Assignment five – ‘Photography is simple’ – Tutor feedback

Course:  Expressing Your Vision

Assignment five – ‘Photography is simple’ – Tutor Feedback

Please find below my tutor feedback which has been provided in full as instructed by my tutor.  My responses to the points raised will be in square brackets to differentiate between the two.

Overall Comments

Thank you for posting me prints for your fifth and final assignment.

This set of images has shown predominately how much you have grown in confidence over the course of the assignments. Previously, your prints had occasionally felt a little too ‘studenty’ (yes, I know you are a student, studying photography!), however, I feel that you have looked upon this assignment with a great deal more thought, investigation and inquiry and that has produced some work which has the potential to develop much further in another OCA course as it has brought out your strengths.

Feedback on assignment

Demonstration of technical and Visual Skills, Quality of Outcome, Demonstration of Creativity

This is a very challenging and brave decision, to photograph yourself. As you have identified, there are a lot of technical issues which you have attempted to overcome. You have stated that you used a high ISO and briefly mentioned the purpose of this (wanting to see grain). You have identified that this may not have been flattering to you. In this respect, it would be a good idea to have experimented in the first instance with low and high ISO, and then you would have been in a stronger position to justify why you chosen the high ISO. This way, the assessors can also see that you are competent in shooting both styles and having good technical ability and the sense of experimentation. By just doing the one high ISO set of imagery, you are not really showing your skills to their best advantage.

[I note the comments made about low and high ISO and that it is important when putting together an assignment to qualify any statements made by showing or explaining the other point of view.]

Also, still with regards to ISO, it would be advantageous to state why your initial intention was to have a grainy image. You are currently contradicting yourself by saying it is not flattering, so why have it in the first place? If you say that your theme is surrounding the ‘naked’ you, then was the aesthetics a factor in this? If so, how much of a factor? Why just show the body and not the face? These are all questions which can be asked of yourself more deeply, which will in turn justify the reasons for a more grainier image. It needs to be explained in more depth.

[My reason for wanting to use grain (as briefly explained in my assignment submission, which is restrictive in the amount of text which can be submitted) was to give my images the same look and feel as the images produced by Bill Brandt in his book Nudes, one of timeless capture.  Although the grain in Brandt’s images was probably due to the development process of black and white images at the time they were produced, it gives an authenticity which I wanted to draw upon.

The fact that an image is not flattering is not a reason NOT to do it, it pushes boundaries and in this case my comfort zone with regards my body so from that perspective it was even more reason to provide a ‘warts and all’ image.  

The reason Brandt showed body parts on the beach (no faces or very few) was to blend the human body with nature into new forms, and in some of his images you cannot tell which is which.  For me it was about using the body as sculpture; to present the body (my body) as sculptured body parts, so none of the images taken were ‘straight’ images they were positioned and arranged.

By including a face in the images would take you away from the idea of sculptured body parts and form as faces bring emotion to an image and I did not want the images to convey my emotion purely my form.]

Your decision to print in black and white as opposed to colour, could also do with more clarification. Similar to above, I would like to have seen some images (samples or contact sheets) printed out in colour, with reflective and critical analysis for why you chose to print in black and white.

[In my re-work /reflection blog post I will provide colour comparisons and discuss the merits of each, together with relating this back to what I wanted to achieve with my series.]

One of your images (of your midriff) does not appear to be pin sharp compared to others, so please ensure you revisit your set of final images and only print out the sharp ones as the ones which are slightly blurred will show up as being technically poor at assessment. You may also want to check the focus on the print of your hands. Enlarge images to 100% on Photoshop to do this and make sure the focus is on the main point of direction.

[This was particularly difficult to execute and not all the images were focusing as they should have due to a hard to capture reference point.  To rectify the during any re-shoot I need to 1) be aware of the depth of field being used and be able to locate the exact area where I need to be positioned to achieve more accurate focus and 2) try not to more once in position until the capture has completed.

I will check the focus on the images suggested and provide re-work on my reflection blog post following this one.]

The image where your hands are behind your head shows some lovely natural lighting on your hands, hair and shoulders which is not really evident in your other images and could show a lack of consistency. Did you shoot at different times of the day, or move your position away from the window? Equally, the shot of you with your long hair and your head down has shadows forming on the back wall which are not evident in other images so this also needs to be revisited.

[This assignment was shot over a couple of sessions, so there is a difference to the lighting.  Also in some of the shots I was standing nearer to the background causing more shadows than in others.  This will be revisited as part of my reflection blog post following this one.]

Coursework – Demonstration of technical and Visual Skills, Demonstration of Creativity

The shoot you have done with the professional model (which had been inspired by a visit to an exhibition whereby man Ray’s cracked image was displayed), shows that you are competent technically and that you have control over lighting and composition, however this is not reflected as strongly in your final set of images (although, again, I appreciate the difficulty in photographing yourself as opposed to a professional model).

[Comments noted and I will attempt to improve and create more considered images in my re-working/re-shooting.]

Research – Context, reflective thinking, critical thinking, analysis 

It is clear you have done a lot of reading on the thoughts of Terry Barrett and his essay has inspired you to look at the deconstruction of an image, with a practical shoot to back up your research. You are in the early stages of this and would benefit from more critical analysis of key speakers’ research. You may be interested in looking at the work of Roland Barthes and his theory into the many layers of meaning behind an image (particularly within an advertising context).

You may also want to look at an image by Annie Leibovitz where she has photographed a Las Vegas showgirl, but she has purposefully left in the edge of the backdrop, so you may want to analyse this ‘warts and all’ aspect of her work.

[Going forwards I will include more critical analysis of key speakers’s research (such as Barthes) and take a look at Annie Leibovitz’s Las Vegas Showgirl and comment on this in my reflection blog post following this one.] 

Learning Log – Context, reflective thinking, critical thinking, analysis

Your section on books seems a little thin. It may be a better idea to remove this tag, but to incorporate some quotes within the body of other assignments you have carried out, so that it is embedded more within your critical research and thinking, rather than separating and compartmentalizing it into an area which does not appear to be working out for you.

[I have removed the Books section from this blog for this course as it is clear I have not done enough to merit its own section and re-assigned the blog posts I have done to research instead.  As the course progresses I may bring this section back in as required.]

Suggested reading/viewing – Context

Think outside the box and research a photographer such as Spencer Tunick who asks members of the public to strip naked and stand in the street so that he can construct an image. His latest one was in Hull (Capital of Culture 2017). This could be an area to annotate and reflect upon in light of your own theme.

[I will add some text on Spencer Tunick in my reflection blog post which follows this one.]

Pointers for the next assignment / assessment 

  • Check point of focus is 100%
  • Develop more critical analysis within the body of your research, backed up by quotations from books / academic papers

[Comments noted.  Overall I am happy with and can understand the critique which has been provided.  I have felt constrained by the word count for the assignments at times, sometimes they do not give you enough room to explain your theory and provide the back up analysis.  From the forums this has been debated and believe that the word count is a little flexible, although you shouldn’t go under word count you could use another 5% on top if required.]

Follow this link to my reflection blog post, which follows up on the comments provided above and any re-working / re-shooting of images.


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