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T he purpose of this site is to contain the output of a photography degree. Some of it is a course requirement: most of it is on public display by choice.

M   y stated ethos in May 2020, during C&N was,

To produce a visual representation of something that merits this attention in such a way as to do the subject object justice.
All these judgements are necessarily subjective and the terms deliberately ambiguous. blog, 16th May

[28Mar21] That is still operative but, mid I&P, I have been fiddling with a rambling, clarificatory codicil.

The last 50 years (?) has commonly been characterised [1] as a move from photographs of towards photographs about. Many of the ‘abouts’ are the photographers themselves, projects exploring or explaining or reflecting their life or experiences, aspirations or imaginations and this has given rise to some significant and original work such as Cindy Sherman’s early self portraits and Nan Goldin’s (somewhat exploitative) depiction of her milieu. But as these base niches have been staked out by the early innovators, subsequent workers have felt forced into increasingly more obscure and convoluted project-conceptions in order to establish their individuality and also, more recently, their concern for particular issues.

As a person of age, I do not feel a particular need to express or explore any aspect of my present, my past or my limited future in this way [2]: I am content to produce ‘photographs of’ in the full and certain knowledge that they will be viewed and interpreted by others entirely subjectively and individually, as is the case for every photograph in existence. [3]

For, as La Grange memorably paraphrased Sue Sontag [4],

photographs do not seem strongly bound by the intention of the photographer Sontag, On Photography, quoted in La Grange (2005) p.37

The process of developing a personal voice is referred to throughout this degree and it becomes something of a Quest. This concerned me until recently, when I resolved the matter to my own satisfaction,

Regarding the 'development of a personal voice', I have in the past struggled to decide what this means. I believe that I have come to terms with this now: if I embrace any subject and task the course directs me towards and approach it in a way that I find appropriate, then I will be using my 'personal voice', and I will leave it to others to define or describe it as necessary. I&P Assignment 2 submission

For PhotoWork (2019) Sasha Wolf asked forty photographers a series of identical questions, including one about their 'natural voice'. Bryan Schutmaat replied,

I'm not sure any photographer really has a natural voice. Photographers train themselves to follow their tastes and visual interests, and so much influence is funnelled through every click of the shutter that it's hard to say what comes naturally and what is learned or imitated. I also don't think our photographic voices and styles are rigid and immutable. Bryan Schutmaat in Wolf's PhotoWork, 2019, p.203

And what is a voice? In my view, part of it is a vaguely recognisable style with some degree of consistency.
A desirable trait is enough new ideas to sustain a practice: for an artist-photographer these might be self-generated; for a working photographer, commissions; for a professional, assignments (e.g. Sherman, Bailey, and early McCullin respectively.
Mostly it is a matter of intention — in order to create coherent bodies of work, it is necessary to set out with some form of intention, however nebulous and to whatever aspect of the photography it applies. What it is not is technique or craft — it is probably necessary to have some technical understanding of or approach to the medium in order to fulfil or deliver on one's intention but that is entirely up to the individual.
One (to me) important thing to note is that a diverse course such as this is not necessarily an ideal vehicle for voice development. If the student has to, in order to meet the course requirements, photograph in circumstances and ways that they would not otherwise do, then while this might force them along new paths that prove fruitful, it also (and arguably to a greater extent) distorts any nascent voice.

1 For example Hill (2021 p.152);

2 I am happy and interested to indulge in this sort of thing ‘to order’ for a course exercise or assignment, such as SqM or Archival intervention, but I am not driven to do so to the extent that some photographers seem to be and it is not my natural mode of self expression or my innate reaction to objects before my lens.

3 Arguably, it is the viewer that turns photographs of into photographs about, and the about, is often the viewers themselves.

4 See the site-wide note here.

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This has been adapted from the Arthur Jackson Hepworth web site.

creative commons

Perhaps just adopting a Creative Commons license would be clearer.

D isclaimer I noted in the blog in November 2019 that Disney has started for apologising for the attitudes portrayed in some of its older films. I have a feeling that, being a person of age, I will sometimes have to do the same.

C ontact email - Nick518937 at


Hill, P. (2021) Approaching Photography. Abingdon: Routledge

Page created 22-Jun-2018 | Page updated 05-Dec-2021