Category Archives: Assignments

assignment 5 – notes for the assessors

The tutor’s report for the assignment is Here.

All Related Posts for the assignment can be found either Here or by using the link nested beneath the heading Identity and Place in the blog’s top navigation.

File versions of the twelve A4 prints contained in the physical submission can be found on the assessment G: Drive.

***

There has been too little time between the tutorial and the deadline for assessment submission for any real revision to be carried out, but I have tweaked the statement that accompanies the pictures.

As I did not send prints to Robert for this assignment, I have gone over the finished picture files and struck proofs before sending them off for printing along with the other assignments’ pictures.

I have also tried to make sure that the intended text will always be associated with the pictures as the seeming absence of titles was one of the areas of discussion at the tutorial.

 

 

assignment 4: words and pictures – notes for the assessors

The tutor’s report for the assignment is Here.

All Related Posts for the assignment can be found either Here or by using the link nested beneath the heading Identity and Place in the blog’s top navigation.

File versions of the thirteen prints contained in the physical submission can be found on the assessment G: Drive.

***

The tutorial for this assignment was so positive that there was very little that needed to change before submission. I have made a final pass to correct the finish of the pictures and had them reprinted and slightly rewritten the accompanying statement.  Other than that, my assessment submission is identical to what was submitted to my tutor.

 

 

assignment 3: mirrors and windows – notes for the assessors

The tutor’s report for the assignment is Here.

All Related Posts for the assignment can be found either Here or by using the link nested beneath the heading Identity and Place in the blog’s top navigation.

File versions of the fifteen A4 prints contained in the physical submission can be found on the assessment G: Drive.


 

Revisions:

The two main criticisms of this assignment during its tutorial were that it had not been edited vigorously enough and that there were significant technical shortcomings of some of the pictures that had been included.  So, when revising this assignment for assessment, I have concentrated on making a more rigorous edit and preparing the picture files with more care both for printing as part of the physical submission and for online display, as shown here:

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I have reduced the original twenty five photographs to a more manageable fifteen. In doing so, I have moved completely away from my original idea of providing an insider’s guide to changing lines at Oxford Circus station, removing the book-end images (the Victoria Line shots as we entered the station and the thinning throng on the west-bound Central Line platform) and also the weaker (or most technically compromised) pictures taken on the platform itself; the subjective picture looking out from the central line train as it left the station also has been removed to maintain the unity of point-of-view shown by other remaining pictures.

The result is a straightforward and – I think – successful narrative, which repeats itself every couple of minutes during rush-hour. It is structured around a series of ‘looks’: a woman looks up at a specific point on the station wall; another woman looks left and then right; the crowd becomes more crowded and a man looks off to the left attracted by the sound of… a train bursting into the station; the train races past a succession of people looking back along its direction of travel; the people on the platform stand back to let passengers get off, and then board the train themselves; the doors shut as people on the platform stream past; and the train departs the station.

 

 

assignment 2: vice versa – notes for the assessors

The tutor’s report for the assignment is Here.

All Related Posts for the assignment can be found either Here or by using the link nested beneath the heading Identity and Place in the blog’s top navigation.

File versions of the five A4 prints contained in the physical submission can be found on the assessment G: Drive as can a revised artist’s statement.

 

Assignment 2 – Revised for Assessment

In its original form, this assignment was not well received by my tutor, who described it as just a selection of my holiday pictures. Which in a way it was.

What I had been trying to do was to take posed, photographs in uncontrolled places (beaches, on the windy upper deck of the ferry north) at times when the lighting seemed suitable, and to take unposed observational pictures in more controllable conditions indoors. As Robert pointed out, I was probably over-thinking things.

fig.1 – looking for america (alice on skaill beach)

However, the phrase ‘holiday photos’ started me thinking about the differences between vernacular uses of photography and the more rarefied designation of some photographs as ‘art’. Rather than submitting a set of varied portraits of James for assessment – a suggestion made during the online tutorial – I have instead taken Grayson Perry’s definition of art being anything that an artist says it is from Playing to the Gallery and run with it!

The physical submission for this assignment consists of two observational photographs from the original submission for the assignment, one portrait of my son taken after visiting the Ruff retrospective at the Whitechapel Gallery and two constructed ‘installation views’ featuring my pictures, elevated to art status on the walls of the National Portrait Gallery (replacing two of the Ruffs) and – at the top of this post – the Photographer’s Gallery (in the frames for three of Wim Wenders’ polaroids).

In the end, I think this assignment examines my twin identities as a parent with a camera and (vice versa!) as a photographer (an artist, even?) who is also a parent…

 

 

assignment 1: the non-familiar – notes for the assessors

The tutor’s report for the assignment is Here.

All Related Posts for the assignment can be found either Here or by using the link nested beneath the heading Identity and Place in the blog’s top navigation.

File versions of the six A4 prints contained in the physical submission can be found on the assessment G: Drive.

 

Assignment 1  –  Revised  for Assessment

The original set of photographs consisted of pictures taken at a training centre in east London of the people attending a re-certification course for the programme management methodology, MSP. I was also there for the course and it seemed a good moment to get pictures of people I had just met outside of their normal environment. They would not be wearing their professional armour and might let their guard down a bit.

When I arrived at the venue, I realised that there were marvelously vacuous, motivational statements printed in big letters on the walls. I used some of them as backgrounds for this initial set of pictures and hoped that the whole thing would hang together nicely while commenting on the whole professional certification racket. My tutor’s response seemed to indicate that this hadn’t really come across and that rather than ‘unguarded’ most of the pictures’ subjects came across simply as uncomfortable being photographed. Some were also smiling; it would appear that this is not generally viewed as a good thing if one wishes to be serious about portraiture.

Then, a few months later, I attended another professional certification course which took place at another training centre about a hundred yards away from the first. Again I took pictures of my course-mates during breaks.

In the time between the two courses, I think I had reached a better understanding of how to settle people and take good, non-awkward pictures of them. Four of the pictures in this revised set were taken at that second course. The two from earlier have been re-edited to make them all fit together as a coherent set; the one included in my original set – fig.4 –  has been cropped to remove the text on the wall with a corresponding increase in the impact of the subject.

 

assignment 5 – tutorial and formative feedback

We had a short and quite relaxed online, voice-only tutorial which divided pretty evenly between the assignment itself and my plans for level two.

I had received Robert’s initial notes the day before and had time to think about them before the tutorial itself. This way of working – we did the same for Assignment 4 in April – seems to work well as the tutorial is not spent establishing what your tutor thinks about the work in general, while you deal with your reaction to the criticism regardless of whether it is good or bad. Here it was mostly good: Robert was glad I had returned to a typology which hung ‘together well, especially in the grid format’ with ‘no room for confusion about the subject, as [I had] singled it out and repeated it so consistently.’

The rest of the notes concerned a lack of a discernible motive behind the making of the pictures or tools to extract further meaning from them, beyond simple pictures of feet. This was a bit disconcerting but I was able to argue my case – that it is as hard to tell who someone is from their footwear alone as it is from their unadorned face –  during the tutorial, as well as discussing various things about meaning – of feet, of hands, of tattoos, of shoes –  and appearance.

Gradually, it became apparent that I had only captioned the pictures (ie ‘woman, 20’s; relaxed after being cramped by people standing in aisle’) on the post that ran through them as a slideshow on my blog, and Robert – apart from viewing the layout image on the main blog post with the artist’s statement – had been looking at them as the full-size files that I had made available on my g:drive which had only identifying file names (ie metrosynecdoche-06.jpg).

So, the main thing I take from this assignment is that I should never assume that anyone will look at all the versions that I make available of an assignment; greater consistency in the surrounding, meta-photographic information (particularly if it is something like a title that is intended to act in the manner a relay) is something to aim for when submitting the pictures for assessment. That said, it is a fairly light piece of work (particularly when juxtaposed with my assignment 4) and does as such not bear too much analysis.


We then – as this is the last assignment for the module – went on to talk about my progress over the course of this module which Robert felt had been gathering momentum from assignment 3 onwards after a very uncertain start, leading to consistent, self-confident and self-assured work – and to look forward to level two.

I intend to move onto Digital Image and Culture next – we talked about the need for me to carry on taking the sort of pictures I have been producing during IaP alongside the more theory-focussed work of DIaC. I shall do – it’s become a habit to have a camera with me and to photograph things that catch my eye – but also want to examine further the ‘still life with context removed’ pictures that I have started experimenting with during this section of Identity and Place.

As my second level two course, Robert has strongly recommended that I try Self and Other as this strikes him to be a logical continuation of the work I have been doing here and the slightly detached point of view I have been working from. This is an interesting idea as up until now, I have always intended to do the landscape course as part of level two and have come to a point where I’d like to try and apply the learnings of DIaC to the depiction of place, rather than identity (inasmuch as the two can be separated).

I have eighteen months or so to make up my mind as to which way to go. A lot can change in that time so we shall see…

 

 

assignment 4 – tutorial and formative feedback

What a contrast with the tutorials for assignments one and two! The email Robert sent in response to my you’ll-be-getting-some-prints-in-the-post-and-the-online-stuff-is-here communique said that his initial impression was that it was ‘very strong’. And it got better. The OCA has specified that hangout tutorials should be proceeded by the tutor’s notes on the work presented. These turned up the day before and I sat reading them with a daft grin on my face.

At the end of the feedback document, the ‘Strengths’  column had three bullets:

  •  Excellent, strong work.
  •  Powerful connection of photo and text.
  •  Topical and meaningful research.

While the ‘Areas for development’ column was left blank.

This was proceeded by the suggestion that I should get the photographs exhibited as they are and much enthusiastic writing about ‘finding my voice’.  This set the tone for a tutorial the next day which was similarly upbeat.

Amongst all the positive feedback, there was still room for improvement:

There’s nothing I don’t like about this work…except the paper you’ve printed it on! This is
well researched, thoughtful and authentic work. Try Calumet’s Brilliant range of archival
papers, but avoid all papers that have a plastic finish because they ruin the natural contrast
of your darks. Fig 9 is a bit dark.

Further to this (mild) criticism, I’d noticed that some of the reds (the ‘red man’ in the ‘dark’ fig.9 was particularly bad)  were seriously over-saturated. I will have the assignment reprinted on Fuji Velvet Archive when the time comes for assessment, after a soft proofing session in Lightroom.

Beyond that we had an interesting discussion about the way that Grenfell Tower has taken on the role of a public punctum – certainly my inadvertent (or possibly unconscious) timing in submitting the assignment in the run up to the opening of the public inquiry meant that its resonance seemed to be maximised. As I type this, preparing for assessment in November, there has just been a lot of media attention on the testimony to the enquiry of the London fire brigade commissioner, Dany Cotton (eg Guardian, 27/09/18). Grenfell is not going to go away  and – while nothing is ever certain – I hope the pictures – and the associated words – will retain a considerable part of their impact even after the passage of time.

Further to this, Robert suggested that I should try to get the set of pictures exhibited; for some reason I didn’t feel particularly comfortable about this and did not pursue it. I suspect it may have something to do with the fact that everything that is said in the sequence will come out during the enquiry and that stepping in with an exhibition – however ‘not about me’ I would try to be  –  would feel a bit invasive.

I will probably have a go at turning them into a (short) book on blurb though. I also will take some further images from the same viewpoints as thee pictures shown here, both now with the tower fully shrouded and once it has been demolished. These could potentially be combined with further texts taken from the papers and council records and added to the seven diptychs that comprised the assignment. Perhaps they can be used to expand the work contained in a book. We’ll see.

I was left with a warm glow of satisfaction, but also the question of how could I avoid the next assignment being anything other than a colossal let down?