Reflection and demonstration of learning following my tutor feedback

In my tutor feedback, Les has asked my not be too hard on myself and this, sadly is a personal trait that has been with me prior to having the ability to hold a camera. I will however try, going forwards, to keep a little distance in my self-critique, remain reflective and not be overtly self-negative. This is a good point made by Les and one we have discussed over Skype. This will be demonstrated in more depth on my Context and Narrative course.

Be careful when choosing black and white, was another well-made critique. This was discussed at length and also in previous assignments with Les. Les knows I love black and white images (Sally Mann in particular), however on reflection, I have listened and taken on board this feedback. My final selection is in colour, as they were recorded on my sensor.  I agree the colours do show the narrative more clearly, possibly because the lighting was poor in church and partly because this is how we would have seen it with our own eyes. This is something I have discussed in the past with Les and I now get it. With the black and white set, I was trying to show the “truth” of the Liturgy, but colour is unedited and therefore it must be closer to the truth than converted images, which have undergone a transformation process.

I have made my final edit based mainly upon colour and shape, with the final image showing the Metropolitan, as a “real” person and not just a senior member of the Orthodox church.  I feel this adds to the narrative and places him as an individual. This image also enhances the feeling of being there, due to the depth of field and the fact that this is shot over someone’s shoulder.

I have listened and taken on feedback from Les about eye contact, losing impact in the series and affecting the overall feeling of this narrative. I have ensured no images in my final selection have any eye contact with me or the camera. I did not feel this was a problem prior to my tutorial, however on reflection I feel that this is a fair critique and the final edit is now better for it. Any eye contact simply places me in the scene as a photographer with a camera (weapon of intrusion) and loses the impact and feeling that the viewer was there (in the church), rather than the viewer just looking at a photograph.

I have made a further 3 re-edits since my Skype with Les, all of them in colour and I have used prints to do this rather, than on-screen images. This is something I have learned during the course and this type of editing is more beneficial than on-screen editing. The re-edit amounted to a further five hours of work, but this was well spent, not only as the final edit is better than my original, but it has given me further opportunity to practice this art, which is not by any means easy to master.

I have added the original edit and the final edit side by side below, to showcase my final series and to demonstrate my understanding and the progress made, even within the final assignment.

I have also chosen images that are both portrait and landscape, after discussing this with Les. He felt that this would not distract from the narrative. In my first edit, I had purely concentrated on portrait images, as I was under the impression that seriality can only be achieved in one aspect ratio. Examples of mixed ratios can be seen in Sally Mann’s Family Pictures featured on her website. Please refer to (accessed 23/03/2017).

Please refer to my prints that I have submitted for my assessment, as the images need to be seen in print, in order to gain the optimal viewing experience.

As a postscript to this I have managed to sell over 200 images from the images on my contact sheet, with all the proceeds being generated to the church.

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Final Tutor Feedback

Overall Comments

A fitting end to the course, once again challenging yourself attempting to assimilate a variety of influences whilst documenting an event close to you.

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 your overall self-evaluation, its good to be critical but don’t be too hard on yourself. This is the first course in your first year and as you note, you’ve already come a long way. Always remember your best photographs are ahead of you!

The photos in this submission do the job of recording the visit. Important details in the service are noted, interactions are observed, and key elements of the Liturgy shown.

Your sequence shows us the narrative of the event.

The processing and rituals are well observed. You are successfully showing us what goes on in an unfamiliar (Greek Orthodoxy historically being a minor religion in the UK) environment.

We discussed your use of the close up, we as viewers get the feeling of being the ‘man in the crowd’, its less like you’ve got a camera and more like a person’s eye view.

This is paparazzi style, documentary, the blurred shoulders in the foreground are a typical indicator. All to give us the feeling that, not only did this happen, but that we were there.

You had to use the highest iso (3200) setting that you’ve ever used. The prints are fine, however, and your camera is obviously up to the job. In your choice of black and white you need a little more justification. The contrasts were a little dulled by the low light. The colours of the robes, fabrics and ephemera are so attractive that really we need to see them.

You are best placed to not fall into the trap of Orientalism, whilst still showing us something culturally interesting. In effect you are a bridge between our worlds.

We went through the contact sheet again choosing images on colour, composition and illustration of the event. Remember not to break the spell of the observer by having eye contact with audience members – we want to be engrossed in them being engrossed.

Learning Logs or Blogs/Critical essays Context

Good to see you continuing to read and review. This all stands you in good stead.

Suggested reading/viewing Context

Keep cross referencing from Bate, Bull and Wells, and try to find a new contemporary or historical photographer a week.

Pointers for the next assignment

For assessment; showcase your learning, point to where you’ve used a reference, where you’ve listened to advice, how you changed things – show your process.

Assignment five re-edit

I was asked by my tutor to re-edit, even though he felt my original posting had met the brief for the assignment. He felt the assignment would be better for the images in colour and he asked me to concentrate the re-edit on colour and then shape. My final edit is below.

I await his written feedback, which will be posted upon receipt. I  was told previously  to make a series uniform, in regards to the  aspect ratio i.e. landscape  or portrait, but on this occasion  I have been asked to mix them up. Hence my edit below.01-20170212-Nick Ward 516128 EYV Assessment Images02-20170212-Nick Ward 516128 EYV Assessment Images03-20170212-Nick Ward 516128 EYV Assessment Images04-20170212-Nick Ward 516128 EYV Assessment Images05-20170212-Nick Ward 516128 EYV Assessment Images06-20170212-Nick Ward 516128 EYV Assessment Images07-20170212-Nick Ward 516128 EYV Assessment Images08-20170212-Nick Ward 516128 EYV Assessment Images09-20170212-Nick Ward 516128 EYV Assessment Images10-20170212-Nick Ward 516128 EYV Assessment Images

Book Review – “Welcome to Everytown by Julian Baggini”

This book to me has so much meaning. It is written about a home, less than 800 yards from where I live. I believe I know some of the characters from their descriptions and the many pubs the book constantly refers to are all my locals. Therefore I am writing this book from a place of bias before I start.

The book is a winner overall, even though the author originally and incorrectly places people “like me” as an aggressive racist. That was his initial, uneducated, totally biased, overly privileged, blinkered and typically Tory view of the residents of S66. There is no wonder we changed his view point. I drive past the hour he rented every time I go out in my car and it makes me smile.

Baggini is a “southern”philosopher and the purpose of the book was to find somewhere that is typical of England and yes, that is right where I live. We have a mixture of wealthy, poor – young, old, -urban, countryside,  – working, unemployed and retired. We are very typical and average!

The book follows his experiences and how his search, for the typical progresses. His musings at the Travellers (one of many village pubs) makes me grin from ear to ear every time I think of it.It charts all of his experiences in S66. (where he spent considerable time renting on Flash Lane!) The book takes him on journeys to the local Bookies, Doncaster racecourse and to watch the Sheffield Steelers, the ice hockey team.

His view over time mellowed and he began to realise that even if racist language is used in everyday conversations, this does not make the person using this language a racist, perhaps slightly unethical/un-wordlywsie, but not racist.

This book, although not written as a photography book, gives an insight into people’s thoughts and perceptions which can assist with the thought process when making images.

I would recommend every one from every town read this. Great insight into “Everytown” in England.



Tweaks following feedback from Assignment four, with links to where this work has been published.


 See my work here.untitled

I have followed the direct of advice of my tutor following his feedback and have made some amends as above. Such feedback, as documented in my blog, is invaluable and makes this course so interesting and the learning process much better. I have not amended my original post, as I want my learning to be clearly documented and signposted.

This particular set of images was a commission I have sought (by myself, so it can sit alongside my learning) and won from a local animal sanctuary. My work is now featuring on their website and there are a number of the images above on there website (see screen grab and their website – both above). There is further work planned at Thornberry, so they have also seen value in my images, which is pleasing.

The purpose of the set was not to use dramatic lighting purposes (like some of my peers – I plan to forge a career in animal photography) but to assist Thornberry  get their dogs adopted, whilst working with different light sources in strange surroundings, and working with awkward subjects. I had a feeling my tutor would not like the set (as such) as they are of dogs and have formed part of my exercises before, but for me, I was interested in fulfilling the commission, and how I would approach the difficulty with the set up and the problems photographing a group of very nervous dogs.

Yes this is not a dramatic lighting set up, but it is a set up that needed thinking about, on the hoof, as I did to know what to expect at the animal sanctuary. I have used both natural and artificial light and have adapted to a strict set of guidelines (from Thornberry), whilst adding my own personal style. The pink backdrop was a “not negotiable” from Thornberry, as they wanted this for a valentine’s promotion. I am pleased my work is now on display and it has clearly been well received.

Overall I am very pleased, not only to have fulfilled the brief, but to have gained the commission (and future ones) and I now see my work published on a website.

I will discuss and reference in my next assignment as reflection and learning Elliott Erwitt, William Wegmann.

I will also take on board the feedback about framing and producing work in one style of framing i.e. only in landscape or portrait.

Thanks for the feedback Les and as always it was well discussed and well put across. More importantly, your feedback makes sense and has improved this piece of work and will assist me as I progress.


Tutor feedback

Overall Comments

You’ve again fulfilled the brief. I’m a little concerned that on immediate impression the photographs do not overtly showcase your skills. Follow up on my recommendations below.

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

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

Reorder the series so that you showcase the most direct images – you are after all ‘advertising’ these dogs – demote no.1

New order:

  • 6
  • 10 or 9
  • 2
  • 3 once cropped
  • 4
  • 8
  • 1
  • 5
  • end 7

Think about how they work as a series. The compilation that the blog automatically produces is don’t forget what we see first.

Take control, present your best image first, then make the series tell the story you want it to – this is separate from providing the dogs’ home with the images they require. If there are better images illustrating lighting for the assignment substitute them.

Crop image 1, 2 and 3. Make the series all head and shoulders of dogs. It won’t be a narrow typology as you already have plenty going on in but cropping these three allows us to focus on the expressions – which is of course the selling point.

The backgrounds, especially with reference to 3, detract from this series. They could be useful in talking about the dogs in a different way.

Default references for dogs –  Elliott Erwitt, William Wegmann!

Signpost your misgivings about presenting these (to me), versus the positives of the experience of commissioning. You’re doing some great reflection and striking a balance between potentially conflicting factors in making/editing/showing images is always useful.

We discussed how a number of other students used assignment 4 to showcase often dramatic lighting. Make sure you highlight the lighting positives in your submission – balancing the mix of natural and flash, coping with movement, the variables of each scene etc. Also make sure that it is apparent that you garnered a commission here – and that you were also fulfilling the OCA brief.

We discussed how by using animals again you have worked with a further set of variables out of your control – you note that currently this is an area of photography you would like to work in in future.

Learning Logs or Blogs/Critical essays Context

Keep putting your thoughts on books you have read in your blog, and putting reflection into practice. And we do all read Camera Lucida over and over. On Photography still has plenty to merit it – and plenty of people picking fights with it forty years later!

Suggested reading/viewing Context

Keep up with the books! It can’t hurt to read more, seek out Tod Papageorge’s famous quote…

Pointers for the next assignment

Showcase your learning, don’t be afraid to experiment and reference it all!

Main learning points from tutor feedback from all assignments

  • Read as much and as widely as possible – multiple books, sources etc recommended by tutor
  • Make my written work more reflective
  • Be more critical of others work. I am very self critical but this should be extended to work I view.
  • Add my thoughts on the books that I have read.
  • Follow the light – inspiration taken from Sally Mann. Experiment  and develop my enthusiasm for this type of work.