Visual Methods

The visual and material emphasis of my PhD project necessitates image-making.  This blog is designed to share some of my more visual and material findings and to encourage the continual play of image and text. 

Making images animates and instructs my ethnographic approach.  Where possible, and in conjunction with other methods, I am using photographs as visual field notes to explore everyday shops.  I am creating documents, in some sense, but those that aim to capture the immediacy and vibrancy of these places. 

Besides documenting these shops and highlighting their animation, visual practice has much to offer cultural geography research.  In particular, I think that the inherent ambiguity of images helps retain a desired openness in approach; that images are able to meticulously attend to micro-geographies, surfaces, textures, and material of place; and that through playing with the frame and perspective, photography may probe issues of agency and destabilise accepted hierarchies.  

An early version of an article published in Geography Compass which explores these issues is available here.  

Instead of seeing images as a product, I am interested in learning through the process of image-making and discovering how we can use images to understand place and relationships. I see these images as part of my method and hope they will feel collaborative.

More practically, I use photography in my project to create biographies of families of objects, document varying styles of curation, generate typologies across shops that highlight difference, create portraits of shop-keepers and objects, and digitally manipulate my images to play with their meaning. 

Finally, in July 2010, I attended the Urban Photography Summer School at Goldsmiths’ Centre for Urban and Community Research, which was instrumental to my evolving visual ethnographic practice.