Many thanks for submitting this first assignment, Janet.
This is a positive start to the module, with a series of thoughtful images exploring the dual ‘personality’ of Trinity Chapel Gardens in Frodsham. I am particularly pleased to see your comprehensive learning log, reflecting a high level of engagement in the course material.
This is an encouraging start to the course. I’d urge you to you explore and take risks with your approach and technique as you progress through the course. The briefs are there as a jumping-off point for your creativity. If you feel a brief is uninspiring, turn it on its head and play with it – just be sure to document the journey so it is clear how you reached your end point. I am of course happy to discuss ideas between assignments if you feel you’ve reached a sticking-point. The assignments to follow will offer the opportunity for further development of both technical and conceptual skills.
I understand your aim is to go for the Photography Degree and that you plan to submit your work for assessment at the end of this course. From the work you have shown in this assignment, providing you commit yourself to the course, I believe you have the potential to pass at assessment. In order to meet all the assessment criteria, there are certain areas you will need to focus on, which I will outline in my feedback.
Feedback on assignment
Demonstration of Technical and Visual Skills
- The images are generally of a good technical standard and you have, as you say, made use of fill-in flash under the potentially troublesome shooting conditions of high-contrast daylight.
- In terms of your edit, I feel the shot of the church door might be preferable to the graveyard image, personally, as this is part of the fabric of the building itself (and helps the viewer to make sense of the church remains). This is a valid observation, I thought the church door to be too literal, but I agree it does bind the images together. I will change it.
Quality of Outcome
- The first set of images set the scene with details of a fairly typical Gothic church. You are quite right in asserting that the viewer would assume nothing out of the ordinary here.
- The “other side” of the story becomes apparent in the second set. It strikes me that the penultimate image has the most gravitas in terms of revealing the actual circumstances of the church spire and its surrounds (if that is how you intend the narrative to run). If you were to shoot a project like this again, I would advise waiting for as long as necessary to get this shot without the distracting (and irrelevant) form of the car in front of the church. Yes, the cars were a distraction, but I did return to the scene later in the day, but cars were constantly coming and going. It’s a pity the designers placed the car park at the front of such an impressive façade!
- Also, consider whether the series is strengthened – or not – by the inclusion of the final image. I have read about this recently in Part two, to be aware of what adds and what detracts or dilutes from the series/story. I will remove this image.
- Overall, the two sets do describe the different visual aspects of the church “gardens” and these are brought together under the title for the work.
- Your summary is clearly and succinctly written.
Demonstration of Creativity
- You considered, and recorded, a number of ideas before settling on this one – good to see.
- Credit is due to you, Janet, for finding a subject that surprises the viewer through being a-typical and unusual. A word of advice at this early stage of the course: Straight-forward documentation of “the unusual” will most often not be enough to imbue the work with your personal vision. In your next assignment, consider why the subject/concept strikes a particular chord with you, and think about how you might get that resonance across in the images. Part two of the course “Narrative” has really made me think about moving my photography forward, in particular about being less literal in my images. I am keen to develop imaginative interpretations to give a sense of something rather than a clear record of it.
- You’ve worked very methodically and through the course projects and exercises, and I have a sense from looking at your work that this has really stimulated your interest and enthusiasm to get as much as you can out this course – extremely promising! Absolutely, I am excited about incorporating my personal vision into my images and starting to discover my personal voice!
- I would recommend trying the exercise on p.42 when you can. I now have photoshop installed and have had a go at this exercise, but without success so far. I have mastered the tools I’ll tackle it again.
- You have spent time considering, addressing and researching the research points throughout the module. In places your reflection is critical and questioning, which is very encouraging to see at this stage of the course.
- I would urge you to carry out further independent research whenever a subject particularly piques your interest – this will all go some way to helping you produce more sophisticated images as the course progresses. I have a habit of reading a lot but can’t always get my thoughts down on paper (blog). I have made a start and this can be found under the research tab on my blog.
- Your learning log is well-laid out, comprehensive and easy to navigate.
- Thank you for including your reflection on how well you feel you’ve met the assessment criteria. Try to approach the criteria as self-critically as possible, addressing not only what has gone well, but what perhaps might have gone better – always a very useful exercise. This is something I do try to include, although I can be too self-critical, so try to keep a positive vibe to my reflection. I will review this when I complete my reflection on assignment two.
- I recommend ‘Behind The Image’ by Natasha Caruana & Anna Fox for inspiration on drawing together your research threads towards producing a body of work. Thank you for this. I have checked online, the book is very expensive to buy and unfortunately the library cannot get hold of it either.
- On the subject of ‘truth’ in photography, consider the works of Thomas Demand and/or Jeff Wall – there are lots of essays and articles looking at how these artists interrogate the notion of photography’s ‘truth’. I am familiar with Jeff Wall’s work and have included some analysis in my blog (under research of photographers). I have not come across Thomas Demand so I will look him up.
Pointers for the next assignment / assessment
- Experiment with your approach – ultimately this will allow you to take pictures that fully express your ideas and vision. Document and reflect on this process in your learning log.
- Become a detective and research your ideas more. What to you want to portray and why? This will help you to create images with meaning behind them.
- Think about your interests and passions. As a rule, your work will be more interesting the more it reflects your real interests.
- Your written summary should say more about your creative decisions and influences/ideas where possible.
- Experiment and explore. Take risks – the results may surprise you!