Critical Evaluation

Degree Major Project – Critical Evaluation

As I come to the end of my third year studying for my photography degree I feel a duality that I have both learned and grown an incredible amount as a photographer and yet I feel like I have just scratched the surface and still have so much left to learn. I guess this is exactly the nature of the industry I am about to enter, always changing and evolving and as times have proved regressing. For example, there has been a resurgence for analogue photography that was presumed long forgotten, alongside this however are such technical advances that allow mobile phones to capture moving images. I also read an article recently suggesting that for photographers to continue working within their industry they will need to look at videographer skills also as these are more in demand for all genres of photography. This suggests to me that my life as a photography student whilst formally completed will always continue.

My project for this module was I feel a culmination of all I have learned during my three years studying leading me back to my artistic roots of surrealism and abstract art. The idea was to produce a series of images to compliment my dissertation subject “Creating desirability within the fast food industry a public health issue” in my dissertation I discussed the advertising of fast food and the morals of a photographer creating images in such a desirable way. This led to my Degree Major project looking at healthy foods verses Junk foods and the warped way in which we view what is and isn’t good for us. I settled on a plan to produce a series of abstract, fine art images that would lead the viewer to question what they are seeing. My goals were to create vibrant, high key, detailed images of both healthy foods and junk foods.

I didn’t have a fixed idea of final presentation until much later in to the project, though I had lots of ideas throughout. What I decided on for my final exhibition I feel compliments the subject of my work, I opted for wallpaper with a repeated abstract print. From time to time I would see abstract food images on the walls of cafes, this has influenced my decision. After lots of deliberating I decided to experiment with printing ten more images on table mats. This was a risk because I had not used the company before and had no idea how the images would turn out. I did also have a backup plan available where I would get prints on smaller aluminium rectangles or just standard fine art prints in frames. My risk paid off though and I am really pleased with the finish of my table mats. These were my chosen option because they complement the fact that I am working with food. The images have worked in such a way that I can see the colourful ones being sold as a set in somewhere like Lakeland. This is a possible revenue source for me in the future.

I feel that my idea and execution has been a success over all however there are elements that could have been improved. Successful elements are the healthy images both the frozen ones and the kiwi in water. The colours are bold and striking, the ice creates a layer of distortion enough to give the viewer some questions and the images do have an abstract feel. The wallpaper though not initially how I had pictured it has been a success, I am really pleased with the quality and the bold colours of my image choices. Because I have selected the mirror print the wallpaper is very abstract and my daughter even commented saying that one of them she would even consider as a wallpaper for her home. Area I feel I could have improved would firstly be the junk food images, though they capture the junk food in the way I had intended the colours are bland and unexciting. This is the nature of the foods however so if I were to carry this project on it may need a different direction. Another area for improvement is finding a working space where I have plenty of room and equipment available, I worked in a small set up at home which was adequate however it is very easy for me to become distracted by goings on in my home and family.  Though I have been much more time conscious this whole year of study this is always an area that could use improvement. I was lucky with my final images given that I printed so late however this could have been a different story.

Regarding my continuing development I am sure that I will always be learning to one degree or another. I am enrolled in several online courses that I have yet to complete and these include post production which is an area that I am keen to develop. In particular, meeting industry standards including Capture One. I will continue my membership with the AOP, The Societies and will look at other associations that will support my entry in to the photographic industry. With a background in Network Marketing I understand the importance of networking, contacting people and continually putting myself out there to secure future work. I follow the creative review magazine online it is a great resource for keeping an eye on upcoming trends within the food photography industry, in their recent article they talk about how modern trends have moved away from the dark and documentary style to a brighter, vibrant coloured and softer focus. With these more modern images being sought after for a wide range of customers. (Creative Review, 2017) This is the area I feel my work fits in to however this feels like a slight contradiction to the recent winners and highly commended images from the Pink Lady Food Photography Awards, of which most have the dark documentary feel. What this suggests is that there is room in this industry for all types of food photography. My inspirational artists list continues to grow and not just around food but other genres too. This is a very long way from where I started three years ago, where the only famous or influential photographer I knew was David Bailey. My knowledge and professionalism have improved greatly and I look forward to what the future brings.

1060 Words



Creative Review. (2017). Trends in modern food photography – Creative Review. [online] Available at: [Accessed 14 Apr. 2017]. (2017). Pink Lady Food Photographer of the Year. [online] Available at: [Accessed 14 May 2017].


References List – Degree Major Project


Degree Major Project

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In-text: (BJP Breakthrough, 2017)
Your Bibliography: BJP Breakthrough. (2017). About. [online] Available at: [Accessed 14 May 2017].
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Your Bibliography: Create and Icy Masterpiece. (2017). Practical Photography.
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Your Bibliography: (2017). Creative Food Photography: Kiwi Fruit | Alexander Voss, Berlin | Fine Art Fotografie | Digital & Analog. [online] Available at: [Accessed 20 Jan. 2017].
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Artist Study – Miles Aldridge
In-text: (Edes, n.d.)
Your Bibliography: Edes, E. (n.d.). Artist Study – Miles Aldridge. [Word Document].
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Artist Study – Simon Emmett
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Your Bibliography: Edes, E. (n.d.). Artist Study – Simon Emmett. [Word Document].
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Your Bibliography: JOSH CAUDWELL •• Still Life Photographer In London •• product photography for Makeup, Watches, Perfume, Fashion. (2017). Food. [online] Available at: [Accessed 21 Jan. 2017].
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Your Bibliography: The Spruce. (2017). Here’s a Overview of the Latest Top Food Photography Trends. [online] Available at: [Accessed 23 Apr. 2017].
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Your Bibliography: com. (2017). On Your Travels Photography Competition. [online] Available at: [Accessed 14 May 2017].
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Your Bibliography: com. (2017). Pink Lady Food Photographer of the Year. [online] Available at: [Accessed 14 May 2017].
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                  WOLFGANG TILLMANS: 2017
In-text: (Tate, 2017)
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I will be looking to create a series of images that explore the world of food. I will look at the warped view we have have around healthy food verses junk food and create abstract/distorted images to reflect this. This final proposal has come about as a result of testing and feedback from peers and lecturers over the course of this module. The images will have a fine art feel with a view to extend to editorial and advertising. With food and diet being at the forefront of current news there is potential for inclusion within newspaper and magazine supplements. My working title for the project at the moment is:

Healthy Food v Junk Food a Warped View  

Look & Feel

  • Sharp high end finish
  • Bold striking colours
  • Close crops
  • Distortion
  • Use of negative space
  • High Key lighting
  • Black and white (possibly)
  • Strong backgrounds white, backlit and black


My inspiration for this project comes from a number of sources including, Pinterest mood boards, photographers:

  • Bobby Doherty
  • Richard Haughton
  • Maren Caruso


  • Andy Warhol
  • Salvador Dali

Andy Warhol and Bobby Doherty have similarities running through their work that will influence my own, bold colours and repeating subjects. Richard Haughton and Maren Caruso  share similarities, My main point of focus for in depth study and influence will be Maren Caruso as her work is closer to my desired outcome.


  • Healthy Food
  • Junk Food
  • Abstract
  • Cross sections
  • Macro close crops
  • Water distortion

I will be looking to complete a number of shoots. The key theme will be Abstract and I intend to create a coherent and consistent set of images. I will work in collaboration with a food stylist or chef in order to produce this work.


  • Small home studio
  • Larger University studio


  • Canon 650D SLR
  • Canon 60mm Lens f/2.8
  • Large Product Table
  • Small product table
  • Backdrops various colours
  • Worktop savers
  • Glass Dish
  • Iridescent film
  • Manfrotto Tripod
  • Phase one camera (University)


  • Spectra 500s LED light
  • Photolamp continuous Lighting x3
  • Newer flash lighting (Home)
  • Bowens flash lighting (university)


I control my image selection, contact sheets and basic edits using Lightroom. For more complex editing, more colour control and posterising I will use photoshop. I will also use photoshop to resize and control sizing ready for quality printing.


As described above my images will have a fine art feel and so my audience will include:

  • Art collectors
  • Curators
  • Galleries
  • Art directors
  • Stock and Print sales

I would like this to lead on to editorial, advertising and commissioned work, so my further audience would be:

  • News supplements
  • Magazine supplements
  • Online articles
  • Advertising campaigns for the likes of Marks & Spencer and other Supermarkets
  • High class restaurants and chefs


At this stage of my planning the output is not fully resolved, I have carried out some print tests with DS colour labs and as part of last years project with Whitewall, I also have samples received from sim labs and will carry out some more tests to determine who I will use to print. I intend to have large scale images and this could be completed by either printing individual large images or by a collection of smaller images in grid fashion to produce a larger scale display. Working towards my exhibition I will be looking to produce my best work to date and will give this more consideration when planning with my fellow students.




I feel this module has been successful for me in a number of ways.  I learned towards the end of last year my own best working practice, I have really had the opportunity to hone these skills this semester. I always have a tenancy to work tight to my deadlines and spent some time fighting with this trying to change my practice, however what I have understood is that I produce my best work later into the evening and closer to my deadlines.  Making peace with this has allowed me to really work with my strengths and pull together my learning and skills from the first two years of degree study.

The starting place was to be organised, I printed lists, weekly and monthly diaries to fill out and stuck up in my working space. Knowing what work I had and when I should complete it has really helped me to stay on top of my assignments, not just for the module but for this semester. I have really enjoyed the concepts and planning module, the information and lectures have been engaging and supportive. One of the things I have found most beneficial is the time  to really get to grips with my desired outcome. Full time for researching and testing without the pressure of producing any final images has been very beneficial to my planned outcome and development. I have really enjoyed having the time to discover other practitioners and artists that inspire me, also to rediscover artists I have loved since my GCSE days.

Though I have said the module was successful,  this is because some tests produced unsuccessful results. This as a great thing because it has given me  clarity on how I wish to move forward with my work. The key things that have come out of this for me are the need  to work in a larger space as well as my small set up. I need to be working alongside another professional either a food stylist or a chef with an understanding of composition. I have to focus my research efforts towards my own desired outcome. I become distracted by such a varied source of imagery I try to work with too many examples. I need to focus this down  to produce the abstract aesthetic I aim to achieve. I will look in detail at Maren Carusos work, this is the feel I would like to achieve within my own work. Lighting is key and I will add in flash lighting to see how this effects my final images. As well as smaller details such as spraying with water or oil and building up colour and layers. I need to give full consideration towards the end of year exhibition and I have been developing my ideas. I will researching this in detail over the Christmas break and will look forward to the challenge of putting together this exhibition with my fellow students.

Ultimately I have a way to go but I am enjoying testing and researching so plan to continue with this over the Christmas break,  I will be ready to go full steam in to creating my final project and being part of a brilliant end of year exhibition.




Practitioner Influence

Brittany Wright

American female photographer, well known for her food gradient images. Looking at some of her commissioned work it seems that Samsung have used a lot of these images. I really like the style of these images, the lines, colours, gradients all work really well to produce visually pleasing results. I will take these images into account when creating my own work with repeated and grid images. All images from Brittany’s websiteWright Kitchen (Wright, 2016)

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David LaChapelle

I have included David because I like the bold colours of his images and because I remembered from my first year of study when looking at photographers that he’d done the “Death by Hamburger’ series which has a fun and entertaining element to it, but also a real underlying message about the state of food choices particularly in the United states. All images from his websiteDAVID LACHAPELLE (exhibit- E com, no date)

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Practitioner Study – Bobby Doherty

Bobby Doherty 

Bobby Doherty is a widely recognised American Photographer, described as Vivid and Humorous(Liberation®, 2015). He started out for New York Magazine as their in house still life photographer. The themes running throughout his images are really bright and repeating images. His work is recognisable for these themes though in recent times he has made an effort to move away from this as he doesn’t just want to be known for these images. (White, 2016)

In Skip Harsh blog he describes Bobby’s work as Hyperreal, he says his images look like photos of paintings or photos. (Hursh, 2013)

There is something very likeable about Bobby’s work, it reminds me of work by Andy Warhol who has been a favourite of mine for many years. The bright, vivid colour, the abstract nature of composition both pre and post production, the repeating patterns all bear resemblance to the well known art of Andy. All images from Bobby Doherty tumbler Bobby Doherty  (Doherty, no date)

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Practitioner Study – Richard Haughton

Richard Haughton 

Richard Haughton is a London Based photographer originally from the South West of Ireland. His photography career started as early as age 6 and started his first job for an architectural magazine at age 14. When describing his style, he says he reacts to each subject individually, he sees a picture and shoots it until he gets it right.  Accepting that each subject matter requires a different approach but key ingredients are simplicity, clarity and richness. Richard says he works with flash and daylight, but prefers flash as daylight can be unpredictable. He works on location and can take up to a year to complete each book he produces, returning to the scene to capture other elements. (Park, 2015)

In a blog post by Meghan Young she talks about the abstract nature of Richards work and says his photography is imaginative works of art “Richard Haughtons work could easily grace walls as well as plates” (Trund Hunter, 2013) Some of Richards clients include Marks & Spencer, The South Bank Centre and Linda McCartney Foods.

I was drawn to Richards work because of the abstract feel he creates, He uses bold flash lighting producing stunning clean and crisp images. I agree with what Meghan says about him creating works of art and this is something that I will take from Richards practice. His images though often produced for books have a fine art feel which is where I would like to see my own practice.

Examples of Richards work from his website

richard-haughton-02 richard-haughton-01

These images both appeal to me because they are shot on a black background, making the bold colour stand out. There is a limited colour pallet allowing for total focus on the object. Though these are food images they have an abstract feel that makes them works of art worthy of hanging on a wall. The image is created with flash from above and directly on the subject.

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The images above appeal to me because they are more abstract and involve close cropping of the subject. The second image is shot with the ingredients under water, this creates a distortion that reminds me of the distortion I like to create in my beauty work and is an idea that I could work with in my testing phase. In the first image, there is a strong contrast between the bold colours of the ingredients against the white background.

Another factor about Richards work that I like is that he works with top class chefs to create books for his clients. This is an avenue I would like to explore in the future, perhaps starting out with local chefs to build up a portfolio of work.