Project 3 Self-absented portraiture

Nigel Shafran (b1964) is young British photographer who worked for fashion and architecture magazines in the nineties. He began making series of images that focused on different rituals of his domestic life, or as he puts it a deep interest in the common place (Anon, nd). Apart from photographing his girlfriend Ruth and aspects of their everyday life, his work often seems to include collections of things, goods in charity shops, trees, His series “Washing up” (2000) concentrated on various arrangements of washing up on draining boards.

washing_up_2000_01 (Obsessive Collectors Archive, 2017).


You may have noticed that Washing-up is the only piece of work in Part Three created by a man. It is also the only one with no human figures in it, although family members are referred to in the captions.

  • Did it surprise you that this was taken by a man? Why?

No I wasn’t at all surprised that the work was by a man I don’t think the subject matter is gender specific at all in these times.

  • In your opinion does gender contribute to the creation of an image?

I guess that gender must contribute to an image and certainly there are many photographers that explore and make statements about gender such as Claude Cahun. However it may be no more contributory to an image than the other myriad personal characteristics that each photographer has.

  • What does this series achieve by not including people?

By not including people in these photographs you are forced to look closer at the objects and the way they are presented to fathom their meaning. An atmosphere is also added by the knowledge that people were there but have now gone. At my first viewing I didn’t see the explanatory text that accompanied the images and struggled to find the information contained in them without the artists signposting. They also appear more factual, I think fiction rather than non-fiction, akin to cataloguing without humans in the images

  • Do you regard them as interesting ‘still life’ compositions?

I can appreciate that some might find these interesting “still life” compositions however without the text and the back story they would not appeal to me. I do find the clinical colours and the limited colour that he places me each composition pleasing though.


 Anon (n,d) “Texts: Nigel Shafran”. N.p., 2017. Web. 11 Apr. 2017. accessed 11.4.17

Obsessive Collectors Archive. (2017). Washing-up 2000. [online] Available at: [Accessed 17 Apr. 2017].

Please note: Any images by other photographers used on this site are accredited and are being used for personal research and educational purposes only.