Exploring Photographic Practice

Joseph Holt


I struggled a lot with this assignment to be honest. This was due to the fact that I couldn’t make my mind up whether to go with the obvious emulation images that I took (which look like John Blakemore’s work) or go with the images that I believed the concept to be the more interesting and different of the two.

In the end I used the more interesting concept and just went with it. I am very proud of my work and I like the context behind it also.

It was a struggle to keep to a daily schedule over a couple of weeks; I had to due to this being one of Blakemore’s renowned traits. So in doing this I had to become obsessive over the subject matter yet not arrange it in my own way. I had to sit back and photograph every other time the make-up table was used and document how the items changed over the weeks.

I hope that what I have done hasn’t gone off too much of a tangent and made sense to others, I suppose that’s the beauty and frustration with photography and art.

If I could do it again I probably would have done it exactly the same but with a 50mm lens so I could include a lot more texture and personality to the images.

Even though I struggled throughout this project I actually really enjoyed it and would recommend it to others. I like the idea of emulating another’s work but putting your own spin and concept on it. It has taught me a few things about myself as a photographer and a lot about John Blakemore’s ideas and efforts.

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‘Re-Touched & Changed Plans’

I had various different ideas for what i was going to do for this project, my first proposal was to go to my local park and photograph the play area (rust and debris etc).

I then decided to take pictures of the natural functions like wooden climbing frames and fallen logs – i decided to do this as a set – few days apart with different sunlight.

Here are a few of my images…

IMG_0630 IMG_0635 IMG_0638 IMG_0647 IMG_0650

I decided not to use any of these images in the end for my final images. I think it was mainly to do with the fact that i preferred the images & the idea behind the images of my other chosen subjects ( The ladies make-up table).

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My Work & Progress

Even though my work seems a million miles away from that of John Blakemore’s, there is a lot more in common then first meets the eye.

i basically decided to photograph a lady’s make-up table, capturing the use and the frequent movement of objects as they were being used.

I have tried to to keep it as an ‘obsession’ like Blakemore did, i did this by taking series of images in different light (always trying to use the best natural light i could, which was more difficult than i first thought.) I also tried to capture the different sides of objects as they were in use over weeks.

Here are a few rough images and ideas of my first few attempts.

IMG_0597 IMG_0617 IMG_0583 IMG_0596 IMG_0578 IMG_0592IMG_0588IMG_0623




Even though it may be quite hard to see the references, you must understand the aspects of in which it is referenced.

– I find John Blakemore’s photos quite jumbled and ‘full’.

– The different aspects of beauty

– the obsessive compulsion towards the work in hand.

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Extended Ideas and Artists

This section is for other photographers – that are quite similar in different varieties to John Blakemore in which i like.

I love this first image, i love the skull and the colorisation throughout the image.

smileCarl Zeiss Distagon


I like the texture of this next photograph-

still_lifeBrett Pearce


johnblakemore056 johnblakemore053 BlakemoreJstilllife

More of JOHN BLAKEMORE’S images.

I love the way that these images look like they could have been drawn with charcoal and smudged. Brilliant.

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John Blakemore

John is a British self-taught photographer from Coventry. He works mainly with black and white, using the zone system and darkroom on his fine prints. The majority of his work is based on a theme or topic, which has worked out as a series of images over time. He is well known for his landscapes and still life and his eye for detail, texture and tonal control of his work. This is portrayed in major exhibitions and books.

His books include:

• John Blakemore, British Image 3 (1977)
• Spirit of Place: Photographs in Wales, 1971–78 (1979)
• Inscape (1991)
• Stilled Gaze (1994)
•John Blakemore’s Black and White Photography Workshop (2005).
^His book ‘The Stilled Gaze’ ^

His work has been exhibited worldwide and is included in many national and international collections. He has been the recipient of many Arts Council awards, a British Council Traveling Exhibition and in 1992 won the prestigious Fox Talbot Award for Photography. He is an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society.

The Stilled Gaze is a series of photographs of tulips. John worked on the series of images for 9 years mainly photographing them in his home using the available light. John has previously said his still life work is all about metaphor and gesture and that the tulips are ‘Symbols of sensuality and elegance’.

He photographed tulips for 9 years, he started on tulips accidentally. He questioned his work and stopped working on landscapes, he taught on a degree course in which he admits he always pushed critical theory away from him, one day he suddenly realized that he had to come to terms with it because it did in fact effect him and his body of work.
This then spurred him on to do a postgraduate diploma and an MA in film studies. This encouraged him to write a lot (in which he didn’t find easy). When his pen dried up he decided to photograph the ‘space’ in which he writes. He then picked up his camera and there happened to be a bowl of tulips on the table… in time this became the dominant motif.


He tries to use his images as ‘the world he would like to inhabit, instead of the world in which he does’ – this is his on going fascination with the elegance, beauty and function of nature.

He works in different spaces in his house that has the right lighting at any given time – he also uses reflectors with different intensities. 
- might use card wrapped in foil
- or a mirror – which makes the lighting very intense.

He always works with natural daylight – which means patience.

Some Quotes –

“I learned a little about tulips, not much – less perhaps than I could have learned in a few afternoons at the library. My search then was not a botanical one, nor, though I learned a little history, a historical one. I looked at images that might not otherwise have engaged my attention – obscure flower paintings, botanical illustrations – not however, as an art historian but as an image-maker seeking ideas and correspondences.”

“The tulip journey then was ultimately a visual journey, an investigation and discovery of visual possibilities. The tulip became an object of attention and fascination. It became both text and pretext for an activity of picture-making. The photographs are not finally, or not primarily, about tulips: they contain tulips. To say this is not to diminish the role of the tulip. Had the vase of flowers on the table when I made the first tentative exposures exploring the space of my kitchen been, let’s say daffodils, then the journey, if it had ever begun, would in all probability have been shorter.”

Here is a video form the archive in which John talks about various works…

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Biography of Books


Here are some f John Blakemore’s books.

  • John Blakemore. British Image 3. London: Arts Council of Great Britain, 1977. Edited by Barry Lane
  • Spirit of Place: Photographs in Wales, 1971–78. Welsh Arts Council, 1979.
  • Inscape: Photographs by John Blakemore. London: Zelda Cheatle Press, 1991.
  • The Stilled Gaze. London: Zelda Cheatle Press, 1994.
  • John Blakemore’s Black and White Photography Workshop. Newton Abbot: David & Charles, 2005.
  • PHOTOGRAPHS 1955-2010 Stockport: Dewi Lewis, 2011.
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Exploring Photographic Practice

For this project we had to be given a photographer my our tutor, David. We had no say in the matter and we were then put into pairs and e-mailed the chosen artist to cover.

I had been teamed up with Tayla, for the first part of the project (Assignment one) – we had to present a presentation to half the group about the chosen photographer.

We had been given the English artist John Blakemore. John Blakemore is renowned for his work the ‘Tulips’. this was spent over a seven year gap (and is still going on) in which he took pictures of tulips in and around his home. he only ever used natural light and took his pictures in film on old cameras.


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