Week 3 Activity: False Indexes

Activity: “Linda Hutcheon (2003: 117) thinks that contemporary photography ‘exploits and challenges both the objective and the subjective, the technological and the creative’.
Post a response, including visual examples, discussing:
• How you balance the ‘objective and the subjective’.
• The relationship between the ‘technological’ and the ‘creative’:
◦ Is it a dichotomy or a continuum?
◦ How does viewing context influence this relationship?
◦ Whether this is important to you.”

Referring to Wall’s (Horne, 2012) description of photographers as hunters or farmers, with the former tracking and capturing prey and the latter creating images, I think I am both (Horne, 2012; O’Hagan, 2015). Not in the sense of both hunter and farmer at the same time but in the variety of genres of photography that I chose to be part of. For example, capturing wildlife, land and seascapes and items found on beaches, seizing the moment can be a paramount driver. They are unplanned, almost instantaneous and my rapid response is to catch something using a metaphorical weapon (but without harm) as it may never be seen again (at least not by me).

Splash down! Sarah Newton 2018

However, some others of these images could be accused of being both hunter and farmer in the sense that I see a land or seascape or a pieces of beach debris and take time to decide how to compose the image taking context and lighting into account.

Metal plate and spike on the seashore Sarah Newton 2018

My farmer inclinations are resonant in images I have constructed more recently in pursuit of course activities and project creations. In addition, I include here, revisiting places I have been to and imaged before with developed ideas about what else I wish to take and how I want to take and process the results.

Fishing Lure Sarah Newton 2018

To better understand how I think about the dimensions of subjectivity/objectivity and technology/creativity I created a visual representation relating the two dimensions, which I see as continuum (Hutcheon, 2003,117). Although entirely subjective I placed the main photographic genres within this diagram to see where each in my opinion would lie. Interestingly a diagonal emerged running from mid objective/technology to mid subjective/creative. Others may place the genres differently of course. In relating this to my work I would place hunter tendencies in the former quadrant and farmer in the latter quadrant, with images that have tinges of both approaches towards the centre.

Conceptual Map for the Evaluation of Photographic Images no. 2. Sarah Newton 2018     


I do have reservations about pigeon holing particular photographic practices as resonant with hunters or farmers. Placing oneself and others into categories or boxes may unnecessarily limit development that may ultimately be greater in impact (visually and/or commercially) than would be achievable by being known and perpetuating this understanding as coming from one place. If there is a need to classify (as seems to be part of the human condition to do so in making sense of our world) then I would add many more labels in a multi-layered complex network of interconnected activity.

As an exercise I have found this useful for decision making in relation to my project ‘Beauty and the Beach…’ as well as my photography more generally. I can see that the two dimensions referred to by Hutcheon (subjective/objective and technology/creativity) placed in the 2×2 diagram and interrelating with the concepts Wall proposed of hunter and farmer, provide a contextual framework from which I can move into further experimentation in the quest for a focus, style or niche in relation to my project.

Horne, Rebecca. 2012. Holly Andres, ‘Farmer’ of Photographs’ . The Wall Street Journal. (3rd February 2012). Available at: https://blogs.wsj.com/photojournal/2012/02/03/holly-andres-farmer-of-photographs/. [accessed 10-03-2018].

Hutcheon, Linda. 2003. A Poetics of Postmodernism: History, Theory, Fiction. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge.

O’Hagan, Sean. 2015. Jeff Wall: I’m haunted by the idea that my photography was all a big mistake. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2015/nov/03/jeff-wall-photography-marian-goodman-gallery-show. [accessed 10-03-2018].

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