Week Ten Reflections

mickyatesCoursework, Critical Research Journal, Documentary, Ideas, Photography, Practice, Project Development, Reflections, SPWeek10, Stories, Sustainable Prospects 1 Comment

With all the focus on the Oral Presentation and the Work in Progress, it would be easy to not step back and reflect. Also, there is a Student Satisfaction Survey coming on Canvas, so I don’t want to pre-empt that.

I have two, broad reflections.

The first reflection is about my Practice.

The MA in general is absolutely giving me better ways to frame my photography, and in particular how to think about it vis a vis my audiences. As a marketeer, customers have always figured in my way of considering business, and there are some real similarities in how to think about my photography. In particular, to what extent do I want my images to provoke, to challenge, and to cause thought?

I have joined a local Camera Club. Whilst I have huge respect for the other photographers, I really cannot get excited about the competition ethos.

To have individual images scored on points seems to me to force work in certain directions. It is perhaps no surprise that there are a lot of ornithological and motor sport images, as well as landscapes, in the competitions. But there are hardly any documentary or current affairs. I suspect this is because it is virtually impossible to tell a complete story in one image.

Single images beg questions, yes, but they rarely complete a narrative.


Henri Cartier-Bresson, Behind the Gare St Lazare, 1932.

This iconic image from H C-B may well win a Club prize (though it is blurred …) and it does beg questions. But unless I am missing something, the image is very much a ‘one off’, the infamous ‘Decisive Moment’, without being part of an extended story.

By contrast, this, from Nick Hedges, is both a lovely image and part of a broader narrative.

Nick Hedges, Glasgow, 1969.

It is the latter that I am aspiring to, now.

Prior to the MA, I think I was after the former, the single great image.

Now, I see my role is to be a story teller. That is why I go to some length in my OP to discuss the need for better candid (and environmental) portraiture within my overall documentary work.

The second reflection is about this module.

The module has helped me to better articulate my practice and my goals. It has also been instructive about certain aspects of the photography business, though sometimes in rather simplistic and patronising ways.

Of more importance, the course materials have not really challenged us to take better pictures, which is, after all, why I am on the MA. In  fact, I think the materials have been rather lacking in intellectual rigour.

I hope that these issues can be improved for future students.


Cartier-Bresson, Henri.1952. The Decisive Moment. 2014 Ed. Göttingen: Steidl.

Hedges, Nick. 2012. In the Shadows. Shrewsbury: Blurb Books.

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