Some of these photos are really strong and do much more than show the function of places, they show how character and place fuse to create mood. I can also see your visual sensitivity in this work – as in the last assignment – and your observation skills. Good to read these comments, a great boost to read that my visual sensitivity and observation skills are coming through in my photography. “Although I’m occasionally surprised that you are not straightening the verticals and horizontals in your pictures! With buildings you really need to get them right! Point taken! I will be more aware of this in future. For the images I can’t retake I will adjust in Lightroom.
I will give some feedback on selected images here. Some really are just photos of buildings, but others are more pertinent to the brief.
Feedback on assignment
This photo of the old man with a cup of tea reminds me of Paul Graham’s work in Job centres. It’s a really good documentary portrait of a place and its character. It brings up something about the trepidation of change, of ‘moving on’ that is engendered by travelling spaces like a bus station. The natural light works with the strip lights to give the unnatural, institutional colours an eerie quality.
This is the kind of photo that can kick-start a strong series of images because it identifies straight away interesting human themes and atmospheric visual effect. Could be a project for the future? I am interested in human behaviour, so this is a project I will pursue when time allows.
The fourth shot in this series is dreadfully slanted! Struggled a little with this because of the angle I chose to shoot the building. I have attempted to straighten the image here. (original on the left).
And I think you needed a real person in there to contrast with the photo in the background. My intention is to show how the bus station is no longer functioning effectively. When I re-visited I did take some photos with people in the scene as a comparison (see below). However the lighting/exposure are not the best and I still prefer my original shot.
The 2nd image, inside the pavilion, of the silhouetted people sitting in a cafe, could have worked a lot better. I like the inside to outside idea for example. But this photo has a lot of empty space where nothing is happening on the right (the empty table) and the lower edge of frame. A more symmetrical view with the silhouettes low in the frame would have worked better.
The shot with the chairs in the foreground and what appears to be a child running in the park in the background was a nice compositional idea, but you needed to focus on the child not the chairs! Try to think quickly about where the strongest point of interest is in a picture/situation. Fair comments. I need to consider the view in the frame as well as having the idea in my head.
The first landscape shot of the buildings is a nicely balanced composition, although your sky has some blown highlights.
You haven’t really nailed a telling functional image of the nature reserve. Ideally, you’d want to photograph animals and people together as that’s the essential function of the place. Also, try to avoid shots of people’s backs or shots of people on the edges (periphery) of frame because it suggests that they are not important. The view can always ask, “why did you take this?” I accept that this could have been better. I will not use this location in my final submission.
The eating area with chairs and tables looks visually interesting with the high A-frame roof and the reflective sculptures, but it’s a bit disappointing that nothing much is happening! Also, it’s slanted left a lot! I took this photo to show the function of the room along with the environmentally friendly design. I didn’t feel the need to include people.
I suppose the most telling use of a temple like this would have been of Buddhist’s meditation or chanting. Some of your photos do express the peacefulness of the place – for example the rows of benches have a measured, orderly quality.
The monk walking up to the temple door shows a bit of ‘action’ . My point in choosing this building is that it’s not a place of action, rather I am conveying the peacefulness. The function here is one of contemplation. but it’s really all about the architecture that frames him. In a picture like this, with so much contrast caused by direct sunlight, you can often bring up the shadows with a “Shadows and Highlights” adjustment layer or whatever is the equivalent in Lightroom. Adjusted in Lightroom, see below.
I like the candid peek at the monk with the headphones. It’s not perfect, but it shows you can express your sense of humour through what you see. I’ve brightened it a bit.
Learning Logs/Critical essays
You don’t need to add ‘stories’ to your pictures with your writing. Things like, “This chap was the only customer seated in the cafeteria. Maybe he has memories of a busier, bustling environment. Maybe he just pops in for his daily cuppa to get him out of the house?” I assure you, the picture is much stronger than this text implies. Let your pictures do the talking! A valid point and something I still need to get used to – letting my pictures tell the story.
You are finding important themes in your subjects, like the 1970’s colour scheme and the abandoned shop, which is really important. These are the essential subjects, what photography can be“about”, and which viewers identify and empathize with. And these are the subjects you need to develop by creating series of pictures about“lonely old people in deserted stations” or “empty shops and buildings” or “people at play”. When you work on a series like this, developing your theme visually, you get much closer to photography and to its expressive power. Definitely a project for the future, hopefully something I can introduce in a future assignment.
Have a look at Paul Graham’s work here: http://www.paulgrahamarchive.com/beyondcaring.html
I think you could get a lot from his work, because he’s very observant of people and of atmosphere in places. I enjoyed looking at Paul Graham’s project “Beyond Caring”. I am interested in photography that conveys “real life”. To quote Paul Graham; “I’m a firm believer in working in the world as-it-is, and arriving at your ideas through that.” (BJP March 2015)
Pointers for the next assignment
As I said on the phone, you’re better off finding somewhere you have good access to or that you will spend a long enough period of time make a deep view of the place. It doesn’t have to be a singular, small place like a bus station, it could be wider, as in Robert Frank’s “Americans”. But try to use a connecting theme because I think that will help you to progress as a photographer.
Good luck with it!