Photography – Self and Other

Word and Image
March 9, 2017

By guest blogger Grace Gelder

This one-day workshop explored different approaches to portrait photography, both of ourselves and others with an emphasis on exploring the relationship between the photographer and subject.

After introductions, we began with a tour of the temporary display A History of Photography: The Body, and focused on seven of the images in detail. The collection contained nude and semi-nude images from the mid-19th century onwards and demonstrated a wide range of styles. After discussing portraits by Edward Weston, Ruth Bernhard, Wilhelm Von Gloeden, Bruce Bernard, Deborah Turbeville and Jo Spence the group had a chance to look around the collection with some themes to focus on including: the relationship between photographer and subject, the journey of the gaze and the feelings that emerged when looking at each image.

The first practical task was to create a self-portrait where you aren’t identifiable and another where there is tension in the body. The second exercise was done in pairs and asked participants to experience being the director of the photo shoot from both behind and in front of the camera.

The thoughtful reflections in the discussion revealed how an awareness of the dynamics within a photoshoot supports photographers to identify their strengths and formulate a unique approach to their work.

Here are some examples of work produced at the workshop; I was impressed by the standard of the work and the creative responses to the tasks. Facilitating for such a diverse and inquisitive group of individuals was a real pleasure!

© Bunshri Chandaria

© Colin Lucas

© Jo Clemens

© Lydie Salima

© Maggie Tattersfield

© Ruth Joy

© Pauline Cobbson

© Tim Stubbs Hughes


Photography –self and other was a practical workshop organised by the V&A’s Digital Learning programme

Grace Gelder is UK based photographer and filmmaker








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