“A Journey” | Task 8


  • Select an image that shows a stage of a journey
  • Research into the reasons and motivation for the journey
  • Research into what was discovered there 

Research links:


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard Avedon





Initially, I had planned to do “a journey” task based on Richard Avedon’s documentation/portraiture taken In The American West. When speaking to Mike, he proposed that I consider carrying on researching into Diane Arbus and her life/journey through photography further to have a consistent running theme of photography all the way through my 20 page spread.

I have decided to research further into the work and life of Diane Arbus, re-look at current research and find new research sources of her work and life such as books, interviews, quotes etc and analyse my own interpretation from this.

Research sources:


Diane Arbus Revelations. Cape, Jonathan (2003).

This huge book provided me with hours of reading and delving into the life of Diane Arbus. It gave me further information into her life and informed me of new facts about her and her work that I didn’t know about. It includes her imagery: original photographs, original contact sheets, notes, plans, newspaper snippets of articles, proposals etc. Most of the images in the book aren’t seen as her famous works but it’s interesting to see her trial and error with shots in contact sheets and her methods of working. All this real documentation of her life crammed into this big book concluded my feelings of Diane Arbus’ troubled personal life and really helped me to write and also learn more about her life as a journey. The chronology part of the book benefitted me greatly to the development and journey throughout Arbus’ personal life and photography career, she devoted her life to her bold subject matter and photography.

Some Photographs I took of the book:

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Diane Arbus’ Journey: Archetypal Photographer living on the edge

Diane’s battle with personal life problems and photographic scepticism intertwined. Her pampered upbringing began March 14, 1923 in New York City. Born to The Nemerovs, a couple of upper-class Jewish department store owners, Arbus was unaffected by the great depression. Later on in life though, it seemed though despite financial happiness she was affected by a deep psychological depression. I am going to delve under the surface of Diane Arbus’ life and her journey within photography.

She is remembered as the woman who drastically altered our sense of what is permissible in photography with her controversial and non-conforming subject matter within portraiture photographs. But who was the woman behind the camera? I am interested in researching into how her private life was mirrored into her controversial photographs. From her collaboration work with husband Allan Arbus within the area of fashion and editorial photography and their private life issues lead to their separation 1958 spanned until their divorce in 1969.

Through Arbus’ journey and progression from married life to divorcee saw a complete change in her style and choice of work, this was the photographic rebirth of Diane Arbus. Her methods included establishing a strong personal relationship with her subjects and re-photographing some of them over many years. Her area subjects became her life, personal to her and the images part of her emotions. Her technique and unflinching yet often strangely lyrical vision of the oddity of normality, and the normality of oddity seemed to have a consistent flow and similarities from image to image. A friend quotes she was “afraid . . . that she would be known simply as ‘the photographer of freaks”

Jewish giant at home with his parents in the Bronx, NY, 1970,”

Eddie Carmel discovered crammed into his parents’ living room. Arbus photographed Carmel seen as an extraordinary height in comparison to the other two people. It was said he was actually a normal height all through his childhood, equal to everyone else. It wasn’t until his teen years that he began to grow uncontrollably as a result of acromegaly. The condition, then incurable, was caused by a tumor that had developed on Carmel’s pituitary gland. He grew to be 8’9” and received some fame for his condition, starring in B-movies, putting out two 45 records, and appearing in the Ringling Brothers Circus as “The Tallest Man on Earth.” Only two years after Diane Arbus took this photograph, Eddie died aged 36.

Diane’s passion and motivation for attempting to change public perceptions from ugly to beautiful or un-normal to normal seemed to be a constant motif within her photographic work. Her journey as a photographer strengthened her want to empower these people who’s characters were judged by their physical or mental differences. She shared a likeness with her subjects, they became close to her, like her. Many of them had obvious physical problems, whereas she had her own internal problems dealing with her rocketing emotional states of “violent changes of mood.”- Allan Arbus. She wanted them to be seen as normal, just like everyone else, or just like her. I believe Diane battled, masked yet also exposed these private feelings of hers through the power of photography.


From using Diane Arbus in other past work for this project, I decided to adapt and broaden my research to make my work more consistent but different to previous research and go off on other paths. I decided to look at an article based on Diane Arbus’ life in which I found extremely interesting to read the opinions and words of a Journalist and how it was portrayed through the media, this gave me both research knowledge for History and Journalism as I could relate aspects from the article to use in both areas of practising Photographic Journalism in my future work. By loaning a book of her and her life from the library Diane Arbus Revelations this gave me intense information of her personal life behind her career and informed my writing for this task. From viewing the book several times I can also take inspiration of her methods through to Introduction to Photography and generally benefit me throughout future works as a practising Photographic Journalism.


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