BA Phot

I&P: Preamble

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Project 1, Historic photographic portraiture - Exc 1.1 - Project 1.2 Typologies - Exc 1.2 - Exc 1.3 - Exc 1.4 - Conclusion - Upsum

New online course material - Exc. N1 - Exc. N2 - Exc. N3 - Exc. N4 - Exc. N5 - Exc. N6 - Exc. N7
Spence and Martin portrait analysis - Bate, five elements

Arbus - Bellocq - Bey - Bird - Callahan - Cameron - Campt - Cohen - Evans - Fiskin - Hardman - Höfer - Hoppé - Huebler - Mapplethorpe - Medley - Mertin - Nadar - Sander - Schmid - Zaidi -

interpretation - Reflective Writing - Square Mile - Standard Six - Surface - Typologies

Preamble - Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3 - Part 4 - Part 5 - Asg.1 - Asg.2 - Asg.3 - Asg.4 - Asg.5 - C&N - EyV

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We hold these truths to be self evident.

[28Jul20] I noted the following quotes throughout C&N and I'll note them again.

At OCA we believe that your position or viewpoint is absolutely as valuable as the position of any author that you read; the only difference is that you probably won’t have fully discovered, or at least articulated, it yet. Your viewpoint is the source of your imagination and ideas but it can be quite a long journey to bring it into the light. Bloomfield, 2017 p.101

And from Sue Sontag ,

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

And Evelyn Waugh on the subject of degrees from  Brideshead Revisited, in a post from The Evelyn Waugh Society

I wonder if Brideshead Revisited offers a clue to the origins of this mystery. When Charles Ryder arrives at the university, he is firmly advised by his cousin Jasper: ‘You want either a first or a fourth. There is no value in anything between. Time spent on a good second is time thrown away.’ If Waugh did get a third, as Dr Thomas suggests, perhaps he didn’t want anyone to know. Manley, 2018 - The Evelyn Waugh Society


[29Jul20, [I&P p.5]] After a brief definition of terms and context, much of the Preamble is so similar to C&N's that it is not worth summarising at any length.

The definitions section states that much of photography throughout its history has been about identity and / or place. It continues,

You’ll be encouraged to reflect upon and critically examine concepts surrounding the genre of portraiture and the representation of place and implement them into your own practical projects in thoughtful and creative ways. A major component of this course will involve developing your confidence and interpersonal skills, including negotiation and collaboration with, and gaining access to, photographic subjects. I&P p.5

Then it's:

  1. p.5 — Learning outcomes, a.k.a. assessment criteria 
  2. p.6 — email a brief introductory bio. to your tutor
  3. p.7 — maintain a learning log and blog (these sections really should be updated)
  4. p.8 — plan your course, consider assessment [you’ll need to submit: • all five course assignments as submitted to your tutor plus any amended versions (i.e. amended in the light of tutor feedback) • your tutor reports • your learning log or blog url.] Ha!
  5. p.8-9 — more on asscrit
  6. p.9 — research, referencing, communicating

Exercise N1

From the new, online course material

it’s a good starting point to consider what you might want or need to explore. To help you think about this, consider what you want and what you might need from the course unit? For example, whether there are areas you are keen to explore for the first time, gaps in your knowledge you would like to develop, areas you would like to expand, or study skills you would like to brush up on. Write a short paragraph or around 5 bullet points identifying what you want and what you might need from the course unit.
To help support your learning it’s also useful for your tutor to get a sense of your own creative background, your expectations of the course unit, motivations for this level of study, and any other information you‘d like to share. Write a short paragraph or 5 bullet points summarising what you’re bringing to the course unit. I&P online Intro p.9

[4Oct20 I&P online, Intro p.9]

1. an enthusiasm for taking photographs
2. a wish to learn more about photographic history, theory and distinguished practitioners
3. a reasonable technical proficiency
4. a current practice that does not involve a great deal of portraiture
5. relevant old age and infirmity that limits mobility in general and under Covid restrictions in particular.

Hoping for:
1. experience of portraiture
2. continued growth of confidence regarding my output
3. the introduction to new (to me) photographers that will enhance my appreciation of the craft

These are some of the things I have jotted since starting this degree:

The original About page on the web site,

My main interest is in photographing statues and other public art: I intend to branch out into architectural photography. BAPhot, About, June 2018

In May 2020 I described my aim, whatever the subject matter, as,

To produce a visual representation of something that merits this attention in such a way as to do the subject justice. All these judgements are necessarily subjective and the terms deliberately ambiguous. BAPhot Blog, May 2020

In my C&A reflective evaluation, I wrote,

The creation of hand-crafted booklets will define my approach to photography for the foreseeable future. C&A Reflective Evaluation

This links to my C&N booklet.

Exercise N2

Setting up your learning log

The formats used will be the same as for EyV and C&N.
There's a blog here
Course notes here, interspersed with exercises
Assignment notes here.

Exercise N3

[4Oct20] From the new, online course material

Exercise 3: Analysing and reflecting  
This quick exercise is designed to introduce the idea of analysing and reflecting on the work of others, and to give you some material for your first learning log entry or blogpost.  
Here’s a selection of creative practitioners that you will encounter during this course unit:  
● Elina Brotherus,  
● Harry Callahan,  
● Zenele Muholi,  
● Nicky Bird. 
1. Choose one of these names and find a piece of work they’ve produced. Remember to reference the works you have chosen using Harvard  Referencing, so it’s clear what you are looking at, who made it, and when.
2. Pick one of the pieces and briefly describe it. Consider its qualities by  trying to describe it. What are the different elements within the work and how do these elements work together? What do you think the work is trying to communicate? Imagine you’re describing the work to somebody over the telephone. Try to do this in no more than 50 words.  For image based work, what you’re doing here is analysing the formal visual language of an image. This is known as visual research or, sometimes visual analysis. Writing can be a useful tool in visual analysis, but you can also annotate images with notes. 
3. Using the same piece, briefly write about how you relate to this work. Do you like it or hate it, find it intriguing, influential or outdated, and if so, why? Does the work connect to wider ideas or other creative practitioners? In other words, what’s your opinion on this work. Don’t worry about ‘getting it wrong’ or ‘missing the point’. Perhaps your reflection raises more questions than answers. Again, try to do this in no more than 50 words.
4. Use the text you’ve generated to create your first blog post or learning log entry. You may also want to be self-reflective by considering your  experience of doing the exercise. Did you find it an easy or difficult task? Did it raise any interesting issues or areas you want to develop further? Write a sentence or two picking up on any of these points in your learning log. I&P online Intro p.12
Harry Callahan
b: 1912 Detroit / 1999 Atlanta
Tate - Wikipedia

1. We met Brotherus in C&N, Bird too. I have not encountered Muholi, so I will save their work (I believe they take the non-specific pronoun, see Tate and Wisconsin U. LGBTQ+ Resource Center). I will write about Harry Callahan as I cherish a pair of his images. Strict Harvard from here onwards.

Harry Callahan Harry Callahan
1. Eleanor, 1947
2. Weed against sky, 1948
© the estate of Harry Callahan

2. Description
The two images are remarkably similar in structure, each comprising just two or three lines, one vertical, the other(s) straying from horizontal, with two additional dots at the horizontal extremities in the case of the Weed: they are starkly minimalistic. The subject matter is entirely different, however: a closeup segment of Callahan's wife's upper thighs and buttocks in the case of Eleanor and Weed a small plant before a blank sky. Technically, Eleanor is in low contrast greys and the Weed in harsh high contrast.
Individually they are strong but unspectacular images, but in combination, they are æsthetically astonishing.

John Coplans
Hand with Buttocks, 1987
© the estate of John Coplans

3. Personal reaction
I cannot recall when I first saw this pairing, but I first showed them together on a web site in 2012: I do not imagine that the idea originated with me. The practice of pairing was championed by Stefan Lorant between the world wars and discussed in his subsequent book (1940): although his use was often for humour or ridicule, the principle works equally well for serious purposes.

It would be interesting to seek the most appropriate companion piece for Eleanor amongst John Coplans' dark and hirsute partial self-portraits.


Blackburn, N (i.e. me) (2012) Snaps [online]. Available from [Accessed 4 October 2020].

Callahan, H. (1947) Eleanor [online image]. Available from [Accessed 4 October 2020].

Callahan, H. (1948) Weed against sky [online image]. Available from [Accessed 4 October 2020].

Lorant. S (1940) Chamberlain and the beautiful llama and 101 more juxtapositions. London: Hulton

Tate (n.d.) Zanele Muholi [online]. Available from [Accessed 5 October 2020].

University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (2020) Gender Pronouns [online]. Available from [Accessed 5 October 2020].

Exercise N4

[5Oct20] From the new, online course material

Exercise 4: Managing your time
Depending on your circumstances, you might allocate time in different ways - a day a week, an hour a day, larger blocks of time such as weekends or holidays, or a combination of approaches.
Ask yourself the following questions?
● How much time you can allocate to study each week?
● What is my most/least productive time of the day?
● How well do I manage time?
● What is a realistic schedule to undertake Part One (around 80 learning hours) and when might you set your first deadline?
Make some notes in your learning log and discuss your schedule when you talk to you tutor. I&P online Intro p.14

I am retired and do not go out a great deal because of Covid restrictions. I therefore have 2-4 hours available per day for working on the course. I previously worked 2 days per week in a debt advice charity, but we are not returning to work at least until the new year.

Under these circumstances, C&N was completed more swiftly than EyV and the same is likely with I&P. I aimed at two months for each part, study and assignment in C&N and will aim for something similar for I&P.

For C&N, the later exercises and assignments, after the lockdown began were not greatly affected by the changes and could be accomplished at home. The same cannot be said for I&P. We'll see.

Exercise N5

[5Oct20] From the new, online course material

My workspace
Exercise 5: Identifying resources
Prepare a list of the equipment and other resources you might need to use. What do you currently have and what might you need to get? Don’t worry if you don’t have everything now, there’s plenty of time to build your resources as you progress through the course unit and degree. If you’re not sure of what you need, then prepare a list of questions to ask your tutor.
What space or spaces are you going to work in? Consider where you will do most of your study, and prepare it so it’s an environment you’ll enjoy working in and you are able to store your equipment and resources.
You may want to take a photo of your studio space to share with your tutor via your learning log. I&P online Intro p.17

Here's my workspace, including the Standard Six. The camera kit is kept upstairs, or dangling from my office chair. Anything needed for the course will be bought when required.

Exercise N6 Saying hello to your fellow students

From the new, online course material

Get in touch with other students to say hello, and to share something about you or your practice. Use the OCA discuss site and/or the email group. For example, by sharing your online learning log URL, your work on Exercise 3, or a photo of your studio space. I&P online Intro p.19

Message posted in GMail, 5th October.

Exercise N7 Say hello to your tutor

From the new, online course material

For your final exercise, get in touch with your tutor to arrange a 15-20 min conversation. This is an opportunity to say hello to your tutor and put a voice to a name. It’s also a chance to discuss how best to schedule your time, document your work, and share it.
The previous exercises and research tasks will have helped you prepare for this conversation and identified any questions you’d like to ask. Use your notes from these exercises as a starting point.
Reflect on this conversation in your learning log as a way to identify any key points and as a starting point to refer back to later on. Don’t forget to refer to ‘my tutor’ online rather than by name.
Finally, you may want to reflect on doing this introduction as a whole. Has it been useful and are there things we could do differently? Make some notes in your learning log and feel free to get in touch with OCA directly or use the forums to help us improve our support if you have any ideas. I&P online Intro p.19


Synchronisation note

[6Oct20 Np.20] Page 10 of the pdf course extract = page 20 of the new online course. Both begin with the dictionary definition of identity, with the Grayson Perry picture on p.12 and p.23 respectively.

[I wrote back in July, ] Now back to the printed course extract.
[29Jul20, [I&P p.10]] And now some course-specific stuff. We'll pick it up there.

Until we get to the end of Part. 1, p.x will refer to the old 2015 course extract and Np.y will refer to the new online course material, see References.


Quotes from the OED and Giddens, the latter to the effect that a personal identity relies on maintaining a continuous narrative with external events and entities.
There are various aspects of identity and personality, including the obvious manifestations of 'social status, wealth, class, gender, race, sexuality, religious background, etc.' [I&P p.10] and there is nowadays far more scope for changing nearly all of these than in the past.

Reflection point

[p.11, Np.21] An example of changing standards and expectations in social interactions is given, when moving from student life to live in 'a suburban area' and we are asked to give some personal examples and the problems that arise.

Writing as a person of age, life can be seen as a series of rôles to be played in different life settings - work, play, family, travel (for example, the difference between driving and being driven), church-going and partying. And there are many others - the rôles increase in number as one enters one's twenties and then gradually decrease until cessation. Shakespeare probably has something to say on the matter, he usually does.
Problems can arise particularly when learning a new rôle or when rôles overlap with conflicting expectations.

Photography and identity

And there are various aspects here too. Police mugshots, ID cards, formal portraits and family snaps. Importantly,

photography can also be used to explore identity beneath the surface of physical attributes. This is what we hope you will find yourself achieving in your photography as you move throughout this course. I&P p.11

On the other hand (this is me, not the course material), it can be argued that all that is ever photographed, all that it is possible to photograph is the visible surface and that anything 'beneath the surface' is the viewer's personal, subjective interpretation.

Dawoud Bey (2019, p.15) quotes Avedon,

Avedon once said, "… you can't get at the thing itself, the real nature of the sitter, by stripping away the surface. The surface is all you've got. You can only get beyond the surface by working with the surface." It was clear from seeing his photographs that the surface contains rich information and could provoke a strong response. Dawoud Bey

There's a similar Avedon quote in Henry Carroll's Photographers on Photography (2018, p.80)

My photographs don't go below the surface. They don't go below anything. They're readings of what's on the surface. Avedon

In the January 1975 Aperture special edition devoted to The Snapshot Tod Papageorge (1975, p.27) muses that,

Cameras are like dogs, but dumb, and toward quarry, even more faithful. They point, they render, and defy the photographer who hopes. Photography investigates no deeper relief than surfaces. It is superficial, in the first sense of the word; it studies the shape and skin of things, that which can be seen. By a passionate extension of this, its most profound meanings have to do with immanence, the indwelling grace of what Zen calls our ten thousand facts. This is not transport, or celestial transcendence, but that more footed joy and grief found near any clear sighting of the world. Tod Papageorge


[p.12, Np.22] The example is given of Grayson Perry's Who are You series and the importance of getting to know the subject is emphasised. There are parallels between this and the work done for C&N Asg. 4 where Bill Brandt's superficial attitude was contrasted with the more immersive approaches of Tish Murtha and Jim Mortram.

Reflection point

[p.13, Np.24] 'If you have a social media profile picture, write a paragraph describing the ‘you’ it portrays. What aspects of yourself remain hidden?' I&P p.11

I do not participate in social media but I have numerous self portraits available for consideration.

mugshot C&N Asg.1 C&N Asg.3 C&N Asg.3

Box A
1. self portrait, early 1990s
2. C&N Asg.1, self and Rodin's John the Baptist (detail), January 2020
3. C&N Asg.3 self portrait after 1949 Stanley Kubrick, self portrait, March 2020
4. Stanley Kubrick, self portrait, 1949
5. Eyebrow, July 2020
© the artists, their agents or their estates

Fig. A1, taken around 30 years ago, now only exists as a 275x242 pixel image and is used as an avatar, for example on the OCA Gmail discussion group.
A2 was taken for C&N Asg.1 where I juxtaposed parts of my body with details of Rodin's John the Baptist, a conscious evocation of John Coplans' self portraits.
A3 was taken for C&N Asg.3, for which I responded to a series of self portraits by well known photographers (mostly, as my tutor pointed out, both male and dead) in this case Stanley Kubrick, fig. A4.
A5 is a self portrait taken yesterday (28Jul20), having noticed that even my eyebrows are turning white. C&N Asg.1 was quite an eye-opener for me, revealing my body's deterioration that I simply had not noticed hitherto. I suppose that I am sensitive to observing further signs.

I think it likely that the first impression any newcomer would have of me would be 'old man'. This is my external appearance, reinforced by a walking stick and confirmed by slurred and hesitant speech arising from strokes.

[30Jul] The hidden aspect is interpreted quite literally. When choosing the matched Rodin/Me images for submission I had the option of including my bottom and chose to not do so. There were two reasons for this:
1. it is not the bottom it once was; and
2. as I wrote on the development page, 'I am not sending my bottom: while it might not be illegal under Sexual Offences Act 2003 , I am not comfortable with it.' An elderly man emailing images of parts of his body that are normally concealed in polite society to a younger female acquaintance (my tutor) is inappropriate.

Bedfordshire Police (n.d.) Sexting law [online]. Available from [Accessed 30 July 2020]

Where are we?

[p.15, Np.26]

[31Jul20, [I&P p.14]] EyV's Assignment 1, Square Mile is mentioned and it is suggested that students might like to try it again. Well, it just so happens that I knew this was coming and have done so. I'll run it on a separate page.

Reflective Writing

[p.16, Np.27]

[25Aug20] [I&P p.16] Keep doing it - increasingly important in tutor- and final- assessment.


Relate one's work and ideas to that of other photographers. Expose yourself 'to as many genres and ways of working as possible' … '[be] inspired and [move] outside your comfort zone' … '[put] your spin on these methods [and] develop your own voice and style' … 'do your research and write about it thoroughly'. [I&P p.16].

An example is given of typology, not a word I have encountered before and not a word that is indexed in and of my Standard Six reference works.

An online search is not short of responses and led me to a new site, which gives the examples one might expect of the Bechers and Sander and casts around for a definition, but a textual one is not really necessary if we have those two examples in mind. The cmat also mentions 'Karl Blossfeldt’s obsessive record-keeping of botanics' and concludes, '[c]omparing the strategies of photographers working in similar themes will help you see what may or may not be useful for your project, and why.'

Critical analysis

The 'why'.

In the case of the Bechers, it would be appropriate to mention their devotion to their subject, their standard treatment thereof and their gradual classification of their captures. I would be inclined to draw parallels with trainspotting, but nevertheless their body of work is impressive in a way that appeals to the stamp collector in me. And it would be a mistake not to mention Idris Khan as an example of tangential creativity.

And with writings on photography, draw together various sources and compare their views.

As written in August, Now get on with it.


References for Part 1 are shown on the first page.

Page created 11-Oct-2020 | Page updated 27-Apr-2021