Documentary and Portrait Photography

Documentary and Portrait photography and its importance on social/cultural representation and change .

 Photography is a modern language through which I seek to find new ways to express knowledge , representation and communication . Langauge and photography , ( of which photography is its most recent and pure form ) , are both tools of immense power . To find new ways to wield it would be beneficial to the seeker . I have a desire and great empathy for my subjects , thus gaining personal satisfaction from showing deep layers of meaning and truth with an image to instigate social or personal transformation that promotes cultural refinement .

I representing the oppressed .

Our energies should be devoted to constructing photographic texts , which refer to other photographic texts or meta cultural texts at large . The medium as message is dead . Long live the message as medium . G Badger . The Pleasures of Good Photographs p 24 .

* Photography is a modern language and we should be concentrating our efforts on using it as a pure language which deciphers and leads to important cultural evaluation and linguistic transformation .

 Avedons influence on photography and myself has been his great artistic vision , personal message and the significance of portraying it symbolically which was more important than just subject representation . His ability to provoke reaction and make people ask questions is second to none . Avedons intent with the American west was to bring attention to the unusual class of people living in an unknown geographical isolation .


 Although it’s a dangerous line to tread , as documentary is set firmly in the realms of reality , I still love to mix it creatively with photography as an art form . A photograph as in language has power which is culturally universal with different meta linguistic awareness perceived as a document of truth and reality . The subject and the picture are not the same . there is an imperceptible layer that seperates itself from the actuality . The public believes that the photograph cannot lie .

 Artistic aesthetic is paramount to me as are numerous stratum of personal and culturally significant context . I have always looked for and sought to achieve in my work a perfect and visually pleasing sight that instills self satisfaction with a great latent symbolic meaning . Images have a great tendency and power for their meaning to be interpreted differently and change subjectively over time . I want my images to provoke all these feelings as they do in me whilst swaying peoples opinions now and in the future . Achieving your great previsualisation in a final image is extremely pleasurable .


  I believe a good photographer with a quick sharp photographers eye can create images containing artistic expressions of themselves , and document realistic representations of the world around them with a valid cultural message . Art and photography should not be thought of as living in separate categorys


 One of Barthes great influences in photography is his book Camera Lucida . Particularly guiding to me were his writings on punctum . “ The punctum “ is similar to a lightning bolt manifestation . As if you have been accidently jostled … and unknowingly pricked by a powerful personal force of realisation . The punctum has been especially important in portraiture and for me as a means of self discovery and true subject representation .


 If it doesn’t always make itself apparent then the viewer will and should almost certainly pursue it in the next image .


 Ask yourself what do I see ?

what do I know ?

what does it mean to me ?

Does it affect my life ?


 The distinctive interpretationally specific singularity of meaning in dialect and photographs is alive with many storys . Language is a powerful tool to be deciphered . There are numerous intertextual connotations that can be shaped by each viewer and this gives rise to the difference in looking and seeing .

  Bruce Gildens style and genre has been a great influence in my own practice . I like the way he accentuates the whole idea regarding the concept of the actual street genre in his shots by capturing the subjects awkwardness and apprehension . He has also intrigued many others with his up close and personal, in your face approach to his subjects .

  I enjoy the thrill you get from street photography and how you can get a more authentic reflection of life in real time as it happens . I push myself to approach who I am drawn to . The photograph is my trophy, my possession or maybe a personal reclamation .

 It also gives you an excuse to meet talk , explore and discover new people and ideas . I frequently diverge to the street as there is always a subject , it is always available to satisfy my cravings for photography and is thriving with the life that I seek to record .  I love the mysteriousness of photography and its function as a real artform . Its many great mediums and their different artistic expressions along with my personal belief of many undiscovered connections to greater ideas . My main love is within its powerful documentary roots and portraiture with its ability to promote change and send widespread or personally relevant messages over time with deep layers of symbolic meta language .


Lightroom Presets


Earlier in the year I showed you how to use Adobe Lightroom for processing raw files. (refer to session 3 for instruction manual). Lightroom is a powerful raw editing program that uses the same processing engine as Adobe Camera Raw, but with more features, a better user interface, and image development settings. It also has the same type of file organisation, and cataloguing features of Bridge.

Just remember, like most Adobe products, they do not work over a network, so you will have to log in as offline/offline in order to use it.

Reminder: Lightroom needs to create a file called the Catalogue. This does not store your actual files, but details about those files, and if you are using Lightroom for the first time, you will have to create a catalogue. This catalogue should be on a hard drive or large capacity memory stick, as it can eventually get to several GB in size. If you already have a catalogue on your hard drive from the last time we looked at Lightroom, open it.

Open a catalogue When you open a different catalog, Lightroom closes the current catalogue and relaunches.

1. Choose File > Open catalogue. 2. In the Open Catalogue dialog box, specify the catalogue file and then click Open. You can also choose a catalogue from the File > Open Recent menu. 3. If prompted, click Relaunch to close the current catalogue and relaunch Lightroom. You can also change General preferences to specify which catalogue opens when Lightroom starts.

If you have no catalogue, Lightroom will prompt you to create one. Create it on your hard drive or memory stick, not on a network location. When using college Macs, do not use the local hard drive in the Mac, or your catalogue will only be on that particular machine. This session will be mainly relying on demonstration rather than this hand out, but Session 3 contains the full instruction manual for Lightroom 5 and Lightroom CC. Familiarise yourself with Lightroom. It is an industry standard raw editing program, and while Capture One is still more widely used because of its more advanced tethered shooting ability, Lightroom is still widely used and available as a package from Adobe with Photoshop CC for £8.95 as a student.

Lightroom.. a quick reminder:

Library Module – This is where you would edit metadata, add keywords and most of the functions of Bridge’s “metadata” module. Develop Module – This is where you would make edit changes to your raw file; Exposure, wight balance, colour balance, sharpening etc. Map Module – This is where you would edit geo tagging data to place on a map should your camera support it. Book Module – Allows you to create books to upload to Blurb and other publishers. Print Module – Print settings are made here. However, you may wish to continue editing in Photoshop and print from there. Web Module – Allows preset web designs just like Bridge.

Lightroom Presets. One powerful feature of Lightroom and one that can help with consistency is the ability to create, load, an d save develop presets. These are small files that Lightroom uses to apply your favourite image settings to any photograph with a single click.



In the presets panel on the left, click the + symbol to create a new preset.

In the dialogue box that appears, give your new preset a name, and select what folder to place it in. (You can create a new folder – see further down this hand out). Auto Tone should not be used as images will not be consistent. Tick the parts of your process you want to be saved in your preset. Caution!! Graduated Filters, Radial Filters, Tranform settings should not be included, as these may be image specific. Click Create and your preset will be saved.

How to Install Your Lightroom Presets:

1. Go into Lightroom and click on Edit at the top (next to File) on a PC or Lightroom then Preferences on a Mac.

2. Go down to Preferences and click on it.

3. There will be a new screen that pulls up. There will be six tabs at the top, click on Presets (second tab).

4. Click on the box titled, Show Lightroom Presets Folder.

5. Double click on Lightroom.

6. Next double click on Develop Presets Folder.

7. Copy the contents of the Pretty Presets Folder, found in your download, into the “Develop Presets” folder.

8. You are done! If Lightroom was open when you copied the Pretty Presets, you will have to close it and restart it.

Right click the preset folder you wish to import the preset to, and select Import. Navigate to the location of the saved or downloaded presets you want to install.

Exporting a preset

Right click the preset you wish to save out, and select “Export” from the drop down menu. Why use presets? They achieve consistency in processing, because you’re applying the same processes to each image They can speed up the batch processing of images by applying the preset at import. You can apply presets when manually importing from the import screen…

Or, you can set Lightroom to automatically apply them if you have “Auto Import” set. Auto Import will import your images into Lightroom automatically when you insert a card or plug in a camera.

Crazy Kingdom

These are a few portraits from my new book Crazy Kingdom .


Death is a cultural disease .


Mans negative perceptions of his own mortality have caused us to greedily and selfishly consume our planets resources in search of the elixir of life .


The eyes that stare back at you are from indiviudals who are close to , have been close to or even met death itself .


Deathlessness , its for you to decide .

Roger P BW Colour

Place . Deathlessness .

My photographs are Immortal .

My photographs have Immortalised .

Can we not be a photograph ?

As death is a reality but its influence only lives in the realm of our subconscious , like a guarded room we choose to keep shut and which is hard to comprehend and as if in a dream . The door to this room for my subjects has been opened , one irreversibly so .

The associated totems I have chose to put in my module and all my current work to date are of a similair genesis . There are layers upon layers upon layers . Are you willing to go deep down to the basement . Can you even comprehend it ? Only certain ones will . The less relevant you are the more simple will be your discovery . The prize will be discovered by my suitably chosen subjects and time itself will or will not permit it . If the viewer wishes to search then he will find their reality both as informer and fantastical solution . If you cannot find them then maybe the viewer should ask . Ask me for death as it is a dream I will most willingly explain but only with my work !


What is a dream ?

Is it not death ?

The layer between life and death , our prerecorded lifeline set out as subliminal hints at something greater . If I can see it then so can my camera . Then So , can you ….. If you go beyond the surface then you may be able to picture death , or even smell it , a daring person could taste it , as I see it ( or can you ? ) even though you can’t in your own life it is looming somewhere in my work as in your life .

As well as documenting death I have tried to convey this specifically human condition in singular images . The way I myself perceive it in my minds eye . I have tried to bring it in every creative way possible .

Some of the images , although very hard to do , I purposefully deleted and destroyed  . The hardest of which one was of a close relative which I had more reason to keep than the others .



Do you feel loss ? As in death . A small grieving for what we love . One sense of our cultures phenomenologically created attitude towards death ?

The only reason I would keep death as it is would be for people are more creative when it’s close by ……..

But alas I will warm that briefly stressed ego as I did also make a copy as if it were a cryogenically frozen time capsule for someone to find maybe years if not decades from now .

Reincarnation ?

My work is like a backwards binary . A utopia arising from dystopia instigated by a secret but not lost , imagined world we all fear .

cropped-cropped-rs.jpgAs in death .

Claremont Street

Screen Shot 2016-02-28 at 19.23.29

Critical Report

 Claremont street .


Here we have a series of wetplate images where the author rowe has a central thesis where he is asking the viewer to contemplate anachronism

1 A thing belonging or appropriate to a period other than that in which it exists, especially a thing that is conspicuously old-fashioned

2 The action of attributing something to a period to which it does not belong:

and recurrence .

Historic recurrence, the repetition of similar events in history

Rowe has taken a series of images of modern day subjects set against an object which is a remnant from the past ( as an icon of time ? ) . They are combined and brought to the future , our present , via means of the wetplate medium .

This meaning I gleaned by virtue of , and concluded through the subjects in these portraits , the way they are dressed , their attitudes and the objects that accompany them does not match the importantly significant timeworn survivor that is recurring and concurrent  in each image . The old lamp accompanied by the medium gives a quality and aura of strangeness or is that just the familiarity/defamiliarity of wetplate ? Although quite vague at first it does “ In time “ give me insight into a contrast between two different eras . This is provided by the juxtapositions of time through the medium and the recurring focal point of the modern people against this vintage lampost that has survived from a past to this present , within the areas geographically relevant history .

Rowe attempts to use logic and reason in a manner , that once deduced he hopes may sway opinions . By bringing to our attention the need for change and a progression towards it by instilling emotions of anger about the said societal direction . I think the concept is great but something is lacking in its effort to clearly highlight his true intention of ideas regarding class and social failings in a democratic state , one that keeps the cogs turning , but only in favour of the socially elite with a repetitive price to be paid by the seventh class , or in our times summed up by the precariat , for the craving of a personally deemed fairer system .

He is attempting to portray his images as a metaphor to societys myth of its promise that everyone is rewarded fairly , equally and just , for their hard work . The carrot on a stick so to say . But it isn’t a promise that bears fruit it is always just a promise that keeps this system oiled and the fat cats fed and watered . So I feel that the author should include hints at a solution for the said predicaments in his work alongside his main creative artistic thesis . To stimulate change one needs to aggravate a cultures emotions regarding the authors proposition .

Whilst throughout history other things have seemed to evolve such as technology and structuralistic advancement . But only whilst supported by the basic premise of an administrated underclass doing most if not all the work in an everlasting circle of controlled manipulation , doomed to be repeated over and over again to support this evolution . Why and how would a different system work ? I would like to visualize this .

The author must feel the need to argue for these changes because his impression of society and the current system is that it feels broken … and he wants to fix it . With an instinct to help others… or maybe even himself having been let down and hindered by the organisation in control of his group and its dominating ideologys .

We have come to where we are and have already set aside these social systems in favour of the ones we have in play today . Im not saying that there isn’t a better way as there will be a million better ways but they might not necessarily make things better . But for people to yearn change shows a flaw in a structures identity , its character a rebel , or a desire to lead people into something better or even a hungry eagerness to change ourselves manifesting itself in a form of human salvation .

The almighty task of changing the very fabric of our societys existence may seem quixotic but our history is all to frequently scattered with revolution , so what better place to start than with a work of art .

The Birdman And His Nigger .

The line where a cultures inmates meet , dissect and change the landscape is sometimes hard to fathom .

Having lived on and around the Grange Park estate  in Blackpool all my life I have inside knowledge and find it easy to gain access to and approach the people . So I have started a new documentary project which involves Capturing the lives of some of these interesting characters , to gain an understanding of how and in what ways  an estates micro culture meets and influences their lives .

The portrait below is a face that anyone who lives on grange park would probably be very familiar with .  You would see the aptly named bird man out on his daily excursions around the estate with a huge falcon perched on his hand which he calls ” nigger ” and introduces the bird as ” His Nigger ” . He has a deep passion and interest for these gorgeous creatures which shows in his knowledge of them . He was educated until he was seven when he was dismissed for hitting his teacher over an argument as to whether the craters on the moon were volcanos or meteorites , his teacher thought they were volcanos .

The bird man has the very similar qualities and looks of a marvel supervillian from the x-men ( Are mutants evolved or crazy ^^ ) . He has served time in the french foreign legion and is very strongly politically opinionated with views that some people would not agree with ! He was definitely very interesting to talk to , having sacrificed goats for isis and possessing the uncanny ability of  knowing whats going to happen before it actually does ( Precognition ) .

I don’t know wether its because they have been through the mill with their life experiences and its toughened them up but I find these people more down to earth and less concerned with themselves , as are some of the people of today . Grange park wouldn’t be what it is without these fantastic colourful characters and interesting people and there is a lot to be learned from them .

I love finding out about these charismatic and engaging people . I enjoy knowing how and why people are what they are , what has made them become the person they are today ? To understand what makes them tick . We all have different lives and life experiences and we all have to cope with the hand thats dealt or THROWN at us . Every experience you have nurtures you into what you are today . A person with authentic character will definitely have the most interesting story’s to tell . But the real value is from the knowledge gained via critical analysis of this individual along with their distinct background and  conceiving new ideas from the very core of this essence . A great insight of our cultures failings or successes can be deduced and hopefully rectified from having a thorough and deep anthropological knowledge of its time-served inhabitants .



“ The Earths magnetosphere controls the cerebrospinal fluid in your brain “


” This is my Nigger ! “

Totally Wicked

The owner of the vape shop on Bloomfield road Blackpool .

InThevape shop.jpg