Monthly Archives: November 2017

Photography as Activism; A Review

Photography as Activism; Images for Social Change

Author: Michelle Bogre


Brett Abbot wrote an essay titled ‘Engaged Observers’ in which he defined documentary photography in loose terms to refer to a variety of practices that can be applied to landscape photography, architectural documentation, portrait photography, street photography, ethnographic studies and more. In ‘Photography as Activism’ by Michelle Bogre, documentary photography is examined by looking at philosophical and historical themes to help define the complexities found within activist photography. She seeks to differentiate between activist and non activist photography and helps the viewer to understand clearly how activist photography can be subtle and persuasive or confrontational. The most successfully defined identification of documentary photography, for me, comes from Beaumont Newhall, he understood that documentary photography is an approach to the photograph, not the photograph itself. This enables the style of documentary photography to be applied to photographic work without identifying as a documentary/activist photographer. Activist photography is considered to be a filter into how the photographer views the world around him/her, whilst also being an act into social change. The idea that it is better to be involved in the process of change despite there sometimes being no result.

Girlgaze; A Review

#Girlgaze: Photography, fourth wave feminism & social media advocacy

Author: Ruxandra Looft


Spoiler Alert: This is my gaze…

Ruxandra Looft writes an essay in regards to the fourth wave feminist movement #girlgaze. She introduces the project first; telling us that the founder Amanda de Cadenet created the girlgaze project in response to her struggle in the photography industry as a woman. De Cadenet was always pushed to remain in front of the camera lens as a model. However, becoming the youngest female photographer to shoot a cover for Vogue and quickly becoming an advocate for female empowerment within the industry, she states ‘this was a glass ceiling. I’ve put a little dent in it but where are all the other girls?’ The project seeks to support woman internationally, who would like to successfully work in an industry that throughout history has typically favoured men behind the lens. Looft explores the advantages of the girlgaze project and the success of the hashtag on social media platforms. The virtual gallery is created through thousands of women captioning their photographic work with the viral hashtag ‘#girlgaze’. The ease of technology, combined with De Cadenet’s celebrity status, allowed the movement to increase with a mass following, sponsorship and mainstream media attention. Ruxandra Looft discusses the disadvantages of the project by stating ‘I argue, however, that we should be wary of any one single person holding such a prominent and dominant role within a community that brands itself as a collective representing disparate and diverse populations.’ Whilst the project celebrates the work of females throughout the world, the photographs that are posted to the Instagram platform are decided by a panel of judges. This idea of hierarchy and one person founding, campaigning and projecting her own individual views onto the narratives of girlgaze colludes with the mission that the movement is fighting for.

Notes to self; A Review

Notes to self; The Visual Culture of Selfies in the Age of Social Media

Author: Derek Conrad Murray

In Notes to self: the visual culture of selfies in the age of social media, Derek Conrad Murray writes about his interest in the ‘selfie’ and how it has impacted on post-feminist culture. Originating in 2002, on an online forum, the term selfie is used to describe the act of taking a photograph of oneself. In this text, Murray explores how ‘selfie’ culture has become compulsive. Selfies are taken in there thousands on a range of devices such as; smart phones, tablets, laptops and digital and film based cameras. This enables an increased level of human interaction through social media, especially when coupled with text based communications. Murray brings our attention to how young woman are being unfairly focused on for engaging in this particular wave of self-portraiture. Although woman are said to make up more than half of the U.S social media population, the act of selfie taking for these woman has received judgement, sarcasm and derision. With some claiming that the self expressive ritual is only for those woman with a poor outlook on their lives and who have a low self-esteem. A point of contradiction; ‘The production of the self takes centre stage, but also a contradictory mix of vulgarity and radicalism; one where a young girl will post a sexually provocative self-portrait and then defiantly follow-up with an impassioned written diatribe about rape and the abuses of women.’ Murray argues however, that instead of titillation, this particular gesture is not meant for the male gaze and should not be ridiculed. Rather, this act is designed to empower and embrace femininity by celebrating history and campaigning to reject unhealthy beauty standards instead of upholding them.