Jeff Wall

Jeff Wall

When I first discovered Wall’s work and was quite new still to photography, I missed the point entirely not realising what was going on. I realised with time that he was using a particular approach to narrative that was based on things that he had seen or experienced that he later re-enacted or staged. This to me was a revelation at the time.

As documentary pieces they might fall into what Stott talks about a ‘personal documents’ (Stott, 1973) [1] which are more subjective and about the individuals perceptions as opposed to any attempt to realise an objective narrative about a state of affairs. In general, I have been reflecting on this theme over the duration of several years. One of the questions that comes to mind again and again is: Does the photo have a universal application or significance or is it something idiosyncratic and particular to this particular photographer? Does it speak about a bigger issue that goes beyond the photographer’s limited human experience? This is what stands the test I feel, for wether the subjective approach to documentary really communicates. Party by temperament I am more interested in the global than the local of a person’s one off experience. So as documents, I feel that Wall’s work do stand the text and provide a coherent set of reflections about issues that are contemporary and universal.

In many cases it seems to me that photography offers a look at the issues, but perhaps as yet not so much directs itself to the solutions of global, social and interpersonal issues.


  1. Stott, W. Documentay expression and thirties America (1973) New York Oxford University Press.

Published by Truevisionphotography

I'm a student photographer studying through the OCA a UK based arts university. I'm in the foundation year of my studies and enjoying it immensely. I'm also a yoga teacher and co-founder of Bodhiyoga a buddhism based yoga teacher training program that runs in the UK and Spain each year. As a photographer I'm interested in all forms of fine art. I find the arts really important in my life. I love nature and aim to be in the outdoors as much as I can. Generally I think that all the different strands of my life are flowing to towards self development in the greatest sense of the term. The arts, buddhist practice yoga and meditation are all tools to that end. I feel committed to communication the these values in the world both through the visual arts as well as teaching.

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