Assignment 1

To show the same scenario from two different angles

Suggestion One: A protest meeting outside say, parliament or government office.

One set of pictures to show what appears to be a large, vocal, ‘serious’ protest. The alternate set would be of a small, ‘light’, not very committed protest.


  •  close up to make numbers attending seem large. Opposite: shoot wide and make group appear small against large buildings.
  •  if any ‘comic’ element present e.g. someone dressed in costume, or witty banners, image these to make the protest seem ‘light’ or trite. Opposite: ignore these elements.
  •  image angry/cross/shouting people. Opposite: photograph only people with placid expressions.

Suggestion Two: A paved (pedestrianised) up-market shopping street.

One set of images to show a particular street as a ‘shoppers paradise’, the other as a place where people work (at mostly low status jobs).


  • well-dressed shoppers going into a department store manned by liveried doorman. Opposite: street vendor(s) perhaps with department store in background.
  • weather: shoppers hurrying to get out of the rain (with umbrellas) Opposite: vendors, sign holders etc. standing in rain (with or without umbrellas)
  • contrast: elaborate ‘luxury’ window display in background as a litter bin in emptied into cart – any other such  ‘invisible’ work e.g. window cleaning
  • staff from shops taking a break outside to smoke — must do this ‘down a side alley’ and not in front of the store
  • perhaps include also the time of day – people using the street at night after the department stores close differ from the uniformly well-heeled shoppers of say Saturday morning.

Advantage of Suggestion Two is that I can return to the street several times to attempt to get the images. With Suggestion One I’d need to get all the images (both ‘sides’) at one protest and then wait for another protest to try again. Therefore at the moment I favour Suggestion One

The aim of this assignment (accepting Suggestion One above) is to capture images from two target populations on a street – the ‘shoppers’ and the ‘workers’. There are several broad approaches to photographing these groups. The first is to attempt to document each group in the manner of straight documentary (for example see fig. 1.). Rosler (1981: 317) describes this type of documentary practice as one ‘in which an image is caught or created out of the stream of the present and held up as testimony, as evidence in the most legalistic of senses, arguing for or against a social practice and its ideological-theoretical supports, …’.

A second approach is to photograph members of each group in the manner of street photography i.e. avoid any attempt at social investigation and simply document the popular life on the street. A strategy which overlaps with this second approach is one championed by John Szarkowski (1967, cited in Rosler 1981: 321): ‘A new generation of photographers has directed the documentary approach toward more personal ends. Their aim has not been to reform life, but to know it.’ Among the photographers referred to here are Garry Winogrand, Diane Arbus and Lee Friedlander.

This blog entry continues at ‘Assignment 1 – further thoughts‘ Thursday 4th August 2014 at



Rosler, M (1981) ‘In, Around and Afterthoughts (on documentary photography)’ In: Bolton, R. (ed.) The Contest of Meaning: Critical Histories of Photography. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press pp. 303-340

List of Illustrations

Figure 1. Spender, H (1936) Hunger Marchers in Trafalgar Square  At: (Accessed on 26.08.14)