I have now received formative feedback from Garry, my tutor. Full PDF document here Edited feedback and responses below. Garry’s notes in blue, my responses in black.
Overall, there is some rework required. Minor tweaks and reprinting of the images, but a fairly major rewrite of the assignment notes.
Really well presented assignment with organised self-reflection (including student number and brief ) as well URL for log etc and also sent as prints (always good towards the final assignments). Showing the decision and technical process of selection through ‘contact sheets’ with annotations is always a big plus point.
The diary preliminary work is useful. You should say why exactly you found it difficult (unfamiliar? You may consider the chronicle of events banal?) – but that could reveal some ideas on how you project an ‘identity formation’ as opposed to the presumed innate identity that most students believe photography can reveal (which it is mute in that respect).
I believe I found the diary difficult for the same reason that self-portraiture is difficult – it is self indulgent and also requires facing up to some uncomfortable self-truths (in this case, that much of life is routine and banal.) I’m not sure that I want to ‘project an identity formation’; I am interested in discovering my innate identity.
The self evaluation has some great expressive statements in it (“as an individual, I play many roles depending on what I am doing or whom I am with”) you could have used the diary in a creative way drawing out key phrases or even cutting it up and creating random narratives (i’m thinking here of how David Bowie wrote songs to then create an ‘image’ of himself which was a fictionalised formation.
Frankly, having realised that I could abandon the diary, I was pleased to do so. It served a purpose in allowing me to see an approach to the exercise, but I do not see it as part of the exercise itself.
Feedback on assignment
Demonstration of technical and Visual Skills, Quality of Outcome, Demonstration of Creativity
Great images. Well executed ‘Avedonian’ Portraits which seek to show the ‘identity formation’ roles you perform.
‘Fill’ rather than ‘perform’, which has overtones of fictionality.
Personally, I would have taken of the captions ‘camera collector’ etc out of the actual image (avoid graphic design) as they are powerful enough on their own. Save the captions of when they are published alongside the images.
I agree. I was uncertain whether to use captions (necessary) and where to put them. For the rework, I will place captions in smaller text and clear of the image area.
File naming (as above) great. Perhaps use: ‘Self-portrait building surveyor CB001’ (where CB is your initials and it is first image from the ‘surveyor’ shoot) In this way you will be able to easily locate images and is more relevant if you decided to submit them to editors, magazines or photo libraries.
File names aren’t particularly important. I prefer to use meaningfully-titled folders. If I were organised enough, I would use keywording rather than filenames as a flexible way of locating images in future.
You grasp the social codes that photographers use to translate the experience of confronting the self by selecting the appropriate the technical codes with which to allude to certain roles in society,
I do? I think this is a reference to the use of props and clothing as visual clues to the role being depicted. That was intentional and the result of some thought and experimentation (see the variety and combinations of props used as the building surveyor, for instance)
Do explore and articulate these codes as applied in the context of ‘Typology’ portraits and use these critical terminologies and define them “standardised as possible to maintain uniformity” .
Write up is really well expressed but could do with some further contextual research and defining key terms (as mentioned). Link these to the course work and draw out what is relevant including technical processes of your influences (i.e. Avedon’s American West is shot outside with a backdrop gaffer taped to a wall and just a reflector (understand the weather in this country may make that difficult).
Interesting. One of the comments that came back in the peer feedback exercise (from an OCA tutor) is that Avedon used a north-lit studio. I will do a bit of independent research before commenting in the assignment notes submitted for assessment.
Black & White or Colour: a matter of personal choice and works well. Understand the Avedon influence but why not colour? i.e. we can see August Sander being con-temporised by such photographers as Rineke Dijkstra. Its still ‘Avedonian’ as it has the forensic gaze.
In this case, monochrome seemed the obvious way to go; colours would be a distraction. however, I acknowledge that this might be because I had already settled on Avedon as my style model. I have seen some of Dijkstra’s work (the Strange and Familiar exhibition at the Barbican in 2016) in large-format colour, which gives a ‘softer’ but still forensic look to herimages, not quite appropriate to how I saw my self-portraits.
You mention what you did but don’t expand enough on the reasons (aesthetic or conceptual) why you made such selections. A good understanding of three point lighting (again, use these terms) influenced from the coursework perhaps (or already well versed technically). In addition to Lightroom and pre-sets. This is a good workflow. Probably not necessary to tweak in photoshop but if there were specials tools you needed then mention them and why and how you used them.
A bit more detail needed in the write-up. Another example of ‘show your workings’
Welcome addition of prints. Because of the matt watercolour paper could do with bring contrast out a little for some punch (but subtle not too much) just to get deeper blacks.
Something to look at when reprinting. Always a difficult balance between getting a decent black and clogging-up the shadows.
Demonstration of technical and Visual Skills, Demonstration of Creativity
Your application of the course work to discover direction for the assignments is partially strong. Continue with this method as well as feedback from peers is good. However, be critical and trust your instincts. For example, the close up parts of your self identity portraits (suggested in peer review) probably not as strong as the final versions you have settled on – this is simply about linking the process of working with the contextual research. Close ups would be far too illustrative in this sense and force the reader to immediately recognise the roles rather than leaving it open to make them work. Its showing not telling (always the best documentary advice – and these are documentary portraits).
Probably why I had difficulty in producing any ‘close-up’ work and abandoned the idea (sorry, Kate)
Lead the viewer / assessor by making links from in the ‘research’ tab with your findings on the course work (you are doing this but make it clear).
I am trying to do this by assigning multiple categories to my blog postings, so that they appear under all the appropriate menu options.
Context, reflective thinking, critical thinking, analysis
You have begun to utilise much more critical language which is showing that you are becoming more confident in articulating how your work sits with others and engages with the ‘discourses’ of photography. Build on your influence from Avedon’s ‘forensic’ gaze and include further research into ‘typologies’ (your: “I wanted to keep pose, framing, lighting etc. as similar as possible,”) and include August Sander and his contemporaries such as Rineke Dijkstra and say something about photographic ‘codes’ and motifs (as used by Avedon etc).
Context, reflective thinking, critical thinking, analysis
Although the Learning blog references in the actual self-reflexive write up are a good indication of how you drew from the research, it may have been more useful to have shown the images concerned with a summary of how they influenced the final work rather than a simple URL link. In this way, rather than inviting the reader/assessor to ascertain the revanche of the research on your behalf, you reflect on it and tell the viewer what you’ve found. That is true reflective learning.
This is inconsistent with other OCA advice about avoiding plagiarism in the blogs. I will use images if I find them in Creative Commons or if a Google Images search show that they are so widespread already that they are effectively in the public domain. If an image is only found on the artist’s own website, I will link to it rather than copy it. There is a continuum in between, to be considered on a case-by-case basis. For instance, I am comfortable with using Magnum images in their ‘social media watermark’ form because I believe that what they do it for.
Not listed here. All downloaded and viewed.
Technical codes used to create a standardised look that the viewer can compare and contrast.
Useful research on the ‘forensic’ gaze (and others) applicable to key photographers such as Avedon.
Well expressed writing style with some really strong images that are engaging (simple but effective).
Areas for development
Name and define critical language such as ‘Typology’, Codes, archetypes. Conventions, Identity Formation, The self etc.
Some cases of ‘show your working’, some of things that I had not formally considered.
More analytical interpretation of key photographers so that the technical and visual allows you to uncover context and messages (see ‘Understanding Images’ grids for these methodologies).
Include a little more research on subject and approach .i.e define how ‘identity formation’ is applicable to photography though reference to social science or philosophy.
Some ideas in the reading list.