Category Archives: Learning Log

Daniel Meadows – Digital Stories

I have looked at Daniel Meadows work before – see Daniel Meadows – however had not come across his digital stories. Meadows has produced three short videos based on pictures from his family albums which he describes as ‘First-person scripted stories about the families I come from. Pictures and voice-over, told with feeling’ (Meadows, s.d.). In each he shows images with voice over to tell the story. They are short, funny, and engaging.

Polyfoto uses polyfotos (48 small square images in sepia) of his mother and father, to enable him to tell how his parents met, and his mother’s illness.  Scissors was made as a training video to show what could be done with pictures, transitions, and crossovers. The voiceover is accompanied by subtitles. The story leaves you wondering what happened. Young Shavers tells about his grandfather. The words of Meadows are played against a background of someone singing. The images bounce in and out.  New (or at least newer) images of Meadows as a child overlaid on images from his grandmother’s photo albums of her time in India in the Raj.

All three videos use different techniques for using archival family images to tell a short story.  I wish I had seen them before I made one. However, they will be useful for further exploration of video making and for adding in the personalising beginning and end of mine.


Meadows, D. (s.d.) Digital Stories on Vimeo. At: (Accessed 10/09/2020).

Jim Goldberg – Gene

In Gene Goldberg tells the story of an elderly man who has gone into an assisted living facility. The book includes many of Gene’s old family photos, often surrounded by handwritten comments. The pictures were selected by Gene together with Goldberg and Nolan Calish, and one of the images simply shows piles of images marked GENE’S REJECTS and JIM + NOLAN’S REJECTS.  I immediately start wondering what is in those piles, and what is not being shown. The book goes on to show Gene as he is now, at his chair in the home. The calendar that shows the events he might (or might not) attend. Pictures of Gene with headphones – listening to I music – I wonder what. Goldberg says, ‘He goes somewhere else when he listens to music – a luminal state that knows no age and is timeless’(Goldberg, 2018) . The images that I can see online are limited.  They make me want to see more – but most of all, I want to see those hidden images in the rejects pile. See the rest of the story.

© Jim Goldberg – from Gene


Goldberg (2018) Jim Goldberg’s New Book is a Tender Portrait of Old Age • Magnum Photos. At: (Accessed 09/09/2020).

Catherine Panebianco

Courtesy of the artist – from the series No Memory is Ever Alone – © Catherine Panebianco

Catherine Panebianco is a visual artist who uses her images to show memories and dreams. Connecting the present and the past. Looking at memory and grief. Searching for herself.

Catherine Panebianco’s latest series No Memory Is Ever Alone consists of reusing a series of slides taken by her father and putting them against her current environment to ‘create …not only a connection between his life and mine, but a trail of memories’ (Panebianco, s.d.). She did this by carefully exploring her own environment, her own place, and finding locations that matched her father’s slides. She says, ‘I placed my dad’s slides in my current environment (my house, yard, city). I wanted the past memory placed inside a current memory. So no, I did not go back to the original place. I looked for backgrounds that would seamless blend as much as possible in my current environment with the slide’ (Panebianco, 2020) (personal communication). The present images show her hand, holding the old slide against a new background. The matches are subtle, accurate to the point I cross checked with her to see if she had returned to the original setting.  The images are vibrant, the colours match those of the old Kodachrome slides, everything is hyper real. Her previous work Benny was a Good Boy tells of her memories of her dog and her sorrow in losing him. These images are shown as diptychs, an image of her (or a shadow of her) against one of Benny.  She says ‘I found that you never really lose something, you always have the memories’. In this series the black and white images are hazy, full of grain, echoing loss, grief, and memory.  Other work – The Whole Body of Things explores her search for a sense of belonging, an emotional home.

Courtesy of the artist – from the series Benny was a Good Dog – © Catherine Panebianco


Panebianco, C. (2020) No Memory is ever alone. [30/08/2020].

Panebianco, C. (s.d.) catherine panebianco. At: (Accessed 09/09/2020).

Alexia Webster – Tracing Lives

Alexia Webster is a South African photographer who usually specialises in documentary images, telling the stories of communities and families through portraits of the people. During lockdown she found herself, not at her own home in New York but in Johannesburg, her childhood home. She talks about this time in a fascinating article for the Guardian saying, ‘Suddenly I was forced to sit still. I felt a familiar unsettledness, similar to the anxious uncertainty of my early childhood growing up during apartheid’ (Webster, 2020). So she spent the time interviewing her parents about their early lives and searching though ‘giant, chaotic, dusty piles of family photos’. Out of that she has made a work Tracing Lives which she describes as ‘an incomplete portrait of my parents…. a small glimpse into the quiet violences and small triumphs of life’. This series includes early images from portrait studios of her parents and grandparents, her story of her parents’ early lives, and images where she has overlaid old images to give a ghost like effect. It ends with a looped video of two people, I presume her parents, dancing, fading in and out – just as their memories do.

The article and the images are fascinating, both as a different way of using old family images and for the story she tells. It tells about apartheid. About family traumas.  About moments of joy. It is well worth reading.


Webster, A. (2020) ‘Tracing lives: a visual response to coronavirus’ In: The Guardian 26/06/2020 At: (Accessed 30/08/2020).

Assessment – Learning outcome 3

LO 3 is about developing a critical understanding of contemporary practice and its place in relativity to the historical use of photography.

In IAP there are a lot of new concepts and ideas. These all needed to be researched. Some examples of this research are:

  1. Research about essays that introduce the concepts:
    1. Bates – The Memory of Photography – talks about the use of archives, the way photographs effect our memory of things and the way the present plethora of digital images alter the way family memories are held.
  2. Research of a range of photographers who worked on a particular topic:
    1. Journeys – 1 and Journeys – 2 – between them they show the work of photographers who have taken journeys, from the very earliest Victorian photographers to the most recent.
  3. Research specifically for an assignment:
    1. In Research for Assignment 3 I looked at the ways you can present a story and several different photographers, attempting to pull out what made their work successful.
  4. Research on a specific photographer:
    1. Laura Letinsky
    2. Deborah Orloff

Assessment – Learning outcome 1

This learning outcome is about technical achievement and its application to a piece of work.

The most difficult assignment I did in terms of meeting  challenges was Assignment 4.

In assignment 4 I met several challenges:

  • I had to persuade family and close friends to give me words that described my mother’s without simply retreating to ‘she was a lovely person’
  • I then had to sort these words into themes without letting too much personal overlay change what was meant (see Assignment 4 – First images for details of this process).
  • I had to find appropriate pictures of my mother that fitted part of her life and matched with the themes that came out of the words
  • I had to set up small still life setups for each of the pictures
  • These then needed to be photographed
    • Sun and shadows effected the image
    • I learnt to remove the glass to avoid undue reflections
    • Focus need to be precise to point up the still life and throw the background out of focus
  • The titles needed to be appropriate (and in this case minimal).

Technical and development skills needed were:

  • Developing the process and ideas
  • Researching archival images and using a found image of my grandmother to focus my practice in a specific direction having initially considered several ways of developing this idea (see Assignment 4 – Initial Thoughts).
  • Setting up the still life images, choosing pictures and frames together with items that enhanced them rather than overrode them
  • Getting good final images
  • Making appropriate choices about final choice of images, colour versus black and white, backgrounds identical, similar or very different (I went with similar).

I was pleased with the final outcome as I felt that it had extended my thinking about photography and in using research to help me develop ideas. I also had to experiment technically to fulfil my ideas and get images that told the story I was wanting to tell.

Martina Lindqvist

Martina Lindqvist series Neighbours consists of isolated houses on a background of snow and ice. There are no people or other dwelling places in sight and the houses almost look like toys. The title contradicts the images. Loneliness seems absolute. In a her artists statement  Lindqvist says ‘The discrepancy between ‘objective reality’ and subjective experience has, for as long as I can remember , been at the forefront of my work…..It is in this vein, of attempting to make visible that which is not really there, that I approach my photography’ (Martina Lindqvist, 2017). These images of desolate houses, failed attempts to settle as people move towards the towns and away from the countryside are both beautiful and terrifying. This is what can happen to a place that loses its meaning.

Untitled #7, from Neighbours, 2014
From Neighbours © Martina Lindqvist

Lindqvist has also produced Murmurs, a series of vanitas pieces that show dying flowers against a background of her grandmother’s wallpaper.  Her grandmother was a proud person, ‘keeping up appearances’ but when the images were taken was suffering from Alzheimer’s and could not remember her past.  The reflect on the coming of death, and what is – or is not- important at that time.

finland 010
from Murmurs © Martina Lindqvist

A third series A Thousand Little Suns also shows houses and buildings (possibly farms) that as set alone in the fields. This time they are shown at night, lit eerily. The source of the light is difficult to fathom. Are these ‘real ‘images? How has she made them? Are they an illusion?

Overall, her images riff on the frailty of life. The isolation of being old and deserted. Were these buildings ever a warm and loving home? What happened? What went wrong?


Martina Lindqvist (2017) At: (Accessed 13/08/2020).

David Spero

In Settlements (Spero, 2017) Spero takes pictures of some of Britains more unusual homes. Home made homes. Huts with canvas roofs. Communal areas. Informal insides and outsides. Gardens and vegetable patches. People living in groups and sharing equipment. These are people who have chosen to live outside the mainstream, with a minimal impact on the environment. There will inevitably be conflicts with authority, with planning and with people that simply do not approve of ‘off the grid’ living and self design.

Whatever you think of the chosen lifestyle the images show a thoughtful appreciation of the ethos of the people. Most of the images are from outside , taken, as noted in the OCA manual, with an eye for the privacy of the families but on his blog he also shows the insides of the houses, details of their lives (Returning from the Pub) and group images. It is a holistic look at their lives and makes for fascinating viewing (Spero, s.d.).

© David Spero

Spero has done another series Churches in which he shows images of churches, or rather religious dwellings where unusual settings have been utilised. For instance, the Christ Shalom Bible Centre in what looks like an old garage and the Truth of God Church in an old industrial building.

© David Spero

In both of these series Spero shows how people utilise what they have to allow them to live how they wish, not how the world expects them to live but what works for them. It is an unusual viewpoint and one well worth exploring. Too often we make assumptions about what is right, that is, what we do equals what everyone should also do. Showing alternative ways is a wake up. It undoubtedly helps that the images are fascinating and draw the eye – but that does not override the ethical import of these series. They tell about the people, whether or not the people are present.


Spero (s.d.) Settlements | David Spero. At: (Accessed 12/08/2020).

Spero, D. (2017) SETTLEMENTS. West Dorset: DAVID SPERO.

Larry Sultan

Larry Sultan (1946 – 2009) was an American photographer who is probably best known for his collaborative work with Mike Mandel which of which the most famous piece is Evidence.

in Evidence Mandel and Sultan collected a series of pictures that were available in the archives at police and fire departments, government bodies and engineering corporations and showed them as fine art pictures. They then collected them into a book, which at the time was extremely controversial, as they claimed authorship of these found pictures. Since then the use of found pictures has become well established either by working with personal or family archives or by finding pictures online and manipulating them.

Sultan says about this work ‘it was very controversial because we had claimed authorship. At that time the word appropriation hadn’t been used in an art context. It came out of a Duchampian strategy of the found object, in this case the found photograph.’ The pictures in Evidence are interesting, not necessarily the most beautiful images, in fact they frequently are not. However, I find at least one of them, which shows the corner of the room and boards in it, fascinating and I could stare at it for hours. Evidence was initially self published however has been reproduced fairly recently in a facsimile version with added essays (Sultan and Mandel, 2018)

Larry Sultan has done much other work. One of his major pieces of work was entitled Pictures from Home which included his words, his own pictures that he took of his family. and also found family memorabilia and snapshots. Sultan describes this work as in his statement about it as ‘What drives me to continue this work is difficult to name. It has more to do with love than with sociology, with being a subject in the drama rather than witness. And in the odd and jumbled process of working, everything shifts; the boundaries blur, my distance slips, the arrogance and illusion of immunity falters. I wake up in the night stunned and anguished’.

Dad with Gold Clubs, 2007 © Estate of Larry Sultan

The images he takes of his family are sometimes staged, sometimes snapshots. They are not necessarily beautiful in anyway, although some are. There is a picture of lawn sprinklers where the light shines through the water. They are everyday images, things that might happen with any family; his mom and dad having a conversation in the driveway with his dad leaning against the car, his  dad scratching his head while carrying a bunch of golf clubs, his dad’s desk scattered with the usual chaotic mess that most desks acquire. All interspersed with snapshots taken across time. He shows images that compare his dad at the same age as ones of himself and comments ‘I always looked younger than he did when he was my age. Perhaps people aged differently prior to the 1960s; can it be that the times we live in leave imprints on our faces and bodies?’

Sprinklers © Estate of Larry Sultan

Sultan went on to make several other series of works, for instance, The Valley in which he examines the way pornography and pornographic pictures are taken and how they fit into an apparently suburban lifestyle. Homeland was his last major piece of work in which he hired day labourers as actors in landscape photography. This produced some sublimely beautiful images of people working in the countryside. Showing again the ordinary things of life. About this piece of work, he says, ‘The suburban terrain – both literally and also in terms of being an American photographer thinking about the daily, the ordinary – is what I to go back to’.  One image from this group is simply entitled Creek, Santa Rosa 2007 shows somebody crouched at the edge of a creek with a bucket and some stones while another person wanders away in the background up towards houses. The light on this image is beautiful, it is a very peaceful image and it leaves me wondering what the men were doing with these buckets. Were they collecting water? Were they washing something? Were they trying to make a garden? Another image in the same series Corte Madera Marsh 2009 shows men wading through water against a background of mountains and tall grass. If you look at it very carefully one of the men is walking away into the grass which comes well above his head. Is it grass or are the trees? And does it matter? It is a very gentle picture and one I could look at for a considerable length of time.

Corte Madera Marsh, 2009 © Estate of Larry Sultan

I find the range of Sultans work fascinating. If, as he suggests he feels ‘alienated from where he lived’ he has managed to show the ordinary, the banal, and the magic of the part of America he lived in. A final quote, ‘Being a photographer allow me to be a witness, to participate in a way that felt right for my blend of being alienated’.

All quotes from the book Larry Sultan – Here and Home (Sultan et al., 2014)


Sultan, L. et al. (eds.) (2014) Larry Sultan: here and home. Los Angeles, California: Munich; London ; New York: Los Angeles County Museum of Art ; Delmonico Books, Prestel.

Sultan, L. and Mandel, M. (eds.) (2018) Evidence. New York: Distributed Art Publishers, Inc.




John Stezakar

John Stezakar makes photo collages using found work, pairing portraits, overlying postcards on images, cutting and pasting. He uses manipulation by hand rather than digital work. Altering and subverting the original pictures. An image of a man turns into a woman – or is it? Eyes are replaced by landscape. Is it what they see? Can you imagine the person behind the mask? Much of his work is based on old film stills and advertising photographs. A story turned into another story. What does his work say about the truth in photography? I find the images fascinating. Some are beautiful others disturbing. Modern Surrealism.

© John Stezaker

In 2012 he received the Deutsche Börse Photography Prize for a collection of his photo collages (John Stezaker, s.d.). His work uses old images, not his own. Does this make him any less a photographer? Which opens the question of what is a photographer? Do you have to take the images yourself – or can you utilise those of others? For the ultimate answer to this one can only look at the work of Sultan and Mandel in Evidence,  reprinted as a facsimile cope in 2018 (Sultan and Mandel, 2018). It has been described as ‘one of the most influential photobooks of the last 50 years. If you are using other’s images are you rather a curator? –but again is a curator someone who keeps, rather than someone who uses? This work falls between, or overlaps, both these descriptions. Does it matter? The images make you (or at least made me) think.

A recent exhibition of his work was held in London at The Approach and the catalogue (Stezaker et al., 2019)gives two fascinating essays about his work together with an overview of images produced between 1976 and 2017. The first essay by Michael Bracewell discusses the source of the images from ‘industrially created romantic fantasies’ and how by the simple act of cutting Stezaker transforms them into ‘an oddly haunted psychological moment’. His art disrupts the image and forces the viewer to look repeatedly at an ‘illogical ‘scene to try and make it make sense. In one of his later series Love the apparently simple act of cutting through the eyes and duplicating them gives an eerie, intensity to the gaze. I would be interested to see them alongside the original images. I did manage to track one down. The original is a picture of Helen Walker by Everett in which the actress looks sultry and stares directly at you. In the altered image. She is shocked, even frightened. She has certainly lost her air of composure.

The finishing essay by Craig Burnett quotes from John Donne’s poem The Ecstasy’ – Our eye-beams twisted, and did thread/our eyes upon one double string…’ and questions (via the talking persona of one of the images) ‘does it lure you in, intrigue, astonish?’. They certainly intrigue and astonish me.


John Stezaker (s.d.) At: (Accessed 10/08/2020).

Sultan, L. and Mandel, M. (eds.) (2018) Evidence. New York: Distributed Art Publishers, Inc.