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FMP: Introduction.

Roads go ever ever on, Over rock and under tree.

By caves where never sun as shone, By streams that never find the sea;

Over snow by  winter sown, And through the merry flowers of June,

Over grass and over stone, And under mountains in the moon. 


Roads go ever ever on, Under cloud and under star,

Yet feet that wandering have gone, Turn at last to home afar. 

Eyes that fire and sword have seen, And horror in the halls of stone.

Look at last on meadows green, And trees and hills they long have known.

                                       Bilbo’s Song (P.269, The Hobbit, J.R.R.Tolkien, Harper Collins, 1996)

Someone once said to me not too long ago,  that I was more interested in the journey than the destination. my reasons for starting the MA in photography would seem to indicate that this statement is true. The journey, has been a long one and by far the hardest part of this journey has been the blogging.  however this journey has been worthwhile and although it is now coming to an end with the completion of the FMP section of the course, it has been extremely worthwhile. I started this course wanting to know more about photography then I had encountered during the many years I have been a member of my local Camera Club, I wanted to learn how to read a photograph and understand the meaning that I sometimes thought existed within the frame. I have encountered many photographers most of whom I had either not heard of or would never have considered  studying outside the realms of academia. I have also encountered the works of many theoreticians or photographic philosophers, something I would probably never have considered looking at in any great detail, had I not undertaken this course. over the course of the next few blog entries I want to study this journey further, I want to take a look at some of the work of those photographers who have influenced my path to the fmp and perhaps look at the nature of that influence.


The poem at the start of this blog entry,  commonly known as Bilbo’s song, maps out a journey from a start to a clear finish, it maps out a road that is followed  from a definite beginning to an end throughout many seasons and adventures. Although the M.A. ‘journey’ is now drawing to a close my photographic journey will continue onwards,  perhaps taking a different route to that which I had originally intended. My aim has never been to become a professional photographer or to seek any sort of a career in photography itself,  it was and remains about the need to know, the need to discover and the desire to understand. 


My chosen FMP subject has been to study the concepts  of ‘Hireath’ and ‘Cynefin’. 


Hiraeth and Cynefin (Hireath a Chynefin in Welsh) embody the concept or meanings associated with the ideas of longing and belonging,  they are both words taken from the Welsh language but have no literal translation into English. Hireath has a broader meaning than might be implied by a single word,  it contains the notion of a deep inner longing, far more intense than simple nostalgia or homesickness, for a place or time that may or may not ever have existed. Cynefin  on the other hand is very firmly embedded in the notion of belonging. Cynefin, therefore has a more literal translation than Hiraeth – literally ‘the place where an organism feels that it ought to or should belong’,  where it is both at home and yet also where it should be, perhaps even where it is most comfortable. Both Hiraeth and Cynefin may not be associated with any particular place, location or time yet neither are they of a nostalgic form.  they are not a longing for the past or for any possible future but are something that exists solely within an individual, yet will have different meanings for each individual, no two people or cultures will interpret either Hiraeth or Cynefin to have the same meaning.


I have chosen to look at Hiraeth and Cynefin through photographing the  village in which I grew up but left over 30 years ago, this is the village of Merthyr Vale.  Merthyr Vale is an old mining community in the Taff Valley some 5 miles south of Merthyr Tydfil and 25 miles north of Cardiff.  It is situated on the opposite side of the valley to the village of Aberfan. Although I was born in Aberfan I did not want to do a photographic study of the villagefor a variety of reasons.  Many photographers have visited Aberfan with mixed results, probably the exce

ption to  this is the American photographer I.C. Rappoport (more commonly known as ‘Chuck’ Rapoport)  whose work “Aberfan, The Days After” will form another post in this blog. 


Most photographers reasons for visiting are usually associated with memories of the Aberfan disaster of 1966 and the need they have, or their perceived need to visit the site of the disaster and the graves of the children who died.  For me, Aberfan is a very difficult place to photograph, not all the photographers who visited in 1966 treated the residents with the respect that they deserved, some even sought to exploit the suffering of the residents by demanding the posing of surviving children or shocked onlookers in order to obtain a ‘better’ photograph! Because of this photographers, are not always welcome in the village, or are treated with suspicion even up to the present day.  Understanding how the residents feel about being photographed makes it incredibly difficult to take their portraits or to include them in any photographic images that may be made. Additionally, Merthyr Vale has had very little photographic work made within it and I have felt that the making of such a work has been long overdue. This FMP project therefore, is aimed, in some small way at rectifying that situation while examining my own relation to the place during the visits made. It is thus, a highly personal work coloured by my own perceptions and prejudices. 


The end result of this project will be to produce a series of images which can be exhibited, hopefully within Merthyr Vale itself but also within the town of Carmarthen where I now reside.

Work In Progress Portfolio

PHO704: Sustainable Prospects

Work in Progress Portfolio: There And Back Again

This is a personal project and does not represent  work that is being made as part of the Final Major Project for the MA in photography at Falmouth University.  It was undertaken for a number of reasons :-

  • I had began to feel that I needed to take a break from my work on Hiraeth as the images being made were becoming very similar and feeling a little ‘stale’
  • I wanted to get back to using the iPhone as means of making images.
  • I wanted to ‘challenge’ myself by making new images in colour. Normally I work solely in monochrome.
  • Part of this challenge would be to make images containing people. Something that I would not normally do and usually try my best to avoid.
  • To try and put together a set of images that would combine all of the above points yet also contain a narrative.

The project I decided upon was to photograph my Monday to Friday commute between the South Wales Towns of Carmarthen and Llanelli, attempting to include elements of the infrastructure, rolling stock and passengers.

The images made are deliberately untitled, although images should have a title that gives some indication of their subject I wanted the viewer to make up their own titles for each image,

Hopefully, this has succeeded.



New possibilities of dissemination

The digital era has bought many changes to the creation, production and dissemination of photographs. The most obvious has probably been the massive increase in the speed with which an image can be created and made available to the world at large.

The main way in which I choose to disseminate those images that I find interesting is via Facebook, usually to one or two groups to which I belong and on my timeline. Other methods of (digital) dissemination include Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, Snapchat (much used by the pupils in the school where I work) and several others. One of the most useful to me is the Lensculture website – its a great source of inspiration. In addition to the Social Media sites the Web based sites are also plentiful and, with the advent of sites such as WordPress, Squarespace and Smug Mug (where no knowledge of HTML is required) the ability to create a revenue earning site as become something almost any member of the public can do. A great problem though is the ability to retain control over your image and the way in which it can be used, something which requires a great deal of time and research into the licencing of images before I even think about making use of.

Despite the ease with with digital images can be disseminated and made available for public viewing via the Internet and Social media the older methods are still very much in evidence around us – Galleries are still plentiful and making work available.

It may also be possible to work at a more local level – offering images on a sale or return basis to Cafes, restaurants and pubs may be something that will be worth looking at in the future.


Strategies of Looking

There are many ways in which we can decide what to photograph and probably an even larger number of reasons for making the image we have chosen. Two of those reasons that I have looked at have been Re-Photography and Repeat Photography although, at the time I was experimenting with these concepts I was not aware of the terms.

My interest in re-photography stemmed from an encounter with the work of the American Photographer I.C. “Chuck” Rapoport in the village of Aberfan made after the Aberfan Disaster in 1966, while he was on assignment for Life Magazine. Having been born in Aberfan and within a half mile of the site this is an event that has always remained firmly within my consciousness.

Before starting this M.A. Course I had spent sometime attempting to reproduce some of Chuck’s images in present day Aberfan by getting as close to the original location used by Chuck then taking an image of the location as it appears in the present day. This was not entirely successful to my mind, there had been so much change, not so much in the buildings themselves, apart from new windows and doors but in the number of cars that were now parked in the streets. However, while I may have considered this attempt to reproduce something as a failure it did server to increase my interest in Photography and desire to learn more about how Photography operated and the ability of a photography to evoke and emotion and recall memories of other times and places.

My family moved from Aberfan in 1967, locating to the other side of the valley and the almost self contained community of Crescent and Taff Street in Merthyr Vale. I lived here until 1984 when I moved to Aberystwyth although my mother remained there until 2009 when it became obvious that the two streets were to be demolished. This news inspired me to return and photograph the area as it was then, something I have repeated at various intervals up until the present time. I did not attempt to match the location of my original photographs and neither did I make new images at regular set intervals of time. All this was taking place before I commenced my studies on the MA course. In neither case did I realise that I was practising, in a very offhand way, the strategies of Re-Photography and Repeat Photography. My aims had mainly been to obtain and seek to maintain a record of the area for future reference.

Both of these techniques can be utilised to produce a reasonable measure of change although the process of Re-Photography is more subjective. Repeat photography can produce a far less subjective and more realistic measure of change, provided that the locations from which the images are made is noted and the same locations returned to on a frequent basis or set time interval. However although they can produce a measure of change, they cannot provide a reason for the change although providing evidence that a change has occurred.

Both of these techniques, I consider may be of use in my Final Major Project although I am not sure of the extent to which I can or may utilise them.


RAPOPORT, I.C. 2005. “Aberfan, The Days After : A Journey in Pictures”. Parthian Books. Dinefwr Press, Wales.

KLETT, MARK. 2011. “Repeat Photography in Landscape Research”. In ERIC MARGOLIS and L. PAUWELS (ed.). The SAGE handbook of visual research methods. Los Angeles: SAGE.