Category Archives: Reflections on assignment 3

3/9/16 The photograph is an image not a reality: Reflecting on assignment 3

By adding an additional dimension to this learning log I will attempt to note down my reflections within the context of the broader concepts that frame and develop my photography practice.

I can sense a deepening awareness and growing fascination  in the knowledge that the photograph is an image of, rather than a picture of reality. That is to say that the image is a construction which contains references and meanings which imply a representation of reality but this will always fall short of being the only version of that reality. This in itself is nothing new to students of photography but the extent to which we adopt this as part of our practice is for myself an interesting development.

Having started my OCA Context and Narrative journey very much of the thinking that our photographs were an interpretation of an objective truth or reality I have learned the aforementioned point throughout this course but perhaps never quite understood the significance or potential implications of this issue and therefore I haven’t quite fully integrated this thinking into my work previously apart from making surface level observations.

On this (assignment 3 submission see here) occasion I started from the premise that I would use myself as a subject or model to represent my thinking and to create scenes which had no actual basis as a pictures of something that happened but rather were constructed images so it was interesting to note that the people that have seen these images don’t necessarily see beyond the assumption that these photographs are literally pictures of myself Allan O’Neill, which of course in one respect they are.

A passage that I read seems to illustrate what I am trying to, “Fundamentally, photographs are convincing because they hide ‘behind’ the referent, the things in the picture. The indexical ‘naturalness’ of what we see is itself the core ideological feature of photography. This seeming ‘innocence’ of photography is part of it’s rhetorical power, a power multiplied in every reproduction of that picture, that we see something apparently ‘as it is’. Photography gives the illusion of a transparent access to ‘reality’ as the real ‘language’ of photography.”(Bate, 2009:17)

This is in many respects going back over old ground but at the same time I am beginning to see how this unique aspect can be exploited to add a real depth to our photography. In my assignment 3 I felt that this illusional effect served the purposes of one of my underlying assignment themes in that any attempts to establish a genuine objective reality remains unresolved, parallels which can be seen in photography itself.

There are many possibilities within this context and I will certainly explore this further as I continue my journey.


Bate, D (2009) Photography: The Key Concepts. London: Bloomsbury.