Identity and Place

Welcome to my blog ‘Identity and Place’

Identity and Place is Unit 3 in the my quest in completing the Photography BA (hons) course with the OCA (Open College of the Arts)

Having completed Units 1 and 2, and having no problems with the blog setup on either, this time round, I have spent over fours trying to figure things out. I have now sorted the problems, and now the blog for this unit is working well.

Here you will see my progress as I work through the coursework book, from the Projects, to the Assignments. My tutor for this unit; is ‘Peter Haveland‘ he will be giving advice and also formative feedback reports.

Below: Is the final image taken on unit 2 ‘Context & Narrative’

'Christmas Alone' 2017
‘Christmas Alone’ 2017


‘Identity and Place’



a, there quality or condition of being a specified person or thing

b, Individuality or personality

c, Identification


Oxford Encylopaedic English Dictionary


‘A persons identity is not to be found in behaviour, nor-important though this is – in the reactions of others, but in the capacity to keep a particular narrative going. The individual’s biography, if she is to maintain regular interaction with others in the day – to – day world, cannot be wholly fictive. It must continually integrate events which occur in the external world, and sort them into the ongoing ‘story’ about the self.’

(Giddens, 1991, p54)


‘Who are we ?’

‘Identity is, and always has been a contentious phenomenon. What is considered acceptable or desirable has fluctuated and changed throughout history depending on the culture and society of the time. In the last years of the nineteenth century, ‘Oscar Wilde’ spent his final years living away from Britain because of his sexuality; same sex marriage is now legal in the UK.                                                                                           Depending on who you are and when and where you were born, your identity could provide you with anything from a powerful platform of influence to a lifetime of discrimination.

There are many different ways to determine identity. Identity cards determine it by physical attributes that remain relatively unchanged over time. Their reliability is based on their ‘fixedness’, but what happens if someone undergoes dramatic physical change? Does this change who they are? Perhaps so.

Other notions of identity are based on attributes we have little or no control over, for example, social status, wealth, class, gender, race, sexuality, religious background, etc. In the past such attributes dictated people’s standard of living and social mobility. This form of identity differentiation was quite fixed and, with a few exceptions, people rarely moved outside their ‘label’.

In today’s culture we have a much more fluid understanding of what defines us as individuals, ie. what our identity is. People often define themselves according to their career, interests, faith or family values. ‘Finding our identity’ is often about finding a sense of belonging within a certain ‘tribe’ – finding people who share and affirm our own sense of identity. Key to the contemporary western understanding of identity is that it is self – diagnosed and self- created and gives more autonomy to the individual. Although there are still people who believe that identity is a fixed phenomenon, this idea is becoming less and less prevalent. Yet perhaps because of this fluidity, identity is a difficult concept to pin down.’


‘Reflection point’

‘When different understandings of identity come into conflict with each other it can be quite contentious.

“When I moved to a suburban area after living in a student area I was shocked to discover the different expectations now on me to be a good neighbour. In the student area anonymity was the norm but here I was expected to introduce myself and tend to my weeds!”

This example is more about collective identity and expectations. You may wish to think about collective or individual identity. Can you think of some examples from your own experience, or if someone you know, where there was a clash of identity? What happened and can you see how fluctuating notions of identity are still potentially problematic? What does it mean, for you, to be yourself?’


‘Photography and identity’

‘Photographs have been used in many different contexts to show identity or an aspect of identity. From the ubiquitous social media profile picture to the police mug shot, photographs can speak of identity in a way that is different from other artistic mediums. This is because a photograph, by its very nature, is inextricably linked to reality. A photograph resembles the likeness of what appeared before the lens. So, in the case of a profile picture, family album or mug shot, identity is based on the repetition of sameness that is evidenced by the image produced by the camera. However, photography can also be used to explore identity beneath the surface of physical attributes. This is what we hope you will find yourself achieving in your photography as you move throughout this course.’

‘What is a portrait and what makes a portrait artist?’

‘Grayson Perry’, in the 2014 channel 4 series ‘who Are You’, describes a portrait artist as both psychologist and detective. In the series ‘Perry’ made portraits of ten members of the British public with the aim of understanding and portraying identity more fully. His choice of subject was not arbitrary; he selected his subjects to fit with his vision of challenging idealised notions and readily accepted versions of identity. Often his subjects were in ‘Perry’s’ words, those living on an identity fault line of sorts that is, people whose very lives challenge the status quo of accepted identity in modern Britain. Among his subjects were gay parents of a mixed race child, overweight women who had formed a support group to encourage body confidence and strong mental health, a loyalist group in Northern Ireland, a fallen politician and a celebrity persona. Through his carefully considered selection, ‘Perry’ raised challenging questions about beauty, religion, sexuality, power, race and gender.