351MC Photography and Narrative – Session One

On Wednesday 1st October 2014, I took part in my first day of lectures for my 351MC Photography and Narrative (#Phonar) module tht was taken mostly by lecturer Jonathan Worth. Starting with a general introduction to the course, we were then asked in our own time to watch a “Why #Phonar?” lecture, before taking part in a discussion about “What is Feedback?”. Throughout the day, we were introduced to and discussed different aspects and theories surrounding #Phonar and were also given a brief history of Jonathan Worth’s career history. Following this, we were then quickly introduced to Creative Commons, before taking part in an Audio Workshop taken by Paul Adkins, and eventually ended the day by being given our weekly task to complete by next Wednesday.

Below you can find all of the notes that I took from this day:


Jonathan Worth

Everything we do from now on will be outward facing and helping you to build an open portfolio

Notes we take should be put on twitter with the hashtag #phonar so that everyone can benefit from each others lecture notes

Jonathan is going to set up an RSS feed


Class is going to run on http://phonar.org

  • Keep an eye on schedule and tasks – they will change regularly so don’t rush ahead


Notes from the “Why #Phonar?” Lecture Video:


  • #Phonar = Photography and Narrative
  • Phonar really now is about habits and establishing a habit
  • The first habit we’re going to instil is rapid fire production and thinking through doing – we will be given a task every week and will need to turn it around and publish it within the week
  • What is a photographer? What do you need to be a photographer?
    • Camera or a phone
    • Passion
  • Been thinking about habits and how habits often come to define us – you almost become like a slave to them
  • Inherited habits
    • Think about all the systems that we have to abide by
    • These systems are just somebodies solution to a problem
    • A solution became a system at some point and got passed on to soon becoming a habit
    • You only remember this when you start to think outside of the system then the system becomes exposed
    • Systems don’t want us to think for ourselves
    • That is one of the things we’re going to try to do in terms of photography, in being a photographer
  • What is a photograph?
    • Physical
    • Two dimensional
    • Monotonal or coloured
    • Fixed in time and space
    • Bounded by the edges of a frame
  • We are going to explore the differences between a photograph and an image
  • Kodak
    • Don’t think that Kodak have got this difference between the photograph and the image yet
    • At its peak, they employed about 140,000 people and it was worth £28billion
    • Invented the first digital camera
    • But today they’re not really the face of photography
  • Instagram
    • Do you think Instagram get the differences between the photograph and an image?
    • Before being sold to Facebook for £1billion, 13 people worked for Instagram
    • We have to think differently about the photo and the image
  • Snapchat
    • Thinks Snapchat gets the difference between the image and the photograph
  • Stephen May’s argues that the photograph is more experiential now, it’s about the experience, rather than the evidence
  • More people nowadays think photography is dead rather than alive due to the increase in accessible digital technologies
  • Everyone that has access to these photo making technologies is a photographer
  • Most recent statistics show that over 300 million photos are uploaded to Facebook everyday – we would argue that out of all of these photo takers, not a lot of photographers would upload their images to Facebook
  • Photographs are actually circular that have been cropped into a frame
    • Why do we turn them into rectangles or squares? – so that you can ship them and send them round
    • The mode of delivery has shaped the way we perceive the mode of information
    • The mode of information is the photography and image making which is thriving
    • The mode of delivery’s business model was flawed
    • And this is essentially what the confusion is about whether photography is dead or not – it’s not the mode of information that is flawed, it is the mode of delivery, the sharing, that is flawed
  • We only understand new media in terms of old media
    • For example, computers still have files and folders and desktops
  • Mark McGuire said “If you want to change the world, you have to start describing it differently
  • Fred Ritchin in “After Photography” – “The power, relationships, author, subjects, and reader will evolve, as will the filters, and the linear narrative, based on the authority of a single voice, is up for grabs in an increasingly nonlinear, decentralized media environment.”
  • We need to look back at the nonlinear story and the authority of the single voice in this digital age
  • Transmedia:
    • When a story is told over multiple platforms
  • What makes us different?
    • We are artisans – we have specialist craft skills
    • We are connected – we have a network
    • We are trusted – we have a reputation/brand (we have to be a trusted source and a credible witness)
  • The challenge, however, is us being heard
  • When a traditional supplier begins to think about themselves as a hub, as a platform, you can do pretty amazing things

We move from a space where we think photography is dead to a space where we realize we have spent three years studying visual literacy and are now moving to a point where we are digitally fluent


What is feedback? Discussion:

One group was asked to discuss the question whilst others listened and gave their opinion through a live twitter feed using #phonar. These “twitter notes” can be found below:

  • @rebeccawphoto: #phonar agree with constructive criticism, good feedback is good to hear but critique helps to make improvements
  • @JessOphotograph: #Phonar Feedback helps you to improve on what ever it is you are receiving feedback on.
  • @HConstanPhoto: #phonar when do you get feedback? – Agree with @YasminsImagery “everywhere” – feedback comes in many styles and is received in everyday task
  • @HConstanPhoto: #phonar although I like to get feedback from the lecturers I look for feedback from the audience that I am targeting for specific work
  • @KS_Photography_: We want to receive honest feedback from a variety of people #phonar
  • @kcainephoto: a way to gain constructive criticism that you may not get from people you know, don’t push people’s personal opinions away #phonar
  • @fizznow: #phonar What is feedback…development ideas, constructive criticism, expressing your opinion, fast feedback loop, feedback during
  • @kcainephoto: feedback is a process to help improvement #phonar
  • @Emma_Shea92: #Phonar Agree with @kcainephoto that strangers can sometimes be better than friends for feedback. Less of a desire to please you.
  • @ELTaylorPhoto: #PHONAR FEEDBACK: is something everyone should accept from a task that has been done. It allows you to change and improve. We must be sure to not take constructive criticism badly, opinions from audiences matter!
  • @fizznow: #phonar constructive feedback, to the point
  • @Gemmarosejarvis: Feedback is a constructive way to learn and progress #phonar
  • @HConstanPhoto: #phonar although we receive feedback from people, we as individuals should know how to target the right criticisms to help us/our work grow
  • @rebeccawphoto: #phonar ‘online feedback’ is unpredictable, anonymity in the online space allows complete freedom of speech whether good or bad
  • @HConstanPhoto: #phonar we all value feedback but it’s hard for us to give successfully in return
  • @Emma_Shea92: #phonar Lecturers give great feedback. Can be brutal without being cruel. It’s necessary to improve and not work in denial about your work.
  • @adriangphoto: #phonar external opinion about what we do/have done – that we may, or we may not use, to improve our further work.
  • @katyflaan: #phonar feedback is a development process
  • @OllyWoodPhoto: Always try to give positive, constructive feedback. What’s the point in feedback if it doesn’t help you? #PHONAR


We will start to build social capitol that we will talk about next week

The two main themes through #phonar are: Photography for your ears and Data

Don’t have to do all of the tasks but need to do the ones we are interested in/will help benefit us

However, we will need to answer the learning objectives and need to hand in a portfolio of work that answers each of them – we will need to spell out which work will answer which learning objective it answers


Learning Objectives:

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

  • Successfully undertake appropriately sophisticated research, analysis and interpretation of information;
  • Identify the key issues involved in creating concepts that effectively communicate a particular message to a specific audience
  • Independently produce a photographic narrative utilizing a range of analytical and practical photographic skills;
  • Show evidence of experimentation with a range of narrative forms and media as a creative method for clearly articulating visual themes, stories and concepts
  • Critically evaluate their project work and the editorial decisions made throughout this process and its commercial relevance with respect to their chosen areas of specialism.


What is #phonar?:

  • Photo narrative
  • An open class
  • Exploring different ways to narrate your photography
  • Help us to create a photographic story


Jonathan Worth:

  • Studied at university with John Blakemore
  • Learnt specialist printing skills
  • Moved on to work with Peter Dench
  • Took him two years after university to get his first paid photography job
  • Eventually had a studio in London and New York and became relatively successful
  • With the rise of digital photography, having a specialist printing skill became quite idle
  • First class he wrote was #picbod (that we studied last year)
  • Photography and narrative (#phonar) was very different and was the one course he wanted to teach as soon as he heard about it
  • Always wanted to be a documentary photographer – that job really doesn’t exist anymore because all the specialist skills that he had weren’t really very useful anymore
  • There is no “single point perspective narrative” anymore – we have to offer more than this as independent practicing photographers
  • Transmedia – means it goes beyond all different forms of media
    • An example of transmedia is: the Matrix – once it’s watched people start to write fan fiction then somebody makes a cartoon and another film about it, then there’s games and merchandise being sold
    • We have to have all of the media to gain a greater understanding of this example Matrix universe


A photograph and an image are completely different things. A photograph is a physical artifact but an image has an infinite amount of data that we can only see slight amount of.

A habit is something you get so used to doing that your brain can switch off, allowing you to focus your mind on something else.

Photography has been used as evidence in the past 100 years but there has been a change. This is the rise of the image. Photography is going through its second paradigm shift. The first was when it broke away from painting. The second is happening right now. The image is breaking away from the photograph.

This is why we should be doing #phonar – We are studying digital literacy, photographic storytelling and the history and theories behind photography. We are not just photographers. We are provoking emotions and responses, not disposable images.

Generally people slot into what is known as a linear narrative. Word of mouth allowed stories to be adapted. As soon as the book was invented, we were offered a more linear narrative.


Creative Commons Workshop:

  • http://creativecommons.org
  • Choose a license
  • Allow adaptions – Yes, as long as others share alike
  • Allow commercial uses – No
  • Fill in information about work


Audio Workshop:

We then had an Audio Workshop taken by Paul Adkins, who simply went over how to use the Edirol R-09HR that we learnt to use in Year 1, and how to edit audio using the Adobe Audition software.

Below, however, you can find a link to Dave Clark’s Multi Media Train website that goes over different sections within audio, followed by PDF’s on How to use the Edirol R-09HR and Adobe Audition software:


Storify of Session: