Category Archives: b – Illustration


The brief for this exercise is to produce a single image that can be used as a cover shot to illustrate rain.

Like the previous exercise I had an idea in mind that, in execution, did not work out as well as I had hoped.  The idea was to shoot a local church through the windscreen when it was raining  but, on the couple of times I went to shoot, the BBC’s promise of “heavy showers” failed to materialise, so the effect I wanted was not there:-



The heavy showers did however occur later and, serendipity like, while going upstairs I saw the streaks of light on our landing window and liked the effect.  I set up the camera, on a tripod, and made a long exposure of some 25 seconds at f22.  I am quite pleased with the resultant shot and it sort of reminds me a bit of Saul Leiter’s work.


High Brooms in the rain from the window.



The brief for this exercise suggests doing a book cover or a photo someone with a possession.   I was intending to do a book cover illustrating the novel Dune by Frank Herbert and went as far as buying some sand from a local builders.  Unfortunately while the idea I had was good (and still is, I think) the execution of it just didn’t turn out well (the wrong sort of sand for starters, the letters looking rubbish, etc) – actually this I an understatement – the gap, between my minds eye visualisation and the resultant effort, was of a grand canyon nature:-


The aborted Dune cover.

Another idea was a fairly simple one – a portrait of me in my study with my gear:-


Me in the study

However I didn’t find this particularly inspiring either.

As a result I had a rethink and came up with the idea for the shot below.  A bit of explanation, this is what my mother’s breakfast normally consists of – cereal and 15 tablets.  I thought the link that both the cereal and the tablets (all 15 of them) have in terms of keeping mum alive was a good one and the top down comparison of the two appealed to me.



Mum’s breakfast



This exercise asks you to consider and find symbols representing the five subjects listed below and go on to explain how you would use them in a photograph.  The difficulty with these subjects, as with many you are asked to interpret, in a photo is the avoidance of  cliché.  Similarly as with a lot of symbols there is the possibility of misinterpretation, so context comes into this.  If a photo is part of an article, the “leap” to identifying the symbolism is that much easier for the viewer .


A bud maybe against a wooden fence illustrating new life in contrast to the dead wood.  (This would also be an idea for the next exercise – Juxtaposition.)


A graph -the clichéd shot of a jagged line going upwards is an easily recognisable symbol of growth.  However it might be interesting to make it out of something so for oil you would show the symbol drawn in oil or something on, say, a white background.  For instance:-

price of oil

With context the symbolism may become clearer:-

price of oil 2


Scales – photo of a readout of a set of scales showing an excessive weight reading.

Rubbish tip – showing what is thrown away and the amount of waste we produce.

Car Showroom luxury car room with price tags maybe?  I remember a Guy Peellaert painting of Diana Ross in a limo passing what appears to be a ghetto/slum which I thought at the time was a terrific bit of commentary see it on this website:-


Door sign (or furniture lock padlock etc) -for instance Neighbourhood watch.

DSC02720 DSC05937

police car(s)


Picture of mute switch on amplifier/remote

Library/church – Inside of venue without people

finger to lips/hand (or, more threateningly, tape) over mouth


I had the hardest time with thinking about this subject but came up with these:-

An empty or near empty fridge.  Maybe use a “value” loaf and dripping?

Food bank with or without a sign indicating what it is.


Evidence of action

This exercise asks you to “Produce one photograph in which it can be seen something has happened.”

This to me is very wide brief (although the guidance also goes on to cover abstract ideas and concepts which, by definition, are harder to convey photographically) as I am of the view that most photos explicitly or implicitly indicate something has happened.   For instance these are some shots I took on several of my walkabouts all of which indicate as I see it some form of action taken:-

DSC02680 DSC02676 DSC02675 DSC02671-2 DSC02670-2 DSC02668-2 DSC02689 DSC02687 DSC02685-2

Some of these could be considered as implied (the shot of the postman for instance implies he’s delivered letters) or explicit (there is no ambiguity about the renovated house – especially when contrasted against its neighbour)    I like the last picture of the above set because this has all sorts of connotations.   At its simplest it evidences that a flag has been erected in a front garden but it could also indicate that the owner has certain political ideas.


In the end I opted for this shot of my mother’s recently installed stair lift.   I thought that by photographing it empty at the top of the stairs there is a clear indication of action(s) taking place – both the use of the chair and it being vacated.

This of course is not an abstract image, symbolism is something which, if I am honest, I have not used much, if at all, in my images (although a planned series, of which the shot below is a precursor, could I guess be considered as symbolic – but only if you know the references)


One of my initial shots for a planned series on the home being a prison.

Using the example cited in the exercise, insurance, I think I would consider, in addition to the examples stated, such symbols as a moat, padlock to be suitable but, like a lot of illustrative symbolism, it can depend on context.  For example a picture of smiling sleeper safely tucked up in bed could illustrate an advert extolling – in its text or commentary – the peace of mind that insurance brings.   Similarly a smashed door could symbolise the effect of not being insured – “do you want to come home to this?” or a man living rough on the street symbolising not having redundancy insurance.

As a postscript, I revisited the speed sign shown above in the postmen shot as it was not working at the time.  It was working this time and I would consider this as a viable alternative choice:-


Evidence of action – speed sign