BA Phot

C&N: Assignment 3, Diary

Back - submission - rework - development - diary - contact sheets - tutor feedback - zine
Asg.1 - Asg.2 - Asg.3 - Asg.4 - Asg.5

The instructions for Asg.3 include the following,

Box A
self portrait,
early 1990s
… [Y]ou can approach your self-portraits however you see fit …
Keep a diary for a set period of time (at least two weeks). Each day write two or three pages about yourself – what you’ve been doing/thinking. This can be as specific or poetic as you wish. You may wish to pick a theme for the duration. This is an open brief designed to give you freedom to create something personal which suits you best. Use the artists you’ve looked at in Part Three or your own research for inspiration.
Select the most interesting parts of the diary (which could also be the most banal or mundane) and interpret them into a photographic project.

C&N p.89

[23Feb20] I noted on 20th Feb, in early preparation for this assignment that, 'The assignment brief calls for a two-week diary to be kept as a starting point for this project. I will have to cheat on this instruction and reconstruct a retrospective, episodic diary showing how this idea developed.'

This is that alternatively-constructed diary.

Retrospective - Prospective

Retrospective entries


An intention to prepare early for all assignments was noted and a page opened here.


first thoughts — The self portraits I admire most are those by John Coplans and Lee Friedlander, especially the former. I would not be surprised if one or the other influences this assignment.


Another idea is to imitate other s-ps by photographers — there are a few of them here. I am leaning towards what I have characterised as the male tendency in s-ps.

Also, I happen to be listening to Ted Simon's Jupiter's Travels on audiobook at the moment. A relevant passage cropped up today,

In the oval, engraved mirror of a colonial dining car I actually take notice of my face for the first time in a long while. Action has freed me from self-consciousness and I am becoming a stranger to my own appearance. It is a very satisfying feeling. I no longer think of people seeing me as I see myself in a mirror. Instead, I imagine that people can see directly into my soul. It is as though a screen between me and the world has dropped away. Ted Simon , Jupiter's Travels, Chapter 4

Prospective entries

23Feb20 - Catchup

The Coplans option was used up on Asg.1, leaving the intention to imitate other s-ps.

The initial candidates for imitation are shown on the SPs page started in November 2018.

Manuel Álvarez Bravo Bill Brandt Stanley Kubrick
Box B
1. Manuel Álvarez Bravo, self portrait
2. Bill Brandt, self portrait (see below)
3. Stanley Kubrick, self portrait, 1949
© the artists, their agents or their estates

I am on the lookout for a large restaurant or bar mirror for a Kubrick (fig. B3) with a fallback position of using the bedroom.

The Álvarez Bravo (fig. B1) shouldn't be difficult to imitate.

The Bill Brandt (fig. B2) , which I took to be a s-p is in fact a 1945 portrait by Laelia Goehr, but I still intend to imitate it. I had done some research on the camera in shot and found one on sale at [1], a French dealer who kindly sent me a set of (relatively) hi-res images from the sale. Some manipulation produced a usable image which was printed at 12" and 16" square with my Asg.1 shots (these were sent for printing on around 20th January). I think the 12" will work.

On Feb 16th I became aware of Richard Avedon's 1964 self portrait in which his face is half-masked by a portrait of James Baldwin (fig. C1) [2]. I bought a Jeremy Corbyn face mark on 17th Feb (£1.95 on ebay); Keir Starmer has sent me some leadership election material that includes a handsome B&W head shot; and I might get a print of another Avedon S-P (fig. C2) for this purpose when I print Asg.2.

Richard Avedon's 1964 self portrait Richard Avedon self-portrait
Box C
1. Richard Avedon self-portrait with James Baldwin, 1964
2. Avedon self-portrait,
© the artists, their agents or their estates

And here's a site, found while looking for a decent copy of the Avedon,Top 10 Black and White Self Portraits by Famous Photographers [3]. I like the Ronis and Maier is possible. The Feininger is not a SP. And check out Daniel Castonguay on the same site - the nicest images I have seen in a long while.


Damn! I sent Asg.2 for printing yesterday and failed to include an Avedon s-p. The printing quality is not critical as the mask should be out of focus if it is to be an accurate recreation of the original, so my inkjet might do.

Coronavirus restrictions are in place for decrepit oldies such as the writer so this assignment will be photographed indoors.

The current prospects are Avedon (after fig. C1), Brandt (B2), Álvarez Bravo (B1), Kubrick (B3) and Ronis (D1).

Incidentally, the greatest self portrait of all time (and one of the greatest photographs period) is Ilse Bing's of 1931 (fig. D2), but I recreated that for exercise 5.2 in EyV (fig. D3).

Autoportrait aux flashes Bing Self Portait
Box D
1. Willy Ronis, Autoportrait aux flashes, 1951
2. Ilse Bing, Self portrait with Leica, 1931
3. Nick Blackburn (i.e. me) self portrait with Fuji after Ilse Bing, 2019
© the artists, their agents or their estates


I took the first images today, so this might be the end of the diary.


1. (2020) Wide angle KODAK View Camera / Bill Brandt [online]. Available from [Accessed 23 February 2020].

2. Thrasher, S.W. (2017) James Baldwin and Richard Avedon's divided states [online]. Available from [Accessed 23 February 2020].

3. (2015) Top 10 Black and White Self Portraits by Famous Photographers [online]. Available from [Accessed 23 February 2020].

Page created 23-Feb-2020 | Page updated 01-Jul-2020