Assignment one feedback


An ambitious submission that fulfilled the brief but could be made more coherent through editing.

Feedback on assignment Demonstration of technical and Visual Skills, Quality of Outcome, Demonstration of Creativity

Notes from, and in addition to, our Skype tutorial :

  • Your plans changed as soon as you were out there, seeing the campaign poster for HS2 made you think, ‘I need to be doing this’
  • Shows ambition, shows receptive attitude,
  • The course is a bit reflection of where your life has turned to.
  • Great to hear that you’re keen, keep an open mind, see where your photography leads on.
  • Previsualising can work, but its best to flexible.
  • Why b/w? You were looking at tones, and its an automatic default. Grittiness “doom and gloom” not always inferred by b/w.
    • Paul Seawright’s Sectarian, Donovan Wylie’s Maze series, many other examples, Ed Burtynsky for example.
    • Documentary Martin Parr, Paul Graham, Peter Fraser 80s reaction to doc = b/w versus advertising high colour.
    • Almost protest images, detaching from the issue/reality if you convert to black and white.
  •  Your captions tend to close meanings down rather than open up possibilities.
  • Its good that are you are thinking about your images, whilst taking and afterwards.
  • Text + photos – Karen Knorr, John Kippin, Victor Burgin, Loraine Leeson (Docklands protests). I’m sure there must be work about the M11 too.
  • You have thought about what your photos could be used for.
  • You deliberately kept people out of most images, hoping to imply the potential desolation that would be wrought by HS2, I don’t think you’ve quite pulled it off, but it was an ambitious attempt. In part this is due to the connotations of the litter and graveyard images, they take us away from the main argument.
  • Try re-edit, try reverting to colour – this may require another edit, and if there are gaps in your ‘message’ – reshoot.
  • Overall a fairly successful attempt at linking your photographs together. Much of what you attempted was new to you, and you are to be applauded for moving out of your comfort zone.
  • This submission shows how many factors you will need to consider when making a socio-politically driven project, from the basic shooting work to audience expectations and research.
  • Good to hear Karen Knorr has influenced you. Belgravia is a major influence on my most recent work, The Desire Project. Have a look at the exhibit and see if you feel the text plus image works.
  • We also discussed ambiguity in your images. Using text tends to work best with unambiguous images, otherwise there’s a dissonance with the words and the photograph’s meanings.
  • The assignment has encouraged you to explore your surroundings and local issues. I’ve suggested that there are five of you students at different stages of the OCA but all making work with similar themes who might benefit from being in touch.
  • The assignment encouraged you to observe and question your equipment’s ability to adequately record – you noted that sometimes it would have been useful to have a telephoto lens.
  • Take confidence from having experimented and challenged yourself. Even if this series is not a complete success there a number of good points that you can build on. Remember your best work is always ahead of you.

Learning Logs or Blogs/Critical essays Context

  • Some good thoughts on shoots and edits in your blog, reflective writing is the key to learning, and I think that you are evidencing your thinking well. Extend this to other practitioners.
  • Using the arguments put forward by critics will help you gain understanding and progress your engagement with photography. Which is why its so important to read as much, and as widely, as possible.
  • Here’s an interim reading list that I usually send out to students, some of these are included in the treading for various modules –
    • John Berger: “Ways of Seeing“ *
    • Graham Clarke: “The Photograph”
    • Ian Jeffrey: “Photography: A Concise History”
    • Susan Sontag: “On Photography”
    • Roland Barthes: “Camera Lucida”
      • – five relatively old but excellent entry points into discussing photography.
  • Susie Linfield: “The Cruel Radiance: Photography and Political Violence“
    • – contemporary, personal and easy to read, much of it in response to Sontag and Martha Rosler
  • Liz Wells: “Photography : A Critical Introduction“ and “The Photography Reader”
  • David Bate: “Photography: Key Concepts”
  • Stephen Bull: “Photography“
  • Charlotte Cotton: “The Photograph as Contemporary Art” *
  • Susan Bright: “Art Photography Now”
  • David Campany: “Art and Photography”
  • Ashley la Grange: “Basic Critical Theory for Photographers”
    •   -essential, (at least the first four) contemporary general photography works
  • Gerry Badger: “The Genius of Photography: How Photography Has Changed Our Lives“
    • * also on DVD or online
  • Mark Durden: “Photography Today”
  • Steve Edwards: “Photography: A Very Short Introduction“
    • * It really is short!
  •  [no author / Phaidon]: “The Photography Book“ *
  • Martin Parr / Gerry Badger: “The Photobook: A History“
  • Geoff Dyer: “The Ongoing Moment” *
  • Mary Warner Marien: “100 Ideas That Changed Photography” *
    • – for when reading gets too heavy!
  • Anne Jaeger: “Image Makers Image Takers” *
    • – insights from photographers, commissioners and writers
      • * Asterisked books are the most accessible
  • Put any reflections or reviews on your blog.

Suggested reading/viewing Context

When looking at books it may help to flick through, find photos you like, read the caption, read around the relevant piece of text, ask yourself, why that photo has been selected.

Some online resources – much better than to start with some critical websites –

Pointers for the next assignment

Keep reading and continue letting your own interests, feelings and opinions guide your photography.


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