Photography 1: Identity and Place

Course Level: 1 (HE4) | HE Credits: 40 | Approx. Duration: 12 months at 8hrs/week


Since its origins photography has enabled people to make sense of themselves and their environment. In one sense all photography, whether it is directly about the photographer or not, is an exploration of identity and/or place. Throughout history we have used the camera as a tool to appreciate, critique and enrich our knowledge of ourselves and others. How we position ourselves in relation to the world around us continues to be a key concern of photographers working today.

In this module you will be given the opportunity to discover how photographers have explored this area. You will consider the diverse ways they have approached their themes and the techniques they have employed to best communicate them. You will be encouraged to reflect upon and critically examine the concepts surrounding the genre of portraiture and the representation of place and implement them into your own practical projects in thoughtful and creative ways. A major component of this Open course will involve developing your confidence and interpersonal skills; including negotiation, collaboration and gaining access.

Throughout the Open course you will be incrementally encouraged to develop independent thought and to engage with your peers in the wider OCA body. The final assignment will be a self-directed study based on themes covered throughout the module. This is designed to help you make the transition from level 4 to level 5 in an experimental and explorative manner and to build upon your creativity.


The unit aims to:

  • A1 refine your technical skills and demonstrate purposeful critical engagement with your subject
  • A2 progress your practical work to demonstrate skills of conceptual engagement and personal expression
  • A3 develop your contextual understanding of historical and contemporary photography and begin to consider theoretical approaches to photography
  • A4 develop oral and written communication skills and expand upon your critical analysis and self-appraisal of performance.


On successful completion of the unit you will:

  • LO1 demonstrate an ability to make technically accomplished photographic work and apply technique purposefully and appropriately (A1, A2)
  • LO2 be able to translate ideas into visual outcomes with confidence and autonomy (A1, A2)
  • LO3 show a developed critical understanding of contemporary practice in relation to historical practice and theory, and the themes explored in this course (A3)
  • LO4 be able to reflect upon your own work and that of others with increasing confidence and criticality (A4)

Course content

  • History of Portraiture – Referencing techniques and themes considered in portraiture the 19th and early 20th
  • Environmental portraiture. You will discuss the use of location, constructed and candid, to create a sense of place in photographic imagery.
  • Windows: Looking at others. Using photography as a tool to view and gain access to different parts of society and the world around you.
  • Mirrors: Looking at ourselves. Using photography as a tool to help position oneself in relation to the world around you.
  • Self directed project – giving the opportunity for independent study based on themes covered in this module.

Unit Leader

Keith Roberts

Unit Leader for Photography 1: Identity and Place

“I have been working as a professional freelance photographer since 1992 and currently run the B.A. [hons] Degree in Photography at ‘St Helens College’. My photography can be split into two distinct areas including ‘Commercial’ and ‘Personal’ practice…”

Read the rest of Keith’s profile here