Research Point – Murrell and Hannah Starkey

In Constructed Childhoods Murrell explores the ways in which images surrounding children impact their childhood and notion of self. Morrell’s photos are completely staged and through the use of staged photographs of the child’s imagination or thoughts in the image itself the viewer gets to crawl in the mind of a child and becomes aware of how its surroundings influence the self image and esteem of a child. Because of the placement and juxtaposition of the images with the child in the photo, no words are needed to steer the viewer into interpreting the image in a certain way.

I think this technique works very well, also in a documentary sense. It tackles a complicated idea without giving it words. It opens up the discussion starting with the viewer’s interpretation of only the images, which I think is very strong. If she had photographed the child without the imaginary images in place, captions would have been needed to explain or elaborate on the idea the photographer wanted to bring across. This would have taken the attention away from interpreting the image itself and might have stirred the viewer in a too narrow way when empathising with the child.

Hannah Starkey makes different use of performative elements, her constructed scenes are real, not digitally manipulated, though have a theatrical feel through lighting and the use of mirrors and minimalistic interiors. Starkey’s ideas don’t come across as clearly as Murrell’s, only looking longer at the photographs and together with other work, do themes like feminism, the role of women in society and vulnerability shine through. It takes longer to get it, and I feel it is bordering documentary photography, because it is open to many different interpretations.

Regarding which aspects I would like to use in my own work, I think that initially, I am very attracted to the theatrical feel that both photographers are able to bring about in their work. I am trying to become more aware of how light determines the atmosphere of an image. Besides that, the way the photographs are put into scene, shows how the ‘stage’ can play a very important role in juxtaposing the main idea of the photograph. These are all things to keep in mind and that I would like to work on.

Charley Murrell’s Blog. (2017). About Me. [online] Available at: [Accessed 21 Mar. 2017].

ELEPHANT. (2017). 5 Questions with Hannah Starkey – ELEPHANT. [online] Available at: [Accessed 21 Mar. 2017].


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