Friday, 24 February 2012


Sorry this has been moved try the Index

Section 4 - Research

Here's some ideas on the theme of your research...

Research (Also check out this newer link on research here)

Right from the very outset we will be advising you to look at contemporary and historical photographers primarily exploring their ideas and reasons for shooting their images in the manner that they do. We strongly advise that you do not use the Internet as your starting point, as this tends to produce superficial and weak research material. The advised approach that we'll introduce you to, is to use Photographic Journals such as the BJP, allocating a little time each week to look at the new issues of each of the magazines and getting ideas together and gradually building a knowledge bank of contemporary and historical photographers and their work.

Using this approach you would be introducing yourself to a very broad range of photographic approaches and establishing a far greater depth and understanding of photography's potential. You should make notes and photo-copy interesting images and articles and get to grips with the language used and the ideas and concepts that are explored through photography.

We cannot stress how important it is to use the resources in the library (Journals, magazines and books). By virtue of being published in hard copy, the information in the articles is written by professional editors, writers, reviewers, academics and other artists and therefore of a much higher calibre. The nature of the articles in the magazines, books and journals tends to be far more concise and to the point, addressing all of the necessary components of your own research.

Your research should be conducted in two forms... (1) Initial Research (2) On-going Research.

(1). The initial research under-pins the project and should be the element your work is based on and around. We suggest that you explore 3 artists that connect with your idea and as part of that process you would ideally make a decision about your idea quickly connected with one or more of the artists/photographers you research. This part of your research has to be done at the start of your project and this is the reason we advise you to be continually looking at contemporary art photography throughout the course and building up a knowledge bank of sources to which you can turn to and use in conjunction with your work.

Throughout the duration of the course you're expected to experiment with your images using experimental in camera and post production techniques to enhance the meaning behind your images. One of the more difficult aspects of this is, the fusing together of your concept and the experimental approach. In order to increase your chances of being able to unite the idea and the experimental approach is to have a very wide appreciation of photographers that use these approaches and their techniques and how they use them together. This knowledge will only be gained through studying and researching contemporary art photography (The journals in the library) and seeing how and why they do it.

When you're looking at artists associated with your theme/approach the key things you need to identify are...

  • What is their work about (Its meaning)
  • How is the meaning conveyed in their images
  • If they use experimental techniques/approaches within their - work how does this enhance the images
  • Who are they influenced by - show how/why
  • Is their work a part of a continuing tradition
  • Where and how are their images used
  • What influences you are going to draw from their work
Use one A4 'Key' image in full colour, as high quality as you can source. Annotate this image identifying the Visual Language used in the image. For each artist aim to write in excess of 300 words describing the above bullet pointed aspects. Add additional images (In colour) to illustrate any points that are important and use quotes from books and journals in addition to the 300 words.

Then compare and contrast the work of at least 2 of the artists that you research again looking to write another 300 words,
·         What is the idea/concept behind the artist/photographers work?

·         Read the articles and look at the images – what is the work about, see the list below describe how it links in with one of these or another and say why the artist or you think it’s important or interesting.

o   Self

o   Space/places

o   Time

o   Religion

o   Sex/gender

o   Society

o   Conflict/War

o   Family/Kinship

o   The mind/mental illness

o   Violence/crime

o   Disease

o   Politics

o   History

o   Nature/environment

o   Confusion

o   Escapism

·         What materials, techniques and processes are used and why?

·         How big is the work – scale and size, how might this affect the way that it’s perceived?

·         Over what period was the work made – is this relevant?

·         Where are these images seen and used – how are they used – what’s their purpose?

·         Who or what is the work influenced by?

·         What’s been said about the work by art critics, curators, reviewers and other artists?

·         Is the meaning behind the work “Obvious”  or “Ambiguous”?

·         Have you been able to grasp the meaning behind the work – what do you think about it?

·         What have you taken from the research and applied to your own work (Idea/Concept or Practical/visual) elements?

 If you're struggling with ideas/concept based photography, have a look at this video as it may help... (
Photography as contemporary art)

Once you've made a start on the research and you've looked at some contemporary photographers and their work that has some link with your initial idea. You need to now outline a plan - what you're going to do next...

Contemporary Photographers

Proposal writing for Photography and art projects

Section 1 (Intro-proposal-outline)

Introduction – outline of your basic idea – keep it really basic and vague, if you know at this stage what it is you want to do as a final set of images – don’t mention this at this stage. For instance if you knew you wanted to something about dogs and you thought that perhaps you wanted to do a series of images of big bald men from Essex with their ‘mean’ looking dogs, playing around with the idea that people look like their dogs, e.g. hard man and hard dog. Don’t mention that at this early stage. So in this instance you might say something like…

“I’m going to explore the relationships we have animals, I’m going to explore domestic animals(Pets) and also look at people that work with animals – farmers, dog handlers etc.

Then expand on that with more details as in a proposal, mention the fact that you’re going to try experimental approaches (suggest some that you might try) and the idea will be developed over a series of shoots working with the idea. Then at the end say that you’re going to produce some research and analyse the images and the way that people work with animals in their projects/photography.
As a part of this process, you should also produce a spider diagram, exploring different ideas around how you might approach your theme.

Also mention that you're going to keep an open mind about the project and through the process of research the initial idea might develop into something very different.

Before you start researching...

When you start to put your research together. Think about what it is you need to glean from your research...

Concept/Idea/theme/lighting/poses/composition/use of colour/use of equipment/experimental techniques/mood/subject/reasons/perspectives/presentation and more.

This means, although you've already got the idea of shooting Dogs as your theme, if you're researching using journals, you may not have seen any dogs, but you may have come across a photographer that shoots horses or other animals and you may have noted that their use of light, or composition might be useful to you. This also can constitute good research - you could explore that photographer on the basis that you're looking specifically at him/her simply because of the use of light or the way that they compose their animal images.


Section 5 Context

Photography is in a constant state of flux, forever changing and developing. The things that drive these changes a far wider than the immediate and obvious. Within one of the UAL Level 3 courses the students have to look at the wider contexts that affect and drive photography and force the changes that we all see.

One of the biggest and most historic changes centred around the British photographer David Bailey. The things that came together to enable that change are the things that were happening in the wider context - things associated with...

Society, Politics, economics, sub-culture, art, class, war, attitude, education, media and more.

Watch this video (It's in two parts) and you'll start to see how the wider contexts affect change within photography...

Things that might have affected David Bailey’s and everyone’s lives prior to and throughout the 1960’s…
·         WWII The Bombing of the East End (Including Bailey’s own house forcing him to move to East Ham).
·         The fact that he suffered from Dyslexia and suffered at school and was rejected by the London School of Printing when applied for college.
·         Conscription into the RAF where he learned Photography.
·         Working with John French as an assistant.
Meanwhile in the USA – (The USA recovered from WWII far quicker than Britain).
·         1950’s economic boom.
·         Rock ‘n’ Roll – white musicians influenced by black blues musicians create the genre Rock ‘n’ Roll.
·         Buoyant economy = more cash, better education, more free-time, the teenager is born.
1950’s Britain -
·         Late 1950’s, Middle Class Kids at a Jewish school in North London who are into Modern Jazz and Italian styling and design adopt the name ‘Modernists’ and designate Lambretta’s and Vespa’s as their mode of transport. The name is soon shortened to ‘Mods’. Their choice of music was music from the west coast of the USA and Jamaica – Blues, Soul, SKA. The mods shared the same feelings as the African Americans – repression; they wanted similar things – self-determination, freedom to do what they wanted to do, their way.
·         1961 – The wide spread introduction of the contraception pill giving women choices and freedom with regards to their own sexuality.
·         1960’s economic boom in the wake of the USA’s economic boom, meaning that young people had money to spend, were able to move jobs and for the first time ever make decisions about what they did, where they went and what they wore.
·         Harold Wilson (Labour) wins the general election.
·         By 1963 the Mods phenomenon is hijacked by the media and every kid in the country becomes a ‘Mod’, with the exception of the backward looking Rockers and Teds.
·         1964 – Easter Bank Holiday riots at Clacton on Sea -  “Mods and Rockers”.

Visual Language in Photography

Visual Language in Photography

Visual language in photography relates to visual elements contained withing an image that we're able to read and make sense of that communicate ideas and meaning. 

Your introduction to Visual language will usually include the use of an image of Kylie Minogue shot by Derek Ridgers, in the session we deconstruct the image, analysing it, using the list below. Through this process we arrive at a series of deductions that allow us to speculate as to why the images exists, what it's purpose is, how it was shot, why it was shot in that way, what equipment was used, whether the image is natural or constructed, who the audience is, how the image communicates to that audience specifically and a whole raft of other aspects that give us a far greater understanding of what photography is and how it communicates.

Through this deconstruction/analysis process, we can see what visual langauge tools the photographer uses and bit by bit, we come to understand that images that seem to have just been 'taken' are in fact carefully constructed and designed in order to maximise their impact on the audience.

Another set of images that we look at are Thomas Ruff's deadpan portraits. We discuss the difference between the portrait of Kylie and Ruffs portraits in terms of the images being subjective or objective.

Within your work you will need to show that you've analysed two or more of your key research images. The suggestion is that you produce 2 high quality images in conjunction with your research and print these off A4 in size and in full colour. These images should be annotated using some of the prompts listed here below showing that you understand how images are constructed. In addition to the annotations that accompany the A4 images, there should also be an in-depth written component as part of your research that uses additional images (Smaller) where you attempt to analyse the images fully using as may of the prompts below discussing why these elements are used and how they could be used and incorporated into your own work.

• Subjective/Objective?
• Flat or contrasty - tonality
• Mono-chromatic, colour contrast or discord
• Composition - line - rule of thirds
• Format - Landscape/Portrait
• Texture • Light
• Mood • Location - scene -set
• Background
• Use - documentary; social; fashion; landscape; portrait, advert, art, editorial
• Production values - size, format, quality
• People -persons - who, what, when, why, how
• Expression/body language
• Involvement
• Meaning - message - semiotics
• Constructed/reality
• Purpose
• Target market and audience
• Props
• Socio-economic factors/Class
• Western or Non Western - cultural values
• Sexism, rascism, patriarchy
• Educational or commercial
• Art bias - expressionist, impressionist, abstract, minimalist
• Inspired by and following in the tradition of
* What if the image was colour/B&W?

An additional method of deconstructing the images and making sense of them can be found here.  This is a 13 point questioning approach that uses a system based on one used at the Tate Modern.

Section 7 - Presentation


Your work on our courses need to be produced in two forms.

(1). The written content needs to be produced in a blogger blog. We strongly advise that the work is written up using the Gibbs reflective Model headings and accompanied by images and contact sheets showing your development and progress as per the assignment requirements.

(2). Final images and hard-copy work - Copies of your research material, along with anything that cannot go on the blog will need to be kept in an A3 display folder (Approx £4- £5 each.

With regards to presentation we recommend that your work is produced using A3 display folders depending on how much practical work you do you'll generally need 4 or five of these across each year covering 2 units. If you shop around you can buy these for around £4.00 each.

The advantage of using them is that you're able to move the work around and edit the work and they're considerably lighter, cheaper and more managable than the traditional artists sketchbooks.

  • Make sure that you have 2 of these to start the course, one for on-going general work and the other will be for your A3 finals portfolio for each of the projects you undertake.
  • Make sure you clearly have your name on the front of the book with contact details (E.g course name and the colleges address and your tutors name. If you lose the work, the examining bodies offer very little in the way of sympathy and in most case you would need to re-do all of the work.
  • Make sure you number the pages on the plastic sleeves using an OHP pen - dsicreetly in the top RH corner.


As part of the enrolling and pre-enrollment activities you would have been required to produce a Photo-book which can cost as little as £10.00. Once you've experienced the process, you should seriously consider producing a similar or more advanced better quality version for the final presentation of your work alongside the production of the A3 folio.

As you go through the course and produce your final images for each of projects you'll be expected to scan any hard copy image "Finals" and produce A3 digital versions for inclusion in the A3 finals portfolio, make sure you keep these digital files as these will be needed to produce the Photo-book at the end of the course.

The Photo-book along with your A3 finals portfolio will demonstrate that you are very aware of the importance of presentation of your images and will be a superb approach to presenting your work when it comes to progressing onto either a HE course (Uni) or seeking work within industry.
Further guidance will be given during the pre-course events and once you're enrolled and on the course.

Plagiarism Any work that appears to be cut and pasted we check to see if you've plagiarised the work of others and if you had this will lead to disciplinary action and potentially removal from the course.

At the end of the course you should have...

An A3 folder with a good selection of final images from all of your projects. If you do this as you go along you'll slowly build a folio, putting you in good position once you start to get request to have interviews for Uni or work.

For a very good service that's cheap have a look at...

The examples of our current students work produced through this lab are increadibly good quality and very reasonable with regards to the price. 18" x 12" glossy or matt prints are currently £1.20 (Jan 2014). So well worth a look if you're serious about your A-Level photography.

Section 8 - Refining

Refining is one of LO's (Learning outcomes) that you're assessed by, so it's essential that you demonstrate that your work goes through a process of refining.

"Refining" as a part of an Art/Photography process.

It is not enough to be happy with your first results. All of the work you will be producing will look to combine the (1). Theme, (2).Image content and (3). Technique to produce a final product that fuses these elements coherently in an appropriate way. These three elements might be explored as seperate entities initially, but as the work is improved and combined, you will go through ever-improving stages - this process is the refining process. You need to identify that you're doing it and it needs to yield good quality coherent final results.

One suggestion that we would suggest is that where you are refining the work - you head the page boldly...


Schemes of work for UAL Certificate in Photography 60009 - 15th Sept - 29th Sept

Schemes of work for UAL Certificate in Photography 60009 - 6th Oct - 27th Oct

Schemes of work for UAL Certificate in Photography 60009 - 3rd Nov - 24th Nov

Week 9
In week nine we'll discuss the analogue camera that you've been using and how it differs from your camera. Things that you could pick up on are the different skill sets required to use this camera in a very basic way. There is a belief that the traditional users of analogue cameras for instance can instantly use a DSLR camera, whereas the other way round that's not necessarily so? What's your opinion - base it on your experiences and describe why?
Find and use an image and discuss analogue systems
Think also about the cost implications - how may shots can you get on a roll of film, the cost and skills involved in producing a basic print.
Think too about the chemicals and the industrial processes involved in making film, distributing it, processing it and getting rid of the waster chemical - fixer in particular.
Look at this quote here - why do you think this has happened - how does this connect to the cameras characteristics?
Week 10.
The key things you need to do are look up your own camera on a website such as and look at the reviews and get a sense of what your cameras capabilities are. In your work describe your digital camera in terms of how it differs from the analogue camera that you've been using recently. How easy are they to use in comparison with each other, what makes them easy to use.
Think about the two different ways the images are shot - how do they differ? How does this affect the way you approach your photography?
This will be discussed in class, you need to be ready to make notes and pick up on key points.
Off-site task.
This will help identify another of the assessment criteria, where you need to discuss the print outcomes (images) in terms of the use of both systems.
Select one of your own digital images - preferably a portrait as that the theme you're working with. Take the same image file on a SD Card, USB key or similar and have it printed at 4 different retail outlets that print digital images.
Stick these in your folder/book and look at whether they differ in anyway - quality, cropping, colour etc. How did the processes of getting the print from the capture method (Digital v Film) differ from each other, which one requires the greater skill set, investment in time or in depth learning? Also discuss economic factors, storage, filing, archiving etc.
2.2 Identify camera characteristics in relation to a range of image outcomes

Using your black and white prints made in the darkroom, identify how these images and the way they are made differs in comparison with the production of images made via digital processes.

What's involved in producing your black and white print made in the darkroom? Describe it in terms of the whole process... skills, learning and knowledge.

* Buying and making decisions about the capture methods
Film - Question - how much of this info is relevant to the layman if using the film and does this one film fit all situations and cameras?
SD Cards - Question - how much of this info is relevant to the layman or is it as simple as buying an SD card and just getting on with it.

Can you simply go out and buy any film, what needs to be considered?

Schemes of work for UAL Certificate in Photography 60009 - 1st Dec - 23rd Dec

Schemes of work for UAL Certificate in Photography 60009 - 30th Dec - 19th Jan

Schemes of work for UAL Certificate in Photography 60009 - 26th Jan - 16th Feb

Schemes of work for UAL Certificate in Photography 60009 - 23rd Feb - 16th Mar

Schemes of work for UAL Certificate in Photography 60009 - 23rd Mar - 13th Apr

Schemes of work for UAL Certificate in Photography 60009 - 20th Apr - 11th May

Schemes of work for UAL Certificate in Photography 60009 - 18th May - 5th June

The last two weeks will be mop ups and assessment.