Research / notes / working towards assignment 3

Gillian Rose, an Open University professor , conducted research investigating why family snaps are still significant in the digital age . She suggests ‘in many ways digital photography allows people to do what they want to do with family snaps more easily , more often , and more extensively’ (Rose 2013)

Her initial research was conducted in 2000 and only one of her interviewees (who were all female with children) had access to a computer and all used analogue cameras . The second interviews were conducted between 2006-8 by which time the majority owned a digital camera and all had a computer at home.

Rose suspects ‘ that a really significant transition in family photography—one which will articulate changed subjectivities and a different relation to digital images is likely to take place in another decade , when todays teenagers who use social networking sites as a central part of their social relations and representations of self become parents in their turn’ ( Rose 2016 p.p 129)

Doing Family Photography. The Domestic ,The Public and The Politics of Sentiment .

– Family photographs are no longer static but are circulated around the globe. ‘A large part of what is ordinarily done with family photographs… about making them mobile’ (p.p59)
– Family photographs function as a means of ‘maintaining familial togetherness’ (p.p 59) when living distances apart.
– Charity organisations use personal family photographs to publicise their work Missing People is a charity organisation , their website HERE has Search Directory that one can use to search for missing people. On the 24th May 2007 ,which was International Missing Children’s Day, images of missing children were projected on to Marble Arch.
– Newspapers publish family photographs of missing children and victims of atrocities.
– Family photographs are shared digitally via email and Rose comments ‘ the family snap changes somewhat when it is emailed’ (p.p 64) , they are used as a form of communication and connectivity. However emailed images are not often printed and more importantly frequently deleted , ‘it is less the photo’s themselves that matter when they are circulated as messages , and more the connection they are intended to signify’ (p.p 67)
– ‘ Participating in email exchanges strips family snaps of much of the destiny of memory ….they are not sent primarily as a truthful record of a happy moment…their indexicality , in fact , is no longer key’ (p.p 68)
– Family photographs are increasingly being circulated by family members into the public sphere following disasters.

How Digital Technologies Do Family Snaps , Only better

– Rose suggests rather than reconstructing family photography digital technology has augmented it.
– All her interviewees took numerous snaps , they felt it crucial ‘to take photographs of their family members and in particular of their children’ (p.p 79)
– The mothers Rose interviewed felt it crucial to correctly date , store and organise their images ‘and with digital photography , all these things are remarkably easy to do’ (p.p 81
– Social media sites enable easy sharing of snaps with family

+ See my notes HERE : van Dijck , J. (2008) . “Digital photography:communication , identity , memory” . Visual Communication , 7(1) 57-76

References / Bibliography

Rose,G. (2016) Doing Family Photography. Oxford:Routledge

Rose G . 2013. In Larsen , J. and Sandbye , M . (eds.) “How Digital Technologies Do Family Snaps , Only Better” Digital Snaps The New Face of Photography . London :I.B. Tauris p.p 67-84.

Accessed 10/8/17
Accessed 10/8/17
Accessed 10/8/17

Exercise 3.3 Breaking the news?

Read THIS  blog about the New York Post’s image of a man about to be killed by a subway train . Read the details of the blog carefully and write up your own analysis of the event. Comment on the ethical decision of the commuter who took the picture.

In 2012 the New York Post made the decision to publish an image of Ki Suk Han minutes before he was killed by an oncoming subway train. The victim was pushed onto the tracks as the train was approaching the station. The photograph was taken by a bystander R. Umar Abbasi , who also happened to be a freelance photographer. Both the image and accompanying headline were considered controversial .

– Why did no one attempt to save Han ?
– Why did the photographer not attempt to aid him rather than taking a picture ?
– Abbasi claims he was trying to alert the driver using his flash
– If Abbasi had time to take an image considered good enough to be printed on the front cover it’s credible he had time to assist the victim.
– However neither did any other witnesses attempt to intervene or help the victim. Should people in such a situation put themselves into personal danger ?
– Regardless of whether Abbasi acted in good faith why did the New York Post believe it was morally okay to publish such an image.

The Society of Professional Journalist’s chairman Kevin Z. Smith condemned the Post’s decision.

The “Minimise Harm” section of the SPJ’s voluntary code of ethics advises :

– Use discrimination when reporting abhorrent events
– Refrain from sensationalism
– Show empathy for family and friends who may be distressed by the publication , in this case the victim’s widow.

Smith condemns both the editorial decision to publish a man’s last moments and censures that of the photographer to sell his image. I agree with Smith’s disapproval and feel the use of the image to be gratuitous , it contributes nothing to the story other than sensationalise it . Whilst not gory to look at knowing what happened seconds later makes it all the more horrifyingly repugnant. However we are constantly surrounded by imagery and sadly in their pursuit to gain more readers news agencies may resort to using more graphic imagery.

Furthermore the ubiquitous camera phone captures daily life and I do wonder how most people would react when confronted by such a situation, especially in an age when it has become almost second nature to reach for your camera phone the instant anything out of the ordinary unfurls . To condemn Abbasi as insensitive is harsh , without being present at the scene it is difficult to asses his choices , but those undertaken by the NY Post are much harder to understand and I feel unacceptable.

Accessed 9/8/17
Accessed 9/8/17
Accessed 9/8/17

Rethinking photojournalism 1:The citizen journalist 

Once the realm of professional photojournalists transmitted news images are now frequently those taken by members of the public caught up in an event as it unfolds in front of them. Despite often being of poor quality such ‘user generated content’ (UGC) has been capitalised by organisations such as the BBC who request that people upload their images to their website. Generally such images are not paid for by the institutions receiving them.
Read Allan , S. ‘Blurring Boundaries:Professional and Citizen Journalism in a Digital Age’ (p.p 187-200) in Lister ,M. (2013) The Photographic Image in Digital Culture
  1. By the mid 1990’s photojournalism’s objectivity was beginning to be questioned. The affordability of digital technology and ease of image manipulation led to increasing mistrust the integrity of imagery
  2. A major advantage of digital technology for photojournalists was the ability to transmit their picture almost instantaneously . After the initial layout it was less costly than using film and processing + the equipment was less bulky. Hence digital technology was welcomed by professional photojournalists.
  3. Those criticising digital images for lacking sufficient image quality to rival film were countered by those suggesting this limitation seldom mattered on the web , where the lower resolution was serviceable for small images on computer screens ‘ (p.p 187)
  4. Photojournalism was in crisis rivalled by ‘the immediacy of television news ‘ (p.p 187) ‘ the market for ‘serious photographers’ , it seemed to many commentators , was being decisively undercut by television infotainment across a plethora of new cable and satellite channels , widely perceived to be responsible for creating a public obsession with trivial matters of celebrity tittle-tattle‘ (p.p 188)
  5.  Digital technology offered photojournalism the opportunity to challenge its supremacy.
  6. However the status of photojournalism was at a turning point in an era when a paparazzi shot of a celebrity or royal earned far more than those of war or famine. The paparazzi were not highly regarded by professional photographers. Following the death of Princess Diana ‘the conduct of news photographers of all descriptions was subjected to close scrutiny in the aftermath of the crash , with the paparazzi singled out for fierce public derision’ (p.p 188)
  7. Photojournalism was in flux brought about by technological growth and change
  8. Following the 9/11 attack within 10 minutes video recordings and imagery were on the web , ‘in the years to follow , the active participation of amateur photographers in the news-gathering process correspond to the growing ubiquity of cheaper , easier to handle digital cameras’ (p.p 189)
  9. Rather than photojournalists being sent to document unfolding events ‘ now it seemed ordinary citizens were often prepared , camera in hand , to bear witness themselves‘ (p.p 189).
  10. In the aftermath of the  2004 Asian tsunami ‘ news organisations found themselves in the awkward position of being largely dependant on amateur footage to tell the story of what was happening on the ground’ (p.p90)
  11. Citizen journalism was proclaimed by one newspaper ‘to be yet another startling upheaval , if not an outright revolution , being ushered in by digital technologies‘ (p.p 190)
  12. 2005 saw a notable rise in citizen journalism with witnesses on the spot when atrocities such as the London bombings in July erupted around them. ‘Mobile phones had captured the scene of fellow commuters trapped underground ……….video clips were judged to be all the more compelling because they were dim , grainy and shaky, and-even more important-because they were documenting an angle on an event as it was unfolding‘ (p.p191)
  13. Nick Danziger a photojournalist amongst others raised his concerns about the ethics and integrity of citizen journalism whilst ‘elsewhere in the press , more accommodating views were rehearsed , some employing a discourse of partnership, albeit cautiously so’ (p.p 191)
  14. This caution was necessary in order to ensure the truthfulness of UGC ‘even when aware that checking veracity offered no absolute guarantees where safeguarding against duplicity , let alone hoaxes , was concerned‘ (p.p 191)
  15. The professionalism of photojournalists’ reportage was being challenged by amateur footage ‘journalism by the people for the people was heralded for its alternative framings , values and priorities; it was immediate , independent and unapologetically subjective‘ (p.p 192)
  16. Such footage was inexpensive and well received by the viewing public.
  17. However critics of citizen journalism remained uneasy ‘ news organisations , they warned , were at serious risk of losing credibility in their rush to embrace seemingly newsworthy material they could not always independently confirm or verify as accurate’ (p.p 193)
  18. Few citizen journalists were interested in financial recompense but were enough to cause consternation amongst professionals ‘that their livelihood was being put at risk‘ (p.p 193)
  19. Furthermore quality of imagery was not as important as content , the public wanted to see ‘ interesting , preferably sensational imagery’ (p.p 193) . Who took the footage was of little importance
  20. In 2008 images of the Mumbai attack were shared via the social network site Flickr by an amateur photographer whose images were praised by the Telegraph . An American tourist likewise shared images and reported the event on Twitter. ‘Social networking seemed to be casting nascent transitional features into ever sharper relief . The imperative to to be the first to bear witness , a defining lynchpin of professionalism , was being ceded to ordinary citizens engaged in accidental photojournalism by circulating camera phone footage in real time‘ (p.p 194) .
  21. At the G20 summit a police assault on a non-protester led to his death . The  assault was initially denied but consequently amateur video footage passed to the Guardian ‘documented the assault’ (p.p 195)
  22. Why do the general public have the urge to document events and is there a difference between them  and the professionaljournalist ? Certainly the professional will draw a distinction between themselves from this ‘who just happen to be nearby when a potential newsworthy incident happens’ (p.p 195) The professional journalist will have the necessary connections amateurs lack to share with an extensive audience , but due to the growth of digital technology and social media networks  etc this is increasingly easier and offers the public the opportunity to ‘turn to a news organisation‘ (p.p 195)
  23. The 2011 London Riots saw a collaboration as the rioting was captured on smartphones by both professional photojournalists and members of the public, much of which was shared on social media. Furthermore viewers watching the live streaming of events were able to communicate with those present. The large cameras held the press made them easy to spot targets who resorted to using their phones. ‘This rapid forging of impromptu points of connectivity between journalists and citizens enhanced the quality of news gathering to a remarkable extent’ (p.p 196)
  24.  Economic restraints ‘deem the resources vital for photojournalism to be a luxury ‘ (p.p 197) and ethical conduct is considered by some to be in danger.
  25. The parameters of journalism are in flux but ‘citizen journalism’s alternative ethos poses challenges while holding the prospects of solutions forged on the basis of collaborative relationships imagined anew‘ (p.p 198)
Read Jose Navarro’s blog criticising the BBC’s use of images of the 2012 Denver cinema shootings 
  1. Jose questions why the BBC felt the necessity to publish unverified poor quality smartphone video footage.
  2. Watching the footage made him feel unwillingly involved with the unknown person who chose to shoot the video.
  3. He questions the morality of recording the distress of others and wonders why they felt the need to do so and publicly share.
  4. He felt affronted enough to write the blog post criticising the BBC’s decision
  5. He admits he felt ‘compelled’ to watch it , does that make him complicit? I’ve viewed the footage telling myself it was for study purposes but like Jose  felt compelled to.
  6. Why do we feel the need to watch unsavoury footage ?
  7. Digital communication and citizen journalism has enabled immediate broadcasting of atrocities and disasters as they unfold  . Has our culture of access to 24/7 information led to the dumbing down of what are considered  newsworthy events , no matter how irrelevant or mundane, led to institutions such as the BBC broadcasting unpalatable events that sensationalise them?
Read essay on the 7/7 bombings and citizen journalism  
Camera Phone Images : How the London bombings in 2005 shaped the form of news
 www.gnovisjournal online 13/5/2009
  1. Mobile phone footage was shared by survivors via social networking when professional photojournalists were unable to access the disaster areas.
  2. Images were shared online and printed.
  3. The use of UGC prompted a watershed in news reportage
  4. Changing social standards , mobile phone ownership and the internet have turned traditional news reportage upside down.
  5. Atrocity victims are no longer complaisant but involved contributors of news events .
  6. A mobile phone image by survivor Alexander Chadwick was printed and shared worldwide on the Web. Rather than considered amateurish it was felt to be an accurate depiction of what it was like to be in the midst of the event.
  7. UCG and mobile phone images are now used on a daily basis
  8. News reportage is experiencing an evolution , technological change has altered for ever how news is disseminated.
  9. Why and what compelled Chadwick to take & share footage whilst he was trapped in the subway ? Why did he feel the need to document and share such a momentous experience when there was no guarantee his and others footage would be seen ?
  10. Because of changing social norms the use of mobile phones in our daily existence is perfectly acceptable and online platforms allow those caught up in disasters to be both ‘survivor and citizen journalist’
  11. The atrocity was shared visually worldwide
  12. Due to the proliferation of mobile phone owners who document events as they unfurl in real time the livelihood of the professional journalist is felt to be under threat.
  13. The need for connection is a basic human instinct , citizen journalists and digital technology enables this.
  14. Mobile phone technology has enabled connection via images on a mass scale.
  15. Critics of citizen journalism state much of what is communicated is gratuitous.
References / Bibliography
Accessed 4/8/17
Accessed 4/8/17

Mat Collishaw : Thresholds

Thresholds is a travelling exhibition using the latest digital technology that enables the visitor to ‘virtually’ visit William Fox Talbot’s photographic exhibition in 1839 at King Edward’s School, Birmingham. Collishaw believes virtual reality technology is “going to have a similar impact on art as photography did , which is why I’ve chose this specific moment to explore through VR. That show changed how we viewed images for ever and I think VR will bring about the same kind of shift” ( online)

I went to the exhibition on Sunday with my eldest daughter , if you get the chance to go it is well worth a visit and a really unique experience. My daughter , who is a teacher , was enthralled by it and felt this is the way forward for museums to exhibit precious collections. The building we ‘visited’ no longer exists and Fox Talbot’s original prints have either faded or are too fragile to be on public display.

Once we were fitted with our virtual reality headsets , goggles and backpacks we were led up a ramp over the ‘threshold’ into 1839. I knew it didn’t really exist yet there it was before me ; utterly believable as the space changed from a plain white room to a building with windows , noise , a warm fire ,vitrines , art on the walls , and even mice running along the floor !

I was only able to ‘virtually’ pick up one photograph , I found it rather difficult to master the art of picking them up but you are able to enlarge and examine them closely , my daughter was more successful than me.

We were the only two visitors so we were able to spend longer than our allocated time looking around. The only downside was I felt rather sick and disorientated afterwards (rather how I feel on boats) which apparently is not an unusual reaction to the virtual reality experience.

References / Bibliography
Ellis-Peterson, H. “Mat Collishaw re-stages 1839 photography show in virtual reality”  14/4/2017 online
Accessed 2/8/17

Telling stories #1

There do exist photographs in which children , through facial attitude and body language , can appear startlingly defined , displaying young personalities
Robert Flynn Johnson  Being Human (p.p 20)

Telling stories …… a beginning.

I have just finished reading Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs and have started on the 2nd book Hollow City . Riggs uses found imagery that makes his characters utterly believable and come alive on the page; I am not planning to write a novel but am pondering how I might expand on this concept myself.

I know nothing about the children in my acquired CDV’s but each child is distinctly individual so I’ve given each a name that I feel suits them.

I have bought more photographs specifically to continue with my exploration of forging new identities and connections that didn’t originally exist using appropriated imagery.

The children will been re-born with characteristics of my choice and given an alternative reality I alone choose for them.

To be continued …..

References / Bibliography

Johnson , R.F. (2009) Being human .London :Thames & Hudson


As suggested by Russell I have been experimenting with different techniques and scanography is becoming a bit of a passion since I have started doing it. I enjoy photographing flowers but have found this method so effective that I haven’t picked up my camera for a few weeks .


Using a flatbed scanner to create digital artwork

My workflow:

– Place flowers on flat bed scanner using a piece of clear acetate beneath to protect the glass
– Cover with a piece of black velvet / leave the scanner lid up
– Scan & preview
– Save as a TIFF file @ 600dpi
– Import into Lightroom & process
– Possibly process further in Photoshop

The processing can be quite painstaking but I am enjoying that very much , the black background needs quite a lot of tidying up , removing flecks etc. I have printed a few of my finished images and framed them.

Some of my processed scanography images :


I use my Pinterest board below as a source of inspiration:

Some useful websites below :




I have had great fun creating these cyanotypes using Sunprint photosensitive paper.

I used my iPhone to photograph them .

I have bought a Fotospeed Cyanotype Process kit that contains digital contact film , chemicals etc but haven’t used it yet.

Fellow student Catherine has written two great blog posts —see links below —about cyanotypes that are really informative and well worth reading .