351MC Photography and Narrative – Session Seven

On Wednesday 12th November 2014, I attended the 7th session for my #phonar module. We started the day off by discussing previous themes we had looked at in #phonar. We then listened to a talk with Marcus Bleasdale, which was taken by Jonathan Worth, before discussing key themes within the interview, as a group. After this, we listened to another interview with Aaron Huey which was create by Jonathan Worth as a simplified session that could appeal to younger audiences. Once this was complete, Jonathan then got us to think about our response for our “Post-Photographic Portrait” task before I presented my first draft to the class asking for critique and feedback. The notes from this session can be found below:

Previous #Phonar Themes:

Privacy, Security And Trust

  • Who owns your emails? The university
  • Why does that matter? Really valuable information on there
  • Emails are an untapped report

The class burst out of the classroom using twitter to tweet our notes

  • All of our information are embedded in a tweet


  • Data of data

The information is the photograph, the information of the information is the provenance of the photograph

On an image there’s a lot more metadata

All the learning that we do publicly is not going to go away, it’s like a tattoo

Fred Ritchin:

  • Was the photo editor for New York Times
  • Now a professor at New York University
  • Images will loose their evidential quality
  • Introduced the idea of a proactive photographer and not a reactive photographer

Stephen Mayes:

  • Photograph has become more experiential

David Campbell:

  • We can’t narrate everything – we have to choose what we want to include and exclude
  • Context is key – context makes the project more sustainable in the future

Tod Papageorge:

  • If your pictures aren’t good enough you’re not reading enough

Dalia Khamissy:

  • “The Missing”
  • War takes away the right of privacy

Wasma Mansour:

  • “Single Saudi Women”
  • Very collaborative and asked the women how they would like to be represented
  • The participant – change the power dynamic

Sara Davidmann:

  • Family photo albums also undergo this same theory suggested by David Campbell – it only includes the positive aspects of life

Flickr – site for photographers to upload their pictures

Instagram – terrible for photographers but is for communication



Marcus Bleasdale in Conversation for #Phonar:



  • Studied business and economics and finance at university
  • Worked at a British bank
  • Grew up in this room surrounded by computers and telephones and felt saddened by the fact that he would reach 40 and would only have experienced rooms similar to this
  • He wanted to experience and think about things that were more than this
  • Hadn’t really been interested in photography but was left with a camera and started playing around with it
  • Really enjoyed the creativity, the creative moment
  • Went to black and white classes whilst still at the bank
  • Developed a love of the image
  • At the bank he was asked on his opinion on how a massacre would affect the dollar and he was so shocked by this that he resigned there and then
  • Went to the Balkans and stayed there for just under a year – took bad photos because he didn’t understand the context and concept of narrative
  • Photography is a lot more than the decisive moment, It’s a lot more powerful than that
  • You need to understand the context to be able to represent the place your documenting in such a way that will allow other communities to understand it
  • Came back to the UK and decided he wanted more formal structure and thought process – studied a post-graduate in London
    • This gave him a thought process and context surround human rights around the world
  • Photographers make one significant leap, and they splash onto the scene – it’s not always like that
    • Don’t be in awe of these guys that have incredible collections of work, they too took baby steps
  • Spent a lot of time in Central African Republic
    • As significant for him as the Democratic Public of Congo has been
  • 100 Years of Darkness
    • It would be interested to look at the river Congo and use a thesis to see whether the Republic of Congo has in fact change – he documented life by spending 4 year travelling up the Congo river
    • Sectioned off the river into the different parts that were run by different people
    • About history, population, the government, democracy or lack of it, dictatorship – no prior thought that this is what it was going to be about, it just happened
  • Exposed to the natural resource exploitation in the eastern part of the country – spent 11 years documenting this exploitation
  • Wanted to show that the conflict in this part of the country was actually being financed by the natural resources – many European countries were actually benefiting from this conflict through illegal importation of these materials
  • Worked together to make those purchases stop – That gave him motivation to continue with similar projects
  • The photography we create should be more powerful and impactful, to influence policy, decision makers and companies
  • How you build your technique, though process and body of work is through personal development and evolution
  • Photography is more than taking a great image, it’s about the context and the understanding
  • You need to be involved on a personal level to make the piece of work strong enough – you need passion and engagement
  • The image is secondary – its your passion, thought and engagement that makes a better piece of work
  • The environment you work in limits the time you have to create this perfect piece of work
  • Bodies of work don’t happen on one trip – you need to keep revisiting them to make them a sustainable project
  • Photographers should consider themselves as authors of an idea
    • You author this piece of work and you hopefully eloquently document it
    • We have many platforms that we can publish our work on and engage many of individuals
  • What I like to do is try to engage and reach out to a different audience through the platforms I display my work on
  • Collaboration with an artist called Paul O’Connell
    • http://www.soundofdrowning.com/unspeakable_things.html
    • Asked to supply images that the comic artist would use to create a graphic story
    • Gave work from “A Rape of a Nation”
    • Created a very powerful comic that engaged different audiences
    • Gave him the idea on engaging people using different platforms that they’re already used to
  • Now working with a gaming company in the UK to produce a computer game called “Blood Minerals” where people can engage and learn about the conflict within the Democratic republic of Congo
  • Everything we use has natural minerals and resources from different conflict zones like Congo
  • Hopefully we can engage people in this issue in a more active manner
  • Be aware of where the natural resources that go into different products come from
  • Raise Hope for Congo
  • Find a lot of his inspiration comes from literature – he’s influenced a lot by literature
    • Task: take a favourite paragraph from a novel or poem and take two pictures or sketch the paragraph/section visually


Interview Discussion:

  • Marcus thinks of photography as a means not and ends
  • Many photographers preach to the already converted – he wants to engage with different audiences
  • The decisive moment is that where you immerse yourself in an event and can previsualize what is about to happen, allowing you to take a single frame to capture the essence of the event



Aaron Huey Interview with Jonathan Worth:



  • Photographer, photojournalist and artist – most known as a photojournalist
  • History as a photographer began with traditional documentary work photographing news events and crisis
  • Enjoys working for National Geographic
    • Get more time, resources, and his work will reach a larger audience
    • When you get work in front of that many people, it is more likely to end up with active change
  • Project in the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation
    • Lasted over 7 years
    • Started when he stumbled in the reservation in the USA and was shocked with what he found
    • Kept going back on his own money investing in a story that he thought was important
    • He created a piece that newspapers can’t ignore
  • Always had the confidence he makes whatever he wants to make – he takes risks and experiments
  • If he has an inclination he will do it right now – he has been known to go into debt
  • His own enrichment, knowledge and desires are important – if he believes something will increase all of these he will go and do these
  • Went out into the world as an exchange student
  • Later in life these trips became bigger
  • Did a 6 month walk across America – he walked 3349 miles
    • Didn’t do it for a photographic project but it became one of his first published pieces of work
  • Never have guaranties but strength of belief carries him through it
  • Photojournalism is often uncomfortable but it doesn’t need to be terrifying – uncomfortable going into the unknown
  • The rewards of going into the unknown is an exponential growth of you consciousness
  • For him it’s about the return of the place – every time you reexamine a place your idea about the place evolves
  • Partner with as many people as he can
  • He can publish the photos almost wherever he wants but he’s not happy with the boundaries that he is given for his publication – he likes meeting people that test these boundaries
  • Collaborated with artist Shepard Fairey
    • “Honor the Treaties” – http://www.honorthetreaties.org/#p1,s1
    • Didn’t want his images to bee seen in something like the Guardian, where the audience already knew about the subject at hand, he wanted to go to the streets to educate people and get different people involved in the same story
  • If he puts something straight online, the context and concept isn’t changed through publication editing processed


Thinking About our “Post-Photographic Portrait” Response:

  1. What is the problem that you are looking at?
    The fading of memories of a loved one after they have passed away – as people continue through their life, it is known for people’s memories of particular loved ones to fade
  2. What is the solution?
    For many people, if they take the time to revisit the memories either through places or photographs, they bring these fading memories back to the forefront, which allows them to reconnect with the loved ones through the strengthening of the memories
  3. What are you trying to achieve from creating this piece of work?
    I want people to be able to understand and recognise that memories will naturally fade over time but that they can reconnect with the memories by immersing themselves in a particular place or with a particular object – I want to create a piece of work that allows the viewer to relate to my feeling of loss and remembrance



Feedback of “Post-Photographic Portrait” Response:

For this feedback session, I presented my first draft of my response to the class in order to receive critical feedback allowing me to change it before the deadline date. Below you can find all of the notes that I took from this session:

  • It is narrating the personal immersive experience of immersing myself in a particular place in order to reconnect with fading memories which is reflected in the immersive output chosen
  • It is a personal project but you don’t want to slip into sentimentality
  • Diane Arbus – “The more specific you are, the more general you’ll be
  • You need to try and create a body of work that is equally immersive for the viewer as it is for me, the photographer
  • False memories – memories degrade over time and it is usually place, objects, and photographs that adapt the memory for it to be remembered
  • Photographs and places act as evidence and triggers

The Video:

  • The audience is taken on a memory journey
  • The portraits show your conscious memory, whereas the “quiet” landscapes are juxtaposed as they symbolize the already fading of the memories into the unconscious
  • It perhaps suggests that the memories are fading but the landscapes symbolize their rediscovery
  • Also suggests that the memories of the person have been replaced with the memories of the landscape – landscapes are the trigger to your memories
  • It is a very reflective piece – it needs to be more objective
    • You need to direct it more towards the audience
    • Use ambient noises – this will help you to recreate the memory with the audio whilst also making it more relatable for the audience
    • Some suggested narrating of remembered memories – others said that this will give me, the photographer, too much power over what the viewer thinks about; let them connect to their own memories
  • Nice timeless song – chosen well as it made them think about how they would feel if they lost their grandparents and it reflects the timelessness of the landscapes and the memories
  • They all empathized with the feeling of loss
  • Text definitely takes away from it – remove the date; don’t give the answers straight away
  • Make the personal aspects within the video clearer – e.g. it is his favourite song, the scanned images are his photographs etc.


Storify of Session: