Contextual Research | Alex Webb

Building on my awareness of practitioners I am currently drawn to the work of Alex Webb. On my journey to understanding the ‘poetic image’ I have opened up to a new understanding or appreciation of work which really stands out and take personal enjoyment from. In studying the previous unit I begun to engage with a range of practitioners such as Todd Hido, William Eggleston and Stephen Shore, all of which I will research in further depth in order to inform my project.

Within this post I have selected some photographs of Alex Webb which I feel will inform my community football project.

Figure 1:: Alex Webb

Figure 1 is an image that I would like to echo within my own project. Obviously, the presence of a football provides anchorage to my future intentions however the complexity of the image encompassing seven people while encompassing a clear theme of the colour blue in addition to a secondary theme of stripes and squares is quite magnificent. One could be suspicious as to whether this is a constructed image however that is unimportant in a personal sense because the vision of Webb to even plan such an image is so powerful. Snyder and Allen (1975: p65) cite Szarkowski who argues “the artist begins with the subject then does something to it – deforms it somehow, according to some personal sense of style” Szarkowski’s ideas are particular relevant to the work of Webb in the sense that the arrangements he composes in much of his work suggest a distinctive and complexed style. The fusing of the colour pallet to provide semiotic union with the composition and allow photographs such as figure 1 to come to life.

Culler who cites Riffaterre (1981,p 89) argues that ‘Reading a poem is a quest for unity, and unity is achieved or perceived only when the reader abandons the apparent referential or representational meaning of the discourse and grasps the unifying feature of factor that the various signs of the poem express by indirection’.

In considering figure 1, Webb’s photograph is a powerful example of unifying features such as colour, gesture and composition in order to produce a discourse which suggests a universal theme of children playing in the street. In addition to the lady in the background which suggests a parental element, ‘checking on the children, whilst the children in the bottom left of the frame appear to be engaged in a discussion of type. Webb himself (2014: p41) states in relation to his approach ‘pushing the frame to include more and more, just up to but falling short of chaos’. The assertion of Webb in the case of figure 1 certainly holds relevance as the image isn’t chaotic however I would argue that it is a very busy image while providing the viewer with a sense of space and time.

Culler, J (1982) Culler, The Persuit of Signs, Routledge, London.

Snyder, J. Allen, N.W. (1975) ‘Photography, Vision and Representation’ in Critical Inquiry, Vol.7, No.1. (Autumn, 1975)

Webb, A and Webb, R (2014) On Street Photography and the Poetic Image. Aperture, New York.

Week 1 | Repeat Photography

Comparing Images

At present, my understanding of this field of work is quite basic. However having engaged with making work of this nature I am developing an understanding of the challenges and motivations for making such work. In making work I am drawn to the intrigue and and change in the relationship an audience has.

Figure 1: Repeat Photography | Armoury/Greek Street Roundabout by Drew Findlay

My initial attempt to making repeat photography was both interesting and challenging. Figure 1 is a photograph I produced last year with the image on the right being my recent attempt. The first challenge I faced was concerning the vantage point. When I revisited the vantage point I was referring to a copy of the image taken last year which I had as a reference on my phone. This was useful in a very general sense however due to the vantage point being an elevated position, it was difficult to look at my phone, hold the camera whilst composing the shot. From this experience I quickly learned that considering the vantage point is pivotal in taking on a task of this nature. Klett (2011) suggests that a vantage point can never be exactly replicated and that unintended juxtapositions may be created as a result of this. In my own attempt, the approach was to use the black and white building as an anchor point whilst thinking that if I am accurate then the rest of the photography would fall into place. It is fair to say that this approach was unsuccessful in terms of vantage point however the result may still be interesting. The success within this experience is that an audience would be able to recognise where the photograph was taken and in looking at the image as a pair, the audience would be required to engage further to contemplate the differences within the images.

Figure 2: Repeat Photography | Turnstile, Edgeley Park. Stockport

My second attempt was closer in terms of vantage point to figure 1 although still some way from being accurate. As in figure 1, this image dominated by the absence of people which leads to a much quieter experience for the audience. The colour temperature was also a dictating factor when composing. Shooting in hard light served to make the orange brick structure appear much darker as the vantage point dictated that the photographer was required to shoot into the light. Klett (2011 p120) reaffirms conclusions made by stating ‘Together, careful replication of vantage point and lighting duplication provide the best visual evidence for monitoring changes over time’. Further elements suggest the shift in time such as the growth of the trees in addition to the cyclist who appears to be riding for leisure due to lack of safety equipment suggest the photograph was taken in Spring/Summer.

Figure 3: Repeat Photography | Castle Street. Stockport

I feel that figure 3 is the Mose successful of the combinations presented within this post. Again the vantage point is slightly different again in being a wider shot. In this case I feel the absence of human presence changes the not only the genre of the photograph but also the relationship a viewer has with the image. The tree to the left of the image points to a shift in time while the anchor point to the image rests in the centenaries of the frame supported by other layers of interest such as the junction in the road in addition to multiple entrances and such as windows, gates and doors.

I feel figure 3 represents personal development as current research in the direction of Alec Soth, William Eggleston and Steven Shore.

Working with Multiple Photographs

Figure 4 is the first engagement with working with multiple photographs and combining them to produce an image. I did have some knowledge of this technique through my commercial work within the wedding industry. The method is often used by Ryan Brenizer who utilises photoshop in order to produce dramatic portrait photographs. My first experimentation is an image of a food bank collection organised by my partner. When engaging with this technique I was unsure of what the outcome would be or if the attempt would be successful. In terms of the result, I am pleased that the technique appears to work in a technical sense in addition to being slightly amazed by the seamless result.

The intention of this technique allows the photographer to include more of the context within the image in order to invite the viewer to better understand how the subject has been depicted (Klett 2011). In anticipation of utilising this method further. I will research and experiment in further depth the presence of the context in addition to the lens distortion. Major questions at this time beyond experimentation are where, when and how I would use such a technique.

Technical considerations:

Vantage point, light and context.

Having experimented with compositing techniques I have furthered this approach and attempted to relate the work to my own project. The image below was taken at Edgeley Park in Stockport. I feel the image does have some interest and the effect is quite novel, however the photograph does appear stretched and distorted. This I suspect is because the focal length (24mm) is probably too wide for such a technique. Therefore the next stage of this trial and error project will be to shoot images using an 85mm lens which may offer further compression adding to the authenticity of the image.


Klett et al (2011) The SAGE handbook of visual research methods (Repeat Photography in Landscape Research), New York, SAGE.


Brenizer. R. (2012) Fearless Photographers, [online] Available at: (Accessed: 5th June 2020)

Ed Ruscha Challenge

In response to this challenge I decided to take myself on a photo walk around my local area of Heaton Moor which is a superb of Stockport/South Manchester. Initially, my intention was to take photographs of local shops which is outside the realm of my project however I was enthusiastic about the small adventure. Having reviewed the days work I felt that there were two possible directions I could go.

Avenue 1: was a collection of photographs of cyclists. I seemed to see many of them on my walk therefore I decided to take a photograph encountered.

Avenue 2: Local shops and public houses. This was more aligned with my intention and was the direction I decided to present for the Ed Ruscha challenge.

Whilst looking at the photographs I felt that I could loosely attach my project theme of football by attaching Manchester phrases related to football clubs Manchester United and Manchester City. I encompassed the binary opposite colours red and blue in order to visualise the two football clubs.

The captions serve to anchor the local nature of this mini project and may alienate those from outside of the local area. This could be interesting as the two giant Manchester football clubs are very much recognised as global brands throughout the world. However this project could be seen as a local response to their presence.

Heaton Moor

I chose to use the Ed Ruscha challenge to develop a brochure for my wedding photography business. Having experimented with InDesign in order to produce my WIPP for the previous module I felt that it would be a refreshing task. In order to produce the document I took influence from a football zine that I had found called Glory Mag.

I felt the minimalistic theme and clean white pages were a good starting point and not too ambitious. I found the positioning of text somewhat difficult at times and sought the opinion of graphic designer friends to ensure that I am not breaking any golden rules with typography.

Some of the pages are simple while some of the images are placed in unconventional places, this may represent my wedding photography brand as slightly alternative and driven by a documentary style as opposed to the conventional stereotype.

Surfaces and Strategies PHO703

In considering my own prctice and the idea of ‘stepping in someone else’s shoes’. I have moved beyond the enlightening stage where I am amazed by the work and approaches of others. Moving towards contemplation of how to develop and mature my approaches. It took what seems an age to reflect upon the last mudule (Informing Contexts). I think this is no doubt because of the huge undertaking it was.

The philosophical approaches to my work have changed and I am begining to observe opportunities more frequently. Looking at smaller objects and compositions. Seperating the colour of an object from the composition. In engaging with these techniques I feel that i am beginning to develop a ratanal for looking in a more sophisticated manner.

Throughout the break have have begun to research the work of Alex Webb, William Egglesden and Stephen Shore. Building on my previous interest in the likes of Todd Hido and Alec Soth. I am interested colour photography which seeks the semiotic union of objects, subjects and environments. As a result, I intend to be much more careful in my approach to firing the shutter. Considering arrangements and compositons in the hope of producing images poetic in their nature. Colour will be a totally seperate area for contenplation.

The difficulty in the future development of my project will be to fuse these ideas together to create some type of union.  

Informing contexts did for me, exactly what it says on the tin. Testing the limits of my ability to interpret the varying philosophical debates which surround the ethics attached to a photograph. I will add further weight to my research into photographers and build a critical understanding of them. Applying relevant themes to my own approach. Looking back at my former practice I realise that much of my work is one dimensional banal. The subject matters have not been banal but I feel that my approach to them was. I will attempt to address this throughout this module.