Week 4 – FMP Planning

This week I submitted my main FMP proposal after much consideration. I actually found the whole experience very helpful, in terms of developing my ideas. But also very nerve-racking, as its signing me up to a few months of very challenging work.

As an introduction I stated:

My Final Major Project (FMP) will focus on the telling of the River Otter journey through the stories of the people that live and work around its riverbank. The theme will be ‘how cultural links with the river have changed over the last few years’. The rivers procession evolving from a significant part of rural cultural life to an almost unseen entity within the modern digitised world.

I will look to convey such narratives through the use of recording audio interviews with members of the local community. The interviews will explore stories, cultural activity, conservational issues, rural skills and history of the river environment.

The rule for inclusion is that each story has to have the river flowing through its heart. Either visually, contextually or metaphorically. Stills images and video will then be overlaid onto the audio to bring the stories to life and visually explore the narrative.

This exploration of visual contextualisation will provide the observer with a way of seeing the story come alive in front of them. The visuals themselves becoming the physical embodiment of the speakers own voice.

The project will reflect my own journey, influences and experiences and show how the rivers natural environment has impacted and influenced local peoples lives. The project will cross generations from very young, to older people and explore the cultural history of river life into the modern-day digital world.

The project will also take on an educational responsibility to produce the work partly as a teaching resource, demonstrating the importance of the rivers natural space and how we as a society, must care for its future.

The adverse effects of cultural indifference to the river’s existence, proving as significant an environmental and cultural impact as any conservational challenge.

During my research for my FMP proposal, I become very taken by a quote by Berger: He stated:

“A photograph is already a message about the event it records. The urgency of this message is not entirely dependent on the urgency of the event, but neither can it be entirely independent of it. At its simplest, the message, decoded, means: I have decided that seeing this is worth recording.” (Berger and Dyer, 2001: 292)

Furthering this I was also struck by how Robert Frank commented,

“The eye should learn to listen before it looks.” (Greenough, Frank and Brookman, 1994)

Both seem to me to create an understanding of how an observer sees an image and then goes to interpret what that image means to them. This interpretation is down to the individual observers own set of experiences relevant to their gaze.

This effectively means to me that no image can be seen the same way by two or more people. Its objectified view can be recognised by many for what it is, but the images subjective metaphorical view could be interpreted in many ways.

Understandably, this is not the case for all photography. Commercial images can be seen as different – a car, after all, is a car. However, how the observer views a stills image of a car and how that gaze then instils an emotive response could mean the difference between then purchasing the car or not.

I am drawn to this whole idea of subjectification and metaphor in image-making. I feel very much that this will become a large part of my FMP in the weeks to come.


  • BERGER, John. and DYER, Geoff. 2001. The Selected Essays of John Berger. 1st ed. London: Bloomsbury, p.292.
  • GREENOUGH, Sarah., FRANK, Robert. and BROOKMAN, Phillip. 1994. Robert Frank. 1st ed. Zurich: SCALO.
  • JONES, Rob. 2019. Final Major Project Proposal. p2-5