Assignment 2 – The Archive

Produce a series of related images that use a readily available online archive (or archives) as their starting point or subject. Make a small book for this project, using proprietary software, to be viewable online. In your book, you may use a selection of images from primary sources (your own images) and/or secondary sources (images found online and/or scanned from other sources). Think about a theme for your book and use the references provided throughout Part Two as inspiration. Your book should contain a minimum of 12 double pages and can contain text if you wish, or simply a collection of images. Provide a link to where your tutor can view your book and also provide a few double-page spreads as still images as part of your learning log.

Prior to the assignment I had started to collect and arrange slides, photos, prints and postcards with no fixed approach to the assignment. I wanted to ensure that I would have a number of options available to me when I started to collate the work into the assignment.

I feel that my decisions were influenced by Schmid, and Kessels, as I wanted to present a number of images which were both interconnected and influenced by their own culture through the eye of the original photographer, even though the images are sourced with little to no provenance to the original creator. Using their influence about found images, I decided that I would use found images from my collections in this Assignment.

One of the boxes I opened had a large number of photographs of trains, within the box I also found a number of stickers, passes, and a permission slip from a government department allowing the individual to photograph trains in Zimbabwe. Personally, this was quite exciting as I had a piece of provenance which connected the original photographer to this boxed collection. I was also quite surprised to find that the meme of the train spotter as a lonely anorak wearing nerd at the end of a station platform was overthrown by these images as they show that this particular train spotter was a jet setting world traveller.

Working through these images, I found a small number where the photographer had annotated information regarding the subject of the image. I started to collate these prints together so that I had a smaller collection of interesting images which contained some form of important information pertinent only to the photographer.

In almost all of the images from the box, show that the photographer had a preference for photographing the trains and carriages at a three quarter angle, showing the front and side of the vehicle. This repeating topographic cliché flowed through the collection and it was something which I noted quickly, as I have seen the same photographic position taken by car, motorcycle and aircraft enthusiasts. It appears that this position allows the collection of as much information in one image as possible.

As I approached the concept of the book, I first scanned each of the smaller collection of images, and then cropped, colour corrected and in some cases adjusted the saturation or levels of the scanned image.

As I initially put the book together using the Blurb “BookWright” software, I went with just one image per double page, but I found that this approach was too clinical and did not impart any emotion or feeling into the images. I then went back and scanned the back of each image where it contained some annotated information.

Double Spread – Single Image No text.

Using Photoshop I then removed the scanned text appropriate to the image and create a small montage with the hand written information in the lower right hand corner where available. Having written cursive with a ballpoint pen this was a bit of a task I had to spend quite some considerable time, going pixel by pixel to remove any background which would interfere with the image below.

Having the handwritten text gave the images more feeling as they now had a personal touch detailing what data the photographer wanted to record.

Once the images were collated in the book I reflected again on the product and returned to the blank pages and typed in the information so that it was much easier to read.

Upon reflection however I was once again unhappy with the final output; I felt that the Bookwright software final proof was very poor quality and it reflected badly upon my images. I turned to Adobe InDesign, and quickly learned the basics so that I could reproduce the book using InDesign which I felt gave a better final result.

Looking the images in a more relaxed atmosphere I reread the notes made by Mr Lee and I started to see a number of cultural issues underlying within the works.

One of the cultural issues I found with the collection was that there was a certain colonial mindset to the whole collection. Most of the images were taken in museums and stockyards across Zimbabwe, and Zambia, which still used steam powered trains to transport people and cargo. Quite a few of these trains would have seen long service with their original companies before being pulled from service as they had been superseded and then steam trains sold to second and third world countries for use.


I am now happier with the final product having returned and recreated the book layout in InDesign, the final PDF proof is much better quality and the proof quality of the images does not detract from the final concept.

The cliche of the trainspotter can be set aside as it can be seen that certainly in this case, the photographer traveled far and wide to see the engines and carriages. It can also be seen that the meme of photographing from that position to gather as much information as possible, works. The three quarter position allows for a forensic and engineering data gathering exercise without having to go through rolls of film. This photographic position may have been superseded by the digital age, as there is less of a limitation for the photographer.

I feel that I have been able to insert some personality into the images using the montage technique and it reflects in keeping with the concept and influence of Schmid and Kessels. Certainly working as both curator and artist has been very exciting and educational and I have enjoyed working on various ideas for this Assignment.


Kessel, E. (2008). ERIK KESSELS. [online] ERIK KESSELS. Available at: [Accessed 14 Oct. 2020].

LensCulture, Joachim Schmid (2019). Celebrating Photographic Garbage – Photographs found by Joachim Schmid | LensCulture. [online] LensCulture. Available at:

Schmid, J. (2020). Joachim Schmid – Art, photoworks, books, editions, and everything else. [online] Joachim Schmid. Available at: [Accessed 14 Oct. 2020].

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