Assignment Two Feedback

Overall Comments

A thoughtful submission that fulfills the brief.

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

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

We discussed how you have acted like a flaneur in making this work. Its worth checking out the book Psychogeography, plenty of references in it to the history of this ‘way of seeing’.

Sad to hear that permission to photograph was denied at LUFC.

Interesting that it was no problem to photograph at Sheffield station – we discussed the idea of privilege.

You have used a variety of vantage points, and this has still managed to retain a coherence, possibly due to them being the same viewpoints we would expect to find on a similar commute.

Your edit is arranged in an order that would make sense as a story of the journey.

You were also asking yourself ‘what is a crowd’? Looking for some purpose, an order, a seriality. This is really interesting, starting from a definition, from a commonly understood place is useful when attempting a critique.

To create images of interest you attempted a ‘frame within a frame’.

We discussed your bridge image using punctum and studium. It adhered to one of Barthes’ ideas in that, what the photographer intended is not necessarily what arrests the viewer’s attention. The side-lit woman in the middle ground for you and the clasped hands of the woman in the foreground for me.

References – Phillip-Lorca diCorcia, Beat Strueli, Paul Graham

You understood that the assignment was about a concern with aperture, forcing you to observe, being intuitive, having your antennae out – I think you have been successful here

The final image in the series is pushing the envelope of the definition ‘crowd’. It was a conscious decision on your part to attempt social commentary. You are to be commended for trying to use camera and technique to get create a political meaning for the work.

In attempting a narrative, perhaps the weakest image in the series is the first. Looking at the series purely aesthetically I would aim to tie red into this first shot – and leave an absence of red in the last as a prompt to encourage viewers to look further.

Take confidence from having moved out of your comfort zone and challenged yourself in making images of people..

Learning Logs or Blogs/Critical essays Context

 With reference to the exercise shots of your dad – Bruce Gilden

Pu some of your thoughts on books you have read in your blog.

Suggested reading/viewing Context

 Keep up with the books! See one reference above.

 Pointers for the next assignment

For assignment 3 I suggest; keep it critical.


Assignment Two

Three’s A Crowd? 


Create a series of between six and ten photographs from one of the following options, or a subject of your own choosing:

  • Crowds
  • Views
  • Heads

Use the exercises from Part Two as a starting point to test out combinations of focal length, aperture and viewpoint for the set. Decide upon a single format, either vertical or horizontal. You should keep to the same combination throughout to lend coherence to the series.

Crowds make a great subject for photography, not least because they are so contemporary. A city rush hour is a good place to start but events also offer great opportunities to photograph the crowd rather than the event. The foreshortened perspective of the telephoto lens will compress a crowd, fitting more bodies into the frame, but it can also be used to pick out an individual person. A wide-angle lens can capture dynamic shots from within the action. I have chosen to concentrate on crowds. 

What is a crowd and how is this linked to photography?  

  • A crowd is a gathering of people, large or small, in a certain place at a certain time. A photograph is an image taken at a certain place at a certain time.
  • Crowds are not there forever, but they gather and disperse. Photos are there in their entirety, they do not disperse and do not gather. They are created in an instant (usually).
  • Crowds can be read. Photographs can be read. They are both a sort of language.
  • Crowds can be large or small. Photographs also come in different sizes.
  • Both can show emotion, be violent, appreciative, sad, ecstatic etc.
  • Both can be colourful.
  • Crowds have a purpose. All photographs have a purpose too, at the time of taking, as this is why the photographer takes the shot.
  • Crowds and photos tell a story.
  • Both form opinion of the participant.
  • Crowds are not conformed by shape; photography is made “in frame”.
  • Crowds can be planned and controlled, as can photos.
  • Both can be policed and subject to censorship.
  • Crowds are managed, photographs are composed.
  • Both involve people and are world-wide.
  • People in a crowd can stand out from the crowd and so can images stand out too.
  • It is my intention to bring this link together, showing some of the main characteristics of both. I have not just simply shot a large group of people.  I have tried to tell the story of the crowd by using the different techniques learned.

The shoot was not planned. I headed off to Sheffield in search of a crowd as my home town is somewhat of a ghost town. I did not have a theme, just the words “crowds” to play with.

I have used a number of different techniques I have learned so far. This is also the first set of images that contain people. None of the images are captioned, with the exception of the basic Exif data, as I want the spectator to think about each image and what it means. They are also ambiguous.

Demonstration of technical and visual skills

I have used a selection of apertures ranging from f2.8 to f11. My place for the crowd was Sheffield train station and I tried to encompass the surroundings into the image where possible, giving the crowd context. All of the images were hand-held shots and shots and decisions were made in an instant.

Image 1 starts with how crowds gather at the station, as the crowd begin buying their tickets.  The aperture used keeps the majority of the image sharp and the angle of the shot with the lines of the floor and ticket machines take you down the line.

Image 2 was designed to show the frustration people feel with waiting for trains. I have kept the background of the line and surrounding station in focus to place the crowd. I have also tried to concentrate on the faces of the passengers as they wait.

Image 3 uses diagonals to draw you through the image. The aperture keeps the main players in the image in clear focus as it does the train. Due to shooting in Aperture mode there is no direct control over shutter speed, so you have to compromise at times.

Image 4 shows the crowd in the background and also how people can stand out from the crowd. (literally). Due to the aperture used the main crowd in the background can be seen.

Image 5 would have the majority of players in focus if they were still. The train is pretty much in focus and so are the reflections. However, I wanted to create some idea of movement, yet keep the lady at the front of the image as the main player.

Image 6 has people beginning to exit the station. The light was just right to capture the lady in the top left third. With a large aperture I tried to make her stand out from the crowd and the relatively slow shutter speed has created some motion blur.

Image 7 is of the crowd dispersing. It shows also how some people do not belong to the “in crowd” and how people just ignore those less fortunate. I have tried to keep the majority of this image in focus but use the wall and the paving to lead the viewer to the man begging, with his cap in front of him. The behaviour of the 2 teenagers is completely contrasted to that of the beggar.

Quality of outcome

I am happy with how the story unfolds and I have tried to think outside of the box, by not simply photographing a crowd, but I have tried to apply some creativity to the brief. I could have used more images of crowds, but I did not feel this set needed further images.

Demonstration of creativity

I have shown what crowds are, how people stand out from the crowd and how some less fortunate do not belong to the “in crowd”. The images have been shot from different angles. Head height, on stair cases, from the floor and sat on a wall. I have stood back from the crowd and also been in the thick of things. I have continued with my theme of not being afraid to make a “political” point, by including the poor man begging in the last image.


On reflection, I may have been better shooting a few more images, further showing “crowds” but I did not want to detract from my story. One aspect I would have liked to incorporate more into my story was the use of wider apertures (smaller f stops) having looked at and enjoyed Gianluca Cosci’s work, but I felt too worried about losing my background and placement. This use of small apertures may have helped create a bit more tension and mystery in some of the images. I could have been more varied in my use of lenses but I was shooting in the instant.



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.


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.