Critical research journal

Positions and Practice PHO710

Topic 1 - Mirrors and Windows


Post an image to this forum by way of an introduction to your peers and your tutors.  

Try and respond to ideas and examples discussed in the presentation. You could use a mirror quite literally, or think about views into your personal world that reveal something about yourself or your interests in photography. Include one or two lines about your concept and/or visual strategy. 


It took me a couple of days to get through the process of thinking about the differentiation between mirrors and windows within the context of my own photographical practice and experience. By doing that I though of  categorizing my own photographical practice into different stages.


Today I am 50 years old, happily married, father of three children (10-15) and heavily engaged into my work for Porsche AG Sportscar manufacturer responsible for future factory projects in Stuttgart, Germany. At work (sometimes) and during my spare time I am dedicated to my photographical approach as a "witness" of current events that touch my professional and mainly my personal life. Especially the growing up of our children was and still is a major "excuse" for my photography. It probably dates back to my beginnings more than 35 years ago as a freelance photographer for local and regional newspapers in Germany which mainly meant taking editorial pictures of current events -

"saving" the moment for the newspaper's readers. Therefore I often see my personal photographical role as the one of a witness to the moment that might be unique and therefore not reoccur. The "window" analogy comes close to that idea - this is what made me chew a bit longer on this thought. I look for the window into a situation and like or have to share it.


My photographic practice is often dominated by the idea and question of a technically decent to perfect shot combined with the right moment of exposure. I often look at other photographers' results and think about their approach, composition,  and technical settings - how did he or she take it? How were the perspective, composition, and settings chosen? How was the exposure triangle determined and why. Was it a picture taken by coincidence or with a deeper thought - even with an artistic approach.

I love to take pictures of movement and action - i.e. sports photography of my children when doing athletics or action during all kinds of activities. Low light on stage, on land- and cityscape and trying to combine and apply certain photographic approaches and techniques.


When working as a photo journalist back in the analogue black and white days (1985 - 1999) my technical abilities and resources we dramatically limited in comparison to today's possibilities. I often mentally go back to these days and think about the ways how I photographed during these times. Fortunately I still keep the negatives and compare and learn. In addition I started to shoot analogue again and work with manual approaches using my digital equipment.


The transition to digital is another major stage in my photographic practice and looking back at my own approach about 15 years ago I am still "ashamed" of myself due to my thoughtlessness when using digital cameras and it took me more than a decade to really learn and mirror my own practice in the new world. No knowing what RAW is - having expensive cameras and lenses but not using their full capabilities sometimes makes me in a way angry and I think of how I should have done better. I admire people who reflect their own practice in a humble way and do not think that their work is in the center of attraction. With my work as an engineer and manager for Porsche it is different and a much tougher day to day world and therefore photography is a way to "escape" from that realm. Maybe a kind of mental retreat just at that right moment when using my camera.

Coming back to the analogy of this forum "Mirrors and windows" I use my own portfolio as my personal mirror - not in the sense of mirroring myself but using my own work as my personal reflection trying to answer the questions mentioned above now on my own work. However I would like to get out of my own little world of ideas and results and be challenged by new tasks. During the past 12 months I started to take photographs with a drone - a new approach to find a window by adjusting my angle of view.


Attached I included two pictures that came to my mind when reading through the abstract of "Windows and mirrors". These pictures were taken in November 2020 when I was asked to photograph the manufacturing of a special Porsche 911 - personal / private car of our member of the board for production. Although it is not my job to spend my time at work taking pictures of production processes for this occasion I was dearly asked by my boss the plant manager to follow this car through the different production processes since my photographical abilities are well known. The results ended in a photo book that was handed over to our board member when he had received his new car.
In this picture I am included as my own mirror and window to the moment at the same time. It is not included in the book but I sometimes use moments like these to record my own presence in the moment since I am mostly behind the camera.

Topic 2 - Methods and Meaning

Webinar with Michelle Sank - June, 11 2021

Presentation of different practices - What is the narrative you are trying to communicate?

So what's a narrative?


 Log In  

nar·ra·tive |  \ ˈner-ə-tiv   , ˈna-rə-  \

Definition of narrative

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1asomething that is narrated STORYACCOUNTHe is writing a detailed narrative of his life on the island.

ba way of presenting or understanding a situation or series of events that reflects and promotes a particular point of view or set of valuesThe rise of the Tea Party and the weakness of the Obama economy have fueled a Republican narrative about Big Government as a threat to liberty …— Michael GrunwaldThe media narrative around Kelly's appointment had two central ideas … : He would calm and professionalize the White House, and he would provide a more measured leadership style than his boss.— Perry Bacon Jr.

2the art or practice of narration… depended not on narrative but on intensity derived from the verity to make the book jump.


What ist the narrative you are trying to communicate?


John Inns:


Other Photographers:

David Maisel

Susan Derges

Daro Montag


Dylan Garcia



Published - taken wide angle

Cindy Sherman

Simon Norfolk

John Davies

Jem Southam (Bristol Festiveal of Photorpahy/ The Bechers

Dafna Talmor



Bernd Wuersching

Get out of your controlled zone

What's my photographical narrative?

Challenge yourself

Keep the technique and lens simple

History - go deeper - beyond the architectural fassades - what's the meaning?


Anthony Haughey 'settlement" - color and light


Vanitas /memento mori/dutch still life




Antonio Reis




Sarah Jones - Military Photographer

Laura Mulvey writings on feminism

Hassid Segal

Michael Korta

Auguste Sander

Tim Hetherington Sleeping Soldiers



Methods: technical side

Methodology: connect methods and concept - include research and strategy

Concept: Why, who is my audienc


Think about the audience?!?

Environmental approach


Understand what you are trying to say



Topic 3 - Reading Photographs

Webinar with Michelle Sank and Darren Clarke June, 17 2021

Topic 4 - Authorship and Collaboration

Webinar with Michelle Sank June 25, 2021  - First reviews on Oral Presentation


Presentation of the group collaboration 

No music - does not need to be played

Images quite suggestive - not literal


Simon roberts - people photography - crowds



Mark Powers the shipping forecast



Group feedback:

Michelle: fascinated - sense our individuality


Influence our research project


Julia Fullerton Batton - windows


Lisa sorgini


daphne talmur


mari mahr


stephen gill


steffi klenz Nonsuch



Record the sound where photographs are taken


Keep a group discussion - no ongoing monologues, please


Collaboration - set up own groups

Individual work around a special theme

Topic 5 - Interdisciplinary Practice


1:1 Webinar Bernd & Michelle - 07-01-21 13:30 - 14:00


Presentation of draft and outline of oral presentation


Personal introduction should be max 1 1/2 minutes

Focus on how to make change - what to take - which influence and why

Photographic journalist - recording of the current event - at this moment


Not 1 or two ingredients - but 7-8


Research into practicioners

Theory: coding, metaphor, and constructive narrative


Focus on (environmental) portrait - people at work - people at home



Read about pracitioners - implement into own practice


Come from recording to now a constructive narrative




Bernd & Hilla Becher

Industry Architecture


John Davies - British Landscape - Architecture


John Davies has stated that: "We are collectively responsible for shaping the landscape we occupy and in turn the landscape shapes us, whether we are aware of it or not."


Andreas Gursky - Meisterschüler Becher




Brian Ulrich


Lewis Hine

Lewis W. Hine: Inventing the Photo Story


Interprative Photography

Lewis Hine Quotes. If I could tell the story in words, I wouldn't need to lug around a camera.




The Lewis Hine Project: Tracking Down the Lives of Child Laborers

The Lewis Hine Project: Tracking Down the Lives of Child Laborers


Joe Manning




Jem Southam The Floating Harbour


Julius Shulman - Architecture



History / Industry / Architecture:

Hilla & Bernd Becher

John Davies

Julius Shulman

Jem Southam

Mike Kelley


Industrial Innovation and the Human being within 

Lewis Hine

August Sander

Diane Arbus

Alec Soth

Joe McNally





Topic 6 - Reading Week

Webinar July 1, 2021

Preparation on Illustrated Research Project


Marc Curran - The Breathing Factory


Alec Soth


Reiner Riedler - Machine Work


Tom Hunter Hackney Stories


What is their body of work

What is their


Why are they important to me

How is my thinking challenged

Theory of photography


What is my learning about photography

How to deploy a similar narative


What is my curiosity - Sontag

What deploys - depict a narrative

Why did they effect me - why is it important

What is my point of curiosity


Keep titeling and fonts structured and easy



Feedback: what's my story 

How have people influenced me?

How does it guide me - how does it influence?

Dig below the surfaces

What do you like to show


Why am I saying this to my audience


Cultural coding - integrate learning

Underpin - concerns - what interests - how did that inform my current


Topic 7 - Words and Pictures

Webinar with Jesse - July 13 2021 - Mainly on Oral Presentation


Speed when reading - keep up stamina - stamina


Writing to speak it is different

Photography seldom saciates


How do I get started?


Citation / quote


Highlight quotes - text


Who is listening - peers on the course, Michelle / Jessee

Do not explain what f stop 

Snapshop contextuallization


Citations for references



Topic 8 - Audiences and Institutions

Webinar with Jesse July 21, 2021 - Read trough Learning Outcomes on Illustrated Research Proposal


2nd assignment

Illustrated Research Proposal

Assignment Brief


Authentic - Illustrated 

How will I develop my ideas

Research aim


What is the work about / what is interesting to the work?

What is the work concerned with? What is it about?

Theme = thrust what it is about


Topic 9 - Nature and Culture


Topic 10 - Photography, Power and Others


Topic 11 - After Photography


Topic 12 - Thinking Ahead


Oral Presentation
My reflective oral presentation can be seen here:

Feedback with Michelle July 29, 2921:




No visuals for Shulman - examples 

Early work - focus on technique - Feininger - influences

Signified / Signifier / Film noir - why is it interesting?

Interest why I would use it - get the link and understanding

Alec Soth - what is he doing beyond the surface with the recording

More on Technique - look on 

Recording of architecture - what is it about / inspiration


Make the choice - blue hour - my choice - what time of day - bring the meaning - the way that's being 


Buildings won't change


Course is - develop to individual voice - the meaning comes why people do certain things

What kind of angle do you choose - 

Down to earth - Alec Soth - Contemporary master - written about Soth



Conducts about portraiture - academic things - target my research

Give yourself about my own work - understand my work better

Office hour with Jesse


Learning outcome - elaborate

Clear - visual - visuals not knowing