Blog posts, thoughts, things

A photograph that made me think – ‘Carcass’ (2013), Kyle Thompson

This image in particular caught my interest due to its ambiguous yet captivating nature. Known for his introspective and highly conceptual pieces in which you often question the narrative of the story he is trying to evoke. With no discernible central character or protagonist in this piece with no face in view, the image becomes more ambiguous. You are no longer able interpret a specific story line to the image, instead many, appealing to the masses. The central focus of the image is the formation of scrambling limbs clasping and reaching beyond the surface of the dark watery depths. Either in strength or struggle perhaps representing the broader human condition, in the face of mortality. In juxtaposition, the seemingly tranquil, natural environment, the lustful grappling of the flesh, representing a kind of purgatory for the photographer himself or the collective. For example, the two natural elements of earth, the forest and immersive state of the water, being the two planes of existence represented as natural states of life and death. To finalise, only some hands appear to be partially penetrating the surface of the water, those unable to cross through the thresholds or even reach the central formation in unity.

Louisa Millest

L1 Photography, University of the West of England


A photograph that made me think – ‘Naturally page 39’ by Bertil Nilsson

This series of images makes me think about our place within nature by working with naked dancers in extreme locations. Throughout the series Nilsson places dancers in stark locations with a lot of negative space, which I feel shows how small our place is within nature. Furthermore, it makes me think about how we are vulnerable because nature will always have the upper hand, no matter how much we, as humans, try to take control and alter the planet.

In this image in particular, I think that the dancer looks vulnerable as he has his back to the tide, and we don’t know which way it is moving. His body language and the way that his face hidden also further this feeling of vulnerability and make me think that the dancer is relinquishing control back to nature. Also, his vulnerability is seen through the fact that he is naked, and this makes me think about our history and our place within nature in the past, compared to how now the majority of people live very separately from nature.

As well as this, Nilsson makes you feel shocked upon seeing these images by painting the dancers in varying colours. Here, the contrast between the black sand, white water, and red body, invoke a feeling of ‘unreal’ and ‘otherworldliness’.

Ellie Burd

L1 Photography, University of the West of England


A Photograph that made me think: Neon Grit 2, by Joshua Reis.

I have chosen a photograph from Joshua Reis, called Neon Grit 2 which is from a similar series. This image made me think of time and decay, and the far future, with its use of intense, vibrant colour it abstracts the subject into geometrical shapes, which gives it a very sci-fi look, until you see that the subject is peeling paint.

This contrast between vibrance and decay was very interesting to me, as it made me think about our perception of the now, the past, and the future, and how what we see as the future will one day be seen as mundane and normal, whereas our present will be seen as quaint and more natural by people.

The theme of decay and abandonment is a strong one for me, as it really helps to bring the focus to time specifically, rather than being just a futuristic image.

The colour sused are the reason I chose this image over the others, as blue and purple are very futuristic colours to me, and the wood is cleanest, which helps to hide the subject a little longer, giving time for ideas of the future to form more strongly in my head.

All in all, it is an image I enjoy looking at, and it has given me some interesting things to think about.

Emrys Rose,
L1 Photography, University of the West of England


A photograph that made me think – Man Beside Wheelbarrow, Dorothea Lange

Due to the barren nature of the background of this photograph, the eye is immediately drawn into the head of this man, which is lying on his hands, portraying an extreme sense of exhaustion and despair. The lack of colour and the fact you cannot see the man’s face gives anonymity to the image, provoking the idea that this feeling of despair is not only felt by him, but also others. The origin is San Francisco, California in 1934, which prompts me to link this emotion of sadness to the Great Depression, a feeling shared by millions of Americans in the 1930s. This is emphasised further by the overturned wheelbarrow next to him, symbolising a loss of hope and stagnation from the way the wheel is no longer moving and turning, just like many people’s working lives at this time. His clothes and shoes are worn and unkempt, implying these may be the only he owns, again underlining his lack of money. For the angle of this photograph, Lange would’ve had to squat down to the man’s level, illuminating her sense of empathy towards those in the Depression. From her doing this, the viewer is put on the same level as this individual, not as a superior to him, allowing them to convey more compassion.

Alice Lock

L1 Photography, University of the West of England


A photograph that made me think – Mural, Pripyat by Nadav Kander

This picture shows an abandoned apartment in the town of Chernobyl which was left in devastation after a nuclear accident. The tree starting to grow in the middle made me think about how nature was taking over the decaying town and provides a sense of man vs nature, with nature being in the lead. It also made me think about the different aspects of contrast represented in the image. Firstly the peeling wall paper, smashed floors and decaying wood all show a state of ruin, however the religious image on the wall remains in perfect tact which made me feel an eerie sense of perhaps whether religion may play a part in such disasters. Also the contrast of bold colours from the painting compared to the the calm and mundane colours of the rest of the room seem to represent when the place was once lived in, it would of been cheerful and full of life but now has been left empty and desolate. The last contrast I noted was the lighting used in the image, to me it seems fairly bright which makes the room look light and airy as if it is a happy place, however the obvious truth is that is a completely abandoned place with a tragic past behind it.

Maddie Moughton-Small

L1 Photography, University of the West of England


A photograph that made me think – Days with my father, Philip Toledano

This photograph is part of a series focused on Toledano’s father. I view this chair as a portrait of his father, there is a mark left behind on the cushion, showing someone has recently occupied the chair. I believe the empty chair represents someone no longer present, in the case of this series this shows two sides of Toledano’s father, the grieving for his wife’s death and Toledano realising a part of his father is missing from the short term memory loss. I noticed that when this photograph is taken out of context, it is quite negative which contrasts to some of the warmer, even humorous, images in the series. The lighting is beautiful, it is soft and quiet which reflects the sensitive subject of the series however, I think there is also something artificial about the lighting as it has blue and grey tints. This photograph is one of the few in the series that does not contain Toledano’s father so, there is no direct human emotion coming through. I think both these factors, artificial lighting and no human subject, contribute to a feeling of finality surrounding the photograph.

Emma Roff

L1 Photography, University of the West of England


A photograph that made me think – Lily Cole and spiral staircase, Tim Walker

Tim Walker’s images blur the boundaries between the natural and the man-made world. The inclusion of extravagant lavish sets, full of detail captivates the viewer and draws them into his fantastical world. I love the dramatic dreamscapes of this particular photograph. Walker has decided not to use a studio but rather an immersive and dramatic location.

The model helps to portray an idea of childlike naivety and innocence in what in its’s reality is a cut throat commercial world. Due to the photograph being taken at a slight low angle, the model appears dominant and powerful at first glance, however, her pose and facial expression contrasts against this visual raised dominance and she appears gentle and innocent in the way she is hiding beneath her arm and curled up, suggesting little confidence.

The curved staircase compliments the elegant soft folds of the dress juxtaposed against the ridged, symmetrical nature of the high ceiled room and gothic windows. The photograph has no accompanying text leaving the viewer free to interpret the image as they wish. It is a combination of fashion and architectural imagery . Both are reminiscent of an older sophisticated age of both glamourous dress and decadent architectural form.

Jess Thomas

L1 Photography, University of the West of England


A photograph that made me think – Trolley – New Orleans (1955) – Robert Frank

The first time I saw this image I was satisfied with how good the composition and framing was, but after another couple of seconds viewing this image it started speaking so much more than just technically good photography. It started to make me realise the social degradation resulting from the segregation between different classes and ethnic groups in 1955, America.

This image made me think in two ways, photographically and politically. Photographic wise this image is perfectly framed and composed, the way each bar of the bus windows isolates the difference in class and ethnicity really speaks about the divide in the American culture back in 1955.

Politically this image really enhances what it was like to be a minor in the American society in 1955, the way that white upper class people were closer to the front and black working class people closer to the back really makes you think ‘How bad was the segregation between races, classes, ages and how it affected everyday life?’. This image is only one of many from ‘The Americans’ photobook which photographically, but more politically makes me think about how your view on the world through your camera can influence different people’s opinions on society and art in general.

Jake Haseldine

L1 Photography, University of the West of England


A photograph that made me think – bySOPHIE SEYMOUR, photograph called ALEXXA

I have chosen this photograph by Sophie Seymour as it made me think about many things. In particular, it made me think about if it Seymour intended to look like a photograph taken in the early 1960’s or if that’s just the way the photograph turned out. I want to know why Seymour specifically chose that car to place in the background, that car is the main factor in what makes me believe she has chosen the 60’s to emulate.

However, something else that makes me think is why Seymour’s model is walking away from the camera. I believe that this is to create a sense of “mystery” to the model as the audience we are meant to ask questions about where she is going? Is she lost? If the model was facing the camera there wouldn’t be that sense of mystery anymore it would just be a photograph of a model in a road.

Finally, one last thing that makes me think when looking more deeply into the photograph is the angle in which Seymour has chosen to take this particular photograph. I’m thinking about it because it’s almost like a point of view angle, as if the audience where to be stood there as well that is exactly what we’d see. This is interesting because maybe that’s the intention. Going back to what I said earlier about creating a sense of mystery I think Seymour wants the audience to imagine we are going on this mystery adventure with her.

Hannah Royle

L1 Photography, University of the West of England

A photograph that made me think- `Untitled` by Jerry Uelsmann

I first discovered this photograph by Jerry Uelsmann in my introduction to photography. It made me question the subject matter in depth and the ideas he is trying to communicate to the viewer. The complexity of the layering challenges the viewer’s comprehension on the themes and the emotions that are being communicated, and therefore allows an ambiguous interpretation. This is supported by, the photo’s unnamed title, as it gives no further indication of the artist’s thoughts. The central positioning of the house, allows ideas of desolation and isolation to be implicated within the photo. This is evident through the stark and jagged lines shown in the tree roots and the cracked windows, which can also convey tension. Furthermore, the dark blacks and the bold white tones creates a heavy contrast and emphasises a sombre atmosphere. It could be said that, given the Surrealist context, the subject matter could symbolise themes of anxiety and the isolation felt through an inner mental struggle. Which I feel is evident from the fixed and grounding of the tree roots. However, the mystery of comprehending what the subject matter is trying to communicate enabled me to think about the complexity of human emotion and subconscious thoughts.

Jessica Buckley

L1 Photography, University of the West of England