July 8

The Bird Feeder: focal distance

Title: The Bird Feeder

Exercise: Take three photos of the same scene using different focal lengths. Print the images on A4 paper. Return to the scene and hold the images up until the printed scene and the actual scene appear the same size.

Approach: I decided to take photos of a scene that was close to hand so I could easily return with the larger images. Physically experimenting with the different distances really emphasised the focal length effects. I seem to have a natural preference for the close-up, something about seeing the detail of the everyday differently I guess. The images are not particularly special but I thought they worked for the purpose of the exercise.

I have a weak left eye so trying the experiment of keeping both eyes open while looking through the viewfinder was not particularly successful!

July 7

Photography: A critical introduction

I am completely engrossed in Liz Wells’ (2009) ‘Photography: a Critical Introduction’, it is densely packed with a wide array of photographic influences and thinking. It is not an easy skim read, and I do find myself re-reading quite regularly to check my own understanding.

Open book
Thought provoking

It is also a fabulous source of signposting and I have found myself spinning off to follow a variety of leads to other authors and writings. I think that is partly why I am enjoying it, it is stretching but still feels manageable.

I also found it helpful in that it does exactly what it says  on the tin – it is a really clear introduction to some of the core theories and figures that have influenced the development of critical thinking around photography. I am not reading it chronologically, I think I would find  that too much of a slog. I am currently looking at ‘Photography within the Institution’ and will return to earlier chapters at some point in the future.

It feels like a book that is well worth sticking with to really grasp the basics of much of what has shaped photographic theory.


Wells, L. (2009). Photography: A critical introduction (4th ed.). Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge.


July 7

Behind the Image II

Close up of book cover
A possible framework?

I have been reflecting on Behind the Image and pulling out a few things that seemed to particularly resonate. I am intrigued by the framework they propose as it has a definite crossover with other research approaches I have used. It is obviously not going to be appropriate for every situation but it does provide a useful structure for thinking about my photography as it develops.

Fox and Caruana (2012) suggest that the key elements in developing a photography project proposal are:

  • The title
  • The topic or theme
  • The intended audience
  • Approach and methods
  • Gaining access
  • Proposals for funding
  • Timetable and budget
  • Proposed research references

While in many ways when you look at these elements they seem self-evident I can fully understand that some aspects could be forgotten as the work progresses. Something that should probably be obvious but was a useful reminder is that, ‘simple as it may seem, a title is vital and reveals more about a project than you may imagine.’  (Fox & Caruana, 2012: 12)

I am going to try this approach out on some of the Art of Photography exercises and assignments.


Fox, A., & Caruana, N. (2012). Behind the Image: Research in photography. Lausanne, Switzerland: AVA Publishing SA.



July 7

Behind the Image

This book absorbed me. It was one I wanted to read early on because it grabbed my attention.

Fox & Caruana book
Absorbing and accessible

I had dipped into some of the other suggested reading – lighting, The Photographer’s Eye etc., but this is the one that I was keen to really delve into. Partly, because I had worked with Anna Fox many years ago and partly, because it appealed to the researcher in me.

I wanted to know how and why they were combining research and photography. When I read the introduction it made me wonder what sort of photographer they had in mind as the readership. As someone who has worked in the subsidised arts sector and done postgraduate research it made perfect sense to me but I wondered if it would be the same for everyone.

I like the idea of having a project ‘framework’ and am wondering how I might incorporate the approach into my work on the Art of Photography.

 “A body of photographic work is developed through knowledge gained in exploring the medium.” (Fox & Caruana, 2012: 6)


Fox, A., & Caruana, N. (2012). Behind the Image: Research in photography. Lausanne, Switzerland: AVA Publishing SA.