Portfolio review by Stuart Franklin

Stuart Franklin is a member, and ex-president, of Magnum. He is currently Professor of Documentary Photography at Volda University College, Sweden. He is the author several books, including The Documentary Impulse (2016, London: Phaidon Press) a history of documentary photography and its motives. I have worked with Stuart briefly, assisting him on a project in Brittany as part of his book ‘Analogies’, published in 2019.

I sent Stuart my portfolio PDF and received the following review by return:


While largely positive, the the review does include some criticism. My summary would be that while Stuart appreciated the work, it was not the way he would have done it. I don’t have a problem with that, because as Stuart himself says, everyone has their own approach.

I would make just two points in repsonse.

Firstly, the view that ‘Staying with out-of-the-way streams, without including rivers, gives the impression of a ‘timeless’ romantic rural landscape, which, for much of the region, it is not.’ I have explored the border extensively during this project, driving the length of it several times and crossing every single crossing point. In fact, by far the majority of the border is rural, and much of it is formed by the small streams I have photographed because it was originally just aa county boundary. The insignificance of these streams – in terms of how easy it is to cross them and how out-of-the way they are – is part of my point about how difficult this border would be to police is there was a customs border as threatened by Brexit. I can only assume, therefore, that I have failed to put this point across in my portfolio and that is something I need to address.

The second critical point is the accessibility of the newspaper cuttings. I have myself already pondered this problem: the dichotomy between presenting enough information and avoiding it being too dense, too inaccessible. Since I have not yet finalised my assessment submission for Body of Work, this is an issue I can address in my final assignment of that course.


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