Multiple Media and Interdisciplinary Practices

Week 2. ‘Other than’ Photography

We were asked to think away from photography and to focus on something in our research or practice and write why we chose it and how it relates to our work without adding any photographs. We were also encouraged to read and comment on the submissions of others.

When I first looked at this task I had a word pop into my head. It does not relate immediately to photography or my inspiration for being involved in photography….but maybe it does in some way. I have  looked several times at the task and resisted writing about this word but each time have come back to it. It also  has sent me down a path of thinking about possible projects which seem far removed form my early musings (but not formed in any tangible way) about possibilities!

The word was fist introduced to me in a lecture. It relates to neurology. It makes me think about how other people see the world and this week I have been thinking about people who look at our images and trying to understand what they perceive and see.

The word also relates to another one. Both have links with my career in neuropsychology where I worked most recently with people with people with acquired head injuries, who had experienced strokes and in a first episode psychosis service. Common across these seemingly unrelated presentations were sensory impairments whether temporary or permanent. The words I am talking about are  linked with visual perception.

Prosopagnosia and Capgras delusion

Prospagnosia is an inability to recognise faces and can be developmental, congenital or aquired. It is severe, much more than occasional lapses we may get as we are getting older. (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.

Capgras is where you perceive well known people or pets as imposters (they look the same on the outside but inside they are an imposter) (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.

What surprises me is the research coming out that says prosopagnosia is much more common than originally thought. One of my heroes in Neurology is Oliver Sacks who wrote The Man Who Mistook his Wife for a Hat (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. . Interestingly he discovered that he himself and family members had difficulties with facial recognition in later life.

Thinking about these words got me thinking about other forms of visual difficulty including colour blindness. Living with a family member who is colour blind I am constantly reminded of the difficulties….recognising traffic lights by order not colour (as red and green are the other way round!), choosing clothes that definitely do not “go” together and even buying a car they thought was one colour which they liked when in fact it was something else which they did not like! So what does this mean for me…I have wondered (I am always wondering and thinking since starting the course!) what colour blind people see in our images especially when we carefully take and perhaps manipulate colours to suit what we see and like…. what would they look like to those without the condition adjusted for colour blindness?

In marketing our work are we exclusive in terms of only selling to an audience whose sensory perceptions accord with our own?

Edited by Sarah Newton on 9 Jun at 10:20

The Challenges of Global Photography

Week 1

We were invited to coment on the challenges of global photography having written about them and discussed our thoughts in webinars. Three questions were posed to stimulate and hone our responses. My answers were as follows:

9 Jun 2017 9 Jun at 15:22
  • How do photography’s close ties with global corporations and institutions affect the kinds of images that are seen and/or how they are made? Images for such organisations are for a defined purpose, often to highlight something for awareness and vigilance (e.g. disease, war zones and travel plans) or for money (to sell products and services) or a combination of both. The ultimate presentation of the image is planned and may be constructed to achieve its purpose.
  • Do you think the global nature of photography diversifies the kind of photography that is seen, or homogenises it? I think both. On the one hand promoting for whatever purpose is an activity that naturally seeks new ways of capturing our attention to out do competitors and gain commercial advantage. On the other hand I think there is a huge amount of homogenisation which, although there is some transference both ways -local/global- of types of image and display, is largely biased towards the developed/western countries ways of seeing things.
  • Do you think there is indeed such a concept of ‘universalism’, given the diversity of cultures? How does photography ‘impose’ such ideas? This question kind of overlaps with the previous one. At the same time it differs. For example when travelling in India a while ago (mid 80s) I was struck by Kellogs and Cadbury packaging. The colours and images had some similarity but the tastes of the products was different. When I enquired further about these and other things I have subsequently noted while travelling I was informed that recipes can differ to cater for different tastes in different cultures! So they seem to be examples of local wrapped up in global to increase appeal and sales!

The Global Image

Week 1

In response to the task “Choose a global image, write about it and comment on at least two posted by others”….

5 Jun 2017 5 Jun at 17:53

I chose my image of a floating fishing village in Bintan Indonesia as there is a global story running through from the past to the future. I visited the Suku Laut villagers courtesy of the Island Foundation (TIF) in 2015 ( to an external site. ). Low fishing stocks and quotas and the encroaching tourist industry on the island have meant that the traditional life of the tribes living in the communities has been disrupted. The Island Foundation aims to inform, educate and support self development for their communities to have a sustainable future. The visit raised my awareness of the local impact global initiatives can have as well as stirring concerns about how much developed societies should aim to make others “like us”. “Converting” others goes back many hundres of years and is continuing in various forms today on religious, political and commercial grounds. Nevertheless my brief visit reassured me that the aims of TIF were in this instance to be applauded and supported.

I later presented this and two other images in the weekly webinar.

The Point of Photography

Week 0

Even before the official start of the first module we were set to work and asked to select an image that had personal meaning or importance for photography. We were also asked to comment on responses made by at least two other course members. In the event I was inspired to comment on five (and I could have commented on all contributions!) as each inspired my thinking about the meaning of photography.

Haunting and atmospheric yet subject to change as the mist lifts and light changes you can imagine the image having a very different impact. That is what is appealing about photography to me. Capturing that moment so that it is not forgotten as in time it will be lost.

It’s noticing detail that you could easily walk past without seeing. For me that is something of the essence of photography. The interplay between the photographer and the equipment. It cannot be described just by the word composition as it is so much more and here a story is potentially embedded within the image.

An apparently simple image with a potentially complex meaning. Stimulating our imaginations to seek an explanation, wondering whether it is good or bad….is it an institution, storeroom, secret room….is there a room at all behind it?

The eye of the needle rather than sharp as a pin! I too share an inquisitiveness about tiny things that we do not ususally see and which need magnification to detect! Much of natures beauty and manmade objects artististic appeal lives in minute details that contribute to the whole image.

There is a harshness and potential for a fear of sharpness in this image which is enhanced by being in black and white. It also reminds me of sewing endeavours and trying (with at times frustration!) to thread the needle!


My personal response was:

1 Jun 20171 Jun at 18:49

This image is fresh, taken at first light this morning. I chose it for many reasons in order to address the first task here.

*it represents spontaneity, capturing and freezing a moment. I was holding a cuppa in my left hand and the barn owl flew past. Luckily the lens cap was off and I could take the shot just holding the camera in my right hand. I had no time to adjust settings nor both hands to do it with unless I wasted my tea!

*it is a departure from my concern about presenting a clear focussed image and may even be a move towards representation (as I think it is unmistakeably a barn owl) and dare I say, artistic endeavour. Although I passed Art O level I was not good at drawing, hence liking to capture images through photography.

*it demonstrates my interest in nature and the beauty of flora and fauna. To have such an encounter, especially unexpected is a heart stopping experience and I find myself holding my breath while taking images so as not to disrupt and potentially destroy the moment.

*it is in a way street photography of the natural world where the street is the landscape.

*it is also important as an image to me because of declining numbers and the protections it now has. To have witnessed its fly past was a priviledge and an encounter I was able to report to the Barn Owl Trust. With this action completed I brought the sighting into a national and potentially global context where animal and plant species are recognised for the protection they require from the developments/societies in the world that threaten to destroy them.

I was delighted with and encouraged by a comment I received, having uploaded a pixelated image, when the term “photographic impressionism” was used (Shmelev, S. 6-6-2017).



Welcome to Sarah Newton Photography. This blog describes my journey in the form of a Critical Research Journal and is being made as part of an accredited education programme – MA Photography with Falmouth University