Phil Tugwell Photography: Blog en-us (C) Phil Tugwell Photography [email protected] (Phil Tugwell Photography) Sun, 19 Dec 2021 00:06:00 GMT Sun, 19 Dec 2021 00:06:00 GMT Phil Tugwell Photography: Blog 120 120 Week 12 Module Reflections The final week of the module and a chance to reflect, take stock and work out what I need to do in the next module.

This 12 week’s has flown by and I’ve just about kept my head above water, I’ve submitted the two assignments on time, passed both and just kept up with presentations, seminars and tutorials but what I haven’t done is much in the way of background reading.

The results were posted on Wednesday for the Illustrated proposal and glad I passed with a mark of 56% slightly lower than last times but I’m happy with that. The feedback was a bit mixed and left me wondering why it was only 56% and what I needed to do to increase the score.

The feedback was positive in a sense (well written, good basic research) but again lacked that more in-depth referencing of other practitioners and the ‘lots of ideas’ but…type of feedback and a need to see something different from me rather than candid documentary photographer.

I’ve enjoyed the module very much it certainly opened my eyes to how little I do other than take photos! And whilst I’m good technically and have an eye for an image I need to understand and apply more to my photograph both to improve my practice and also to pass the MA!

So, for me the takeaways from the module are:

  • Read more! On both photography in general and on practitioners who may add something to my practice.
  • Start the assignments earlier!
  • Interact with my fellow students more often because of the demand on my time from my consulting business I have neglected that, and it was good last night to realise I’m not the only one in the same boat!
  • Start to apply some of thinking from the modules into my photography…think about the why I’m taking an image, what I want it to show the viewer and whether it achieves that. 
  • Challenge myself to do something new, experiment and she what works and what captures my attention

So the end of module 1 and 20% of the way through the course, time to rest, read, get out and take some photos and prepare for the next module which looks really interesting and something to get my teeth into. 

This week's image comes from a fashion photoshoot in Chester 


[email protected] (Phil Tugwell Photography) fashion MA Photography Reading Sat, 18 Dec 2021 13:50:05 GMT
Week 11 After Photography This has been a busy week personally and professionally with several key client presentations, proposals to write for a major project in 2022 as well as complementing assignment 2 of this module the Illustrated proposal. 

The Illustrated proposal was a challenge in that at this stage I haven’t decided the direction of my final project. ‘The other side of the Track’ started life purely as a vehicle to gain my ARPS but since then it has grown in respect to the output of the project with an exhibition and magazine article planned and whilst there are plenty of opportunities to build on this for my final major project (FMP)I’m struggling how to rationalise how best to move it forward in a way that meets the demands of the MA as well as being something I enjoy and can see myself working on over the next 18 months. 

The assignment gave me the opportunity to at least spend some time thinking about my FMP and whilst I managed to pull together some ideas of options for practical work in the next module, I haven’t yet come to any decisions which way I will go. What it did do was to give me some structure to the ideas that I have and also to outline possible research areas that I can start to follow up.

There are several potential areas where this this project can be expanded this can include

  • Expanding to look at slate mines which the railway was built to service in the 1850’s
  • The industrial landscape around North Wales which has recently been awarded World Heritage status.
  • Integrating the railway into the wider landscape
  • Move away from candid imagery and to experiment with posed imagery
  • Research of the Talyllyn archives and link into the Rev. Awdry’s little engines book

I need to spend some time over the Christmas break to narrow my intentions for the work in progress portfolio in the next module!

The final module of the course was looking at reality and truth in photography and image manipulation. Manipulating images or ‘Photoshopping’ as it tends to be referred to in the media is something that I do not do in my photographic practice. The reasons for this are twofold on a purely technical basis my photoshop skills are nowhere near good enough for me to consider any form of manipulation and composite photographs are something that do not appeal to me I certainly don’t have the artistic bent nor the patience to spend the length of time necessary to produce this type of image.

Away from physically manipulating have I used an image or a sequence of images to tell a narrative I want to tell and to show something in a better light, then the answer is yes, I have, and will no doubt do so again. Photography can show fact and actual reality as well as fictional ideas and represent them as real!

This weeks image comes from a concert at Cricket St Thomas with Britain’s Got Talent winners Collabro 



[email protected] (Phil Tugwell Photography) assignment Collabro composite MA Photography Photoshop Talyllyn Sat, 18 Dec 2021 13:49:11 GMT
Week 10 Photography, Power and Others This has been a good week photographically I was awarded my Associateship of the Royal Photographic Society this week with a panel made up of images from my “The Other Side of the Track’ project based at the Talyllyn Railway. Having only achieve my Licentiateship in October 2020 It is a sign that I am improving as a photographer and capable of producing a high quality of work. It also suggests that my ability to pull together coherent bodies of work which tell a story is improving.

The ethical triangle of Author-Subject-Audience is again something I have never consciously thought about whilst I have produced commercial work to a specific brief when I am shooting personal projects I tend to focus on the first two elements, what do I the author want out of the image, I do consider the subject and especially when there is an ethical consideration around the subject such as photographing children whose family are not a part of my circle of friends and also whilst recently shooting a series of test images that will be used for a homeless campaign by a local charity I am working with. 

This summer I spent a day at the Appleby Horse fair in (in)famous gathering of the Travelling community I took a combination of posed and candid shots but was extremely conscious of the need to keep my audience in mind, to seek approval wherever possible and to engage in conversation. There are ethical considerations when shooting at an event of this nature and I deliberately set out to present a positive image of the travelling community meeting and enjoying the occasion rather than seeking out images which may reinforce a particular stereotype of that community. 

This week’s image was taken at a Peaky Blinders photoshoot at the Black Country Living Museum in Dudley



[email protected] (Phil Tugwell Photography) Appleby ARPS Fair Homelessness Horse MA Photography RPS Fri, 03 Dec 2021 11:08:36 GMT
Week 9 Nature and Culture For me nature is the landscape and fauna and flora which exists within this landscape and in my view doesn’t include humans although there is a strong argument that it should.

I do not consider myself either a landscape photographer or a wildlife photographer as a key part of my practice, however I do enjoy photographing animals at Zoo’s especially big cats and I am look in that I live a mere 6 miles from the Clwydian Range an area of outstanding natural beauty and around 45 minutes from the Snowdonia National Park and Snowdon itself. As a keen walker and runner, the mountains and hills are a natural playground for me and naturally my camera always travels with me. 

Where my interest does interest with the landscape and nature more directly is in my personal projects around industrial heritage and archelogy. My railway project at the Talyllyn is a casing point. The railway was developed in the 1850’s as a way of moving slate from the local quarries down to the coast. This is true of most of the Welsh heritage railways. Over the last 70 years many of them have been preserved and operate heritage operations often with locomotives that worked the line in the early 19th century. 

Today they market themselves both the on-heritage status of the line but also on the landscape and scenery. Certainly, the Talyllyn, Ffestiniog, Welsh Highland and Vale of Rheidol Railways in North Wales all lie within the Snowdonia National Park and the recently established UNESCO world heritage site.

For me this is very much where I have a strong relationship between nature and human consumption. As well as having an-going project at the Talyllyn as well as providing publicity material for them and next year running a series of photographic workshops based on the Railway. As a walker and runner, I am very much Intune with the country code and reducing my impact on the landscape as much as humanly possible. 

This week’s image is an RAF Tornado taken at a night photoshoot at RAF Cosford


[email protected] (Phil Tugwell Photography) archaeology Big Cats Industrial Landscape MA Photography Photoshoot RAF Talyllyn UNESCO Fri, 03 Dec 2021 11:07:16 GMT
Week 8 Audiences and Institutions I am a digital shooter exclusively now and use Nikon DSLR’s a Nikon D850 with a D750 as a backup and for shoots where two bodies are more efficient. I haven’t shot with film since 1995 which was also a Nikon F301, but I never ventured into the world of self-processing rather sending away the films for processing. This is something I would like to have a try out at some point as I have a laboratory background from my early career it should, in theory be something I could pick up easily.

In the same vein I have never shot anything other than 35mm or the digital equivalent, I have never tried medium format and maybe that could be another form of experimentation for me going forward.

I must admit digital works for me I like the ability to not be restricted to 24 or 36 images and the ability see the image instantly. I am also fairly computer literate and find editing in Lightroom quick and easy although my photoshop skills are not great and improving them has been on my ‘to do list’ for the last two years!  

I am also a sucker for the latest tech, an avid Apple user and always keen to upgrade to the latest model of camera when the opportunity arises. Am I manipulated by the technology giants almost certainly although I have resisted moving to mirrorless much preferring the chunkier feel of a DSLR.

In terms of sharing work, I tend to use Facebook and Instagram which doesn’t always present the images in their best light due to the compression it uses, but for exposing my work to an audience it works well within a following of some 4000 on Facebook. 

I am a member of the Royal Photographic Society and hope to gain my associate distinction when the assessment panel meets in 2 weeks’ time and will look to aim for Fellowship level at the end of this course. For me it will be a case of becoming more involved and getting my work to a wider audience. I have tried my local camera club but whilst I retain my membership the subjective nature of competition judging isn’t for me.

My key goal for this MA is to define what sort of photographer I really am and what my style is and to look to how I can use that to drive my commercial work as my style and unique selling point.

Image of the week this week is a stormy view of the sea and pleasure beach in Blackpool taken during a weekend stay there. 



[email protected] (Phil Tugwell Photography) Apple ARPS D850 DSLR Facebook Instagram MA Nikon Photographic Photography Royal seascape society Fri, 03 Dec 2021 11:05:24 GMT
Week 7 Words and Pictures Continuing the theme of my journey through the first module text with images has been another area which I have never integrated into my practice. I seldom caption images rather relying on a generic introduction to the images on Instagram or Facebook along the lines of ‘a set of images from a model shoot with X. I would never title each image individually that has never been a part of my appro ach to showing my work. 

Having said that I can see that using text to guide the viewer towards a particular reading of an image can be useful and I think going forward it may well be one of my new year resolutions to caption images that I place in the public domain where appropriate. Probably one of many new year resolutions along with cataloguing my work more effectively with keywords etc.

I can honestly say text has never undermined my photography but I’m very aware that this is a distinct possibility and I need to take care when captioning images which may convey a different message than the one, I think it does!

This week also saw the release of the first assignment marks and given I’m very new to critically reviewing my word at least in an academic sense and despite being a confident public speaker recording a video was a whole new challenge!

My mark was 58% just under a merit and for a first assignment and being rushed to finished it thorough other more pressing commitments I’m happy with that. The feedback from Gem was positive and very much around appraising my work critically and reflecting and discussing other practitioners. Early days but I am happy with that! 

The presentation can be viewed here

Image of the week is the sea front at Colwyn Bay taken while I was refereeing the local 10K road race.



[email protected] (Phil Tugwell Photography) Facebook instagram landscape MA Oral Photography presentation Fri, 03 Dec 2021 11:02:45 GMT
Week 6 Reading Week Halfway through the module and these first five weeks have flown by. I am literally just managing to keep my head above water and am keeping up to date with presentations, seminars and tutorials but not doing as much reading as I would like that may have to be a Christmas catch up as this week is one of being away on a client’s site all week in the Northeast, working all day and focusing on preparing my first assignment the oral presentation. In theory this should be easy talking through a PowerPoint presentation is something I do with my job far too frequently! The challenges are keeping it to 8 minutes, I’m a natural talker and can quite happily talk for hours with an audience (willing or otherwise!) and surprisingly I have never made a video of myself talking and that is going to be an interesting experience. 

The first draft was, well maybe not great too few images, too few playing down my successes and not enough critical analysis. Some well-informed feedback from Gem saw me sat in a hotel in Blackpool on a wet and windy afternoon rewriting my presentation ready for recording when we got home on the Sunday. I’m usually organised and have things completed well ahead of the due date but this time I’m under pressure and rushing to get the presentation onto YouTube (another life first!) and submitted. Suffice to say it was submitted with a few hours to spare! Need to give myself more time for the next assignment.

Reading week turned out to be a bit of a damp squid I managed to catch up on all the essential reading from the first 5 topics and halfway through a book Gem recommended ‘why it does not have to be in focus” by Jackie Higgins which looks at almost all the topics covered in the first five weeks and dissects classic images of the last 20 years in a range of genres. I can see this becoming a much-used book in time. There is another dozen books on my office shelf all waiting for me to find time to read! I need a long-haul business trip to get through some of them! 

This week’s image comes from of my commercial shoots at a local Business exhibition with labour Peer Lord Barry Jones making a forceful point! 


[email protected] (Phil Tugwell Photography) be business commercial conference does focus have Higgins in it MA not oral Photography presentation to Tube Why work You Fri, 03 Dec 2021 11:00:54 GMT
Week 5 Interdisciplinary Practice This is one of those topics for me which I have never given much thought to during my photographic life and not something I actively think about or take inspiration from. I have said previously that I’m not a particularly artistic or creative person photographer for me was always a technical challenge not an artistic one. However, as I have look to expand and develop my understanding of photography and develop my personal style and creative approach then I do realise I need to broaden my horizons and to look at the wider artistic world. 

I’m not sure that I do take any inspiration from other art forms or creative media other than still photographs. I am a visual person and more of an oral communicator than a writer. Art has never really interested me, wandering round an art gallery would not be how I choose to spend my time, I will wander round a photographic exhibition but not paintings or sculptures, you are more likely to find me in the science museum or the natural history museum than the National gallery!

Outside of photography I have used the workflows, methods, and disciplines I have used and been exposed to during my consulting career. I’m a productivity improvement specialist and my workflows are defined to be as effective and efficient as possible to minimise the time they take to execute.  I am constantly refining these to improve them and make them more repeatable. 

Historically for me photography is a technical subject which is about mastering settings, lighting and composition followed by a chemical process or as it is in my case a software process. The appeals to my inner scientist and in theory produces a predictable output for a set of controlled inputs! I guess that this is what attracted me to photography initially as well as seeing David Baileys images of models and wanting to be him!

I also think that for me that technical approach produced an output that captured a scene, event, or person in as close to the image that you see as you take the shot. 

Image of the week this week is sunset over the transport bridge in Middlesbrough, taken on a business trip this week.


[email protected] (Phil Tugwell Photography) Bailey MA Photography technical workflows Fri, 03 Dec 2021 10:55:48 GMT
Week 4 Authorship and Collaboration The weeks are passing quickly, too quickly and the workload is relentless especially as my consulting practice has become busy and I’m working many more client days than I had expected which is good but wasn’t in the plan when I signed up for this course! So again, this has been a week of keeping my head above water!

This week’s theme poses yet another interesting theme for me, have others shaped my photographic practice? I would have to say at least consciously not at all. I never set out to become or be like any of the photographers that I really admire such as David Bailey, David Yarrow, or Ivo Peters (a famed railway photographer!). I know the genres I like to shoot but do I give them a Phil Tugwell personal style probably not, do I copy, replicate, take inspiration from others again probably not. As I said in week topic 2, I’m a shoot first photographer any thought processes about the why and what it shows are either later or more likely fleeting thoughts in my mind never to be found again!

My attitude to drawing on the ideas of others in photography is something I’m just being to think about in the development of my photographic practice. However, with my consulting role I frequently draw on others work to guide, provide inspiration, or look to build on. I have relied over on the years on the concept of CnD which means copy and develop! So not plagiarism but taking the inspiration of work and building upon it and adding a personal slant, I guess the best analogy is the comparison of the Volkswagen Golf and Seat Ibiza very different cars but built on the same chassis!  

For me plagiarism is outright copying either part or the whole of piece of work whatever field it is in. It is not something I ever intend to do in any part of my life, but it is difficult not to use visual or written pieces as inspiration however subconsciously. I think the test is does a piece of work look sufficiently different that no one will think I’ve just copied it!

This week’s Image is from the Tour of Britain stage 3 finish in Warrington


[email protected] (Phil Tugwell Photography) Bailey David Ivo MA Peters Photography Sport Yarrow Fri, 03 Dec 2021 10:53:37 GMT
Week 3 Reading Photographs This is another topic which for me in that seldom do I look at an image and think about the meaning and what the photographer was trying to show.  Normally an image captures my attention visually so composition, lighting etc. rather than seeing or even looking forward to the message it is trying to convey. I think this comes from my more science focused background and the types of job roles which have often been process, methodology and data driven where answers are in the main black and white or at least some shade of black and white! Of course, except for when people are involved. 

I also never give any thought when I’m taking an image at least consciously of the message or statement I am trying to give to my audience.

As a I work my way through this MA and look to both enhance my practice and my wider knowledge and understanding of photography as an art form rather than as a technical exercise then I would hope with some effort and wider exposure to a range of photographers and literature I will become more adept at reading images rather than just looking at them!

The way we read images is influenced by a range of factors including background and upbringing, life experiences as well as the literature and culture we have been exposed to. 

I was brought up in a working-class family in Warrington an industrial town in the Northwest of England steeped in the traditions of industry and rugby league what some may consider to be a ‘proper’ northern town. I’m a white male and grew up and worked at least for the first 17 years of my career in my local area in Operations management roles in manufacturing industry. As a family growing up, I was heavily involved in the Boys Brigade for several years and playing the xylophone in a marching band was as near to any artistic involvement for me. My parents had no real interest in the arts other than the music of the day and that wasn’t really in a passionate way. No one within in family, circle of friends was a photographer other than in a holiday snap way, so my early exposure was limited to poor quality images from holidays and family events.

In 2001 I moved from an operations role into consulting and had a very significant change in working and life with a job which took me over the following 20 years to over 34 countries including a year living in the Eastern Cape of South Africa and 3 months in Bangkok. 

This change in my way of life and an opportunity to be exposed to many cultures at a level beyond that which the tourist would experience has most certainly changed my world view and has allowed me to bring additional insights of the world we live in that is very different to my formative years!

Will this help me reading images almost certainly my life experiences and my outlook on life has changed over the years significantly. The challenge for me over the coming 2 years of this course is to change the way I look at images both others and my own and look for something more than the visual impact of photographs.  

This week’s photography was at the ‘Pub in the Park' Music and food festival in Marlow. Image of the week is headline act Ronan Keating in action.


[email protected] (Phil Tugwell Photography) MA Music Photography Fri, 03 Dec 2021 10:51:46 GMT
Week 2 Methods and Meanings Week 2 

Topic 2 Methods and Meanings 

This week firstly came around too quickly and the content sat a little easier with me this week. As a management consultant of many years standing concepts, methods and methodologies have been a staple part of my work although in the field of operations management rather than photography but I’m a system driven person and at I use a range of methods to capture a well exposed and composed image and then to process that through a consistent workflow to produce the final image.  Where I fall is in the concept-why am I taking that image or set of images, what do I want it to show, how will I present it, what story do I want it to tell? In all honestly nine times out of 10 unless I have a specific tight brief for a commercial client, I only ever have a vague notion of the concept of why I am taking images more often it is driven by a planned visit to a railway or a location. It is however put more succinctly by Victor Burgin (Campany 1998, 2003:281) “Shoot first, ask questions later”. This approach has probably been my preferred way of operating over my whole photographic career! 

The exception to this has been my ongoing project at the Talyllyn railway documenting the behind-the-scenes activities of the volunteers and staff who work at the railway. The original concept was to use this as a vehicle to achieve my ARPS. The intention was to visit a few times, collect sufficient images to pull together a panel of 15 images and then move on to something else.

However, the reality has been that the concept has evolved the more times I have visited and got to know people and whilst this work will still form the basis of my ARPS it has become a bigger, more public facing visual story of how the railway works.

In terms of strategies going forward listening to the guest lectures and also to photographers such as Rankin (at the Photography Show) and Brian Griffin and Suzi Larke (at the Northern eye International Photography Festival)  suggest that for me going forward scatter gun shooting isn’t the way forward and planning what I want from a shoot, what images and how they go together as a story will bring a more cohesive approach to my photography and allow me to develop discreet bodies of work.



[email protected] (Phil Tugwell Photography) ARPS Bailey Burgin Griffin MA photography Rankin Talyllyn Mon, 08 Nov 2021 14:43:37 GMT
Topic 1 Mirrors and Windows The topic for this first week was that common metaphor of photography being both a window on the world outside of our own environment (and experience) but also a mirror which projects itself on the sights and objects around us. 

For me I think historically I have always used my photography as a window on the world around me and have occasionally used windows to frame images such as the one below which was taken in 2021 at the abandoned Dinorwic Slate Quarry in Llanberis, North Wales. 

Part of my rationale for studying this program was to widen my understanding of photography and the mirror analogy is a good example for me of an alternative way of looking at the images that I produce especially as I move away from single images towards creating bodies of work which articulate a visual story. 

I am very much drawn to photographing people as I enjoy the interaction and building a repour with whoever I am photographing be that a brief encounter comprising a single image or a longer set of images for example from a fashion or music shoot. I have always considered that photographing people is about representing how they look and act and the context within which the image was taken.  I had never considered that the very act of taking a photograph of a person allow me the photographer to see them in a way that they don’t see themselves and never have or will. (Ibid:14 Topic 1 notes J Alexander). That brings a set of ethical and moral obligations onto the photographer.

An interesting question posed to be answered as part of this reflective post is “what is my motivation for Photography” which is a challenging and thought-provoking question and one that in my years of taking photographs I have never really considered! I like the technical challenge of taking images that are technically correct and appeal to an audience whether family and friends, followers on Facebook or Instagram or occasionally in publications. Is there a narrow focus of these images, not all they cover people, fashion and model images, documentary style images of people and events, transport (trains and traction engines!) and landscapes…animals especially big cats! Almost anything that isn’t inanimate (trains & traction engines have a personality!) but I do need to focus on a genre or subject and develop my creative and artistic story telling.

However to answer what is my motivation I think it is partly about being an inherent archivist and want to record things that I see and experience and partly to tell a story, I do the first well I think the second less so but its improving since setting out to (hopefully) gain my ARPS this year I’ve started to see the narrative in images and to be able to build a small but coherent body of work which tells a story! 


[email protected] (Phil Tugwell Photography) Mirrors Motivation Photography Window Thu, 14 Oct 2021 07:50:31 GMT
Introduction Week 1 

The first week of any course is always a challenge and when that course is a challenging MA program in an academically strong University with a range of international students it is even more of a challenge.

Although I have studied at master’s level before it was in Manufacturing Systems Engineering and it was 20 years ago. I have no formal qualifications at any level in photography aside from a Licentiateship with the Royal Photographic society which was purely based on image submission. To be honest with a Batchelors in Management Science I have never studied any art subject since I dropped art at the end of the third year at Grammar School some 42 years ago!

However, I think (I’m told!) I’m a good photographer at least technically and from an image perspective-people like my images but I’ve never considered myself creative and have never looked at mine or other images in a critical manner, I know what I like and what images make me go wow, and I wish I had taken that but that was about as far as my critical analysis and opinion went.

For me, the MA is about developing me as a creative and an artist and identifying my style and what it is I want to achieve in photography and what I want to focus on in my practice. I’m a people orientated photographer, I like interaction and the chance to learn about the people I’m photographing. My main concerns are am I good enough there are some talented students with a much deeper artistic grasp than me and given that I’m pretty much fully employed as a management Consultant and travel often will I have the time to give it the justice it deserves. Having said that I want to do it and I’m passionate about my photography and want to stretch and enhance my understanding of all aspects of photography.


[email protected] (Phil Tugwell Photography) Falmouth MA Photography University Thu, 30 Sep 2021 18:54:23 GMT