I had my first meeting with my first and second supervisors on 7 October.  It was a wide-ranging meeting picking up on issues and questions about my PhD Proposal.  At this stage, it is really for me to reflect on the initial thoughts of my supervisors and follow up references and ideas.  These are some of the things we discussed:


  1. My supervisors warned me that in many ways the first year of a PhD is unsettling as they unpick and encourage me to think widely about my proposal and how it might come together for Upgrade.
  2. This work is not about what happened in the past. Write about the current.

Initial Reflections:  A useful warning that I have unsettling times ahead.  I can find this type of challenge difficult so it is good to have a head’s up that the Research Questions, Aims, Objectives, Methodology and Methods might change for the better and this may require disassembling and reassembling my PhD Proposal.  A reminder that the PhD is about what I do for the next three years rather than a retrospective piece about where I have come from is very helpful.

Research Questions, Direction and Emphasis

  1. What perspective is guiding my approach to my research questions? Could be a philosophy thesis leading to a research methodology to mirror that or it could be mapped from the perspective of a practitioner leading to the artistic work bringing it together.  What is the balance?
  2. Nature of research – relationship between theory and practice will guide methodology.
  3. Does research mean you have to investigate or solve?
  4. From Fine Art Photography to the development of a successful business – how much is this focus and journey part of my research?

Initial Reflections:  These questions are important in determining the balance of my thesis between theory and practice and the perspective from which I am approaching my work.  My immediate response is that I am clear that my work will be practice-led but informed by the perspectives and insights of philosophy. There is also a balance to be struck between my research work and the development of my photography business.

Research Methods

  1. In relation to autoethnography should not just be me as only case study – should position myself in relation to others – philosophers and other practitioners to underpin my work.
  2. Need to look at research methods. Research questions are fine for now.
  3. Need to talk about interviews. Should it be one of my methods and what kind of interview would allow me to gain insights and who would it be with?

Initial Reflections:  The area of research methods is where I feel least sure at this point.  In terms of the ideas submitted in the PhD Proposal I really just made a stab at it!  I suspect I am not alone in this.  I have already written about some of my concerns about autoethnographic research methods and feel uncomfortable about being a case study of one.  Interviews too will need a great deal of thought if that is a research method I choose to undertake.

Research Outputs

  1. Keep outcomes loose at this stage – how could I know at this point what outcomes might be best?
  2. Exhibitions at An Crubh – exhibitions can take any form and should not necessarily be driven by venue. On-line exhibitions? Outputs are something to return to later in research.

Initial Reflections:  Sage advice and I need to make sure that the imperatives to engage with my audience for the purposes of my business development, perhaps through exhibitions, should not compromise the creativity and development of different and novel outcomes.

Schedule of Work

  1. Need to revisit my Schedule of Work. Perhaps divide into six-month chunks.  Thread through official deadlines, set times/priorities.  Different layers of activity.

Initial Reflections:  I am a planner by nature and schedule work on a daily, weekly and monthly basis.  I need to draw up a more-informed Project Plan now I am aware of University-imposed deadlines and expectations.


  1. Research journals/conferences/writing papers – long lead time. With whom do I want to discuss my work.

 Initial Reflections:  I agree.  I am already working on a paper about the photography of essence, but it is important to be aware of long lead times and the need to discuss my work beyond DJCAD and Dundee.

Photographic Practice

  1. Need to map out my practice – test making – do things – look at them. How does that relate to anything – write about it.  Describing what you are doing is not research – it is how things underpin that decision-making.
  2. How am I going to capture the essence?
  3. Need to position myself within contemporary practice – not necessarily just within photography. Need to position myself within a wider network of practice.  Look at other practice.  What else is out there.
  4. Who does my photography speak to? High end art practice?
  5. Writing collective narratives?
  6. Should look beyond photography – ephemeral in painting and film-making.

Initial Reflections:  The first point is really important as I do have a tendency to describe.  I need to explain, consider and evaluate my photographic work and base developments on carefully considered outcomes. How will I capture the essence, how will I know when I have done so and how am I able to demonstrate I have done so are key concerns for me as I embark on my research.

 Very happy to research the ephemeral in painting, film-making and other creative genres.

 How Skye has been depicted before and Now?

  1. Thinking about Place. Is it just landscapes?  Understanding of place and how is it represented?  How do we think about Skye?  What is the actual lived experience? Idea of place as well as a thing.

Initial Reflections:  I do need to do this research!  I should have done it as part of my MA Photography, but I avoided doing it!

Moving Forward . . .

  1. Meetings every two weeks with First Supervisor.
  2. Once a month with Second Supervisor.
  3. Meetings to be recorded for reference.

Good Practice

  1. Include my reflections on the meetings and our discussions on Critical Research Journal (blog).

Initial Reflection:  It is important that I am reflective in my Critical Research Journal (blog) and reflecting on my meetings with my supervisors is an important part of the research process.


Useful links for further research

Glasgow-based photographer


PhD on Photography


Capturing the Essence


Berwick Film and Media Arts Festival


Joseph Kosuth – One and Three Chairs


Public Art including The Storr


Atlas Gallery


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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