Positions and Practice, Project Development

Positions and Practice – Experiment 3

“The enemy of photography is the convention, the fixed rules of ‘how to do.’ The salvation of photography comes from the experiment.”

– Laszlo Moholy-Nagy


To explore how I could digitally manipulate images utilising cropping, layering, collaging, image morphing and stylising techniques, I have produced a series of images based on feedback and ideas from others. I have also used hand illustration pre and post Photoshop editing on some of them.  In all cases I used Winsor and Newton drawing inks.

Each image is individually created based on the effect required.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The above images have the same base image.  ‘Hybrid’ was created using pen and ink to add spines and a tail to the base image.  The photograph was printed onto semi gloss Permajet photo paper.   I scanned the inked image into the computer.  This was then manipulated, I desaturated the colours a little and a background was added.  Personally I prefer the image without the background but have definite areas for improvement in the manipulation of the inked photograph.  My next experiment trialled further manipulation techniques.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The next manipulated image (‘Woodland Pixie’) was created from another inked photograph (printed on semi gloss Permajet photo paper).  The resulting image was again scanned, manipulated and montaged onto a background in Photoshop.  The final image is, in my opinion, a more successful product.  Others have commented that they particularly liked this image in the portfolio.  One viewer felt it was a strong manipulation that embodied what a woodland pixie might be like.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The next image I experimented with was the mermaid fairy.  The original image (printed on canvas textured photo paper) had a dried oak leaf glued to the back of the subject.  The glue used was décopatch Paperpatch glossy glue.  Once dry, the leaf was also inked over to add colour and interest.  Once scanned, the image was manipulated and collaged onto a photograph I took earlier in the year at West Bay, also known as Bridport Harbour.  This is on the English Channel coast in Dorset, England.  The resulting mermaid image is quite successful and has an interesting composition.  A viewer has commented that the image is ‘strangely attractive but I had difficulty making sense of the image’.  They felt that the final image depicted an unexpected outcome for a mermaid.  The replacement hand looked odd to them as they expected to see a normal or webbed hand.  The viewer commented that they did not understand the ‘weird plant-like structure at the back of the mermaid’.  This is useful feedback as it provides a basis for future images.  I will experiment with expected elements (from folktales and current imagery) and unexpected elements (created in a non-structured manner).

Figure 7: Sutherst 2016
Figure 8: Sutherst 2016

The above two images are predominantly montaged images with some manipulation in Photoshop. For both images, the subject specified what kind of creature they wanted to be.  The first is titled ‘Bat fairy with hippo feet’ and the second ‘Troll goat fairy’.  Both subjects are particularly pleased with their resulting images. Reflecting on this process, I haven’t really explored why they wanted to be these creatures.  This is a development point for future images.

Figure 9: Sutherst 2016
Figure 10: Sutherst 2016
Figure 11: Sutherst 2016

Each of the three above images are composites of photographs that I have previously taken. In each case, the subject has specified exactly what kind of fairy they want to be.   Each image has been well received by viewers. Feedback has been received on possible alterations to the butterfly image.  In particular, it has been suggested that I consider ‘removing the creases in the leotard’.  The subject and I did discuss the time of image capture and we decided that we wanted her to look like she had a butterfly segmented body.  I will however take this feedback on board and create a version with smoothed out creases to see what the impact is.

Again the subjects are pleased with their resulting images. I feel that these images are successful and am pleased with how they finished up. As above though, I haven’t really explored why they wanted to be these creatures. This is a development point for future images.

Moving forwards I will be engaging further with my subjects to understand why they want to be particular creatures / fairies.  I will use this in the evaluation and production of the images.  I also need to improve the level of sophistication of all images that I produce.  An experiment planned is to try to improve the overall appearance of the images by using a model covered in body paint photo rather than ink the images after.  This session will produce images that I can compare and contrast with images that are inked as part of the post-production process.

Watch this space for future blogs.



Laszlo Moholy-Nagy quotes – Art Quotes . 2017. Laszlo Moholy-Nagy quotes – Art Quotes . [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.art-quotes.com/auth_search.php?authid=4664#.WHY69mSLQlU. [Accessed 11 January 2017].

Positions and Practice, Project Development

Positions and Practice – Experiment 2

“The thread acts as a connection between the person and myself or place that I have photographed. I always think of the photograph as something from the past and the thread as a reaction to the past and present. The thread makes the photograph more personal to me and allows me to meditate on the image. Combining the two mediums (photography and sewing) allows me to reinvent the photograph; to visually react to a person or a place.”

– Melissa Zexter

“As long as something creates a reaction it’s alive”

– Maurizio Anzeri


Using Maurizio Anzeri and Melissa Zexter as inspiration, I trialed the addition of embroidery on a few images.  Anzeri embroiders found photographs with coloured thread, whilst Zexter uses photographs she has taken herself to sew onto.  I decided to follow Zexter’s example and use my own photographs to stitch onto.

The tricky part was selecting images from my previous work to use.  I did not want to try and shoot images especially for this as this would make the work too prescriptive.  So I searched and chose images I thought would work well and allow me to add a layer of narrative to add additional meaning and emotion.

The next stage was to consider how the embroidered aspect would interact with the image. My intent was that the embroidery would be a reaction to the photographic image and bring an additional layer of narrative, adding add emotion to the image.

Like Melissa Zexter, my starting point was to work on ideas in my sketchbook.  I printed out my images on standard printer paper and sketched my plans for the embroidery onto them.

Figure 1: Sutherst 2016
Figure 2: Sutherst 2016

After deciding which images to produce, choosing the correct thread colour was the next challenge.  In the images where the emotion needed to be strong and powerful, 4 strands of red DMC Mouliné Stranded Cotton (colour 13) were used.

I printed out the photographs onto semi-gloss Permajet photo paper.  Initially, I tried to stitch in a normal fashion, pushing the needle through the paper.  This proved to be very difficult due to the thickness of the paper as it was tough to push the needle through the paper accurately and without pain to my thumb.  I very quickly realised that I would need a different method.

I trialed using a thimble on my thumb to help push the needle and thread through the paper.  This method was much better than the first method, but still lacked a level of accuracy which I wanted for the placement of the thread.

I decided to trial pushing holes through the photograph, using a needle and thimble to push the holes through from the front and I used a cutting mat underneath the paper.  This method allowed control and accuracy of the hole positions.  Once the holes were all punched, I just threaded the cotton through them.  The ends of the cotton thread were secured in place with sellotape as knotting the ends would have shown through the front of the image once mounted.

Figure 3: Sutherst Headache 2016
Figure 4: Sutherst Anguish 2016
Figure 5: Sutherst Anguish Version 2 2016
Figure 6: Sutherst Verbal 2016

For the eye expression images, 4 strands of black DMC Mouliné Stranded Cotton (colour 939) were used. I also chose to add a small bead to every other line in the image with the embroidery just under the eyes.  This was to give additional texture to the image and add interest to counterbalance the bright expressive false pink lashes worn by the subject.

Figure 7: Sutherst Stare 2016
Figure 8: Sutherst Looking pretty 2016

Reflecting on this experiment, I feel I have areas of technique to work on.  The most successful image for me was ‘Headache’.  The strands of cotton thread really express to me how powerful the headache is. The positioning of the threads starting from the forehead really emphasise the pain that the subject is going through and that the headache is extensive.

I also feel that the ‘Anguish’ and ‘Verbal’ images also successfully portray the emotion and narrative I was aiming for.  However, I feel that the 2 eye images are the least successful.  Whilst the embroidery has added to the images, I feel that the effect is more aesthetic than emotional.

Feedback from others reflects my opinions.  The comments I have received about ‘Headache’ include “the image really speaks to me about bad this man’s headache is – I really feel his pain” and “this is a really successful manipulation of the image.  It works”.

‘Anguish’ and ‘Anguish Version 2’ were both liked by others.  However, views differed on whether the image should be cropped as in ‘Anguish’ or not as in the second version.  Personally, I prefer version 2 as it gives more character to the subject.  On reflection, the blue background could be adjusted to give more emphasis to the subject.  I will consider this in the next version of the image.

Another person commented that the image ‘Verbal’ appears to portrays quite an aggressive character, who isn’t afraid to speak her mind. This wasn’t entirely the effect I was going for.  I was intending to demonstrate that the subject was confident and not afraid to speak her mind.  I had not intended her to be portrayed as aggressive.  I can see how the embroidered layered has added this narrative to the image.  I need to be mindful of different interpretations of my work as I progress through the project.

For both the eye images, viewers were confused about the narrative I was trying to portray.  I have to agree with them that these images are the least successful in this experiment.  They do not have a clear message unlike the other images.  Moving forwards, I need to ensure that each image has a purpose and that this is clearly expressed in the embroidery added.

One final reflection point, is that I feel that some of these images lack a degree of sophistication in the style of embroidery added.  This is an area for development and improvement.  I will need to improve and develop my embroidery skill level to enable me to tackle more intricate and considered designs.  I also plan to develop machine stitching techniques as well as hand stitching techniques.

Further experiment results will be posted in blogs once they are completed and evaluated.



Anzeri, M. From Yatzer. 2017. The Embroidered Secrets of Maurizio Anzeri | Yatzer. [ONLINE] Available at:https://www.yatzer.com/The-embroidered-secrets-of-Maurizio-Anzeri. [Accessed 11 January 2017].

Zexter, M. From TextileArtist.org. 2017. Melissa Zexter interview: Embroidered photography – TextileArtist.org. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.textileartist.org/melissa-zexter-interview-embroidered-photography/. [Accessed 11 January 2017].


Positions and Practice, Project Development

Positions and Practice – My Practice

My current practice is about self-expression. My goal is to invite the viewer into a fantasy world where they can forget the reality of the conflict and darkness of real life. I see life as a performance. It is a world where fairies and mythical creatures occupy the same reality as everyday life.

I make pictures for adults that take them on a journey to revisit the fairy tales and stories of their childhood. I aim to create dreamlike images in which fiction and reality merge, and meanings shift. This work allows me to explore hidden areas of my imagination and to express my interpretation of life and the fantasy world. I operate in a world where light-heartedness dominates and where rules are meant to be broken.

In the creation of my images, I often attempt to blur the line between photography, embroidery and art. By focusing on techniques and materials, I intend my work to present a perfect finish and tactile nature. I enjoy experimenting and developing my work based on the results. I often create several practically identical images, develop different techniques on these and repeat my ‘mistakes’ in order to perfect my vision for the image.

With influences as diverse as Caravaggio and Roger Ballen, my work explores the relationships between stereotypes and the depiction of fantasy creatures in modern culture. Through multilayered images, I intend to astonish and manipulate the viewer to leave them with a mix of conflicting feelings and thoughts.



Positions and Practice, Project Development

Positions and Practice – Paris Door Knobs Mini Project

Whilst on the Paris study trip, I set myself a mini challenge to capture images that showed something about the area where I was staying.  I wanted to capture the images within a one hour walk from the hotel.  Images were to be shot on my iPhone and should be colourful.  Whilst on the walk, I was struck by the variety of door knobs and door colours in the area. The resulting mini project is a visually interesting collection that was great fun to collate.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Positions and Practice, Project Development

Positions and Practice – MA Online Portfolio

Working through the suggested portfolio hosting websites, I was struck by the multitude of options open to photographers. As a result of consideration of the many sites, I have decided to set up 2 portfolios to compare and contrast before choosing one site to host my MA portfolio.  The first is with my existing provider and the second with another provider. Both require a valid email to view.

All comments welcomed via josutherstphotos@gmail.com.




Positions and Practice, Project Development

Positions and Practice – Margarita Kareva Inspiration Board

Figure 1: Margarita Kareva



Figure 1: Kareva, M. From Bored Panda. 2016. Fairytales Come To Life In Magical Photos by Russian Photographer Margarita Kareva | Bored Panda. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.boredpanda.com/fantasy-photography-russian-photographer-margarita-kareva/. [Accessed 25 October 2016].


Positions and Practice, Project Development

Positions and Practice – Original Project Thoughts

When I applied to the course, my initial project thoughts were…


I have become aware that the media is filled with stereotypical images of gender, race and sexual orientation. These stereotypes are being perpetuated by films and television programs and as we are a society dependent on many forms of visual media, these stereotypes are being reinforced. To keep our interest, the identities of characters must be established as quickly as possible and this is done using stereotypes.   This is also reflected in some forms of print media. Society does not want to invest time in getting to know characters; we have become impatient.

In our society today, there is a huge amount of pressure from many angles to conform to a certain ideal of beauty. We are bombarded with images and other forms of media that tell us who we should be and how we should look. These pressures can become so overwhelming, that some people will go to drastic lengths to change something about themselves. Even when selecting models to work with, I have been surprised the number of times I have seen models who are a size 14 class themselves as plus size. Some of these models have told me that they struggle to find photographers to work with them and so they offer nude or fetish work to try to get booked. I find this quite sad.

At one time, it was believed that the camera never lied; that all photographic images were by definition a true reflection of reality. We now know that photos can and have been manipulated, even before the introduction of post processing techniques and software such as Photoshop. For example, the Cottingley Fairy photos (a series of 5 photos shot by two young girls just before the end of the First World War and endorsed by a number of establishment figures including Sir Arthur Conan Doyle) have been shown to be false but only through the confession of Elsie Wright over 60 years after they were taken.

I was curious to know why and how the girls had managed to fool everyone. They are beautiful pictures and beauty can make people believe anything they want to.



The theme I would like to explore for my project is fantasy portraits with a twist. I would like to explore elements of digitally manipulated portraits, fine art photography, gender-bending images, androgyny and body size awareness.

Margarita Kareva is a particularly inspiring photographer. She is relatively new to the industry and she creates images that transform female subjects into princesses and witches. Her work has a distinctive fairy-tale feel through her use of props and costumes. She enhances this with digital manipulations that capture the essence of awe and wonder.

Whilst Margarita’s images are very beautiful and generally illicit a positive reaction, I would like my images to create a strong and definite emotion in the viewer – rather like a ‘Marmite’ reaction. I am not interested in ‘oh, that’s nice’ as a response to an image. I do not want to create mediocre ‘beige’ images. My images will aim to be visually striking with subjects that effect a marked distinction between the expected content and the actual image. I want to produce images that challenge the stereotypes all around us.

To achieve my objectives, my planned subjects include:-

  • A drag queen
  • Obese models
  • Men in traditionally feminine costumes and poses
  • Black models
  • Possibly disabled models

I plan to incorporate my own backgrounds onto the portraits and intend these to be digitally manipulated into the images. These will be a combination of fine art style landscapes and the more traditional backgrounds seen in mythical images. I would also like to explore images that present as mixed media or sketches.

The project will build on previous work.

Initial Inspiration Starting Points





I intend to develop this project and build on my current practice by:

Fully research photographic practice regarding stereotypes and the portrayal of sexual orientation, gender and size within the media. This will enable me to visually develop the theme, experimenting with photographic techniques to develop my knowledge and skills. I intend to use different camera types throughout the project – both digital and film. I also intend to use digital manipulation of at least some of the outcomes.

The project will develop my understanding of the technical, commercial and professional contexts, relevant to portrait photography. This will enable me to explore and challenge the established parameters of current photographic practice through practical skills as well as the application of theory and knowledge to the process. I am very creative and innovative and believe this will stand me in good stead to achieve this.   I also intend to explore how my theme fits in theory and current practice.

Throughout the project, I will be critical and reflective so that I can improve my practice. This will include analysis and evaluation of my work, and that of others.

As an organised individual, I am very good at researching and applying the findings to my work. I am good at problem solving and have good idea development skills.

My theme needs to be handled sympathetically due to the subjects proposed. My project will consider this in terms of ethical and sustainable practices.

Whilst the intended outcome is a photobook, I would like to explore the possibility of having an exhibition.

I am very excited to see where this project will end up.


This initial proposal has now been developed and modified.  Updates to follow.



Positions and Practice, Project Development

Positions and Practice – Peer Review

This week gave use the opportunity to talk through our proposed oral presentations with 2 of our peers.  I was fortunate enough to work with Philip and Kevin again.

It really helped being able to discuss the direction of my work and my reasoning behind this.  The conversation afterwards with the others was very helpful in clarifying my thoughts as to the direction of my oral presentation.

We discussed at length the learning objectives we need to cover in the presentation and clarified to each other where we thought we had each met these.  This was really useful in each of us making sure that we had considered each aspect of the presentation.  Just need to draft out the final version now.

I just hope I was as helpful to Philip and Kevin as they were to me.

Positions and Practice, Project Development

Positions and Practice – Manifesto

I am an image-maker. I am passionate about what I do. On shoots I am spontaneous, adaptive and creative. I narrate a story, choosing the moment and only pressing the shutter when the scene in front of the camera moves me. I collaborate with other creatives to provide an experience and emotion. I will take you to somewhere you have never been before and show you things you did not know existed. I will lie in mud or knee deep in water to get the shot. I will create permanent visual images that can change your world. I will stay true to my creative vision and will show you another side of yourself – a beautiful, unseen side. How I conduct myself will have a positive impact on how other photographers are perceived. I will strive to ensure the integrity of those who publish my images. I am a photographer.