Exercise 3.6 Mixing genres – background tests

17th January 2020


landscape-portrait-still life

Choose a subject that you would like to photograph. Take this subject and add to it elements of other genres.

OCA Foundations in Photography Course Folder pg110

I am quite confused with the wording of this exercise, coupled with the image in the course folder and then on further research, confused with the different outcomes that the OCA students have come up with.

Some students have taken a manipulation approach by using for example, Photoshop and adding other elements into a background image, yet others have combined genres within one photograph. So I presuming it is left up to our interpretation?

What is clear is that the subjects cannot be randomly put together therefore they must have a relationship and/ or a story to tell?

“Oh where were you, my Lord, my God, my King?”

I have decided to go with the manipulation approach as the image that accompanies the text in the folder by Penny Watson and also by Stan Dickinson are adjusted images. I am therefore thinking that the visual clues on pgs110 and 114 coupled with the phrase “Take your subject and add to it elements of other genres” means just that WE ADD TO and not just take a photograph with mixed genres within the picture frame.

For this exercise I wanted to produce something I could use within my exhibition that I am working on called ‘Resurrection.’ The title’s concept is about what happens after the domestic abuse has stopped, the rising up again from the trauma into the new self, it is a very long and complicated process.

I also use to go to church and belong to a house group and went to specialised church meetings and conferences. Over the time I grew angry with God to the point I cannot bring myself into acknowledging or questioning whether or not he exists anymore. This is because I have had so much crap in my life thrown at me.

I wanted to somehow make an image that had these emotions and ‘state of being’ words within it: Despair, Hope, Darkness, and Saved etc…

The three images used for this exercise: Still life, Still life with text, Self-portrait

18th January 2020

Still life – PEACE GLOBE, Norwich Cathedral

The Peace Globe in Norwich cathedral is a sculptural construction where visitors are invited to light a candle to place before God their concerns for the world. The candles represent prayers for peace in the world and symbolise the light of Christ.

I have taken this concept and altered it so that for me, personally, the Peace Globe changes from a vessel of hope which contains the cross of love to a spherical trap. In Christianity terms the cross symbolises love, freedom and eternal life. Yet you could see the cross as a symbol with many contradictions, these are just a few learnt from one house group meeting that I attended.

  • Death ‘v’ Life
  • Hate ‘v’ Love
  • Violence ‘v’ Peace
  • Accusation ‘v’ Forgivness
  • Sin ‘v’ Purity
  • Brokenness ‘v’ Wholeness
  • Defeat ‘v’ Victory

For me the globe represents a prison around the cross which symbolises where God is not concerned with what has happened to me or that which I am going through daily. My prayers and calling out for help fell on deaf ‘God ears,’ so the candle that has not been lit yet in the background image of the globe, represents the failing of my prayers, my calling out has not been heard, I have not been acknowledged.

Still life? I haven’t got a clue!! – DARKNESS

I am finding it very difficult in placing my image of darkness into a genre. I have put a shout out on Facebook OCA Photography Students group, the discussion is below:

Hi, I am having problems defining which genre some of my images fit into.

(1) I took a photograph of darkness – is this still life?

(2) I then layered text onto the darkness photograph?

(3) I took a photograph of a Peace globe which in essence is a large sculpture – is this still life?

These were then adjusted to fill in parts of the cross within the globe.

The image I constructed is below and is called: 

“Oh where were you, my Lord, my God, my King?”

Thank you

Toyah Flowers (Dawn Tomlin) OCA Photography Students, Facebook group


Lynda Kuit Portraiture or self-portraiture maybe. Don’t get hung up on genres – photography is fluid and can crossover.

Toyah Flowers Hi Lynda, it is the exercise that I am doing, we have to use different genres and I do not know which genre the photograph of darkness would be or the photograph of the Peace globe. The end genre is a self-portrait but I have to name the elements…I am wondering if the globe and the photograph of the dark would be still life?

Hazel Bingham Toyah Flowers do you have a list of genres you have to fit your work into?

Toyah Flowers Hi Hazel not really, they suggested landscape, portrait and still life. but we were allowed any. I think I will just write it up as the Peace Globe is a still life, and the picture of the dark as astrophotography and then debate it all in the log book as I haven’t got a clue in how to departmentalise the different aspects of genres because they cross over – or something along the lines of ‘I am ruddy confused!’ Lol

Hazel Bingham Toyah Flowers when I started L3 they asked us which genres our work fitted or if it flitted across them. I think the exercise is probably designed to make you look outside the box. Landscape can mean anything on land – man-made which leaves you loads of scope.

Toyah Flowers I am debating on my blog now. I will post the final outcome so you can critic it for me… it has been a learning curve! 🤔

Dave Phyllosc As my first tutor remarked, “slippery things, photographs…”

Looking up the definition of Astrophotography, it describes it as,

‘photography of astronomical objects, celestial events, and areas of the night sky. The first photograph of an astronomical object (the Moon) was taken in 1840, but it was not until the late 19th century that advances in technology allowed for detailed stellar photography.the partial or total absence of light.’


However looking at the description and astrophotography images online I am not sure darkness would fit into this category although when I looked up the definition of darkness it says, ‘absence or deficiency of light: the darkness of night.dictionary.com This description also appears in the above astrophotography description.

So why had I photographed darkness?

Firstly it is the dark that surrounded me. Is it the same dark as last night, the night before, the darkness that is always there? Or a new darkness? Even on the brightest days I felt the darkness constantly there inside and out of me. Sometimes the dark was comforting as I could hide in it and hide from the outside world yet on other occasions it represented the forces or badness that seemed to follow me throughout my life which in turn just made me feel even worse than I already was.

The darkness also represents solitude, that nothingness is lonely, SODDING lonely at times. AND what is worse, it leaves you alone with your thoughts and memories.

Digital Manipulation – TEXT (DARKNESS)

On top of the image of the darkness that surrounded me I added the word DARKNESS in boxes. This piece of design was used for two reasons. One it highlighted the fact that the darkness was present within the image, specifically connected within the cross (for me) and second it was a connection on the writing on the cross at the time of Jesus’s death. It was my sign, well my two signs.

Digital Manipulation – TEXT (527)

In one of the lightest parts of the image is a number, 527. Light for me in this exercise represents Hope. In the Bible, John 8:12 reads, ‘I am the Light of the World.‘ For me, when I believed, there were two sources of light in the world, the physical light of day and the spiritual light of Jesus.

Going through trauma and praying for a positive outcome, support and strength and also praying for love, I thought God/ Jesus had turned their back on me. In his place was PC Brennan, collar number 527. He was first respondent with his colleague who uttered the first words in person after I had to dial 999 to have him arrested for domestic abuse – the final straw with his hands around my neck, from here the support of 527 was paramount in me saying and sticking with the phrase “No More!” The number 527 features in some of my digital works as images in their own right, but here it symbolises hope and the light in my traumatic darkness and the step forwards into it.

Self-portrait – DESPAIR

The portrait was taken after a fit of crying. I managed to get myself out of bed, unwashed and having not eaten for a couple of days, I just cried. Suffering from insomnia, fever dreams and nightmares weekly begins to take its toll on you, physically, emotionally and mentally. I have taken a few self portraits in different states but only when I think of it, so the self-portrait literally is a spur of the moment photograph.

The end image which contains the different genres and the different concepts are seen below.

The last of the concepts to discuss is placement of the cross. I have placed it behind me and faded my self-portrait out so that the concept of ‘ghosts’ is present within the image of which there is two specific types.

Firstly there is the ghost of the ‘me’ that died that night because once I had stood up for myself and said “No I am not taking this anymore,” I began a new journey and a new me was born to begin that journey.

The second type of ghost relates to what I perceived as the ’emotional ghosting’ of myself and Gods relationship. I literally cut the cord that bound us together, I broke my relationship with him, no explanation, a lot of feeling of hate and anger but no good bye in prayer or anything, I just snapped and turned my back on him.

Oh where were you, my Lord, my God, my King?

Will I stay an agnostic now doubting the presence of a God? I have had many chats with Christians and other members of faith who all try to justify where God is at times of great darkness but I have had a life time of darkness and the crap that comes with it and cannot believe a God would just watch all the types of trauma going on in our world. The Devil on Earth, God wanted us to have autonomy and free will and all the other excuses I have heard still make me think I must of been Gods least favourite and I am being punished for something.

The answer who knows, who cares?

19th January 2020

The Techniques used for each genre are as follows:

Peace Globe (background image to which other genres were added): Photograph converted to black and white within Photoshop.

Self-portrait – Portraiture: Photograph converted to black and white within Photoshop

Darkness stage 1: Photograph

Darkness stage 2: Text on photograph by using SketchBook iPad app.

527: Text on photograph by using SketchBook iPad app.

Combining the genres:

Once each genre had been adjusted accordingly I created the final image in SketchBook. I began with the Peace Globe as my background image and then added the self portrait on top of the globe. From here I erased all of the unnecessary background in the self portrait so that my head was just left. Then it was positioned where I wanted it to be.

Once the head was in place I adjusted the eraser settings and worked on that specific area so that a ghost image was left.

The next addition to the background was the text DARKNESS. I put this on top of the whole of the image, adjusted its orientation and re-sized it so that it was small enough to fit within the cross itself. I then erased all of the text that was not needed.

I repeated this with the darkness text, so that I had a second DARKNESS text area but it had a different orientation to the first so that it fitted into a different part of the cross.

The last part of the image to be completed was to add the collar number of PC Brennan. Here the number 527 was simply added by using the text application within the toolbar.

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