All this for 20 minutes re-edit

I have re-edited my original shoot following feedback from my tutor and a great amount of self-reflection and studying of other works of a similar nature. These will be posted and referenced separately.

  • I have decided to keep them images as colour images, as this gives an “as is” feel. This is a real issue and it therefore deserves reality, not desaturation.
  • I have also been and discussed the issue with a local councillor to gain a further insight into HS2/Bramley, as I had not previously researched the issue as this was a spontaneous shoot. My name has now been put forward to help promote this cause and I will be photographing a march on the 8th October.
  • Captions have been removed, as looking at other people’s work e.g. Karen Knorr and her Belgravia set, I feel the captions in this shoot will not add anything. I want to get people thinking and adding captions closes down the viewers mind as there may be an element of ambiguity in the images.
  • There are a number of new shots in the set, that I have used towards the end of the set which include people. This makes the issue personal and it also shows the viewer that Bramley is not dead, but will fight on. It was felt the cemetery image was too final and added too much doom and gloom to the overall fight that Bramley is faced with.



Written piece only

I have made some amends to my blog following my chat with my tutor and time reflecting on how to improve this. I now have links at the top of the blog which are category specific. This should make this easier to read and access for all comers.

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.

Assignment One, Self Reflection Against Assessment Criteria

I have never completed such an exercise before so I have decided to give this a go blind. I have not looked at other students’ blogs etc. as I want gain my tutor Les’s feelings and I will then modify accordingly and learn from my mistakes. I have decided to give myself a mark to see if this will correspond to any given by my tutor.

Demonstration of Technical and Visual Skills

As this is my first assignment my technical and visual skills whilst being acceptable fall well short of where I need to be. I chose to shoot at the wrong time of day for a start, which has had an impact on shutter speeds and ISOs and also on the method of metering making this harder for me due to the bright sun light. This point has been noted to self. I also had to think on my feet and the order I shot the images in, was not the final order I had in my mind. I would give myself 15 marks out of 40.

Quality of Outcome

I believe my 12 images tell the story but they are devoid of people, which was intentional. On reflection, including more people may have added to the mood of the piece. I would give myself 9 out of 20.

Demonstration of Creativity

A number of my images are on the same theme i.e. what may disappear from Bramley?  Here I could have substituted the odd vista for images the showcased people. I would give myself 8 out of 20.


This was too spontaneous but I had completed plenty of research prior to shooting so I had a good idea what I wanted to convey. I would myself 6 out of 20.

When Bramley dies, can the last person close the door.


Contact sheets and written analysis for Assignment One the “Square Mile”


Assignment One Analysis

Having spent some time on photography courses in the past, but without submission for final assessment, I have come across this concept somewhere before, but never explored the theme.

My first impression of the “Square Mile” was, what is there in Bramley that will be of interest to me or anyone else? I then spent some time reflecting on what there is. I thought about the 2 cemeteries, the war memorials, schools, pubs, restaurants, businesses, wind turbines, fields etc. and a cross section of the public (including those who own swimming pools to social housing. Not that either social group is better than any other) and pets.

Initially I was going down the route of exploring the people, having looked at Venetia Dearden’s work as this had a soft, personal feel about it. However, I feel I was most influenced by Gawain Barnard and his “boredom to burn” set. These were predominantly devoid of people and mainly monochrome with the subject been clearly highlighted and probably taken in his locale.

My approach to this assignment was let’s have a go and see what feedback I get. I have used a variety of shutters speeds to freeze the moment and also to create a feeling of speed where I felt this was needed. In the “cemetery gate” shot I have used the gate to frame the lady, the only person in the set and I have deployed different use of aperture/shutter speed to create a shallow depth of field, as in the for sale sign or to keep the whole of the image clearly in focus. I have shot the majority of the images from head height as this is how people see Bramley but I have also used different shooting angles to portray different feeling. I have also used the abstract to get across the message of “rubbish” and to portray how people tell me they feel about the HS2 proposal. I have also converted to black and white, which on reflection is something I o regularly. All images were hand held.

The main strength of my assignment, I feel is that it tells the story as I was hoping to and that it shows an appreciation of differed techniques to convey my message and that this has made me think outside of the box. This also moved me out of my comfort zone to give me confidence in a similar documentary style setting.

A weakness looking back is that I shot the set at the wrong time of day. It was too bright, therefore losing some of the benefit of the natural light. I could have conveyed the message on a more personal front by including people and made this more of a social issue. I could have planned this better as this set was spontaneous.

The HS2 project is ongoing and I may offer my skills as a photographer to help capture images for further display on social media and to assist with the campaign.

All of this for 20 minutes.

The inspiration for this set.
Bramley is at a crossroads in its’ life.
We have enough speed and traffic on our doorstep.
What the people think of the idea.
They want their cake and to eat it. We see it as rubbish.
Why destroy this?
Not for much longer.
What will happen to Bramley?
Imagine a high speed training careering down this path. This is the route?
Evacuation begins.
The fields and houses will go. Only pylons left.
When Bramley dies, can the last person close the door.

The Brief

Make a series of six to twelve photographs in response to the concept of ‘The Square Mile’. Use this as an opportunity to take a fresh and experimental look at your surroundings. You may wish to re-trace places you know very well, examining how they might have changed; or, particularly if you’re in a new environment, you may wish to use photography to explore your new surroundings and meet some of the people around you.

You may wish to explore the concept of Y Filltir Sgwar further, or you may deviate from this. You may want to focus on architecture and landscape, or you may prefer to photograph the people who you think have an interesting connection to the square mile within which you currently find yourself.

You’ll need to shoot many more than 12 photographs from which to make your final edit. You should try to make your final set of photographs ‘sit’ together as a series. Don’t necessarily think about making a number of individual pictures, but rather a set of photographs that complement one another and collectively communicate your idea. You may wish to title your photographs or write short captions if you feel this is appropriate and would benefit the viewer.

However you choose to approach this assignment, it should communicate something about you: your interests, motivations, and your ambitions for your photography. Think

14 Photography 1: Expressing your Vision

of it as a way to introduce yourself to your tutor. There’s no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to respond to this brief, as long as you try to push yourself out of your comfort zone in terms of subject matter. Try out new approaches rather than sticking to what you think you’re most successful at.

My Theme

I live in Bramley, a village in the south of Rotherham. We have been chosen by the powers that be to have the HS2 rail line running through our village. There will be thousands of people throughout the country in a similar position.

This is a very human issue, but I have chosen to keep people out of all but one of my images, as people will disappear from Bramley and it will die as a village as a result of this thoughtless act of social vandalism and stupidity.

The aim of HS2 is to save 20 minutes between Leeds and London and has inspired my title. I ask…

  • What can you do with 20 minutes?
  • Is it worth it?
  • Would they have it through their villages?
  • Do these people care?
  • Where will Bramley be in 30 years?

My original plan was to look at Bramley from a social point of view, looking at the juxtaposition of buildings, people and businesses. However, I changed my plan so quickly, perhaps even 10 minutes into my shoot. I hope my images portray how I and others feel.

My assignment analysis and contact sheets will follow in my next post.