Examining the role of chance and serendipity in photography has been challenging for me. The readings of the week introduced me to a view of Paris I had never considered – through the likes of Walter Benjamin, Louis Aragon and Franz Hessel, and the photographic work of John Baldessari – avoiding traditional photographic decisions such as composition and aesthetics in his image making.

The work of Walter Benjamin and his art of walking cities was interesting and whilst I prefer to lose myself in more natural surroundings on Scottish Islands it did open up a world I rarely travel and gave me a better understanding of fellow photographers that enjoy street photography. The art of walking and straying are useful for me in terms of my research project, The Road to Elgol in terms of wandering a few metres from the road and opening up opportunities to take a different approach or view to my work. In his own words Benjamin explained the art of straying as:

“Then signboards and street names, passers-by, roofs, kiosks, or bars must speak to the wanderer like a crackling twig under his feet, like the startling call of a bittern in the distance, like the sudden stillness of a clearing with a lily standing erect at its center. Paris taught me this art of straying.”

 In working on my research project, I have started to open up my practice to a more photojournalistic approach and this quote from Benjamin will be in my mind as I seek to find hidden gems and alternative ways of experiencing the Road. It is about working the scene and spending time in the environment I wish to capture.

The piece by Marcia Tucker about the work of John Baldessari was also interesting. It made me think about all the photographic decisions we make about composition, standpoint, pictorial choices that influence the way we take photographs and the images we make. Baldessari tried to strip out such decision making by introducing surprise. For example his “Pier 18” project of 1971 involved photographers being presented with a bouncing ball that they were asked to present centrally in the image. His approach was to unsettle and to provide a different view of the world – such as the Car Colour Series: all Cars Parked on the West Side of Main Street . . . (1976).

I was drawn by the following quote from Baldessari:

“If you believe your world is formed by what you look at, and you just don’t look at the usual things, then your world will change.”

 This has been an interesting week both in terms of the Micro Project and the readings – that is what Positions and Practice is all about.


 Solnit, R (2006) Wanderlust: a History of Walking, Verso Books, London

Tucker, M (2010) John Baldessari: Pursuing the Unpredicatable, Whitechapel Gallery, London

Alison Price

Alison Price

My name is Alison Price and for the past ten years I have travelled the world photographing wildlife, including Alaska, Antarctica, Borneo, Botswana, the Canadian Arctic, Kenya, Rwanda, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
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