Monthly Archives: April 2013

Hasselblad shoot

Interviewee Dave, an accounting and finance student from the University of Gloucestershire, shares his experiences of a childhood with cancer and how it has made him the wonderful person he is today.


Name: David Sargeant

Type of cancer: Hodgkin’s Lymphoma

Date of diagnosis: 9/04/2004

Date of all clear: 24/09/2004

Age when undergoing treatment: 13

What were your symptoms? 

I don’t think I showed any of the typical ones. They found it because I was clinically anorexic, very weak and was never hungry, causing my parents to first take me to hospital. We later found out it was because a tumor was pushing against my stomach. When I was at the hospital they did a routine blood test and found a high white blood cell count, which meant my body was fighting something, the doctors were just trying to figure out what. It all started from there really.

How did you feel when you found out?

It didn’t feel real at first, I couldn’t comprehend it was happening to me, it felt like I was having a nightmare. Its something I’d heard about but never actually known of anyone around me having. It really started to set in when mum started crying as she told me, with a fearful expression on her face, that’s when I realised that it was something serious, which then made me fear the absolute worst. Mostly because I could tell that she was.

How did being so young at the time of treatment affect you?

It made me feel horribly different at an age when all I really wanted to do was fit in. I couldn’t do things that everyone else was doing as my immune system was so weak. I also had to stop playing football because of the port in my chest, which was difficult as my life pretty much revolved around it at that point.

How did your friends react to it?

I didn’t tell many of them, those who did know all just seemed scared and sorry for me. It was hard as every time somebody found out, the real question they all wanted to ask was “are you going to die?” So I didn’t really tell anybody myself, it lead to questions I didn’t want to answer or didn’t know the answers to.

How did you feel when you were given the all clear?

Relief, mostly for my parents. It felt like I had fought it physically but they had emotionally.  It was amazing knowing that they didn’t need to worry anymore, I was very aware of how they had completely put their lives on hold for me. I felt guilty for needing so much of their help when I should have been getting more independent. I was happy they could be who they were again and stop feeling that they needed to put me before themselves.

What is your fondest memory of that feeling?

Realising that I was no longer a cancer patient, and seeing the smile on my parents’ faces.  It was the end of a long battle, which we had won and fought together.

How was/is your after care?

Check ups, which are now every 3 years. They made me nervous at first, as it could have been it starting all over again if I had a relapse. Now, they are just part of my routine and a part of my life.

How has it affected your life as you know it now?

It makes me worry that I will run out of time, which can be positive or negative. In school I was always asked what I wanted to be when I grew up. At one point I thought I wouldn’t so I panic whenever I look too far ahead and think assuming you’ll be here for years and years to come is naïve.

Has it changed your out look on life?

Makes me not want to waste it, but it also made me realise that simple things in life like family and friends are the most important.

What would be your main piece of advice for children going through what you went though?

Stay positive, and do whatever you feel is best for you. People will have opinions as to what you should do but only you know how you and your body feel.

What are your goals and aspirations for the future?

Just to make my life count, it quite easily could have been taken from me. So I want to see the world, experience different cultures, be successful in my chosen career and if possible have a family. Basically, fit as much as I can in whatever time I am given and make it count.


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April 25, 2013 · 8:06 pm

My response to Simon Norfolk’s photo ‘The MareNostrum’

Simon Norfolk's photo ‘The MareNostrum’

Simon Norfolk’s photo ‘The MareNostrum’ from The Supercomputers: ‘I’m sorry Dave, I’m afraid I can’t do that’ collection presents an almost angelic scene before the viewer. It is ironic however that an arguably beautiful picture contains the power within to destroy the entire world within a nanosecond. The alluring red ceiling and golden walls juxtaposes the clear glass casing and metallic machines below, a combination spiraling into temptation. Both as inaccessible as the other to the human touch, the rich colours and symmetrical shapes become alluring to the viewer. They find themselves transfixed and staring at what on paper would seem an exceedingly dull image. Norfolk has brought beauty into a very dark and sinister world unknown or appreciated by the majority of mankind. It is almost as if he has captured this binary opposition in one frame, created to allow the viewer the belief that they can just reach out, desiring some form of contact, and touch what appears to be a haven of splendor. A trait the generic war photograph does not traditionally have.

Photographing supercomputers does not fit the conventions of war photography most would agree. In these images Norfolk has tried to show the world that perhaps the biggest combat zones are no longer the ones featured on the news and in the media but the ones hidden away, concealed from everyday life, “Those supercomputers – big BlueGene [worlds biggest computer] in particular – those are battlegrounds” (Norfolk, 2006, online). Norfolk is desperately trying to convey to people that at the rate of improving technology gone are the days of trenches and ‘man on man’ warfare, it will soon merely take the touch of a button to create complete and utter annihilation, “The supercomputers I’m showing here, the largest in the world, are powerful almost beyond human understanding” (Norfolk, n.d. online). The days when the likes of Don McCullin, Eddie Adams and Robert Capa were shooting war scenes are part of history now, remembered by their haunting photographs of wounded men, violent scenes and pure misery. Norfolk is part of the new wave of combat photographers, an innovative generation having to adapt to original definitions of ‘war’. Through their interpretations of what the general publics understandings of battle are, no longer is it just the front line being shown but also far beyond enemy lines, where no photographer has been before.

Much of Norfolk’s work depicts conventions of landscape photography- using a wide-angle lens, sharp focus, the rule of thirds etcetera. He is using the tradition of landscape photography to create images of war. It shows a much more harrowingly beautiful side of warfare as the viewer is forced to consider how his photographs relate to combat. Only when it dawns on a person just how deadly the MareNostrum (one of the fastest computers in Europe[1]) is does their perception of it change. If there was blood, explosions or tears in the photo in an instant the viewer would accept that it was a war photograph, people have become to assume a genre on their past experiences. It is only on closer inspection and further reading that the genre becomes apparent in Norfolk’s work. By borrowing conventions from another genre of photography Norfolk has stopped viewers in their tracks and made them consider what they are looking at much more, a far more appreciative experience.

Innovation is constantly possible with genre mixing and it has been cleverly applied here by Norfolk as the viewer dwells on what they are looking at and contemplates their emotions towards it. Perhaps more so than if they were looking at a commonly portrayed image of war such as a wounded soldier. In that situation the emotions of the viewer are apparent before they even scrutinize it. At first glance this aesthetically pleasing image (rich in colours, bold shapes, strong features, sharp focus) appears to be a harmless scene, artistic and beautiful. Yet the genre effects how the viewer begins to perceive it, given more information the once peaceful ‘MareNostrum’ becomes a nuclear bomb, an air raider or even a machine gun. The beauty is stripped from it, as it becomes just another combat photo with the internal potential of killing millions. By simply knowing the genre of the shot the entire meaning of it changes to a much darker, sinister and emotive one.

In conclusion Norfolk has used the general acceptance of what a war photograph is to his advantage. By genre mixing and playing with conventions he has managed to create a strikingly delicate and attractive war photograph, something that fifty years ago would have been unthinkable. He has made the impossible possible, broken all of what people thought they knew and questioned their ability to accept out of the norm situations, all through photography.

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Freed from his wheelchair by the magic of photography

“Black canvas: A world of opportunity was opened up to Luka, using just these coloured sheets”

Twelve-year-old Luka suffers from muscular dystrophy – a cruel degenerative disease which confines him to a wheelchair and will make him weaker and weaker over time.

But with these beautiful pictures, entitled ‘The Little Prince’, friend and photographer Matej Peljhan has allowed him to explore an imaginary world where he can shoot a basketball, climb stairs and even perform a handstand.

Amazingly, the images did not require any digital trickery, Matej simply used coloured sheets and carefully placed objects and took the aerial pictures from above.

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Keep a look out for this…

Not to miss:

Tim Hetherington

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Image Deconstruction- Raymond Depardon, ‘Japan, Tokyo’

Raymond Depardon’s photo ‘Japan, Tokyo’ taken in 2004 presents Tokyo as the fast, colourful and hectic place it is perceived or at least believed to be.  The image shows the crowded streets and the irony of how lonely one of the busiest places in the world can be. At eye level, Depardon is capturing photos right in front of people yet no one batters an eyelid or pays any attention to him what’s so ever. The photograph cries out loneliness, the bright lights unreachable up high and the dark colours of the street below, no person so much as looking let alone talking to another. It is as if happiness is as inaccessible as those lights above the crowds.

The use of the natural location (Japan, Tokyo) helps convey the theme of loneliness and isolation in this image.  As a capitalist nation everyone wants to strive for the best they can get, for what they put in they will receive back. Depardon has visually captured this concept as people walk by without any means of communication or regard for others, it is a selfish photograph, one which highlights the negatives of a self centered community, “Capitalism has destroyed our belief in any effective power but that of self interest backed by force” (Shaw, date not known, online). The pedestrians are forcibly walking by; no photographer is going to stop him or her from reaching their goal. Shooting this scene at night also amplifies the isolation heavily featured in it. The classic connotations of the nighttime (lonely, mysterious, secretive etcetera) all play their part in further generating a lonesome scene. The pedestrians are striving away from the lights towards the darkness, a hair raising thought at the best of times. It is almost as if they are about to leave the hustle and bustle of Tokyo behind them as they set out alone into the world beyond the photograph.

The blurred movement in the image accentuates the speed at which people are moving away from each other, there appears to be no desire to stay in each other’s company or in that particular environment. In turn, the straight on camera angle allows the viewer to feel part of that crowd and the ambition to be out of it along with the walkers.  A high angle would have been too impersonal and omnipotent, to truly feel others sense of rush and determination one should be amongst it, not merely observing. Depardon has placed himself amid the subjects he is photographing in order to be on their level and publish them in an honest light, a trait documentary photographers cherish. He has almost made it look as though he is using panning along side the straight angle to draw attention and create emphasise on their movement. Again this fast movement he has photographed yells out loneliness as no one appears to stay or want others company.

Through the use of colour Depardon has created a sense of chaos that a black and white image would not be able to replicate. The lack of colour would have drained the energy and sapped out the vivacity needed to fully highlight the contrast between the isolation of the people and the city they are in. The colour in it captures the attention of viewers and draws the eye to all of the different means of light sources in the photograph, such as the inaccessible lanterns and billboards, a focal point to the image. Stereotypically colour is used to express the emotion of happiness and joy, whereas here it has been skillfully applied to convey busyness and the lonely city life. It appears that no one in the frame has noticed the vast amount of lights and colour around them confirming their determination to leave and their want to walk on by, something a black and white image would not convey.

In conclusion Raymond Depardon has used various subliminal techniques to put across the meaning of loneliness and isolation in his photograph ‘Japan, Tokyo’. Not only through the actual content of the photograph (people walking by alone) but the use of light, location, angle and colour, all combining to create a documentary photograph highlighting the secluded lives of the pedestrians captured around him, oblivious to others and their surroundings. It would be wrong to think of this as a communicative shot of the streets of Tokyo for that would be an insult to Depardon. Whilst the walkers may be amongst other people and part of a crowd, Depardon has shown the world that even the biggest of crowds can be the loneliest of places.

Raymond Depardon’s photo ‘Japan, Tokyo'

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Self Portrait

It’s all well and good breaking apart a portrait of some unknown model in a glossy magazine and unconsciously judging and analysing them but how about a portrait of yourself? Here are seven photo’s of myself that I have chosen to have as a ‘display’ photo for my private Facebook page. I am going to analyse how these images depict me and how I think they make me come across to strangers.  I am also going to ask people what impression they get of me from just looking at those images, as they would a person in a magazine.

Self Portraits

I chose to represent myself through these images as believe they depict me as someone who doesn’t take life too seriously, someone who has a lot of fun with a wide range of activities/environments and someone who doesn’t spend hours photoshopping themselves specifically for Facebook. I want people to see me as a genuine fun person who is willing to have a laugh whilst making the most of opportunities that pass me by. There is a sense of elation about this set of photos with an aura of being privilledge. However, I am a very sporty person and without the top right image this does not come across at all in these photos. I also don’t appear particularly intelligent in these images, there are non showing an academic side to me. I appear as though I like to dress up, perhaps trips to the theatre and dinners out come to mind of the people viewing these. I don’t think I appear (without the top middle shot) vain in these, I must come across fairly down to earth. Yet I do not come across as if I’ve ever done a hard days work in my life- which is not true. It makes me consider how I am putting myself across to strangers and what assumptions they must make of me.

External opinions:

  • All seven pictures make her seem extroverted and extremely social, with the pictures on the top right and bottom left exemplifying this side of her personality. The picture in the center of the top row, along with the photo in the top left, make it seem as though she enjoys life both behind and in front of the lens. And finally the pictures of her all zombified, of her bent over on a car and of her smiling in a tent show her to enjoy simply spending time with friends just like any normal person.
  • She appears confident and doesn’t care about others views or opinions of her. She appears to enjoy the outdoors and is adventurous and carefree. She also comes across as very happy.

My student ID card photo (pictured first) and two other display photos with individual objective feedback: personal pic feedback

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Gentle giants of the sea

These are the breathtaking images captured by a photographer who came eye to eye with a whale and her calf after spending his life savings to realize his ambition of taking pictures of the magnificent creatures.

Bryant Austin, who once worked as a book-keeper at a California state marine lab, published a collection of his work on April 2 entitled Beautiful Whale.

He traveled to the South Pacific in order to realize his dream of photographing the whales up close but admitted that at times, he did not believe that his daring project would come off.

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