Into the Digital – Fred Ritchin

After Photography

Who is Fred Ritchin and what is his context?

Fred Ritchin is a prolific author and curator, focusing on digital media and the rapid changes occurring in photography.

The Author Fred Richen (, 2019) .
  • Fred is “currently Dean Emeritus of the International Center of Photography (ICP) School, Previously Ritchin had founded the Documentary Photography and Visual Journalism Program at the ICP School and directed it from 1983–86. He was appointed Dean in 2014 and Dean Emeritus in 2017.
  • Professor of Photography and Imaging at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts from 1991–2014.
  • Ritchin has been picture editor of the New York Times Magazine (1978–82)
  • and executive editor of Camera Arts magazine (1982–83)
  • In 1999 he co-founded and directed PixelPress (, 2019) .”

“Ritchin has written and lectured internationally about the challenges and possibilities of the digital media revolution. He has published three books on the future of imaging: In Our Own Image: The Coming Revolution in Photography (Aperture, 1990); After Photography (W. W. Norton, 2008); and Bending the Frame: Photojournalism, Documentary, and the Citizen (Aperture, 2013). In 2016 he co-authored with Carole Naggar the Magnum Photobook: The Catalogue Raisonné (, 2019) .”

My reflections

Initially, Susan wrote a critical analysis, “On photography”. Richen has taken it upon himself to discuss what happened “After Photography…”

“We have entered the digital age. And the digital age entered us.” (Ritchin, 2009 p9 )

Coming from the film era where the whole process was photographic. The film negative or slide positive was created using light to draw the image which in turn was replicated using light to draw an image on a paper medium or projection screen. In the digital era, things changed. “Photography in the digital environment involves the reconfiguration of the image into a mosaic of millions of changeable pixels, not a continuous tone imprint of visible reality. Rather than a quote from appearances, it serves as an initial recording, a preliminary script, which may precede a quick and easy reshuffling. The digital photographer-and all who come after her-potentially plays a postmodern visual disc jockey (Ritchin, 2009 p18) .”.

The traditional photographer like myself, have always felt a bit at odds with the impact of the digital age, the altered media, and the ubiquitous nature of digital photography within a social media and internet environment. I am still trying to get my head around it to find my place in this altered reality. In essence, the photographic process ends when the light is captured on the sensor and digitised into bits. Not only can the image be stored, but the digital data can be copied and distributed without loss and printed or displayed through digital means, simulating the photographic, rather than using the photographic process. “Digital photography has been configured as a seamless, more efficient repetition of the past, easier to sell to the apprehensive consumer even as it is celebrated as part of the ‘digital revolution’ (Ritchin, 2009 p15)

Ritchin elaborates: “Digital involves coded signifiers, data that can be easily played with, abstracted from their source; analogue emanates from wind and wood and trees, the world of the palpable. Digital is based on an architecture of infinitely repeatable abstractions in which the original and its copy are the same; analogue ages and rots, diminishing over generations, changing its sound, its look, its smell. In the analogue world, the photograph of the photograph is always one generation removed, fuzzier, not the same; the digital copy of the digital photograph is indistinguishable so that “original” loses its meaning (Ritchin, 2009 p 17).” in Digital photography the photons are measured and converted from analogue to digital. This digital information is stored in RAW file unique to that device that cannot be viewed and needs to be interpreted using the software either in the camera or on a computer. In the workflow, the original information can be manipulated to emulate the development process and techniques or even go beyond and change the original in significant and truth altering ways. What you see is no longer what you get.

Ritchin takes the issues directly and moves Susan’s metaphor of Plato’s cave to a square universe which projects what the industry defines as “virtual’ and sometimes “augmented reality”. The virtual reality draws us into an unlimited world where social interaction allows you to present yourself as someone completely different, and create a world of your own. Alternatively, augmented reality seeks to show us our world with added “truths” not limited by the constraints as imposed by nature itself. It, in fact, dictates the new truth. As Ritchin asserts: ” It is a world where the human often feels at a disadvantage, where the machine is considered smart and the human sometimes stupid “ but ” The computer also promises a secular uberenvironment in which “reality is merely a convenient measure of complexity,” as Pixar’s Alvy Ray Smith once put it, to be simulated by computer graphics and ultimately transcended (Ritchin, 2009 p16).

“Painting was posited to have preceded, inspired, and then been threatened by photography in the nineteenth century-the handmade versus the mechanical. In the twenty-first century photography of the digital kind-wired, instantaneous, automatic, malleable, a component of a larger multimedia-may eventually turns out to have a more distant relationship with the film-and-chemicals variety that came before it (Ritchin, 2009 p19)”. This statement reminded me of the pictorial phase in photography. Digital manipulation relates closer to painting than that of the photographic process.

A benefit for digital artists and fine art photographers is usurping of the detectable darkroom trickery that was pursued by earlier practitioners which have been made fully pliable with software paint brushes vs airbrushing with chemicals, digital non-destructive layering vs physical layering negatives or physically cutting them, and digital colourisation techniques vs using filters, and a myriad of other options vs. using sometimes poisonous chemical processes. All analogue processes…

I must admit that the digital photography world has aided my photography practice in many ways. I no longer have to wait for the film to be developed to see my results. My darkroom costs and space have reduced and I can perform techniques that would have taken me years to perfect. I can self publish digitally at very low costs and reach a worldwide audience if I so desire.

And finally, returning to Sontag and her critical analysis in “on Photography” regarding the truth and reality perception that the photograph was seen in a sense a trace of reality and it could be used to testify as truth has been seriously altered forever. Fred briefly comments on it: “Where then is the “real” now? Increasingly we are looking at photographs of the map that refers to no territory: the pictures of pictures, the photo opportunities in which politicians and celebrities have their managers stage a scene as if it had actually happened, the photo illustrations that magazines adroitly set up to prove a point, the advertisements for products too glossy to exist, the media filters that reduce life to a shorthand of shock and voyeurism (Ritchin, 2009 p23). This poses a major problem to the practice of journalism, reportage and the documentary. It has been severely devalued the photograph. But, as far as these practices are concerned, the integrity of the photographic evidence needs to be managed and controlled by the photographer which is seriously challenged by editorial staff. This subject is covered in depth in Richen’s monograph “Bending the frame” which is waiting for me on my shelf.

Reference (2019). fredritchin | International Center of Photography. [online] Available at: [Accessed 28 Nov. 2019].

Ritchin, F. (2009). After photography. New York: Norton, pp.9-24.

Forum: Telling A Story

The instructions for this weeks forum was that we had to choose seven photographs to tell a story for an assignment. I was too late to participate. I had two stories but decided to make it seven spreads instead.

Taking the lessons learned about storytelling discussed in “Unearthing the Photo Essay” I planned the story with the following strategies in mind. I needed to focus on getting an opening shot, a key-shot and a closer. The story also required photographs that filled-in the story and ideally, these needed to tell a story within themselves.

The first spread is the opening shot and could have been the climax of the story. Like in many magazines, this photograph would be used as a cover page or, as, I did use it the opening as my opening shot. I approached the layout using a Kinfolk minimalism as I believe that this type of story would interest their Hipster audience. Knowingly, I directed the text towards a thinking audience.

The space on the left is for the introductory text. I added the caption for this reflective exercise.

Frontpage – The Harvest Festival referred to as Sukkot by the Jewish People (Andre Nagel . 2019)
Alternative option within a Magazine (Andre Nagel, 2019)

My story is broken up in three parts. Buying the vegetables, travel home and doing the installation at our shed/church.

Spread 2 Introductory Photograph on the left From the farmland to the shop.
(Andre Nagel, 2019)

Photograph one introduces the first story and links the farmyard, shop and the shopper. This what Freeman calls an introductory photograph (Freeman, 2012). The triptych on the right enforces the message, the packer, the purchaser and trolley and finally, the infinite lines remind the viewer of the farmyard and accentuates the available abundance.

Spread 3: A full Spread of what I call a key shot for this series. The prices are recorded for posterity. ( Andre Nagel, 2019)

Spread 3 is deliberately large. The squares link it with the previous spread but it is such a powerful photograph that I decided that it is the climax of the shopping experience.

Spread 4; Transition between Shop, home and church (Andre Nahel, 2019)

Spread 4 is an interlude or bridge connecting my first story with the second. It has some humour and reality. I contrasted the sunlight and the darkness to give it a minor impact.

Spread 5 The Sukkot being prepared. ( Andre Nagel, 2019)

Spread 5 Introduces the Sukkot itself. It is an introductory photograph. The two photographs on the right show how it was decorated. In both cases, my wife’s gestures made these photographs special. They are not mere portraits or poses but tells a story.

Spread 6 Details of the display in the Sukkot (Andre Nagel, 2019)

In spread 6 I followed the story up with details of the display in the Sukkot, still lives, but here I even contrasted shapes and lines to give the spread an impact and dynamism.

Spread 7 a Triptych with the Punctum with a closing (Andre Nagel 2019)

Looking at spread 7, the triptych is a series that bring the punctum (point) to the story. The text is intended for thinking people to ponder on. It starts with a grinder to make coffee. To me, it symbolised the grinding up of faith by a modernist toolIf the content offends, then I want to make another observation. I have experienced this twice now, where some student has strong opinions on a subject. They forget that the photographer may or may not present something he feels strongly about or as a practitioner, he has to undertake an assignment that opposes his/her belief system. David Goldblatt has shown, that as a practitioner, it is possible to detach yourself from making a judgement on ideologies, politics, world and views and present the story or subject in the most honest way possible. Sometimes, you should even try to understand your subjects to photograph them. You don’t have to agree with them. We as students need not be judgemental about the subject matter of our peers and see what we can learn from their work and other master photographers. If it is about the practice, and as this is a photography course, we should reciprocate with creative and positive criticism with a particular focus on photography. with the red papers indicating caution. The message on the screen is in Afrikaans that proclaim God as the creator contrasting with the impact of modernist thought introduced in the text below. And then, the architectural drawing is an indication of hope and continuity of the faith community in a future for their belief system. The closing photograph seems to reflect the opening photograph, but now the Vegetables and flowers seem to extend from the Bible.

None of this was set-up. In fact, I used my cell phone to make myself less visible to the subjects in this series. It was my first exercise of this nature which I believe is a reasonable success that will take me forward from here.

If the content offends, then I want to make another observation. I have experienced this twice now, where some student has strong opinions on a subject. They forget that the photographer may or may not present something he feels strongly about or as a practitioner he has to undertake an assignment that opposes his/her belief system. David Goldblatt has shown, that as a practitioner, it is possible to detach yourself from making a judgement on ideologies, politics, world and views and present the story or subject in the most honest way possible. Sometimes, you should even try to understand your subjects to photograph them. You don’t have to agree with them. We as students need not be judgemental about the subject matter of our peers and see what we can learn from their work and other master photographers. If it is about the practice, and as this is a photography course, we should reciprocate with creative and positive criticism with a special focus on photography.


Freeman, M., 2012. The Photographers Story. 1st ed. East Sussex: ILEX

Forum – My Market

For this week’s forum discussion, we were tasked to think about your current market and audience and whether they were the same. We had to think about who we would like to call our market and audience in five years time and how we plan to get there.

I am currently in an in-between space. I am shifting from a passionate amateur photographer, part-time photography educator and part-time wedding photographer  to something being defined at the moment.

As Ludre, my current business,  I planned to lift my wedding photography to a high-end market and doing it full-time. As an individual I planed to qualify as an an educator.  The latter was the main motivation for doing the MA. My market and audience is currently  mid-income groups for both wedding and education which is fine for part-time work. However, my photographic classes have introduced me to high-end photographers amateur photographer and business men and that encouraged me to expand this endeavour and they made see the value I can provide to my customers.

I never published any of my private project work. As I prepared my own examples for my photography master class curriculum my portfolio grew and improved as a photographer. Being forced to share my photographs in my lectures and to market my course to prospective students on my website, proved to be a liberating experience. My work was exposed to a new audience, which was not my market at that time. The sharing  led to an artist offering to pay me for the rights to use my work to paint. At first, I wanted to give her the rights for free but she insisted to pay me a rate I did not expect. I believe it is this work that helped in my motivation to get into Falmouth University. But financial gain is not my main purpose. Teaching and seeing your students grow is a reward much larger. A student of mine, who purchased her first SLR camera during my class, exhibited her photographs on request in Milan this year. She acknowledged my influence in this and is going from strength to strength. This is priceless.

With my retirement looming, I altered my business plan to engage with the mid to high-end consumer market. My MA in photography is  part of my development plan to see I could pursue my new found passion, the education of photographic students. The MA, Gem Thatcher and Lydia Pang have put a major spanner in the works though.

Its dream time…

In five years, I now see myself as a highly capable independent creative that collaborates with young creatives on meaningful visual projects in whatever role I can find, where I can apply my knowledge of photography and my abilities to work in creative design assignments. My customer would now be corporates  (commercial and art-based ), which create web-based editorial sites and digital magazines and publish in museums on digital media and if were lucky prints. I hope to generate a living wage from this. I also see myself doing lectures at higher learning institutes with the aim of either creating my foundation or to actively develop young creatives in the art and business of photography. This means I will need to change my business plan, target the corporates  and engage with creatives I already know that work in the industry. My next project needs to be a creative project that features some form of photography. I will continue doing self personal projects until I get too busy to doing commissions that leverage of my vision and skills and allow myself to grow as an artist. By that time I want to have concluded my PhD.

In five years time I will be 65. David Goldblatt (80) passed away last year. He is recorded saying that he had a great future for the next 30 Years before embarking on a personal project to to follow his idol, Ansel Adams, in photograph landscapes.  I believe that I have 40 years left. And if I don’t it won’t matter. I would rather go with camera in hand when it happens.

“Don’t challenge my goals with “reality”….it’s too limiting. I will achieve more without considering it.”- Andre Nagel

It may seem ambitious, but hell it’s my dream…

Forum- Art and Commerce

For many years I have been working as a part-time professional Photographer in the wedding, event and portraiture industry. I had full-time employment as an IT professional.  The purpose of commercial photographic work was mainly to support my private passion for photography and to be able to purchase high-end equipment for this passion.  About 5 years ago this passion resulted in another income stream where I undertook to share my knowledge by teaching my skills to budding photographers through a set of focused classes.  Up to that point I rarely shared my private work and “projects” being too sensitive to criticism. A shared artists problem… But my students encouraged me to break through this barrier.

Since July 2019 things changed for me. I was retired by my current employer at the age of 60 due to the slump in the IT industry. in 2018, knowing that this could become a reality, I started to investigate how I can convert my passion into a full-time photography career. I developed my business plan with the help of peers and training and research to determine what I needed to do to be able to convert to a full-time photographer by June 2019.

My research led me to various options., to become a full-time high-end wedding photographer, develop my skills to become a free-lance photographer or see if I can get into an education position.  The latter being my preference. Most of my research informed me to split my vernacular and my artistic endeavours.  I formally registered my photography business but separated myself as a Freelance Photographer and educator in a personal capacity. I believe that this would allow me to hire and train other photographers on a part-time or full-time basis to collaborate in my wedding business venture and keeping my personal brand as a photographer and educator separate. 

From the outset,  I decided to let the MA develop my personal brand and practice as opposed to the Wedding photography business focusing on documentary photography.  Photographing weddings is extremely demanding and I don’t see myself doing it for more than 10 years. By then I should be able to sell the business or run it purely as a business owner.  During Week 2 where we focused on other careers in Photography, I was introduced to the different levels of professional photography. It confirmed that if I apply what I am learning in this programme I can move myself to do projects at the corporate level and choosing endeavours and projects that I love without compromising my income.

That being said, my love for photography was never driven from a commercial intent but my love for the medium. Developing training material has led me to undertake personal projects. Most master photographers are acknowledged for their personal projects rather than their commercial work even if they were great at it. e.g. Cartier-Bresson, Brassai, Jay Maisel, David Goldblatt and many more. Personal projects kept them sane and committed to their work for there lifetimes. It is my resolve that the need to earn a legal tender won’t derail my path to express myself and kill my passion. I am still able to generate double my photographic income from part-time IT consulting, This enables me to be selective of commissions And allow me to focus my attention on worthwhile personal and commercial photography projects. the aim is to eventually free me from this “Golden cheque”.  This income is also funding my MA. I aim to have this “long walk to freedom” co-inside with the completion of my MA.

I believe that I have developed my own style over time and continuously look for ways to improve and expand on it. Every subject has its own lessons to teach. and Personal projects and focused research has always paid off in my photography.  Wedding photography has stolen has done what Michael Freeman predicted, The mundane and drive for income has stagnated my photography development and I need to as Jay Maisel recommend… “Walk slower” and learn again to appreciate and enjoy every click. 


Maybe I should get myself a “Real Job”

Going back to the seventies, as a male, if I was thinking about a career at school, doing an art degree would the last thing to be considered, even if my dad and I both loved and practiced art. Baby boomers had to get a “real Job” to feed their families. The chosen career had to be at least sustainable until you retire. I followed my dad’s footsteps into an Electrical Engineering (electronics) and the rest is history.

Today there is a new world of opportunities and the way we look at employment. Employment is no longer based on a lifelong career and you are not expected to work at one organisation for life. The Current employee or business need to rediscover itself in the context of and ever changing world and reeducation and developing of new skills is required more often than in the past.

This weeks classwork left me with an impression that there is a “Real Job” in photography. Not only one but many. And I reiterate: it is photography related. This was a mind blowing realization for me… Starting with the interview in week 1 with Lydia Pang, Ted Forbes’s discussion on why one should study a degree, followed my the contemplation of the incomplete listing in the section, Presentation – Other Careers in the Photography Industry, reaching its apex in the Interview with Gem Thatcher and closing with the redefinition, for me, of what a professional photographer is in the presentation by Module leader Anna-Maria Pfab– DNA of a 21st Century Photographer based on Grant, Scott, Professional Photography: The New Global Landscape Explained 

If you follow my blog you will see the start of this transformation. My Initial “Busines plan” was to become a freelance photographer, earn most of my income from wedding photography and expand my photography work through doing education in photography. The latter being the main motivation for me seeking a higher education and my MA. But this mind set is changing,

My first shift even happened before I started with this course when going through an introspection (Nagel,2019), I realized that I had a deep desire to find a way to express for myself as a human being. . ” I always felt the need express myself, to take photographs, paint, draw, write, teach, study …do more…. I know now that I have been missing my artistic expression (Nagel, 2019).” At that time I decided to embark on a path, not governed by my need for an income, even if that is important, but to make the the path that I want to walk for the rest of my life.

Let me share what inspired me this week. Gem Fletcher interview with Lydia Pang (Fletcher, 2019) as a youthful idealist showed me a proactive approach to get what you want. That you did not need to know your way but to “try everything” to discover what you don’t like and continue with and pursue more passionately that that you do. As far as commenting on opportunities, she also made it clear that in the post internet environment, all links are equal and that the internet and social media. If used properly , provides the opportunity to make yourself authentically available and present your work to the industry to parties that is looking for your viewpoint. And the biggest learning for me is something that is not new, is that we are primarily creatives seeking other creatives to participate in a common collective. Ted Forbe’s podcast reaffirmed that this is higher education’s greatest benefit.

The sample list of careers in photography, elucidate the way one can align your particular skills with a direction without compromising your primary passion, photography. Photography and video is arguably becoming the largest communication methods and it is still an emerging and growing field. This means that, even if the need to be a professional photographer is seemingly on the decline, due to citizen journalism and the proliferation and ubiquity of photography, there is an increase in demand to leverage from specialist in photography to use this photography. New interest is growing for creative professionals that need to interact with corporate as well as individuals that know how to leverage from these mediums. Corporate needs to make the most of these opportunities that this present. And that this landscape is ever changing and vibrant!

During Marianne Hanoun’s Gem Fletchers interview Fletcher states: “Being a good freelancer involves more than great creative work. You need to be able to pitch your ideas, market your brand, manage client relationships and budgets, and think strategically (Hanoun, 2017) .” Her multitude of roles reinforced the idea that you don’t have to paint yourself in a specific corner to make a success in this industry.

Unlike Pang, who does personal work as an escape, Fletcher illustrate that she also does personal projects to try new avenues and interest and staying hands on. Keeping her current. Pang focus more on writing about and looking at photographs and photographers rather than making any herself. Both approaches are fine today.

Fletcher is prepared to cross the “holy” divides. As she says: “The industry is constantly shifting and evolving and the opportunity to work across multiple disciplines is now embraced rather than frowned upon. This is really liberating (Hanoun, 2017) .

Fletcher and Pangs interviews opens up the world of possibilities to me and I have decided to not be too rigid when planning the development of my practice and immerse myself to her concluding wisdom. “The number one would be make work. You learn more and faster from doing, than anything else. Get out in the world, make connections with people, collaborate with friends. Don’t be afraid to reach out to people for advice or feedback, but be smart about it (be short, clear and concise). Make the most of opportunities, ask questions. Be curious and open. (Hanoun, 2017)  

The final part of my discovery lies within the tri-classification by Scott of professional photographers. When researching the market the local market and having no insight into corporate photography opportunities I came to the conclusion that most the most sustainable commercial opportunities lies as a “Domestic Professional”. Wedding, boudoir, pre-and postnatal and portraiture photography seemed the only way to guarantee a sustainable income. We don’t have access solid market information in South Africa and most of my peers work as either full time or part-time domestic professionals. But that was just a perception created when using the internet to do research. It is the prevalent marketing engine for this type of photographer. It was also the level I felt the most comfortable in. While there is a lot of competition in the low end market, the mid to upper market is still a great opportunity.

It was the general professional and high-end professional levels that has proven to be eye opening.

According to Schott ” the high-end professional who works with a cross section of professional clients within one or across a wide spectrum of photographic genres.” is the highest inspirational level for creative professionals in the photographic industry. “They are defined by a high quality client base, which in turn results in a strong financial reward for their work (Scott, 2014).”

To get there you need to become a general professional. “The general professional who also works with a cross section of professional clients within one or across a wide spectrum of photographic genres. They have a slightly less prestigious client base and therefore receive a lesser financial reward for their work.(Scott, 2014)”

Scott Makes the point that “they usually come from a creative academic background and are informed by the work of their peers” I.e know how to work in a collaborative environment. Both of these areas are focused on creating, keeping, and enlarging their commercial client base.

I am currently an IT architect and these statements in a way hold true. I work mainly for some of the largest IT organisations and collaborate with peers on major projects. Corporates actually find me through some of my peers as my reputation is build from previous engagements. I am currently freelancing. It is also a competitive environment. I really did not realize until now that if engaged with corporates, such as editorial, ad and branding companies, that require photographic skills, I would discover a whole new world of opportunities. It is something I need to test.

As I intend to do documentary photography, I need to identify enterprises and collaborators that I can engage with to achieve this goal. I will make this part of my project.

I would be able to use my current skills and the Masters Degree to migrate myself from IT to the creative professional I always wanted to be. Having an up to date degree and years of experience as a domestic professional, and doing personal projects during the next year and a bit will go a long way to get started. However, I will need to build that reputation through internship,work and collaboration on private projects and marketing myself to corporates and as Pang recommend use the platforms they will use to present my work . Even If Pang states that we can be found, because corporates are looking, I believe personal relationships in the industry will also go a long way to getting me commissions. The only hurdle is that I am 60 and may be perceived as being too old. But I am up for that challenge, and as long as my health and mental acuity persists I may land myself a dream project. I have already discovered that as a freelancer you are always as good as your last job.

To conclude: a career in photography is a real job! And I need to consider it! Even if it is just for living out my dream! But the path exists and I need to take control of that and decide which way to go.


Nagel, A. (2019). Finding my Artistic Expression. [online] André Nagel’s Critical Research Journal. Available at: [Accessed 15 Oct. 2019].

Grant, Scott, Professional Photography: The New Global Landscape Explained (2014), CRC Press, p. 5

Hanoun, M. (2017). “Photography is a gateway to so many different people and…. [online] Lecture In Progress. Available at: [Accessed 14 Oct. 2019].

Fletcher, G. (2019). ‎The Messy Truth: Lydia Pang – On Commissioning on Apple Podcasts. [online] Apple Podcasts. Available at: [Accessed 8 Oct. 2019].

Rights of Subjects in Documentary work

Initiated by our Tutor we contemplated the rights of the subjects in the plagiarism photographs and whether the model release form from the original photographer/artist legally cover the second appropriation of the image?

There was also a sense of discomfort that the rights of the model/subjects are not being considered in both these cases. Especially when in both these cases their include people from the BAME* community.  

I could not agree more. the terms of the release form should apply. Especially when it comes to documentary work where you have the opportunity to engage with people. I have done some street photography in the past where  I did not ask permission to photograph the people. There is no law prohibiting me from doing it in South Africa. However, for my current project work I feel ethically challenged to ask verbal permission to photograph people and explain why I am doing it.  I am guided by David Goldblatt’s approach which allows me to engage with my subjects. This becomes a very personal and life-changing exercise for me.  But, in some cases, under certain circumstances, I need to take the photograph first. In those events, I will ask permission to use the photograph and I will delete the photograph if they disapprove. This process allows me to engage them in conversation and record their story and become less of a Flaneur. I am contemplating, where possible, returning to some of my subjects and give them a photograph and may consider getting them to sign a release in turn if I intend exhibiting it in the future.

The rights of the people being photograph blur a bit in the case of journalism were getting the subjects to sign off is near impossible as it gets to photographing riots and protests.  That is probably why David Goldblatt generally avoided doing it or using those photographs in his exhibitions.

This should explain why I was so active in this forum discussion. I am personally experiencing the threat of my work to be abused in the same way.

* BAME (Black. Asian and Minority Ethnic).


Forum – Whose Image is it Anyway?

One of the Disputed Artworks in the case Prince vs Cariou (Boucher et al., 2019)

During this week 2, we were challenged to discuss copyright issues. “There have been some notable art copyright cases in recent decades. One of the most significant is French photographer Patrick Cariou’s claim, suing Richard Prince and his gallery, Gagosian, for copyright infringement.

Ethics vs Law (Do we still care?)

I share my responses as I believe they reflect on my thinking. and growth during the process:

There are ethics and laws. Not all laws are ethical. I am a South African, and I experienced that personally.

I don’t need to be a lawyer to know that taking someone’s work that cost him years of effort and research to create and without his consent then muck it up for purposes of art,  is blatantly unethical. It does not matter if the law says otherwise. Its common sense. But that is my emotional response.

Judgement under American Law

However, ethics weren’t challenged but the American Copyright Law. To provide and evaluate this case one needs to do some research into copyright law and the context. Landmark decisions are exactly that. A point in time in law where a boundary is challenged and crossed.

According to a study done by Suzy Frankel, Professor of Law, Victoria University of Wellington ” Copyright law internationally is awash with legal and practical problems and divergent political views (Frankel, 2015) .” Copyright is territorial, not international. And there is a need to find a durable solution.

Two sections in American copyright Law Apply.

“104. Subject matter of copyright: National origin” which states:

(b) Published Works.—The works specified by sections 102 and 103, when published, are subject to protection under this title if—

(1) on the date of first publication, one or more of the authors is a national or domiciliary of the United States, or is a national, domiciliary, or sovereign authority of a treaty party, or is a stateless person, wherever that person may be domiciled;

(2) the work is first published in the United States or in a foreign nation that, on the date of first publication, is a treaty party; or ”

This part was not contested.

“107. Limitations on exclusive rights: Fair use which states

Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 106 and 106A, the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright. In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include—

(1) the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;

(2) the nature of the copyrighted work;

(3) the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and

(4) the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

(US Copyright Office, 2019) .”

Which means both are protected under American Law. And maybe challenged under section 107 (3)

So if Patrick Cariou wished to have protection in America, he need not have to register copyright in America and may use the laws there when a breach arises. It needs to be done under that Jurisdiction as the breach occurred on American Soil. American Copyright Law only applies to America and its laws apply there.

The additional purpose of the Fair Use criteria provides a counterbalance to the 1st Amendment of the American Constitution, that of Free Speech. The Office of General Counsel at Harvard University notes that the five “Fair Use” tests are “purposely broad to prevent a rigid application that would potentially stifle creativity” (Harvard, 2019).

“Courts have taken both a quantitative and a qualitative approach in assessing the impact on the fair use analysis of the amount and substantially of the portion used.  What percentage of the original work has been used?  There are no bright lines, but the higher the percentage, the more likely this factor is to weigh against fair use.


Even if the percentage is fairly small, however, if the material used is qualitatively very important, this factor may weigh against fair use (Harvard, 2019). ”

It’s important to note that American Law is about the precedence and it is little wonder that it is the Andy Warhol foundation that fought for the American artist as Andy has done this without challenge in the past. They tout precedence in the form of Art history.

‘The district court determined that Prince’s “taking was substantially greater than necessary.” We are not clear as to how the district court could arrive at such a conclusion. In any event, the law does not require that the secondary artist may take no more than is necessary. We consider not only the quantity of the materials taken but
also “their quality and importance” to the original work. […] The secondary use “must be to `conjure up’ at least enough of the original” to fulfil its transformative purpose. ] Prince used key portions of certain of Cariou’s photographs. In doing that,
however, we determine that in twenty-five of his artworks, Prince transformed those photographs into something new and different and, as a result, this factor weighs heavily in Prince’s favour (Patrick CARIOU v. Richard PRINCE, 2013) .’

Initially, I did not agree with the ruling only taking the quantitative side in consideration. While it is clear the copyright was infringed on quantitative bases the ruling was made on a qualitative basis. In this, I need to concur. Prince completely changed the intent of the photographs. But as discussed under in my blog on The Rights of subjects in documentary work (Nagel, 2019). This is something that was not challenged in this case. it is the effect of these minor changes that infuriated me and possibly Cariou. The reason he won the case… Is this really fair use really fair in this case?

But I learned a lot critically analyzing this case. but this only applies to American law.

How would other Countries deal with this?

But this poses another question. How would this case have been adjudicated in other countries? I concluded a brief investigation on how copyright laws of other countries would have dealt with the issue.

A view of the Copyright and Laws and Regulations 2019 for different counties is accessible at .

Starting with Cariou ‘s home country.

In France, the French court needs to determine if a work is an original on a case by case basis. France calls on moral law in these cases. Copyright needs not to be registered. Copyright exists merely if something is created. these rights are split between patrimonial or moral right. Patrimonial rights cover the artwork for 70 Years after was published. Moral rights have no time limit.

The moral law states that the original author has the legal right to protect the integrity of the work…and the right to oppose any modification or distortion of the work.  So Prince would have lost, even after the authors’ death. Prince 1- Cariou 1.

Britain Copyright introduces fair dealing (, 2019).

Fair dealing is a term used to describe acts which are permitted to a certain degree without infringing the work, these acts are:

  • Private and research study purposes.
  • Performance, copies or lending for educational purposes.
  • Criticism and news reporting.
  • Incidental inclusion.
  • Copies and lending by librarians.
  • Caricature, parody or pastiche. (clear description available at (Links to an external site.)).
  • Acts for the purposes of royal commissions, statutory enquiries, judicial proceedings and parliamentary purposes.
  • Recording of broadcasts for the purposes of listening to or viewing at a more convenient time, this is known as time-shifting.
  • Producing a back up copy for the personal use of a computer program.

In Britain making a Caricature, parody or Pastiche of a BAME subject would not have been approved. Prince 1- Cariou 2.

In South Africa, we don’t have a fair use policy as mentioned in Amy’s and other posts.  You require permission to adapt an original piece of art which includes photographs (Myburgh, 2019). A gallery can’t even use an image of art to sell the item without the distinct permission of the copyright owner. Prince 1-Cariou -3

I question whether the problem is that, unlike South Africa, that documentary photographs, in general, is still not seen as art in itself. That it is relegated to a lower purpose. To be used and abused? The precedence so important in American law is made! Would they allow fine art classics to be vandalised in the same way? Probably.

So in conclusion: It is what is deemed sufficiently transformational that is tested in this case. So due to the precedence, I can make a couple of scratches on the eyes of the subject and add another authors photograph of anything and it is deemed as sufficiently transformational.

What bothers me is that Patrick had no moral recourse under American law. Something he would have had in his own country. Under American law, the author loses all moral rights to the use of the picture. It is no wonder documentary photographers find it more difficult to find willing subjects in America. The moral obligation that Caroui had was to protect the dignity of a private subject has been waved in lieu of a joke, parody or caricature etc. This subject of his photograph is not a politician or celebrity that puts him/herself up to public ridicule. For me, it equates to the display as Sarah Baartmans body as a museum display in Paris (Smith, 2019). This is disrespectful. It is a human right abuse. Imagine if you were commissioned to do work for a bride and an American artist decide to do the present her in a degrading fashion. How will you be able to explain this to your customer?  Does it make any difference that this is an indigenous person that doesn’t live in America and probably cannot afford to sue the hell out of the artist? Rastafari is religious individuals and takes their simplicity and way of life very seriously. Not merely stoners and rock artists as the artist portrait. (Added 01/10/2019) I know I would offend if I really have to say how I feel. I may have already…I lived in a country for many years where human rights were abused and I remained silent. People tend to hide behind unjust LAW’s to abuse the rights of others. It was never the intent of the law. In South Africa, this was corrected where Human Rights were embedded into our constitution and human rights charters, which takes precedence over any interpretation of the LAW that transgresses that. We have a specialised court that deals with those matters. You are free to publish in South Africa and don’t need to register copyright and own your copyright unless you wave it, and I believe you will get a fair trial. I know this will be tested here in the future. It makes me rethink how I make available my work and who I collaborate with to ensure that American Vandals/Artists cannot get hold of my work.  David Goldblatt, a world-renowned documentary photographer, removed his work archive from the University in Cape town in protest to students vandalising imperialist art and being able to protect the freedom of expression and moved his archive for protection at Yale. How safe is his work really? Incidentally, he claimed that he was an artisan and disliked  Artist. I wonder why? (Herman, 2017)

Our tutor Clare Bottomley challenged us to look at another interesting case involving an iconic photograph. She asked whether the feeling around fair usage change when the image is so well known it becomes part of our collective consciousness?

The photograph by Graeme Williams taken in Thokoza township, Johannesburg, in 1991. Police watch an ANC rally while children taunt them. Photograph: Graeme William (McGreal, 2019)


The photo was taken at the Johannesburg art fair by Graeme Williams of Hank Willis Thomas’s version of Williams’s colour original. Photograph: Graeme Williams (McGreal, 2019)

I thought this is a better case to argue… Wiliams is making an artistic point. He may win based on transformation in an American court but at least he did a better job than Prince. If he labelled or documented his protest up-front I would have some sympathy for his purpose, but he didn’t. He was caught claiming another photographers work as his own and looks like merely trying to get out of trouble. Alternatively, he could have argued that he significantly altered the photograph but require him to present it to the courts. He basically admitted that he stole it and he feels it’s ok because he did not believe it was previously stolen and did not belong to the owner. I wonder if American law will uphold that. He even asks the artist to destroy the evidence.

Copyright Law court expenses are huge. My cynical response would be to simply copy what he did using photoshop, it may only take a day at most and give it to the gallery to sell at the same price and display it next to the other and use this conspiracy to my advantage… He did not change the meaning of the photograph and merely suggested how to change it. Challenge the gallery to sell the original with proof of ownership to a prospective client. If he wants to challenge the “copyright infringement he will then have to fight the lawsuit in South Africa using South African law.  He will not win the case. It would be interesting to me whether art buyers will buy the stolen one, or the original, merely because of the artist’s name. (And if not, provide my originals to him to sell my photographs for me under his own name – he can cut out the middle man, he is clearly a better salesman)

However, I pursued the matter further. Williams was not the only photographer against whom this infringement was done. Here is another.

Photographs by Hank Willis Thomas and Peter Mgubane (Patta, 2019)

He did the same with Peter Magubane’s. Thomas said he’s not so interested in the legal debate, and more interested in the moral debate. CBS News foreign correspondent Debora Patta said he raises the argument that Williams is a white photographer who took pictures of black South African kids without their permission. He wanted to make it a racist debate. This is the artist version of Click bate.  Why then rob Peter Mugubane?  According to Patta both South Africans that risked the lives to get the story.

The article states: “South African copyright laws are clear: You may not reproduce or alter an original photograph without the owner’s permission. While U.S. laws may not be as stringent, copyright lawyers told CBS News the original works are clearly identifiable in the works by Thomas, which amounts to copyright infringement (Patta, 2019) .”

I like Hank Willis’s other artwork though.


Frankel, S. (2015). The International Copyright Problem and Durable Solutions. [ebook] Wellington. Available at: [Accessed 15 Oct. 2019].

Patrick CARIOU v. Richard PRINCE. (2013). [ebook] United States Court of Appeals. Available at: [Accessed 15 Oct. 2019].

Havard (2019). Copyright and Fair Use. [online] Available at: [Accessed 15 Oct. 2019].

US Copyright Office (2019). Chapter 1 – Circular 92 | U.S. Copyright Office. [online] Available at: [Accessed 15 Oct. 2019].

Nagel, A. (2019). Rights of Subjects in Documentary work. [online] André Nagel’s Critical Research Journal. Available at: [Accessed 15 Oct. 2019].

Phil, S. (2019). Copyright 2019 | Laws and Regulations | ICLG. [online] International Comparative Legal Guides International Business Reports. Available at: [Accessed 15 Oct. 2019].

McGreal, C. (2019). Plagiarism or remixing? South African photographer accuses artist of theft. [online] the Guardian. Available at: [Accessed 15 Oct. 2019].

Patta, D. (2019). U.S. artist accused of stealing iconic images from South African photographers. [online] Available at: [Accessed 15 Oct. 2019].

Herman, P. (2017). UCT defends stance on artistic freedom after Goldblatt pulls out. [online] Available at: [Accessed 15 Oct. 2019].

Myburgh, A. (2019). Copyright – What it means for Visual Artists. [ebook] Johannesburg, p.3. Available at: [Accessed 15 Oct. 2019].

Smith, A. (2019). Saartjie Sarah Baartman: 10 Astonishing Facts You Didn’t Know About Her. [online] BuzzSouthAfrica – Famous People, Celebrity Bios, Trendy News & Updates. Available at: [Accessed 15 Oct. 2019]. (2019). P-01: UK Copyright Law fact sheet. [online] Available at: [Accessed 15 Oct. 2019].

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].

Context And Audience

Position and Practice Week 8 and 9

My most Controversial Photograph on the Course so far!

“I am” -Model taking a selfie at the Photography and Film experience at Kyalami Midrand.

During Webinar Week 9. Thursday 1st August. 2019. 1600-1730hrs BST (GMT+1) I presented my peers and our tutor this photograph with the assumption that they understood where I was coming from. Wrong….

Generally I did not understand my audience and I they did not understand the context of my photograph. Part of it may be due to a discussion that took place before I joined, where abuse by two dominant males was discussed and secondly not all have seen my presentation.

It was interesting how what I saw differed from what people see when they view this photograph. And yes, it is about context and audience. How you prepare your audience and share the photographs does influence the way they experience it. But you may have a photograph that cannot be contained within its original context… This is a good example of that.

Lets first explain the context within which I took this photograph. As a person, I am predominately driven by western modernity. That means I am influenced by that philosophy. This photograph intended to show how the Cartesian Cogito, ergo Sum negatively influenced western philosophy. Making the individual the centre of all truth.

As part of that project I want to change my gaze to see other philosophies interacting on my world. In my world both philosophies exist and influence the economy, art and politics and even individuals.

I attended a Film and Photography Experience expo where, apart from the workshops and expo areas, various practical shooting areas was set-up for photographers to use or try out various camera equipment. When I passed through this particular area I took one photograph of a young model posing next to a car merely as a composition and colour exercise when the above photograph happened. A photographer was done shooting the model and car and as she relaxed, the model took out her cellphone, kneeled down and started taking a selphy of herself. I realized that I am seeing a very self absorbed moment where the model was focusing on herself in front of the car which in my mind represented the abuse of modern/post modern use of the “I am”. I can never be sure what of her actual thought or motivations.

However, I had four people viewing the photograph. My tutor at first saw the photograph as the model angrily photographing the photographer and it brought up that the photograph brought up many topics – using sex to sell? which side tracked my intent.

One of my fellow students and passionate champion for feminine and children rights raised that in her mind it presented the exploitation of the model. And I must admit my response was typically that of a male photographer, so I won’t venture into that. She saw something that was way off from what I saw.

Another student with whom I have been engaging reviewed my oral presentation and could reflect immediately on what I saw.

It does speak to how we see the world. Our photographic gaze!

When I showed the second set, we aligned a bit more and we started to discuss what I was intending with my project. I had the feeling that even Paul had a problem understanding where I was coming from but we did reach a touch point when he suggested I read.

When I showed the second set, we aligned a bit more and we started to discuss what I was intending with my project. I had the feeling that even Paul had a problem understanding where I was coming from but we did reach a touch point when he suggested I read Pëtr Kropotkin Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution.

Just to reflect on something important regarding Ubuntu. The western concept of aid means the great I am…. help others. Ubuntu is bigger than that. Your humanness is defined by the way you treat those that require your support. Pëtr Kropotkin uses two terms Mutual aid and Mutual support. I believe the “mutual” part is more in line with the Philosophy of Ubuntu.

Nelson Mandela stated: it takes a village to raise a kid. Those of us in happy families knows that being able to support a happy family does raise your self steam and sense of being, especially if you do it because you are a human being not because you feel obligated to do so. The well known Jewish Rabbi, Jeshua, promoted this oneness, the love driven support to all our neighbors. As in the case of the the Hawain Ho’oponopono, and the Jewish Mensch, it promotes that the person that support others is the also a beneficiary or gets the healing. The become complete and balanced individuals or get healed. The Hindu faith and Budism embeds this connectedness. We forget that modernity raised multiple ideologies which either reject these philosophies or supports it. e.g. Socialism and capitalism.

In conclussion

It was recommended that I don’t use this photograph as part of my submission as it distracts people from my intent.

After thinking about it a bit more I decided I will use it. The reactions reflected a paternal post modernist view in it’s own. I however altered it to try and eliminate the alternative readings.

In my opinion, it is also a worthy picture to use in my teachings in the future without any comment to illustrate the principles of interpretation of a photograph.

Power and Responsibilities

Week 5 Position and Practice

Reflection on my readings and the impact on my Project.

“The Photographers Gaze” By Andre Nagel.

We are almost halfway in the semester and I can honestly say that I am only getting a handle of the course now. This weeks content had the greatest impact in my mind. It takes time for one to assimilate, internalize and synthesize information and in this week it all sort of came together. Such a shift changes you as an individual.

My mind shift occurred while reading Marita Sturken and Lisa Cartwright’s “Practices of looking: An Introduction to visual culture (spectatorship and power)” and specifically the section “The Subject of Modernity” (Sturken,M and Cartwright, L : p94).

It changed the way I will approach my project and me trying to find myself in a post-corporate role. I agree with the authors that to understand our role as image creators we need to understand ourselves, the subjects gazing at the image after I have taken it , the people gazing at me in the image and the context of the “field” as defined in text. I believe that doing so will improve my interpretation and understanding of my own images and and has the potential to take my documentary photography “From success to significance”.

The article impressed me as it uses philosophy and modernity as the point of departure in this introduction to visual studies.

However, what surprised me was the I had an epiphany in the realization that much of what is happening in South Africa ( a Ex-European colony), in the newly “liberated” or freed society may be explained in the following profound portion from the text. “These colonial strategies of modernization were justified by the Eurocentric belief that European practices and beliefs were objectively better (more advanced, more sanitary, more ethical , more modern) than the cultural practices and ways of knowing and living in the world that had been in place prior to colonization.” (Sturken, M and Cartwright, L : p95, p96). I believe that it is that lead to supremacist views, racism in the colonies and finally “segregation” and “Apartheid”.

To be effective I need to see how much of this is these views are in-bedded in my thoughts. I know that in certain ways I still hold some of these believes. And I am still a male….

About a year ago my best friend, who happen to be a coloured, accused me of wanting to enforce my western ethics onto Africans. My simple answer to him was, ethics are ethics… Its important to know that my dad was a liberal that grew up in a integrated society in Observarory Cape Town and we were taught to respect all people irrespective of their race, colour or creed.

A second thing I came to realise when photographing Black brides I found that I could not view them as I do white women even if they followed western traditions. Facing this realization made me change the way I look (Gaze) at these pretty woman and my photographs normalized as they started to gaze back at me differently. This activity within myself improved my photographs and I can now relate fully with the individuals. But I know I am still a work in progress.

The impact of Modernity in South Africa is also a work in progress.

Modernist thinking led to the Dutch to travel around the Cape of Good Hope finding a route to India. The early Dutch and French settlers came from a stock that fought for their convictions and had to flee to the Cape province to avoid persecution. As in the case of the early Americans they fled the imperial aspirations of European monarchy and in the case of the British settlers, poverty and injustice in England. There aspirations driven by modernist ideals and led them to create two independent republics separate from their mother countries.

Jumping ahead to the 20th Centuray, Our founders and political leaders were well educated in western philosophy, rational thinking, science and and modernist view. Dr. D.F Malan the early protagonist for “separate development in the 40’s and 50’s, was trained through the Anglo/European Tersiary education systems at Victoria College (now klnown as Stellenbosch, where he earned a Bsc in Science and mathematics, did an MA in philosophy before getting his Bth and Doctorate in Theology (Koorts,L:P23).

Malan went to the same school and College as Jannie Smuts in his youth. (Koorts,L:P29). While Malan who did some of his education in the Netherlands during the Boer war is today seen as a racist, Jan Smuts who was 4 years older and Studied Law at Cambridge, and who fought against the British during the Boer war and with the Allied armies during world war 1 and II, turned out to be a romanticist, botanist, war hero that became a peacemaker and world leader. This is a story very similar to that of Nelson Mandela whose statue today stand next to that of Jan Smuts in Trafalgar square.

This is part of a discourse happening in my mind and those gazing with me at the new South Africa. This expands my image making process. There is a “now” to be recorded. Midrand, a vibrant and a developing city, nested between the Johannesburg , the center of commerce, mining and industry, and the Tswane (formally known as Pretoria), the center of our democracy as political power, is my home. It hosts the PAN African Parliament and most of the post industrial, technology companies. I am living in a cauldron of modernity that is affecting and shaping our society, religion, culture and economic lives. An ideal opportunity for me to document!

South African Artists tend to interpret what we gaze at South Africa through “Apartheid” and “Colonization” and “White/Non white glasses” but maybe we should expand this gaze and “Modernize” it when we interpret what is happening to us in global terms.

Putting it in the words of a Non-white South African:

“As we stand atop the political ruins of the
Afrikaner nationalist project and, staring at the
horizon, see in rough outline what looks like
the makings of an African nationalist wreck,
we might think there is nothing worth excavating
from these ruins. But, as Lindie Koorts shows in
this fascinating biography of D.F. Malan, there
is much that South Africans, still have to learn
about their collective past. She has produced
a book that shows how one can go about
writing a history that is understanding but not
apologetic, sympathetic but not justificatory.
Malan was not an evil man. He certainly
meant to do right by poor whites and to
achieve Afrikaner unity. But, and this is perhaps
the most important lesson to take from this
captivating book, Malan could not see beyond
his narrow community interests. That, ultimately,
was the greatest irony of Malan’s life.’
– Jacob Dlamini, author of Native Nostalgia
and Categories of Persons (edited with
Megan Jones) (Koorts, L:Afterword)

You may well ask why I reflect on this… It’s the incoherent “separate” and asynchronous way that the positive and negative sides of modernity has hit the different groups of people in South Africa and the collision of thoughts and discourses, that is reflected in my field of gaze and interest me. The introduction opened my eyes to see this in practical terms. And I now have the urge to develop this understanding my Gaze and the Field in my practice as a documentary photographer.

This discourse will form the basis of my oral presentation and as Paul suggested I need to verbalize it concisely and slice the effort into workable realistic chunks of work. Truly a challenge as my mind races towards a accomplishing a huge body of work that will probably take the rest of my lifetime to achieve.

Reflections on Ethical Discussions:

The Fisher Cohort started our discussion around the abuse and misinterpretation of a photograph by UKIP for political purposes. It was as far as I am concerned the best discussion so far.

I could see how the debate raged internally within each one of the participants, specifically Bekkie. I was not new to the debate and added my 10 cents worth which was well received.

My mind started to wander to ethics at a different level. I came to realize and acknowledge my personal responsibility as a photographer for the pictures I take and the story I tell. But this responsibility include the assignments we undertake to do and to whom and for what purpose we deliver their images to. We no longer can use the Nuremberg excuse. Issues that was discussed was copyright and publishing rights, codes of conduct and ethical standards. I also added that as photographers we need to take responsibility for our own business and make sure that the Law reflect our ethics by lobbying an fighting for justice and appropriate use of our works. This include social media and news and media agencies that can only be governed by Law.

The aforementioned discussion and the Alan Kurdi video brings to bear a need for a deeper analysis regarding ethics.

It chalenged me to reflect on other aspects of ethics such as our purpose to take a photograph, i.e the reason for our gaze as a photographer. Was the journalist taking the picture to make money? Or is the purpose fame and honour such as a pulitzer prize, Or commercial, merely wishing to produce shock for some agency to get legal tender to live. What responsibility and ethics was applied by not publishing it in certain countries and alternatively, which of the photographs was actually published? And lastly, the impact it has on us sitting in an environment of calm and peace viewing the horror of what is happening in the world desensitizing us to the truth out there.

For me the shock was the quality of the child’s clothes. He does not represent poor down trodden unwanted members of our society, but present modern, well loved and a well cared child, rejected by our society. I must declare that I too have become desensitized to the horror of famine, war and injustice in Africa. How did we react to the horor of the Ethopian Kids migrating in Africa.

The death of Alan Kurdi had a desired outcome and opened the door hearts of many countries to the Syrian refugees and their plight. Does the end justify the means?

It then brings into play the ethics of censorship. With reference to my in discussion on censorship in the Article in week 4 about of citizen journalism in the Boston marathon attack and the linked impact assessment where the American authorities wanted to switch of the cell service to reduce the impact of the story to the general public.I was also prevented from watching McCullen in South Africa. Was it a regional block or a censored video as it include black on black violence.

Just a general note. The group is mostly in agreement and unfortunately we are not really getting to debate differences of opinion. I see Paul raised some questions that could produce this outcome but unfortunately my time was up. In future I will see that if the opportunity arises that I will add an alternative perspective to the discussion and see if it produces a deeper outcome. In my opinion the group and myself has not broken the politeness barrier yet.

STRURKEN, Marita and CARTWRIGHT, Lisa. ca. 2001. “Practices of looking: An Introduction to Visual Culture.”

KOORTS, Lindie. ca. 2014. “DF Malan and the Rise of Afrikaner Nationalism”