People and Place on Assignment - Research

Although when I took the photos for this assignment I was focused on showing 'transitory time' in my images, after reading and looking at the photographers my tutor suggested, I have started to look at other layers of meaning in my images and themes that other photographers have used when photographing families or children. 

I have looked at images of Sally Mann, Wendy McMurdo, Tina Barney and Collier Schorr and read several essays that I found on some of the artists' website. As a beginning art student I still find myself being quite amazed at how the meaning behind the images can be explained and how the images become so much richer and layered once I start pondering on the ideas and themes the photographers have in mind when creating their work. I wish I was able to express my thoughts and findings better about what I read and discover, because I certainly feel enriched and look at my own work differently, but can't put it in words yet. I guess I just have to read more and just write down what I can and trust that this will develop over time. 

I don't think it is necessary to compare the photographers that I researched, but I find it interesting to see how each photographer approaches the subject from a very different way. Sally Mann and Tina Barney's work are mostly taken within their own family. I notice a very personal connection between the photographer and the subjects, not only because they show very intimate moments in family life, but mostly because the interactions between the subjects are very raw and unstaged. Sally Mann's images of her children have a very narrative character to them and it feels that she might have let the children be in a role play or that she has created a certain story with her backgrounds etc in which her children play a role. Barney focuses (also because of her captions) the relationships between her family members, their social status and interaction with their created environment. The tension is palpable in some images, others show how each member has a certain role to play on a stage which is the society they find themselves in. I recognised many 'transitory moments' and was interested to see the way the subjects in the images withdrawing in their own world, or disrupting the world of others.

Wendy McMurdo's work show how children respond to technology and how their realities are shaped by it. I was fascinated by how the environment the child would be in became of no importance when a child was all absorbed in its play, or in the other reality. I think you can see this also happening in my own images where the children are looking at the computer or playing on their ipads, even when they are reading a book. McMurdo's images show this constant going from the child's inner world to the digital world and back to reality and how all these dimensions interact with each other. I don't feel the children are sort of escaping from their reality, or that the images are biased towards one reality or the other. I wonder if my images do have a biased component, although the empty rooms do suggest that you would want to escape from it and so do the somewhat tragic looks on my girls faces in the image where they are staring back at me. 

Again, it is interesting to read and think about other photographer's work and ideas and then discover similar themes in your own work, even though they were not intentionally photographed at the time. 


Barney, T. (no date) Tina Barney. Available at: (Accessed: 11 November 2015).

Sally Mann (no date) Available at: (Accessed: 11 November 2015)

Wendy McMurdo (no date) Available at: (Accessed: 11 November 2015)