2. Essays – Part 2

brief – submission – blog – feedback – essay

← Part 1

Tutor feedback was received on 7th March, including,

You have carried out some individual research as well as the prescribed for this assignment. Continue to use focused research as a means of developing your creative thinking and engage with critical reading on photography and the topics that you are working on. The work undertaken for this assignment provided opportunities to investigate the use of the uniform as a symbol of power and identity. This raises the question of whether we are seeing the person in the portrait or simply the stereotype identifiers of profession. Likewise, the use of third-party images in your work would be a good area for further critical research.

Asg.2 tutor feedback


[13Mar] I stated during Exercise 1.3 on portraiture typology that the ‘notion of creating an I-Spy album of uniformed workers holds no attraction for me’ and, at first, meant it. But the idea grew on me, having seen the cover of the 1955 edition (fig. E1) that includes a policeman, a Girl Guide and (what looks to me like) two High Court Judges. I thought it might be interesting to photograph the current equivalents, where they exist. (The volume was replaced in 1963 by I-Spy People, extending the subject beyond the uniformed. I bought People in Uniform in November 2020 and have just ordered a copy of the replacement People. There was a companion set of Tea Cards.)

It is likely that uniforms will be central to my Asg.4 series and so I will ‘keep most of my powder dry’ until then, but an initial examination of my tutor’s suggestion ‘to investigate the use of the uniform as a symbol of power and identity. This raises the question of whether we are seeing the person in the portrait or simply the stereotype identifiers of profession.’ The analysis is more sociological than aesthetic.

Most people maintain a series of uniforms associated with the multiple roles they play in daily life. These may range from the strictly formal (the first image that came to mind was the Queen on horseback Trooping the Colour, fig. F1 – I think she does it in a carriage now, or perhaps delegates the task) to the grossly informal (and here my first image was leather / rubberware for S&M enthusiasts, not illustrated), but I know even less about that milieu than about royal activities).

Writing in the American Journal of Sociology Joseph & Alex (1972) described uniforms as, ‘as a device to resolve certain dilemmas of complex organizations’ and identified the most common purpose: identification as or within a group, affecting behaviours and expectations of behaviour. Given the example of military uniforms, these identify a particular range of roles in society and status within the group. Different sectors of society will react in different ways to the uniforms (as with the unionists and republicans in Northern Ireland during The Troubles), and it is possible to subvert the uniform and its meaning, for example a symbol of rebellious youth culture in the 1960s was the wearing of real or imitation elaborate formal military uniforms to mock the military establishment as part of an anti-war and particularly anti-Vietnam War stance (figs. F2 and F3).

So far as the individual is concerned, Joseph & Alex state, ‘[s]ince no other statuses, or any touch of individuality, are recognized in the uniformed individual by others, he is encouraged to act primarily as an occupant of his uniformed status’. Although in Assignment 2, Rev. Steve Cook (fig. F4) wrote in his email of 30 November 2020, ‘I am not much one for wearing “clericals” though I do wear robes for services’, they confer status on the wearer, are likely to modify their behaviour in various ways and to various extents and will also affect the perception of the person seeing them both live and in a photograph.


BBC (2019) Can I use BBC content? [online]. bbc.co.uk. Available from https://www.bbc.co.uk/usingthebbc/terms/can-i-use-bbc-content/ [Accessed 12 March 2021].

Biro, M. (2011) REALITY EFFECTS: THE ART OF ROBERT HEINECKEN [online]. artforum.com. Available from https://www.artforum.com/print/201108/reality-effects-the-art-of-robert-heinecken-29044 [Accessed 11 March 2021].

Bright, S. & van Erp, H (2019) Photography decoded. London: Ilex.

Crockatt, J. (2019) Assignment 4: “A picture is worth a thousand words” [online]. juliacrockattphoto.wordpress.com. Available from https://juliacrockattphoto.wordpress.com/assignment-4-a-picture-is-worth-a-thousand-words/ [Accessed 11 March 2021].

Dex, R. (2020) ‘Shy side’ of Christine Keeler to be revealed among rare photos in Sotheby’s auction [online]. standard.co.uk. Available from https://www.standard.co.uk/go/london/arts/christine-keeler-sothebys-auction-rare-photos-a4364561.html [Accessed 28 May 2020].

gov.uk (2021) Exceptions to copyright [online]. gov.uk. Available from https://www.gov.uk/guidance/exceptions-to-copyright [Accessed 11 March 2021].

Hoy, A.H. (1987) Staged, altered, and appropriated photographs. NY: Cross River Press

I-Spy (1955) I-spy people in uniform. London: News Chronicle Book Department.

I-Spy (1963) I-spy people. London: Dickens Press.

Jackson, A (2020) Getting to grips with copyright [online]. urc.org.uk. Available from https://urc.org.uk/images/Communications/copyright_booklet_web.pdf [Accessed 12 March 2021].

Joseph, N., & Alex, N. (1972). The Uniform: A Sociological Perspective. American Journal of Sociology, 77(4), 719-730. Retrieved March 13, 2021, from http://www.jstor.org/stable/2776756

legislation.gov.uk (2021) Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 [online]. legislation.gov.uk. Available from https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1988/48/contents [Accessed 11 March 2021].

Sharples, E. (2020) The naked truth about THAT racy photo [online]. dailymail.co.uk. Available from https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7879577/Christine-Keeler-shoot-took-three-rolls-film-perfect-photo-wasnt-nude.html [Accessed 28 May 2020].

Shore, R. (2017) Beg, Steal and Borrow: Artists Against Originality. London: Laurence King

Robinson, W. (2014) How Does Richard Prince’s Notorious “Canal Zone” Look 6 Years Later? Like Freedom [online]. artspace.com. Available from https://www.artspace.com/magazine/contributors/see_here/walter_robinson_on_canal_zone-52322 [Accessed 10 March 2021].

Sanderson, D. (2019) Booker winner Bernardine Evaristo writes off ‘cultural appropriation’ [online]. thetimes.co.uk. Available from https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/booker-winner-bernardine-evaristo-writes-off-cultural-appropriation-bklfsqhgk [Accessed 12 March 2021]

YouTube (n.d.) What is fair use? [online]. youtube.com. Available from https://www.youtube.com/intl/ALL_uk/howyoutubeworks/policies/copyright/#fair-use [Accessed 12 March 2021].

Zoom (2020) ZOOM TERMS OF SERVICE [online]. zoom.us. Available from https://zoom.us/terms [Accessed 12 March 2021].