Assignment 4

The critical review and personal project

Critical review essay

Personal project proposal

I am leaving my current job at the end of August and with more time available I intend to get involved in campaigns against climate change. With this in mind, I want to use my personal project to scope ideas and possibilities for using photography to explore the impact of climate change on my locality – London, and my immediate locality of Hackney, East London. I will research into climate change issues and climate justice. This will involve finding out more about the ways that harmful environmental change is/will become visible in London, including traces which are already there in plain sight but may easily be overlooked.

I will research the work of photographers and other artists who work to raise awareness of these issues. I am interested in experimenting with ways of using photography to indicate what is not already visible. In relation to this, during my early research for this project, I found the following point from Rebecca Norris Webb relevant. With reference to Robert Franks’ View from hotel window’, Butte, Montana from The Americans, Norris Webb ( p.44) said: “I’ve always marvelled at how Frank managed to capture not only the feel of this mining centre’s drab downtown, but also something more difficult to pin down (melancholy? irony? reverie? a mix of all three?)  She notes that Geoff Dyer says of this photograph that it “demands that we return to it again and again”. To this end I will be researching and experimenting with ways of bringing ambiguity and suggestion into the photographs I make for this project.

I am interested in the way that words in the landscape record and speak of the concerns of the day and building on previous assignments I will explore ways of bringing this into this project.


Webb, A. & Norris Webb, R. (2014) On Street photograpy and the poetic image. Aperture.

Reflection against the assessment criteria

Demonstration of technical and visual skills – materials, techniques, observational skills, visual awareness, design and compositional skills.


Quality of outcome – content, application of knowledge, presentation of work in a coherent manner, discernment, conceptualisation of thoughts, communication of ideas.


Demonstration of creativity – imagination, experimentation, invention, development of a personal voice.


Context – reflection, research, critical thinking (learning logs, critical reviews and essays).

I have used this essay to reflect on the potential role of documentary photography in social change. I am interested in the multiple ways that documentary photography is talked about – including the notion of photographs that change the world. I have attempted to try to unpick this notion, why it endures and perspectives on what a role might be. It is a huge topic and in many ways it is too big a topic for an assignment of this size – however I decided it would be a valuable way to carry out an overview issues pertaining to it, because it would enable me to pull together several strands of what I have been thinking about prior to and during the course. For example, I remember being very struck by Don McCullin’s perspective on the impact of his work at a talk he gave in 2012 – how he felt his war photography hadn’t had the impact he hoped for. And again, when I heard Sim Chi Yin speak at a Magnum event about how she felt her work had been “consumed and spat out”. I was aware of the arguments around the need to be involved in campaigns, and wanted to look at these issues further. I have used and revisited a lot of the work of the course and this has been valuable – it has also been a valuable preparation for my final assignment of this course.

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