Category Archives: Part 4 Image and text

Assignment 4 Feedback

So I posted a few initial images for initial peer review on the Level 1 Photography Facebook group, the Canadian OCA Students Facebook group as well as on the OCA Critique forum for the first time and was very pleasantly surprised with the depth of the feedback I received on the forum. As stated in my original posting, I had been having trouble getting a sharp resolution with my zoom lens for some or other reason, so I switch to my 50mm prime and the result was so much better. This was also confirmed in some of the feedback I received.

Some interesting points that were made (the in-depth discussion can be viewed at

  • This is a really interesting theme and I think continues the interest in cultural differences / mixing from some of your other work. I think the assignment briefs are best shaped to something in which we have a personal interest, as work then feels genuine, made with care – I already feel this in your planning. … Personally, I feel you photos that show the environmental context are more interesting (even the moving cars) as it adds to the sense of place; which is partially what you are conveying, people in new places and their response. (Andrew)
  • I like the project and all this people stuff! The white card consistent throughout is a definite I think, different colours is a unnecessary distraction and takes away that sense of uniformity. The variety can come in the location and obviously the subject. … As for background information I think it ultimately comes down to personal judgement – but I think it works say the last 2 with none and the one with a stationary car blurred out – fine, for me they all would still work together. … But an interesting topic and heading in the right direction! (Alan)
  • One last thing from me; it’s going to be a good series but so far some of them are a bit ‘moody’ as Alan says. There’s a lot you can do these days to fix things like that, investigate soft masking and the Shadows/Highlights control in PS. [Example shown – thanks for that Clive! That was a great help]. (Clive)
  • The girl “it’s common to say YES to SEX”……”never” on her top, says a lot. (Alan)
  • Fascinating project though challenging I guess. Personally having spend most of my life in foreign countries and cultures I can truly relate to the topic and the ‘change process’, something quite typical for all changes that one is facing in life. And the adaption process is truly a personal thing as it tells more about oneself. … The visuals are impressive, the surrounding space has something to say (includes clothing, gesture, mimic, and posture). Personally I try to look into the face of the person, what they are saying (like the text boards, quite social media distribution proof) and how it relates to content. (Stefan)
  • I think this is a great idea for a project, surprised none’s mentioned this project by Gillian Wearing: Of course as a photography student the aesthetic is important and so demonstrating either competence (more than demonstrated here) or awareness (which you discuss) on a project which is prone to different conditions as a by product will, I’m sure, be acknowledged by your tutor. Nice one! (John)
  • A really interesting project Lynda and I am reminded of the Humans of New York approach. I found the text allowed me to engage further. Photographs #3 & #4 worked best for me as no distracting elements in the background. Perhaps a more shallow depth of field would work in this situation? (Nicola)
  • Yes of course Wearing but what about Dylan’s “Subterranean Homesick Blues” film (I am not sure it was video back in ’65!)? Use that as a reference as well and think why in both cases. Is it a lack of voice? Is and an emphasis of voice? Don’t just think of the visuals, it isn’t just a way of carrying text in still image but much more. This is worth looking at for some insight: (Peter). I have had a look at this video twice and am still chewing over Peter’s questions as this now introduces sound into the equation.
  • Some comments/suggestions from other Canadian students were to place my subjects at identifiable tourist attractions in Vancouver. I felt that this would restrict my project too much as I specifically want it to be rather generic in tone, and I also wanted to use the university location as part of the background.
  • Other comments can be seen at

I have taken on board quite a few of the suggestions: trying to eliminate people passing by the subject – although it is a very busy sidewalk where I’m shooting so I’m trying to restrict passersby to the background as far as possible. I’ve also had the students switch to white legal size paper to write their messages and have requested that they only write one thought instead of a few bullet points. This is more legible and they actually seem to think more about their message when they have only one thought to record.

I’m hoping to get an even mix of male and female students with a fairly equal distribution among the different culture shock phases, although I have no way of knowing how long the student has been in the country until we actually do the shoot. Its a question of getting the volunteers and then asking the questions. I’m also trying to get as diverse student representation as possible. At the moment I’m trying to round up some of the first students that I photographed for retakes – but that is a process rather like herding cats at the moment.

Overall I feel that this project is progressing along nicely. I’m feeling more confident about this assignment and am fairly confident that I will make the deadline this time.

Assignment 4 – Planning 1st Feedback Request

I’ve been doing a few shoots when the opportunity has arisen and had some feedback from the Canadian Students Google Hangout Group – we’re a mixed bunch coming from all disciplines. As I mentioned in my previous planning posting, I am going to gear my assignment towards Culture Shock among International Students. I’m hoping to cover all four stages of culture shock, namely the honeymoon phase where everything is still rosy and romantic for the new comers; the negotiation phase where the differences between the home country and the new country start to set in as well as possible anxiety; the adjustment phase where the students start to acclimatise to the new country and culture; and the adaptation phase where students are comfortable and embrace the new culture, while still maintaining links with their own.

XXX from India (Honeymoon Phase)

This was one of the first images I made and I wasn’t happy with the illegibility of the text, apart from the fact that the student decided to jot down quite a few points instead of just one. Not sure if all the pedestrian traffic is working in this image either. (I still have to get this student’s name for the project).

Anh from Vietnam (Adjustment Phase)

At this stage, I’d changed the paper size and asked the students only to jot down one idea and I feel this is working better and making more of a statement.

Dayana from Kazakhstan (negotiation phase)

I’ve also decided to switch to my prime 50mm lens as that gives me better bokeh and more clarity. For some or other reason that I just can’t fathom I’m having trouble with the Nikon 18 – 140mm with too much noise for my liking. (Dayana was shot with the 50mm, all the other images on this post were done with the 18-140mm).

As I mentioned in my initial planning posting, I am shooting these images outside the campus on the sidewalk and in the alley next to the building as I’m trying to keep the viewpoints fairly consistent, as Les Monahan did in his Desire Project.

Maria from Philippines (Adaption Phase)

I would like to show as diverse cross section of the student population as I can, as well as including an equal number of the male population. But this is where I’m at for the moment, and your feedback is most welcome and appreciated.





Assignment 4 – Planning

After tossing a few ideas around – again centred around the university where I work, I came up with a short list of options. As it is the start of a new semester I thought that it might be viable to photograph new incoming students – our student population is mainly international – and see what their aspirations for the future were.  My other option was to do something with light projection and have text projected onto the students’ faces, but the more I thought about it I realised that some of the text might not be legible as it wraps over the facial planes. On the first day of the semester I came up with the idea, after watching the new students, of doing something related to culture shock – having the students comment  on differences that they experience in Canada from their home country.

I’ve done a few test shots and put this up for discussion in the Canadian Students Google Hangout this past Saturday and it was quite well received. One of the other students also confirmed my misgivings about light projecting text onto the students’ faces, but I’m keeping this idea in the background as I may be able to do something with it in Assignment 5, although I haven’t thought that far ahead yet.

For consistency I plan on shooting the students in three locations only – well two really – depending on the light and time of day. The one location will be right outside the university on the pavement – and depending on the light, they will either face north or south – so essentially two slightly different backgrounds, and the other will be in the alley at the side of the university.

One of the Canadian students suggested photographing the students at local tourist spots, but I feel that this would tie the project down to the actual city too much, instead of being more generic and ambiguous. Once I have taken more images I’ll post a selection for peer feedback.

Christian Patterson – Redheaded Peckerwood

Christian Patterson’s photobook Redheaded Peckerwood is based on events surrounding 1950’s teen serial-killers Charles Starkweather and Caril Ann Fugate. Over a period of five years Patterson visited and researched the area in Nebraska where the crimes took place, looking for places of significance and traces of what remained. Patterson even managed to find personal belongings and pieces of evidence that were never recovered by the police who worked the case.

In an interview with Ahorn Magazine, Patterson explained his process of creating this book. The work begins with research. He read every book and article about the story and viewed every film made on it. “I compiled lists of known facts – dates, times, names and places contained within the story and lists of random, passing details, words and phrases that triggered visual ideas in my mind” (Ahorn Magazine), gradually developing a chronology of events, knowledge of the characters and the details. He would carry his lists with him and follow through on the ideas in the field. If an idea proved elusive in the field, he would take it back to the studio and work on it there. For much of the five years he was working on this project, he edited, re-edited and sequenced the work and adjusted his lists and continued the research.

The book is a reflection of this process. Its photographs, documents and objects are often highly specific and true to the story but are at other times highly interpretative and subjective. Its sequence is consistently chronological, with varying degrees of veracity and somewhat sporadic chronological space – the result is a mix of the story and my personal experiences, choices and artistic interventions.

(Patterson, Ahorn Magazine)

For certain narrative effect, Patterson made some exceptions to the chronology. The book has a prologue consisting of a letter (tells you something happened), a map (tells you where it happened) and a photograph (offers the entrance to the book) which all appear before the title page. He made use of colour sequences in the book. There is an extensive yellow section in the first half of the book followed by smaller segments of pink, blue and green sections further along. I have to admit that I wasn’t really aware of this colour blocking after my first viewing on the internet, only actively looking for it after reading the interview. Perhaps it is more noticeable in the actual book.

Patterson also makes use of juxtaposition for visual effect placing a photo of “pin-up girls” followed by a flick knife – sex and violence. Another instance is the “house of cards” image followed by an image of a house in the throes of demolition – which is his way of referring to destiny and fate. He also juxtaposes new images next to archival images.

Something I found really fascinating was that Patterson uses inserts and fold-outs in the book. Many of these items are reproductions of actual found items which he acquired or which were lent to him to reproduce. The reproductions have been aged and crumpled, folded and look very realistic. This makes the book very interactive and engages the viewer to lift or unfold the narrative, revealing the images hidden behind the inserts.

… there are many things in the book that are extremely true to the story. But its heavy themes and random details provided me with a ton of creative space and that’s where things became most interesting to me. There are photograph, drawings, paintings, sculptures and shotgun blasts that you could say are made up, because I created them myself.

(Patterson, Ahorn Magazine)

Of foremost importance to Patterson was that each image could stand on its own. He has his own personal standard of visual and emotional impact that he adheres to. “Truth and veracity played a close secondary role to my conceptual and visual interests” (Ahorn Magazine).

Landscapes of crime scenes are interspersed with images of found objects, posters, letters – the absence of people rather noticeable until almost at the end of the book. Only then do photos of people appear: journalists waiting outside the court house, the accused being led away and crowds gathering. It feels rather anti-climatic as the tension and expectation has been building throughout the narrative. As if to emphasis this ending the final image is a poster stating “Let’s all go out and get a steak”.

I was unfamiliar with this criminal case and having done a quick research on it, notice that various movies have been based on this true crime story, e.g. Badlands, Kalifornia and Natural Born Killers, to name but a few. I shall have to see if I can access one of these on Netflix to familiarize myself with the saga a little more. Knowing more of the details of the story will enhance my understanding of the images as I have already discovered from a quick read that Starkweather murdered his first victim for a stuffed toy dog which he wanted for Fugate. This would explain the image of the scraggy stuffed dog early in the book. This is clearly a book that is loaded with signs and signifiers that have to be unpeeled in order to get to the meaning of the narrative.

Reference List

Daniel Augschöll and Anya Jasbar Interview with Christian Patterson [online] Ahorn Magazine Issue 9. Available at: [Accessed 9 May, 2017]

Patterson, Christian Redheaded Peckerwood [online] [online] Available at: [Accessed 9 May, 2017]

Patterson, Christian (2013) Redheaded Peckerwood (Third Edition) [user-generated content online] Creat. Christian Patterson. 24 September, 2013. 4 mins 16 secs. Available at: (Accessed 9 May, 2017)

Exercise 4.5

The brief:

Find words that have been written or spoken by someone else. You can gather these words from a variety of means – interviews, journals, archives, eavesdropping. Your subject may be a friend, stranger, alive or dead. Select your five favourite examples and create five images that do justice to the essence of those words.

You may choose to present your images with or without the original words. Either way make sure that the images are working hard to tell a story. If you decided to include the words, ensure that they add to the meaning rather than describing the image or shutting it down. Try to keep your image-and-text combinations consistent – perhaps they are all overheard conversations on a bus or all come from an old newspaper report. Keep them part of a story.

Consider different ways of presenting the words. Audio or video might lend itself well to this kind of work, or a projection of images using voice-over. Experiment.

I was rather scratching my head on what to do for this exercise until there was an ongoing episode at work a few days ago regarding our photocopy machine, which frustrated me no end. My exercise is based on those events.

He Needs Another Part
“The photocopier keeps on jamming. We need the technician to come in and service it so that we don’t run into problems when I’m printing 1,500 graduation booklets.”
“He has been here for most of the morning. He needs to order in some parts”.
“Look he has taken the machine to pieces – some of it is standing in the passage!”
“He needs another part!”
“When is this machine going to be fixed?”
“Did you see the screws?”
“Where did you leave the screws?”
“On top of the machine.”
“You took something apart and left the screws on top of the photocopier … How dumb is that!”
“At last I can start printing the 1,500 graduation programs.”
“Remember – its only a temporary fix. He needs another part.”
“So when is this machine going to be fixed?”









Rubber Flapper – Michael Colvin

Michael Colvin, fellow OCA student created a fictional narrative about “mysterious and intriguing woman who lives in a mechanical, self-cleaning house in the 1930s”. Responding to an archive that he had had access to and certain events which happened on Staten Island, he created a fictional narrative by using various artefacts from a fake archive and creating “newspaper clippings” by doing the layout and aging the paper with teabags.  His story line is such that it is extremely difficult to tell what is real and what is constructed. Ambiguity layers reality and myths and has the viewer going round in circles questioning what they are looking at. In the course of his narrative he hints at the “wider issue of suppressed voices of LGBT minorities”. The hidden history is an important aspect of the project. The props he uses have been aged and weathered, creating an authentic feel to the project. The careful planning and construction of this project can be seen here: .

Reference List

Boothroyd, Sharon (2015) Rubber Flapper [online] WeAreOCA. Available at: [Accessed 24 April, 2017]

Colvin, Michael (2015) Assignment 2 – Rubber Flapper [online] A Partial Moment. Available at [Accessed 24 April, 2017]

Anna Fox – My Mother’s Cupboards

Anna Fox’s work My Mother’s Cupboards is an autobiography of when Fox’s father was ill and confined to a wheelchair. Her mother was the main caregiver. Fox made the work rather secretively, keeping a notebook with her and recording her father’s rantings, particularly those about her mother, grandmother and herself.

These quotes pointed to something desperately wrong going on, a terror of women and an attempt to squash the life out of us.

As a contrast to the wild, abusive rantings of her father, she photographed her mother’s cupboards which were always very neat.

I photographed the cupboards to deliberately exaggerate the neatness and that neatness became violent like the quotes.

Anna Fox designed her book in a similar fashion as a small prayer book, with light weight pages and pale pink covers. The text (structured like poetry) and images show through the translucent pages, layering on top of on another. The print is tiny and an elegant cursive font is used so the viewer is enticed in to read the text only to be confronted with words that shock them.

My Mother’s Cupboards and My Father’s Words by Anna Fox
Colour photographs of my mother’s tidy cupboards together with excerpts from my father’s rantings. An unexpectedly wicked narrative exploring a claustrophobic relationship, designed as a miniature bookwork.

The front of the book bears the title “My Mother’s Cupboards” and the rest of the book’s title is on the back of the book “My Father’s Words” which is probably only read once the book is closed, thereby providing a lingering ambiguity which is never really resolved.

This is an example of work where the text and images just don’t seem to makes sense together in the ordinary sense, but could almost work in a standalone manner. However, juxtaposed as they are and presented in the delicate manner that they are, the text and images become interlaced and a fusion is created that is highly personal and autobiographical.

Reference List

The ASX Team (2013) ASX Interviews Anna Fox (2013) [online] American Suburbx. Available at: [Accessed 17 April, 2017]