Formal Tutor Feedback For Assignment Three – A Staged photograph

I would like to just say thank you to my tutor Jayne Taylor for her support, guidance and encouragement. I very much appreciate your input.

I have previously reflected upon the feedback which I received during a telephone conversation with Jayne (seen here).

The written feedback that Jayne has provided is a PDF which can be seen here. I am going to reflect upon the written feedback, but with preparing for my holiday, and having two more posts that I wish to make before I set of on my adventures, then I will further reflections until I have returned home.

Assignment Three Feedback

This is a stage photo exploring the destructive effects of gambling

I spoke with my tutor, Jayne Taylor, on Friday afternoon, and she provided me with feedback the staged photo that I produced for assignment three. Once I get the formal written feedback I will add that to a separate post.

  • Good attention to the elements within the photo
  • Elements work well together
  • There are no elements there that don’t need to be there
  • Partial view of the bottle works well
  • Shadow from the bottle going to the D-day text is good, as is the pen above the advert going back into the picture
  • The coloured advert is strong as is the bankruptcy papers
  • The research is good

 

Jayne was really clear that she liked the work that I produced and that it was good enough as it is. We went on to discuss ways that I could have done things differently such as, using a slightly wider angle to include some of the bench, and also had a beer mat and possibly a betting slip. We also discussed the possibility of having made this route indoors using a tripod and lighting. To ensure that the lighting would be correct for this setup it would be worth exploring the lighting in several pubs and being aware of the white balance and temperature of that light. This could then be reproduced at home and would give more of a feel of being inside a pub. With regards to lighting Jayne suggested that I take a look at “The Blues” by Mitre Trabrizian to see how lighting changes both ambience and connotation wedding photography. It’s also advantageous to be aware of the lighting in film and TV production because this is more obvious in its nature and the fact

Moving Forwards

  • Research other photographers in relation to eating disorders
  • Read Camera Lucida by Roland Barthes, and also image music text
  • Continue reading Photography: A Critical Introduction by Liz Wells, treat each chapter as if it were a lecture, and make notes as you go along
  • Send contact sheets to Jayne via email

 

Reflections On Assignment Three – A Narrative Photograph – A Staged Photograph – When The fun Stops, Stop?

When The Fun Stops, Stop?

When the fun stops, stop?

 

My Motivation

Gambling addiction is a serious problem in the UK and unless you live with, or are a close friend of a person with a gambling problem, then it is hidden from society. Substance misuse and problem drinking are far more apparent to the wider public, than gambling is. The harms associated with problem gambling may include debt, non-payment of bills/mortgage/rent, risk of eviction, domestic abuse, arguments, relationship break down, loss of employment and severe mental health issues, to name just a few (Royal College of Psychiatrists, 2014).

The Gambling Commission reports that 430,000 people have a serious gambling addiction and a further 2 million people are at severe or moderate risk of developing a gambling addiction (gamblingcommision.gov.uk, 2017).

Although I am in favour of the work provided by charities such as begambleaware.org, GamCare and whenthefunstops, I feel very strongly that the Government could do more to address gambling and the harms that it causes to individuals, families and communities. However, the Government receives £1.5bn in revenue from the gambling industry (Parliament UK, 2009), and to make a real effort to address the problem would both cost money and reduce income. It has a vested interest in appearing to address the issue, but I believe it has no intent on doing so.

My own personal opinion is also that “when the fun stops” is ineffective. It may have a limited impact upon those with a moderate risk of developing a gambling problem, but I do not believe that it has an impact upon those who have a gambling addiction. The other side of the coin is that their advertising is targeted towards a male audience, who out-weigh women considerably when it comes to gambling addiction, and uses male celebrities who endorse responsible gambling. Which ever way I look at it though, it’s treating a gaping wound with a sticking plaster.

Props

  1. Bankruptcy papers
  2. Newspaper
  3. Pen
  4. Cider Bottle

Staging

Point of view perspective from the person with the gambling addiction, highlighting how seriously gambling has affected their life, despite the seriousness of the consequences they still continue to gamble, drowning sorrows, help is available.

Composition

  1. Shadow of bottle points to “D-day for Buick”, and the horse – is itD-day for the gambler – carry on despite the consequences or stop?
  2. The pen dissects the “when the fun stops” advert from the racing form guide, and also points to “Lucky Beggar”. this is both ironic and potentially the motivating factor for the gambler to place another bet.
  3. Red and yellow “when the fun stops advert” is bright and draws the eye in, but is a small part of the overall picture, highlighting my belief that the visible pretense to tackle gambling addiction is a fraction of what is really going on.
  4. Insolvency papers at the foot of the photo, clear, crisp, and directly in the line of sight of the gambler – highlights a pressing issue, but the background highlights their cognitive dissonance.

Difficulties Faced

I wanted to make this shoot outdoors and somewhere which was sunny, and I knew that for the point of view perspective I would need a close shot. I feel uncomfortable around people at the moment because of poor mental health, so shooting in public was not easy. I began to shoot using my OMD EM10 MK iii, but even with the Mzuiko 14-42 I couldn’t get the shot wide enough to cover all elements. I switched to using my Huawei P10 smart phone, which gives me a wider field of view, and its a good camera. It shoots in 20MP Raw and has dual Leica lens.

My initial plan was to also have the phone open on a gambling app and have that as a prop in the scene as well. However, I couldn’t get the screen bright enough for it to be a relevent prop, and the extra element in the scene didn’t work either. It became an element that was there for the sake of pushing an idea, rather than being effective staging.

The bankruptcy papers had an individual name, the court case number and the Court which heard the case, none of which are appropriate to publish. This meant that obtaining a balanced and successful composition was difficult to achieve, and it took several attempts to achieve my desired outcome.

I cannot include the PDF contact sheets because they include some of the above identifiers.

Strengths

The idea and its exploration are strong and relevent, with problem gambling featuring in the news regularly in the UK. Because there was a period of time before the initial idea and the shoot, then the production technique and style developed over that time, so I had a very clear vision of what I wanted to produce, and I believe that the narrative which was important for me to explore comes across very well. The composition is something that particularly please me, and I feel that the use of props have created a balanced visual element which keeps my eye within the frame, and the pen and shadow have worked well for this.

What is also apparent to me is that I responded to the difficulties that I encountered, and worked around what was there.

All blog posts rom part three Communication: Narrative can be seen here.

Recovery

If you think that you may have a problem with gambling be aware that help is available and recovery is possible.

begambleaware.org

GamCare

http://www.whenthefunstops.co.uk/

https://www.gamblersanonymous.org.uk/

References

begambleaware.org

Daily Hansard; 2009; Philip Davies (Shipley) (Con); Online AT: https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200809/cmhansrd/cm091105/debtext/91105-0021.htm (accessed on 21/06/2018)

Dr’s Boden, H and Sanju, G; 2014; Problem Gambling; Online AT: https://www.rcpsych.ac.uk/healthadvice/problemsanddisorders/problemgambling.aspx (accessed on 21/06/2018)

Gambling Commision; 2017; Strategy 2018 – 2021 Making Gambling Fairer and Safer;  Online AT: http://www.gamblingcommission.gov.uk/PDF/Strategy-2018-2021.pdf (accessed on 21/06/2018)

GamCare

Other Viewed Material

https://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2014/jan/08/uks-gambling-habits-whats-really-happening (accessed on 21/06/2018)

https://www.ft.com/content/c9da45f0-ee5f-11e4-88e3-00144feab7de (accessed on 21/06/2018)

http://www.whenthefunstops.co.uk/ (accessed on 21/06/18)

https://www.gamblersanonymous.org.uk/ (accessed on 21/06/2018)

 

 

Reflections Upon Assignment 3 – Creation – A Narrative Photograph

Assignment 3 Narrative

Brief: – A narrative sequence – a narrative sequence can be like a story board or comic strip that tells a story in a series of images. The story may be mysterious or humorous like Duane Michals Things are Queer (1973). It can be a fleeting moment or a monumental event. But there’s always the sense of time passing and an event unfolding. Research the sequences of Duane Michals online. Use your own life and work experiences as a source for ideas. Or use your dreams. Here are some key elements to think about: Event – Your aim here is to express a situation or event. Perhaps it’s something you’ve noticed, like someone sneezing in the high street or two people arguing. You don’t need to encapsulate war and peace. People – It will almost certainly involve people who will need to be rehearsed and directed like actors. But they can be themselves, they don’t need to pretend to be other people and they don’t need to be actors. Try to just let them be themselves and see what kind of images you get. If that doesn’t work, ask them to think about a memory which reflects the one you’re trying to portray. Setting – Every event has a setting. it happens somewhere. So think about places that would be accessible and telling. If you can, use environments that you have access to, like your workplace, your home or back garden. Props – Objects you use are important for setting the scene and expressing meaningful and narrative points about the situation.

Reflections

At this moment in time I find that I am not able to work with people for this assignment, and although I am submitting this, I will also be submitting a staged photograph as well.

Birds and bird photography are a life-sustaining and nurturing part of my life. They have long brought peace to the overwhelming mental chatter that has impacted upon my ability to function. Since I have had a camera, bird photography has been a safe haven, a meditation and a means of feeling and expressing joy.

This narrative is more important to me than my previous post of the moorhens. By making use of three different species there is a stronger impact demonstrating that the creation of life is a universal phenomenon, rather than an individualised event. It is also symbolic of my process of transformation with regard to my mental health. Building a nest is creating a safe community, incubating the eggs is the experience of hope, glimmers of potential, friendship, love and kindness, and the goslings are the foundations of manifesting and developing possibilities.We all know there is still a lot to be done to move towards maturity at this point.

My gosling is the passion that has developed within me for photography. It has been a life changing experience which has enabled me to face anxiety about being outdoors, and helped me to get out of my home at a time when it was too overwhelming for me to do so.

There are no people involved in this narrative, and the shots that I made, were spontaneous rather than planned. The planning has come from the process of digital developing and personal reflection. My narrative may not fulfill the brief in relation to people and planning but I believe that it’s strong and just as valid as if I had made the photo’s according to the brief.

Symbolism is an important part of photography. Discussions with my tutor with regard to the work of other photographers, and my own photography in relation to society and mental health, have helped me to begin considering how I can make more use of allegory in the work that I create.

Personally I believe that all three photos are good but the strongest is of the mute swans. They were in the process of changing which was one of them was incubating the eggs. The way the new sitter is staring at the eggs and making sure that they are all there is evocative of the value of life. I guess it means so much to me because I have not always felt that value, so this photo brings up both sadness and joy for me.

As always feedback/critique are welcome upon my reflections and the previous post with the photos.

Assignment 3 Narrative

Preparing For Assignment Three – A Narrative Photograph

Brief:- For this assignment you have two choices – To make a staged photograph, or to make a narrative sequence. The key to narrative photography is observation. Watch people, the way they interact, the way things happen, events unfold, and you’ll see that there are telling moments like a ‘stand off’ between a wilful child and it’s parents, or an awkward defiance when a ticket conductor on a train finds someone without a ticket. These may not seem like Hollywood situations, but the point is to find situations that are near to you. It may just be  frozen pause during a meal with friends or the cyclist sitting by the road after coming off his bike. What you’re trying to recreate is a telling expressiveness, the quality that shows you’ve noticed how people behave and how their character is revealed in their actions, postures, facial expressions.

  • A staged photograph – A staged photograph is like a snapshot from a movie. It’s a ‘scene’, an event which you have constructed at the perfect moment as a still photograph. It can be a simple ‘moment’ like a glance between two strangers on the street (Jeff Wall’s Mimic, 1982) or an elaborate recreation of a dramatic event (Jeff Wall’s A Sudden Gust of Wind, (after Hokusai), 1993). It can start with a simple event, like the postman peeping through the letter box, an old lady jumping over a fence or someone tripping over a paving stone. But you should explore it conceptually and make it weightier in meaning by embellishing it, monumentalizing the event even though it is small. In this way you could turn the postman picture into an allegory about privacy, or the old lady picture an allegory that challenges perceptions about old age. Start by researching the work of Gregory Crewdson and Hannah Starkey.
  • A narrative sequence – a narrative sequence can be like a story board or comic strip that tells a story in a series of images. The story may be mysterious or humorous like Duane Michals Things are Queer (1973). It can be a fleeting moment or a monumental event. But there’s always the sense of time passing and an event unfolding. Research the sequences of Duane Michals online. Use your own life and work experiences as a source for ideas. Or use your dreams. Here are some key elements to think about: Event – Your aim here is to express a situation or event. Perhaps it’s something you’ve noticed, like someone sneezing in the high street or two people arguing. You don’t need to encapsulate war and peace. People – It will almost certainly involve people who will need to be rehearsed and directed like actors. But they can be themselves, they don’t need to pretend to be other people and they don’t need to be actors. Try to just let them be themselves and see what kind of images you get. If that doesn’t work, ask them to think about a memory which reflects the one you’re trying to portray. Setting – Every event has a setting. it happens somewhere. So think about places that would be accessible and telling. If you can, use environments that you have access to, like your workplace, your home or back garden. Props – Objects you use are important for setting the scene and expressing meaningful and narrative points about the situation.

I have very mixed feelings about this assignment. We are only required to complete one of the tasks, and I know that I can create a staged photograph. The idea has been with me, fermenting for sometime, and I know that I can give it a very good shot. It will involve a bankruptcy notice, a newspaper horse betting form guide, a mobile gambling app and a pint. On an outdoor pub bench and shot from the point of view of the person with the gambling problem. With a title of When the Fun Stops, Stop? I am going to complete this.

However, I am going to have to think of a way to also complete the narrative sequence. If I don’t then I know that I will be taking the easier softer option. It involves working with people, which right now is incredibly challenging for me, and is worse than usual. The brief is really clear that the idea doesn’t have to be fancy, it’s clearly more about staging and directing. The idea will come, ideas aren’t a problem for me – but the people are. I have already created a narrative sequence using birds, and also of me going out deliberately to get sun burned, I will post the birds sequence later in the week. It’s a strong sequence about spring and new life, but it didn’t involve staging. Me getting sunburned is wishy washy, yeah I will add it to my digital sketchbook, but that’s not a sequnce which I’m going any further.

I feel a bit down on myself right now because of my difficulties interacting with people. Although I haven’t been able to get in touch with my tutor, I know what she would say. She is aware of my poor mental health and would encourage me not to put myself at risk and that the staged photo is enough. However it isn’t enough for me.

 

My Life In Props

Brief:Take a look around the place you live. In what ways does the place and the objects in it say something about you? You may not have built it, but you probably chose most of its contents, painted walls, carpeted floors, etc. You placed every item in that space. This is personal miseen-scène. In staged photography you’re telling a story, a fiction that may have a connection to something real or true, however staged it is. All movies, plays and fictions, however far they depart from everyday reality, have a kernel of truth in them.

This series of photos is an exploration of personal property and ‘props’ that signify part of my life and personality. Although the brief here is directing me to consider the importance of props in staged photography, this is equally as important when making formal portraits. Items that are around my house must have some relevance to me because they would not be here if they had little value to me. When I am in a position to make a formal portrait of somebody, I can see that there is a need to speak with them, get to know their personality, ask them what items would enhance a photograph made of them, and maybe even explore their home. A good example of this is ‘Interiors’ by Jayne Taylor.

Taylor, J; 2009 ; Dawn, Tufnell Park, London;Fig. 1. Dawn, Tufnell Park, london (2009)

Taylor photographed her subjects within their home environment using a 3D stereoscopic camera. Taylors portraits use a lot of props and appear staged managed. Her subjects are relaxed in their natural environment and surrounded by the objects that express their personality.

My Props

I have included my six photos for the mosaic from the photographs I took this morning, but all twenty four are in the slide show. These were made using my Huawei P10 smart phone. Only three were developed in Lightroom using auto tone and the rest I have left as shot.

What is immediately obvious to me is that I value colour, crystals and books. Of course I am naturally aware of these things, but to see it so clearly in the photographs of my ‘props’ property drives this home. There are many times when I doubt my creativity, but I have to say that this exercise has shown me how important creativity is to  me, and how creative I am.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

References

Taylor, J; 2009; Dawn, Tufnell Park, London [steroscopic light box]; AT: http://www.jayne-taylor.co.uk/interiors/ (accessed on 04/06/2018)

Formal Tutor Feedback For Assignment Two

Please click Tutor Feedback Assignment 2 for the full word document of Jayne’s feedback.

Of particular note in your second assignment is the fact that you successfully worked with a model here and that you achieved the results you wanted through direction and rapport as well as careful preparation. You clearly enjoyed the creative process and (I sense) are feeling enthused towards the rest of the course – so I look forward to your third assignment!

Many of you are already aware that I have anxiety about being around people in general and working with people and photography. However, my skills and confidence in have improved throughout the Image the Portrait section of coursework. Although my anxiety remains, I enjoy working with people, and hopefully, in time, I will become more engaging and conversational with those that I work with. There is a vast difference between asking someone if I can make their portrait, and entering into a conversation with them. It helped that my close friend was my model for this assignment.

So Nick’s stillness of presence is key. As is the black background (the unknown aspects relating to his move and the future) and the light ‘waves’ as the different emotions or energies around this.

With this in mind, I encouraged you to write a brief (100-200 word) introduction to the piece to gently (slightly obliquely) introduce the context (leaving experiential space for the viewer, i.e. try not to be too literal or too descriptive. You might also decide to veer away from the factual side of Nick’s life altogether and take the images somewhere different entirely through the introduction.

We also discussed the possibility of developing this work further as a future project (using the very strong 5th image as a ‘template’), as you enjoyed working on this so much. The idea of masks is very creative and potentially very interesting. But, no rush! Generally, though, taking the strongest image from a series and developing elements of that image further can be a great way to go when riding a creative ‘wave’.

Chloe Dewe-Matthews provides an excellent introduction to her body of work “Shot at Dawn, which can be seen here Shot at Dawn, and Tom Hunter has an introduction to all of his series of work which can be seen in his web gallery. Their series of work have a mixture of both long and short introductions, which are informative, and guide the viewer to think about their photography. I found that this guidance was thought provoking and still allowed me to view the photos and have my own thoughts and opinions.

I chose to write a poem to introduce my assignment, and my reasons for doing so are:- I intend to follow Jayne’s suggestion of using the fifth photo to develop a series of work that explores “self-identity”, and felt that the poem raises questions. Who am I is a question than has been around as long as humanity has had rational thought, but I have a personal interest in this question. From a spiritual, cognitive and emotional perspective I am beginning to let go of conditioning, and am committed to exploring my identity. Although I have not followed Jayne’s suggestion in the manner that she suggested, we have communicated via email and she agrees that the words are an appropriate accompaniment to the series of work.

Jayne commented upon a photo that I took for exercise 2.8

You’ve overcome the challenge of photographing strangers and have produced a super portrait in ex 2.8, which not only illustrates the flash effect but also the great rapport and connection you clearly achieved with the subject. Well done!

and I believe that this is my strongest individual photo from the coursework, and demonstrates that I can photograph strangers despite my anxiety.

Jayne comments upon the preperation and planning that I put into developing assignment two. What I find most interesting is that preparation and planning are important. They create ideas, provide the opportunity to explore options and develop perception and technical skills. I thoroughly explored the effects of coloured light and how it interacts with skin tone and make up. However, plans also go sometimes, as they did for me with the assignment. My belief is that my preperation gave me the confidence to be flexible and creative when it was not possible to shoot as I had planned. Was the outcome better than what my planned shoot would have been? I have confidence that it was. The out come was vibrant and dynamic, and I think this is because it allowed my model, Nick, and I to play and experiment.

The final comment of Jayne’s that I feel is important to reflect upon is in relation to my experience as an OCA student.

Excellent to see/hear that you’re making the most of the opportunities for peer group interaction; a real enhancement to the student experience, especially in distance-learning mode.

Studying at a campus would not suit me at this moment in time due to anxiety and paranoia, but that doesn’t mean that I do not need connection with other people. I have chosen to make the most of the opportunity to interact with others as part of my student experience. The Foundations in Photography  group email is a wonderful form of connection with my peers, there are several of us who communicate regularly via the group email and provide feedback on each others work.

Giving and receiving critique can be a bit daunting at first, but I find it is one of the best opportunities to develop. receiving the input from others provides an alternate perspective as well as suggestion of how to explore, alter or develop photography in a different way. Giving feedback I find scary, because I wouldn’t want to offend anyone. However, it also engages my eye and permits me to explore what an image is saying, rather than just looking at a photo. My own photography improves because of this, and when I am out shooting I am more considerate about the photos that I make. Why am I taking this photo?

When I started the course I used the WordPress search option to find other OCA students. As well as following my Foundations peers I follow the work of OCA degree students, and now communicate with several of these. Seeing how others, who are studying at a higher level than me, think, plan, execute, present, reflect upon their photographic work is inspiring, and this also has an impact upon how I view and want to develop my own photography.

There are other photographers, artists, poets, creatives on WordPress, as well as OCA students, and I follow several of these and engage with them as well. Creativity is creativty, I feel inspired by creative people, and it doesn’t matter whether they are photographers or not. One of my aims when I began the course was to develop my creativity. Anyone can develop technical skills if they apply themselves, but creativty requires internal and external engagement, and the willingness to let go and be free. As someone who is highly analytical, following other creatives permits me to let go and be free.

My peers, and the others I engage with on WordPress have become a community for me. I avoid contact with people face to face, so my OCA and WordPress community have given me the opportunity to contribute, and this has improved how I perceive my value and worth.

The poem that I have used as an introduction to I dare you to define me (assignment two) is

What do you see when you look at me?
Am “I” the “I” that you think you see?
The stillness within and my activity,
These are just circumstance, do they make me “me”?

Is it the hidden depths that I cannot see,?
Or does the mask that I wear make the person you see?
Can we define self with true certainty?
I can only be sure that I am humanity.

Do you dare to define yourself?

References

Dewe-Matthews, C; 2014; Shot at Dawn; Online AT: http://shotatdawn.photography/about/ (accessed on 07/02/2018)

Hunter, T; 1980’s – 2017); Holly Street Resident Series; Online AT: http://www.tomhunter.org/gallery/ (accessed on 07/02/2018)