Workbook Task 4

Names:__Carol Shearman and Denise Tongara

Brief: Working in groups of two, you have been briefed by City Weekly magazine to photograph a CATC lecturer or student to illustrate a feature story about Think Education’s dynamic Melbourne campus.

Your portraits should capture the energy and excitement of working/studying at CATC as well as giving a sense of the environment.

At a minimum, you are required to produce 2 environmental portraits of your subject suitable for:

  • The magazine cover
  • An opening ‘lead’ shot

Part One:

Research the requirements of the magazine and consider how the commissioning publication uses images.

Consider location, your visual approach and equipment requirements.



Denise Togara and I are working together on this task.  I feel that having two photographer’s points of view and input will lead to a more successful outcome for a first project of this nature.

CATC college Melbourne is a vibrant and lively place to work and study, well located near transport, it draws students from all areas of Victoria, many of whom travel several hours each way to take advantage of the high standard of teaching and facilities provided.  As the images will be used in a brochure to promote the college, we feel that it is important to take the pictures with identifiable objects or surroundings,not just seated at a computer working on a task.

As students ourselves, we asked each other, what attracted us to study here?  what part of the college really sums up the atmosphere and professionalism of all the staff??  And we then explored those areas first, and left other areas for later exploration, being confident of finding a suitable location fairly quickly.

There are several considerations in place and we have decided to solve any problems as they arise, which will make us better prepared on the day of the shoot.

Pre Production

Firstly, a model is required, we are unable to use a fellow class member, instead, having the pool of available CATC students and staff to explore.  We approached Cameron Durham, a fellow first semester student, studying graphic design.  Don is a young motivated student, with a distinctive style and similar interests to my own.  He travels quite some way to attend the college of his choice.  He wants to study design to “replace all the bad designs in the world, with good ones”  A lofty long term goal indeed! As he was kind enough to agree to give up his daily break for us, I offered to supply any props that we needed.

Cameron is only available for our shoot on his break at 10am Thursday, so it is important that Denise and I are completely set up and ready to go when he arrives.

As we wanted to feature graphic design images in our portrait, to give context and to help Cameron feel more comfortable, we wandered around various areas of the CATC campus, with those restrictions in mind.  Classrooms are going to be difficult, as so many of them are in use, the Library is very suitable as it has lovely natural light, and several areas that will showcase the CATC and it’s student’s work in a positive light.  The mural in the courtyard would be a very creative and colourful background, but being outdoors, is a little weather dependent.  The breakout room was also considered, but the proliferation of black lockers does make lighting difficult.

Ultimately, we decided on two locations within the Library environment, with a back up location of the windows outside the campus building.  A backup location is very important for this brief, as we will be very limited in time, so if the library is quite busy, we need to be able to move immediately to another location that we are comfortable with. The display of graduate students work, the bookshelves and the computer desks will all work as backgrounds to create a sense of efficiency, resources and professionalism that we feel will project a positive image of the college as a learning institution.

Part Two:

Your subject is a very busy person and their time is very limited.  You have been allocated a maximum of 30 minutes to produce the two compelling images.

Consider how to use the time most effectively, or if required, negotiate for more time.

One of the methods we intend to use to make the most of our limited time is to take more test shots of both the primary and backup locations at similar times of day, in both overcast and sunny weather conditions, so that we are confident in our camera settings as a starting point.  This will minimise the time spent on test shots, and maximise the limited production time. We are confident that by having two primary shoot locations, and a backup location, we will be able to produce strong images that will be of benefit to the college, the model and to us.

The backup location has decoration to the college signage done by previous students, and it adds colour and life to the background.  As this location is a public thoroughfare, we will need to give consideration to the crowding issue, but test shots with a long shutter speed and a fellow class member as a model show that the passing foot traffic could actually work to our advantage, creating a dynamic image with a great sense of movement, while not detracting from the subject or the message.


Test image of backup location

F 6.3, shutter speed 1/25 ISO 100 @52mm.. this image is deliberately blurry as I was taken by the thought of using a slow shutter speed to have movement in the image from passing pedestrians.. however, none were passing in my first shot!


Test image of backup location

F 13, shutter speed 1/5, ISO 100@52mm – again, deliberately blurred due to unaware models (sorry James and Andrew!!), as I was focusing more on shutter speeds required to get decent motion blur from pedestrians… naturally, I will use a tripod for the final shoot.

Test shots of the library from two separate angles show that a tripod will be needed to minimise camera shake, and a high ISO setting combined with a wide aperture will overcome the lighting issues without the need for external lights.  Being able to use the available natural and ambient light, even though it is mixed in colour, means that the set up times will be minimalised, and there will be less disruption to other library users.


Test image of main location

F3.2, shutter speed 1/100, ISO 800 @ 56mm


Test image of alternate angle, main location

F 3.2, shutter speed 1/100, ISO 800 @ 56mm


Come the day of the shoot, and the sun is shining.  A rarity in a Melbourne summer, it would seem.  Drat you mother nature!  The shadows outside are harsh and very unflattering for both Cameron and for the building that we wished to feature.  We head inside.

Fortunately, despite the hectic pace of trimester end, the library is almost deserted, but we realise it won’t be that way for long.  Fortunately, we have our preset settings, and we can work quickly against the available backgrounds, chatting with Cameron to help him feel at ease and taking several images from slightly different angles to increase the chances of a great shot.


Here are my two submissions, I think the second would make a great cover image, the first being a good story image.



one two



I have NO idea why these thumbnails are a different size, wordpress is hating on me today :<


Week 3 notes

This weeks class had some interesting powerpoint presentations, along with discussions etc.. I have decided to blog the notes I took so that I can go over them later for inspiration.

The powerpoints in particular, were wonderful inspiration for WHY documentary photographers do what they do.. by documentary, I mean not the correspondent photographers, but personal projects.  I hope that by referring to these notes, I can be inspired with my photo essays, which at this stage, while being assessed, are personal as well, as I have been able to choose the subject.

NO SECONDS – Death Row Meals by Henry Hargreaves

This photo essay can be seen at

Hargreaves has researched the last meals of many of the American’s who have been executed for their crimes and recreated those, with appropriate settings, ie; cutlery, tableware etc.  He has also listed the criminal and some details, the crimes for which they were executed and the contents of the meal.

These photographs are quite stark, all photographed from the same angle, straight above, with quite harsh and flat lighting, with the emphasis being on the contents of the plate, which are not unattractively styled, but not beautifully presented either.  Care has been taken to recreate the meals within the constraints of the era, using correct cutlery stules etc.

Hargreaves makes no judgement on the people who ate these meals, the chosen meals were selected because they were unusual and appealed to him, he has noted details that fascinated him, like the former KFC manager who chose that food for his last meal, is it irony, or was it included for it’s ‘creepy’ factor?

Reasons stated for this image series were firstly curiosity, how is a last meal served?? And when researched, Hargreaves could find no previous work on this subject.  He hasn’t tried to create any messages that need decoding with this series, merely to start a dialogue, and making people aware of the use of the death penalty .  He considers the negative reactions that this series has gained (comments like “cashing in”) as a measure of success, because it’s a reaction.

This series is ongoing, as it has been exhibited, and updated for that.  As he believes that food tells us about ourselves, he hopes that maybe we will discuss our last meals and what they would say about us.. perhaps to find some common ground with someone who has been put to death by their own people??

Stephen Dupont

Dupont is an Australian photographer who has captured many haunting images of conflict around the world.  He has received numerous awards for his work, and published several books of personal projects that are not conflict related as well.

Dupont works in the instant, he rarely has preparation for a shot, and will even use a blurry image as he believes it can still tell a powerful story, capturing the emotion of the moment.

Closeness is his trademark, he becomes part of the scene he is photographing and has taken harrowing images from less than a foot from the subject, although he feels very responsible for infringing someone’s personal space, and remains aware of the very fine line between documenting and invading in that sense. He frequently finds himself having to cut off emotionally in order to continue his career, but is always affected after the fact.

Dupont’s images rarely tell the whole story, they always leave the viewer asking questions and wanting to find out more.

Watching these two interviews and presentations made me aware of some important considerations in documentary photography, and the class discussed the following points.


  • – Intervention – do you always JUST take the photo, or do you step in.. how do you decide which?
  • – Social responsibility – which is more important, getting the story out there to the rest of the world, or doing something immediate, this relates to the above point very well.
  • Controversy VS Intention – are some images published merely because they will create a storm of controversy, is that a good enough reason to take an image?
  • Truthfulness – will an image be taken out of context and not tell the story it was intended for
  • Exploitation – should consent be gained from subjects at all times?? if you are profiting from someone’s misery, how do you reconcile that?


These relate to ethics.

Impartiality – a documentary photographer must document, not enter a conflict

Permission – ideally, get it beforehand, or at least ask afterwards


Along with responsibilities, photographers have certain rights when on public ground, but it is ultimately up to the individual to check that those rights apply on location.

Assessment 1 part 2 – Researching

Research your proposed publication and its agenda and aesthetic. Who is its audience and how is photography used to communicate ideas?

With a range of topics discussed in each issue, the Big Issue reaches a wide audience, but appeals directly to those who consider they have a ‘social conscience’.   The magazine is very pro active in maintaining transparency, with several areas of the website, and each issue explaining exactly how the consumer price is divided up, and re stating their independent stance.

The photographs in the magazine are used to highlight stories, and especially to put a human face on the articles.  While many articles have only one image, there are several articles in each issue with multiple images, varying from quite candid shots, to technically complex, well set up studio images, and everything that can possibly range between.

Describe the magazine’s typical reader

A typical purchaser of the Big Issue is me.  Well, probably a little younger than me (I am 49), judging by the people who I watch stop and buy outside Southern Cross station (where I first became aware of this magazine).  To hazard a semi educated guess after watching one vendor, I would estimate the average age at 30.  They seem to be quite well educated, judging by the breadth of articles, have a keen interest in the world around them, and are willing to step up and be counted about current issues that affect their world, and the world of those around them.

What kind of stories does the magazine run?

There are many subjects in each issue, with the publication priding itself on covering a variety of topics and in their approach.  Serious when needed, but always with a number of humorous or quirky articles to maintain reader interest, I have seen articles on creating the perfect retreat for a teenage girl’s room (thus confirming my belief that middle age Australians, who I am interested in reaching, are among the target audience) to an article on touring abandoned buildings in Europe, through to interviews with celebrity chefs.  Each issue contains an article which highlights one of the vendors of the magazine, keeping an important human face on the enterprise.  The website and several advertisements in each issue also offers information on other programs that the organisation runs, with an emphasis on empowering disadvantaged or marginalised women, and education of children about social issues.

How many photographs are used in a feature story?

Each story has varying requirements for images and word count, with guidelines being listed on the FAQ page, however, there appears to be a lot of flexibility around those guidelines, with my count for one article being six images, which appears to exceed the stated guidelines.

How are the photographs used within a feature story?

Photographs are used to create interest within a story, portraits of interviewees being quite common,  pictures of topical interest quite often being on the cover (the current issue shows a horse and a pretty girl in a spring races outfit), several stories will show pictures that illustrate various points within that story, and others will depict and emphasise the humorous or serious side of the story.

Are the pictures mainly informative or illustrative?

The vast majority of the pictures do appear to be illustrative, but again, there is a wide range that changes per issue, I can discern no set ratio.

Does the magazine use one style of photography or a variety of approaches?

With many photographs being taken by the contributing author, they vary widely according to the taste and style, and indeed, the equipment available.  The magazine does frequently commission photographers and other artists for various articles.

If the magazine commissioned you, what other factors would you need to consider when planning your shoot?

As I have changed the focus of my story after discussions with several people, including my lecturer and some potential subjects,  I would need to consider the national focus of the magazine, and attempt to find sources from different areas, so as not to seem too ‘local’ for publication.  I would also need to keep the tone quite upbeat to appeal to the widest possible number of readers.