The 2nd International Workshop on Visual Research – March 29th 2017

As the new term begins to take shape, I’m pleased to announce that the Photography Research Group (PRG) have sprung into action with their first event of the year.

The 2nd International Workshop on Visual Methods will be a one-day symposium/workshop premised  upon building relationships between visually orientated research and the social sciences. The workshop will open with two keynote speakers followed by a presentation from the Vice President of the International Sociological Association’s Visual Sociology Group. In the afternoon, the workshop will turn its attention to the wider doctoral community, spotlighting some of the most exciting  scholarship undertaken at a PhD level, internationally.

The event will host speakers from a range of locations and institutions including the UK, USA, Germany, Israel and Russia, with the event promising to to be a great platform upon which to promote and exchange knowledge and ideas. Over the course of coming weeks we’ll publish speaker profiles and begin to unpick some of the themes that the event will address.

In the meantime keep an eye on the dedicated webspace, found in the hyperlink above which, includes the registration link, abstracts, speaker bio’s and much more.

Registration is free and lunch will be provided. There is also a grant to support current ISA PhD students to attend.

Here is sample of the images and environments that’ll be addressed by our speakers on the day.

Gary Bratchford

March 29th 2017
Uclan 4th floor, Media F
9am registration and prompt 9:30am start


Berger and Sontag – Two of the Greats

Following on from John Aitken’s blog post below, and in keeping with a conversation both John and I had only last night about the passing of John Berger, I was prompted to share this fantastic video.

John and I had a conversation ‘about conversations’; conversations, narratives and of course, about John Berger’s passing. In doing so, I mentioned this great video where Berger talks with another great, and sadly missed critical thinker, Susan Sontag. Thus, while it is timely to think and reflect on Berger’s passing, it is equally apt to share this specific video because, it is also a conversation about conversations, narratives, mediations and of course, the visual.

With all the charming idiosyncrasies you’d expect to find in academia, Berger and Sontag discuss editing and film, montage, the issues of what is said and not said in the every day, gestures, oral and visual editing, the tradition of story telling and the addition of art, artfulness and the modification of storytelling when you ‘read with the eyes rather than listen with the ears’.

Both Berger and Sontag underpin much of my thinking and teaching, but they are more than just key thinkers within the field of visual studies. More than reliable ‘go-to’ names on a shelf that I turn to when I want someone to help me think through an idea or problem.

They were adversaries and colleagues, testing each other’s knowledge with a compelling enthusiasm, something we should all aspire to have; a sparing partner upon which to test the depth and validity of our ideas and arguments.


Gary Bratchford

A Tribute to John Berger


I want to spend a few moments today remembering the great writer on photography, John Berger. For those of us of a certain generation Berger was a seminal figure. We were struck by his compassionate and insightful way of writing about photography. Berger was able to present to us many of the great philosophical insights into visuality and representation in a way that we could understand. As a young person struggling through the vast forest of modernist thought he was a friendly guide with good intentions. Reading his work left us feeling empowered rather than diminished. We got ‘it’ and felt that people like us could take part in the great debates that still continue to rage throughout the cultural world today.


For myself, Berger made me feel ok about my endless sense of wonder at the combined simplicity and complexity of representing what it is we see and experience. His statement that ‘ the relation between what we see and know is never settled’ is as true today as ever. As a lecturer, I still feel that if a student has left us without reading his work Another Way of Telling than somehow we’ve failed to point them to a pathway that every photographer should tread. Every photographic practitioner should read this excellent text. It opens up for us simply the complex scenario of how meaning is made from our strange medium whose ‘raw materials are light and time’. The book is also an amazing experiment to try and explore how images alone could be used to communicate without the use of text (students also love reading the book as half of it made up of images!). Those writing their dissertations, its well worth the time to read through this classic text.


On a final personal note, I always remember one of our Turkish undergraduates completing the course at UCLan and coming to see me before she left to travel Europe. She confidently told me that she was going to visit John Berger. ‘Of course you are’ I said smiling not believing her. Two months later I received an e-mail. As I opened the attachment I saw her sitting next to John Berger on his living room sofa, both of them beaming big cheeky smiles like kids. I burst out laughing. A great moment. The humanity of the shot said a lot about Berger and how he still had his love and respect for people despite his age and fame. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Berger I thoroughly recommend his works, especially Another Way of Telling and his classic A Seventh Man. Although he is gone, his thought is as fresh and as inspiring as when it was first published. Get to know him. He is a great guide and a still a much needed friend as we walk through the sometimes lonely world of critical theory.

John Aitken

First Year Student GIF Project

A project designed to encourage students to consider the multimedia capacity of photography as a communicative ‘new media’ medium, each new first student was asked to crete a Gif’s. As contemporary practitioners students need to understand the versatility of the medium and the visual image. Some of the GIFs below reflect the range of visually engaging work being produced across the year group.



Fieldwork Photography Symposium

Preston, 9th November 2016

Hosted by the Photography Research Group, the Fieldwork Photography Symposium explored a range of discourses exploring the ‘Urban Image’. The day was chaired by John van Aitken, MA Course Leader and Academic Lead for the school of Journalism, Media and Performance.

Speakers on the day included:

Theo Simpson – An Exploration of How the North of England Can Be Conceived and Encoded

Valentina Anzoise – Fringescapes: Hangzhou Future Sci-Tech City

Followed by and Q &A with J Purcell (UClan Photography Research Group)

Glass Ball Collective – David Ball and Cora Ball talked about their work at Skelmersdale New Town.

Laetitia Vancon – Photography and Gentrification

Followed by and Q&A with Brian J Morrison  (UClan Photography Research Group)

Kevin Crooks – UClan Alumni and DBACE winner 2016

Eugenie Shingle – Gabriele Basilico and the New Topographics aesthetic

Jerome Krase – “Seeing the Image of the City Change, Again”

Q&A: Led by Erik Knudsen (Professor of Media Practice UCLan) & Gary Bratchford (UCLan Photography Research Group) with closing statements from John van Aitken

Other events during the symposium were a Pop-up Portrait studio using a 10×8 negatives facilitated with Adam Mead in collaboration with BA students from years 1-3


North Publication, free download.

To celebrate the launch of our second edition of NORTH, a publication of undergraduate, postgraduate and staff projects along side commissioned pieces of writing and interviews, we are making the first edition available for free download.


The first edition of North was an attempt to challenge the traditional degree show model, giving students the opportunity to be featured in a publication with distribution across the UK and Europe.



The success of this new model, has inspired a new edition of the publication which will be launched on Wednesday 9th at the Fieldwork Conference. To receive your free copy of Volume one simply click here and follow the download request information.

We hope you enjoy these two editions of PhotoUCLan’s best and brightest visual practitioners.