Alvarado on narrativity

While Rod Stewart might have understood that "every picture tells a story" in 1971, it seems to have taken a little longer for the message to be accepted into critical photographic discourse. Manuel Alvarado, writing originally in 1979 (Alvarado 2001) quotes from Barthes, Cartier-Bresson and John Berger to the effect that a single image, particularly... Continue Reading →

Very Miscellaneous

'Very Miscellaneous', a 1996 project by Joachim Schmid is a further example of the juxtaposition of image and text, demonstrating how the one can alter our perception of the other. In what Schmid describes as "A possible history of country life in Sussex", he works with found images - in this case, deadpan portrait photographs... Continue Reading →

Image and text (without the text)

In an exercise similar to making a portrait without the subject in frame, it is possible to use a textless image to present a message in a similar way to a captioned image. The examples that spring to mind are two cigarette advertising campaigns from the late 1970s and 1980s. The driving force was a... Continue Reading →

Reflections on Project 1

Page 46 of the course notes quotes apparently contradictory philosophies. I am a documentary photographer, and if I take a good photograph in the process, that's a bonus. (Martin Parr) and I'm interested in good photographs, and if they document something, so much the better. (Tom Wood) and asks which approach most closely follows my... Continue Reading →


Until now, my working definition of 'typology' has been 'what the Bechers did'. It seems that I have reached the stage where something a bit more rigorous is needed. According to the Oxford English Dictionary (online at : (noun) A classification according to general type, especially in archaeology, psychology, or the social sciences. (mass noun) Study... Continue Reading →

Historic portrait photography

There are two obvious threads for discussion of historic portrait photography: the underlying technology and the practice of photography. It is conventional to date the history of photography from January 1839 and the rival publications of Daguerre's and Fox Talbot's commercial processes, the daguerrotype and calotype respectively. (As an aside, Geoffrey Batchen (1999) gives a... Continue Reading →


Place is more difficult to define, because there are so many meanings (my COED, 5th edition, gives 13 sets of meanings for the noun and 7 for the verb) from which we have to select those that are relevant to the present discourse. These are my selections: From COED: 'Particular part of space; part of... Continue Reading →


It is always nice to get an understanding of our basic terms before starting a new course. Identity is one that seems to have had some subtle shifts over the years. According to my COED (5th edition, 1964 vintage) the meaning is 'Absolute sameness; individuality, personality' as well as some mathematical meanings which are not... Continue Reading →

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