Methods and meaning

This part of the module has been an enquiry into the method of my own practice. Having searched my archives I’ve found that I often ask clients to stand by my studio window, which is not part of the service offered but in fact my own persuasion of enjoying the natural light cast in that space. Accidentally using this method has meant I’ve built up a collection of similar work over the last two years. One space and once light source that accidentally brings together opera singers, actors, authors and reiki practitioners. Whilst the work has no real concept, it still could be considered a body of work using a method over having a meaning.  


I decided to explore the act of having a deliberate method without any expectations of how the images would turn out. Freshly showered and again lit by just a window I took 20 self-portraits of myself with each exposure having my husband change my camera setting at random. Shutter speed, aperture and ISO were changed in each image. The resulting images were surprisingly technically similar with only missed focus and added graininess to certain shots. The experience of the method, however, was not what I expected. There was a contention between my husband and I, I felt frustration watching my lens open and closing knowing that there wasn’t enough light coming through, I cringed watching the ISO dial being changed so radically. For my husband he felt frustration that being human wasn't random enough and I should use a random AI (Artificial Intelligence) settings generator instead. 

So, whilst the method was rather rudimental the images created are raw, unposed and perhaps even have some meaning due to the lack of control of the photographer, the relationship between husband and wife and the raw nature of the final self-portraits. In fact, the piece of work felt much more like a collaboration, albeit one with elements of friction 

Self portraits, Tammy Jaqueline 2022

In research I came across Sophie Calle’s method, which also involves collaboration. 

 In “The Shadow (1981)” and “The Chromatic Diary in Double Game (1999)” there is a question of ownership within her images.  

 Calle asks her mother to have a private detective photograph her unknowingly throughout the course of a day, Calle being the model, the private detective the photographer and her mother some in-between party who has no real say in how the images are taken or presented. 

 The copyright of the images technically belongs to the private detective; however, Calle (or her mother) is the client. It raises the question of ownership, and the way images are used. Much like how surveillance cameras are hardly considered works of art and unless engaging in alarming behaviour are the subjects ever shown or highlighted as significant.  

The Shadow (Sophie Calle) 1981

In “The Chromatic Diary in Double Game” (1999) Calle is again playing with the idea of identity and ownership she again collaborates with someone, this time filmmaker, Paul Auster who invents a character for her to “own” and she then produces work that she feels the character would make and not Calle herself. This time a fake visual diary of daily meals, that instead of evoking hunger instead look like slightly haunted Wes Anderson postcards, a diary of disordered eating by a character that does not even belong to her, but instead is the creation of Auster. These are aspects that I feel I could take into my own work where I often am a false narrator, the idea of collaborating to create an entirely fictional character to document could open so many different conceptual pathways.  

Calles almost flippant attitude towards how photographs are taken and how identity is shown is what makes her work raise so many questions and tells us extraordinarily little about who she is.  

“The Chromatic Diary in Double Game” (1999) Sophie Calle