I haven’t signed up for the Undergraduate BA Hons Photography degree with The Open College of the Arts as yet (January), but I’m aware of the first assignment. With this knowledge I’m preparing some preliminary research.
My photography will take place in an area of London which is known as the Square Mile (also known as The City). My initial idea was to explore the disparity between visible wealth and poverty. However, with my left wing views its easy to discriminate against what my idea of the wealthy are. I’m fascinated by people and I want that fascination to be explored more fully during this assignment.
Browsing some books for sale in a church I noticed one called “The City – The Traditions And Powerful Personalities Of The World’s Greatest Financial Centre” which I will use as the starting point of my research.
Fig. 1. The Bank Of England (1982) “The Chief Gatekeeper and the Assistant Gatekeeper dressed in full livery and carrying the staff of office, in the entrance hall of the Bank of England.”
My research will include “Humans Of New York Stories” by Brandon Stanton. This work becomes relevant as I aim to make portraits of the people whom I encounter and involve a brief interview so that I can present image with text about the person.
This post is at the beginning of my research and I will update this as I progress.
Figure 1 Lowe, J and McLachlan, S; 1982; The Bank Of England [Photo]; In Lowe, J and McLachlan, S; 1982; The City – The Traditions And Powerful Personalities Of The World’s Greatest Financial Centre; London; Quartet Books LTD; pp 94
I’m struggling at the moment. My confidence in my photography is low. Partly this is relating to my health. I’ve just been diagnosed with diabetes, it’s not a major condition bit it’s knocked the wind out of me. I have no energy and feel ill after eating, and because of my mental health I rarely get out until after lunch.
So I haven’t been out with my camera much. This doesn’t help with confidence. To improve my photography I need to be taking photos, exploring light, and seeking opportunities to create the photography that I want to.
My first assignment has been an eye opener for me. I followed the brief and from reviewing the work of Chloe Dewe Matthews, Walker Evans and Dan Holdsworth, I wanted to create a series that fit together and had a narrative. My aim was also to create a narrative in some individual photos that also included some symbolism. There were four that my tutor liked, which I also did, and one more that I felt worked. Five photos that achieved my aim. There was one other that I didn’t include because the traffic, which was endless, ruined the photo. I am not good at travelling without support so I can’t go back and re take it at the moment.
I know the photography that I want to make and it involves people, and a sociological narrative. History has come up for me as something to explore that had also come from the Square Mile assignment.
In writing this I feel better about the first assignment. I did achieve my goals in several photos, and even the ones that I didn’t get good feedback about in relation to my vision as a photographer, there technicality and how they would work well in the tourist industry and promotional photography was noted upon and promising.
That’s not the kind of photography that I want to make though.
My plan now is to bring sociology and history into my coursework wherever I can. If I make the kind of photos that I want then tI can make the most out of the rest of my coursework.
I have been asking people if I can take their portraits, which I will upload at a later date. I’m a stickler for doing things in order.
I have completed my photo essay on autism, but can’t contact who I publish with at the moment, I will give it a few more days and then either self publish or look elsewhere, although I would prefer to stick with the magazine I use. I will add my analyses and learning once the article is published.
Image the Portrait.
I’ve been reading others blogs and I look forward to Creating the Exotic. I’m going to compare it with photos of Matahari.
Painting with light.
I have some ideas that I want to explore, including using two people sitting side by side, and using light to highlight half of each person’s face, the half’s that are next to each other. I can then create a face from two different half’s that are the wrong side.
Colour, skin, texture and drama.
Wow. What a difference colour can make. The drama of different lighting is apparent to me from my photography of the Chinese State Circus. But I’ve also been looking out for lighting effects on TV and film. Green is not a good colour as it makes skin look Ill. Red can have many effects depending how close, soft, or hard the lighting is. Blue brings out texture of skin and building very well when it is close to the subject.
Lighting, make up and tanning.
Why are we seeing so many orange people on TV nowadays? Sunbeds and tanning booths make for poor skin on TV. Make up artists and lighting technician’s need to be more aware of how lighting and make up interact. With the wrong lighting and make up people look burned or bruised.
The question this has raised for me is how does lighting affect people of different race and skin tone?
I’m feeling much better at the end of this post. I may not be photographing at the moment, but I’m still exploring photography.
Jayne Taylor (tutor) and I spoke on Friday. Before discussing the assignment we discussed the coursework. Jayne pointed out that there was one stand alone photograph from my coursework that stood out. Abbey View, in the style of Walker Evans.
It’s strengths were the layers, the subtlety, and foreground.
Formal and Informal Feedback
The following formal feedback word document is published in full with the consent of my tutor Jayne Taylor.
Jayne felt that my assignment was a very good start to the course, and there were five photos which thought were most promising from the assignment.
She thought that this one was the strongest.
The first photo had a depth that meant something to me, and Jayne commented upon the evidence of the connection. The personal connection was present in all of the photos that Jayne thought were good. There was a strength in the composition of the Clifford’s Tower photo (1st). Jayne stated that the photo could have been improved by two things. The use of a tripod, and going back a different times of day and different lighting conditions, to ensure sharpness and detail throughout the photo, and to capture the lighting as I want it rather than leaving it to the digital darkroom. Jayne initially felt that the photo was underexposed, but when I explained that I had deliberately developed it so that there was a cold and foreboding element because I wanted the photo to make a statement about the isolation and massacre of the Jews who were killed there, she was in agreement that I had developed it properly.
The two major learning points from this are:- go back to the same place repeatedly to ensure you understand how it is affected by lighting, and use a tripod.
Photo 2 – river’s Ouse and Foss
The composition was strong in this photo.
Photo 3 – Dick Turpin’s Grave
Good composition and exposure. Simple but strong photo and a strong sense of history.
Photo 4 – York Minster
Strong composition. The amount of windows and their prominence added to the composition. The composition highlights the strength and symbolism of the Minster and the influence and power that it had upon society. A sociological statement.
Photo 5 – Jayne wasn’t keen on the man in the background and felt that he took away from the good use of colour and the lines from the paneling and paving. A good photo which could have been improved if I had taken the scene without anyone in it and had then reduced the exposure upon the shops.
There’s a good learning point there for me and shows where I currently am with my photography. I like the alley, its lines and colours, but felt it didn’t have a point of interest without the man there. I had a good photo without of it without people. If a photo speaks on its own then I don’t need to wait for a secondary point of interest. At least it was strong enough to be mentioned as a good photo.
However, Jayne wasn’t enamoured by my photos which had people in them. She felt that they fell into the category of advertising and promotion, something the council or tourist board would favour. Jayne was clear that if you get commissioned for that type of work then go for it, there is nothing wrong with that kind of photography. But it doesn’t fit in with making a strong series for this assignment.
I discussed how I had tried to demonstrate the different elements of the coursework with my series. The response was clear. Make use of the skills practiced during the coursework for your assignments, but allow only your strongest cuts to go forward for the series, regardless of whether they demonstrate coursework skills or not.
We discussed why the photos of people didn’t work, and Jayne thought there was an overt disconnect between me and the people. I explained my reticence to photograph people without their consent and agreed that this had come out in the photos. However, the flipside is that we both have a strong sense of where we stand ethically in relation to only photographing people with their consent.
The presentation in the book format was good, ant the square format worked well. But in future limit the font to 12 point and 80% grey rather than coloured.
A good assignment that was nicely put together and presented.
Jayne has recommended 4 photographers for me to review, and preferable to buy or lend their books if possible. Anthony Levera, Bill Brandt, Chris Killip and Alec Soth.
A particular point of interest is Jayne’s comment about how good my photography is with larger scale photography. She pointed to the photo I had made of Whitby Abbey (top of page) and also from the assignment the landscape profile of York Minster (below). Although I particularly like those two photos, I had previously considered that I struggled with a broader working canvas. I had felt that there was too much space for me to adequately control.
With the feedback relating to my learning log, I am now continuously updating a log of all my posts relating to Image the Portrait, which I can then add to my completed assignment for ease of access.
I’m posting my assignment to my tutor. I’m very pleased with how the book has turned out. I’ve thought for some time about how to present it, and ordered a decorative box. I’ve wrapped the book, padded the box and it’s almost ready for posting. I forgot parcel paper, so I’ll get that tomorrow.
After completing Assignment One last week, I took a couple of days to chill. As well as sending my photo book to my tutor, I will be sending my reflections and learning booklet.
Then it hit me – having links to contact sheets will not work in a paper book, so I removed the links, included contact sheets and then sent the booklet to the printers.
This week my focus has been writing a photo essay on homelessness, which I have submitted, completing Lightroom tutorial 4, and developing some photos for my personal photography projects. Once I have completed editing the bird photography I will read the coursework for Image the Portrait. Which I’m not looking forward to. I hardly see people. My friends don’t live nearby, I don’t socialise, I’m a hermit. Solutions will appear because they always do.
It’s not always easy to read all of the other blogs that I want too, but I’ve had more time this week. It’s a lovely process seeing people start coursework, complete each section, plan and execute their assignment and then get their tutors feedback. A few people have completed assignments and a couple have had feedback. I enjoy and learn from other people’s study, and I get hope from seeing them complete an assignment or unit.
I have produced a photobook to present the series, and a reflections book to demonstrate my processes, technique, learning and development. Once these have been printed I will send them to my tutor.
I am aware that on WordPress with tbe content area white background, some of the highlights and whites of the images bleed into the page. In the book I use a lemon pastel background which is more effective.
Although all of the photographs are in the books, you can find them below, along with the PDF’s for both books.
I decided that I would make my series for Square Mile into a PhotoBook. There are two PDF files, one for the cover and one for the book.
I am going to proof read tomorrow before I commit to getting it printed. It will be a12inch by 12inch hardback book. I would really appreciated any feedback. In the PDF the Pages are above and below each other. So there is a photo and then a page of text that accompanies the photo. In the book they will be side by side. I dont know how to do that in my PDF viewer.
It’s been a process from evaluating the photos in camera and windows photo viewer, lightroom review, making two series of preferred photos, another review and getting down to 48 photos.
I turned those into undeveloped contact sheets and sought critique and feedback. The aim was to review strengths and weaknesses of composition, subject and technique.
The next step was to develop the photos, select my favourite 12 and then cross reference these with the feedback from others.
The photos that we all agreed on I cut out and put them in one pile, and have then re-evaluated the photos that I preferred and that others gave feedback on.
I know have 12 photos that are probably in the final series and 11 reserves (see below). I have reserves because my series is York – A Photographic History. I intend to cover a wide history so I may take an image or two out once I’ve double checked my history research. The series will be a pdf book format with an image on the left page and accompanying text on the right. I will arrange the photos chronologically so that the book reads as a sequence.
Probable Final Series
I have received input and feedback from several people in relation to photo selection and photo development. My heartfelt thanks
Thank you to all who gave me feedback with this edit, both here and via email. Here is the orignal photo and the final cut. I have written a blog about cloning from one photo to another, using the clone tool and the healing brush tool.
I have reworked this image following a suggestion from one of my peers. The guidance was to try the photo with the man, but to keep the background without the car through the arch. The first image is the original as taken in camera. I want to keep the same crop ratio as my edited version from yesterday (image 2). I have placed the man further back so that I could include him and retain the crop ratio.
Which works best? Please let me know what you prefer and why?