New Project: Manipulated

I have been thinking about this project for some time and although it ties in very much with what I’m doing for OCA Digital Image & Culture coursework, it is separate. It may inform some of the exercises and assignments and might in time fit nicely with something specific in the module. But for now it I will keep it contained here on this blog which exists outside of the OCA framework.

The title is Manipulated and it is an ongoing performative piece. It is improvised and lives on Instagram. The ‘cast’ consists of:

  • A book published in 1937 called My Leica and I, Leica Amateurs show their Pictures by Photokino.Verlag Hellmut Elsner K.G in Berlin, Germany.
  • Any historical information I can access via my smartphone from 1937
  • My smartphone and the digital apps which live on it
  • Events from 2018 (the year in which I am making it)

The process, in the spirit of Wiliam Kentridge, is a metaphor, including the format it lives on – Instagram, and that metaphor is an integral part of the work. If I were to contextualize it for an OCA assignment I would refer a great deal, amongst other texts, to The Rhetoric of JPEG by Daniel Palmer. (The Photographic Image and Digital Culture, Second Edition, Routledge, 2012)

I aim to keep going until it feels like I have done all I can with the book material. I like that it is separate from my own IG account for a variety of reasons. I may write some more about this later but for now, I think I have said everything that is necessary.


Prison: useful article by Sophie Ellis, 2018

“The state of prisons in England and Wales is dangerous and deeply concerning. According to the government’s own figures, assaults rose from 9,440 in 2000 to 28,165 in 2017 – an average of 77 per day. Self-harm levels are the highest ever recorded. A report by HM Inspectorate of Prisons in 2017 showed that living conditions are filthy. Prisoners lack basic sanitary supplies. The daily food budget per prisoner is £2.02.”

Ending with

“Improving prisoner welfare is not a case of being “soft”, or doing an injustice to victims. It is a pragmatic decision. It is an investment in the safety of our friends and families, by reducing repeat offending and preventing further victimisation. Currently the repeat offending rate stands at 49% for adults released from custody in England and Wales. In Norway – famed for its relatively safe and decent prisons – it is 20%. The director of Halden Prison in Norway neatly sums up the pragmatism of investing in prisons: “Do you want people who are angry – or people who are rehabilitated?”

The approach to imprisonment in England and Wales has to change. And it will not change unless the public become sufficiently outraged to demand that the government take real action. That outrage will not happen until there is a more rounded public understanding of those who are housed inside our prisons. When the public brings their voices to bear on prison reform, ministers will have to listen.”

Video: Calais & Dunkirk Video

After doing a four-day course with Photofusion last year I made this short promotional video for Just Shelter – I was grateful to have the opportunity as it helps to have something real to use for content. I chose not to include music because I could not get my head around the manipulative way it is used and I HATE cheesy music over real things. It really cheapens actual situations and patronises everybody from subjects to viewers. I have since noticed where music has been used effectively and will continue to keep looking for examples.

Calais/Dunkirk: Thoughts

Along with the ideas which I posted yesterday I think I need to also think about the way I keep this work public. It’s now over two years’ of work, having started in December 2015,  and continuing, and there needs to be more context, images grouped into time periods plus links to the blog posts I write as well as any other developments currently in planning/early implementation stage.



Children’s workshop with Wildchild

I was pleased and flattered to be asked to run a children’s workshop for a local group called Wildchild, whose main remit is about giving city children an opportunity to experience planting, getting dirty, and appreciating the outdoors. Although it is usually run on land that the parent group Paradise Co-op manage, the workshop was held in a church which has recently opened a community cafe run by a friend of mine who I met through Just Shelter due to the cold weather. We had access to the garden and the church.

It was lots of fun and the children really seemed to enjoy the workshop very much. They have taken some wonderful photographs which Wildchild will share privately with parents and the group, I was very glad to have inspired them. They were incredibly welcoming and interested in what I do and why.

Here is the outline of the workshop:

Wild Child Photography Workshop Plan – Tuesday 6th February 2018


Main Aims; to introduce the idea of photography being a language and a medium that encourages us to look and see the world around us. 

  • Who I am – local photographer working as a photographer and studying to be an artist who uses cameras and images in own work (briefly discuss difference)
  • Introduce children to the idea that photography is a language everyone can and does use to express themselves, and in particular connection with Wild Child to observe nature
  • Ask children to tell me if they can tell me think of different ways photography can be used, where they see photographic images in their world, how they see photographs being used, what they think of photographs if at all
  • A very brief introduction to some technicalities – low light, the quality of light, using shutter speeds, how aperture can affect the picture – working in auto of P (I don’t think any more manual controls are worth going into in this session) (I decided not to cover this at all on the day)
  • Finally, discuss how photography is about seeing – how it encourages you to take a closer look at the world around you


Choose from one of the following activities: (They may spend the whole time doing one exercise or if they have time they might do more. We may need to spend some time talking to the children about the various options and giving them some ideas, examples, etc.)

  • Make a photographic documentary about Wild Child and the Paradise Co-op land where most of the sessions take place. Think about how you will present the documentary – slide show, text or speaker, what you want to say in the documentary.
  • Create an abstract art project based around nature in the Paradise Co-op plot. Again, you can suggest how you see the images might be presented, who will your audience be, and think about the point of the project.
  • Create a false narrative (a story which you will try to pretend is the truth) using images to convince your audience you are somewhere other than Wandsworth using images and words. i.e. You may photograph yourselves in the woods and claim it is somewhere in Bavaria for instance… how convincing can you make your presentation and where will you show these images, along with your made up story?

The final exercise was chosen by two groups as far as I know. One group turned the church into a prison using cropping and judicious choice of space. Another set theirs in Mexico. The light beating down on the red bricks of the church at the end of the day was perfect! (I think they were also superheroes and seemed to have zombies in the mix too ….)