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What if … I can’t go outside to photograph

Below are some tips and suggestions of some aspects to explore and photographers to look at.  The list is by no means exhaustive, so please do add and share.

Some courses/assignments are more dramatically impacted than others, so do talk to your tutor.  Use the forums to share and connect with other students. 

Above all, please do not put yourself at risk to complete work.

You should be able to access work by the suggested photographers online, and some links have been provided.

Views From

Two examples of photographers who have shot view from windows:


Many photographers have photographed their family and/or friends.

  • Nick Waplington – ‘Living Room’
  • J A Mortram ‘Small Town Inertia’.  There is a WeAreOCA blog post on Jim’s work here: https://www.oca.ac.uk/weareoca/education/small-town-inertia-2/
  • Nan Goldin – ‘The Ballard of Sexual Dependency’ – this was presented originally as an audio-visual slideshow.  A great example of a project where the sum is greater than the individual parts. 
  • Projects that have been built over a long time period – Nicholas Nixon – ‘The Brown Sisters’ and Matthew Finn – ‘Mother’.

You may not have years to build a project but think about how you could incorporate material from the family album to build a project.

  • Richard Billingham – Ray’s A Laugh – biographical project of his family life, which he has since turned into the film “Ray and Liz’. This is available to watch on various online platforms.
Photographing the Self

Maybe not Instagram style.

  • Lee Friedlander – a master of using his own shadow or reflection. Can you document your life in this way?
  • Cindy Sherman – a lifetimes work using costumes, maybe get family involved?

Domestic Space
  • Anna Fox – good starting points for projects – ‘My Mother’s Cupboards and My Father’s Words’ and ‘Notes from Home’
  • Keith Arnatt – most of his work, but ‘Notes from Jo’ and ‘German Toys’ are good starting points.

Creating Another World

By using everyday items, you can construct another reality.  

  • Olivia Parker
  • John Blakemore -Tulips – from a simple tulip in a vase to richly detailed tableaux made by multi-exposure.
  • David Levinthal – use of children’s toys in a close up using small depth of field.
  • Andy Hughes – Dominant Wave Theory – we hope to follow up with Andy’s work in a future post.

There are so many examples here, but if you are new to this work here are some starting points:

Black and White

  • Edward Weston – pepper, shell, toilet bowl, tree roots.

MoMA has this book available online with extracts from his daybooks:


  • Paul Strand – architectural details – look at the use of shadows.
  • Minor White, Aaron Siskind, Harry Callahan  – from peeling paint, textured surfaces to plant details.
  • Alfred Stieglitz and the notion of equivalents.


  • Ernst Hass


There are lots of ways of working with other artists.

  • Jo Spence, Rosy Martin – use of photo as therapy.

There is an excellent documentary on the work of Jo Spence here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p-4s93Oj9mM 

  • Stop Here: This is the Place – Susan Conley and Winky Lewis 

A conversation between a photographer and a writer


  • Consider working with other students, swapping images.

Or work with artists/writers/musicians to reinterpret the work.

Use of other media
  • Draw
  • Paint
  • Write
  • Audio
  • Use archive material and curate this
  • Collage/montage using your own and other work – could be your using analogue and/or digital techniques – think Hannah Hoch, John Heartfield, Peter Kennard for analogue methods.
Take an idea

“Learning to deviate innovatively requires you to embrace the glorious mess of trial and error, and much of this engagement grows out of the obstacles of your surroundings. Every great artistic movement is precisely that … a movement, meaning a highly stimulating context replete with escalating challenges and uninhibited experimentation that pushes things ’forward’.” 

BEAU LOTTO from ‘Deviate’

Whatever you choose to photograph, work around the subject, push the ideas as far as you can.

If you go too far, then pull it back and explore the boundaries of what is possible.

Do what you can, when you can.  No pressure. 

Can you help?

There is a second blog post in the pipeline with examples from OCA students.   

If you have work from any OCA course that you have completed, that could be used as inspiration for other students, please do get in touch with me. 

NB: This was written on Wednesday 25 March.  The world is changing at a fast-paced rate with no clear definitive answer on how long restrictions may be in place. It is adapted from a Zoom presentation delivered on 18 March.

All images by author.


Lotto, B. (2017) Deviate: The Creative Power of Transforming Your Perception. London: Orion. 

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Posted by author: Andrea Norrington
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