PHO704: On to My Final Major Project

This is an outline of where I am now with my research project and where I intend to go over the next few months.

My research project began a year ago as a walk through my hometown of Oxford after dark, when the uncanny world of the night comes out to play. It was a largely documentary exercise, almost classic street photography. Researching it has taken me from Steichen, Brandt, Brassaï and classic noir and into the work of William Klein and Robert Frank, and then on to some equally classic work from the 1960s to the 1980s by William Eggleston, Stephen Shore and Robert Adams. More recently I have researched contemporary voices such as Thomas Struth, Rut Blees Luxemburg, Todd Hido, Gregory Halpern, Alex Soth, Gerry Johansson, Krass Clement and Ken Schles, with a very important detour into film (Tarkovsky, Lynch). I have looked at such topics as surrealism, the sublime, the uncanny, the eerie and the weird.

Over this module, however, the project has morphed into something completely different. My project is ostensibly still a walk through my hometown, but now it is really a journey into my own unconscious through the portals of where I happen to live. So what I am showing is no longer a famous place called Oxford but a Tarkovskian ‘zone’ of my own imagining. As Calvino’s postmodern novel Invisible Cities made clear, there is no fixed, objective Venice, Oxford, London or Paris out there (Calvino 1997). We each make our own, and we make them anew each time we visit them. Roland Barthes pointed out in The Death of the Author that the idea of an all-powerful creator imposing a canonical version of anything is a fantasy (Barthes 1977). We write our own book, tell our own story, out of the ingredients we find before us.

I intend to continue with this research project. I think its foundations are strong enough and I am finding my own visual language. It has stood up under research, resisted lockdowns and is in a long tradition of photography after dark. I have assembled a reasonable number of images and over winter and spring 2021 I plan to continue photographing this ‘zone’. I will also re-photograph some locations I visited in earlier modules.

My aim is to have 50-70 good, cohesive images to present as a body of work. I will offer these as a conventional photobook, but in addition I will look at other ways of presenting my body of work such as in exhibitions, on websites, through sales of prints and zines and on Instagram. In the longer term combining my work with an audio score, and therefore creating an audio-visual experience, is something I would love to do but that may well lie outside the scope of this degree.


BARTHES, Roland. 1977. ‘The Death of the Author’. In Roland BARTHES and Stephen HEATH. 1977. Image Music Text. London: Fontana, 142-148.

CALVINO, Italo. 1997. Invisible Cities. London: Vintage.

PHO704 Week 11: Marketing and Objectives

My aim is not to become full-time commercial photographer. However, I would like to become a more professional photographer who can improve his practice using the skills and marketing disciplines of the commercial photography business. I would enjoy doing that and it might also allow me to take on some part-time work (whether paid or not) from time to time.

I have covered Instagram already in this CRJ – see here and here.

I need to continue to improve my portfolio site (Crean 2020 A) and boil it down to essentials, as a mini-portfolio that is always up to date. The assumption is that most viewers will pick up my work on Instagram first and only then consider my website.

I have had some business cards printed, which is a small start, but I need to present myself as a brand with the focus, consistency and tight control of communications that entails. I need to approach things as if I were running my own business (Barnett 2020, Pritchard 2011).

I would like to become good at producing photobooks. There are several I could produce outside of this degree course. I have just taken one weekend workshop on creating and marketing photobooks with the Self Publish Be Happy group (Self Publish Be Happy 2020) and in a few days I am taking a second one with them that will concentrate more on the internal graphic design and layout of the photobook. The first weekend was very informative (and enjoyable) and has improved my confidence a lot.

It is clear that I need to assemble a proper printed portfolio. For this I need to assemble a bank of printed images that can be sequenced and changed depending on whom one is showing the portfolio to. Ensuring that a portfolio is relevant to the intended purpose is important.

To help with this, I need to apply for some portfolio reviews. The Association of Photographers (I am now a member) and the Photographers’ Gallery in London both offer this service, among others, and over the next few months I will book some slots.

Personal Projects
I have a personal project, Entropias (Crean 2020 B). The purpose of the project is to help me stay fresh and creative, but it is also something I could present as a zine, small book or other venture, either commercially or for charity.

Web Shop
I will be using White Bridge Arts as the brand name of a webshop on an art sales website called I have already mentioned this in my CRJ here.  It should be fun.

I usually participate in a joint local photography exhibition each year with ArtWeeks. If there is a proper ArtWeeks in 2021 (unknown at present because of the pandemic) then I will take part.

There are also magazines to approach, other new personal projects to consider, local newspapers, competitions, social media take-overs and so forth. However, I would prefer not to give the impression that I can take a degree and do all that at the same time, because my priorities in life are not those. Becoming a 24/7 photography bore is likely to kill not enhance my creativity.


BARNETT, Maximus. 2020. ‘Week 11: A Conversation with Maximus Barnett’. Falmouth Flexible Photography [online]. Available at: [accessed 4 Dec 2020].

CREAN, Mark. 2020 A. ‘Portfolio’. Mark Crean [online]. Available at: [accessed 8 Aug 2020].

CREAN, Mark. 2020 B. ‘Entropias’. Mark Crean [online]. Available at: [accessed 8 Aug 2020].

PRITCHARD, Lisa. 2011. ‘Marketing and Promotion’. In Lisa PRITCHARD (ed.). Setting up a Successful Photography Business. London: A. & C. Black, 72–86.

SELF PUBLISH BE HAPPY. 2020. ‘Education’. Self Publish, Be Happy [online]. Available at: [accessed 29 Sep 2020].