of Heartfield and Höch as suggested.

Heartfield (2019) has a small selection of his work but the piece Rationalization Is On The March is an excellent example of how you can use different items to make a humanoid figure, with a slightly Steampunk feel to it.

The Art Story (2019) shows examples from Höch’s work that highlight how artists have commented on those in power. Heads of State and Cut With the Kitchen Knife Through the Last Weimar Beer-Belly Cultural Epoch in Germany are examples of how different techniques can be used to achieve a result. In the former images of the German president and his Minister of Defence are used with ink drawings to make a statement. In the latter, cuttings are used to the same effect.

MoMA (2019) provides links to a number of pieces of Höch’s work. One that leaped out at me was Postcard to the artist’s sister. Although this has been achieved purely by writing in ink a similar effect could be achieved with words cut from magazines and newspapers.

Azurebumble (2011) highlights the work of Beate Gütschow who is known for constructing landscape photographs by utilising fragments of other images using a computer. None of the images look particularly as if they have been constructed, at first glance, but when you look closer things begin to stand out.

In image S #2 there is a water pump that wouldn’t look out of place on a farm but not in the middle of an industrial area.

In image S #24 there is what appears to be a very large ant in a plastic container and the stairs on the building appear more like something that you would see in a swimming pool with diving boards hanging off them.

Final Images

Exercise 4.7 Photomontage-9493

In the image above I started off by including some text cut from a magazine “The Problem with Anxiety”. I decided that the text detracted from the image and so removed it for the version I finally went with. The set of stairs could easily be replaced with something like clouds or some other means of implying that the child is escaping from things.

Exercise 4.7 Photomontage - -9485

The above image simply came from trying to combine different bits to make something that looked vaguely like a person. I was a bit disappointed with the positioning of the boot on the leg, need to take more care next time.

Exercise 4.7 Photomontage - -9494

Not much to say about the above image, other than I could have been a bit neater with cutting out the camera lens.


  1. John Heartfield Website (2019) Heartfield Art. Dada To Graphic Design To Anti-Fascist Antiwar Images To Theater Set Design Available at: https://www.johnheartfield.com/John-Heartfield-Exhibition/john-heartfield-art [Accessed 1st February 2019]
  2. The Art Story (2019) Hannah Höch German Photomontage Artist Available at: https://www.theartstory.org/artist-hoch-hannah.htm [Accessed 1st February 2019]
  3. MoMA (2019) Hannah Höch Available at: https://www.moma.org/artists/2675 [Accessed 1st February 2019]
  4. Azurebumble (2011) Beate Gütschow : “S” Series (Photographic Constructions) Available at: https://azurebumble.wordpress.com/2011/02/07/beate-gutschow-s-series-photographic-constructions/ [Accessed 1st February 2019]

Contact Sheets

Final Selection-1Final Selection-2