Monday, 25 March 2013

Results and Last Post

Well, the results are in today for assessment of this module. I'm very pleased with my grade (75%) which is an improvement for the second consecutive year. It is also the first time that I've crossed that elusive barrier into 1st territory. Of course the degree programme is so much more than grades but I am not going to deny that I am very happy that all my hard work for this module paid off - and boy did it feel like I put a monster amount of work in at times - especially on the presentation for assessment. I just need to wait now and see what written advice comes with the official letter. I have an idea what I think I need to work on for the next course and I have already put into action how I want to improve on a couple of my weak areas. I'm also so glad that I have the same tutor for my next module. Keith has been very supportive and helpful with his feedback and this has really helped me to push myself so far this time.

It feels kind of odd coming back here when my new blog is now well underway with PWDP. The link is here by the way:

PWDP - the beautiful ground

This is my last post for this blog.

Wednesday, 30 January 2013


This final, reflective, post of the blog is an attempt to signpost the learning points that I have covered throughout the course. This module has been a turning point for me and I feel that I am now ready to tackle studying at level 2. Although my blog is already fairly well organised by navigating the sidebar I wanted to set out some of the most relevant points and link to parts of the blog where I have covered them.

For me, the biggest step in my creative learning was the realisation that I can approach the assignments with a personal viewpoint or angle. It is important to have something to say. Before this was pointed out to me by my tutor I had attempted to remain neutral in my approach to photography. I saw myself as an observer recording what came before my lens. This can be seen in assignment 2, here, at Borough Market where I just went along and attempted to capture everything. I was pleased with my images at the time but now I can see that although they are a good record of activity there is no trace of myself in these images - a deeper connection needs to be made somehow to lift them to another level. It took a little while for my tutor's words to sink in but I began to get the point and by assignment 3, here, I had adapted the brief to fit a personal theme and put more of myself into my image making. I can see that the images in my assignments changed from this point onwards.

I have learnt how to approach a project more systematically by gathering material, whether through books or the Internet, as a means to researching a subject. The information provides a thinking space to explore ideas and more importantly jumping off points for photographic projects. I found the book, "Behind the Image: Research in photography" - Anna Fox, Natasha Caruana, to be particularly useful in informing these ideas - I have written about the experience in my blog here. I have continued to use my voice recorder for noting down ideas for projects/images as they come to me and transfer them to my work book when I get a chance.

I continue to try and pre-visualise my work and often sketch out a rough shooting script for my projects. This is something that my tutor has encouraged me to keep up and the sketches for some of my assignment work can be seen here and here.

I have tried to place my work in context to other photographers and have highlighted my influences. Examples from my blog can be seen here. and here. I've also written about my thoughts on re-creating personal histories and the use of artifacts here. All my photographer reviews are also listed on the sidebar.

I have visited a number of galleries both on official OCA study days and by myself. I have tried to review the exhibitions and reflected on how the work made me feel and if I was inspired to make any work in response. A post on a visit to the Jerwood Gallery can be seen here. All my gallery visits are also listed on the sidebar.

I've also worked in conjunction with other students to put together a student website to exhibit our own work. This was an enjoyable experience and involved communicating the website concept and planning process to other students via the forums and collating student data ready for transfer to the website. I've written a post about the experience here. My own contribution of images for the online exhibition can be seen here.

Looking back on this years work I can see that I have moved a long way, both creatively and academically. I feel confident about moving forward although I know that I still have a lot to learn and, in particular, I want to get a much better understanding of the language of visual culture and how this influences contemporary photography today.

Friday, 25 January 2013


For my assessment submission I'd bought a portfolio box to put my A4 images into. My learning log is online in blog form and the portfolio box was to include a contents sheet, the images, assignments and tutor reports. This was pretty much all I had intended to include.

Then my tutor suggested a phone discussion with regards to how I was going to prepare for submission. We covered a number of areas from presentation to context and also the need to highlight the most relevant posts in my blog to show my critical reasoning, research and analysis of photography.

I came away thinking I needed to put a lot more work into my submission. For the blog I am going to use the very last post to try to signpost my learning by linking to what I hope are the most relevant posts that I have made during the past year.

Luckily I had left plenty of time before the submission deadline to deal with the presentational side and spent a couple of weeks thinking about how I wanted to show my work and try out ideas. I have documented the process as I went along as can be seen below.

I decided to put the assignments into individual cardboard sleeves with cover artwork for each one. I drew a sketch in my notebook of what I was trying to achieve.

Then I disassembled a cardboard DVD box so that I could scale it up to A4 size and use as a template.

This was my mock up of the sleeve. It turned out to be quite fiddly with all the gluing required.

This was the thinnest I could make it and most of the assignments had far less images than this one. It became apparent that five sleeves of this thickness would not easily fit into the portfolio box. Back to the drawing board.

I then made a cut-down version of my sleeves that only partially wrapped around. This was so that the spines could be made with varying thicknesses to accommodate the different assignments. All seemed to be going well until I tried to feed them through my printer for the cover images. The folded flaps confused the printer and it would error and not pick up the sleeve in the mechanism correctly. My patience was becoming very thin at this point...

Determined not to be beaten I looked at the problem from the other end. If the folded sleeves would not go through the printer then the solution was to print my image onto a single piece of A4 card that would. Then I needed to devise a way to incorporate the printed card into my new sleeve. The simplest way was cut an aperture in the sleeve and place the printed card into it. This would double the thickness but as some of the assignments were quite thin I had some leeway to play with.

Here are the cover images printed onto card and inserted into the sleeves. To make them sit flush I used double-sided tape to stop the two pieces of card from separating and leaving gaps.

I've also created a navigation booklet to go with the presentation. This consisted of a cover letter explaining the contents and how my blog could be navigated. It also included a visual diagram showing how the contents of the portfolio was made up.

Finally, my submission is completed, collated, and ready to go in the post tomorrow.

The contents of assignment 4 to show the layout - An assignment header sheet with course title, name and student number. The essay, tutor report, the images, a response to feedback and amendments sheet, and any images submitted as amendments at the end.

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Jerwood Drawing Prize 2012 - Jerwood Gallery

I spent an enlightening morning viewing the Jerwood Drawing Prize - Jerwood Gallery in Hastings recently. As well as the many contemporary drawings that were on show I also came across some work involving photography.

The work was a C type print of an empty shop front. The artist had then drawn on the printed surface with black felt tip pen. The image can be seen here:

Insubstantial thing by Shelley Theodore

The artist statement taken from the Jerwood catalogue can be seen below:

I took a photograph of an empty shop front, which I found interesting due to it combining characteristics of the banal and everyday with something unique and dark. I enlarged the photograph and scratched onto the print with a black felt pen adding my intuitive response to the image.

Artist statement, Shelley Theodore.

The marks have, in my mind, made the image darker and more foreboding. Another layer of meaning has been added to the work by interacting with the photograph in this way. I had never considered manipulating a photograph in a physical way before and I have made a note to experiment at some point. Attending an exhibition of mixed media makes me think about many different possibilities with regards to photography. There is physical manipulation of the print like I described above, projection onto different types of surface, video, and creating installation or staged "scenes" to photograph. I am interested in experimenting more as I progress with my studies.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Seduced by Art: photography past and present - The National Gallery Study visit

I attended the OCA study day at the National Gallery last week. The show was, "Seduced by Art: Photography, Past and Present." The aim of the exhibition was to show how the tradition and culture of painting has affected the development of a photographic aesthetic in photography since its invention in 1839. The day began with a lecture that really helped to put the exhibition into context and allowed for discussion on some of the work that we were to see exhibited later in the day.

Eugene Delacroix, "Death of Sardanapulas."

Historical works of art were hung side by side with photography to illustrate the flow of ideas and in one of the examples a Delacroix painting, "Death of Sardanapulas," was hung with the work of contemporary photographers, Jeff Wall and Sarah Jones. Both of them have used the Delacroix painting as their reference point. In the case of Jeff Wall, it is his, "The Destroyed Room," and for Sarah Jones, her work, "The Drawing Studio (I)." It was an eye opener to be made aware of these connections. I would never have worked it out alone. For one, I am not familiar enough with traditional Western art painting. I've not seen the Delacroix painting before and the tale of the impending destruction about to happen to the king and his harem was not an obvious one for me. Also the content of the painting and the two photographs are vastly different but I could see the connection once I spent enough time analysing the works.

How many of us have been brought up with a deep knowledge of classical history, myths and painting though? I can see how Post Modernism evolved and gained a foothold now. Our own experiences in a modern society through television, film and the media, seem much more relevant to me. I'm not dismissing the referencing of art in photography. I still enjoy it. I'm just making an acknowledgement that more work is required to understand it.

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Tony Ray-Jones

Another photographer that my tutor suggested for my final assignment was Tony Ray-Jones. He was British and had worked for a number of years in the USA. When he returned to the UK he brought back with him a new dynamism in photography that had spread amongst his contemporaries there.

Tony Ray-Jones take on the British at the seaside is a quirky piece of work filled with characters and surreal compositions. The dated clothes and headgear worn by many of the people also add a comic element to some of the images. Ray-Jones's work could be considered a forerunner of later works by Martin Parr that show the British off their guard in a place where the accepted societal norms are relaxed.

The images are all in Black and White and are mostly high contrast giving them depth. He is a photographer I had not come across before and I'm glad that I did.

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Mark Power - The Shipping Forecast

For my final assignment I had a look at Mark Power's, The Shipping Forecast. The black and white images taken mostly around the coastal areas of Britain seeks to photograph people and their environment in relation to the strange sounding names from the BBC Radio shipping forecast. These ethereal sounding names read out over the airwaves conjure up magical places to the ears of most listeners. Powers has attempted to put images to these words.

Quite a few of his compositions are often on the diagonal with sometimes madly tilted horizons. This gives a dynamism to his work especially when people are involved. This is a technique that I do not use enough and looking back at my own work it can look staid after viewing images such as these. When I see it in other photographers work I have to remind myself to experiment more.

The images are also mostly dark in tonal range - almost low key. I think a fair bit of processing has been done to dodge and burn highlights and lowlights - in some images the sky is almost black. The areas highlighted certainly do justice to the compositions. Again, I need to remind myself that processing an image with a particular tonal range in mind that is quite different from what has been captured can bring it to life.

There is also a gentle humour in many of the images that is in contrast to the dark tones. I found this book very interesting to look through and food for thought.