• josutherstphotography

Informing Contexts – Grids

Snyder and Allen raise the issue (1975: 156) – ” The problems of photographing “what we see” are substantial, and the solutions only partial, when “what we see” consists of stationary dry goods. When we turn to the problems of photographing things that move or even might move, the visual model breaks down completely.”  I relate to this as an equine photographer. I am always  asked by clients to capture a particular moment in a horse’s movement.  Our eyes cannot see this moment as a distinct view, but the photograph can.  So whilst here I am capturing a moment in time, is it really true? We never see this image with our eyes, our brains can extrapolate the image from the rest of the motion so we believe to be there.  The photograph ‘proves’ the horse moves in the way we thought it did.

Figure 1: Muybridge Race Horse Gallop

Figure 2: Muybridge Jumping Horse

When I am photographing horses for clients during training or competitions, the photograph is both objective and subjective in nature. The photographs are taken in an objective manner – they are an objective record of the events I am recording.  However, when the client views the images, they will subjectively choose the images they want. When I take these photographs there is a “subjective” element in that the subject elicits feelings and emotions in them.

 The rider’s smile and the horse’s way of going are all important to the client. But the photograph itself is objective. The client could be totally objective and look at the image purely objectively.  They may be purely interested in the mechanics and the technical aspects of the shot.  But they will also look at the images in a subjective way and they look at the image not from a technical viewpoint but rather the way that emotions, memories and feelings are evoked by the image.

Figure 3: Sutherst 2016

Figure 4: Sutherst 2017

Figure 5: Sutherst 2017

I use grids much in the same way as Muybridge did, to capture the motion of the horse and rider.  However, my method is somewhat different to his.  Muybridge set up a battery of 12 cameras and developed a set of electro-shutters and timers in order to take the photographs. He then began taking photographs in sequences of 6, 8 or 12 images.  I use the multiple frame function on my camera to take multiple shots instead on one photograph.  These grids of images are then presented to the client who will select their favourite shots from the sequence.

Grids have their place in my practice and allow me to take a sequence of images that can be edited and selected later.


Snyder, J. & Allen, N. 1975. Photography, Vision, and Representation. Critical Inquiry, [Online]. vol. 2, no. 1, 143-169. Available at: http://www.jstor.org/stable/134280 [Accessed 01 February 2017].

Figure 1: Muybridge From Google UK. 2017. Redirect Notice. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=i&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=images&cd=&ved=0ahUKEwjlhPn187vTAhXD6xQKHTHVCPUQjhwIBQ&url=https%3A%2F%2Fblogs.loc.gov%2Fteachers%2F2015%2F04%2Feadweard-muybridge-technology-settles-a-debate%2F&psig=AFQjCNELQKzE4SSHGNUGXe2DgeHwefiDdQ&ust=1493082503696343. [Accessed 01 February 2017].

Figure 2: Muybridge From Wikimedia Commons. [ONLINE] Available at: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/file:Eadweard_Muybridge_-_Jumping_horse.jpg. [Accessed 01 February 2017]


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