Reasoning For Changes I Made to Assignment 1 – Contextual Studies

I have received feedback from my tutor regarding my original Assignment 1 for Contextual Studies. Here I have described my reasoning for the changes I made highlighted in red to Assignment 1 – Contextual Studies. This is to give the viewer a better insight into my thinking behind the changes.

(1) The changing of terms ‘a scene’ to ‘a real life scene’ might seem trivial but it is important here. If a photograph is not referring to a real life scene (like with a painting), then the photograph is of a scene distinct from reality. Since my own photography for Body of Work has been of real life scenes, the photographs have not been distinguished from their referents.

(2) By selecting the timing and framing of when/how the photograph was taken, the photographer is making choices and judgements which affect how the photograph will turn out. it is notable that the election of timing and framing may be subjective but as my tutor pointed out: the subject matter ‘is very much ‘objective’ and out there’. I was confusing subjectivity with a communication device. This misunderstanding developed further on in the essay which is why I omitted paragraph 6 of the original.

(3) Adding the adjective ‘suspicious’ added information on how the advent of digital photography was received.

(4) It became ‘much’ easier to manipulate images with the advent of digital photography.

(5) Although my tutor felt the second quote I referenced from Kember (1996:205) was good it also was introducing a separate thread of authenticity of photography through society and culture. This was correct, I was trying to develop this as a separate thread. For the sake of simplicity I’ve decided to omit that quote from the essay. I did think about putting it at the end as part of the conclusion. It might have read something like: ‘I feel while the semiotics behind the photograph might alter, in my current practice at least I will cling on to my ‘psychic baggage’ – (Cotton, 2015:5) because I have a conventional idea of what a photograph should look like. Despite these aspects of verisimilitude and realism affecting the truth claim of photography, (Kember, 1996:205) also maintains ‘photography is clearly much more than a particular technology of image-making. It is also a social and cultural practice embedded in history and human agency.’ These social and cultural practices are connected to the authenticity of the image because the viewer of a photographic project has come to expect (historically; especially due to analog photography’s more difficult manipulability) that the work the photographer produces is authentic. Social and cultural practices may arguably have a more important role to play in the truth claim of photography than aesthetics and the aspects of verisimilitude and realism which also affect it.

(6) Grammar.

(7) I agree with my tutor now that the reason photography will always retain an element of the real is not because of its historical ties but because of its verisimilitude which is socially desirable and used.

(8) Building upon point (7).

(9) ‘Represent’ sounds more professional and is more accurate than ‘looks like’.

(10) I finally realised this essay was indeed about aesthetics! I didn’t think it was while I was writing it.

(11) I overthought and didn’t understand the term ‘photorealistic’ when reading Charlotte Cotton’s (2015) essay Photography is Magic. As a consequence there are many times I used that term in the essay when actually the term I meant was simply ‘realistic’.

(12) I used ‘plays with the photorealistic’ originally when actually I meant ‘plays with the real’.

(13) Here I changed 3 terms: ‘iconicity’ to ‘verisimilitude’, ‘indexicality’ to ‘faithfulness’ and of course ‘photorealistic’ to ‘realistic’. I realised I had not fully understood the terms indexicality, iconicity and photorealistic and they were not used accurately.

(14) ‘Truth quality’ relates back to the title of the essay.

(15) I would say the photograph is made at the scene rather than by the scene.

(16) I tried to make an unclear sentence, made so by inaccurate terminology, better by using more accurate terminology.


Cotton, C. (2015) Photography is Magic. New York: Aperture.

Kember, S. (1996) The Shadow of the Object: photography and realism. Wells, L. (2003). The Photography Reader. Oxon: Routledge.

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