351MC Photography and Narrative – Session Five

On Wednesday 29th October 2014 I attended my fifth #phonar session. We started off the day by looking at a couple of individuals responses to last weeks task before the main lecture was taken over by a number of students that bought forward different discussions surrounding themes that we have explored so far in #phonar. Once this discussion was complete, we then spent time listening to two Interviews taken by Jonathan Worth with Wasma Mansour and Dalia Khamissey. The notes from this session can be found below:

www.thinglink.com – useful link to create an interactive multimedia narrative

Session 9 is now being changed to a production session allowing us to focus on our Symposium


Student Discussion:

Rachael Bint:

  • Become interested in image presentation and the photo album
  • Snippets of information allows us to follow a story better?
  • You still get a lot of information but the person who created the photo album are in control with what they share – family albums are more personal
  • They take you on their own individual journey
  • Think that writing on photographs help not only with your own memory but also with giving information to the viewer
  • The subject is the person with the least control – but if it’s in a family setting, the power of the subject changes and becomes stronger
  • A few of the albums are linked but she’s having trouble linking them together
  • Makes you wonder what was in between these photo books – were some lost or more important and kept?
  • Prefer to look at the books and go through at her own individual pace – digital images can allow us to skip through them quickly
  • Does digital allow us to explore the image more?
  • Bargaining with other peoples memories
  • Artifacts have a provenance – it’s difficult to put a price on our family albums; they are priceless to us
  • She has basically bought someone’s history and memories for a fiver
  • Did the family want to sell the photo album? – It’s more natural for us to just throw our albums away, why would we want to seel them?
  • People like to buy into memories
  • People are interested in the aesthetics of artifacts – it links back to filters on Instagram; our generation wants to create older looking images
  • The album is created for a personal reason
  • Photographs are evidence and memory triggers
  • David Campbell
    • You can’t have an all encompassing narrative
    • In a narrative you need to include context, suspense, a big reveal
    • Exposition, conflict, climax and resolution


Olly Wood:


Emma Shea:


Jenny Swerdlow:

  • We’re spoon-fed information that the media feel is appropriate for our culture and lifestyle
  • Does the digital age make us think we’re being active participants when we’re actually only retweeting and spreading awareness?
  • For example, #bringbackourgirls – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vj1CLqlOk6Q


Books to Look At (suggested by Matt Johnston):

  • Post-Digital Print: The Mutation of Publishing Since 1894 by Alessandro Ludovico
  • Album Beauty by Eric Kessels
  • Evocative Objects: Things We Think With by Sherry Turkle



Wasma Mansour Interview with Jonathan Worth:


  • Saudi born photographer
  • “Single Saudi Women” project
  • Always been interested in the subject matter of Saudi women but chose to explore it with photography for her PhD project
  • Used the 5×4 equipment to create portraits which gained the interest of the subjects
  • Allowed the subject to decide how she wanted to appear within her own portrait
  • It was a collaborative negotiation of this image making – it’s important to priorities her preference
  • There is this concept of segregation between men and women in Saudi Arabia – this reflects in some of the images where the women are shielding their identity
  • Had someone to vouch for her credibility when searching for participants for this project – she had one person talk to the participants for her
  • Incorporated oral history within the project by allowing the subject to talk
  • Inspired by the narratives of the subjects
  • Maintained a blog and gave the subjects an opportunity to give her feedback
  • Very easy to be transparent with the subject and allow them discuss the project in detail
  • There is a bond with any land and relocating abroad does not mean that the bond is severed
  • Some of the individuals that moved to the UK actually became even more attached to their Saudi identities
  • Can’t say that they have all integrated the same way – it’s quite refreshing seeing the varying degrees of cultural identity
  • Had to be very careful as to not misrepresent the realities within the UK
  • The one thing she’s learnt from her project is to priorities the participant and let them lead, especially if representation is a key concern



Dalia Khamissey Interview with Jonathan Worth:


  • Lebanese photographer Dalia Khamissy talks about her work “The Missing”
  • It focuses on the 17,000 people who went missing during the 1975 -1990 Lebanese civil war
  • Interest has always been in storytelling within photographs
  • The last 2 years of the civil war were right near her house which meant that she had to live in the staircase of her building
  • She was very interested in telling the stories of people, women rights, and women issues within the city
  • Was also in denial of telling the story of the civil wars that affect 15 years of her life
  • The Summer Civil war was the craziest war she lived through
  • Was the only girl at the photo desk whilst working at AP during the Summer Civil War
  • War’s make everybody’s personal stories public through the coverage of the media
  • There is a difference between empathizing and sympathizing
  • In “The Missing” project (which started in 2005) she works with the mothers in a more collaborative sense listening to their stories about their missing children
  • Although the war had ended, there are still people that don’t know what happened to their loved ones – she started researching and investigating
  • She is telling the story of the missing, not of the women or the mothers
  • The nature of telling these stories can put you in a compromising situation as well as the subjects as they are making the noise as well
  • I’m just a person – one person can’t really do a lot
  • The things that we do for the everyday don’t count to us – it’s only in moments of severe trauma when we notice that time is precious
  • Received a grant from the open society foundations – feel very proud and impotent about not being able to use it in a good way
  • The work created with this grant should engage with the society within it
  • She tells the story of “The Missing” to the youth, the parents tell their story of the missing loved ones to the youth, and then the youth tell the story of the missing to their community
  • In Lebanon they don’t teach the history of the civil war – facts still haven’t been determined
  • They don’t teach who the bad person is – they are all bad, people died
  • It is usually the youth that carry the guns, that’s why she wanted to work with the youths
  • The narrative of the civil war is yet to be determined and storytelling is being used as an agent for change, to establish youth
  • The main idea is to spread the project around Lebanon but it would be great if it breached the borders
  • Three pieces of advice:
    • Photographers should make sure that they understand they are telling someone else’s story – they should know they are very privileged in being able to tell someone’s story
    • Photographers should show lots of respect to the people they are representing
    • Tell the story as it is


Storify of Session: