Author Archives: niamhsphotography714680177

Assignment 3. The Decisive Moment


I have been asked to create a set of 6 – 10 finished photos on the theme of the decisive moment, I may choose to create imagery that either supports the tradition of the ‘decisive moment’ or choose to question the concept by presenting a series of ‘indecisive’ moments. The aim is not to tell a story, but I must have a linking theme. I must include a written introduction to my work consisting of 1000 words (max).


After looking into the decisive moment from the previous exercise, I was left feeling a little lost and unsure of what to make of the decisive moment apart from the fact that the concept is outdated. I decided to go out and actively look for decisive moments, this way I could have a better understanding of the concept and I believe putting it into practice will only benefit my work. I will also try to capture some ‘indecisive’ moments also.


Having previously looked into Henri Cartier- Bresson I will add the research from it below. Link to my research

Henri Cartier-Bresson Quote


I looked into and read an article by Eric Kim, although most of the information in it is anecdotal, I found it helpful to gain a better understanding of how Henri Cartier -Bresson is viewed by others and how he shaped street photography for so many photographers. Eric Kim Article on the Decisive Moment


While looking into the article above he mentions Nick Waplington, a British photographer and artist born in 1965, he studied at the Royal College of Art. He published a book in 1999 called ‘The Indecisive Momento’. I decided to look into his work in more detail, that book consists of multiple diptychs throughout, here is a quote taken from the article by Eric Kim in which Waplinton is describing his work ” There is no doubt that the twentieth century photographically has been the century of the reportage image and Cartier-Bresson is undoubtedly the greatest reportage photographer of our time. Yet his idea of the decisive moment, in which you have one chance to capture an image and either you get it, or you miss it, seems dated. We live in post-modern age where non-moments have become as relevant as moments. Everything has validity and yet this idea of the decisive moment is still given credence within photographic circles. What I am trying to do is address this preconception and say that every and any moment works”. I feel this represents exactly what I believe, and it is fascinating that he was able to produce a photobook incorporating what he believes and what his view is of the decisive moment. I wish to do the same when I come to do photos for this assignment. Waplington has also worked with Alexander Mc Queen in 2013, he was approached to document the creative process of one of the fashion shows, little did he know that it would be Alexander Mc Queen’s final show as he later died by suicide. The photos he took where then exhibited at the Tate Britain. Article by Eric Kim, The Indecisive Momento

Youtube video on Nick Waplington working with Alexander Mc Queen

I then looked into street photographers who have been inspired by Cartier- Bresson’s work to gain a better understanding of how it the decisive moment has been used over the years and how others interpreted it. I came across Elliot Erwitt, born in 1928 to Russian parents. He spent most of his childhood in Milan but then moved America. He always had an interest in photography and in 1948 decided to move to New York and partake in film classes at the New School for Social Research. While in New York he met the founders of Magnum photos and joined them in 1953. He then went on in the late 1960s to serve as Magnum’s president for three years. A lot of his work has a witty sense of humour and are extremely well composed shots. One of his iconic photos has been mistaken to be captured by Cartier – Bresson when in fact it was Erwitt, he had been commissioned to photograph the Eiffel tower in its 100th year celebrations in 1989. This gives a great insight as to how Erwitt’s work has the same characteristics as Cartier- Bresson’s work has.  Magnum Photos Article on Elliot Erwitt

Magnum Photos, Elliot Erwitt

Magnum Photos, Elliot Erwitt biography

Robert Doisneau, a French photographer born 1922 in Gentilly, a suburb of Paris. He came from middle- class family and discovered creative subjects ages fifteen at the Estienne School, he then became a camera assistant at André Vigneau’s studio in 1931. He is thought to have influenced Cartier- Bresson in his work, there is definite similarities between both. He died in 1994 and left behind some 450,000 negatives telling the story of his life. His most famous work is titled ‘The Kiss in Front of City Hall’ taken in 1950. Although back in the 1950s it was thought this photo was a candid but unfortunately it was later discovered that Doisneau hired an actor and actress and set up the scene, I find this so fascinating as it completely juxtaposes what Cartier- Bresson had strived for in his work. This furthers my point about the decisive moment, is it really a thing? Anything can be re-created or staged as Doisneau has proven. Although we cannot say for sure that all his images are staged, and I doubt every one is considering he claimed them to be serendipitous. This also strengthens my argument about times having changed as there are less moments that are merely our own especially with technology. “Doisneau is the story-teller among the exponts of a so called ‘photographie humaniste’. Whereas Cartier-Bresson followed the construcivist dictum and composed his photographs down to the last detail, Doisneau sought out the anecdote”.

Quoted from the book ’50 Photo Icons, the story behind them’ by Hans Michael Koetzle and was published by Taschen in 2017 (page 188).

Robert Doisneau Portfolio

Robert Doisneau

I also looked into Garry Winogrand an American street photographer born on the 14th of January 1928 and died on March the 19th, 1984 from gallbladder cancer. He began to take photos in 1945 while being enrolled into the United States Air Force. From 1949 to 1951 he worked as a photographer at the New School of Social Research in New York City. His work is not unlike the previous photographers I have looked into he is known for his candid’s and in particular his knack for photographing humans in such a natural way. His main subject was American people, famous or not. “His odd angles of vision, dramatic juxtapositions, subjects in action, and multiple centres of interest produce tense images embodying anxieties and psychological ruptures of modern life” Winogrand famously summarized his purpose as a photographer by saying “I photograph to find out what something will look like photographed.” What his subjects ‘look like’ is very complex, a lot of his work juxtaposes another thing happening within the frame forcing the audience to not focus on one particular part of the photo, his straightforward comment often carries a surrealistic or comic edge. He found success as a magazine photographer but in 1955 he set off to travel through America photographing as he went. Eventually he decided to teach instead of doing commercial work. Like Elliot Erwitt above, he too photographed animals, except unlike Erwitt these animals were not domestic and in fact Winogrand photographed zoo animals in and outside their cage, called ‘The Animals’ (1969).

Oxford reference Garry Winogrand

Tablet Magazine Article on Garry Winogrand

MoMa Profile on Garry Winogrand

The last photographer I looked into was Denis Cherim, unfortunately I cannot find much on his life as he is very unknown, although he is based in London. He has started slowly to get more recognition due to his work called ‘The Coincidence Project’ which as comes to no surprise consists of a bunch of coincident or, so we are led to believe! His work is so well composed, and everything is lined up impeccably, its astonishing the feats he must have had to go to line everything up so well. His work is so aesthetically pleasing to the eye, he started this project in 2012 and his main subject is urban and natural landscapes with the odd animal thrown in. “Through the coincidences of unconnected elements, I discover new places where nothing is beautiful or ugly, nothing big or small, nothing is good or bad, it is only exciting. Suddenly duality disappears and leaves space for unity”. This is relevant to the decisive moment as it makes me question the decisive moment or the indecisive moment, what really makes something decisive? Or indecisive. Is life just a series of decisive moments or is it coincidences? Do we fail to recognise all these moments every day because we are so wrapped up in our own worlds? Is that why aesthetically pleasing photographs that have been composed perfectly like Cartier-Bresson’s work, is what we like to see because we fail to see it ourselves? Do we require to be reminded of those precious moments, especially now as times have changed since the 1950s.

Denis Cherim on The Coincidence Project

Article on The Coicindence Project

Denis Cherim – Instagram

Having looked into the photographers above I know I would like to explore myth, if you believe it to be, of the decisive moment and discover how our time now has changed the decisive moment. How decisive moments differ from person to person and what makes them different.

Please find attached my introduction to my work,

Introduction to Assignment 3

Planning and execution


Once having decided a location, the Guildhall in Derry; I then decided to take the photos from a high up advantage point so I could see in more detail the happenings of that day. I went up the ancient walls that overlook the Guildhall square and positioned myself there for about 3 hrs, I brought my telephoto lens with me (sigma 70-300mm zoom) and decided that my tripod was unnecessary as I could rest my camera on the walls, I didn’t have much of a plan as to what I was looking for apart from the fact I wanted photos of a mix of people of all different ages. My main aim was to record some moments that where easily gone in a matter of seconds, I personally feel this is a better way to describe the decisive moment as anything can be re-created. It just so happened that on the day I decided to shoot there was a civil marriage or partnership taking place, therefore the square was quite busy and lots of people seemed intrigued by the vintage car sitting out front. It was a golden opportunity to get some nice moments. I started photographing people’s reactions to the vintage car and noticed how friendly everyone was, it was a nice day and people were sitting chatting, which was nice to see compared to a big city where everyone is rushed off their feet. I was satisfied with how many photos I had and decided to go home.

It was as I looked through all the photos, I took I noticed a pattern, people where always on their phones but this only applied to those who were maybe aged 13 -50 therefore are those people missing out on decisive moments? They were so glued to their phones that they missed other wonderful moments I photographed from either children or elderly men having a good chat. Is technology ruining what little moments we have in life? People like to blame the younger generations for being obsessed with technology but judging by my photos there were more adults on their phones than teenagers! Although technology is great and has its perks, the warning signs have already been happening regarding social media and how young people view themselves and their relationships with others. Now a days no one will post a photo of decisive moment that made them happy they will take a picture, edit, factune and filter it until the real moment is gone. That’s why I believe the decisive moment is not relevant anymore, especially to younger generations.

The following are my final 10 photos,



I have choosen this photo because of the varity of people, also the way I have lined up this photo I feel is very effective, that all three women have walked off the footpath but the men in suits remain. I also love how the man at the centre of the image is on his phone and completely unaware of his surroundings, proving my point that technology has changed how we interact with others


In this photo, there is an elderly couple walking and besde them is a young person on their phone I feel this image is well composed, there are a lot of vertical lines running throughtout all different parts of the frame and the fact that the young person is on their phone and the older couple are simply walking plays into my opinion that technology is taking away what moments we have.


In this photo, I personally love how this turned out, the timing was perfect in the sense that all the people are lined up well we can see one man on the phone and another sitting casually and then of course at the bottom right hand corner we have the man wondering what is going on, I feel I encorporated a little Cartier-Bresson in this photo in particular due to the fact the man is mid walk. The vintage car in this photo also looks very well and the horizomtal lines throughout this image is very aethetically pleasing to me.


I choose this photo because of the innocence shown in just pressing the button, to the child this is a decisive moment, personal to him yet we press about five of these buttons a day and never think twice! There is a great deal of nostalgia in this photo for me becasue when I was younger it was a race to see how could press the button first between both my brother and I. The men in the background are having a good chat and it is nice to see him smiling. I feel it is the human gestures in this image that make it a good photo.


In this photo we can see again more phones, except these are some guests from the weeding that was taking place in the guilhall. I like this image because of the gesrtures, each person is doing something different yet they all fit into the shot so well. Everyone apart from the wedding guests are looking in a different direction and of course the car and the sun is the main attraction.


Personally I love this photo, again we see another phone but in this photo we can see two different perspectives. One from a man wanting to document the Guildhall and a women just wanting to experience it for herself. Although they look like they are together they are in fact complete strangers and are standing a great distance apart. These are both two very different moments, can we say that the man’s moment is indecisive as he is choosing to photograph it or is the women’s moment more decisive?


This photo is my favourite out of all the photos presented. The sencerity in this photo speaks volumes, these two little girls are just enjoying their moment and are happy to play and be in eachothers company without distractions like technlogy etc. The mothers look so pleased at how happy the little girls are and all together this is a very heart warming photo. I feel the colours of their coats is perfect at catching the eye and drawing attention to them, the pillar and paving is also very effective at making the image appear more structured and composed.


Regarding this photo, I feel it is the gestures again in this photo that make it pleasing, the little boy is pointing at the big bouqet of wedding flowers, everyone is staring but the man in the leather jacket, who is in fact staring stright into my camera. The reflection of the man’s head in the window of the guildhall is also another feature and I feel this is well composed although I wish the mobility scooter on the left was out of frame.


I choose this photo becasue of the childrens expressions, they look confused but excited. The eldest has pressed the button and to her its not a decisive moment unlike the photo before. I do and do not like how this is composed as the girl on the left is half in the frame when I’d much rather her not be there, but I like the way the family is positioned.


And my final photo is a well composed shot, the wedding photographers all standing round, with the driver waiting. Both Bride’s look beautiful standing at the top of the Guildhall stairs, you can see the skate board to the left, although random it fits in well witht he shot as a nice pop of colour. I would of liked the bridesmaid’s to be out behind them but I feel the shot still works really well.

Final Thoughts

I feel overall the shoot went well, my research was most vital and of course going and seeking some decisive and indecisve moments grately helped me in understanding the concept put forward by Cartier- Bresson. I still believe that the decisive moment is not relevant in today’s society especially when everyone has a camera and then feels a societal pressure to chop and change an image to make it ‘instagramable’. I feel that in the future we will either continue to lose more precious moments and photography like Cartier-Bresson and especially Denis Cherim will become more popular because we will crave those moments even if it is an image and not in real life, or we will regress completely and we will see more and more people turn away from technology but I highly doubt the latter.

I feel my photos are concise and relevant to my interpetation of the decisive moment, I feel I have done enough research and have a better understanding of how import compsotion is and how human gestures is what really makes a photo unique. I will not say if my photos are decisive or indecisve because to me it doesn’t matter, these are moments regardless, good or bad. As a concept I feel it is a great way of teaching someone to look for moments that often go ignored and Cartier – Bresson had a real knack for that but I believe it has been blown out of proprtion, slightly. Although no one can disregard the talent he had for photogrpahy and he will continue to inspire photographers for years to come, just like he has inspired me, to notice the unoticable.

Demonstration of technical and visual skills (40%) I feel I have shown great visual awareness, especially in the assignment due to the nature of the decisive moment. I have greatly improved my compostional skills because of this assignment and will continue to imporve them in the future.

Quality of outcome (20%) I feel I have presented my work in a coherent manner, it is concise and reads well. My content is factual and opinionated yet respectful and my application of knowledge is shown through my photos. I could have communicated my ideas better and I will in the future.

Demonstation of creativity (20%) I feel that this assignment in particular didnt allow me to be as creative as I would have liked, I struggled to be creative yet meet the brief and I shall improve on this in the future.

Conetxt (20%) I feel I have loads of reseach that backs my argument and lots of research that poses some interesting questions, I could be more critical with my work. I did a lot of reflection in this assignment by finding out what the decisive moment meant to me and i foudn that really helpful when I came to do my photos.


Please find my contact sheets below,




‘The Decisive Moment’ Research

I have been asked to look into ‘The Decisive Moment’ which was most atributed to Henri Cartier-Bresson and therefore will be looking into his work as well. This will be a write up of my research into different viewpoints and shall conclude with my own personal opinion.

Let’s ask the question, what does the ‘decisive moment’ really mean? By definition of course, ‘decisive’ means that something is influential or conclusive and ‘moment’ is a short indefinite period of time. What does it mean together then? In photography terms the decisive moment “refers to capturing an event that is ephemeral and spontaneous, where the image represents the essence of the event itself”. This all came about because of Henri Cartier-Bresson, he was born in 1908, Chanteloup, Seine-et-Marne in France and orignally trained as a painter. His first photobook “Images a la Sauvette” translates to ‘images on the sly’ and was published in 1952 by Teriade. They then produced an English version titled ‘The Decisive Moment’ which was not what his original intention for the meaning behind the photobook. The book features orginal cover art from Henri Matisse, who was a famous artist and great friend to Henri Cartier-Bresson. The photos are in a large format 11 x 14.5 inches, it is divied into two parts, before and after 1947.

International Center of Photography Artical

In ‘Photogrpahy; a Critical Introduction’ By Liz Wells (2009) she states that the decisive moment is grasping at straws and that there is no greater meaning than just a moment in time. She calls the ‘Decisive Moment’ “a formal flash of time when all the right elements were in place before the scene fell into its quotidian disorder”. She then goes onto talking about how documentary photography has changed from actually documenting major subjects to exploring culture, just like travel/tourism photography. “Cartier- Bresson’s humanist work is often regarded as documentary or as photojournalism but he is also seen working outside the contrainst of labels of this kind”. In my opinion I agree with the last point, photo journalism has changed over the years, now that we have social media we want to see different places around the world and are more connected to what is going on in different countries, anyone can be a photo journalist if they have a phone and are there first, but Cartier- Bresson’s work had an artistic flare, he was able to take a documentary photo and line it up just right so it looked aesthetically pleasing. And coming back to the first point Liz Well makes, I have to agree but disagree, although I see where she is coming from regarding looking for meaning that isnt there, I do believe that there is some meaning behind the decsive moment, at the end of the day when we die all that is left is the moments and memeories we share with our loved ones, photography prolongs those moments and in turn it becomes a moment for someone in years to come, whether it was a photo in you’re grannies living room that you’ll keep when she passes, or its learning about those people in a museum. There is something special about that, which differs from setting up a scene inspired by the 70s.

A Critical Introduction into Photography by Liz Wells (2009)

My next view point was a review of Paul Grahams photobook ‘The Present’ by Colin Pantall, he takes a very realistic approach to the ‘Decisive Moment’ and the work of Graham is very contemporary and relatable to society today. His work consists of miserable and busy New Yorkers going about their business, the photos are lined up very well and the use of shade and light is very effective. I interpreted his work to be exploring the relationship between humans and how many people we pass on a daily basis, a fleeting connection that is there and also not there at all. “a street with moments so decisively indecisive that we dont know what we are looking at or for”. His photobook consists of 114 pages set out in diptychs and triptychs “Everything is shot in middle-distance Graham-vision and together the pictures form an awkward shifting narrative that is photographic in intent and execution”. This is one of the similarities to Cartier – Bresson’s work, his use of  symmetry and composition was what made his work unique, he documented subjects aristically. I would tend to agree with this viewpoint more in the sense that there is something special about all the people we pass everyday and how society as a whole is okay with everyone being wrapped up in their own worlds, to me that is a realistic decisive moment, especially in the 21st centuary.

Photoeye Magazine Review by Colin Pantall on the Photobook ‘The Present’ by Paul Graham

Zouhair Ghazzal takes the viewpoint that the ‘Decisve moment’ is a myth and a cliché, which again, the same as above I believe is relavent to today, back in 1932 life may have been more simplistic and innocent, where as today we do not take as much pleasure in the simple things in life, we take them for granted too much.  Ghazzal also makes the great remark that the ‘Decisive moment’ is anectodal, which I enthusiastically agree with something that is personal to the subject like a family photo infront of a unique building is a ‘Decisive moment’ to them, but probably not anyone else. Something that the photographer likes and relates to is personal to the photographer and is a ‘decisive moment’ to them but not the rest of us. This is something I belive has gotten misconstrued as a ‘decisive moment’ is not for everyone, its for the people involved with the making of a photo even if the emotion portrayed in the photo represents an entire nation e.g. war photojournalism. “At its core, the decisive moment is indeed mostly anecdotic—composed of short accounts of humorous or interesting incidents. It is as if in the time flux that constitutes the essence of our lives, the decisive moment intervenes at a particular juncture—in that fraction of a second when the anecdotal moment reveals best the flux-as-a-whole”. Ghazzal also mentions the use of symmetry, light and darkness and gestures as to what makes Cartier – Bresson’s work so effective, it is the movements of others that reallty make the ‘Decisive moment’ decisive whithin his work. “In other words, the decisive moment works best when the sudden cut in time and space that the photograph operates through the release of the shutter is meaningful, as it narrates to us in a single frame the before and after; while other photographs of the decisive type remain anecdotal, with no precise meaning, or with no meaning at all, relying instead on the juxtaposition of bodily gestures with symmetries created by light and space. Another thing that Ghazzal mentions is that the mere fact that these events are unlikely to be repeated is what makes them ‘decisive’ but I’d have to disagree with this point, in theory anything can be recreated. “The decisive moment is therefore that infinitely small and unique moment in time which cannot be repeated, and that only the photographic lens can capture”.

Zouhair Ghazzal Article

I feel that as a photographic stragedy, the ‘Decisvice moment’ is a good way of making people more aware of their surroundings and teaching people that you can capture the decisive or indecisve moment but in my own opinion I feel its a lot of nothing, as a collective theme I feel it doesn’t work, it is personal to the people involoved and therefore should be left to wedding photography for example. The decisive moment there is extremely applicable and effective but as an overall concept I believe it is more a myth. Yes, we can appreciate a nice photo that is aesthetically pleasing but the decisve moment isn’t as relavent in today’s society, everyone and anyone can capture a decisive moment but it’s only decisive moment to them. And if I were to capture a decisve moment, it can be re-created by someonone else in a different country, especially if I post it to social media, in the 1930s they had just a camera! Now people can capture a moment and then chop and change it using either photoshop/facetune to make it something it wasnt in the begining, therefore it loses its decisivness in my opinion. Henri Cartier- Bresson was able to capture something unique and wonderful in his time and has inspired photographers for generations, but as time and technology changes, should we re-evaluated what is relavant to us now?

The History of Photography – Henri Cartier- Bresson

Magnum Photos – Henri Cartier- Bresson Profile

Henri Carier- Bresson Foundation

MoMa Exhibition – Henri Cartier- Bresson

3.3 What matters is to look


I have been asked to find a good viewpoint, high up. I must start by looking at the things closest to me in the foreground. Then pay attention to the details in the middle distance and then things towarsds the horizon, I have to look at the whole view together, including the sky in my observation and take a photo of it.


This photo has been taken from my upstairs bathroom window. I looked to the things closest to my foreground, that being, the spire of my conservatory and the top of the hedge that runs along my fence, separating my house and the playing field. I debated adding the window sill into my forground but then my actual view of the horizon would be smaller. In the middle distance I have the trees and more importantly the one blown down and laying gently on the grass. I can also see some shadows from the sun shining against the tallest trees. And for the horizon I have the school buildings, a telephone line, some more trees and of course the blue sky.

Overall I find this photo effective and by doing this exercise I have become more aware of details, my surroundings and my foreground, middle and horizon.


3.2 Trace


 I have been asked to research a number of photographers who record the trace of movement within their work. I then must use slow shutter speeds, the multiple exposure function or another technique inspired by my research. I must try to record the trace of movement within the frame. I have also been asked to document the process and settings to my learning log.

Robert Capa

Born in 1913 to 1954, war photojournalist Robert Capa, originally born as Endre Ernö Friedmann was known for his distinct and realistic images of war and for founding the Magnum cooperative in partnership with others, principally Frenchman Henri Cartier-Bresson, Englishman George Rodger, and American David Seymour (1911–56) in 1947. He followed troops into battle and his most famous work is ‘D Day at the Omaha beach’ Normandy, France, June 6th, 1944. The grainy blur of his photos, although accidental, ended up becoming a style of photography.

Hiroshi Sugimoto

Japanese photographer Hiroshi Sugimoto is known for his series ‘Theatres’ in which he used the bulb function on his camera, he opened the shutter at the beginning of a film and closed it as the credits rolled. This gave a beautiful effect; the cinema seats and surroundings are gently lit and the centre of the image where the film would have played is white. I really found this inspiring as it left you to wonder what film had been played or if you wished you could image your own favourite film playing against the white screen. “I’m not interested in people at all (laughs)” – Hiroshi Sugimoto quoted in Bashkoff 2000.

Article by Kevin Riordan

He was born in 1948, Tokyo Japan and is 71 years of age. In 1970 he graduated from St Paul’s University, Tokyo and then in 1974 he graduated from Art Centre College of Design, Los Angeles and then later that year moved to New York where he still lives today.

Guy Bourdin

I have previously looked into Guy Bourdin when completing project 2 and found his work very inspiring, his view that the product should be secondary to the image in regard to fashion items, Is exactly what I believe and he shaped that view for all of the fashion industry and for photographers who work either in advertising or editorial fashion. The way he used photography to tell a story is so fascinating especially when it comes to fashion as there is far more than just the items being worn. The way he used photography to tell a story is what inspired me to tell my story, I aim to this with my work and incorporate a little bit of fashion into it as well.


Francesca Woodman

American, Francesca Woodman was born in 1958 had a brief but talented life. Her work featured mainly herself or other female subjects, some of her work was blurred for effect due to long exposures therefore the faces of some of her subjects are blurred and merge into the background. Some of her other work includes women naked or clothed but she mainly stuck to black and white portrait photography. Unfortunately, she died by suicide at the young age of 22 in 1981. Gerry Badger did a great article on her work and her possible motivation behind her work, “Woodman’s oeuvre seems to have informed by the apparently inconsolable thought (for her) that society’s cards are irrevocably stacked against her sex. That no matter how hard she might try to escape constriction by gender, only in her art could she be free” a feminist in her own right, although she was not widely recognised during her life time, politically in the 1970s there was much going on and issues regarding women’s rights were prevalent. Although in an article I read by the Guardian that Woodman’s, parents and friend are interviewed in that say she had a witty sense of humour and was a joy to be around, “Let me just emphasise: she had a great sense of humour. There’s a great deal of wit in them, and irony.” Her friend went on to say “We used to make fun of the feminists, but we were feminists ourselves. We read such a lot.”. A lot of woodman’s work can be viewed as melancholic and this is what her father had to say regarding her work “Her life wasn’t a series of miseries. She was fun to be with. It’s a basic fallacy that her death is what she was all about, and people read that into the photographs. They psychoanalyse them. Young people in particular feel she’s talking about them, somehow. They see the photographs as very personal. But that’s not the way I approach them. They’re often funny.”. I would tend to disagree with his view as I do find the photos personal but I can also see the funny side, her work is raw and honest and to me that is very appealing, whatever her motive behind the pictures, it is still fascinating how she could transcribe her emotions and view so clearly through an image. Her personality is in each image, regardless if she is the subject or not and she knew how to add a touch of her personality into her work which is unique. I have found researching Francesca Woodman very interesting and I will take a lot of this research into my work, I think I might focus on mental health when I come to do my work.


Christian Sampson

January 2016, a series of images was loaded onto Facebook those photos then went viral since they have an eerily true representation of mental health disorders. These viral photos were taken by Christian Sampson who is from Peru, Indiana but now lives in Illinois, Chicago. He took this series as part of an advanced photography class that he took, “[The collection] actually started out as physical illnesses like cancer, but I wanted to create something that people struggled with every day but couldn’t see,” he tells The Huffington Post Canada. His series is so emotive and relatable and as someone who has suffered with mental health issues like anxiety and depression it is so refreshing and relatable to see my emotions being presented in a physical way. He wanted to promote mental health and how dangerous it is to not look after yourself, “Just because it can’t be seen, it doesn’t mean damage can’t be done,” Sampson says. “That’s why the series is so dark, because I want to make the point that people suffer from this.”  “Mental health is an important topic for me because I have people in my life that live with it every day.”.

Sampson now photographs weddings and portraits and is doing very well for him self as he now has 10.6K followers on Instagram.

After doing my research, I decided to experiment with the bulb function on my camera. I googled how to set it up and grabbed my phone torch, I was going to try light painting. I turned my torch on and off in between the shutter opening and closing. I had set my camera to 30sec exposure with the intention of moving the light around instead of moving the camera. I started off moving my light around tracing my body shape. I then turned the light on and off in different parts of the frame to give a dotted effect, having looked at the images I feel they are not adequate, and this was very much an experimental day.

Looking more at the bigger picture and what effect I was hoping to achieve seeing as the light painting didn’t go to plan I decided to look more into Francesca Woodman, as I found her work very intriguing and I found her work relatable as having a disability can majorly impact on my mental health as I am limited to what I can do. Christian Sampson also had a major influence in deciding to do mental health, I just hope I can portray the emotions as well as he did.  My main aim is to use my personal experience of how I feel as a guide on how I will re-create these feelings as an image, while incorporating some psychological drama.

Planning, execution and final images

Once I had a rough idea of my concept I had to work out how to portray it. I decided like Francesca Woodman I would use myself as the subject. Setting up for this series was a lot of work, I chose a black background for more of a dramatic feel and in order for me to take the photos I needed to set up the camera, so I could preview the images before I clicked the shutter. I decided that the use of mirror would be beneficial to metaphorically if you will reflect my emotions, it also served as a preview of the images, so I could line myself up and make sure the pose was going to give the desired effect.

Once I set the camera up on the tripod, I set a vintage mirror on a chair and angled it in line with my camera, checking through my viewfinder to ensure I would be in frame. My Nikon D5300 has WIFI therefore I hooked my phone up to the camera and used the app to preview and take the photos. Here is a few photos of my set up,


My first few attempts were very difficult as I was getting used to what effect I wanted. I had to work out how to move my body in a way that would create a blur but not to be too blurry and unrecognisable, yet I had to be quick enough to fit a movement into 30 seconds. I chose my clothes very carefully when deciding to take these photos, I wanted to create the vibe that I was in a different era, so I chose to wear a linen top with square neckline that first became fashionable in the 18th century, I wanted to add a little more concept to these images than just psychological drama.

The following are my final images,






I feel these images are an accurate representation of mental health and feelings of being trapped within my own body. I believe the images are effective at communicating my idea and that they are of a good standard. However, I wish I had lined up slightly better. The deliberate blur effect is very effective, and I am happy with how it turned out I also think that the choice of top was a good one as you would not be too sure that this was taken in this era, it adds more dimension to the photos.

I also tried this technique with my walking stick and wheelchair to see if they would work well within this concept, but I decided that they didn’t, I have added them below as I still believe they work but do not go with the series above.







3.1 Freeze


I have been asked to use a fast shutter speed and try and isolate a frozen moment in time from a moving subject.


Harold Edgerton – Born in 1903, Edgerton is mostly known for his work within photography, having studied electrical engineering he made revolutionary contributions to photography, he is credited for transforming the stroboscope from an obscure laboratory into a common device. He also helped to develop sonar equipment and deep sea photography. “His experiments with bursts of intense illumination enabled him to photograph motion that eludes normal human perception” The most famous of his work is where he captured the moment milk splashed against a table which in turn gave a crown like figure. He died in 1990. Harold Edgerton – Oxford Reference

Jeff Wall – Born in Canada 1946, he has studied Art history, has a Bachelor of Arts degree and has his Masters of Arts as well. In 1974 he accepted his first teaching position, at Nova Scotia College of Art and Design in Halifax, subsequently teaching at Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, 1976-87, and since 1987 at the University of British Columbia. He was very interested in contemporary and experimental art. Wall has said, ‘The only way to continue in the spirit of the avant-garde is to experiment with your relation to tradition’ (Artnews, Nov. 1995, p.222). Jeff Wall – Tate Reference

Philip – Lorca DiCorcia – A photographer known for his cinematic images, he studied at the University of Hartford and did not intend to be a photographer. DiCorcia deliberately chose to print in color since it was an underutilized format in fine-art photography. Each of his images are captioned with the model’s (presumed) name, age, and price, like items in a catalogue, signifying the reciprocal commodification of model, artist, and viewer (as potential ‘client’). “He insists that his pictures suggest rather than elucidate a full narrative. His brand of storytelling results in unstable, unfixed images that point in certain directions but never provide a definitive map”. Philip-Lorca DiCorcia – MoMa Reference

I found Dicorcia very influential, his moody scenes and the use of dark colours is what helped me to think more on how I wanted my images to turn out. I want to re-create the moodiness even if my subject isn’t human.

Planning, execution and Final images

After doing research I was thinking of a way I could incorporate fashion into this task and I thought of movement, in particular how a dress sits and flows on the body. I then thought of throwing scarfs across the room and capturing the way they fell. I choose scarfs as they would be light enough to give enough movement.

I then decided I would need a background as the colours needed to stand out so I chose black and set it up. I had to get the lighting perfect otherwise it wouldn’t show up well. In total I used 3 lights, 2 soft boxes and another harsher light pointing upwards. I also needed someone to throw the scarfs, overall I think we spent two hours throwing scarfs and other material across the room. It was a lot harder than you’d think to throw scarfs and get the desired effect, the throw had to perfect and lined up with the camera.

My camera settings:

Nikon D5300, shutter priority mode on a tripod with a shutter speed of 1/800, f/3.5 and my ISO was 6400. I took a picture of my set up as I thought it would be important to demonstrate how I took the photos.


As you can see there are two soft boxes and then the harsh cooler light pointing upwards. I had my friend throw the scarfs from the left. I feel the backdrop was key to ensuring these photos came out well. I did find however that some of the very colourful fabric made the background either take a green or navy tinge and personally I find these images not very flattering. I have added them below.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The following are my final images,

dsc_0403dsc_0416dsc_0483dsc_0543dsc_0530dsc_0558I feel these images are very effective and I really enjoyed this task. The fabric in each image is uniquely unravelling and I find it very effective. I decided whilst doing the shoot not to just stick to scarfs as I thought the dress would move very differently. The fabric in particular was something I struggled with as it needed to be light enough to fall gracefully but heavy enough to be fired across the room. I definitely feel some images turned out better than others and that it was really just pure luck that some did turn out the way they did. I feel there is a moodiness to the photos, they do look graceful and are definitely a snapshot of time from a moving object, but I feel the black background in particular is the reason why they feel moody, although graceful there is something about how simple the way the fabric is moving that gives this sense of being alone or singled out.

My Contact sheets


Assignment 2. Collecting


I have been asked to create a series of six to ten images on one of the following subjects:

  • Things
  • Views
  • Heads

I have decided to do heads as I have really enjoyed experimenting with portrait photography in during project 2.


After choosing heads, I went to look at some photographers who had done heads before and get a feel for what I could do. I looked into Marten Lange, who was born in Sweden in 1984 and works mainly in black and white. His work called ‘Citizen (2015)’ was inspiring but I decided I would focus on human heads.  Marten Lange ‘Citizen’ 

Marten Lange Interview

I also looked into Bettina Von Zewhl which I found to be very helpful, her approach to getting real emotions from her subject is what inspired me to look more into human emotions. I read about her approach in a book by Charlotte Cotton ‘The Photograph as Contemporary Art’ Published by Thames and Hudson world of art. It is the third edition and was published in 2014 and reprinted in 2018. I read about her approach on pages 31-32, it says that she would let her subjects sleep and then once awake would take a photo of their sleepy delirious states. The subjects will be genuinely sleepy and not try to act sleepy and I really like the truth behind this method. Born in Munich, 1971 Von Zwehl attended the London College of printing in 1994 and ascertained a BA (hons) in Photography, she then went on to the Royal College of Art in London in 1997 and got an MA in Fine Art Photography. She now lives and works in London. Bettina Von Zwehl

I kept wondering about human emotions and why we have them and why that when we take a photo of an emotion it can relate to the way we feel so I decided to do more research on it. I have always wondered why we smile, some say its part of a social construct others say its programmed into us since we are babies and Darwin thought that also in his 1872 book ‘The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals’. ‘It is considered a foundational text of smiling research, proposed that facial expressions are universal products of human evolution rather than unique lessons of one’s culture‘.  Psychological Study of Smiling

There are two muscle groups involved when smiling, the first pulls up the corners of your lips and is called the ‘Zygomatic Major muscle‘. The second muscle is called the ‘Occipitofrontalis (or just frontalis)’ which raises the eyebrows. What Are Facial Expressions

Our State of mind influences our expressions and our expressions also influence our state of mind. ‘turning that frown upside down’ can make you feel happier,‘ Gordon explains. “Research suggests that our brains receive feedback from our muscles (and other internal organs) to help discern how we feel.” Why We Smile

When we smile we release multiple chemicals that can help fight off stress and that boosts overall mood, it can also help us to relax. ‘Neuropeptides are tiny molecules that allow neurons to communicate. They facilitate messaging to the whole body when we are happy, sad, angry, depressed, or excited. The feel-good neurotransmitters — dopamine, endorphins and serotonin — are all released when a smile flashes across your face’ How Smiling Affects Your Brain

I found this so fascinating and after looking at why we smile I decided to go look for some photographers who take expressive portraits. I first thought of Peter Lindenberg, having looked at his work when doing my coursework I thought he would have been helpful to look at in more depth. Born in Lissa, Germany in 1944, he had worked as a department store window dresser and  then went on to enrol in the Berlin Academy of Fine Arts in the early 1960’s. After moving to Düsseldorf in 1971, he turned his attention to photography and worked for two years assisting German photographer Hans Lux, before opening his own studio in 1973. “If you take out the fashion and the artifice, you can then see the real person.” Lindbergh says’. Lindenberg always wants to see the real person when he is photographing someone, less is more. He changed drastically the standards of  fashion photography in times of excessive retouching considering that there is something else that makes a person interesting, beyond their age. He explains: “This should be the responsibility of photographers today to free women, and finally everyone, from the terror of youth and perfection.”. I find this so inspiring and true to what I believe as many people strive to be perfect when taking photos and that is not what is natural to us. By looking into Lindenberg and his work it has reinforced to me that perfection is not necessary and that I would like my portrait photos to be natural. Peter Lindenberg Reference

The next photographer I looked into was Damon Baker. A young relatively unknown photographer whose work is mainly in black and white. Born in Birmingham, England, he has no website or much of any information online apart from his Instagram which is where I came across his work. His work is raw and emotive, he has worked with celebrities like Glen Close, Ian Mc Kellen and Cindy Crawford. He has done campaign shoots with L’Oréal Paris and has photographed Chief Vogue Editor, Edward Enniful. I found his work very inspiring an captivation, his use of the face and how to portray emotions is wonderful and I have decided to do my portraits in black and white. Damon Baker’s Instagram page

The next photographer I cam across who was inspiring was Richard Avedon. His work is mainly in black and white. His portrait of a very sad looking Marilyn Monroe is one of my favourites taken on May 6th 1957. Another one of my favourites is of Janis Joplin shot in Texas 28th of August 1969. The concepts behind some of the photos is so unique and they way he portrays each individual, you can tell he got to know them before he started shooting. The emotions he captures in his photos is so unique, I have found this very helpful as it has made me think on how I want my subject to come across, happy or melancholic. Richard Avedon Foundation

Lee Jefferies, a self-taught British photographer, has taken upon himself to tell the rest of us who the homeless really are. His work consists of portraits of homeless people both in colour and in black and white. ‘Dedicated to telling a story about the people living on the streets, Jeffries honors them by giving their likenesses a greater meaning.
As he explains, each image is the result of long discussions with each individual, a privileged moment that allows him to establish a connection that is particularly palpable in their gaze. In his striking, high-contrasted portraits, he goes beyond circumstances and celebrates the singular character of human emotion’. This work in particular is so fascinating, the photos themselves are up close and striking. The style of the photos is really what works in their favour. Looking into Jefferies has made me consider how I am going to frame my portraits, I think I will take them relatively further away but still quite close so details of the face can be seen because that is one of the things I like most about this work, the detail. Lee Jeffries webpage

Interview with Lee Jeffries

Philippe Halsman, born May 2nd 1906 in Riga, Latvia. In 1928 he spent 2 years in prison for the murder of his father which he did not commit, his sister Liouba drew international attention to his case. Albert Einstein, Thomas Mann, Sigmund Freud and many other important intellectuals and scientists endorsed his innocence. In the autumn of 1930, Liouba brokered an agreement between Paul Painleve’, the Prime Minister of France, and Johann Schober, the Chancellor of Austria, and finally won Philippe’s release. From 1930 – 1940 onwards he worked as a photographer in Paris his work appears in Vogue and is gaining recognition. In 1936 he designs a 9 x 12 cm twin-lens reflex camera and has it built by a cabinetmaker whose grandfather (Alphonse Giroux) built the first camera for Daguerre. He died in New York City June 25th 1979, he had a colourful life full of so many achievements. Some of my favourite work by Halsman is his work with Salvador Dali and his series called ‘The Frenchman’, this work in particular has given me my concept as I have decided to take multiple people and focus on their expressions, I do not want them posed I want genuine expressions. My portraits will be in black and white just like ‘The Frenchman ‘ series as I found it very effective and pleasing to the eye I find that it would only work in a set and that is what I have been asked to do. Philippe Halsman Reference

Planning, Execution and Concept

I have decided to do a series of images looking at genuine emotions from three difference subjects of three different ages. The set will be in black and white. I will have a chair and white background and this will not change throughout the set. Focal length, Aperture and viewpoint will not change and the main concept is too look at our expressions. I have chosen three people one aged 21, another 47 and finally a 75 year old. I am hoping to get 3 photos of each individual therefore meaning I will have a set of 9 final photographs.

I will take these photos over a number of weeks in order to make sure I am happy with the results, some of my subjects have never been photographed in this way so I want to make sure they have time to feel comfortable. My aim is to get each individual to laugh genuinely and to photograph any other expression that happens during the shoot.

The shoot– I set up my tripod and soft box in my dining room and placed a chair against the wall, I lined up and tested my settings. I had previously asked my subjects to wear either a black or navy top as to create contrast against the white wall. Once happy I got my subject in and did a few test shots, I also played around with the lighting as I didn’t want it too bright. I then began to take my photos I started off getting each individual to look dead centre into the lens and not smile, I then got them to turn left and right and from then on I started with the jokes.

In order to get a genuine reaction I had to make my subjects actually laugh. I started with what my mother used to do when I was a child she used to say ‘don’t smile’ and no matter how much you try, you will smile! So that worked a few times, broke the ice a bit and then I told the subjects to pull faces and mess around and from that I got genuine laughter. I also asked my subjects for some stern looks and I played around with props too although in my opinion they didn’t turn out as well as the other ones did. I did not change any settings or positions of the set up, I choose my dining room specifically because I knew it wouldn’t be in anyone’s way the set up wouldn’t get knocked over.

Over all I feel the shoot went better than expected and I was very happy with the results, the subjects were all very easy to work with and listened to my instructions. If I were to so the shoot again I would  get a background screen so the bubbly wallpaper isn’t in the background and I would have played music while actually shooting to liven up the mood.

The following are my set of 9 portraits looking at Human Expressions…

dsc_093521 Year Old.

dsc_098621 Year Old.

dsc_107621 Year Old.

dsc_087447 Year Old.

dsc_088647 Year Old.

DSC_0904.JPG47 Year Old.

dsc_009875 Year Old.

dsc_013275 Year Old.

dsc_013475 Year Old.

I have grouped the photos by age starting from youngest to oldest. In the entire set I think it was essential to have the contrast of the black top with the white wall, it adds depth and gives more colour to the photos. The tripod was another thing I felt was vital to doing this shoot, in some of the photos we can see the subject moving which I find effective, it shows that it really is genuine laughter, the tripod also helped with framing the subjects as I knew it hadn’t moved out of place. The lighting in this set stayed consistent throughout this series the only problem I had was with the last subject as her white hair changed the way the image was looking so I had to make the lighting slightly darker so her hair would show up well and in detail. Each set has detail, overall smoothness of the skin and each photo is the same set up but with a different expression.

What I found out by doing this was that each individual expression is there own and that one smile is not universal we all smile differently, some with our mouths open other with them closed. We all frown differently and we all laugh differently. Each expression of the individual is their own and it is unique to them. People smile all the time and we frown a lot too, I don’t think we take the time to look properly at them or how one differs or if a mother and son smile the same, we take it for granted. I know the next time someone smiles at me I will take a second look.

Overall I am happy with how the photos turned out I feel they are consistent but with slight variations that make them interesting. As a set I feel they work well they are not too boring or repetitive. Doing the portraits in black and white was hugely beneficial to me as it gave a moody-feel to the photos and gave them more depth in my opinion. If they had of been in colour they would have been a bit boring, to me the black and white connects to a deeper meaning especially when viewing them as a set. I am happy with my concept overall and I think that human expression could become a much bigger project, I had lots of options and ideas regarding it. I feel the research was the most beneficial part of this whole assignment as I learnt more about portraits and what I liked in a portrait by looking at others, I was then able to apply that to my own photos. If I was to do this whole assignment again I would not of done much different, I would maybe do something more related to my interests like fashion, makeup etc.


Demonstration of technical and visual skills (40%) – I feel I have demonstrated technical skills widely throughout this assignment, I looked and made note of other technical skills used in the photographers work that I research I then went and applied them to my own work. I made use of tripod and lighting set up, I used my compositional skills when lining up and making sure everything was in frame and dead centre.

Quality of outcome (20%) – I have a good concept and have presented my work in a coherent manner. My photos are of a good quality, I have applied knowledge from my research and have communicated my ideas.

Demonstration of creativity (20%) – I feel that I have not met this criterion as well as I could of.

Context (20%) – I have loads of research and reflection within this assignment I maybe could of done with more critical thinking.




2.4 Woodpecker


I have been asked to find a subject in front of a background of depth, I must then take a very close viewpoint, zoom in and take the shot. I then must without changing the framing/focal length set my focus to infinity and take another shot.

I then must without moving the camera, select an aperture one stop above and find a point of focus that will give acceptable sharpness throughout the shot.

Planning and execution

I planned on using railings in my local park as my subject so decided to do some research on how I would set my camera focus to infinity, after a few google searches I found how to focus manually on my Nikon d5300. Nikon D3500 for Dummies

I set my camera settings and headed to the park, I took the first two photos with ease and they turned out well but as I moved on to try the third and setting my focus to infinity I began to really struggle. I could not find where infinity was on my lens and I tried doing it manually just by looking through the view finder and I still couldn’t get an overall sharpness.  I was then too cold so I decided to leave it and try again the next day.

The below are my poor attempts…


I went back to the park and decided to try again and to my luck they turned out better, not great but better, I really struggled with trying to get the image at an overall sharpness.

The below are my final images…

dsc_0268This is the first image I am close to the subject, the fence and the background has depth. I feel this turned out well and the detailing in the wood is very effective.

dsc_0267This is the second image having not changed the framing or focal length. I feel this has turned out well also. This was taken at f/5.6.

dsc_0269The final photo is one I really struggled with and it is not totally effective there are still some blurry areas of this image but I could not figure out how to achieve sharpness all round, I went up an f/stop to f/6.3.


I found this task very difficult and I am still not quite sure how to achieve complete sharpness but I found this task very interesting and has made me realise the importance of focusing on specific subjects. I really liked working in Manual focus and I look forward to experimenting with it in the future.