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  • Writer's pictureJo Sutherst

Positions and Practice – Week 1 – Reflection

Well, what a first week on the course!

My brain has certainly been put through it’s paces.  My understanding of a global image has been questioned through this week’s activities.  I don’t think I had really given much thought to what a truly global image was before this week started.

In the webinar, it was refreshing to see that different people had interpreted the theme differently.  I found the task of presenting 3 of my own images that I feel relate to the theme of the global image very challenging.  I had not perceived any of my images as global.  I wanted them to make a difference to people’s opinions, but had not considered them in a truly global sense. I had considered their impact and message in sense of the UK and western world, and not how they could be interpreted differently around other parts of the world.


Figure 1: Sutherst 2016

I took the photograph of the burger van at a recent horse show I was photographing.  I noticed it because it stood out like a sore thumb  to me and I could not see how anyone who want a photograph of them and their horse taken in front of it.  It (and the portaloo off to the right) made me change my position so that I could take photographs that people would want to buy.  I was surprised how offensive I found this humble burger van.  I obsessed over its presence during the show.  It struck me that we in the 1st world have become lazy and need to have other people provide for us wherever we go.  The burger van represents the word ‘plenty; to me and acts as a counterpoint in my mind to 3rd world famine.  During the course webinar, another student remarked that burger vans are the same everywhere.  They all look the same.  If it didn’t say ‘Great British’ on the front, we would not know where this image was taken.  The image has no sense of cultural identity or location.

The portaloo picture below also demonstrates that 1st world need for all amenities wherever we are.  Again all I could think about was how some 3rd world countries do not have any sanitary facilities. We live in a very unfair world.


Figure 2: Sutherst 2016

I chose the next image as it was taken to challenge the western world perceptions of size and beauty.  We are bombarded everyday with images and other forms of media that tell us who we should be and how we should look.  The resulting pressures can become so overwhelming, that some people will go to drastic lengths to change something about themselves. UK size 14 is now considered ‘plus size’ in the modelling world, when in reality it is a true reflection of our society.  In order to be employed in the modelling industry, where the norm is so much smaller, these ‘plus size’ models often find themselves having to offer fetish work in order to earn a living.  This is a sad state of affairs.

This image would definitely be viewed differently in cultures where big is better.  The message in the countries would be very different to the one I was intending in the western world.  This has made me reconsider how I might tackle this in my portfolio and future practice.


Figure 3: Sutherst 2016

The third image that was presented was challenging the stigma of mental health issues and I will post a blog about this shortly.  It is such a powerful topic that I felt it warranted a blog separate from this reflection blog.

Throughout the webinar, listening to others present their work and the subsequent discussions, I was acutely aware how differently images are perceived by others. As a photographer wanting to make a difference with my images, I need to make sure that I consider how the message might be interpreted around the world.  I need to get inside the heads of others and look objectively at what I am trying to portray – what is my actual message and does my image really say that?

I also had not considered the power of the hashtag.  This week has really opened my eyes to the global context of my work.  I thank the course leaders and my fellow students for that.

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