07.08am 31.3.2020. (from FEARS OF SUBURBIA sequence).
Monochrome version.
James Bellorini 2020.

I don’t often write about my technical and aesthetic decision making, even though I think about it all the time. However, as I draw towards the completion of my Critical Review of Practice for this modules’ coursework submission, it is time to reflect on what has occurred for me over the past 8 weeks in respect of this.

The first thing to note is that about 95% of my work (across all modules) has been shot on a medium format digital camera. I use two lenses only: a 45mm lens (equivalent to a 28mm lens on a 35mm camera), and 110mm (85mm on a 35mm camera). I use this camera because it forces me to be slower in my shooting practice than with a 35mm DSLR and I like the 6×45 aspect ratio that it provides. More than this I find the image quality to be closer to film and yet I can maintain the expediency of digital processing that I don’t get with an analogue process. I also find that using the same camera with a limited number of lenses assists in the realisation of my inner vision. There have been exceptions where I have used my 35mm DSLR for close up work with a macro lens and, in this module, I have used my iPhone as a tool more extensively than ever before.

Early on in the module I began to think about how my work might reflect Roland Barthes examination of the signifier and the signified. In his essay The Death of the Author (Barthes, 1998, p. 383-386) Barthes discusses the meaning of literary text using the semiotic ideas of the signifier (i.e. the thing itself, the object, the image etc) and the signified (i.e. what the signifier means, what it stands for, the impression) and I have been relating this to my practice especially in terms of the narrative threads within my work. In particular I have been looking at ways in which I can distil my work in context with these notions to explore what my practice represents and how it communicates.

I have attempted to explore this in a number of ways.

07.10 31.3.2020. (from FEARS OF SUBURBIA sequence).
Monochrome version.
James Bellorini 2020.

Firstly, I chosen to convert some of my colour work to monochrome. I love colour as it can add emotion and also it’s like another layer to the story. But when monochrome images really stand out I find it’s because have a distilled quality, one that almost transcends reality which has pertinence to the reality/fiction boundary I’m exploring in my project. I have problems however in choosing which variations of the images I favour. So, as I’m coming to a close in terms of this module, and need to start making decisions about my work-in-progress portfolio edit it might well be that I need to put the variations out to my tutors and peers to see what the response is.

Secondly, I have been shooting a lot more in square format, not exclusively, but there is a higher content of this in my work than ever before. I find that that the square format helps me to refine narrative and storytelling both within the image itself and also in relation to other images. Indeed, this has led me to work in detail with diptychs, triptychs and multi-image layouts in this module.

James Bellorini 2020.

Finally, and briefly, I have started to shoot in ‘thematic’ sequences – almost like chapters in a book – some of which suggest further sequences or are revisited again separately.

Overall, my approach is highly instinctive and in order to keep myself on track I have a kind of ‘mind map’ (see below) which I’ve been using since the beginning of the module. This has a whole host of different things on it from thematic and contextual considerations, photographers that I’m researching or whose work my own sits in context with. Pertinent to this post though, it’s where I put shoot ideas in context with all of this other research and I add that to those ideas as they come to me or as my research progresses my thinking. Obviously, with the changes in my situation due to Covid-19, it’s been very useful to have this as a way to chart both backwards and forwards, to keep linking all aspects of my practice together.

My Module 4 ‘Mind Map’.
James Bellorini 2020.


Barthes, R (1998). Ed. Dayton. E. Art and Interpretation: An Anthology of Readings in Aesthetics and the Philosophy of Art. Ontario: Broadview.