#Picbod – Empowerment

On Thursday 6th February 2014, I attended a day of lectures regarding my #Picbod module. During the day, as Matt Johnston wasn’t in, we started with the Task introduction that was taken by Paul Smith. We then had an artist talk by the inspirational and talented Anthony Luvera, followed by a Negotiation Task feedback seminar and a Self-representation video viewing by Pete Brook. All of the notes from today’s session can, as usual, be found below:


Through the first four workshops you have explored the power relationship between photographer and subject, starting with yourself before looking at someone close to you and a stranger. You should now apply your skills garnered through these and the technical workshops to assist either a stranger or someone you already know* to make their own portrait.

You should not take charge of the photographic conversation but should empower the ‘subjects’ in being able to make their own pre-visualization and chosen representation, a reality.

*You should not work with someone who has previous photographic experience

Lecture by Anthony Luvera:

  • Looking at the power dynamic between the subject and the photographer
  • Looking at representation and how important it is in portraits
  • Particularly interested in collaboration
    • United labour
    • Traitorous cooperation with the enemy
  • Originally from Australia and did an undergraduate degree
    • Looked at documentary photography as a style
    • Left this degree and went into fashion and beauty photography – liked the controlled studio environment
    • Susan Sontag – one of the theorists he read about at university
    • Max Pam http://www.maxpam.com
    • Travelled over to England and lost his love for fashion and beauty photography – ended up in PR and HR

Working with the Homeless:

  • “Crisis Open Christmas” scheme
  • Got about £20,000 worth of disposable cameras
  • Worked as a volunteer – did whatever was needed of him
  • Over 90 people came to the very first session
    • Bombarded with questions
  • Drop in sessions happened every Friday 2-4
  • Was really interested in meeting these people rather than thinking that it was just his art
  • Preconceptions of homelessness were being challenged
  • Gypsy
    • Took photographs of boxes – why just boxes?
    • His life revolved around his box because that was his home
    • The severity and fragility of living in a box
  • Ruben
    • From Georgia
    • Spent 6 years travelling across Europe to try and find sacrament
    • Shipping container from Spain to New York
    • Travelled from New York to Ireland
    • Then travelled Ireland to England
    • Doesn’t drink, smoke, has no addiction issues but he likes to teach himself things
    • Smuggled himself to Finland with a fake passport
    • Smuggled himself to Japan
  • Phil Robinson
    • Recovering from addiction issues
    • Took cameras away every week
    • Challenged preconceptions of living and addictions and family for homeless people
  • Christian
    • Met Victoria from the White Chapel Gallery
    • Introduced her to the work and to Anthony
    • Wanted to create an exhibition
  • Anthony had to think about the context – when photographs are placed in different areas, it will adjust its context
    • Thinking about audience is absolutely key
    • White Chapel Gallery didn’t offer the right audience
    • 6 months later, Victoria got in contact and suggested he exhibited the work in the London Underground Platform art scheme
    • An assisted self-portrait with a photograph taken by the subject
  • Got a sponsorship deal
  • Worked with Phil Robinson and tested different cameras
    • Decided on a 5×4 camera
    • Thought it was the best camera that would teach non-photographers how to use the equipment
    • Created assisted self-portrait of the homeless community he worked with
    • Schweppes photographic portrait prize – one of the assisted portraits of the homeless subject was hung next to a portrait of Tony Blair



Luvera 2


Luvera 3


Luvera 4


Luvera 5


Luvera 6

Prologue to Isha (2006)


  • Thought she was very striking, very beautiful, elegant and tall and actually thought she was one of the volunteers, the helpers
  • Quite profound mental health issues – paranoid schizophrenic
  • Quite a surreal thing to witness and a horrendous thing for Isha
  • She was actually in her last year at university studying Psychology when her first episodes started
  • Asked to make a documentary of her – it was the moments of interaction that actually said a lot more than the question and answer sessions

Residency (2006-2008)

  • Wanted to get close to an archive
  • Did a lot of research into archives and became interested in Belfast Exposed
  • http://www.belfastexposed.org
  • When it started, there was a lot of things the people were angry about which created amazing responses of representation
  • Collected other peoples photographs and had workshops to build up the archive
  • Met a woman called Karen Downing?
  • Flew over every Monday and came back every Friday
  • Created another homeless collection
  • Volunteered and talked to people about what they were interested in
  • Again created images and other assisted self-portraits – used the same methods but wanted to think about the process
    • Asked them what they thought about the representation surrounding homelessness
  • Simon Roberts – Motherland (http://simoncroberts.com/work/motherland/#PHOTO_0)
    • Looked at his work and thought that that was not how he wanted to exhibit his images
  • Planned the whole exhibition
    • Painted the walls grey
    • Stuck the photos to the wall with masking tape
    • Photography is always a process of working with representation
    • One of the main things for him was how does he represent and talk about process
  • Making the book
    • Manufacture of representation
    • Soft card, used certain materials
    • Sequencing the photographs
    • Commissioning articles
    • Documentation of the work
  • More theoretical research – Photographies
    • Wrote up into a paper
    • Talked about it at lectures
    • Asked to write it up

Residency Book




Residency 2


Assisted Self-Portrait of Maggie Irvine


Residency 4


Residency 5

Death and the Contemporary (2012-2013)

Not Going Shopping (2013-2014)

  • Based around the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) culture in Brighton
  • Put a call out to the communities in Brighton – bring along three photographs that told them about their life
  • Made photographs of their weekly story
  • Hosted activates – see if there are ways in involving people in the process
  • Took people to an old fashioned photo booth – a piece of fun using photography within the activities
  • Soon questioned how we could use the photo booth as a representation
  • Fox (one of the subjects) – http://www.youtube.com/user/MyGenderation
  • Final series of work includes photographs of the participants that have been edited by Anthony
  • Thinking about the photo booth as a kind of closet that they can use to break out of
  • Wanted to explore digital platforms
  • http://notgoingshopping.blogspot.co.uk
  • Has also been editing a book that will be released later in February – Queer In Brighton
    • Consists of stories before times of LGBT revolutions
    • Publication of not going shopping to be included
    • Along with an article written by Anthony

Anthony Luvera




  • When do you know when you have finished the project?
    • It’s not solely about creating the photographs
    • It’s more about building relationships
    • When the relationships grow, you stay, when they move on, you move on
  • Why colour and not black and white?
    • Colour is more challenging to photograph
  • What communities do you decide to photograph?
    • What is a community?
    • Prefer to call it a group of people
    • Identifying people he’s interested in
    • Opportunities
    • Wanting to work with groups of people
  • How has your role as a photographer changed over the years?
    • It’s about an engagement with photography – who you want to talk to and communicate with

Negotiation Feedback:

This week we had a slightly different feedback session which was due to the absence of our main #Picbod lecturer, Matt Johnston. Instead, our guest speaker Anthony Luvera led the small feedback sessions and the critique and advice that he gave me can be found below, along with any photographers names he mentioned:

  • There’s a sense of stillness and relaxation in the majority of your images that the audience is attracted to (not so much in the one of the lady at the bus stop)
  • Skaters – audience will be drawn to this image as it is a double portrait and the sense of symmetry that they show in their stance makes it very appealing


  • Yvette image – love the colours found within the image; it has a very graphic feel, but it would be interesting to see what it would look like if she was looking into the frame rather than out of the frame


  • Lady at the bus stop – love the tones of blues; almost seems as though she is halfway through speaking


  • He said that I have a very graphic sense of composition – it’s great

This task also helped us gain interpersonal communication skills as well as standard photographic technique improvement

He suggested that we looked at the work of Jim Goldberg (http://www.jimgoldberg.com)in order to see how to incorporate the subject’s stories into the photographs, as this would automatically enhance the context of the project

Jim Goldberg

Jim Goldberg 2

Jim Goldberg 3

I then took the time to show Anthony Luvera my Encountering Cultures project (link found below) that I completed last year that he seemed incredibly enthusiastic about and suggested that I looked at the work of Wendy Ewald:


Wendy Ewald

Wendy Ewald 2

Wendy Ewald 3

Mentioned Photographers:

Pete Brook: Prison Photography and Self-Representation:

Pete Brook: Prison Photography and Self Representation from CU Photography on Vimeo.