interviewing a photographic practitioner

Interviewing local wildlife photographer Marc Millman

 What camera do you use/ what lens do you use?                                                                    Nikon D3200 with a Tamron 70-300mm lens

What other technologies do you use while out on a shoot?                                                          I don’t use special lighting because I am shooting nature I like to use natural light.

I do though use a tri-pod as I am shooting with a long lens, and to get action shots of the animals I use a fast shutter speed. This can cause camera shake and images that are not sharp.

For editing I use a free editing software called fotoflexer as well as Photoshop.

 What is your favourite type of photography?                                                              Documentary photography, mainly focusing of Wildlife and nature.

Who or what is your inspiration?                                                                                                       My nature inspiration is nature itself and in particular an Avocet bird. It is one of most favourite things to take a picture of.

What is your favourite time of day to go out on a shoot?                                                                I wouldn’t say I have a favourite time of day to shoot, as nature is always there. You can go out any time of day and be able to capture some sort of wild life. Although the easiest time of day would be about mid day, where there is the most light.  And the best photographs are taken on a sunny day where the light is at its best and very minimal editing is needed.

Do you have a favourite photographer?                                                                                           My favourite photographer would be another local photographer called John Mcfall. Although I do also like work by Arthur Morris and Mark Sisson.

 Do you have any photography projects that you are doing at the moment? If so what is it about?                                                                                                                                                   Yes, my latest project is on kingfishers and barn owls.

Who or what started you in photography? How did you first come into photography?       I am a self-taught photographer. I started about 5 years ago. When I used to go out on walks and see all of this beautiful wildlife, when I came back and told people about what I saw they would not believe me. This is when I thought I would get myself a camera so I had evidence. From that point i got increasingly more interested in photography and now it is a major aspect in my life.

How long have you been a photographer?                                                                                About 5 years now. I started with a bridge camera then moved to a DSLR once I felt like I had more knowledge and experience with photography.


35mm camera using a long focal length lens

obviously the performance of the camera is the same but the outcome of the image is very different.

a long focal length lens means that you can shoot further distances and things further away.

the object is magnified so has the same effect as moving closer to the object, this would normally be fine but if something is too high or somewhere where you cannot get to then obviously a regular focal length lens is not suitable.

the picture quality should not be effected by lens if the lens is good enough.

For me using a Pentax ME Super with the long focal length lens and the regular focal length lens which both came with the camera and brought at the same time the quality should not change.


  • form refers to how the subject matter is presented
  • Ben Shahn ‘form is the shape of context’
  • discriptive statements about a photographers form concern is how its composed, arranged, and constructed visually.
  • photography has inherited formal elements : dot, line, light and value, colour, texture, mass space, and volume.
  • the visible shape or configuration of something
  • one of the seven elements within art – along with line, shape, space, value, texture and colour.
  • Paul Strand ‘geometric backyards’ –2c48511ea89cb153cd6dbfaedfa0c243.jpg                          Cubism – at war with the obvious – going against normality.

This picture was strands view out of his bedroom window and had been for 25 years. It wasn’t until he has made porch shadows in Connecticut in 1916 that he saw the what had been under his nose for all of those years.

  • Picasso – if you want to break the rules you need to know the rules.
  • Paul Strand – ‘wall street’ – people unknown – structure becomes more important.
  • Paul Strand ‘wire wheel’ go into the object and pick pieces out – makes you look at it in a different way.

Florence Henri – the image is your own – you tell the camera what you want – it shouldn’t control you – they are your images do not let anything or anyone make it different.

  • Bill Brandt –
  •  83a0e167.jpg                                                              ‘it is part of the photographers job to see more intensely than most people do’

‘his work challenges traditional ideas of identity, place, and time and makes the mundane seem fresh and strange’

  • Barbara Hepworth –T00958_10.jpg     leading member of a new generation of sculptors 1920s. – Her work became abstract in 1930s after moving to Cornwall, St Ives. – she makes sculptures from landscape experiences.

all of Hepworth’s early memories are of form, shape and texture – this is why she makes her sculptures where people can touch them, lean against them and where you can walk through them.

  • A vanishing line creates an impression of 3 dimensional space.
  • zoom burst is when you zoom while on slow shutter speed. This effects depth in Edwards Weston’s picture of a pepper 5611276157_a013458b9f_o                                                     Weston said that by varying the camera angle it create an infinite number of varied compositions with a single object. Even though this is not actually a woman and man the lighting and angle of the camera make it seem as though it could be people instead of a pepper.  By varying his camera, camera angle o focal length of lenses
  • Weston liked formal qualities of mundane objects.
  • ‘i see no reason for recording the obvious’
  • Form doesn’t have to imitate the 3 dimensional character of the world.


  • (Henri Matisse ‘The snail’.)8e0232cefc2ceff36b9f76b219833724133fb85e-2

in 1948 Matisse became bed bound and no longer able to paint, so instead he created art by tearing and ripping paper. The paper was placed by an assistant under Matisse’s strict instruction. He said that this opened up possibilities for him, that he could draw colour instead of drawing an outline and then filling in with colour after.
BOTONY – the study of plants

  • Karl Blossfeldt – recognised for his extensive and uniques collection of photographic – plant portraits.
  • Blossfeldt is very scientific in his approach. He worked at the junction of Art Nouveau and modernism.
  • the title of each piece was the name of the plant plus how many times it was magnified to create the image. For example.
  • 116 – Venae folii, Leaf of a Colona species, leaf veins, 45xLarge_WL_Photo_Karl Blossfeldt 116.jpg


  • Imogen Cunningham –2_1_s3          couldn’t get out much due to her children – so she started photographing plants from the garden. Restraints of not being able to get out, but she didn’t let that stop her. instead she looked at them in a different way ‘beauty in everything’. – ‘paradox of expansion via reduction becomes vivid’. Between 1923 and 1925 she carried out intense studies on the magnolia.


  • Robbert Mapplethorpe – 7b1db31c                                 pushed boundaries of photography in both his subject choice – did a project on male bodies, many of his images were closed down because they were viewed as pornographic.
  • photographing something that is outside the boundaries – still keep their feel of work, his work was still beautiful.


  • Nick knight –
  • Nick-Knight-FLORA-8-600x461.png                                Fashion photographer consistently challenged conventional notions of beauty . He spent 3 years pouring over 6 million herbarium species at the natural history museum. – He has to select just 45 to photograph for his flora exhibition. ‘ plants have always fascinated people. They feed us, clothe us, and are indispensable as drugs and medicines.


  • Victor Schrager –
  • 7ea6445a                                                                 ‘work of natural are widely considered among the best contemporary achievements in the genre of still life composition.’ 8×10 camera – really big negs, need to develop for longer / take pictures for longer ‘a slow deliberate process.’

semiotics/ semiology

-behind the image, ideas about the photograph

  • the study of reading signs
  • culturally based signs, signs within your culture that signify meanings that you understand.
  • you do it every day without realising.
  • the study of signs, symbols, signification.
  • through imagery (communicates)
  • do not passively consume, actively read them. – the move from passive to active is image analysis.
  • allows us to perceive the world around us.
  • traced back from 2 theorists. –  Ferdinand De Saussure                                                                                                           –                                               – Charles Sanders Peirce
  • image/word – signifier
  • meaning – signified       both signifier and signified together are one sign.
  • cultural knowledge we have inherited – all of our semiotic knowledge is based on our culture, in different cultures these signs have different meanings.
  • to understand the semiotics it is important to understand the culture that it is being used in.
  • as an example ( apple-healthy) or (apple – temptation, Adam and Eve)
  • to make sense of pictures which aren’t our own we must change to see it.


    • Paul Strand – ‘The white fence’ 1916

  • Paul Strand one of the defining masters of early modernist photography. He was highly formed by known photographer Lewis Hine, Strand though found he path in the early 1900s by taking pictures of what he knew best like urban scenes of hustle and bustle, street portraits and formal abstractions.
  • 2006AG1705
  • white picket fence
  • gossip / chatting
  • american dream
  • movies


looking at this against

  • Susan Lipper ‘fence’
  • initially studied english romantic poetry and then went onto doing her masters in photography. She went onto travelling around america taking photographs both in and out of traditional documentary photography. She mainly travelled rural roads and visiting small towns, although in some cases she stayed longer than others as she connected with the place as well as the inhabitants. Her work shows strong traditional documentary photography but in some cases shows dramatisation.
  • susan-lipper-fence-1993
  • trailer parks
  • broken dream
  • American dream on head
  • ‘twilight zone’ point between familiar and peculiar , ‘the white and profound’  Martin Barnes

both are pictures of white picket fences but give completely different stories.


Blue velvet blu-ray trailer – controversial – goes on traditional ideals – perfection of white picket fence – idilic.


gregory crewdson

Crewdson’s work is a combination between documentary photography with inspiration from William Eggleston and Walker Evans with a dreamlike film making with inspiration from David Lynch and Steven Spielberg. He makes elaborate sets with lots of detail. ‘i looked at blurred lines between reality and fiction, nature and artifice, and beauty and decay.’ Crewdson first came into photography when his father took him to see a Dianne Arbus exhibition, an early experience which formed his photographic career. He decided to make the film sets themselves the subject of the photographs. He has been asked many times if he wantes to make a film but said that he is not interested in the before or the after of the photograph but what is happening in the now of the photograph.

Gregory Crewdsondaughter_detailcrewd-2003-2005-untitled-maple-street-web

  • David Lynch is Crewdson’s most obvious source of inspiration.
  • ‘photographs are about the moment of transition between before and after’ ‘twilight is evocative of that. There is something magical about the condition’ Crewdson.
  • desperate housewives – goes on people knowing the american dream – stereotypical suburbs.
  • Crewdson was criticised for not actually being the photographer, this is because he has such a large crew and although he directed where everything would go and made sure everything was correct he was to the one that pressed the button on the camera, so many people said he did not take the photograph so is not the photographer.

Gregory Crewdson ‘beneath the roses’ 2004 – doesn’t care about before or after – ‘i want the story to stay unresolved’ – more questions after than questions resolved.

Brief encounters – tablo, create a scene/ build a set/ planned/ everything is there for a reason. Crewdson uses a large format camera.


Cindy Sherman, untitled film stills #21, 1978

Sherman’s photographs are a series of portraits of herself within different scenarios that are typically stereotypes of woman. The stereotypes are taken from the pop culture of that time – tv soaps, old movies and pulp magazines. Sherman quickly came to fame with the series of untitled ‘film stills’. Her work although provocative sensually some have the feel of horror and decay.


  • famous for is famous for film stills in black and white of woman posing in stereotypical poses.
  • challenging stereotypes, and gender equality.
  • trying to make other people recognise themselves instead of just her.
  • used herself – uses models to get scene set up but then puts herself into the image – this is because she believed models didn’t do the job properly, they didn’t do what she wanted.
  • uses notion of American housewife – doesn’t give you narrative.
  • untitled film stills 1977
  • not a feminist (challenge?)
  • although not narrative – doesn’t want to give to much away – allusive/ ambiguity. – (semiotics means you can read the image even though no name and no concept)

Sherman’s work encourages self reflection in the spectator.

The more time you spend with an image the more you cans see within it.




reading images group task.

One image should clearly define it’s intent through the image alone:

Annie Leibovitz – self portrait


A picture of Annie Leibovitz standing naked in what looks like a bedroom. Leibovitz looks heavily pregnant from about 6 months

This picture would have been taken between the years of 2001 and 2005 as thats when she was pregnant with her children. Although from the style of this picture you would have thought it was taken a lot earlier than that.

it is a possibility that it is in her bedroom as thats where most people are comfortable to take their clothes off, I would also say this is a bedroom because you can see she is standing in front of a bed.

she is in a strong position, a position of power with her hands on her hips. A power pose. even though she is naked which is when people feel most vulnerable as if she is protecting the child that is in her stomach. that she will do anything to stand up for her child. I would also say she is in this pose because she is showing off her bump, she is proud of it so wants to accentuate it.

in the picture there is nothing but leibovitz and white sheets and blinds, i think this is so nothing is distracting from leibovitz herself and the baby bump because even though you are focused on leibovitz the thing that you are most focusing on is the bump, this is excentuated by the pose she is in as it would not be as obvious if she was not standing to the side.

everything is in focus but there is only one thing that is accentuated which is leibvoitz and that is because this is a self portrait. depending on how people look at it people may thing that the focus is on the baby even though the baby is not yet out of the womb.

the photograph was taken more than likely as a record of the pregnancy, to show what she looked like. as a way of remembering. it is also a popular thing to take a naked picture while pregnant, many people go to studios and get their photograph taken professionally.


One should need clarification of intent through caption or other signs. (I.e. it may be part of a series and as such fails to convey it’s intent as a single image.


Diane Arbus – A young man in curlers at home on West 20th Street, N.Y.C. 1966

From this image i see either a man or a woman smoking a cigarette. I see a woman because they have curlers in fake nails on and their eyebrows are plucked. I also see a man because they have masculine features like their face shape, their nose and their large hands. Although from the caption you can see that this is a man.

I would say that the year that this was taken would be in the 80s because that is when people felt that they could begin to express themselves, and cross dressing became more acceptable. When looking at the caption you can see that this image was taken in 1966, after reading this you can see that this image was taken in the 60s due to the style of photography. You can see that this is more believable that it was taken in the 60s because from he caption it says that this picture was taken in the comfort of his own home. This is obviously see that this is where he feels comfortable and where he can be himself. Although in the 60s it was more acceptable to be yourself, cross dressing and sexuality was still quite hidden, even though not as much as it was in the 50s, there was still quite a lot of sexism and homophobic. You can see that this man is inside, this is because he is in rollers as well as you can see the walls of the house, but without the caption you would not have been able to tell that it was a house let alone his house.

You can see clearly in this picture that the man is relaxing. This is because he is in rollers, smoking. These are things people normally do when they are relaxing. He also has an expressionless face. He is not angry or upset, but he is also not smiling. I would also see this image as relaxing because he is at home with his curlers in. Although in the 60s this is a very defining style of the 60s. At home with curlers in, this is because the hair was very big back then. It was also very common and acceptable for woman to smoke back then. So it could also just be a normal every day occurrence for this man.

I think the photographer chose these particular elements to include within this photograph because it shows the stereotypical definition of a woman during the 60s but on a man. The rollers, cigarette and the long fake nails are all iconic to that era. These are also parts which have been emphasised within the picture, as well as his nose and ears and brown line are also parts which stick out to me. I think this is so you can see that this is a man dressed up as a woman. Although you cannot be 100% sure without the caption, but once you realise that this is a man, you can see that this image is very truthful and this man is very trusting. I think the clothes and room where not emphasised because you clearly see the intent without them, they would be more things that distract from the elements like the rollers and cigarette. The rollers are even more accentuated by being in the caption of the image. After reading this you would automatically be drawn into the image looking for the rollers.

One image should be one that needs further investigation to clearly understand it’s intent.
Large_WL_Photo_Karl Blossfeldt 084

84 – Eryngium bourgatii, Eryngo, 5x

i see something with strong form, it could possibly be mistaken for a steel sculpture. you can’t even work out what it is or what has happened to create the image, even though it is all in the title. Blossfeldt has made it very difficult to understand what the title means. even though it does become more simple when you research more into them.

The year it was taken, the plant it is, the amount of times it has been magnified. i would not have known that without reading up more about the work. From knowing this you can work out that the picture was taken in 1884, the plant is aEryngium bourgatii and the plant has been magnified 5 times to create the final image. The magnification was done with a homemade camera in which he could magnify up to 30 times.

from looking at this picture i would say that it was taken in a studio with lighting. This is because the backdrop is clear without any distractions but if this plant was taken naturally then there would be other plants and wildlife in the back ground.

the emphasise from this image is the plant and only this single type of plant, which is why there is no other elements within the image and the sole focus is on the plant which means it is the only thing in focus.

the angle of the plant is straight on, i would imagine this is because that way it shows a clear representation of the plant. there is nothing and it is not in a different angle so that the plant is not changed and altered. the idea for this project by Blossfeldt is to capture the plant, he was a keen botanist as well as photographer, so creating an image that looks exactly like the object he was shooting was his main interest.