Photography and Lived Experience huddersfield University

Photography and Lived Experience. Symposium in June at University of Huddersfield, School of Art, Design and Architecture.


Consenting Adults – Portraiture and Discreet Photography 

Edvard Munch unapologetically used photography to support his painting practice.  Rather than decry the new medium he embraced it to aid his memory of subjects as he made visual his ‘mind’s eye’.(1)

A century later in an era of digital photography my Practice-Led research addresses the lived experience derived from discreet smart phone photography. The value of capturing and reflecting known, but unknowing, subjects is the foundation of photographed, drawn and printed portraiture research.

My practice acknowledges the ethical considerations of discreet ‘taking’ of photographs of people in everyday situations; their lived experience is important to them.  I therefore have developed ‘post participation research’ consent forms to enable the subject to consent to their participation in the process of creation of  ‘their portrait’.  

The offer to consent to the process that began with a hidden photograph is made when the completed final portrait is shared between artist and subject. The planned, enigmatic exchange and encounter is loaded with anticipation for both parties.    It is an intense lived experience where the personas of both are made real, which the researcher captures, while the subject ‘takes’ their portrait back into their life.

The research draws upon heuristic research model which ‘requires a subjective process of reflecting, exploring, sifting, and elucidating the nature of the phenomenon under investigation. (2)

This paper will outline the lived experience of photographic practice from the researcher’s perspective and that of the unknowing subject as they come face to face across the completed portrait. 

  1. Eggum.A. Munch and Photography. Yale University 1989. P55
  2. Douglass & Moustakas, 1985, p.40. in Hiles. D.  Narrative and Heuristic Approaches to Transpersonal Research and Practice. CCPE, London – October, 2002. 
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