Reading Images. BCOP100

We do not passively consume images. We actively read them. It is key to think consciously and critically and pay attention to all aspects to the image.

A portrait doesn’t have to include facial expression – clues to what represent you.

Questions to consider –

  • Who? What? Where? When? Why?
  • Why did they pick these particular elements?
  • What don’t you see?
  • Why did the photographer emphasise certain elements?
  • Whats in focus?
  • Why did the photographer take this photo?
  • What happens before or after?
  • Why was it taken at that angle?



When putting these questions into practise, the details, tone and narrative begin to reveal themselves.

Our task:

Split into groups of threes we were set out to explore artists that portray their work in different ways. The task was to research and read 3 photographic images taken by  photographers (historical or contemporary). 

  • One image should clearly define its intent through the image alone.
  • One image should need clarifications of intent through captions or other signs.
  • One should need further investigation to clearly understand its intent.

I chose to work with the final option in the list, to read and evaluate an image that requires further investigation to understand it fully.


My response:

I chose to look into Celine Marchbank’s ‘Tulip’ series for this task. Her mother was diagnosed with lung cancer and a brain tumour and she decided to document her time left.

Her photographs are not a graphic portrayal of death and rather more symbolic. For example, her mother loved flowers and the house was full of them. While they were apart of her personality, the represent of happiness and love but also isolation and decay and finally death.

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Celines photographs despite being hard hitting are not graphic or explicit in context. There is definitely a sense of anonymity, which I feel only  compliments to the series. The absence of subject matter begs for more questions to be asked. The lack of contexts allows people to conjure up their own narrative.




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