Forum – Research Methods

During this week we, the MA students, were tasked to share the research methods we plan to use this term when creating our Work in Progress Portfolio and two photographers whose work is deeply rooted in research. (, 2019) .

What is interesting is that I picked up on this in the time between semesters from the feedback I reserved from my first semesters work in progress journal and I purchased three books that I believe will assist me to in my research….a compendium of Brassaii’s work Brassaii Paris by Jean-Claude Gautrand and a compendium of Davids work called “Structures of Dominion” Both describe their approaches and indicate a research methodology that informed their photographic practice. I also purchased and started to read Fred Lichens book ” Bending the frame”.

Like Brassaii and David Goldblatt, I consider myself an independent photographer.

I have decided to focus on socio-political documentary photography for my MA. The subject of my project is both current and close to my heart as a South African that share a European heritage but I am truly a fourth-generation African. For my project, I want to illustrate this internal conflict and alienating feeling within me by personally investigating two interacting philosophies that are currently shaping the socio-political change, Western modernity and African Humanism (Ubuntu). This in itself is a major philosophic research project. This is discussed more in-depth in my previous blogs. The subject itself requires intense research into theses philosophical tenants for me to translate to my visual images.

My assessment in my first project listed several recommendations regarding my work and emphasize research and practice as priorities for my growth. So I have decided to spend my time in this part of the module to ensure a great start. This may lead me to fall slightly behind and I am ok with that,

According to my assessment, I need to now “find a way to move beyond the ‘record’ of an event, so that it can develop into the far more sophisticated body of work it certainly has the potential to be (Alexander and Clement, 2019) .”

I am encouraged to do “research in more depth and include theory and visual practices around your chosen genre, including typologies and sequencing, as this will be so beneficial for me (Alexander and Clement, 2019) . ” and to “experiment more with my chosen aesthetic and will need to look at other techniques as well (Alexander and Clement, 2019).” My work in itself has to be a research project.

In the forum, I commented that as this is a photography course, my focus is on finding ways to use visual language. To do this I will need the leverage of the fine South African heritage in documentary photography. I could and will use many photographers but the one photographer that seems to be the most “dispassionate” and methodical yet fully involved is David Goldblatt, who unfortunately passed away last year.  His biography is available at I will be investigating his approach, photography and read as much about him to gain insight into his principles as a photographer… His Book, The Afrikaner revisited is the most honest representation of my memory of being an Afrikaner in South Africa to date and I would like to continue that story in a post-apartheid world. But his work also included the other communities and their struggles in the same honesty. In that too I would like to continue his legacy. Which clearly was achieved with a project approach,  consistency and engaging with his subjects. He was by no means a Flaneur. (, 2019)

The second photographer I found in my search for a contemporary living artist in the field is Nina Berman. Her personal website may be accessed at An independent American documentary photographer and educator, that share Davids engagement with her subjects, tenacity and strong work ethic. She has a strong project focus and even teaches her art providing me with access to the material for my research (Berman, 2019).

According to my assessment I ” have demonstrated a positive engagement with my research on an ongoing basis and how this research has driven the progress of your own practice. However, there needs to be more depth to this research to my work, as this will certainly help me to evaluate and sustain your critical reflection from a more informed perspective (Alexander and Clement, 2019). ” I take this to mean that I need to focus on more contextual research and use it in critical reflections, rather than relying on my own point of view which is too prevalent in my reflections. I will be using this blog during this semester to reflect on readings and learn how to bring those reflections when discussing other issues, leanings and research.

One of our tutors, Clare Bottomley, listed surprised me with a list of research methods expanding my view on it. The sheer number of methods require full understanding and an informed selection of the appropriate methods. I will need to identify the methods that will best influence my development at this stage. So my first priority is to research. Do do this I will be critically reading A Practical Guide to Arts-related Research by Maggi Savin Baden and Katherine Wimpenny that she recommends and reflect on it in this blog as I grow in my understanding around the research. In a way, doing the course in this sequence may be very beneficial in informing my research project with at least three semesters in between.

The sheer number of responses from the combined Cohorts have brought a wide range of insights to this forum and the webinars.

Reference (2019). Topic Week1: Research Methods. [online] Available at: [Accessed 9 Oct. 2019].

Alexander, J. and Clement, P. (2019). Andre Nagel PHO701: Positions & Practice: Summative Feedback. [online] Falmouth University. Available at: [Accessed 6 Sep. 2019]. (2019). David Goldblatt | South African History Online. [online] Available at: [Accessed 1 Oct. 2019].

Berman, N. (2019). Nina Berman Photography. [online] Nina Berman. Available at: [Accessed 9 Oct. 2019].

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