Project Development | The Barber

Visiting the barber is an event that I always look forward to as I usually get to have a beer, sit down and have a chat with my pal. For me it is a chance to talk about football and share funny stories about our past experiences about girls, previous jobs and football. Before my arrival I always make sure that I pick him up a can of Red-bull and a packet of biscuits, usually those of the highest calorie count I can find as he is always on a diet or moaning about his weight. This is symbolic of our relationship as I too spend too much time worrying about my weight. A packet of biscuits is our small piece of activism against the pressures of being in our late thirties, a mortgage, children and our weight.

On this occasion I decided to take my camera with me, unsure how it may contribute to my project but I felt at the very least it was an opportunity to practice my portraits. When scouting the space I suddenly noticed the Eric Cantona mural on the wall. This not only represented a great project opportunity but a way of opening up my project to a theme of heroes. As a child I remember having many footballing heroes and on occasion the opportunity to get a photo with one of my footballing heroes presented itself.

With Julian Germain (Soccer in Wonderland) and Emma Case (Red) in mind I thought about the prospect of opening up my project with a socially engaged element where I could collect photographs of fans with their footballing heroes in addition to collecting short responses to imagery of footballing heroes. Social media will be a good mechanism for this experiment in addition to having the potential to find out some interesting and relevant information.

I will explore and develop this avenue throughout the module.

Case, E (2018) [Online] Available at: (Accessed 7th Oct 2020)

Germain, J (1994) Soccer in Wonderland Booth-Clibborn Editions, London.

Andrew Findlay | Cantona 2020

Contextual Research | Felicity McCabe

Today i watched the lecture with Felicity McCabe and on reflection I am really pleased that I was able to find the time as the last couple of days have been hectic to say the least. Monday 5th Oct I tested positive for COVID which meant great upheaval as I needed to quickly prepare remote learning for some 70 A level and vocation FE students, get feedback so that they could move their projects forward and face minimal disruption to their already affected education. The home life wasn’t much better as I have three step children all of which were abruptly pulled out of school in addition to my three year old Daughter who was in Nursery. As a result my family is back to self isolating, everyone is pissed off as they see others going about their normal lives. 

I found the lecture to be incredibly informative and it was interesting to listen to McCabe discuss her work in addition to getting an insight on her journey through photography and it was heartening to hear such a success story. At this stage of the MA I am used to listening to other professionals speak about their work and the understanding that the photographers concerns and motivations are equally as important as the work itself. I find this quite amazing as I discover work, then in researching the intentions of the author the work is transformed into something powerful and moving. 

My initial research draws me to the project ‘Dryland’ as I am currently working on a project for Oxfam. It was interesting to see how other photographers have interpreted a brief working with a charity. There are a number of elements that I like about this work, the starting point being the high key aesthetic McCabe utilises. Whenever I see work of this nature I engage with the detail of the work and I respect a photographer such as McCabe as she has the confidence to light the whole frame opening up the photograph to close scrutiny by the viewer. It takes a confident photographer to do this especially within the context of documentary or environmental portraits. 

McCabe, F (2015)

Secondly, listening about the philosophy in terms of sequencing was really useful as this is something I really struggle with in my own work. McCabe was quite up front when discussing how she takes advice from others and probably something I need to take on board further. I find the image below a quite amazing sequence of photographs, the union between the tree stumps and the legs of the young boy illustrates the talent and intricacy of McCabe’s work. The posing of the legs to mirror the tree stumps makes for an image to be looked at and looked at again and at this stage, the more I look the more I enjoy it. Coupled with the high key tones serve to contextualise the image and place it as a photograph with a powerful message about inequality. The introduction of colour would usually dominate such a sequence but in this case McCabe uses the vibrant tones as a supporting act to the legs and tree stumps. 

In conclusion, I feel that this is a supremely confident image and representative of a confident photographer who has a firm command of their craft in both a technical and philosophical sense. The outcome of bringing together multiple elements to convey both tension and peace. 

When listening to McCabe discuss her work, I took many important pieces of advice however what the advice that i find most pertinent is the idea the photography is one big concern or vision and each project is a chapter within that vision. Read (2017) confirms such ideas ‘Looking back at the concerns that form the backbone of the work and the interests which fuel it, with or without input from others, will serve to provide evidence of where they have been and point the direction for the future.’ Having listened to McCabe in the lecture I take her concerns about time memory and fragility to be the most important motivations behind her work and more importantly I see and feel these concerns throughout her photographs.

McCabe, F (2015) Dryland [Online} Available at: (Accessed) 7th Oct 2020.

Read and Simmons (2017)  Photographers and Research, The Role of Research in Contemporary Photographic Practice. Taylor and Francis, New York.

Week 3 | Forum – Art & Commerce

Since embarking on the MA my approach has developed significantly and it is causing nightmares in terms of my wedding photography business. My approach to taking wedding photos, I have three main themes which I need to satisfy to ensure that the people who book me are happy. The general rules I adhere to are moments, couple time and group shots. This is a very loose description and there are other areas such as details etc however I won’t speak about them here. 

In terms of the wedding business, I endeavour to build the brand on chasing moments such as instances of happiness, emotion and humour. These type of photographs are what I try to fill the portfolio with as they are spontaneous and provide a greater opportunity stand out against the vast competition in the online jungle. This is an approach that works for us as 80% of the competition usually rely on portraits and happy snaps using a long lens. That leaves the other 20% who I am engaged in a competition with. I shoot at 24mm with an ethos of wide and close, filling the frame with a random moment to invoke an emotion.

Drew Findlay Wedding Photography

Regarding the making work for my project, I understand that I cannot get away with the wide and close strategy in many cases. And from the MA course I have discovered that I really enjoy speaking to people and making portraits. With regards to this, I have made every mistake in the book however I feel that I am slowly beginning to make portraits that are more considered and moving towards my intentions. Looking back at previous work, I feel that much of it has potential but naive in parts, this is still the case although I would argue that my work is improving.

When making wedding portraits I have a set routine that I know I need to cover to make a couple happy. Only when I have done this do I feel able to take risks and try something different which is where the job can become fun. Taking the conventional and trying to push the boundaries. This approach transcends into the type of audience who book us for their wedding photos. Before we meet, clients already have an idea of the type of people we are through the type of work they see on the portfolio. 

When making work for my project I feel that I scrutinise my work a in much greater depth, firstly looking for a clean composition which isolates a subject whilst encompassing the environment included in the frame. In doing this my intention is less subjective leaving the audience to contemplate the work further as any messages may be less obvious. Bate (2009,P70) suggests that the ‘purpose of surface depth in photography intentionally leaves the spectator out of the equation.’ This may be relevant as I feel that the majority of my wedding photography is mostly about surface depth with the intention of confirming Sontag (1973, p9) and the idea that “the trip was made, the programme was carried out, that fun was had”. Sontag perfectly summarises the objective of a wedding photographer and I need to understand that this type of visual language is appropriate for the context of a celebration. When my commercial/wedding work goes beyond this objective I am in danger of putting my business at risk. 

Andrew Findlay 2020

BATE, D (2009) Photography, The Key Concepts. Oxford, Berg.

SONTAG, Susan. (1973) On Photography. New York, Dell Publishing.

Contextual Research | Project Development

At this stage of my football themed project I am used to feeling at odds with the concerns I had when embarking on the MA. Mainly due to lockdown and the impact of COVID, the disruption has been enormous in terms of exploring the theme non league football as the whole game grind to a holt. 

I have struggled to identify a unifying theme which unites mt project as to date I have covered a plethora of football related culture from visualising the game at grassroots level, exploring the motivations of non league spectators and back to football in the sphere of the home. Finally, moving away from the sport to examine my own grief about the loss of my father in 2015 which is where much of my involvement in the game stems from. 

At present, the task going into this module is to understand how I can use the work I have produced in order to plot my route forward and generate a new set of objectives based on what I have previously explored. Therefore my future direction must be representative of my initial motivations whilst continuing to shift and evolve, Read (2017) supports this approach when citing Clarke states  ‘Looking back at the concerns that form the backbone of the work and the interests which fuel it, with or without input from others, will serve to provide evidence of where they have been and point the direction for the future.’ Read’s comments encapsulate the context of the decisions I am currently facing perfectly whilst offering some comfort that a cohesive, powerful project is still attainable. 

In terms of a rethink, my starting point is Germain (1994) and his book Soccer in Wonderland. I have been aware of this book for some time and used it in my contextual research previously. The back of the book this time being my starting point so that i could fully understand his intentions with this work and states: 

In Soccer Wonderland, a fan’s vision of football. This is a book about football’s winners and losers,heroes and legends, the trophies and the terraces. It is about the heroes and dreams of the supporters, the memories, mub and miseries, the fantasy and the glory, the rain and relegation, In Soccer Wonderland shows how football exists in the hearts and minds of the fans.

Deconstructing the blurb on the back of the book this first line offers the major interest, particularly the phrase ‘a fans vision of football’ which at present sounds amazingly simple as throughout the MA I have probably been over enthusiastic in theorising the intent of my project. In response, I will spend the coming days thinking about my project, specifically what the blurb on the back of my own book will say. This will form the basis of my project in addition to a contextual road map which encapsulates what it is I am trying to achieve in addition to serving as an overarching question to ask myself when creating work.

Socially Engaged Approach 

Upon further research of Soccer in Wonderland, figure1 appears to be illustrative of a socially engaged approach by encompassing a simple question ‘The worst thing about football is?’  Followed by a collection of short qualitative responses. This may have been collected by a questionnaire or focus group and offers an interesting dimension to the book, this approach may also may be applied to my own project. Collecting responses by participants, possibly asking open questions using social media or  a workshop which could provide a deeper engagement with the project. Adding a socially engaged element is an approach that really appeals to me, having previously researched Emma Case and her project ‘Red’ which is a useful example encompassing the objective of creating an archive, although that would be far too extensive for my own project. Helguera (2011) cites Emilia ‘to participate is not to create homogeneity; to participate is to generate vitality’. In encompassing a collection of quotes/thoughts of others I suspect would yield some interesting results and add a nostalgic dimension to the project whilst taking the work away from my own person vision but at the same time provide anchorage to my work. When observing the pages in figure 1 my personal engagement is positive and enables the audience to identify with the work on a universal level. Inroads will be made into this approach and I will look to exploit further.

Going forward I will experiment and develop ideas relating to an achievable dimension of a socially engaged nature. 

Figure 1 | Germain, J (1994) Soccer in Wonderland P62-63

Germain, J (1994) Soccer in Wonderland Booth-Clibborn Editions, London.

Helguera, P (2011) Education for Socially Engaged Art, A Materials and Techniques Handbook. Jorge Pinto Books, Mexico City.

Read and Simmons (2017)  Photographers and Research, The Role of Research in Contemporary Photographic Practice. Taylor and Francis, New York.

Oxfam Brief: Meeting 1

Today I took part in a zoom meeting with my group to discuss ideas for the live brief task which is to promote ‘Second Hand September’ and Oxfam. Having done some initial research I contributed some ideas to the group which encompassed a socially engaged theme using the likes of Jenny Odell and Mandy Barker as examples of innovative approaches. 

At the conclusion of the meeting no real decisions were made although we did devise a strategy for further research with my avenue being to research photographers who have engaged in photography campaigns for charity organisations. 

We will meet again to share our findings on Wed 7th Oct.

Week 2 Reflection

Week 2 Reflection 

This week has been quite strange and varied. In contemplating the copyright case between Prince and Cariou, I always find it difficult to make judgements about such disagreements as I feel that both parties were able to present credible arguments with justified reasoning. Therefore I often feel that I run out of brain cells some way before I am able to make a decision which encompasses the accuracy and understanding of the case. 

When considering the DNA of my photographic practice, I could consider my one work as being positioned in what Scott (2014, p5) describes as a domestic professional. Primerillaly, the practice that I yields the highest rewards is wedding photography, with occasional work in other ares of the commercial sector. I do have some prestigious clients and my work can be seen on the BBC through shooting stills for production companies in addition to clients  looking for web content. However I don’t market myself in these sectors with work often coming from my personal network which is broad and varied. 

I am also employed in an FE college as a lecturer where I teach mainly  media and photography teaching A level and vocational courses. Having been employed in the same establishment for over eight years I do have a degree of security and sustainable employment, whether that could be considered a creative job is a question I often think about and still not sure of the answer. In one respect my job in the college i’m governed by line managers and results but in other avenues, I get to run workshops and help young people curate their work and encourage them to think about their creative concerns and presentation of work. 

In summarising the context of my work, it is varied and extremely busy. I teach twenty four hours a week, shoot between fifteen and twenty weddings a year in addition to taking on other work when I can. Add an MA into the mix and that renders me an extremely busy person. Having said that, weddings have been cancelled since March therefore the wedding business has taken on different challenges which is dealing with rearrangements, maintaining the website and marketing. 

Studying the MA has been like entering into a new world personally. As my creative journey started in the TV industry eventually moving towards photography I initially felt out of my depth on the MA with very little contextual knowledge, I spent my time working hard to learn what I needed to learn before making decisions about the type of professional I would like to be. 

As I continue to acclimate myself I am reevaluating the direction I would like to pursue. In an ideal world I would like to move away from photographing weddings and teaching and going towards photojournalism. As my research continues I actively follow and engage with publications such as the football magazine ‘When Saturday Comes’. Ech edition has a photo feature with a small pool of photographers such as Colin McPherson and Paul Thompson both of whom are photojournalists who have appeared to have had sustained careers working on repeat commissions on a regular basis in addition to featuring in numerous exhibitions around the world. Having spoken to McPherson on a number of occasions it is also interesting that he has diversified his work into writing which currently feels like a difficult task for me as I would suspect that I lack the mental agility to make such a shift although I suspect I will try in the future. 

Looking for inroads into the building a network into the photographic world, I have been following organisations such as the Open Eye Gallery for some time, looking for opportunities and avenues to engage with the gallery, I am in the process of applying for a program entitled ‘Crossing Sectors’ which is an ongoing mentorship with a focus on socially engaged photography. I see this as an opportunity to develop a network and continue to work in the sector beyond the MA. Having only recently identified the opportunity, I am in the early stages of the application and will seek advice from my tutors when I have composed my application. 

Moving onto the weekly webinar, It was good to meet my new tutor and receive feedback from Colin Pantall. From the presentation of my progress in the webinar it was clear that he was aware of the influences I cited and the type of work was engaging with, his advice was to simplify my project and he suspected that i was overcomplicating my approach to the work, this was a contrast to Cemre my tutor for the last module. In making these comments I don’t mean to detract the advice given by my previous tutor as Cemre was excellent in encouraging me to challenge the approach to my project, exploring different perspectives, solving problems relating to the photographic literacy I was pursuing with the result being personal growth and a quiet confidence in the emergence of my voice. 

Having a tutor that may identify with my work in a different sense will, I hope, enable the going back to the original concerns of my project but with a much more informed and confident outlook. Moving onto the major questions about my own approach to making work, the idea of the ground hopping narrative is now open again as football is taking place with spectators in the ground. However this narrative would exclude lots of my previous work surrounding the grass roots game. Therefore the task is identify a unifying theme that pulls the work together. As I have previously, the work of Julian Germain becomes relevant with his book ‘Soccer in Wonderland’ which is a celebration of football culture exploring themes including grassroots, collectors of programs and childhood games such as subbuteo.

Drew Findlay (2017) [Online] Available at: [Accessed 3rd Oct 2020]

Germain, J (1994) Booth-Clibborn Editions, London.

Grant, Scott (2014)  Professional Photography: The New Global Landscape Explained (2014), CRC Press.

Open Eye Gallery [Online] Available at: [Accessed 3rd Oct 2020]

Week 1 | Independent Reflection

The first week of the Sustainable Prospects module was one of acclimatising to the mindset of academia having had some time off. Over the break I didn’t create much work as I needed time to contemplate my project while considering the potential avenues I could explore further. The last module once again represented significant growth in both the creation of work in addition to the philosophical approach to my project.

As a result, I am currently moving away from the football theme as the patriarchal narrative emerges. The idea of exploring the relationship I had with my father being the initial concern with my work in the last module. I am now exploring methodologies appropriate to opening up my ideas which could have a broader appeal than my personal emotions. Therefore the next stage of my project will be to explore ways of disseminating my concerns and encompassing a universal theme that would be identifiable with multiple audiences. 

Read (2017) cites Clarke who makes some useful comments about developing projects, ‘Looking back at the concerns that form the backbone of the work and the interests which fuel it, with or without input from others, will serve to provide evidence of where they have been and point the direction for the future.’ 

At this stage of my project  I agree with Clarke and take confidence from assertions as from the outset of the MA, the backbone of my thought process usually traces back to something about my father. Whether shared experiences, or advice he gave whilst in my formative years. I am now attempting to understand and identify with my experiences beyond the surface. As opposed to visualising football culture. I am now beginning to consider themes such as loneliness, insecurity and self reliance. All of which I feel are motivated in some capacity from my Fathers difficult experiences of being adopted as a child. 

The sense of being an outsider looking in, is another theme currently relevant and fuelled by an understanding that my Dad left his home in Scotland, joined the army, coming to live his life in Manchester. These ideas may translate into visual ideas which I could represent. Photographs of transit happening, moving objects or stations for busses and trains. Visualisations of what one might see when they leave such a place in addition to portraits of people engaging with travel. Asking why they are leaving or arriving at a place. 

In going with this approach I hope to achieve a sense of journey as Paul Graham did in his book the Great North Road. Interior photographs where possible, documentary images of environments encompassing multiple entries such as doors, windows and openings in roads. I do anticipate being knocked back multiple times in asking people for street portraits however I am hoping that my approach does yield some results. Laurent (2017) in the Time website writes about photographers as ‘the ones who sort all of the chaos of the world into images that bring clarity to the free for all of life.’ And at this stage of my learning I take heart and understanding from such a comment.

At present I feel that my task as an author of a project is to sort through my thoughts and feelings in order to bring clarity to my own voice. I have spent the last three modules pontificating, exploring and building my photographic literacy but now is the time to deliver my voice with a clarity and confidence which represents my development. I further feel that clarity is important in my photographic process. Going back to the idea of sorting through the chaos of the world (Laurent 2017), making photographs that have a clear direction is important in a personal sense for the new work I will create. In ordering the goings on in day to day life I understand that I will be required to make quick decisions when working with strangers in addition to working in a considered fashion when working on shoots with more planning. The objective throughout this module is to produce work which adheres to Szarkowski’s idea that ’The photographer hopes, in brief. To discover a tension so exact that it is peace’. I interpret this opinion to mean producing work that encompasses a visual language that satisfies my considered intention. Using the metropolis to my advantage, deforming  and manipulating it to bring clarity to my voice, and work which adheres to my concerns as a photographer.

Eggleston, W. (2002) William Eggleston’s Guide. New York, The Museum of Modern Art.

Laurent (2017) Why We Do It: Photographers and Photo Editors on the Passion That Drives Their Work [Online] Available at: 

Read and Simmons (2017)  Photographers and Research, The Role of Research in Contemporary Photographic Practice. Taylor and Francis, New York.

Week 1 | Forum – Research Methods

At present, my research is focussing on the development of my voice in terms of producing a personal monograph. To date I feel that I have struggled to produce a WIPP that really reflects my intentions. This has been the case in each module although I do feel that my practice has developed significantly throughout the course. I have begun to research photographers such as Paul Greham (The Great North Road) in addition to the likes of Alec Soth in order to cultivate a powerful voice which encapsulates a type of journey whether visually or philosophically. 

The entry point for my project had a general theme of the people, places and objects surrounding community football. This developed into the examination of how this theme was relatable to the relationship I had with my father who passed in 2015. 

Contextual research will continue to highlight opportunities to create metaphors and cohesion whether that is within the football theme or not. When producing work I will endeavour to continue to utilise observations in much more detail, having the confidence to believe in the quieter work I produce as opposed trying to illustrate my development. 

When considering photographers, I find the work of Mandy Barker interesting. Visualising marine plastic debris. Barker collects images from participants from sources across the world, using them to produce aesthetic montages . Baker states of her work 

‘combining a contradiction between initial aesthetic attraction along with the subsequent message of awareness.’ 

The research methodologies of archiving found objects’ provides authenticity whilst enriching the work by making important statements about the environment. The project ‘Penalty’ could be broadly linked to my football themed project in addition to the climate change briefs. Barker used images of footballs to create montages as seen in the example below. 

This work Emphasises the beauty of human creativity in addition to human carelessness. The result is anxious raising.

Mandy Barker | Penalty 2015

My second example is a socially engaged project based around the fans of Liverpool football club with the intention of archiving fan memories. Case cites a fan on the website “The best way to look at our club is through the eyes of the fans.”  I find this idea particularly interesting because I am able to identify with the culture and assets collected and fear that items such as physical snapshots/photographs are becoming something of the past. Similar to family albums, I still enjoy looking through albums and find photographs with familiarity intriguing, much the same as family photographs taken before I was born. Understanding that this is how ‘something once was.’ 

Fan Image from the project Red

The concept represents an idea I would be interested in pursuing with the team that I follow although probably post MA.

Barker, M (2014) Penalty [Online] Available at:  (Accessed 20th Sept 2020)

Case, E (2018) Red [Online] Available at: (Accessed 21st Sept 2020)

Shoot | The M60 and the Mersey

Continuing on from the last module where my work focussed on the production of a monograph which visualises the relationship I had with my Father who passed in 2015.

This project had evolved from a football theme into a self exploration of my own thoughts, feelings and grief. Whilst reflecting on what I’d learned since my last submission, my contemplation headed towards trying to understand my Fathers background.

Adopted from a young age as a result of his Mothers early passing soon after his birth, I never really considered how this may have affected his outlook on life. I knew that he was self reliant and wise in coping with the struggles of life. He was popular and could make people laugh with ease, however I also understood that he lacked a sense of belonging.

Working as a taxi driver mostly on nights, his working life was often isolated and dark. Travelling in his black cab when most of the world was sleeping in their safe place.

It was this which made me think about the places we often see but don’t notice. The spaces between the town centre and the community.

The town of Stockport is situated around seven miles South of Manchester City centre. It is well served by the river Mersey, M60 motorway and less less than two hours away from London by rail.

My intention with this shoot was to explore some of the areas that sit next to these transport links as a visual metaphor of my thoughts about my father. Well connected but unloved and outside the vernacular bubble of the family unit.

I approached this trip without really having any specific ideas about what I was looking for whilst at the same time having a feeling that it was the right place to visit.