Work for current project (SP)

December 8th

It seems WordPress encountered a problem as it tried to convert my video. With no live chat support at weekend and the deadline two days away I uploaded my Oral Presentation to YouTube.

The WordPress upload eventually worked, but the YouTube link was a better quality, so I have left it here:


My Oral Presentation for this module is below, but WordPress seems to be encountering problems. I have had to email for support as Live Chat support not available at weekends.

December 7th

My Work in Progress Portfolio is finished. It is in three sections. The entire work can be seen here:

Big coats for July

The video of my photo book is here:

December 6th

Having finished my book dummy, today I scanned it, ahead of tomorrow’s filming. A point to note is that in the book some images are protected by transparent paper; some of the images here are covered and therefore not as vibrant as when the paper is folded back (as it would be when looking through the album).

You can see it by clicking on the link below:

Big coats for July

December 1st

A while ago I filmed the album before dismantling it. Today I projected the recording onto a wall as a test. I’m considering using projection in an installation, possibly in my FMP. I’ve edited it and included a shortened version here. My intention is to create a short film to project which uses still images too. This could be an effective use of promotion and I anticipate trying to arrange its showing at a locale that is shown in the work.

November 30th – the genealogy research transcripts

Below is the transcript between myself and a friend, an amateur genealogist, historian and researcher Sarah Spink.  The conversations took place in September and October this year after I asked her to help me find out more about the people in the album. I stopped the genealogy research eventually as it was becoming immensely time consuming at the expense of my own practical work. It’s definitely something I am considering continuing with and developing in the future –  presently my output is partly fact and partly fiction; if I am able to discover more about characters in appropriated albums the balance could shift.

Through this process we narrowed down who Fred and Doris (Dolly) were, and confirmed when and where they were married. We were unable to find out what Macintosh House was, and in the time we had, who John Coles was, and who the three RAF men were. One we knew to be called Wood. I bought an RAF shirt and used it as a background in some of my still life images. From an online auction I purchased genuine RAF jacket buttons, but the piece de resistance was a genuine RAF Victory Medal, assigned to WS Wood. I don’t know if they are the same person. It enriches the narrative to imagine that they are; with more time I like to hope that I could have found out one way or the other. The small piece of ribbon included is also a genuine and would have been issued with the medal. I could find no reference to an RAF station called Goole, but on reflection this could be where the house in the photograph was taken.

We could only speculate on the identity of some of the characters. There are a couple of photographs which I believe to be Fred. I also believe that Fred was part of a friendship group of young men, with the earliest pictures recorded here being in the early 1920s.

Having discovered a name on the reverse of one image (by shining a torch through the back of the page), it’s been possible to ascertain who I believe was the owner of the album. Jimmy was a popular and well travelled young man, both at home and in Europe. It’s possible that his wife was called Elsie, and that John Coles was either their child or one of their close friends’.

The photographs in the album were not in strict chronological order, and although Sarah and I accounted for this, it wasn’t until I started taking it apart and cutting it up a few days ago that I saw connections for the first time, which led to some re-evaluations in my thinking. For example, there is a photo of Jimmy and his wife sitting on the steps of a caravan in 1927, which I thought could possibly be a honeymoon picture due to their closeness and the date being a couple of years before the birth of John Coles. There is also an empty page with the writing ‘Caravan’. As the photo has been removed I believe it was a treasured memory for someone in the family.  After cutting the album up and rearranging the photos I discovered another of the same caravan steps, taken at the same time, but appearing to be in a mirror image, with the same woman and a female friend. So, unlikely to be a honeymoon.

When our conversations first started, Sarah questioned whether Fred and Doris’ wedding actually was in the summer, due to their guests’ attire. Her comment, ‘big coats for July’ has become the working title of my project. We know that the wedding did take place in the summer time, perhaps it was unseasonably cold.

I have printed our conversations and included them in my book dummy, as the initial research around the album informed the way I worked, and what I chose to include.

The transcript can be read by clicking on the link below:

Research conversations

November 21st

I’ve been doing some layering recently, and would like feedback on these two. I have asked some of my peers to comment on the one on the right, and will ask for more opinions in this week’s webinar.

My portfolio review in Paris 9/11/18

Being my first portfolio review I was not sure what to expect, and there were mixed messages about how many people we would be presenting to (ie, our tutors, or our tutors and other students). The tutors present hadn’t seen my current work as far as I was aware so I had no idea of what they would make of it. Consequently I was a little nervous when it came to my turn.

It was noted that I was finding the gaps in the found album that is the source of my project; and acknowledgment that it is a mixture of fiction and reality. One comment was that the contemporary reenactment didn’t work so well, and I have also since written a post about these self – portraits and why I still hope to include them. (link here) Also to note is that they are not in fact reenactments but fictional inserts, filling the gaps where photographs had been removed.

A fellow student suggested I use sepia tones in some of these images; I chose not to follow this though feeling that this might prove too cliched, however I did convert them to black and white as this works well with the original photographs.

The photographs I showed of the ripped album pages received the most positive feedback from tutors and students alike. Since my review I have continued to work on these, including some re-shoots, layering and resizing ready for prints to be used in my dummy book.

It was suggested that I look at the following practitioner’s work:

  • Zoe Leonard (see recent post) (link here)
  • ‘Ken. To be destroyed’ by Sara Davidmann (to follow)
  • Eva Stenram ‘Drape’. I am familiar with this work and will revisit it
  • Broomberg & Chanarin – violence inflicted on photos and albums (to follow)

As I was packing away, one tutor remarked about some of my previous work (multi-layered with mirrors and camera interiors as props); commenting that this had been successful. The work in question had in fact been the most enjoyable to create but I had stopped on advice from other tutors – not because it wasn’t successful, but because it lacked depth, and didn’t ‘grab’ . Naturally this comment has given me much to think about, and as my transition to the Final Major Project gets ever closer decisions on which creative route to pursue become more difficult! If time allows before submission of this module I may use mirrors to photograph some of the page rips.

November 18th – reshoots

After my tutor 1:1 this week, I have re-shot some images. Taking time over the mini studio set up, I positioned my camera on a tripod and shot all the following images with the same lens, focal length and distance from the camera. The same typology. Overall the results are pleasing, it’s definitely not the type of photography I am used to shooting but it’s something that could work well within a chapter of my dummy photo book.

Dice game
Genuine RAF shirt sleeve cuff
Genuine RAF jacket buttons
Genuine WW1 RAF Victory medal assigned to WS Wood. Ribbons added
Genuine WW1 Victory RAF medal assigned to WS Wood. Ribbons added
Genuine 2″ piece of ribbon that would have been issued with the RAF Victory medal
Baby wool for crochet. John Coles was born in 1932 and not many photographs were added after this date

November 18th – edited self portraits

Even though recent feedback hasn’t been positive about my self portraits, I am still hoping to include a couple in my project. I’ve looked at the work of other practitioners including most recently Vivian Maier and Zoe Leonard amongst others; and previously Cindy Sherman and Trish Morrissey. Sophie Calle remains an inspiration and although she is not in her photographs, the essence of her most certainly is.

My ‘Jimmy’ book has many gaps and as my practice is narrative I aim to fill these gaps with images I’ve made using the original album as the stimuli. My self portraits are not about me, but about left behind traces of events for which the full narrative is lost. The self portraiture has only a small place in it, but having considered it carefully I still wish to include it.  However, I have rethought image size and colour, and have edited two to the same size as the photos in the album (3.5 x 2.5 inches), and made them black and white.

Casino dress
Tennis at the LTC

November 16th

Following yesterday’s 1:1 with my tutor, I have started to lighten the images I took yesterday. Here are some of the results:

The results are pleasing and I see that they are more eye catching. However, some of the original colour of the album has now been lost and so the decision over which ones make the final edit will be based around either authenticity or aesthetic quality.

November 15th

This is the video of Jimmy’s album, shot today while it is still in one piece. I have new ideas for it!

More macro photos of the album today.

November 3rd

Some self portraits which may be used in the work. In Jimmy’s album there is reference to a tennis club and a trip to a casino at Monte Carlo. In the tennis image below I’m not happy with the lighting, but am considering cropping it.

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November 1st

Audio and pdf for Oral Presentation practice. Please note that the project is still very much work in progress.

Pdf here:

A few images to go with the OP


Some of the latest images, uploaded ready for some feedback during the presentation this week. With the exception of the Post Office pictures, all photos have been taken this week; and all have a connection to photos in Jimmy‘s album.

These photographs are more or less straight out of the camera – no post processing this week, on the advice of my tutor!

After seeing these photos one of my peers suggested that I use layer stacking to highlight the macro points of focus in some of these photographs – particularly the Victory medal with ribbons.  Long term this is advice that I will most definitely practice, I see the advantages in having a sharp focus photo which is still macro. Having considered the impact of this technique on this work though I’ve decided against it. It was deliberate to have a small part of the wording around the medal in focus. The image is intentionally provocative, bringing the viewer’s gaze to the word ‘Wood’ . The focal point of this one word links to an image in Jimmy’s album, with the text “Wood R.A.F. Goole, Yorks 1919” written underneath.  I want the viewer to question this image – who was Wood, and what is this medal doing here? If I layer stacked this image bringing all the text into sharp focus, the punctum (Wood) becomes lost, replaced instead by the studium (the medal).

1. Collecting Wood’s Victory medal from the Post Office and opening the envelope. I was excited yet nervous to pick this up, and couldn’t help but wonder what Wood and his family felt when he received the medal almost a century ago.

2. Wood’s Victory medal. Also called the Allied Victory Medal, it was awarded to everyone who received the 1914 Star or the 1914-15 Star, and most who were awarded the British War Medal. These three medals were nicknamed Pip, Squeak, and Wilfred, after three comic strip characters popular during this era. Wilfred refers to the Victory medal.

3. Wood’s Victory medal with the colours of the Victory ribbon. I purchased two inches of silk victory ribbon (not shown here), and then bought individual ribbons in the same colours. Some images here have original RAF WW1 jacket buttons too. All of these items were purchased as part of my research and are integral to my project.

4. Decorations from my grandparents’ wedding cake. The wedding was in 1936.

There are references in Jimmy‘s album to a wedding in 1927 between Fred and Dolly (Doris) in 1927.

5. Jimmy’s album. Black leather bound with gold edged pages.

Images of the book may serve as dividers between the various sections of my completed work.

6. Torn pages from Jimmy‘s album.

These are integral to my work – will the viewer wish to know why, in such a beautiful album, photographs have been so violently removed? And in some cases, why remove the images rather than the entire page? It’s as if it was important to preserve the book, even without some of the photographs and holes in the pages.

I also have baby photos to include, as the photographs in the album seemed to stop after the birth of John Coles. 


During a recent webinar my tutor asked me what my elevator pitch would be. Rather ignorantly, I had no idea – the premise is as follows: Imagine you are stuck in an elevator with a potential client. They promise to exhibit your work on the proviso that you can explain to them what your work is about – in one sentence.

Finding it difficult to even surmise to myself what my work encompasses, I could not do this! What an incredibly useful exercise – I went away and worked on it:

Using found photography as stimuli, my narrative work combines fact with fiction, bringing lost stories into the present day.

With a little tweaking, this has now become:

Rooted in found photography, my vernacular work combines fact with fiction; bringing lost stories into the present day.

This may yet still change, but for now this is a good working description of both my recent and current projects.

A few trials and tribulations mid-October…

In these two images I have used post-processing to start to imagine what it would be like to visit a Monte Carlo casino in the 1920s, adding in the first the name engraved on to an RAF medal assigned to W.S. Wood. Wood is a character in my appropriated album. Could it be the same person?

Perfume bottle personalised with ‘Wood’ details

Feedback received during the 1:1 with my tutor suggested that there is too much information in each image, and my week’s task is to start to unravel them. To start, here are a couple of original images of the medal purchased from an online auction. The Victory medal was awarded to WS Wood for his services during WW1. Paperwork was also included in the purchase, yet to be photographed / scanned.

Unprocessed side inscription of Wood’s Victory medal

Feeling to be such a momentous occasion, I documented on my iPhone the various stages of my receiving of the medal. (See link below). To be in receipt of such a parcel seemed privileged; and I wondered how Wood (and his family) felt when it was awarded to him.

Documenting the appropriation of Wood’s medal

I plan to retake some of these photographs on my DSLR, and hope to use some of them in my project.

14th October 2018

Here, I made a blue stencil of a tear in the album where a photograph had been removed, and placed poker dice on a blue RAF uniform shirt below. A cloudy effect was achieved by pointing my macro lens through the stencil, which was then digitally enhanced to make the colour shout. Afterwards I layered it with the scan of one of the original photos, as well as part of text written in the album. Despite its vintage subject the result is a contemporary piece which is narrative in content. I don’t see this as being a stand alone picture, it will be part of a series of work yet to be completed.




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4th October 2018

Surprisingly and pleasingly, my ideas have undergone a slight transformation this week. Not in subject, but in content. I’m looking at smaller details within the album (which I will henceforth refer to as Jimmy’s). For example, the fact that they visited a Monte Carlo casino led me to consider what this would entail … dressing up, looking the part, gambling. The resulting images are a little abstract and were shot looking through a hole in one of the pages of Jimmy’s book with its black cover as the surface behind – as if we, the audience, are allowed a glimpse into the couple’s special evening.

Playing cards
Black Jack
Playing cards

28th September 2018

As is normal practice for me at the start of a module, as yet I don’t know where my work will lead me over the next 11 weeks or so.  However I do have a starting point, and have spent time this week researching for it.

I purchased another family album during the break, this time via an online auction. It is a 1920s album, approximately A5 in size, black leather bound with gilded edges. It contains photographs of a group of friends spanning the period 1919 -1932. As time goes by the photos become less about the friends and more about emerging couples and finally a baby. There are few clues as to who these people were; so this was (and still is) a first step – finding out as much as possible about them.  This knowledge (and perhaps the gaps in the book where photos have been removed) will provide the starting point for my project this module.

The research started for me with a free two – week trial period with two genealogy  websites. This soon developed in my asking a semi-professional expert friend for help with the family history.  To date, we have discovered small pieces of information, (wedding date, a name) hopefully with more to follow – what was Macintosh House and who/ what was Wood at RAF Goole, 1919?

A selection of photographs from the album.