Michael Wolf – Window Watching (Research)

Michael Wolf is a German artist and photographer who focuses on daily lives in big cities. His series ‘Window Watching’ gave a strong influence on my project. I like the feeling of mystery and wonder I get whilst viewing these images and I want to capture this in my own project. Photographing through an object always gives a sense of wonder and I believe Wolf has done this perfectly. Photographing the images at night draws the viewer into the illuminated windows help to tell the narrative of the subjects lives without any distractions of the surroundings.

Wolf’s images give the sense of wonder into peoples livelihoods and what they get up to behind closed doors in the comfort of homes, this is exactly what I plan to capture in my project.


I am drawn to Wolf’s images in this series as it captures individuals going ahead with the lives, the images show vulnerability. Wolf got into some legal issues from these images as he did not have the consent of the subjects.

“Michael Wolf’s ‘Window Watching’ series went viral after Hong Wrong posted his latest photographic series two weeks ago – click here to see the full set. The South China Morning Mouthpiece reports today that the German photographer may be in legal trouble should any of his subjects complain.”


As I stated in my research of Merry Alpern’s ‘Dirty Windows’, I would not photograph through windows of un-knowing suspects due to repercussion and the lack of comfort I would have in doing so. It is not something I am interested in doing as I know and respect peoples comfort in their own homes. I will still use the concept of capturing individuals in the comfort of their own homes through a window but will be using individuals who have given consent and know that I am there.

Merry Alpern – Dirty Windows (Research)

Merry Alpern is an American photographer whose Dirty Windows photographic series really caught my attention. In the winter of 1993-94, Alpern captured images through the window of he friends apartment in Wall Street, looking into the windows of an after-hours sex club located directly opposite. These images showed the narrative of real sex workers in their personal space. The photographs themselves give an insight into the lives of sex workers and drugs.


I really like the concept of capturing people in an environment they are comfortable in. Alpern managed to do this wonderfully by capturing individuals doing what they do behind closed doors. This is something that inspired my final idea greatly.

As much as I love the idea of capturing individuals in their own space doing what they would they do whilst thinking no-one is watching much like Alpern has done in this series, I do not wish to have the repercussions of doing so. I would not feel comfortable invading someones personal space in somewhere like their homes. Instead, I will photograph KNOWING individuals through windows going ahead with their day-to-day lives. The idea of photographing through a window gives a certain mystery and vulnerability to the images which I am going for.

Essay Drafts

Introduction: DRAFT 1
Documentary photography is considered to be a reliable resource to collect data and document events in real time. Many historical events and important issues have been captured through photography to help share narratives to the world by both truth and fictional photography. We rely on documentary photography to show us the truth and to set aside false claims. Staged photography is not often associated with documentary photography due to the scenes that are physically constructed, but it has been used to help share real-world issues and historical events just as well as factual photography. In this essay I will discuss the importance of documentary photography and how staged photography can help compile visual evidence that accurately represents a person’s livelihood as well to help tell narratives of real-world issues just as much factual photography.

Introduction: DRAFT 2
Documentary photography is considered to be a reliable resource to collect data and document events in real-time. We rely on documentary photography to show us the truth and to help set aside false claims. Digital and photographic manipulation is often associated with fashion along with other promotional photography and is not something most documentary photographers openly use as it can then be classed as an unreliable resource to document the truth. Because of this, staged photography is also considered to be an unreliable resource when it comes to documentary photography due to the scenes that are physically constructed. In this essay I will discuss the importance of documentary photography and how staged photography can help compile visual evidence that accurately represents a person’s livelihood in addition to helping tell narratives of real-world issues and historic events just as well as factual photography. I will show evidence that will support this and prove that the stigma of all fictional documentary photographs being an unreliable resource for showing truth, is not always entirely the case.




Final Idea (From the Outside Looking In) – Research & Moodboards

My final idea is a modified version of my second idea that would have been titled ‘Decades Through a Window’. The original idea was based on a conversation I had with my great nan discussing how homes have changed over the last 94 years. I wanted to photograph through windows of peoples homes with the individuals knowing. I was going to have the decor and fashion of the rooms to match different decades to show the change of homes throughout the decades. I really like this idea and want to pursue it to the best I possibly can as it was influenced by my great nan and her story. I am 100% sure I cannot do this within the time limit of this project so I have decided to take the idea of photographing through windows of knowing individuals, just with a different narrative.

I have always loved car rides ever since I was a child, I would always look at the homes we would drive by and wondered what kind of people lived in them and what they had done to get there. The mystery of what goes on behind closed doors is something that I believe everyone has thought of. I still wonder what kind of people live the homes I pass and what they do. For this project, I am going to photograph through windows capturing people in their own personal environment. I will photograph different rooms featuring different people doing what they choose to do, I am planning to capture a series of different events that happen in homes from watching television to gathering.

idea 3

Idea 2 (Decades Through a Window) – Research & Moodboards

Whilst having a conversation with my 94-year-old great nan about her life over the years, she told me about her experience with moving houses and the changes throughout the decades, from house decor to fashion. She told me of what she remembered of her first childhood home before World War II and where she stayed throughout it. She has lived in her house in Rye since the 50’s, it was the first lot of houses built in that area after the war had ended. Since then, her home has gradually changed to keep up with the modern time but she has refused to change anything drastically. She said to me “I was born in 1924 and I have seen and experienced many things, both great and horrific, it’s like I have been staring through a window as everything has changed over the last 94 years, but I myself, and my home have not.” This quote inspired me to photograph through windows of knowing individuals and to capture them in their own environment. Her story also influenced me to photograph people through windows of rooms set to match different decades from the 1900s to now. I want to capture the changes that have occurred within the ‘home’.

Below are mood boards of home decor, make-up and clothes of the 1910s to start my research of this idea.

1910 decor1910 clothes1910 hair and makeup

I understand that this idea may require a lot of time and preparation and that I may gain the best results if I dedicated a year or so for this project, I am going to continue to research ways around this so I can still follow through with this idea with some changes.

Essay Research

This project is about using narrative in photography and showing that in a series of images, I will turn the series into a photobook alongside quotes and sentences to help tell the story. Conceptual, emotive and fine art photography is something that I am very interested in and that I am going to use in my shoot. I really sway towards staged photography and have used this method for years. Staged photography can be used in a variety of ways to show and tell many stories. Documentary photography can even be staged. For my essay, I am going to write about photography as fiction and how staged photography can be used to tell narratives in both imaginative stories and real-world issues.


Possible essay questions

How does staged photography help tell real-world issues?
Discuss how staged photography has helped share wold problems in ways documentary photography hasn’t, show ideas of this.

Discuss how staged photography can be used to tell narratives in both imaginative and real-world issues

Documentary photography vs. fictional documentary photography.
Discuss how both documentary photography and fictional documentary photography help share world issues.

How has staged photography helped tell the narratives of real-world issues and historical events?
Use photographs and events that will help your argument

How has staged photography helped tell personal stories and issues?


Research (books, websites)

Photography as Fiction by Erin C Garcia
Garcia, E. (2010) Photography As Fiction. Los Angeles, California: Getty Publications.

‘Photography is commonly associated with fact, yet it has been a medium for fiction from the very beginning. Since its inception in 1839, artists have explored photography’s vast creative potential, which included the capacity to convey deliberately crafted “untruths.”‘




Photobook/Zine Ideas & Research

For a part of our project we are required to produce a self-initiated visual project responding to the notion of ‘storytelling’. We can present our work in the form of either a printed book or magazine/zine, a video, an exhibition or a web-based project. I have chosen to create a photo book as I enjoy creating these more and want to experiment different ways in doing so.

I have created a hardback book before and printed it through blurb and really liked the end results. Instead of playing it safe and doing that again, I want to explore other ways I can create my book that best presents my in a way that it fit my projects theme. I don’t want to create a hardback book if my idea ends up being more raw and gritty instead of clean and polished.

Below are some ideas of photo books I have come across whist researching:








I researched both homemade and digitally made books.

I also looked in the book ‘Self Publish, Be Happy: A DIY Photobook Manual and Manifesto’ by Bruno Ceschel. Pictured below are some pages of the book that I liked.


Another book I looked at was ‘Behind the Zines: Self-Publishing Culture’. In this book it features how the zine was made. Examples below: