TMA1401 - Research Methods and Project Proposal

Weekly Tasks

Task  1 - Develop a Research File 28/9/22
I have set up a section on my website that will host all of my research and planning for each module over the year during my masters course. It will be the place for note taking, creative mapping and visual exploration aswell as keeping track of feeback sessions and my progress. With the side panel on the left, it is easy to flick between each module and visualise the process.

I have also created folders on my laptop desktop for the current two modules. These hold the raw photoshoot images as well as storing the most successful images I have pre-selected. Additionally, the folders host a reading list, book screenshots and my proposal document as I am still working on it. 

Screenshot of desktop research files


Task 2 - Three Slides 28/9/22
At the beginning, I was unsure on concepts and what direction to take my major project. Since completing my BA earlier this year, I was still in the creative mindset and wanted to kickstart my planning straight away. To help my ideas flow, I created a short presentation showing my current practice, artist inspiration and what direction I want to go in for this year.

(see the three slides below)

Slide 1 (Olivia Strettle, 2022)

I included my recent work from my BA degree as it is something I plan to continue during my masters. The lighting throughout was consistant, soft, considered and always supported the emotion I was trying to convey. All of the work was shot within my grandads home, this is something I plan to challange and explore futher during my final project. 

The final outcome was a hand bound A5 photobook on textured paper. I also bound in a sheet of tracing paper to add to the fragility and age. I also had an A1 print that was framed in light wood to support the family photography theme.

Slide 2 (Olivia Strettle, 2022)

Looking at other practitioners whether it is a photographer, artists or writer, are all very impactful moments for my project to develop. I spent a lot of time during my BA researching not just base level concepts but delving into the meaning of family relationships, the feeling of home and belonging as well as the role of grandparents. Maria Ansell, Thomas Duffield and Mitch Epstein were all photographers that influenced my way of shooting - specifically their lighting styles and consistant colour themes.

Slide 3 (Olivia Strettle, 2022)

Within the three slides, I also included some phrases, key words and ideas that quickly came to mind when planning my next project and how I plan to approach it. I would love to continue with ‘78 at N°32’, but at the same time not have a repetitive feel. It will be its own sepereate piece of work, but feels like the next chapter I am exploring.


Task 3 - Mapping Cultural Ecology and Cultural Critique 5/10/22

I have chosen to explore example 1: ‘The Environing of Public Assembly: MACAO and the Gafla Tower in Milan, Italy 2012’.

I found this example to be the most interesting as I hadn’t saw any other news stories like this before. It is such a significant and drastic event in history that should be remembered.

· Abandoned building that was hijacked/taken over by activists
· A collective of artist activists, wanting to be heard and included
· Audience would be other artists, inspired by the work and passion to be heard. Potentially activists, protestors and national governments.
· The space was filled with collaborative artists within various creative and cultural industries, coming together to make change

I think this example of a public movement is really eye opening and encourages change. The Gafla Tower in Milan, Italy was being turned into a place of art and creativity under a peaceful protest. An industry that is often overlooked but is incorporated within all aspects of our lives was aiming to be heard and inspire other artists to stand up for whats right. The abandoned building was a host to nothing, and was soon seen as ‘bad news’ once it had been transformed in a positive light. 


Task 4 - Mapping My Place in the Creative and Cultural Industries 5/10/22

Screenshot of my identity, Olivia Strettle (2022).

My main specialism is photography. As I begin studying my master’s degree, I will soon be entering the seventh year of studying the subject.

It is a creative pathway I have always enjoyed. Over the years I have been able to test my abilities and explore a variety of styles from documentary to portraiture and even product advertisement.

Over the years of exploration and experimentation, I have found my interest lays within documentary photography. My most recent photography work that I completed as part of my final major project during my BA was ‘78 at N°32’. Presented as a photobook, the work encapsulated the coming of age of my grandad within his home environment. I was able to work closely with him to celebrate his life within a space that I hold so much value towards. I combined portraiture with close ups of personal items and unique parts of the home that represent them as I have always remembered.

I would define my area of interest within the industry as photographic but also IT and digital software. I have developed my skills for editing software’s over the years, to which I am now at a successful position with my knowledge of digital manipulation.


Task 5 - My Relationship to ‘Place’ 12/10/22

1. a particular position, point, or area in space; a location.

A place often has a deeper meaning to everyone individually, each being a unique place. Whether that is their home or a safe environment that has a sense of belonging and familiarity. That place to me is my home. It is a place of familiarity. I know the ins and outs of it. The unique characteristics that collectively make it what it is. 

I found this topic interesting and relevant to the work I enjoy to create. My most recent work (see task 2), focuses solely on the home and inparticular the connections and sense of value that is placed on it. I explored the connections with the home by photographing up-close textures, colours, natural lighting and special quirks that makes the home a place of value. 

It is very subjective on what makes a place as everyone will have their own space to feel free and be themselves. Its also interesting to learn that a home is not always a physical location. A home can be a feeling, emotion, place of comfort or a warm feeling of safety and familiarity.

Task 6 - Building a Reading List 19/10/22

Cox, L. S., Mason, P. A., Bagley, M. C., Steinsaltz, D., Stefanovska, A., Bernjak, A., McClintock, P. V. E., Phillips, A. C., Upton, J., Latimer, J. E., & Davis, T. (2014). Understanding ageing: biological and social perspectives. In A. Walker (Ed.), The new science of ageing (1st ed., pp. 25–76). Bristol University Press.

Beck, J. (2011). The Psychology of Home: Why Where You Live Means So Much, The Atlantic. Atlantic Media Company.

Gastfriend, J. (2018). My Parent's Keeper : The guilt, grief, guesswork, and unexpected gifts of caregiving. Yale University Press.

Gray, J., Geraghty, R., & Ralph, D. (2016). New grandparents: older people in the family. In Family Rhythms: The changing textures of family life in Ireland (1st ed., pp. 167-194). Manchester University Press.

Jackson, A. (2022). Photographing the home - Amanda Jackson photography blog. Photographing the home, Amanda Jackson Interiors and Portrait Photography.

Kirsch, M. (2021). What is home? The New York Times. The New York Times.

Lamb, B. (2017). On Ageing Grandparents [Blog].

Musello, C. (1980). Studying the Home Mode: An Exploration of Family Photography and Visual Communication. 6 (1), 23-42.

Petrelli, D, Whittaker, S. 153 - 169. (2010). Family memories in the home: contrasting physical and digital mementos.

Rose, G. (2010). Doing family photography : The domestic, the public and the politics of sentiment. Taylor & Francis Group.

Somerville, P. (1997). THE SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION OF HOME. Journal of Architectural and Planning Research, 14(3), 226–245.

Stirling, D. (2019). Maria Ansell, FLOAT.

Task 7 - Five Stand Out Quotes and summaries from Reading List 1/11/22

Quote 1- My Parent’s Keeper (2018). “a small room with a freshly made bed and a cheerfully decorated window looking out over my old neighbourhood”.
The authors of this text is Jody Gastfriend and Patrick J. Kennedy. It is about the caregiving towards a grandparent that previously looked out for you in the same way. It is wrote from experience of the author as they are telling us their past and family struggles, hoping to find peace. I specifically chose this quote from the text as I believe it is highly relatable to a lot of people. Having that sense of belonging and familiarity within a space you treasure. I think the quotation is interesting to me as it is highly detailed and descriptive - something I enjoy to capture in my imagery. Focusing on the textures, familiarity within the house, up close imagery and the specifics within the home. Not necessarily photographing the home in a holistic approach, but more the intricate details that you remember it as. The text is useful to my chosen theme as it goes into a lot of detail about the art of connection, refering to memory and having close family relationships.

Quote 2- What is Home? (2021) “Over here is the window through which I see the light change at magic hour, the sky bruising from purple to blue and black. Indoor life organized for optimum living while outside remains as unruly as ever”. This text is an article from The New York Times by Melissa Kirsch. It talks briefly about the meaning of home, a year on from a global pandemic and nation wide lockdowns. It delves into the idea of how our homes shifted to become not only a safe space but the office, home school and a gym. As well as this, it mentions how the furniture had to change its purpose to become school desks and make shift studios. The perception of home had changed. I believe this quotation is interesting as it is suggesting that home is the safety blanket. Its a place of unity and protection, whether that is a physical location or an emotion. The text is useful to my chosen theme of home as I have been doing a lot of research into the meaning of home and how its definition varies for each person. 

Quote 3- The Psychology of Home (2011) “The first thing we ask someone when we meet them, after their name, is where they are from, or the much more interestingly-phrased "where's home for you?" We ask, not just to place a pushpin for them in our mental map of acquaintances, but because we recognize that the answer tells us something important about them. My answer for "where are you from?" is usually Michigan, but "where's home for you?" is a little harder”. This text is an online article by Julie Beck for The Atlantic. The text includes a multitude of areas around the theme of home, beginning with locating where home is. It commonly uses descriptive terms and quotations from a variety of people from all walks of life, asking them what home is. With the use of many expert opinions, there is reference to Susan Clayton, an environmental phychologist that explains how our homes are often a continuation of ourselves. They are perfected and polished as they are viewed by other people - questioning whether this is having an effect on our own mental being. I think this quotation is interesting as I had never truly considered home as any other place other than the physical location for me. However, it is clear that home is often not the place of origin, but more a place of safety and security. It is useful to my chosen topic of home as it covers several aspects and opinions of the theme but also it is a much more refined article that uses points and quotations to back up the ideas.

Quote 4- Studing the Home Mode (1980) “The aim of the candid/spontaneous style, by con- trast, is to minimize the photographer's intrusion through shooting discreetly in order to ‘catch’ the ‘everyday,’ the ‘typical,’ and the ‘natural’ ”. This text is an online paper by Christopher Musello. The text explores a lot of content within a short chapter. It begins with the history of family photography and moves on to photographing family events and the style of photography used such as candid or posed and constructed. The article also discusses the representation of families within albums and developing photographs. I think the quotation is interesting and I chose to discuss it as candid style imagery is something I have been exploring through the images I have been taking up to this point so far. I really admire how informative the text is and has let me gain more of an understanding how to shoot candid, non constructed and the benefits of each.

Quote 5- On Ageing Grandparents (2017) “Piddling around his house and yard make him feel alive; the thought of moving into a small apartment makes him feel fearful and suffocated”. This text is an online blog that has a diary entry feel. It is wrote by Blair Lamb and published on her own website that covers all things family and ageing. This specific text is a personal experience Blair Lamb is having with her own family. It is from a 1st person perspectice and discusses her closeness to her grandparents and their home but also the struggles she is facing as they are ageing and transitioning to assisted living in care homes. It is an emotional piece of text that is relatable for a lot of people. I chose those quotation above to discuss as it is very descriptive of the space and it is very clear the sense of connection and value she holds for the home. Blair is talking about the home as it is a comfort blanket, a place she knows the ins and outs of, the only place that feels safe. The text is relevent to my theme as I have been researching into connections with places we call home and the memories within the space. From the text Blair is cherishing those memories by recalling the times they spent together. 

Task 8 - Proposal Action Plan 2/11/22

For my action plan, I found it was much easier to write down my ideas so I could visualise the layout and topics of discussion much clearer. I selected 5 sections of the key points to include within the proposal and began to brainstorm. It really allowed for me to get all of my ideas down on paper in front of me and see step by step what I need to add. The weekly tasks for this module have been very beneficial to my work as they have raised ideas I did not even consider in the beginning. For example, the lecture and task based around my relationship to place (task 5), linked in well to my theme of the home. After the session, I looked deeper into the definition of place and was able to refine not only my research but the overall context regarding space and place.

Some personal deadlines I have set myself:

Week of 7/11/22 (reading week)
- Catch up with any outstanding weekly tasks 
- Finish off my reading list/sourcing quotes and potentially begin a draft for the proposal 
- Begin some practical work/photoshoots

Week of 14/11/22
- Begin writing the proposal
- Photoshoot plan and execution 

Week of 21/11/22
- Continuing with weekly tasks, in-depth writing and critical thinking/reflections on each
- Photoshoots

Week of 28/11/22
- Finish the proposal
- Prep for the presentation: make notes and begin slides

Notes of planning. (Olivia Strettle, 2022).

Task 9 - Working with Examples 16/11/22
Part A - Choose a research folio and reflect on how the practitioner has curated their own research. Analyse their aims and objectives, the methods of practice they use and creative outcomes they have generated.

Screenshot of Research Folio, (Prof Donald Fitzpatrick, 2016).

I chose the research folio ‘Mutation Ecstacy: Memory and Identity’ by Prof Donal Fitzpatrick to explore. I decided to write about this folio as I feel the topic refers nicely to my theme of home and preserving the memories from within the environment. When reading the research folio, it is clear to me that Prof Donal Fitzpatrick has curated their own research through ongoing investigations based around our own experiences in the world as well as the function of visual, multi-media art. Fitzpatrick states how the research folio is influenced by “over thirty years of exposure to chinese thought and visual culture” (Fitzpatrick, 2016). It suggests how the research was very much continuous over several years in order to gain a greater understanding of the culture in new environments to provoke ideas.

The aims and objectives:

Screenshot of Research Folio, (Prof Donald Fitzpatrick, 2016).

Their aims and objectives for this research folio are clear and concise. They have covered a wide range of methologies and ways of producing the physical work in order for them to achieve the final outcome in an exhibition setting. It is detailed to a point where it gives the reader a clear understanding of their practice but also gives the practitioner control and ability to visualise what they are working towards.

The practitioner has created their own research by predominantly recalling memories of swimming in Australia in their childhood. They looked specifically at the gaps and lose fragments within memories and how they were automatically pieced together and was made to form a new narrative. The process for producing the art work included several methods of printing, layering and scanning to enhance the graphics. This process was deliberately chosen to be a multitude of unique art processes in order for it to be a reflection on the “ambiguous status of memory images” (Fitzpatrick, 2016). I found to be most interested in the ‘Haunting’ exhibition as the work uses repetition to mimic the loss and gaining of memories in our minds. In the folio the ‘Haunting’ exhibition art work is refered to as “magining images in memory as a dance inside a theatre of fiction and forgetting” (Fitzpatrick, 2016).

‘Haunting’, ink, acrylic, photo on paper. Exhibited in Jinan, China, 2018.

View the research folio here -

Fitzpatrick, D. (2016) Research, University of Huddersfield.


Part B - Find 3 practitioners in your field of interest and one work for each practitioner that inspires you. Reflect on why you like these works.

1) Thomas Duffield - Thomas Duffield is a photographer based mainly in London and the North of England. His photographic style is mainly documentary that explores family relationships and the coming of age. ‘The Whole House is Shaking’ is one of my favourite projects as my style of photography follows a similar pathway as explore fam connections and age.
‘The Whole House is Shaking’ is a photographic journey that explores Duffield’s home as he revisits his childhood after becoming aware of significant family issues he was concealed of as a child. Now as an adult, Duffield is using photography as a tool to reflect upon the emotions he felt as he creates peaceful imagery composed of his family history. The imagery brings beauty to the everyday by emphasising the small moments that mean the most.
The quiet, well composed images seem to contain a sense of intimacy - something that is a reoccuring theme within all of Duffield’s photographic work. The lighting within the images is consistant and very warm toned, using the suns natural golden beam to add a homely glow to the work. As well as considered lighting, the colour pallet follows a neutral theme - flowing into one another as the pages are turned in the photobook or scrolled through on the website. Even in the physical book, delicate tracing paper is bound in to slow down the pace of viewing and enforce the fragility that is explored.
I love this work by Thomas Duffield as it feels personal. It builds a connection with the viewer and feels very familiar/comforting.

Thomas Duffield, The Whole House is Shaking (2017)

Duffield, T. (2017) The whole house is shaking, Thomas Duffield.


2) Maria Ansell - Maria Ansell is a photograper based in the UK. I first discovered her project ‘89’ from attending an open source talk at the Open Eye Gallery, Liverpool in 2019. Her project approaches the theme of memory by using the photographic image to explore her grandfathers recent diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease. Ansell explained in the talk that his diagnosis ompletely changed her perspective on the small things in life. Things that to her meant so much more than anything else, the moments she places value in that to anyone else, may be irrelevant. Small quirks her grandfather had, the scent she will always remember from a childhood home and the way the sunlight flooded over the old style bedsheets. I found her talk to be very emotional as she was recalling all her treasured moments, that we as an audience could also relate to. ‘89’ is a timeless project, even though her subject is specific to her own experiences, the theme of memory and fear of losing a loved one is felt by many.

Similar to Thomas Duffield’s project I have talked about previously, ‘89’ shares that same consistant theme of fragility and preservation of familiarity. There is a sense of comfort within the project as it builds a connection between the subject and the viewer. Again, the subtle, delicate lighting adds warmth as it is diffused over the subject focus. There appears to be very limited artificial lighting within this work as that would make it feel very out of place and clinical. The imagery also flows from one to the other as it is connected by the consistant colour pallet and dreamlike approach.

Maria Ansell, 89 (2019)

Digital Window Gallery: Open Source 06 – Maria Ansell (2019) Open Eye Gallery.


3) Larry Sultan - Larry Sultan was an American photographer focusing on documentary and suburban family life. 
‘Pictures From Home’ documents the beauty in the everyday as he captures the mundane family moments at home after his mothers retirement. The imagery observes the daily routine as he is using the camera as a tool for story telling.
Larry Sultan stated “I realize that beyond the rolls of film and the few good pictures, the demands of my project and my confusion about its meaning, is the wish to take photography literally. To stop time. I want my parents to live for ever” (musemagazine, 1992). It suggests how the imagery was not motivated by any kind of theme or idea. He used photography as a way of preserving memories and documenting his home life. 

As well as Thomas Duffield and Maria Ansell, Larry Sultan also uses lighting in a way of suggesting a peaceful narrative. It is utilised a way that slows down the pace of the book and directs the feelings and emotion for the viewer. The light is being used to physically highlight parts of the home. 

Larry Sultan, Pictures From Home (1992)

Beck, S. (2021) Interiors: Larry Sultan's pictures from home, Musée Magazine. Musée Magazine.


4) Matthew Finn - Matthew Finn is a photographer based in the UK who captures family relationships. His projects are very often long-term that are lasting over several years, documenting the changes in age and connections. He has been photographing subjects with a vast age gap. From his son in the project ‘Son: Nought to Nine’ and ‘Mother’ that was shot over a vast thirty years.
‘Mother’ is shot over a significant time span as Matthew Finn photographed his mother from her home for 30 years. It began as a form of routine, however it “soon became a ritual that I could not abandon” (Finn, n.d).
I really appreciate the use of light and textures to represent the beauty within the home. Finn is using the natural light to physically highlight what he is wanting to remember and preserve.

Mother, Matthew Finn (2017).

Finn, M. (2017) Mother, Matthew Finn.

Task 10 - Aims & Objectives 23/11/22

- Aims - The overarching achievement for the end of the project. A photobook, portfolio etc.
- Objectives – How I will go about achieving the project aims. Finding themes in secondary sources. Engaging with processes, physical practice. Practical steps to make the body of work.

My aims for the project is to create a successful body of work that can be the steppingstone for me into the creative industry. I chose to do the Art & Design MA course to develop my knowledge and gain confidence in my own practice. By the end of the course I hope to have a strong final project that is supported with consistant contextual research and a photobook that will encapsulate the theme I have been exploring. I would like to have a photographic exhibition that showcases my photobook as well as prints on the walls that accompany the narrative in the book.

To achieve these aims I have set out, I plan to conduct frequent photoshoots that are supported and influenced by several forms of research. My research will be thorough on the background context relating to my theme as well as finding pre-existing photographers that explore a similar topic and or theme as myself. Additionally, I will be researching a lot into the physical photobook and the curation steps that are needed to execute a successful outcome. 

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Portfolio of Development Work:

The Idea

I began brainstorming quite frequently during the first few sessions of the module. Whether that was in class, during my commute or just when I had time to spare. It was a good way of splitting up my time and having breaks inbetween so I could see things from a different perspecitve, rather than writing everything in one session and becoming clouded.

I had several ideas to start with, my main one being a partial continuation of my bachelors final major project. I really enjoyed that work (click here to view it) as I was using documentary photography to celebrate the life of my grandad. I had achieved my aims and objectives I had set at the beginning, yet I still felt like it was unfinished. As age is such a vast topic, I wanted to continue with it but in a new and non-repetative way. My main idea is looking further into memory within the home. I briefly looked at it last year but it definitely has much more to uncover. 

The plan:
- To explore memory within my grandparents home. A place I spent a lot of time growing up, and their only home they have ever lived in since 1967. A space they raised children, grandchildren and now great-grandchildren.
- I want to capture the feeling of the space. Not just the visuals. Make the viewer feel like they understand and are in that environment too.

Tutorial with Janine Sykes

I signed up for a 1:1 tutorial with visiting lecturer Janine Sykes. I shared my current progress with her as well as concepts and ideas of project direction. I recieved some helpful comments that I will take further and explore in more depth. 

Some of the comments I recieved:
- Look into Erik Kessels. ‘Album Beauty’ project/exhibition. Bringing the family albums into reality. Immersive space and interactice with the audience.
- Choose or consider a more refined theme: home, objects. Can often be too broad, think of a more precise route.
- Perhaps explore his age backwards. Childhood home, areas he grew up, sentimental objects. Unique/quirks of the home I grew up in/remember most.
- Archival imagery. His childhood photographs and local archival imagery of the location he grew up in/moved away from.

Erik Kessels

Image of Erik Kessels Album Beauty Exhibition

“an ode to the vanishing era of the photoalbum” - Erik Kessels.

After my tutorial last week with Janine Sykes, I took some time to look furhter into Erik Kessels, specifically the project ‘Album Beauty’. Kessels explored the family photo albums that were once a staple in every home, that protected and preserved the memories from current families to future generations to look back on. They are the historial and personal references back to our past.
The exhibition by Erik Kessels was very interactive and engaging. He used blown up imagery all over the walls and littered the floor with piles of albums. As a viewer, you become part of the space as you are walking through the album pages, becoming part of the history.

I found this work interesting to explore and research into, as my previous project ‘78 at N°32’ was very much based around the theme of home. As well as this, my undergraduate dissertation titled ‘How does photographic meaning change when the materiality advances with family photography?’, explored family photo abums and those becoming faded over time due to the alteration in the way we present and show our imagery - such as the contrast from constructed family paintings to the movement of social media.

I really like the idea of the space being inviting and interactive. Rather than solely prints on the wall, the space is immersive and makes you want to see more. Having the photoalbums piled up also add’s context to the narrative, this would work well for me to have sentimental/personal items my grandparents treasure within the exhibition space - their favourite mug, jewellery etc.

Looking into ‘home’...

Screenshot of article title (2022)

I came across this article when creating a reading list for the weekly tasks (see above). I took a lot of interest towards it, as it is extremely descriptive of the sentimental parts within the home I am planning to include within my personal practice. The article includes a lot of quotes and references from psychologists and university professors, exploring the importance behind ‘home’ and why it is so important for our livelihoods to have a safe and familiar environment. 

My favourite part of this article is the reference to the small details within the home, that to anybody these may be of no value - but within your own home, they are priceless. The article states “I have an entire wall in our kitchen plastered with maps of places we've been, and twin Ferris wheels, one at Navy Pier, one at Place de la Concorde, are stacked on top of one another in my living room” (Beck, 2011). I find this so interesting and reletable as our homes are not just the places we reside in but the spaces that hold so many memories. The decor is so personal to the individual as it is a place to feel like youself. Almost like a photobook, we use our homes to fill with framed photographs and several postcards magnetised to the fridge, covered with the memories we want to remember.

Within my photographic project, I want to be able to capture all of those moments and feelings you instantly feel when ‘home’. The sense of familiarity, the smells you always remember and the colours of the decor. 

View the article here:

Beck, J. (2011) The Psychology of Home: Why Where You Live Means So Much, The Atlantic. Atlantic Media Company.

Proposal Notes/Rough Planning

Research question/theme/topic
- Within the home. Sentimental value, the significance of a place being a home. Idea of home not always being a physical location and could be a memory or emotion.

My specialism/work I will generate
- Using photography as a tool to explore and document the home. Several weekly test photoshoots to trial ideas. Makes me visualise what is working and what isn’t working/how to improve.

Reading Week Recap
This week was reading week. It is a time to catch up and get ahead on some of the workload. During my week with no timetabled sessions, I have been mindmapping some ideas and directions I will take for my project proposal. As well as this, I have took some photographs for another module and caught up on some blog posts.
A breakdown of the week-
9th November -
10th November - Completed tutorial write up blog post with Janine Sykes.
11th November - Blog post catch up for both modules. Created a plan for the future tasks and how to go about them/further reading of texts.
12th November -
13th November - Finished writing workshop blog post for Creative Studio
14th November - Further reading, finding texts/quotes for reading list
15th November - Wrote up tasks from 2/11/22 on campus session and practical work photoshoot
16th November - on campus session

Guest Speaker:
Janine Sykes - ‘HOME’ 16/11/22

At the end of todays session, researcher and curator Janine Sykes joined us again to talk a bit more about her collaborative research project, ‘HOME’. She had spoken to me briefly about this during the one to one tutorial I had with Janine a few weeks ago, and I was really pleased we were going to learn more about it as a group.

HOME is a collaborative creative project organised by Janine Sykes and invites Leeds based artists Jude Woods, Sherelene Cuffe and Bobbi Rae to explore their idea of home and Inevitably answer the question of ‘what does home mean now?’. As this project was produced during 2021 when the UK was jumping in and out of nationwide lockdowns, it raised the question of what is home. As our perspective has now altered, each practitioner has their own representation of a home environment as times have changed.

As well as the project being an interactive, physical exhibition, the curators also engaged with social media by tweeting #WhatDoesHomeMeanNow?  The responses were organised into categories and physically displayed in glass jars at the opening show. The categories included: ‘comforting & confining’, ‘objects & structures’ and ‘actions & making’. I found it really interesting to learn that the majority of the people who participated, revealed that ‘home’ is actually more of an experience with lasting memories and value, rather than being one place or an activity. This really resonated with my own personal project theme of home as I explore the space that I would label as home. A space of memory, value and sentiment. I really like the concept of using physical research and including it within the space.

Looking at Photobooks

As my aim for the project is to create a photobook for my final outcome, i have been exploring a variety of photobooks that are all completely different in production. Size, colour, stock types, binding, accompanied text and scale are all factors allowing for the narrative to flow and be relevant to the chosen theme. Curation of a photobook plays a significant role in how the narrative is conveyed. For example, chosing to have full bleed imagery can often emphasise the image and draw attention for the viewer. Having much smaller imagery may reflect a quiet and personal connotation. As well as sizing, the placement of the image on the page is also extremely relevant. To make the viewer more engaged in the photobook, changing the placement of the image from the top of the page to the middle or even cut directly in half from the edge, it physically makes the viewer interact and become part of the narrative - directing their vision across the pages.

There are a variety of folds within the production of a book that each will support the meaning and be impactful for the lasting effect the book has on the viewer. A french fold for example, encapsulates and contains the imagery within the pages. Often signalling the viewer to physically tear and break open the story to reveal more. This style of fold is often found within photobooks exploring a personal and perhaps painful story, something that you dont want to face front on - physically hiding the story. The photographic project ‘ILLA’ (island) by Salva Lopez contains the french fold within their published photobook. The imagey of the photographers girlfriend are physically ‘trapped’ within the french fold, representing the positive times within the relationship he is holding onto.

ILLA (Salva Lopez, 2016)

Stock for photobooks plays a significant part to the readers experience, just as necessary as the imagery. Different textured book covers also often are a vital part in the first hand experience the viewer has with the book. On first touch, the stock whether slick and shiny or rough and textured, they will soon decide whether it is something they are interested in from a quick flick through. I also find that having a stock that may seem textured visually, however feels very different is engaging and interesting as it challanges your first thoughts and feelings.

Practical Work -
Within the Home

After researching into various ways the home is often presented within films, books and photographs, I photographed my grandparents home to give contrasting emotions. The image on the left feels homely and familiar as the bedding is something I have always remembered since being young. It feels inviting and homely as the subject is sitting on the bed, as well as the wedding band being a subtle connotation to family. The image on the right however, feels much colder and constructed. The pale, neutral tones and slightly creased bedding may suggest it was once a homely place but time has curated a quiet, sombre environment. It is really interesting to me how the lighting can play a large role in a mood or emotion that is being conveyed, it is something I will be considering for future work as I represent a space through photography.

This work was shot with a Nikon D750 and a standard 50mm lens.

Current work (Olivia Strettle, 2022)

I have began sequencing some images in a way that they compliment each other in this diptych style. Its really important when curating a photobook, to understand how images flow together, whether that is lighting, colours, line or shape so the work is consistant and engaging. I have also been understanding the significant differences when portraying work in an exhibition rather than a book. They are to be viewed differently and need to be adapted to fit with the type of viewing experience. A book would contain several images of a variety of sizes in comparison to an exhibition space with one or two larger prints.

Current work (Olivia Strettle, 2022)


I decided to include my grandad within these images of the home as it is the space he has lived in with my grandma for nearly sixty years. As I am documenting the home, I still want people to be included within the work as it will add context to the home but also splits up the imagery of the interiours and becomes more engaging. 

I used natural lighting for all of these images and ensured the camera settings were perfected before hand. From researching into Maria Ansell and Thomas Duffield, it is clear to me that lighting plays a hige role within the home on how you choose to represent it. I think the soft, naturally diffused light from the blinds gives a very quiet and calm feeling, enhancing that familiarity and memories I remember as a child growing up there.

Some of these images appear slightly too dark in areas so I think in future I will use a small reflector just to bring back some shape and contrast between the subject and the back ground - especially on the left image below.

Current work (Olivia Strettle, 2022) 

Lighting Set Ups

I have been keeping track of my set ups on photoshoots by using lighting diagrams. They are a perfect way for me to look back on photoshoots to see what I think worked well and if I want to use the same style I have a reference point. On the diagrams I have made note of camera used, lens, lighting - artifical or natural, and any reflectors or tripods.

Screenshot of lighting set up, (Olivia Strettle, 2022)

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