Tag Archives: reportage

Working Log for Assignment One – Two sides of the story

The Report

The Statement

For this assignment I was tasked to create two sets of photographs telling different versions of the same story to explore the convincing nature of documentary photography.

The aim of this assignment was to demonstrate that images and ideas about truth have problematic relationships.



I began this project by first scribbling down some ideas on note paper, considering the key points and learning aims before brainstorming for some ideas. I then made lists headed ‘Context’ and ‘Narrative’ and began to formulate ideas with a mind-mapping / tree graphs that helped filter ideas which led me to the idea of witnessing an incident that can be interpreted either as an attack or a rescue.



To try to make these two sets of images look authentic, I decided that a camera-phone was the best and most appropriate choice of camera for this particular narrative. Therefore, I hope that by using this method of recording the ‘incident’, I will have created both an implied appearance of truth for a citizen-journalistic story and an evidence style narrative.


I then considered the photographs that I required to tell the two versions of the same story by making a list and then sketching out some ideas as a storyboard. I then approached my friends and parents with my idea and obtained their helpful co-operation.

Next I reconnoitred the proposed location taking notes of light, traffic, and the bus time table and made some test shots.

Putting the plan into action.

I first wrote my two narratives one I headed “The Statement” and the other I headed “The Report” and briefed my models and driver of the car using it.

Due to the bright sun I chose to photograph from the opposite side the road from my original test shots and the Church helped with the background. Normally this road is very quiet but (typically) was busy which reduced the time I had to make the pictures and limited the opportunities to re-shoot. I found the camera-phone’s response time to be slow and difficult to review properly a further complication was my father didn’t understand that I needed him to stop the car almost on the zebra-crossing for a more dramatic picture and the busy traffic prevented me from being able to either re-position the car or I before a queue began to form. Therefore, I was only partially successful with obtaining all the photos that I was happy with. As I could not re-shoot, I had to use Photoshop to manipulate two images to make them more dramatic. I have re-used three images in both narratives as they work for both, one I have cropped out the bus to emphasise the assailants escape.  I then hand wrote labels for each photo that I attached and downloaded a Met Police witness statement that I had wrote for ‘The Statement’ and typed ‘The Report’ as a covering letter to a newspaper to help support the ‘context’ for both stories.  I used an online printing service for my photos but on receiving them and physically examining them, I made a couple of editing decisions by removing a couple of chosen pictures from the original choice and ordering two additional duplicates. Finally before sending, I made one final editorial decision requiring getting a single photo from the photo lab at Tesco’s, hence why one image ‘the escaping attacker’ is of a different size and crop.  Clearly this is the downside of not having your own printing facilities.

Merged photos – left image, lady looking the wrong way for the narrative to work but good pose of running man, right image lady looking the right way but not good pose for the running man, both images merged using Photoshop.

Merged photos – left good poses but car too far away, right car taken from this image and merged with left picture using Photoshop.

Three printed images edited from the final selection.   Reason – I did not consider them necessary to the narrative.

Images duplicated as they suited both narratives and the bus image re-used but cropped for ‘The Statement’ narrative to imply that the attacker was escaping.

Summing up

Key points –

  • Two sets of images 5-7 each total 10-14.
  • Suggest two alternative points of view.
  • Must tell a story.
  • Look convincing.  This is subjective but I feel I made fairly convincing.
  • Candid style.

Learning aims –

  • I believe that I met my learning aims exploring the nature of documentary photography by producing two contrasting points of view of the same incident.
  • I understood the power of imagery for both inside and outside the frame as demonstrated by my choice of framing / cropping, positioning for the view and editorial of the prints.
  • I understood context and putting it in to practice with my choice of images and use of text for the captions for each photo and the addition of the letter and police statement.

On Being a Photographer by David Hurn & Bill Jay

I have very recently read a very good book titled On Being a Photographer – A Practical Guide. Published by LensWork Publishing.

The book is mainly a conversation between David Hurn and Bill Jay. Bill Jay sets out the argument as to what are the qualities and characteristics for a professional photographer and producing quality work.

David Hurn is a world class professional photographer who was a member of the elite photographers cooperative, Magnum Photos Inc. and has also lectured at Gwent College amongst his many achievements. Bill Jay a good friend and colleague is an author and editor.

This book is not a technical book on how to compose, expose, light or frame but covers basic fundamental principles of how to get started on deciding what you want to photograph and why. An explanation of what a reportage photographer is and has good tips on selecting subject to photograph and creating photo essays.

This book has helped me to rethink my approach to creating photographs and has helped me with ideas of how to formulate ideas which up to now has been my biggest stumbling block.

The book was first published in 1997 and digital cameras were still very new and photo editing software still in it’s infancy; so much is discussed refereeing to film cameras and there is a section on contact printing which is pretty much no longer relevant. However, Adobe Lightroom uses a type on contact print display when you now down load your photos which offers a similar opportunity to review your photos and select those wanted for further processing and also offers an easier method of filing. with similar ideas of marking pictures as David Hurn uses.

David Hurn’s negative comments regarding the internet potentially offering new photographers opportunities to get noticed was very true, although he could not have foreseen the social-networks and sites like Flickr, etc. He could clearly see that already by 1997 there were so many websites and many thousands more joining all the time that any photographer simply believing that creating a website and adding photos to it would make them famous was at best naïve.

A good read not too intellectual and I would recommend this book to both students and hobbyist alike.