Category Archives: Diary for assignment 3 (self portrait)

Diary (in preparation for assignment 3)


We have been asked to keep a personal diary, which we will be using later in the course. The diary needs to be about me and what I have been doing and thinking. It can be as specific or poetic as I choose and may have a particular theme. The idea is to then chose some interesting parts and interpret them in to a photographic project. I haven’t  written every single day but quite often and below are my entries.

Day one

I like writing. Pen and paper. Keyboard and screen, it doesn’t matter. I like words. Starting this diary made me think of how I work with numbers and spreadsheets all day long but that although I like numbers, I love words and reading.  I often think how blessed I am to be numerate and literate and the pleasure that is to be found in having these skills. I cannot imagine life without them. I thought of taking images of words, in the form of pages from books, road signs, adverts, letters, instructions, food ingredients, etc. and then pixelating the words out to try to imagine and portray a life without being able to read. I could perhaps pixelate all words of three syllables or more as the number of these in a sentence can indicate a high readability level.

I actually went on to experiment with different types of language and replaced the labels of food items with ‘other’ languages to attempt to show how hard life would be if I ccouldn’t read.

Note – ultimately this diary entry informed my second assignment on ‘Illiteracy’ so straight away an idea formed from writing this diary.

A test image – not used:

Day two

The sun was shining when I woke up this morning and it was the weekend. Also, my ‘boxes’ were quite full so I was feeling good. The day started with coffee with cream on the patio. I started to think about photography and pending exercises and assignments and tried to get in to a creative zone. Thoughts returned to my ‘boxes’ and how some were ‘fuller’ than others and which needed a ‘top-up’.  Yoga, is empty and needs attention. Friends and family is overflowing which is always good. I wondered if my ‘boxes’ could form the basis for an assignment, perhaps the self portrait one in part three.

It is obvious to me that I split my life into compartments; things like, work, gym, yoga, reading, studying.  I also categorise myself. I am a wife, a sister and a twin. I am not a mother, I am middle aged. I work part time. I like to learn. Who determines appropriate categories? Why isn’t there a ‘shoe size’ category or a ‘time you go to bed’ category. You can also see that I am an over thinker.

Day three

A work day. Busy busy busy. A new member of staff. Training and probation meetings to organise. No lunch. Friends will be  visiting after work. Feel tired. Thinking of overload which is leading me on to visual pollution as a potential photography project.  Chatting to friends about society, class, politics, gender, what is wrong with the world, etc.

Day four

Ben, my sister’s Pointer died today. He was eleven. He survived his operation but didn’t make it through recovery. Very sad today. Lovely, gentle and loyal Ben. Would also have been my Dad’s birthday. He died thirteen years ago. A day of reflection today.  Could I do some photographic work around memories and transience perhaps?


Day five

Break up from work for a week today. Was a bit pressured trying to get everything up to date before leaving the office; replying to emails, leaving updates for my boss, completing all the essentials on my ‘to do’ list and making sure  everything was in order for my return in one week. Home from work now and looking forward to the break, a week off with my husband. Went for a short run and then spent some of the evening on my photography blog. Perhaps I could consider the importance of work and leisure in life as a photography project.

Day six

Went to look for a new car today. Spent hours in showrooms playing the part of being more interested than I was, as a support for my husband who had all the decisions to make. How come he seems to know all the engine specifications of every car that has ever been manufactured? Where does that knowledge come from?

Day seven

Why are all the headlines bad news?

Day eight

Think I will stop watching the news.

Day nine

A baking hot weekend. Thirty three degrees. Out in the garden while it lasts. Had a few hours sitting on my garden sofa surrounded by photography texts, sun hat, sun glasses, sun cream and glasses of water. Too hot for a run or anything, too hot for yoga, far too hot to clean the house. Back to work tomorrow.

Day ten

Back to working life. Moving offices. Shortlisting and  Interviewing. I like my job but could always think of something I would rather be doing. It’s not that I don’t enjoy it when I am there but I am aware of the opportunity cost of being obligated to being there for eight hours. Would be interesting to capture the effects that working has on people; both positive and negative.

Day eleven

Went to a garden party today. It was my husband’s, father’s cousin’s 80th birthday. We know him as Uncle Jeff. And Auntie Mary. Jeff was an art teacher and his paintings are all over the house. I like visiting relatives and like being in the company of older people. I regularly visit my mother in law who will be 85 soon and find a pleasure in her company, talking to her, her experience of life and her zest for life that I don’t find with many people. Back to the party. It was outside in the sunshine. Mainly older people with a few younger cousins. Plenty of wine and food. A family atmosphere that can only exist with shared ‘history’ and knowing the same people, even if we don’t meet up overly often. Coincidentally, Auntie Mary was my history teacher at school and I always remember her saying that every single one of us had a better standard of living that an Elizabethan monarch and I was amazed. Funny how things stick in your mind. Perhaps vivid memories could form a project.

Day twelve

Leeds today. My favourite, and home city. A bit of shopping, some lunch, a coffee break or two, trying to avoid the cakes. Quality time with my sister and husband. We spent the day looking round the shops, buying the occasional treat, drinking coffee, chatting, choosing books in Waterstones. Lovely architecture in Leeds. I will bear this in my photography mind. Particularly like the John Lewis building at the moment so may take my camera there soon.

Day thirteen

My sister got a new puppy today. Joe. Thinking of the way people love animals and the love you can feel for a family pet.


Day fourteen

Our nephew and his wife came over to see us this evening, with their two boys aged five and three. Think warm sunny evening, hosepipe on the lawn, Auntie Adele in a playful mood, two excited boys and you will get the picture. Ended with clothes drying on the line and me more soaked than them.

Day fifteen

A photo day today out in the fresh air and sunshine. Me and my sister with our cameras. The plan today was a bit of forward thinking to a future exercise in part two where we have to use photography to interpret a poem. I hoped to take images that I could use for this project and though it is not due for a while, I knew that I needed sunny weather to get the effect I wanted so couldn’t afford to miss a chance. I need technical practice so was also  using the day as a way to improve my camera skills. We called at a hotel on our route and had Earl Gray tea and resisted the cakes. My twin and I are extremely close. Perhaps a thought for a future assignment?

Day sixteen

Took my mother in law to the dentist today. She is ok getting the bus but it’s better all round if someone drives her. She is recently widowed but stoical and always sees the best in anything. A pleasure to be with and someone that I admire for her attitude to life. Eighty five years young. I could photograph positive older people to redress any negative stereotype.

Day seventeen

Will someone stop the World and let me get off? Please? Why is my mind full of ‘stuff’ and my house full of to do lists? My kitchen has a list, my desk at work does and so does my home study desk – lists of stuff to do everywhere! Its pretty manic lately. Work is full on and  I am desperately trying to meet my assignment 1 deadline. Typical Saturdays lately are nine hours at the computer. Sunday was five hours taking images. That hour before trying to fall asleep is my mind whirring with photo stuff, work stuff  and all sorts of stuff. I am spinning plates, my plate is overflowing! Another photography opportunity?

Day eighteen

My husband retires from the Fire Service next week. He has four more shifts to do. Please let him come home safe.  It is so exciting. He so deserves a fabulous retirement as he has worked so hard all his life.  This milestone has made me think about life and work and pleasure and why we are here. It has made me think about people who risk their lives everyday, about Grenfell Tower, motorways, arson, camaraderie, transience, family, what’s round the corner, change, future, long and short lives ….. great future photo projects perhaps?

Day nineteen

Went to a BBQ at the fire station today. Husbands and wives had been invited and children as well; a bit of a bank holiday thing. It is the first time in 18 years that I have seen inside where my husband works. I was aware of a comradeship and ‘family’ with all the firefighters working together as a team and knowing each other well. I was thinking in pictures while I was there! At any time there could have been a call. Sandwiches would have been left half eaten, no good byes to spouses, just immediate reaction to a siren and then in life saving mode. I know it must have been photographed a thousand times before but there is something intriguing about work groups and how they ‘live’ together for twelve hours each day.

Day twenty

A milestone weekend. My husband worked his last shift for the Fire and Rescue Service and a celebration of all his hard work and for his future life was required. A family party, presents and party food on Thursday evening was followed by a surprise weekend away. I had become an adept liar over the last few weeks while I booked accommodation, arranged time off from work for myself, bought presents, arranged family, and generally put things in place to make a fuss of a great guy.

Day twenty one

A weekend away in Malham. Lovely sunny weather, long walks, photography, eating out, plenty of red wine, afternoon teas, stunning scenery, perfect room.

Day twenty two

Just had a week away with friends in Dorset. Nice weather, long walks with the dogs, meals out and lazy breakfasts. Took advantage of being three hundred miles away from my computer by reading a set text while I was away. Didn’t want to divorce myself completely from my degree for a whole week so started reading Context and Narrative, by Maria Short.

Day twenty three

Back to reality now. Feel like I have been away from my photography for ages and have a lot to do. Have been thinking around the second assignment Photographing the unseen but have a fair way to go yet before I am clear which direction I want to go in. Another week off work so will try to move forward with my coursework as much as I can while I have more available time.

Day twenty four

My friend is teaching English adults to read and write in English. She currently has a student who is a twenty year old woman with a reading age of five. I am very interested in my friend’s teaching approach and the circumstances surrounding her student’s illiteracy. My mind is full of trying to articulate illiteracy via images. I am not only thinking about literacy in terms of the English Language but how I would be considered illiterate if I went to China, Germany, Spain, you name the country. However, I am also (almost) musically illiterate,

and illiterate when it comes to engineering blueprints, wiring diagrams and the like. I can read crochet patterns though; isn’t that another language? I cannot unlearn my understanding of the English language so I have tremendous difficulty in imaging what it must be like to not be able to read and write. I really hope that I can consider this for assignment 2 (Photographing the unseen).

and what about molecular structures?

Computer literacy? emotional literacy?

Day twenty five

Gosh, not used my camera in ages and getting worried about my practical skills.  This particular module is more foccused on the written and academic side of learning but on the plus side though I am definitely starting to think about projects and what I want to say through photography now after working through the (excellent) OCA course work. I find it incredible that self directed  teaching like this can have such an impact. I found it through the OU when I did literature and find this way of learning second to none. I really need to use my camera more though.

Day twenty six

I have had a day off work today purely to catch up on some of my research and have progressed very well. Narrative with images interests me a great deal and I am increasingly aware of using photography to pursue an interest and not as an end in itself. I suppose I feel that a camera is to photography as a brush is to an artist and a pen is to a writer.

Day twenty seven

Decided to enrol on an eight week course on studio photography. As if I haven’t got enough to do! I think I am a learnaholic. I have spent a lot of my life studying something. Not only for work and such like but a lot for pleasure. The more I learn the more I realise that I know hardly anything and a lifetime of learning can only scratch the surface of human knowledge.


How I will use this diary to inform assignment three – self portrait

You have been given a glimpse into my life by reading my diary above. You will have learned that I work, like to meet family and friends, spend a lot of time on photography, like to read, eat healthily and so on. I will take the concept of these ‘boxes’ of my life and how I split my life into categories of things that make me happy.

Together with written diary extracts specific to these ‘boxes’ I will include images to show everyday items related to that area of my life. So, for my ‘exercise’ category I will share some narrative with you about my routine and share an image of my possessions to give you an insight into my life. Here is an example:


Bootcamp in the snow. I hesitated and moaned (a lot) about the weather. Tried to convince myself that I would catch a chill or slip and break a leg. Hoped it would be cancelled. But I actually went and It was great. Had to partner the instructor so no wimping out on the boxing.

Box: mega full 😊😊😊😊

To do: look forward to Summer