Wasma Mansour and Dalia Khamissey: Reflection





Having listened to both Wasma Mansour’s interview about her “Single Saudi Women” project and Dalia Khamissy’s interview about her work “The Missing”, ‘which focuses on the 17,000 people who went missing during the 1975 -1990 Lebanese civil war.’ (Phonar). I realise that our work as photographers is so important; we need to add something to the debates of the world. Our works can bring changes, and raise awareness.

It is imperative that we show our subjects story how they want to show it. It is the collaborative part of the work that makes it successful. Mansour shows a Polaroid print to her subject whilst shooting, asking them about how they would like to be shown and what degree of visibility they are comfortable with. This is particularly important in Saudi Arabia as women do not reveal their identities to the public; therefore it was important for her to talk to her subjects and ask about what they were comfortable with. As a photographer we have to gain our subjects trust. I believe that collaborating with your subject allow for a deeper level of trust. This reminds me of Anthony Luvera’s assisted self portraits.

Mansour used a credible witness by proxy, by having someone to talk to the subjects and vouch for her the trust relationship developed from there. I realise that meeting subjects in a neutral place, such as a coffee shop at first may be a good place to start. Mansour believes in talking about the project in this neutral place and then waiting to be welcomed to the subject’s homes. As a photographer we should allow the participants to talk and share their story and after we have heard their story the photography comes afterwards. Our photography is always linked to the triad relationship of the photographer, subject and audience. We have to be careful not to miss-represent the story of our subject. We should prioritise the participant, letting them lead.

Dalia Khamissy understands the context of living in a war zone; in photography context is key. Khamissy has lived through the civil war in Lebanon. She believes that Photography is about your personal research; this links to Tod Papageorge” If your photographs aren’t good enough, your not reading enough”.

Khamissy wanted to tell the stories of people. “The Missing” project was a collaborative project with the mothers. Telling the story of the missing is a difficult story to tell. The people who are behind the civil war are still in power; could this put the subjects and her in a difficult situation? The narrative of the civil war hasn’t yet been written yet, they cannot teach it, because they haven’t decided yet. She is trying to use the narrative as a nature for change; she wants the people of Lebanon and the outside to see this; this links to how Fred Ritchin sees the role of photography, as a tool for change.

Khamissy’s advice to photographers was to know that as photographers we should feel privileged. We are privileged that this person is letting us tell their stories. We should show respect for the people we are documenting. It is so important to tell the story as it is. I shall take away all of these lessons from both Khamissy and Mansour and use their advice in my work.


Transformative storytelling task: Reflection


“Using only found images (ie images from family albums and local library archives, not published in magazines) research and construct a photo-artefact/story that weaves a narrative linking the people depicted within.

Development : Build and include a soundscape relevant to your story, you might include personal stories from the subjects depicted.”


William Burroughs (on cut-ups):


I found the use of media/video techniques interesting here. I was drawn to the animation/illustrations, it brought the imagery to life. However I wasn’t drawn to anything other than the visual. I found the soundscape un-interesting. I appreciate that the recording was a good quality audio, however I found the spoken story not very inspiring.

Joachim Schmidt:


I appreciate the photomontage/collages he creates with found imagery.

Christian Boltanski:


Found imagery of the Holocaust is used to create installation art work. The view is immersed in the photographs and objects, experiencing these sources in a unique manner. His work feels like a memorial for the dead.

“My work is about the fact of dying, but it’s not about the Holocaust itself.” (Christian Boltanski)


“In Almost Every Picture book series”


Found imagery and the context behind them.

Curtis Mann:


Artist who modifies images of conflict. He uses bleach to destroy and recreate found images of conflict. His work is very creative. This attracts me because of how abstract and creative this is.

Looking through family photographs:


Final Piece:

Click Here to see interactive piece



Having researched into interesting ways I could take this project I have decided to create an immersive media piece of my own. I have been inspired by Joachim Schmidt to use found imagery and create a collage from this. However, my work is on a web based immersive media platform much like Pinepoint. I have used my inspiration from both Pinepoint and Joachim Schmidt to create a collage of my dads (Philip Stonely) story. I also realise that the context behind the work is important. Kesselkramer’s work “In Almost Every Picture book series” show this through it found imagery and the context behind them. Therefore I have included explanations of the picture from my dad.

I decided to create in interactive immersive media piece online as I wanted to share my family photographs with the online community. I wanted to share the family story in a way that the viewer would be immersed. I feel that when you are looking at an album the family member that knows about each picture usually end up talking about them. The viewer gets a further understanding from this context. If I was to just share the images without any context then the viewer may not understand or be immersed in the story. However I feel my piece allows the viewer to explore the story. I wanted to create an interaction that mirrors the sharing of family photographs in the home. I realise that if I share this online I have a wider audience than I would if I had invited people into my home. I have supplied relevant family photographs, a story from my dad, explanation of pictures, Brands Hatch racecourse videos, Triton motorcycle start up sounds etc. I feel that this will engage the viewer, and further their understanding of my family album photographs.

I also wanted to show how the internet now allows us to collaborate with people on projects when we can’t even meet face to face. I made this project with my dad over a Skype conversation as I couldn’t go home for the project. I feel this mirrors the ideas in the project of the internet and sharing family photographs.


The audience felt that they explore my dads story of the triangle first. The feedback was that it works well, the viewer goes for the exploration video first as its at the top of the triangle and over his mouth. After the viewer has explored the triangle they explore the context at the side, being able to see the history of Brands Hatch and the start up sound of the motor bike my dad owned. During feedback I was also told that the layout works well. The viewer can listen to the video and explore the images at the same time as they open in new tabs. I was also told that it works well that the viewer can work their way around at their own pace.

David Campbell – Narrative, Power and Responsibility: Reflection


A story tends to have a beginning middle and end. Stories cannot cover everything that happened, no matter how hard we try as narrators. A story can change, much like Chinese whispers, developing and changing as people pass it on. A story can form a web, everyone joining in and sharing his or her knowledge on the event.

It is imperative to research before you take images. Why this place? Why that time? Why the issue? It is important to know something about the story you tell before you take those pictures. What is the issue? What are the events or moments? Who are the characters? What is the context? Research, research research!!! David Campbell also touched on Papageorge, “If your photographs aren’t good enough you aren’t reading enough”.

Some photographs have been said to have changed the world, such as Nick Ut’s “Napalm Girl”. David Campbell believes that this image has significant social impact, however it is too demanding to say that it brought an end to the war. It wasn’t this image that ended the war. It was a combination of a lot of things. However, this image is seen as iconic as it is this image that people talk about. It has become an iconic image about the end of the war, but didn’t end the war all by itself. This relates to Fred Ritchin, he believes our images should be useful. I therefore believe this image was successful in being so.

I feel that perhaps one image cannot change the world by itself. However, I also feel that one image can lead to another and another; each image having its own social impact. Perhaps these social impacts can build together to finally change society and the way we think. Ultimately changing something in the world.

The power lies with us as photographers/story tellers. We have a responsibility to explore the context behind the narrative.

My spoken narrative: Reflection

Spoken Narrative task…


When I was 9 or 10. I was in France on holiday with my parents, camping in our camper. And I don’t know if many of you have done this as a kid, but I really liked for some funny reason to take the trolley back. When I was in England in Tesco’s or Sainsbury’s I always used to take the trolley back to the trolley park, and it used to be really exciting. My little adventure across the car park, and of course my mum was watching to check I didn’t get run over by a car or anything.

So when I was in France and we had our trolley to return, I went to take it back. I told my parents where I was going and they said, “yes that fine”. But neither of us had thought about where the trolley park was kept at this French supermarket. So I turned up at the front doors about to return the trolley to the trolley park, which I thought would be outside the supermarket. But I had forgotten that this trolley park was actually inside. So I went through the automatic doors with out really thinking, and turned around after placing the trolley back. And well… I don’t know what a child thinks when they think of S***, but I turned around and well yes…   The electric doors don’t open two ways do they now..?

So I was stuck in this French supermarket. So I went to the desk, and as a kid I felt like I couldn’t go through the supermarket tills without explaining that I didn’t have anything. I felt like they thought I was stealing something even though I wasn’t. So I tried to explain to the French supermarket assistance that I hadn’t picked anything up and that I was just going through. But of course they thought I was lost and I probably looked a little worried. And they started gabbling at me in French and I didn’t understand a word. All I could see was my campervan over the other side of the car park, and I was stuck with these French people. They were about to close the supermarket and there was all this kerfuffle building up, and French being spoken and me just wanting to ESCAPE.

Eventually they all came with me, escorting me across the car park, to my camper that I kept pointing at. When I got to my camper I just ran inside and left my mum to explain that I hadn’t understood the electric doors, and that I wasn’t stealing anything.

So that was a rather embarrassing situation. But I shall always remember that day of getting lost in the French supermarket.


Having taken part in this class “spoken narrative” I realise how important it is to make our subjects comfortable. If we do not make them comfortable they may not realise that they can trust us with their story. Being the subject means that you have to open up to the photographer, you feel like all power is being taken away from you. This power is then given to the photographer and passed onto the viewer to interpret. If the photographer hasn’t portrayed you as you desired then it could be out of the subjects hands to do anything.

By putting us as photographers into this situation made us realise how we can put our subjects at ease. We can ask if they are in fact comfortable sharing their story in the first place. We can ask how they would like to share, whether it be face to face, in a group, or from a recording they had previously made. Some things can be hard said aloud to a group of people and the subject may find it easier to share if they have previously recorded what they plan to say.

We have a responsibility as photographers/story tellers, we need to tell stories not from our points of view but from the subjects. If we want to be trusted and our work to be trusted we need to make sure we aren’t changing or altering the story to suit our needs. Perhaps we can check back with our subject and see if they agree with how our work is progressing and ask them for feedback so we can develop.

I realise now that the way we approach a subject about their topic/story is important. That how we go about the project is important and how the project develops. I want the subjects of my work to trust me, and I want me work to be trusted.

Tim Hetherington’s “Restrepo”: Reflection


Stephen Mayes on Tim Hetherington, “Tim is known as a conflict photographer, I can see where the confusion arises…he would see it slightly differently, he would say he was studying issues of humanity which were expressed most vividly in conflict. But he wasn’t there to document conflict.”

Hetherington got to know the people, he immersed himself, he became an insider to understand the situation he was covering in his work. This links to what Levi Strauss covers in “The epiphany of the other in Between the eyes Essays”. He talks about Sebastio Salgado and how his understanding and empathises means that he can cover the work from an insiders view.  His work is different, instead of photographing the drama like other documentary photographers, he is more interested in the people. I find this is a similar approach to Tim Hetherington. He is also interested in the people and their lives, rather than just being a spectator and witnessing the conflict to simply report back on. As is illustrated in another comment from Stephen Mayes on Tim Hetherington’s work, “At a certain point he actually stopped photographing the conflict,… and he began to photograph the soldiers and most of the time they are actually not fighting, but living. So you see these pictures emerging of …young men in the context of conflict but not actually fighting”.

“Restrepo” by Tim Hetheringon is a film which looks at the lives of the soldiers who have been posted to the Korengal Valley. As viewers we are first introduced by being told where, when and what war. Then we are welcomed by excited soldiers before they have reached there post. We are told that they are on their way to the most dangerous war posting in Afganistan, the Korengal Valley. We are then thrown deep into immersive media, we (as the viewer) are buried in soundscapes, clips, footage, radio transmission. To all build up until a loud BANG. The viewer is surrounded by silence after the explosion, and whining in our ears. We are fully immersed. Hetherington wants to immerse his viewers, he wants us to experience as much as we can so that we understand.

We are also given interview footage of the soldier, we hear what they have to say and their insider viewpoint. We hear about their reactions to being told the area was shot at ever day, and their disbelief. We are told first hand how they felt about arriving at the Korengal Valley and their memories of what they thought, “What are we doing!”, “Felt like fish in a barrel”. The hand held footage helps the viewer to believe what we are seeing, we are being given a first hand view, we feel as if we are walking round with the soldiers. The film immerses us by contrasting between landscape, bombing/shooting, camp life, and soldiers interviews afterwards, we are completely surrounded by the lives of the soldiers. The film seems like an honest documentary, because of the different techniques that Hetherington has used, we are given soldiers opinions/feelings, discussion, local discussion footage, hand held camera, attacks, down time, EVERYTHING. During interviews the camera is close, maybe this is to show facial expressions and emotion. The viewer can focus in on the persons face they are interviewing, this gives the viewer the sense that they are talking to them face to face.

The documentary concludes in the same way it was introduced. Showing the video of the excited soldiers on their way there. This made me look back over the journey and experiences of the soldiers. It reflects the memories of those they have lost; this clip means a lot more now to the viewer and the soldiers. It contrasts on their excitement to go and their reflection back on their experiences. Some of the people in the introduction are no longer alive. It is a harsh reality and brutal contrast, a bold end to the film with a strong emotional message.

Lisa Potts Spoken Narrative: Reflection


Lisa Potts Talk…

  • Nursery Nurse (Wolverhampton), aged 3-4 children, fairly deprived area
  • The story takes a long time to tell, so much detail to explain
  • The whole thing really happened in 8mins, though it felt like forever for her
  • Going through from start to finish, very clear
  • The aftermath and speaking to the press
  • She could remember this mans face perfectly. She said it was like she had a photograph.
  • Turns out the man was a schizophrenic
  • Took a while for it to set in psychologically
  • Court case brought on the psychological pain, took 6months for it to feel real
  • Covered the story from a wide angle,
  • How she then just went back to her normal job and tried to get on with life as normally as she could.

Dunblane Attack she also spoken about:



Having heard Lisa Potts talk about such a horrific event I appreciate how hard it must be to talk clearly about something that has affected her life so much. She had a very clear and concise explanation of what happened. I am surprised that she managed to speak so calmly about the matter. From start to finish she spoke about how it was an ordinary day, how it happened, what happened afterwards, the hospital, home life and the court case. I admire and respect Lisa Potts for how she could speak from such a wide angle on such a subject. She tries to understand why it happened; explaining that she felt a little sorry for this man, as he had no family to support him, and he hadn’t been diagnosed with schizophrenia before. If he had received help this may not have happened. However when describing him and his actions she didn’t seem angry with him. I admire her for being able to talk about such a horrific event and deal with it all so well.

Listening to Stephen Mayes on Tim Hetherington: Reflection

Stephen Mayes on Tim Hetherington (October 13, 2013)

Trans-media covers different places, such as online, book, magazine. Use each medium to the best of it capability, what the book does it very different from what the Internet does, as is exhibition from magazine. Stephen Mayes suggests, “where ever you see the show, what ever medium you see the work, its different. The story is never complete; you have to join the dots.

Notes on twitter…

Screen Shot 2014-10-18 at 17.19.37


Tim Hetherington has some similar thoughts to Fred Ritchin. That looking at the horrific act itself will just report back to people what is happening. Witnessing and sharing a report is not enough; this gets us nowhere, it changes nothing. If we want to change the way the world works then we need to look deeper. We need to explore what enables conflict to take place and why it takes place. We need to change society, and to make people become curious to understand, not just curious to witness. It was Tim Hetherington’s curiosity to understand, honesty, analysis and imagination that makes his work different from a reporter. Ritchin also believes that we have to approach photography from a different angle now. The outsider reporting on the insiders approach doesn’t work. If we want to understand we need to gather information from many sources, including insiders who have experienced the situation. “Restrepo” is one of Hetherington’s works; he covers the life of young men in the context of conflict but not actually fighting. Other works such as “Sleeping Soldiers” is designed to be immersive. He wanted the viewer to be in it, not just watching it. What I think is important here is that we need to learn how to look beyond the conflict/horror and to think about how we can understand and therefore change.

<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/18395855″>Sleeping Soldiers_single screen (2009)</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/timhetherington”>Tim Hetherington</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>